Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ready to be an UltraMarathoner

     This is week 24 of my training plan, so that means it's RACE week! I've made it through 6 months of training injury-free, and I feel fit and ready to run 50k (31 miles) this Sunday. The weather has been hot and humid with highs in the 80's here in PA for the last 2 weeks, but if the weather forecast holds up, it should be cooler on Sunday. Still not as cool as I'd like, but tolerable. My focus this week is to stay hydrated, get decent rest and go in to the weekend calm and ready to go.

I would prefer 50's to be honest, but I'll take it. 
     I've been preparing myself this week by previewing the course, and making a plan for hydration and fueling. This race changes the direction of the loop that the runners take each year. Because it is an odd numbered year, the course will be run counter-clockwise. According the the race director, this means "First 10 easy. Big climb after aid station 3 (between 10-13.5 miles). Flattish until mile 29, then long climb at the end".
Here it is, seems really far to run ;)
     There are aid stations at about every 4 miles, and I plan to stop at every one, filling up my water bottle and snacking on whatever looks good to me. All that I've read about this race is that the food is diverse and plentiful, including such foods at perogies, burgers, potatoes, candy, energy gels, etc. I will rely on my tried and true Gu gels and some bars, but keep an open mind to trying some "real" food on the course. I will use Nuun Hydration Active and Performance as well, since that worked well in my training. We are offered the opportunity to leave a drop bag at the 5th aid station (around mile 17/18), so I need to consider what I would like to have in that bag. I'm thinking that a change of shirt, socks, and even an extra pair of shoes may be a good idea. Also: extra nutrition, baby wipes, body glide and chap stick.
     Although I know I can finish the distance, I do feel a bit undertrained. The upside of this is that I am injury free. The downside is that I am concerned about feeling over fatigued in the final miles, especially with the hills. I am going to make a conscious effort to run very easy in the first 10 miles, and conserve my energy for the more challenging parts of the course. I am giving myself permission to walk up the hills, and take advantage of these walk breaks to make sure to take fueling in. I am going to aim for approx 300 calories an hour, as prescribed by coach Stephanie Violett. Hydration will be especially important due to the predicted sunshine and temperature, with careful attention to taking enough water, but also electrolytes. I will carry extra tabs of Nuun and make sure to sip constantly. 
     As far as my running "outfit", I'm going to plan on a running tank, shorts, compression socks, hat or visor, my Ultra Direction hydration vest (with bottles, no reservoir), and my Pearl Izumi M2V2 trail shoes. This worked well in my hot summer training runs, so it should work on race day. 
     One of the biggest challenges I have on the weekend is staying off my feet. On Saturday morning, I am working as Assistant Coach for a Cross Country meet. While I normally like to run around the course to see our runners at different spots, I'm going to try to stay closer to the start/finish line and not run around. We'll see how that goes. My plan is to leave directly from the meet to drive to my hotel close to the race site in Reading, PA. It will be a quiet evening, with Netflix, takeout food and my feet up. 
     Like I said previously, I know I can cover the distance. The challenge is staying positive, moving steadily forward, and not giving up. I would like to finish the race knowing that I pushed myself to my best ability and that all the training over the last 6 months was not wasted.