First of, let me congratulate everyone for their fantastic performances at the 24-Hour National Championship this past weekend in Cleveland! I certainly missed being there to share in the fun (and try for one of the automatic bids for Team USA like last year), but my "real life" schedule (work & a wedding) never really made it possible for me to consider it this time around. It was fun cheering on my friends from my computer throughout the race though, and Serge Arbona and Phil McCarthy showed their grit and racing smarts by hanging on to finish 1st and 2nd for the men and earn their spots on the Team for next year's World Championship in Switzerland. Also impressive was the young (23 years old!) but strong and smart Nick Coury who charged past the 135 mile mark in the final hour to grab the last automatic spot on the team. Great job, guys! On the ladies side, Connie Gardner stormed back to the top of the 24 Hour world by winning the ladies' championship (and finishing 2nd overall!) with Anne Riddle Lundblad and Anna Piskorska securing the other two spots on the Team. Fantastic running, Ladies!!
What does all of the above have to do with my race this weekend? Well, with Serge, Phil, and Nick officially on the team...and Mike Henze's impressive 154.5 miles at the worlds pretty much guaranteeing him an open qualifying spot...and the likely odds that Scott Jurek will not run World's next year (thus opening up his automatic spot on the team to the rest of us)...that means there are probably two spots left up-for-grabs on the team. Depending on how far back they stretch the qualifying window (it's been 18 months recently), it most likely means I'll need to run somewhere in the 141-145 mile range this weekend to have a good chance of grabbing one of the final two spots. There are still 3 or 4 more 24-Hour races left in the year (including the return of Across the Years) too, so nothing is guaranteed for me, but if I can grind out a 145, I think I'll be in pretty good shape.
So, do I think I can run 145 miles in Ottawa? Sure, why not?! I'll be running in a dome, so weather is taken out of the equation...and unless the 1/4 mile loops make me loopy, the flat and fast surface should certainly help me maximize my potential. I'll also be heading up to the race solo and running without a crew. Some may see this as a detriment, but I've actually run some of my best races when I've been all alone. Obviously I love having a crew and family/friends cheering for me, but when I'm alone I've found that I'm able to reach a tremendously deep level of concentration and focus as I slip into my running coma out there. I'll lose a little time mixing my drinks, etc, but in the long run of a 24 hour race, it really won't matter too much.
I'm excited to head up north and put forth the best effort I can. It'll definitely be the last race of the year for me (I did get into Mountain Masochist, to which I applied months ago, but if I do head down for that race in November it will literally be on zero training and I'll plan to just use it as a fun scouting run for a future "race" attempt). I need a solid 5 or 6 weeks of NO RUNNING between Ottawa and November to recharge my legs and bring back the excitement and desire for putting in a serious training period for 2011 (Read: I'm a little burned out on running right now!). No matter what happens in Ottawa, I'll enjoy 24 hours of peaceful calm as I loop the track at 9 minute pace and reflect on the ups and downs of the past 14 months of running. I fell short of a few goals, sure, but I also learned quite a few lessons along the way that will help me come back as a stronger and smarter runner next year. Sure, it'll be great to show off those new smarts in Switzerland as a return member of the Team, but I know I'll find some great new running challenges in 2011 no matter what happens in this final chapter of 2010!