A guide to not getting Habanero’d?
I wanted to put together a guide for those who are running the Habanero Hundred and a pretty good checklist of what to do if running a hot race in this case high humidity as well. I will reference along the way some blogs, articles and general info.
A great read with this guide is the blog by Julie Koepke who is the only person to ever complete this race 2x so she knows how to get it done. http://www.trailracingovertexas.com/blog/2016/4/21/hard-earned-heat-training-tips
I will break down the guide in 5 separate parts.
1. Race Week and What to pack?
2. Race day clothing, preparation, and lubrication.
3. How to stay cool when it's hot as Hell!
4. In race Management
5. Iron Will
1. Race Week and What to Pack-
With any race week, a key would be both nutrition (ie getting proper foods ill leave that up to your own knowledge) and also hydrating early as well. So usually 3 days out which would be Thursday Am is a great start to really focusing on what you are drinking and the electrolytes you are taking in. So starting the race hydrated is a GREAT way not to go into the hole early in the day.
With a race like Habanero, there are many things going for you like short loops, close aid stations, and a familiar loop. There are also some things going against you like HEAT, lots of sweat and irritation. So often times bringing the right things can help to mediate some of those issues.
I tell people especially running in a longer race to pack a couple of pair of everything they really need. Here is a quick start rundown on some packing items.
-Multiple pairs of shoes maybe with a ½ or full size bigger pair for swelling.
-Multiple pairs of socks or at least enough to have 2 fresh pairs and one drying
-3-4 different shirts in case you start to chafe where you never have before.
-2-3 different shorts including for guys ones with NO netting in case of insane chaffing
-A hat or multiple hats (see below) to help reduce exposure
-2-3 Jars of lubricant such as trail toes for any chafing you might have and a roll of tape as well for crazy blisters.
-A bandana, buff and/or arm sleeves (see below) to put ice in to help with the heat.
- Some sort of water carrying device ( a minimum of 40 oz is a must even for fast folks)
- A headlamp with a spare or spare battery ready to go.
-Drop bags for the main aid station and also the halfway as well if wanted. Mark it with your BIB and name as well.
- Anything that you need nutritionally that the race doesn't have or a surprise to keep you going (see below)
So that is a quick sheet of what you HAVE to have just to get going on the adventure. Lots of stuff you can add in there like hiking poles, sunglasses and other wants that are personal.
The one last note is that since the race does not start until NOON on a Saturday you should be trying to get as MUCH rest Friday night as you can. You should be able to start the race with a full nights sleep or maybe a bit more if that is what you like. Showing up to the race on little sleep is a recipe for disaster to use the time to rest up.
You can find all of our gear at www.trailracingovertexas.com/store or at the Habanero Hundred Fri-Sat and Sunday.
2. Race day clothing, preparation, and lubrication-
The race for Habanero starts at Noon or 12:15 depending on the distance. But one thing is for sure is that it will already be HOT and it will already be sunny so preparing before you step up to the plate is important.
-Race Day Clothing- Much of this is a preference but a good 50/50 (cotton/poly) blend seems to be a clear choice for people. Pam Smith who won western states wrote on how much she wanted the contact on her skin to stay cool vs a shirt like a tech that pushed the sweat away. I would also argue that the more you can cover up in the direct sunlight the better to avoid sunburn and keep the body temp down.
- I think starting the day off with some sort of headwear to minimize exposure is key as well. We made specific hats that block the sun and also have a drape on the back of the neck. If you look below Julie is wearing a wide brim hat that is minimizing sun exposure to the head, neck, ears, and shoulders.
- Arm sleeves- While most people would see these as a tool for cold weather they are great for hot weather and can serve 2 purposes. The TROT ones have UV protection in them so they will help to block sunlight and they will keep that skin moist with your sweat. Also, you can have an aid station person who is crewing you put some ice cubes in them as well to help with body temp.
-Bandana, Buff or Neck Device- The easiest way to stay cool when its horrible is to keep your neck area as COLD as you can. I will link below but the science is that your blood is moving right there (like your wrists) and getting it cold is beneficial. We sell a 26” cotton TROT bandana that you can fill with a couple scoops of ice, fold it up and tie it around your neck. Jeff Ball wore a buff that we dipped in with ice water each time we saw him. For ladies, a BRA has been known to help in the exact same way so fill it up to say cool.
-Lubrication can save your day but its starts early and often- I recommend lubing pre race especially on known areas and those feet. The first thing to get wet usually is your socks/shoes from the sheer amount of sweat pouring down. I normally lube my feet heavily and also lube the inside of my socks before every putting them on. I use Trail toes for my application purposes which we sell on race day. As well as my feet I hit the normal spots for me that chafe which is under arm/rib area, inner thighs and the crack. Everybody has different bodies but I can guarantee you that you will CHAFE. When your clothes get wet it's bound to happen. BUT you can prevent it getting bad by starting the race off by being ready for the slightest hot spot and getting your feet in good shape before it all goes down.
So your drop bags are packed, you have all your gear on and ready to go and the time is about to start.
3. How to stay COOL with its HOT AS HADES A HOLE!
I love the heat and I love heat training as well. Most people know that I wear hoodies for workouts, I purposely workout in the heat of the day etc. Part of the reason I do this is to make sure I am ready for weeks of work in the heat putting on races in Texas. Its hot as HELL out so you have to be ready. So lets talk about what can help keep you cool.
-Ice bandana/arm sleeves/hat combo- As described above using a hat to shade you, arm sleeves to reduce exposure and ice bandana will all help on exposure.
-Ice early and often- To me starting the race with an ice bandana or ice in your sleeves is smart decisions. It will already be 95+ temps and keeping your core temp down and HR down is one of the most important items you can do. (see management). So Ice in your hat, on your neck, in your sleeves and in your bra is the way to go as you need it.
-Ice Cold Drinks- Its been proven that slushes help to get your core temp down and are life savers in a race. Habanero has Gatorade slushes and snowcones available at the main aid and Gatorade slushes at the ½ way point. The slushes can also be made with just ice/water same with snowcones. The importance here is to get something really cold in you to help keep that core temp down.
-Ice Baths- At each aid stations are 2 buckets filled with ice water and sponges for you. These can really help to get on your head, neck to help you when your HOT.. PRO TIP—Lean over at the hips (not over the bucket) and have a volunteer ice bath you so that when it drips down it away from your feet. You don’t want to add more water going into your shoes/socks than you need to.
-Hydration is always a key in regulating your body and keeping it moving efficiently. The key to drinking is that you need to drink when your thirsty and need to be taking in electrolytes as well. ( Each person is different but what we do no is that too much water is a bad thing just like too little is). So drink if your are thirsty but not like you are on the desert.
So use the tools you have to stay cool in the race. Ice, Ice Baby!!
4. In Race Management- Often times in sports you will here people say well they weren’t the most talented but they found a way to win. Well folks finishing this race is a win so managing your day is what you need to do. Julie K for the most part considers herself to be a mid pack runner who ends up finishing the toughest races around. What I see though from the RD is someone who leaves the ego at the door and isn’t afraid to execute a plan.
So with that being said here are my top 5 tips to race management of Habanero Hundred.
1. Chafe you, Chafe ME- If it starts to hurt, chafe, hinder you than FIX IT NOW. Changing socks, shoes, hitting a blister or adding lube takes seconds or minutes to fix in real time. Our minds think we are wasting time but you wont see that if you don’t finish. Take time to take care of yourself.
2. Plan for the Aid Station Ahead- As Cal Neff would tell me come into an aid station with a clear view of what you need/want and keep going. Aid stations are great but you want to get what you need and get back to moving on the trails. So before you get there get ready to toss trash, grab a gatorita or what you need. Preparing will actually save you TONS of time in the long run if you aren’t losing 3-5 minutes an aid station.
3. SLOW DOWN when you need to- So many people take off at Habanero like champagne corks and run at race pace so quickly. The course at 7il has sand right out of the gate so you will be working hard on that footing fast. Chances are your HR will start to go up quick with the heat, sand and push you are making. Be aware of your body and realize the race just started you aren’t running a 5k. So stay calm, move efficiently and don’t waste time.
4. Make your move at night- At 7-8pm the sun will start to set and for the most part you can remove some items for the sun and you should be focused on capitalizing while its dark. The temp will likely fall into the 70s-80s temperature wise which give you a chance to move. So I would say that for the first 7 hours for you 100k-100m folks it’s time to get in a groove but you should be waiting to kick its ass when the sun fades.
5. Change of Plans- I think steve monte said it best when he said any mile of Habanero can take you out. I always love the quote of “be like water.” Prepare to change it up, don’t get discouraged if something happens and remain calm. Finishing races is more to do with problem solving that it has to do with running. When I ran snowdrop last year I had to walk it all with a bum knee. After the first day I figured that I need to walk 2 loops 1.5 miles and rest for 5-10 min for my knee to finish. When we did the math it would take me 35 more hours just like that and a 4 hour nap. Well the nap we cut to 45 min since I was losing time and I finished in 54 hours. But my point is that I had to follow a plan to get to the finish even though it was nothing like I planned. Do what you have to do to finish the race!
I am someone who believes that this game we play is mental. Ive seen people quit a few miles away from a 100 mile finish and ive seen people drag limbs to the end.
But it all comes down to what you bring to the line that morning. Are you receptive to the day? Is your heart clear and ready to accept the trauma it might endure?
Do you have something so meaningful that you can call your WHY? Why am I doing this, what does this mean to mean and what have I sacrificed to be here right now?
That WHY is what at time can get you to take that next step forward in a race like this. It can flip the switch when it gets dark in your mind and you let the negative feed.
So my advice is to show up to that line with your WHY as close to your heart as you can get it. Obsess over it, keep it at the forefront of your mind if needed and hold it dear.
We all have different WHYs in our lives. For me every year I run snowdrop to honor my God son who passed from Pediatric Cancer just a few months before the 1st race. It dosent matter that I have a bum knee or that I cant run around that track. But what I can do is finish the 100 every year for him no matter the pain.
I will find a way and you must do the same.