April 8, 2011

here goes nothing!

In just about 8 hours I'll start running, and somewhere between 10-13 hours later, I'll finally stop, having covered 50 miles from Sacramento to Auburn. AR 50 is finally here, after months of training and planning. All this week I've been trying not to focus on it, but I think the reality (and enormity) of it all finally hit me today, and I've been a ball of nerves ever since. Once I get going I know I'll relax a bit, but it's these final hours leading up to this crazy endeavor that have me a little tightly strung.

Physically, I feel adequately prepared. I probably didn't train as much as others, and in hindsight of course I could have done more. But I'm trying to focus on what I DID do: I got in some quality training, including some generous time on the trails and the course itself. I've hit my highest mileage months ever, watched my average pace drop resulting in a spontaneous half PR, and ran in all kinds of crazy storm weather. Physically, I feel as prepared as I could hope. If anything is going to be my downfall tomorrow, it will be my head. I can't let myself get psyched out or wrapped up in the numbers. 50 miles is a loooong way to go, and I can't get hung up on that. So my plan is to focus on simply getting to the next aid station. There are 12 total along the course, averaging about 3-4 miles apart. And since the first half of the race is along the bike trails on the parkway and the second half is on single-track trails I'll be treating each part as a separate race with a different game plan for each one.

gotta love those last 3 miles, aka Last Gasp!

To be honest, I'm more nervous about the first half, which may seem kind of strange. Physically it will be far easier: flat, paved, easy to navigate, earlier miles. But mentally I'm a little nervous. I've run much of this stretch in training and I know just how far things are. I just don't want to psych myself out that early in the race. But I'm hoping that the excitement of the day and the company of the other runners will make the first half fly by. My parents will be out there as will a few friends, and I plan on running with my coworker, Diane, who is also running the race. Oh, and this crazy guy will be out there as well : )

The second half I'm imagining will be more of a physical challenge since I'll have essentially run a marathon (and then some), but the technical terrain should make it a bit easier mentally. I'll also be picking up my pacer, Marina, around mile 27. Before hitting the single-track I'll be changing into my trail shoes and swapping my fuel belt for my Camelbak. Again, I'm hoping these swaps will make it seem like a whole different race. I'm kind of interested to see what happens once I hit 31 miles (the longest I've ever run) and still have another 19 to go...

I know I'm going to finish. The course cut-off is 13 hours, and as long as nothing tragic happens, this should be plenty of time. But of course, I do have some goals:

A goal: sub-11 hours
B goal: sub-12 hours
C goal: finish before cut-off

If I have a good day, I know I can finish around 11 hours. But ultimately, I'll be happy just finishing - after all, running 50 miles is no small feat, no matter how long it takes! And so I'll leave it at that and say goodnight - 3:30am is going to come very early!

See you on the other side!


  1. Good luck! Sounds like you've got the mental part of the game solidified, which I hear is 90% of ultras.

  2. Good luck today! I'll be thinking of you. :)

  3. Wow!!!! Good luck Rachel, you're my hero!

  4. can't wait to hear how it went!!