Friday, October 25, 2013

Going into my first 50 miler

Autumn Leaves is this weekend. I've been nervous all week, fretting about how I could have been much more prepared. How I should have run more flat paved routes in preparation, and how my running discipline has dropped off and I only ran 12 miles last week, and they were all shitty. I've been feeling sorry for myself that my choice in support/crew fell through and I haven't even been in touch with the one person who I thought (hoped?) was my biggest cheerleader. I thought about how lucky so many of my friends are to have devoted husbands, friends, and family members to come run some miles with them, give them some gentle encouragement or a good kick in the pants if needed, fill up their hydration pack with the right mix of electrolytes and give them reminders to eat.

But at the root of it all, ultra running is truly a selfish endeavor. It's one that can ask a lot of people not directly involved with little reward. It can mean countless hours of a loved one not being present, with the hours one is there not 100% present either. For myself, I recover fairly quick energy-wise, but the days leading up to a race I'm tunnel visioned, and the day of and day after I experience extremes. Elation and exhaustion. And likely I'm still talking about the race non-stop. What I could have done better, what I did that worked, how beautiful the course was, how hard the course was, who was there, what I ate... It's really endless, especially if you chose to race (or maybe I should say, attend) often.

So maybe asking someone to be there who doesn't understand this (obsessive)process is quite a lot. Beyond seeing that person you care about succeed and start beaming like an idiot, or DNF and work through the stages of acceptance, if you are not inspired and motivated by their boldness to tackle something outside their comfort zone, then there really is little in it for you. It's not a thankless job to show up and be supportive and help, but it is usually a delayed thank you. It can mean hours of waiting for just minutes of rushed support. It can mean trying to summon someone out of a rut and crawling at a snails pace. But showing up out of obligation is not what anyone needs anyway, and your runner will sense it and it will not help them.

A crew and a pacer is a gift. I'm going into my first 50 miler at peace that I don't have this, and ultimately, I really don't need this. I'm set up well on course because of the loops, and I've always been smart about my drop. I supply/carry my own nutrition because I'm picky and on course drink and gels have never been what I use. My strengths have always been that I run even paced and have decent form. My friend and running buddy, Deb, is running the 50 miles too and while we don't tend to run together at races, I imagine there will be quite a few stretches that her and I run together. Her supportive husband is coming out later and I'll feed off his positive energy. I know a few other people who will be out there and we'll pass one another often, so even if I'm in my race haze, it'll still be uplifting enough to see we're all in this together.

This post is coming off a lot more somber than I meant it to be! I'm thrilled to be going into this race healthy and thankful for the camaraderie I do have. Though I'm regularly seeing my sports chiro, it's for maintenance and improvement and not because I'm fighting an injury. Though the past month hasn't been ideal for training, sometimes cutting back to stay healthy is important. I tend to forget that taking on a really long trail run/race once a month is asking a lot from my body since this is all so new. I'd like to think I'll be a little more reserved for next years race schedule. Or at least one with a little more purpose, rather than haphazardly signing up for anything that sounds like fun. Hah!

Regardless of how tomorrow goes, I'm ready. I don't want to fail and I'll fight to make the 10 hour, 44 mile cut off. I like what Maureen said in her race recap of last years race, "I didn't just come here to run a 50k", and I think that's going to be one of my mantras tomorrow. I'm back to the eerily calm stage that I tend to occupy right before every race. Sometimes I just need to freak out a little to get here. And I'm here, and ready to go!! Now I only have to buy some Trailbutter, a power cookie for breakfast, package up Tailwind into baggies, throw everything into my drop, and then sleep!

Yep, this is happening!!

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