Thursday, May 14, 2009

What it all comes down to

No time to second guess my training and wonder what I could've done more of, could've done differently, etc.

This is it.

Over the past few months I have had a finish time in mind. I jokingly say 'anything under 36 hours,' which is the time limit. But seriously, I'll take anything under 36 hours. I made it with 15 minutes to spare two years ago and hope to greatly improve on it this year.

This years goals changed as I got stronger and finished training runs and races much faster than expected. My original goal was 34 hours, which I set back when I first signed up. Just cutting down my times at aid stations should be enough to take off 2 hours from my previous finish time. Cake.

But improvements of 30 minutes at Uwharrie and Bull Run Run this year got me thinking of a possible finish time closer to 32 hours. Seems do able, right? Not only shave time at aid stations, but move faster on the uphills and just keep moving in general. Simple.

What if?

What if I felt great and moved effortlessly over the rocks? I came into each aid station with a smile and left with just enough food in my belly to keep my GI tract happy. Feet moved swiftly with no pain or blisters. I had to come up with another goal.

I'm throwing 30 hours out there as my WAG - wild ass guess. What the hell! I have nothing to lose, right?

My GF created these nifty 'cheat sheets' with the splits from three finishers in 2005 when the course matched the one I'll be running this weekend. I'll have the running splits for a 30, 32, and 34 hour finish. I plan to use it more as a guide than an actual training 'tool'. If a 32 hour vs a 30 hr finish happens, then it happens. I'm not gonna roll into Moreland with a split close to that of the 30 hour finisher and jack myself up trying to get to Edinburg to keep pace (okay, I might). I'm just going to do my best to keep moving.

My race plan looks like this - keep moving forward.

This is what it looks like in more detail..

Everything up until Habron (mile 24.7) is a warm up. No need to push the pace up/down hills or pass anyone on the trails. If it happens, it happens, and I should expect to be passed by them again soon. There's plenty of roads in the first section, so I can pass until my heart is content at that point. Going out hard and being hurt barely 1/4 into the race makes for a long, long, LONG day, and I don't want to suffer any more than I am going to.

The next section over to Camp Roosevelt, Gap Creek, and then up and over Kerns to the Visitor Center will be the first gut check, with the out/back to Bird Knob the next gut check as you realize you've covered 56 miles. Saying you're "halfway done" is a joke. It's like trying to use your 50 mile finish time to predict your 100 mile finish; you just can't do that. This is where you have to buckle down and get your butt to Morelend. I'm sure it will be dark at this point, so continuous forward progress is essential. There will be a 1.4 mile road section that I hope I can run to gain some time without physically hurting myself too much. In previous years, I'v slowed tremendously going up/over Jawbone to Moreland, and I hope to there feeling somewhat fresh ready to start the last half of the course.

The half-way point starts at Moreland - gut check #3. There is so much talk of Short Mountain, where "bad people go to die". It can break you down mentally more than physically with it's relentless "short climb, ridge, little descent, repeat"-like trail. Get into Ediburg and you start to exhale. Break down the next section into 2 mile 'bits' by the trail signs you see along the way make it more manageable on your way to Woodstock, where you let out a little more air. Not too much, though!

Woodstock is a looong 17.7 miles until the finish, and the next 5 mile section to Powell's is gut check #4. It's hard to get into a rhythm here, so moving as quickly as possible is key and run when you can. It's similar to Short Mountain minus the rocks and ridge - short climb, ridge, descent, repeat'.

By Powell's, I'll be smelling the grassy field at the Ranch, but it's still too early to be thinking about the finish. The 2.8 miles of gravel road can kill your feet and feel like you're running over hot coals. At this point, it's breaking down the course by sections - get to the reservoir, get around the reservoir, get up to the Meneka Trail, get down to where the trail splits off toward Signal Knob parking, then get to Elizabeth Furnace.

If you've got enough time here and aren't chasing the cut off time, let out that last breath. You've got about 5 miles to the finish, almost the same distance from Woodstock to Powell's, but it's up and down. Cake. You've been doing this all day and are either on the biggest runners high or are going on fumes. Whatever fuels you, you're getting to the finish, and you can't wait to run across the field.

After writing that, I'm really excited to get out there to execute my plan. The training is done and now it's time to get out there and finish this damn beast.

You can keep an eye on the VHTRC MMT Page for a link to 'live' updates and splits. Remember, this isn't chip-timed, so updates will be when they can get internet service and get things posted. Keep an eye on runner #89.


At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Caren said...

Jen, I've been following along on your training and you sound like you're very well-prepared. I wish you the best of luck out there and enjoy every minute of it. I've only seen a few sections of MMT and them's some brutal trail. Can't wait to read a full report and run strong!


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