Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pre-100 Mile Thoughts

During the summer of 2009, I decided that some day I wanted to run a 100-mile foot race.  At the time, I was reading alot of books about running and one of them, Extreme Running, was about all these incredible running races all over the world in some of the most amazing places.  I was immediately intrigued by these types of events and decided to start training and doing races that would eventually prepare me to attempt a 100-miler (although, not necessarily at an exotic locale) and have a decent chance of actually finishing.  A little more than 3 years later, I'm finally getting my chance to toe the line and find out what it's all about.  It might be the only time I ever try a race like this or it might just be the first time.  I have no idea how I will feel about the event after it's over.  I just hope to have fun, finish and collect my buckle. 

It feels as if all the running I've ever done in my life, from my youth, to my college days and all the mountain miles I've logged in the last 6 years, have led up to this race.  I often think about a winter day in 1984 when my family lived in Morehead, Kentucky.  We had just moved to the little mountain town in the foothills of the Appalachians and I was exploring a hillside behind my house, climbing to the top of a tree covered ridge.  I ran down the hillside through the trees with the deep leaves absorbing my foot falls.  I imagined myself descending an immense mountain slope.  I always remember that day for it's joyful simplicity.  It makes me realize that I loved the mountains before I even spent any time in them.  It's the sense of exploration, awe and wonder I get when I'm climbing up even the smallest hill and discovering new things at each vista.  I think about that day alot when I'm out on the trail, just running like a little kid and tapping into my primal urge to move through a natural environment and it makes me happy to think what simple pleasure I get from running trails.  But the flipside to the pleasure of running is the challenge.  The difficulty of running longer and further than a person ever thought they could.  To run from morning until night and then through the night until the sun rises again.  To run even when you don't want to anymore. To do something very simple and accomplish something extraordinary.  Like run 100 miles over mountains. 

Am I ready?  Sure.  Yeah, mostly.  I'm actually really anxious to get to the starting line.  I've gone running enough to know that once we get underway, everything will fall into place.  With the race only a few days away, there's no amount of running that will boost my fitness or assure me that I'm actually ready for the challenge of running 100 miles.  Lately, I've been thinking more about the race logistics, such as gear, clothing and food, and I came up with pacing schedules for finishing in 27.5 hours.  I could possibly finish faster but that's not a motivating factor.  There are alot of variables to consider for a 100 and that's what separates this type of racing from any other race distance I've tackled.  Sure, 50s come close but night time portion of a 100-miler is significant.  It's of the utmost importance that I get on and stay on a regular feeding schedule and that what I'm eating isn't fucking with my stomach.  I'll be carrying a few hundred calories and water between aid stations and replenishing my supply via drop bags and aid station supplies.  I'll be eating mostly food supplied by my crew or in my drop bag.  Clif gels and bars, cashews, clementines, almond and peanut butter, Honey Stinger waffles, berry newtons, watermelon, pineapple, miso soup, hot chocolate, zucchini bread with chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins, pumpkin bread with raisins, .   I'm also using Vespa (probably) and SaltSticks.  In my drop bags, I'll also have extra clothing to change into if the weather gets too hot/cold or snowy/rainy.  The forecast looks good though:  sunny and 70s in the afternoon and clear and high 30s at night.  At 10,000' it'll probably be right around 32F.    Additionally, I'll have a 120-lumen headlamp and a backup 40-lumen headlamp packed, as well as extra batteries.   For the night, I'll also be bumping tunes on the I-Pod to keep me company.  I also have an hour long stand-up routine from Dave Chappelle downloaded to pass the time.   The first half of the race, I'll be using trekking poles and taking it steady and easy.  I'm thinking 11-12 hours for the first half of the race but slower if necessary to save my legs.  I may even stop to soak my feet at certain spots along the course (Fish Creek, the Yampa, Spring Creek).  I really want to feel good enough to run (slowly) during the night and not just be zombie, death-marching through the darkness.  I'm going to keep my effort conservative, stay on top of my nutrition and water, enjoy the course and keep going until I'm finished.  Then, give me my buckle!

Here's my pace schedule, if you're near the course, come down and tell me how bad I look:
  1. Base of the ski area/Start  - 8 am
  2. Top of Mt. Werner - 10 am
  3. Long Lake (via Mountain View Trail) - 11:30 am
  4. High School (via Fish Creek Falls Trail) - 1:30 pm
  5. Olympian Hall - (via 3rd St./Core Trail) - 1:45 pm
  6. Cow Creek (via Emerald/Ridge Trail) - 3:45 pm
  7. Olympian Hall (via Beall Trail/Emerald) - 6:45 pm
  8. High School - (via Core Trail/3rd St.) - 7:00 pm
  9. Long Lake (via Fish Creek Falls Trail) - 9:15 pm (halfway)
  10. Summit Lake (via Uranium Mine Road) - 10:45 pm
  11. Dry Lake (via Buff Pass Road) - 12:15 am
  12. High School (via Spring Creek) - 1:30 am
  13. Dry Lake (via Spring Creek) - 3:30 am
  14. Summit Lake (via Buff Pass Road) - 5:30 am
  15. Long Lake (via Wyoming Trail to Fish Creek Falls Trail) - 7:30 am
  16. Top of Mt. Werner (via Mountain View Trail) - 9:30 am
  17. Base of the ski area/Finish - 11:30 am

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