The Finish Line
Race Week is here....the real race week....the one I've been really working up towards. All of these other races and long runs from the past 4 months have really been leading up to this. My new marathon PR of 3:21, my new 50k PR of 5:54, and my new 50mile PR of 9:20...all, in a sense, training runs. This coming Saturday, I will again stand in the dark at 4:00 am and begin a quest to complete 100 continuous miles under my own power at the Vermont 100. Two years ago when I stood at the start, it seemed like an impossible distance. It was my first attempt at a 100 miler, and I was terrified. I had no idea if I had trained enough or correctly, and if I would even make it to mile 51. All I told myself was that I was going to try to have fun and that I really wanted to finish. In the end, I turned out having a great day and finished with a final time of 23:15...securing me my first belt buckle (which I still wear every day).
Whether or not I was truly ready and in peak shape for the VT100 in 2009 could be debated ad nauseum. I obviously was in decent shape to have finished sub-24, but the honest truth was that I just didn't get to the training mileage I had wanted. This year I have improved my fitness and preparedness on many levels. My diet has been greatly improved, my weight is where it should be, and my training has been stepped up. The only snag has been the past couple of weeks. While I was able to get in the 50 miler last weekend, my mid-week training the past few weeks has been lower than I would have liked because of a nagging toe injury. Last week I didn't run at all and instead focused on strength. When compared to my 2009 pre-race week, I'm still ok, but I can't help be a little bummed at my lower-than-desired totals for the past couple of weeks. With all of this said, however, I still feel I'm ready to attack the VT100 this year, and put down a good time.
My strategy this year is to again stay conservative. My confidence level has been much higher this year...and it shows with my recent spell of new PRs. I CANNOT let this affect my strategy this weekend though. It will be so tempting to go out a lot harder this year than I did in '09 thinking I can "handle it"....when in reality it will only bite me in the end. Being conservative in '09 really did work. When I look at my split times, at every single aid station I moved up in placement (except when I had to wait to use a porta-bathroom and I fell 12 spots). I averaged a 14min/mile pace over the entire race and my fastest stretch was 11 minute miles - so not very fast. I remember, while tired, I was still able to run a lot of the course in the last 20 miles.
If you look at my times and paces, I maintained a slow and conservative pace all day. Could I have run faster than 12-13 minute miles for the first 20 miles? Certainly. But then would I have passed 14 people between mile 95 and mile 100? By the time I crossed the finish line, I had moved up 105 positions from where I was at mile 15. I need to remember how well this strategy worked, and try to duplicate it.
With this all said and understood, I do feel that I am in better shape this year and can shave a little off of what I consider to be "conservative". If I average 13 min/miles over the entire race instead of 14...this would greatly improve my time and would not require me running much faster. Needless to say, I have lots to think about, but I will maintain my conservative approach regardless.
As far as Race Goals (in order of importance):
- Cross the Finish Line in the time limit and enjoy a celebration beer with my Pacer Mark
- Win another Belt Buckle (sub 24hr)
- Beat my time (and PR) from 2009 - 23hrs 15mins
- Finish Sub 23hrs
- Finish Sub 22hrs
Everything is just about in order. My pacer Mark has contacted me and we are all set.
Some To Dos:
- Organize, Sort, and Finalize gear
- Make Cheat-Sheet, Time, and Profile Printouts
- Buy last minute supplies
- Organize drop bags
- Organize camping gear
- REST and HYDRATE
- have fun and run!
Let's hope this time around, I don't pass out at the finish line....