I have my last race of the year in a couple days and I’m not nearly as anxious heading into it as I normally am. Typically, I’m all kinds of obsessing over weather and gear and logistics, but I’ve hardly given the race much thought over the past month or so. That’s not to say I haven’t given it any. Just not nearly as much as I normally do.
This is mostly because the race format removes most of the logistical challenges of running ultras. The 24 hour race is held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds on a one mile loop course. This means I can drop as much gear/clothing/food as I want at the start/finish line and will have access to it every 10-20 minutes throughout the entire race. And I’ve done enough of these races that I can just copy and paste my normal gear list into one master list. Then all I have to do is round up everything, drop it in a large container, and I’m good to go. So while I would normally be stressing about what I need to place in which drop bag, I can almost completely ignore the logistics aspects of this race.
Which means I don’t have to think about running for 24 hours straight. . .
. . . or what could go wrong in running for 24 hours straight. . .
. . . or the pain and suffering those issues will cause. . .
Which means I’m not anxious about running for 24 hours straight. Um. . .
I really only have one goal in mind: run 100 miles. I decided a while ago that running 100 miles in timed events would count towards my goal of finishing a hundred 100 mile races. A side benefit of using timed races is that I’ll get to count a 100 mile finish if I reach the distance, however I won’t have to worry about a DNF if I don’t hit that mileage. And before you think this is cheating, I’ve also decided that if I ever do races farther than 100 miles (i.e. Badwater 135, some of the new 200 milers, etc.), then I would only count them as a single 100 with no benefit for the extra mileage. Illogical? Sure. But there’s nothing logical about running a hundred 100s to begin with so there’s no point in trying to be only half crazy.
It’ll be nice if I’m able to set a distance PR (103 miles) and I hope I can do much better than that, however that would all be gravy as far as I’m concerned. I’ve managed to run 100 miles twice before during 2017. Both those races were on rolling terrain (8k and 14k elevation gain) so theoretically I should be able to do it on a course with no elevation gain. Of course, that’s what I thought before running C&O Canal in 2015 and 2016 and neither of those races went as planned.
Those experiences have taught me that I can’t run 100 miles. Yes, I can cover the distance on foot, but that’s only if I walk a decent amount. Decent as in 25-35 miles. My strategy on Saturday is to run the first 10 miles as easy as I possibly can. Say plus or minus 10 minute pace. This should provide me a 40 minute cushion on the 14:24 pace I need without overly taxing myself. I then plan to switch over to a 3:1 run/walk ratio for as long as that is sustainable before ultimately settling into whatever shuffle/walk motion I can coax out of my legs.
The biggest wildcard this weekend will probably end up being the weather. Current forecast is for a high of 45 during the day and lows in the high 20s during the night. This will be the coldest I’ve ever experienced during a night run and the cold usually ends up bothering me more than heat does. At least I’ll be able to add on as many layers as necessary as the temperatures drop in addition to the hand warmers I plan on using early and often. There’s a small chance of rain and my greatest fear is 4-6 hours of rain, which would be just about the most miserable experience I could imagine.
And since ultras are typically about enduring rough patches, that’s probably what will end up happening. Sigh. Looks like I’ll end up packing all of my anxiousness into 3 short days. Fun!