Just 10 days to go before I fly off to Texas. With my last "long" run covered this past weekend (20 miles at an easy and metronome-steady 7:30 pace), I'm happy to put the "Officially Ready" stamp on my legs. All that's left now is to make the "Big 3" decisions:
1) What will be my pacing plan?
This one might not be determined until the first couple of laps are complete on race day. I've looked at all of the mile splits for everyone who has covered 135+ miles in the past 2 years, so I know the range of successful plans to consider. One thing is for certain, however. Once the gun goes off, I will be running MY race out there. If I feel comfortable running 7s and 8s for the first 50 miles, then I'll go with that. If the weather or my legs feel like an '8s and 9s' plan is more appropriate, so be it. One fact I know is the real race begins at about 80 miles. In looking at all the splits from the past, it's the people who can hold the 10s and 11s longest at the end (while avoiding a big crash) who come out most successful.
2) What will be my fueling plan?
This one is pretty much ironed out at this point in my ultra career. I'll stick with Water (lots of it), gels (every 30 mins), Perpetuem (1 bottle/hour), and S-Caps (1 per hour, more if humid). I might mix in a Mojo bar later on if I'm feeling hungry...and maybe a few gulps of Endurox in the middle too, but for 95% of the run, it'll just be the usual stuff. The part of this plan I haven't completely decided on is how much to carry while I run. I almost always start every race (and long training run) with my fuel belt (two bottles) and a hand-bottle so I can go the first 20 miles or so in a race without having to stop at all. I like how that lets me set a nice rhythm to my run for the first couple hours. In a race like this, however, I'll have access to my supplies on every mile lap if needed, so I might be tempted to start with less weight in the beginning and see how things go. I'll let the temperature and humidity convince me otherwise, and it will be easy enough to adjust if needed during the day.
3) What shoes will I wear?
I've got a couple test runs left to confirm this one, but right now I think I'm 99% convinced on this answer. There are two major things to consider in this race for me: Speed and Pain. I need to run 135 miles in 24 hours, and it's going to be close. Every little bit of extra speed I can steal will help, and a light-weight racing shoe will definitely make my legs feel like lightning out there. That said, the surface of this race is asphalt, and 135 miles on that in a shoe with less-than-robust cushion sounds like the recipe for tons of pain. The great news is, like I mentioned above, I'll have access to my supplies every mile. If I feel like I need to swap out my shoes after 20 or 120 miles, it won't be a problem. Lucky for me, I ran 192 miles on asphalt a couple months back, so I know what sort of pain to expect (a lot, no matter what). That said, I'm pretty sure I'll start out in Brooks ST Racers for the first part of the race and see how they hold up. Once I feel like I need a little more cushion, I'll go straight for my "Cadillacs" - Brooks Glycerin 6s. These things have more cushion in them than a furniture warehouse. Of course, there's the weight trade-off, so I'll hold off on the switch until I absolutely need it.
Aside from those 3 questions, everything else is set for the race. My post(s) next week will have the link to the Live Updates for the race, so if any of you are bored you can check in with the progress. Stay tuned!
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Wednesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Thursday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Friday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Saturday - 20 miles - Hains Point Loops
Sunday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Total: 62.5 miles
...and yes, after 700 miles of loop-torture training for this race, I am completely sick of Hains Point.