Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dreaming Big! Pre Cascade Crest 100 Thoughts

Dreaming big is part of my journey to a Well-Balanced Life!

It's a tradition of mine to try to write my thoughts down regarding my preparations prior to any significant race. To be honest, this entry might read very similar to last years at about this time. Cascade Crest 100 will be my fourth 100 mile race, and second time toeing the line at Easton, WA (Cascade race headquarters). I'm no expert at the distance, and I'm not an exceptional runner, but I've had relative success. Third at my first 100, fifth at my second, and third again at Cascade last year. Although clearly among the faster runners at that distance, I've never had a break out 'Zen' like day in the mountains. Each time it's been a challenge, and each time I felt like I left plenty on the table.

Running 100 miles is a pretty arbitrary distance (why not 110?), but it fits pretty nicely into a full day on most trail courses. 24 hours is considered a very respectable finish time, so in that respect the distance makes some sort of sense. Running all day over tough terrain certainly can wreck the body (if only temporarily). Everything screams stop. Blistered feet, sore legs, sleep deprivation, nausea, and more all lurk around the corner. So why do this? I treat the race as an adventure, and as a celebration of athletic achievement. This isn't meant to sound arrogant. Every person that starts a race of this nature has sacrificed, and each person has trained to his or her ability. Each person is lining up knowing that the race might be their (again, temporary) undoing. Each starter is an athlete of supreme accomplishment no matter what finish times they have accrued in the past. I KNOW I can finish a marathon, most likely in under three hours. There is no way to know that a finish awaits anyone who starts a 100. My first 100 mile race finished only one third of the starters! And often those DNF's aren't pretty. The toughest runners and people in the world are stripped bare and left shivering and in tears on the top of a mountain at night. No one wants to quit. I want to see if I have what it takes. But I also want to celebrate natures beauty, my families love, and my love for them. I want to move with grace and respect for nature, my fellow competitors, and myself.

So with just two weeks to go my training is done. They hay is in the barn! I'm still running, but just to keep the legs sharp and preserve my fitness while allowing my body to fully rest and heal. Since Cascade Crest has some pretty long and fast descents I ran a hard downhill workout this week. Despite recent fast runs this workout left my calves very sore. I made sure to keep the effort level the next few days low to avoid injuring the sore muscles, and several days later I followed up with an easy morning run and then an afternoon hike up Stairway to Heaven here on Oahu. Again, the effort was easy, but the 3000' climb seemed to kick the funk out of the legs, and I'm ready to hit one last 'tempo' effort 15 miler this weekend.

Last year I had already run one 100, one 50, and several 30+ mile races. This left me with more recent experience, and perhaps more overall endurance. It also left me a little beaten up and tired! This year I've been training over 60 miles per week since the end of February. I've peaked over 80 miles per week, and I've done countless 'doubles' on the weekends, and several five to six hour runs. I'm ready, and I'll be more rested and recovered than last year. I'm hoping to beat last year's awesome (for me) 20:14 finish time, and I've got a split sheet with Rod Beins course record times on it (Rod finished in 18:26 in 2011). I think I have a good shot at beating my time from last year, and at least an outside chance to break out and run close to CR. We'll see. I fully respect the fact that the weather or my body might preclude such a run, and that my training or overall talent may not be enough to come close. The real goal is to run smart and have fun!

My main competition appears to be Brian Rusiecki. Brian is an elite level ultra marathoner with fast times at all distances, and a low 14 hour finish at the 2012 Vermont 100. He's raced a lot this year, so that could be bad for me or good for me. Race day will tell the tale! As always there are numerous runners new to the distance that have the potential to surprise anyone. Here's to remembering to run my own race for the first 12 hours (at least)...

For the Gear Geeks:
• Hydration will be via my Ultimate Direction AK pack. I almost chose to carry handheld water bottles, but this pack allows me to carry two bottles in my hands or to store them on my chest. The pack itself weighs only six ounces, so I'm sacrificing nothing. I like options!
• Nutrition will be primarily Gu energy gels. I try to get at least 300 calories an hour, plus whatever I can take in at aid stations. Backup energy will be Vega gels (primarily date paste), and a maltodextrin powder to dissolve in my water bottles. I'm also considering several applesauce packs in my drop bags. I have been able to stomach Gu for about 14 hours in the past, but the stomach begins to rebel, and it is crucial to keep calories coming in late in the race. Succeed S-caps will be my go-to salt supplement, but I don't expect to use many. I never supplement with salt in training, but it's better to have it and not need it!
• Shoes. I have foot problems. I can't seem to keep 10 toenails on at any given time! My feet are wide, and my middle toes seem to be slightly longer than normal. I have also suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, and some ligament/nerve problems in my ankles. Hoka Bondi B road shoes have become my go-to foot pillows. They look goofy, but the extra cushion makes up for the fashion faux pas. But the slow pace of 100's reduces impact, and the high stack height of Hokas sometimes causes me to roll my ankle where I wouldn't otherwise. I've ordered a pair of Scott Kinabalu trail shoes to check out. It's down to the wire, but the footwear is TBD!
• Shorts are going to be Patagonia's. I found a pair of 5" shorts that have side pouches that can hold four gels in each, and also a zipper back pocket.
• Lighting will be a Fenix LD22 flashlight and a Black Diamond Icon headlamp. The flashlight is bright enough to function by itself (just in case), but the combination gives incredible illumination, and the multiple angles really increases depth perception and highlights trip hazards. You can't have too much light!

I'm looking forward to our family vacation back to the incomparable Pacific Northwest, and I can't thank my wife enough for supporting me every step of the way. In a few weeks I'll let you guys know how it all went down!

You can follow along on race day at on August 24-25. Race kicks off at 10am Pacific time.