Friday, May 4, 2012

Last Musings Before Long Cane

It's early morning, and it's dark out. I've just finished my last shakeout run before Long Cane 50K on Saturday. I've eaten a hearty, carb-filled breakfast, and my 48-hour gorging period officially has begun. The short, 4-mile shakedown run is a special part of my training/taper period. It's not a training run per ce; at this point all the training has been put into my system already. Rather, it's one final bio mechanical inventory before a big race. Am I keeping my knees from swinging out laterally? Check. Landing forefoot under the hips? Check. Arms bent tight and swinging close to the body? Check. Calves/Achilles feel ok? Check. Etc. Also, the shakeout is a final chance to get myself mentally centered in a running context. I do a lot of visualization, sometimes of past races. I try to dredge up memories of bonking hard at Umstead, and then imagine myself fueling and hydrating and pushing through the agony. I try to imagine the last 200 yards at Salem Lake, where I was depleted from 31 miles and nearly 5 hours on foot, but I somehow found a sprint inside me while other ultra runners cheered on. I conjure images of technical single track at the Whitewater Center and Fisher Farm, and I see myself bounding down the slopes and dodging roots and rocks. I recall watching the sunrise at Relay For Life, where I had walked all night and spent nearly 7 hours on foot. It's a lot of mind-wandering for a 30 minute run. I packed my bag last night. I'm relying on plenty of old gear and nutritional stand-bys, but there definitely will be some experimenting during this ultra. Electrolytes have been my main worry since aid stations are 5-7 miles apart, and the high temperature will reach 93. Food is another worry. While Terri Hayes is renowned for having great aid stations at her races, I learned from Frosty 50 that it's good to have plenty of your own nutrition to fall back on as well. Luckily, I will be able to leave a drop bag at mile 15. Since I am only doing the 50K, I will only stock this drop bag with some food items I don't want weighing my down in the first half of the race. The rest is a combination of fitness and game plan. The fitness is there--I am more fit than I have ever been. Now, I just need to keep myself disciplined enough to keep a responsible pace, take walk breaks, and listen to my body. In these conditions, the worry is not to finish with a great time, it's to finish at all. I look forward to sharing all the gory details after the fact.

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