The last couple weeks of training have basically been just a waiting game. Every few days I try to get in a little run just to make sure my legs are still working okay and I haven't lost my running lungs. There are lots of theories on tapering...I don't really know what works best for me, but I like the thought that goes something like "It's better to be too well rested than injured." There is just a constant worry that I am doing something wrong that is going to cause me to suffer more later.
I try to work as normal, but it is hard not to stop and check the forecast again, or run some of the logistics through my head "one more time"...maybe even check out a couple 100 mile training plans just to remind myself that I have done all I can do at this point. The closer race day gets, obviously, the more anxious I get. So, let me just get it over with and write down a few of my worries, and then I will let them go (Lord willing) and share some very encouraging thoughts about my race day.
1. I have committed to stop training for 100 milers after this one (at least until my kids are grown and out of the house). This actually puts a lot of stress on me. I HAVE to finish and do well or I will have so many regrets afterwards.
2. I have finished a couple 50's, but only completed one 100 miler, I DNFed (Did Not Finish) my second attempt, dropping at about mile 70. I would really like to have two finishes and confirm in my mind that the DNF was a fluke instead of having two DNFs and wonder if my first finish was a fluke!
3. There is the little fear that my leg will not hold up. After a severe break in my left tibia/fibula bones a few years ago (plates and screws are still in place), I was fortunate to be able to finish the 50 miler last year, but what if I'm not able to handle it after that?
4. I have vowed to have a personal cut-off time of 26 hours (instead of the official 30 hour cut-off) if I have not finished, in order to make it to Sunday School class on time. Can you imagine the disappointment if I have to quit a mile or so from the finish line? Do you know how hard that would be to do?!
5. In training for the 100 miler I finished (25:34:00), I completed a 50 mile training run, this training period, my furthest runs were the two 30's I did a couple weeks apart. Was that enough?
6. I have been so happy that I have had no injuries this whole training period, and not so much as a cold the entire time. Then, the other day I went camping and felt a sinus infection coming on. This was followed by severe case of sickness (several bouts of violent vomiting that actually busted blood vessels in my eyes, under my bottom eyelids). I got completely dehydrated from throwing up, and very weak and remained dizzy and nauseous. What if I have another bout on race day?
7. Then there are a plethora of other concerns: What if that plantars wart bothers me? What about that ingrown toenail? What about chaffing between my legs?!!!
There, I wrote them down! Now I am going to leave them alone and stop stressing about them. It is time to start thinking positive. Here is what I have to look forward to in a couple days:
1. The weather is supposed to be wonderful! It looks like high in the 70s (a little warm, but I'll take it over a blizzard like we had last year any day). Lows are in the 40s-50's with no chance of rain (they say) and a light wind.
2. I have had some pretty good training. In January, I ran 10 miles per day for 10 days (100 miles in 10 days) and got by just fine. In February, I had two days of 10 miles in the morning and 10 miles at night (20 miles per day), followed by a 10 miler with no walk breaks (about 10 min/mile pace), again with no problems. In March, I ran two 30 milers and finished very strong both times. Although I didn't work on speed at all, I ended up being able to run a 14 miler at a 10 min/mile pace and some shorter runs at a 9 min/mile pace without too much effort. I know I could have went much faster! Now, that might not be where I wanted to be (I had very high expectations about being faster, running longer, and losing another 10 lbs), but that seems to be plenty of training!
3. The fact that there has been no real injuries or sicknesses lets me know that I have been pretty healthy. And although my leg still acts up when the weather changes, it has never bothered me much after a long run (in fact, it often feels better when I am running than it does when I am not). This is a good sign about my physical condition regardless of how much better I would like it to be.
4. My wife and kids will be there to support me! Plus, I have many folks encouraging me and many of my church family praying for me. Can't get any better than that!
5. I've got a pretty easy plan: try to average 14 minutes per mile and keep on moving forward! Very few actually run these things to race (the top 5-10%, maybe). For the majority of us, it is a race about finishing and meeting your personal goals (perhaps even setting some personal records), but there is no stress about needing to compete against anybody on the course.
So, there it is! A 100 miler is no joke, that is for sure. It's going to hurt. I'm going to be very sore and exhausted... both mentally and physically drained. I am going to be miserable all day Sunday as I try to stay awake and not cramp up, let alone try to teach Sunday School and "Children's Church," lead singing, choir practice...and whatever else I will need to do...but I know all of that going in to this thing! This is what I love for some strange, unknown (freakish) reason. I like pushing my body to its limits. I like seeing how far I can go and how much I can endure. I'm ready for this!
Now, let's get it over already!!!
If you want to follow my progress on Saturday, my wife should be posting some updates on my Facebook account. Otherwise, I will give a detailed race report sometime afterwards. Also, you can see the results as runners finish at http://ozendurance.net/race-results/prairie-spirit-trail-100-50-mile-ultra-races/