It’s a little hard for me to believe, but this will be my fourth time running this event. My last two race reports can be found here (for some reason I never wrote one for 2015) and I included a decent course description in last year’s race preview post. There are quite a few reasons why I keep coming back:
- It’s close. I only live about an hour from the race start.
- It’s cheap. $1 per mile? Sign me up!
- Awesome race organization. Stephan Wiess at Uberendurance always puts on a great race.
- Good course layout. Two lollipop loops lets you see lots of other runners coming and going. The distance between aid stations is rather modest so you’re never far from food, drink, or a chair. And the rolling terrain gives you a little variety without overly taxing your body (you know, besides the distance).
- Perfect timing. This race has fit well within my 100 miler training plans. Instead of a long run by myself on roads/trails near my house, I’m able to get some good training mileage (with support) with a bunch of friends I haven’t met before.
The other reason I’m starting to go back is that it now provides me a good benchmark of where my fitness is. While it’s helpful to analyze and review your training data (see chart below), you never really know exactly where you are until you enter a race. Unfortunately, you can’t race all the time just to judge what shape your legs are in or you will end up injuring yourself. But once a training season 4-6 weeks out from your A race should provide you a good idea where you are.
Heading into the 2015 race, I was overtrained and partially injured. I went in the complete opposite direction in 2016 and my healthy, undertrained body was able to knock 75 seconds off my original time. Last year I had a great training block and was healthy allowing me to set a PR by almost 15 minutes. Looking purely at my training mileage this year would suggest I’m due to spend a bit more time on the course this year. Countering this is that my last MAF test was slightly faster. Also, the overall pace of my last long run (not listed above) two weeks ago ended up 20 seconds/mile better than the comparable run in 2017. Add in the fact that the weather should be about 20 degrees warmer (mid-40s vs. 20s) and I should be able to continue my streak of improved times. My guess is that I could be 5-10 minutes faster which sounds like a lot until you realize it’ll still take me almost 8 hours to complete so there isn’t much room for error.
While I just spent a whole long paragraph discussing what time I’m likely to run, this isn’t going to be my focus. This is first and foremost a training run and I plan on treating it as such. I’ll work on my “too easy” pace early, practice my nutrition, and just enjoy my time out on the trails. And if I’m not as quick as I hope? Well, there’s always next year.