I couldn't be more psyched for the Ultra Centric 24 Hour race next weekend. All the hard work is done, and I consider it a great omen that I didn't miss a single workout over the past 10 week training period.
One note about my training for this race: For every race I like to add course-specific workouts to help prepare as much as possible leading up to each unique stretch of terrain. This can mean an increase in hill training, heat training, speed work, etc. For this 24 Hour race I saw the mental torture of the 1 mile loop course to be the biggest potential challenge (especially since I've never run a race like this before). It's easy to let the miles fly by when you're running out on country trails, but on such a short loop course without any new visual distractions, I was worried a bit about how I'd feel mentally as the race progressed.
To help prepare for this potential pit-fall, I ran more loops around my local Hains Point course in the past two months than I care to admit publicly (Ok, it was about 800 miles of loops). On some of the longer 40+ miles runs, I found myself nicely slipping into a running coma early on, needing my GPS watch to tell me how many miles I'd covered whenever I'd snap out of my fog. At this point, I'm 100% comfortable with the loop mentality...and since there's no better course to set your PRs on, I'm actually looking forward to setting my brain to the 'Spin' cycle and having some fun out there. My legs are 100% healthy, my confidence is brimming...it's time to fire that starting gun!
I'll be flying down to Texas on Thursday, and I'll be crashing with my awesome brother in-law Jeff who conveniently lives between the airport and the race site. In addition to Jeff, my parents-in-law will also be coming out from DC to lend their support during the weekend. Even though this type of loop course doesn't necessarily require any physical crew support, it will be great mentally to know they'll be checking in on me during the race.
My 3 goals for the race will be simple:
3) Break my PR for 50 miles - I'll never be on a faster track (assuming there isn't a monsoon on race day), so this one should be in the bag. Of course I should also mention I've only run one 50 mile race in my life (my first ultra), so it's really not that big of an accomplishment. I figure a steady and comfortable pace will bring me to 50 miles in a little under the 7:30 split I ran for the first half of the Umstead 100 in April. Not a big goal, really, but something fun to focus on in the first part of the day.
2) Break my PR for 100 miles - Again, there isn't a faster place to run a 100, so I'm guessing just by running my comfortable pace plan I'll cover the first 100 miles of this race somewhere in the 16 Hour range. The happiness of setting that mark will be quickly subdued as I know the next 35 miles will be the true test of pain and perseverance.
1) We all know this one. Run 135 miles, make the National Team, represent my country at the World Championships in Italy, eat a bunch of gellato out there after that race. I'm ready to do this!!
One more note: The website for the race hasn't been updated yet, but I understand there will be a link up there for the Live Updates during the race. I'll be sure to post my race report once I get back either way...until then, round and round and round I go!