Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vol State 500K and a Finger Lakes Recap

Course Map for the Vol State Road Race

On Thursday of this week, I will set out on another crazy adventure.  Back in May I participated in a 72-hour race in New Jersey (3 days at the fair).  The purpose of running at this event was not only to see what it would be like, and to try something new, but to also see how I would hold up running over the course of 3 days.  In the back of my mind, I knew that I needed that sort of mental (even more so than physical) training before I could possibly hope to tackle something like Vol State.

For those of you that don't know....the "Last Annual Vol State" is a race put on by none other than Laz.  That's right, Barkley Marathons Laz.  Vol State is sort-of the evil twisted cousin to Barkley.  It is a 500 kilometer (~314 mile) ROAD race across the state of Tennessee.  It actually starts just on the other side of the Mississippi river in Missouri, then crosses through a small bit of Kentucky, traverses Tennessee lengthwise, before ending on the Alabama/Georgia border.  So in total, it goes through 5 states.  What makes this event so ridiculous is that it truly has a thru-hike feel to it.  You literally must carry a pack with everything you'll need.  You are not allowed a crew if running the solo division...although you are allowed to buy food at gas stations etc (much like a thru-hike).  Additionally, you are allowed to accept and/or yogi food from non-race strangers.  For the past few weeks I've been running with a full pack to get acclimated to running "heavy".  Truthfully, I do have a fairly good idea what it's going to be like.  Running 231 miles in New Jersey, during a heat-wave back in May, was actually a very good training exercise for this race, as it often gets upward of 100 degrees in Tennessee in July (nevermind the blanket-thick humidity).  On paper it sounds totally doable as you have 10 DAYS to finish.  This means you only have to move 31 miles a day.  I easily did streaks of 2 to 3 weeks on the PCT where I did more than 31 miles every day.  BUT....(and a big BUT), it wasn't done while suffering East-coast July humidity or temps, nor on ROADS.  A very common mistake made by a lot of participants in this event, is to try to do too many miles the first day.  Inevitably they end up crashing and quitting.  I will be carrying a minimal crash pad and will take scheduled naps and sleep breaks along the way.  In addition, I am totally allowed to splurge and get a motel room for a night if I choose.  I can even share with other solo-runners.  I just can't accept aid from friends, family, or people associated with the race (other than fellow solo-runners).  

This may all sound crazy and ridiculously "un-fun"...but I'm actually incredibly excited about it.  The truth is...I CAN'T WAIT to get out there.  I know it's going to be brutal.  I know I'm going to be wanting to quit somewhere in the middle of nowhere, but I also know I'm more than capable of finishing if I just keep moving forward.

So...wish me luck and I know I will come away with some incredible stories!  I think that's what I'm looking forward to the most.

Here's the patch that I designed for the runners this year

Here is a link to the Daily Tracking Sheet that will be maintained by Race officials.  It will be updated twice-a-day.  There is a "map" link in it that will open a google map showing everyone's location.

Also, here is a custom tracking map for my own iPhone that will show my personal location.  This will show more up-to-date tracking for myself only depending on how often I open my phone and/or run the app.  (It will all depend on how fast it drains my battery).

View GPS Tracks in Larger Map

Here's the course map again:


As far as last-minute training, I did get in one final long run this weekend.  One of my favorite ultras was on Saturday, and I just couldn't skip it:  The Finger Lakes 50.  As I stated in my last post, I absolutely could not afford to run this race hard, but I also needed a good last long run before Vol State.  Normally, I run Finger Lakes two weeks before the Vermont 100 (or Badwater in last year's case) and it makes for a great final push before tapering.  This year, I don't really have a taper, so I didn't want to "race" so-to-speak...I just wanted the miles.  This was the first time I made a 4-time appearance at a race and I was super excited to play on the trails up in the Finger Lakes.  I knew it was going to be hot and perfect Vol State training.   It turned out to not only be hot and muggy, but also very MUDDY; an all around slip-slidy messy-fun day!  Throughout the day, I forced myself to downshift and try to just stay steady and take it easy.  For the most part I stuck to this strategy perfectly.  Today, on Sunday night, I have very little soreness at all.  Last year, I finished this race in a fantastic time of 8:54.  Back in 2011, I finished in 9:20.  Yesterday, I kept is slow and smooth, and finished in a respectable 9:40, with no major residual soreness today, and without ever feeling like I was "racing".  Perfect in my book.  I will rest now until Thursday morning when I start running at the Hickman Ferry for as many miles as my little feet will take me.

Here are some photos from yesterday's run:

At the start

Coming in on loop 1

Havin' a blast

View of tent city just behind me

Drank a LOT of water yesterday

Running around the pond by the finish line (ending loop 2)

Finishing Loop 2

Headed out on the final 3rd loop

Success!  9:39:52

Still smiling after it was all over!  Just as planned!

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