Sean O’Brien 50
It’s no secret that I love SoCal. My streak of racing successes in the area is as mysterious to me as it is to anyone else. I’m fully aware that my good fortune will run out at some point, but I’m sure it won’t deter me from continuing to return to race on the beautiful trails that exist in the greater Los Angeles area.
Instead of going into too much depth on how the race itself played out, I think it’s more interesting to talk a bit about my training leading up to this particular event. Before TNF50 in December, my training revolved around interval workouts where the goal was to accumulate a certain amount of time in my lactate threshold zone – or a rate of perceived exertion around 80% of maximum. These workouts are designed to build confidence because they’re based on repeatability and simulate race pace. Since TNF50, my workouts have shifted from lactate threshold to Vo2 max intervals which are much shorter in duration but executed at 100% effort. While the lactate workouts are designed to build confidence, Vo2 max intervals are designed to make you fail. If your intervals don’t get progressively worse and you don’t contemplate quitting, you’re probably not doing it right. In other words, there should not be repeatability and it will hurt. A lot.
My confidence was definitely shaken by a few weeks of these efforts but the result was maybe my best ever race last Saturday. Even though I was pushing, I honestly felt like I had access to another gear if I needed it. I made a move with almost 20 miles still to run and was able to gradually increase my lead all the way to the finish. I’m super thankful to coach, Jason Koop for introducing this stimulus into my training and for helping me to become a better athlete. As competitors, all we can ask for is an opportunity to maximize our personal potential. I’d absolutely recommend consulting with a professional coach to unlock the undeveloped systems within. It’s changed everything for me.
Finally, a big shout out to good friend and and training partner Matt Laye on a huge win at Rocky Racoon 100, in his first attempt at the distance. Since November, Marin County athletes have taken the 50k, 100k, and 100 mile national championships. A friend recently used the “steel sharpens steel” proverb to characterize our community, which I think describes things perfectly. The depth here is amazing and the community is incredibly active and supportive. The San Francisco Running Company has created a true family atmosphere that is totally unique and inclusive. Sharing time with these people is really special.
Thanks to Keira Henninger and all her volunteers for again putting on a first class race! She and the SoCal ultra community are some of my absolute favorites. Thanks also to Pearl Izumi, Hypoxico, First Endurance, UltrAspire, Julbo, and Barleans for all the support!
Gear used during the race: