This Saturday is the day. I’m as ready as I can be. My body is tired. I went home early yesterday and slept for a few hours. I still had trouble getting out of bed this morning. My resting heart rate is good (53 bpm), so I’m not concerned it’s an over-training issue. I even skipped last night’s workout because I didn’t get out of bed until 6 p.m. I’m hopeful I can catch a few extra hours of sleep over the next few days. I don’t think tiredness will negatively impact race in and of itself, but when I’m sleepy it’s really difficult to resist the temptation to eat something sugary, and too much sugar just leads to more sugar.
My left knee still hurts. It feels better when taped, but the tape is irritating my skin. I think I’ll tape it during the day for the next few days, and then take the tape off before going to bed. The most important thing is to be able to tape it up on race day.
Tonight, I trim my toenails. Don’t laugh – this is an important pre-race ritual. Tomorrow night, I’ll get as much of my gear ready as I can. I plan to leave work early Friday so I can get to bed really early, too. I’m planning to get up at 3:30 a.m. so I’ll have enough time for breakfast to settle before the race starts. I’m starting at 6 a.m., and I want to be there an hour early.
The last few runs over Badger I’ve used the trekking poles. I’m faster going up hill with them, but stowing them while moving is still an issue. I can walk while I do it, but I can’t really run. It’s hard to simulate that activity in my living room, but I’m going to keep trying to get better at it. On the return trip up the backside of Candy, I think it’ll be worth having carried them the entire day: the backside is hella steep in spots (in excess of a 20% grade), and the trail has a lot of loose basalt chunks. Anything I can do to help even out my cadence while climbing and be more stable on the way up is worth it!
Most ultra runners race about Black Diamond’s z-poles. They’re light, and they stow quickly and easily. But alas, I needed new trail shoes last month, and I bought an Orange Mud endurance pack – wonderful, but pricey – so plunking down a $100 for another piece of equipment is out of the question right now. I’m using my less-collapsible Atlas trekking poles. If I decide to continue with this madness, I’ll treat myself to the z-poles.
I’m excited. The race is now 33.9 miles, but the race director added an extra half-hour to our allowed time. That makes the average pace for 9 1/2 hours 16:48/mile; 9 hours, 15:56/mile; and 8 hours, 14:12/mile. I ran an 8-mile route on Badger last weekend at 16:18; the week before, I did a 8-mile Badger tour at 16:38/mile and an 16-mile tour at 17:32/mile. I’m hopeful that this last week of tapering, combined with my unwillingness to ever give up during a race, will be the boost I need to complete the course in time. The new course doesn’t go up and over Red Mountain, so there’s fewer steep climbs and descents – my quads should be in relatively decent shape as I make it back to Candy & Badger.
Packet pick-up is Friday. I’m also going to swing by a local bagel place and pick up bagels for my race fuel. (Yay! Simple carbs! I swear that’s the primary reason I race – I can eat simple carbs without logging it.) I imagine I’ll be fighting back nausea as I get closer to the start time. This is my first ultra. My goals going in were 1) Survive training, 2) Finish, and 3) Finish within the cutoff. I’ve met goal number one, I’m confident I’ll make goal number two, and goal number three is within reach. My body is ready, my mind is ready. Three more sleeps and I’m there!
RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION!