With my first ultra only days away, I thought I'd jot down some of my thoughts lest I forget my pre-race state of mind after the event. Overall, I'm feeling great and excited to get this party started. I've had my best summer of running simply by being on trails and getting out and exploring new places. The journey in preparing to run Silver Rush has been amazing.
I would love to have an elaborate plan for this race, but until I get an ultra under my belt, I'm going to have "finishing strong" be my goal. If that is 8.5 hours...awesome! If that's 10 hours...I'll be equally satisfied. I'll have the Steamboat 50 in September to take what I've learned and improve.
So here's a quick four on what I feel I have going for me and four of my concerns.
1. Training - my weekly mileage on trails has gone to levels I have not experienced before. My low weeks were in the 50’s and my high weeks in the 70’s. Through it all, my body has adapted, grown stronger, and I’ve stayed injury-free.
2. Long training runs - ideally, I would have liked to get in one run in the 30 mile range, but it wasn’t in the cards. Since May, I did get in 7 trail runs of 20+ miles. Three of them were in the 25-26 range. My trip up/down Pikes was a real confidence booster as I felt like I could have kept running.
3. Fueling - In previous races, I’ve never fueled with anything but sports drink. I feel good about my plan of using water/s-caps/gels as my main fueling strategy. I will take some solid food at the aid stations, but it will be moderate and whatever looks good to me at the time.
4. Altitude - many of my long runs have been at altitude. I feel confident in my ability to keep a solid pace below 11,000’ without getting dizzy or feeling other effects of oxygen deprivation. Silver Rush climbs to just under 12K four times, so I think I’ll be okay. I’m sure it will be something else that gets me before the altitude does.
1. Pacing - I’m still not sure what my correct 50 mile pace is. Ideally, I’ll start slow and keep the heart rate down. I think the first 25 will come relatively pain-free for me. The big question is the next 25! I’ve never run anything beyond 26, so those miles in the 30’s and 40’s will be an unknown until I encounter them. If I start too fast, I could be looking at a long survival shuffle to the finish. Hopefully not.
2. Weather - absolutely nothing I can do about it, but even 70 degrees feels quite hot at over 10K feet. The forecast is currently partly cloudy and high of 72. Since most of my training runs have been in the early mornings, I’m not that prepared for running under the hot sun, and it looks like the course is exposed. Last year, runner’s dealt with a few hours of hail. I hope we avoid afternoon storms as dodging lightning around treeline is not what I’m looking forward to.
3. Food/Fuel - While I have a good fuel plan, I’m concerned again about those final 25 miles. Can I still take in gels? Will they make me gag at that point? We’ll find out soon!
4. Tripping - I’ve noticed that when my legs start getting tired, I don’t pick my feet up enough. That has resulted in one major fall and several other close calls. I need to stay sharp mentally to navigate the trails/ jeep roads when they turn rocky. While a fall isn’t the end of the world, it can deflate things a bit. If it happens, then I need to be ready to get back up and keep going.
There's nothing left now other than to toe the start line and then keep moving forward for 50 miles. I'll post a race report sometime next week.