No, I didn't get into the race this year, and I won't be taking my revenge on the course that beat me up last year, BUT I get to do the next best thing out in Massanutten country this weekend: Pace! Lucky for me, speedy Nick Pedatella from Colorado needed a pacer, so I have the chance to use my course knowledge and experience to help a really talented runner through the night. I'll be crewing with Nick's parents during the day, and then hopping in to run at 6pm (official start for pacing) for the last 30 miles or so. I'm super excited for this!! ...and that's not just because Nick has been named by Karl Meltzer as the "dark horse" favorite to contend this weekend!
Speaking of the favorites, this race will be a blast to watch from a fan standpoint this year. Next to Western States, this has to be the most loaded group of talent for a 100 miler this year. I see about 10 guys who could realistically win the race (Karl does a good job of listing odds in his post), and I'm psyched to have a front-row seat for the first 70 miles of watching it all unfold!
The bummer news for the week is that there's a good chance this could be my last run for a while. My shin injury has flared up again, and I see no solution but to shut things down for a month or so to let it heal completely. Sure, I was able to fake it while training for and running the Bull Run 50 (running at 75% during training runs and during the race), but as soon as I tried to ramp it back up to normal speed this past week, the shin barked back. Frustrating, yes, but it's not the end of the world. I'll be fine for this weekend's 30 miles of pacing (Nick will already have 70 miles on his legs when I hop in, so "speed" shouldn't be an issue!), and then I'll see how it feels next week. If there's any pain at all, I'll pull the plug on running for a few weeks.
The big disappointment for me is I most likely won't be able to run the Mohican 100 in June. This was my focus race for the first part of 2009, and I really hoped to contend for the win out there. Oh well. That's what I get for opening my big mouth and saying I wanted to win the race. The Gods of Ultra Running are clearly sending me a message: Don't be greedy. I need to remember these races are more about enjoying nature and the company of similarly-crazy runners. Trying to hobble through miserable training runs on a bad leg for the sole purpose of trying to win a 100 miler really isn't what it's all about. How stupid of me to lose focus like this!
The good news about this shut-down period: Once I heal up, I'll be healthy and ready to train for the US 24 Nationals in October. ...and my training goal won't be to try and rack up insane miles, rather, I'll just focus on running smart and healthy during the summer. If I do that, I'll be in great shape to rack up some happy miles in Cleveland and let the chips fall where they may.