Less than a month ago I had some pretty big doubts that I'd be able to ramp up my training fast enough to get in shape for the Northcoast 24 Hour race on October 3 in Cleveland. My insanely stubborn shin injury just didn't want to go away, and my training was very slow and comically short in the weeks leading up to August. I set a pretty tough schedule for that month knowing that it would be the deciding factor in terms of me either being able to get in shape for Cleveland or not. Basically, it was time to put-up or shut-up.
This weekend marks the end of that month-long test with the running of the 71-mile Massanutten Ring Trail, and I'm more than happy to say that I feel infinitely better than I thought I would at this point. The Viaduct 100 three-plus weeks ago went so perfectly to plan that I didn't need to take any time off the following week to recover. Last weekend's Cheat Mountain 50 went equally well (light issues aside), and my legs are already pulling at the leash like puppies ready to go play outside again. Lucky for them, in three days "The Ring" will put forth the toughest test for them thus far. My plan for this race is to use the same slow n' steady pace I've applied in the past two races, and hopefully I'll still have some gas left for the crazy climbs on the west side of the course. More important than my time or placement is getting in a few more healthy training miles to cap off this successful month of my running resurrection!
As for those who will actually be racing, I'm hoping a few of them feel like starting out slow like me before they really take off. I'd love to get to chat with some of the super-fast mountain goats in the field as the roster reads like an All-Star Massanutten 100 Miler list: Knipling, Andrish, Mason, Clapper, Sproston, etc...That's some serious mountain-running talent! I'd love to pick their brains to figure out how they run so well on such tough terrain. Any inside info I can gather from such speedy veterans can only help me the next time I line up to run the MMT100 out there.
I'll bring along my phone for the run and post a few updates throughout the day. I figure it'll take me somewhere between 17 and 19 hours to finish this thing if all goes well. ...and yes, I'll be sure to have extra batteries in my drop bag to make the night a little more enjoyable this time...Talk to you all from the trail!