After months of training – snot, sweat, and yes, even a few tears – my first ultramarathon is just days away. Eek! (That was an excited “Eek”, not a nervous one.) Training hasn’t been perfect, but I feel great heading into Sunday. After 2+ weeks of taper, my legs are finally feeling something besides tired and achey. It’s like, “Woah! My legs aren’t sore. Is that normal??”
So yeah, I’m feeling calm and positive for the time being. I’ve made most of the major logistical decisions: what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what time to leave the house, what to eat during the race, etc. I’ve even already prepared my post-race snack: a big bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Why Cool Ranch Doritos? Well, for one thing, they are one of my guilty pleasures, and they’ll taste great with beer and/or soda at the finish. Two, I’ve been seriously craving salty, fatty starch (chips, french fries) after my long runs. I think it’s because I pretty much only eat sweet things while running, like Gu or Bloks, and then I feel the need to get that perma-sweet taste out of my mouth. So, really it was down to Cool Ranch Doritos or Cheetos, but since I had some Cheetos as recently as this past Saturday, I went with the Doritos. Oh, plus, the Gypsy Runner doesn’t like Cool Ranch Doritos, so I knew they would be safe from his snacking ways. Muah-ha-ha-ha.
One thing I’m super excited about is being able to share this experience with some of my favorite people. Kate and Jess are running the 50K as well, though we haven’t decided whether we’re all running together or not (I think it will just depend on how the day goes, how we feel, etc.) My Twitter friend Jen is also running the 50K. We were supposed to run at Big Basin last year (she signed up for the 50K, and I registered for the marathon), but we both DNS’d due to hip injuries. Whomp whomp! It will be great to finally meet her in person and avenge our DNS’es! Cathryn and her boys will be at various points of the course to cheer us on, which will be so nice to break up the monotony. Last and definitely not least, I got permission from the race director for the Gypsy Runner to run a 4.5 mile loop with me from ~miles 15.5-20! I’m very excited about this because I’ll have the GR’s company during one of the most challenging parts of the course (770′ gain/loss in just 4.5 miles!). It’s also great that I’ll get to see him for more than 5 seconds while I run through an aid station, which is what I do normally. Let’s face it – spectating any race can be quite boring, but probably even more so at a trail race. Anyway, I’m super excited to share the experience of my first ultra with him — hopefully, I won’t be too cranky. 😉
There are only a few things left to finalize: driving directions, post-race food, and most importantly, race strategy. I’ll follow conventional wisdom and make my main goal simply to finish the race within the cut-off of 8 hours. (They don’t call it conventional wisdom for nothing.) I also want to run happy, choose joy, take it all in, and all of that hippy-dippy stuff. Of course, there’s also a part of me that can’t help but consider a time goal. For one thing, I have to think about pace so that I can tell the GR when to expect me. Additionally, it’s fun to add a dash of challenge to the task. I’m approaching it with the mentality of, “Well, if I’m feeling GOOD, then let’s aim for X time.” I’ll keep those numbers to myself for now…
To help with pacing and race visualization, I printed out the elevation chart and noted all of the aid stations, with the distances in miles between them (they’re in km on the graph and on the race website – so confusing!), as well as elevation gain and loss. I saw this on someone else’s race report and thought it was a great idea. The chart, along with the 10 or so race reports I’ve read, have helped me visualize the trails and hopefully be better prepared for the challenges ahead.
Big Basin 50K, I’m coming for you!