The night before Bandera, Dan Olmstead and I were reviewing some of the race materials, including Nick Clark's (at the time CR) splits from 2010, which Dan had along as a guide for his own race. Nick completed the two 50k's in 4:15 and 5:01. That's about a minute and a half per mile slower the second time around. Chakira Omine's second loop was 3 minutes faster than Nick's second loop, but Nick had a big enough cushion from the first loop to hold on for the win (and CR).
And so I asked Dan: Is it better to aim for consistency or is it better to go out fast, get a good lead, and just hope to hang on?
That night we both kind of shrugged it off, with no decision on which was the better strategy. But it is something I keep wondering about. Two years in a row I have had the fastest second 50k of all the women (7 min ahead of Jill/Aliza in 2010; roughly 5 minutes faster than Liza this year), but it hasn't resulted in a win. I was super happy with my race both years and I am not harboring any regrets. But one of the appeals of this sport is that there is so much to learn, so many variables to consider, so much experimenting to be done and I am an eager student (oh, let's not sugar coat it: I am the class nerd!). My strategy in basically all of my races has been to aim for consistency, but maybe I need to adapt. Maybe I need to risk a little more in the beginning, at least in "shorter" races?
Are you a gambler or do you play it safe? I would love to here thoughts from other runners and especially ultra runners on the idea of going out fast and hanging on vs. staying consistent... that is, if you are willing to share your strategy. ;)