Feb 4, 2009

Rocky Raccoon 100 - pre race thoughts

Read my updates from this weekend's 100-mile race here: http://www.twitter.com/stevetursi!

My JFK 50 mile race medal

At the JFK 50, when I was feeling the fatigue you'd expect after mile 25 or so, I repeatedly tried to picture where I'd be mentally if the race were 100 miles long, not 50. It didn't help. At the time, the distance just seemed inconceivable. And honestly, that's pretty consistent with everything I've read regarding 100-mile ultra runs. Even experienced 100-mile veterans can't seem to wrap their heads around the task ahead of them prior to their big races. Mostly, they just resolve with themselves that they're going to be out there a long time, start, and before they know it, they're done.

So that's the attitude as I go into this race. I've given up trying to comprehend the distance. I can sort-of wrap my brain around the time - on my feet for 30 consecutive hours doesn't sound nearly as bad as traveling 100 miles - but 30 hours doesn't sound easy nor fun. Frankly, it doesn't help. What does help is thinking about all the fun times and new experiences I'm going to have this weekend. fun times like meeting up with friends I've met at other ultras and online. New experiences like running at night. The second sunrise. It'll be wonderful!

There are no hills to deal with. The trails are completely non-technical compared to what I'm used to. And, looking at the weather forecast, it appears that there won't be any mud either. There is nothing to this race to stop me, except the distance.

On the other hand, I'll be on my feet a long time. I will experience a lot of pain and discomfort. I will come to the conclusion that I can not finish. I have spent a lot of time visualizing myself continuing in the face of those issues. They're going to be difficult to overcome. I cannot succumb to my self-pity like I did at Grand Targhee last year. They say it's all about "relentless forward motion" and they're right. As long as I don't stop, I know I can finish. The only thing that may stop me is the 80-mile cutoff at hour 24, but if I'm going that slow, it means I'm in a lot of pain and persevered anyway. I can be proud of that.

Race strategy is to walk at 15MPM (4MPH) the first half-hour. Let everyone go out in front of me. When dawn breaks, settle into a routine of jogging 12MPM (5MPH) for 10 minutes, walking 15MPM for 5 and maintain that as long as I can. If I stay on top of my nutrition and hydration, I'm pretty confident I can maintain that for at least 40 miles on flat terrain, maybe longer. When I have to, I'll switch to a 5minutes running 5 minutes walking routine. If I average 15MPM, which is my walking pace, all the way to mile 60, I will be way ahead of my optimistic finish time of 28 hours, giving myself 15 hours to walk in the last 40 miles if I have to.

Anyway, that's the plan. I understand these plans tend not to last very long in the midst of a 100-mile race. We'll see. I will say this: thinking about these things has occupied pretty much every moment of my life lately. It's pretty exhausting, mentally speaking, to be thinking about this race all day long for weeks. So no matter how it turns out, I will be glad when it's over.

I leave for Texas tomorrow afternoon, and will not be bringing my computer. I will be posting status updates during the race at http://www.twitter.com/stevetursi and see how I'm doing. These status updates get fed into facebook, so you can follow them there if you prefer.