Wednesday, January 26, 2011

10 Days to 100 Miles

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

- William Ernest Henley

So it's a week and a half out from the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler (how did it get here so fast?!!!). This is usually the time when the doubts start to creep in - I haven't done any runs longer than 30 miles, I haven't run on trails in for ever, I haven't done this or that, waah waah waah, boo hoo hoo - but I think I'm going to skip that stage this year. For one I know I'm in great shape, and for another I've just been too damn busy to even worry about it.

I haven't run since Sunday, but I have done a few yoga practices. I'm still trying to work out the kinks in my annoyingly diva-like hip/butt, but I don't anticipate that causing me any problems on race day. I really should have gotten up to run this morning, but it was cold, I was lazy, and hey, that's what tapering is all about, right?

And next week is all about mental preparation. I've been reading a lot about the running theories of Professor Tim Noakes, and his notion of the "central governor". I really believe that having the right edge and mental preparation, especially in these ultra long distances, can create neural networks in your brain that work in your favor on race day. So I will start combing through my usual sources of inspiration, turn all negatives into positives, and find my mantras. Expect to see numerous quotes start to appear at the top of my blog posts, and self motivational Churchillian speeches within (oh wait, that's already started).

My weight is holding steady at 144lbs, as it has for the last few months. When I ran Rocky two years ago, I was a good 10lbs heavier.  In the past, whenever I've dipped below 150lbs I've lost some endurance along with it, but this time I've done it right.

I even got my shaggy mess of curly hair cut yesterday.

Same (or better) endurance + less of me to carry around = faster race

There are probably a few things I do need to think about though.

I've been trying to figure out which shoes to use for this race. I have several pairs of trail shoes, but they're mostly Montrail Hardrocks or the like - hardly conducive to running a fast race on pine needles. I have an old pair of much lighter Asics trail shoes (basically hybrids) that I used the last time I ran Rocky, but they've been run into the ground and appear to be warped.

I was leaning towards running in my road shoes, but a few weeks ago I found a great online deal for another pair of the Asics hybrids and bought them. Now I'm not going to have the time to break them in on trails before the race (you think I would have learned my lesson here - I am the idiot who ran the Cactus Rose 100 in a brand new pair of Hardrocks and mashed my feet so bad the toes were still numb a month later), so I'm just going to wear them around the house for the next week. They feel a little "snug" (I knew I should have gone up a half size), so I'm also going to take my Asics road shoes in case I need to change them out.

Drop bags
If I make my 20 hour time goal, I will be finishing up around 2am. But the Dam Road drop bags won't be brought back until 1pm on Sunday, and I'm not planning on waiting around. Solution - I'm not going to bother with drop bags. I barely use them anyway. I will bring a small backpack for the lodge, but otherwise I will make do with whatever is provided at the aid stations.

Running Clothes
Ok, this one is easy. Whatever the weather I run in shorts and t-shirt. That's it, end of story, done deal, signed, sealed and delivered. I will throw a spare shirt in just in case, but I have never ever changed out anything - socks, shoes, shirt, whatever, during a race.

My secret weapon for 100 milers. I'll tape my feet the night before and sleep with my race socks on to keep it in place. I'll tape the balls of the feet, instep and heel. I find this minimizes blisters and helps prevent bruising to the underside of the foot.

Shit, I need to find them. And change the batteries. Better get on that.

Yeah, I'm really not one for much preparation. I know folks who bring along boxes and boxes of stuff, all neatly labelled and color coded. I know people who set alarms on their watches to remind them to eat or take salt caps at certain pre-ordained times. And hey, if that works for you, brilliant.

But I don't work that way. I run by feel - always have. I'll eat what looks good, drink what I feel I need and let the cards fall where they will. A lot of my training practices and running theories don't gel with established protocol, partly because I like to experiment, partly because I do what I feel works best for me, and mostly because I'm an awkward little cuss.

But that last part is also the major reason why I've never DNFed a race, so I'm not going to complain about it. When I ran the 100 at Cactus Rose, I deliberately went in with no pacer or crew because I needed that extra motivational kick of running it solo. For some unknown reason, it just makes me more determined. And that's huge, because most of the problems you confront in a 100 miler will be in your own head. When it's cold, pitch black and you're a long way from the finish line, that's when it needs to kick in.

To paraphrase yesterday's quote, that's when I'll bring the fire.


Jeff Farrell said...

bring it Mark, bring it!!

K said...

Needed this today...

Feeling weird that I am not worrying too much about this race right now. I think I was more concerned a month ago than I am right now.

Hearing we can not use mp3 players on the course now was a bit unexpected. I don't always run with music, but I like it at night to keep the weird noises at bay. My imagination gets the best of me and those dark woods seem to harbor sounds not typical to my life in Suburbia.

I figure if that is the biggest "problem" in my day, I'll be doing ok.

So if you hear loud, off-key singing in the night... it's me. Any requests?

Mark said...

@Karen, you've stumbled across my other reason for not having pacers - my awful singing. I have been known to belt out a few bars while running through the night and it's like somebody strangling a coyote. I wouldn't put anybody through that.

John said...

You (and anyone else who runs ultras) are an inspiration bro. For someone who is about to run his first 20 mile training run on Sunday, what you guys are doing in mind blowing. Good luck everyone

DavidH said...

You sound ready bro!...well except for the headlamp issue. ;)

Good luck and enjoy the experience.

Just run.