I’m in a weird place. I’m a couple days out from my next 100 miler and I’m not nearly as excited as I typically am. I think a large reason for this is that the race only popped up on my calendar about a month ago. So I don’t have the normal 6-9 months of slow build up in my mind before running the race. The smaller reason is my last race didn’t go so well and my mind is kinda trying to ignore the distance and effort it’ll take to complete (#welladjustedpeopledontrunultras). At least, I’m hoping those are the reasons and not because I’m taking a finish for granted as this is a much easier race than Bighorn or Eastern States, which I was planning on running instead. I don’t think this is the case, but minds can be tricky things to fully understand.
Despite the preceding paragraph, I’m looking forward to the course. This will be my first race in Ohio and first point-to-point course that runs from Cleveland to Akron. While I’ve done a couple one loop races, most of my ultras tend to reuse sections of trail to reach the required distance. This doesn’t bother me, yet it’ll be cool to run new sections all day (and night) long (#andhopefullynotallnextday). I also like the fact that the course mixes it up between roads, towpaths, and single track trails. Not that single track trails gets to be too monotonous, but I like to cover different surfaces during a run. So that should be fun.
My running has been going well since Bighorn. There was only 6 weeks between it an BR100 so I spent about half the time recovering and half the time “training”. I had one big week where I did a long run of 25 miles and 56 total, however the last 2 weeks have been only 38 and 40 mile weeks as I taper down. Since the course is flattish (6-8k elevation gain depending on where you look) with several road sections, I’ve done all my miles on the roads around my house. Hopefully, this will have partially conditioned my legs for the extra pounding they will take. A side benefit is that the miles were done faster than I would have run otherwise so maybe I’ll have a little extra speed once I get to Ohio (#hopespringseternal).
Expectations and Goals
Oof. I’m not really sure what to expect. My training run fantasies have me busting out a new 100 mile PR, however I’m not sure I have the legs for it.
As you can see, my mileage and number of long runs are both down from prior races largely because the runup to this race has included not one but two recovery periods from 100 mile races (#bingewatchingFlash). Probably not ideal to maintain fitness. The good news is I feel fine with no little aches, pains, or niggles to speak of. Drat. Did I just jinx myself?
After a DNF, my primary goal is just to finish. If I ever want to reach my ultimate goal of finishing 100 of these races, then I can’t afford to have many DNFs. I definitely can’t afford to have a string of them in a row. So my focus needs to be doing everything I can just to ensure I give myself the best chance of crossing the finish line and getting another buckle. Even if it means sacrificing my time goals . . .
And of course I have time goals (#duh #amIusingthesethingsright?). The course profile from a pure elevation gain is similar to Umstead where I set my best time last year of 22 hours 8 minutes. Parts of the course appear to be easier (i.e. flat road/towpath) and other sections harder (steep single track). The weather right now doesn’t look to bad (high of 80) so shouldn’t have a major impact outside a four to five hour window in the hottest part of the day. While I’m not sure how well my fitness will translate to this course, I’ll probably be disappointed if I don’t dip under 24 hours. So let’s call that my C goal with D being just to finish.
Typically, my A goal would be to set a new PR, however I’m dropping that down to my B goal and aiming a bit higher for one very simple reason. One of the coolest things about Burning River is that it ends at a brewery (HiHo Brewing) and like most bars, it stays open till 2am or exactly 22 hours after the 4am race start. Nothing would taste better after a long run (and walk) than a beer so my A goal is to finish up in time to make last call. I figure a 30 minute PR should do the trick. And if I miss my goal? Well, the bar opens back up at 8am.