. . . and then there were only five days left.
It’s been eight long months since my last 100 miler and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back at it the entire time. When you wait for something for so long it’s almost surreal when the moment finally arrives. Eight months slowly turns into 4 suddenly becomes one month finally turns into 10 days which will eventually lead to ten hours. I’ve been jonesing for another 100 so bad that the primary reason I’m running this race is because I couldn’t wait 2 more months until Bighorn. Well, that and it’s only about 2 hours away from my house. Combine this with the 9am start time and it means I’ll actually be able to “sleep” in my own bed the night before. This may not guarantee a great night’s rest considering what I have in store for me, however I’m hoping for the best.
Normally, this is where I would include a description of the course however there’s not much to go on. I know the race starts at the Princeton Blairstown Center in Hardwick, NJ. It contains two loops, which total about
6 5 miles with a last minute reroute and the total elevation gain is about 17k ??? feet according to the Facebook page. This will be only the third year on this course (prior 4 years at the Sussex County Fairgrounds) and the race is relatively small so there aren’t too many race reports available right now detailing what to expect. I think there will be a fair number of stream crossings. They may or may not be bridges or rocks available to cross them. I would probably be more concerned with my lack of knowledge if the loops weren’t as short as they are. I have a feeling I’m going to know the course like the back of my hand by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around.
My Fellow Enthusists
I’m always interested in who wants to run these races. This is the second race where I’ve compiled these stats based on Ultrasignup data and both races had similar breakdowns. The starter of a 100 mile race is typically a 40-45 year old man who has been running ultras for 3-5 years and has done 15-20 total races. About a third have never finished a 100 mile race, a third have buckled once or twice, and another third are old hats at this sort of thing. I’m the most experienced with seven finishes, which feels very odd considering it seems like just the other day that I started running 100s. Even though I still consider myself a relative newbie at this sort of thing (4 years of ultra experience), I guess I’m rapidly becoming an old man by 100 miler standards.
My expectations for this race keep bouncing around depending on how sore/tight my legs feel. I feel that I’ve had a nice training block this spring and the numbers seem to back that up.
I’ve only run more miles once before heading into a 100. Even with the relatively high mileage for me, I still only averaged about 40 miles a week. You don’t have to crank out 80+ mile weeks in order to be successful at the 100 mile distance. You do need to run long quite a bit though and I was able to get out for 7 runs over 20 miles this cycle including 40M and 50K races and two other training runs of 30 and 31 miles. I didn’t do any back-to-back long runs though I did start using a weight vest for some of my mid-week runs. I ended up stopping this after a couple weeks though when it seemed like I was adding in too much stress to my training. Overall, I ended up with my quickest MAF test heading into a 100-miler so my fitness seems to be at an all time high. It’ll be interesting to see how this translates into race day performance.
I have been thinking 24-26 hours is a good expected finishing range for me. I may have an outside shot at going sub-24 if the stars (and weather) align and will be north of this if things get really interesting. My strategy will be to go out easy on the first loop to get acquainted with the trail and then slow down from there on out. I’ll get most of my calories via Ensure Plus shakes every 10 miles or so, Mountain Dew, and whatever fruit (oranges/bananas), candy (gummy bears), or other appetizing thing they have at the aid station. I’ve been tracking the weather forecast for several months now (I’m actually serious, don’t laugh) and it’s only been within the past 24 hours that it has moved up into the 70s for a high on Saturday with overnight lows in the mid-50s (i.e. perfect 100-miler weather). The prior forecast had been 10-15 degrees cooler with lots of rain (i.e. really poor 100-miler weather) for the past month so I’m very happy for the recent change. Regardless, I’ll be prepared for anything the weather has to offer (handwarmers, gloves already packed) and content with whatever conditions we end up having.
My nervous anticipation continues to build. Almost four days left now. . .