This race will officially mark the longest distance I’ve ever completed under my own power in one attempt. My previous record was 16 miles, which I completed when I was 20 during a Relay for Life event at the University of Illinois. I walked 16 miles on the track through the night. I don’t remember how long it took since it was 13 years ago. I’m sure there will be a fair amount of walking on Saturday.
I don’t know what to expect for this race. I was very prepared for the Harder ‘N Hell Half back in October. I’d run the entire course once, as well as multiple segments of the course. I’ve never been on this Zumbro course. It includes sand, which I can’t stand. I slept in my own bed the night before HNH; I’ll be sleeping in a hotel 20 miles away from the race start and 4 hours away from home. My mileage is similar, but I think the terrain was tougher last fall. I was doing more trail runs, more hills, some speed work, etc. This time around, I was working on building an aerobic base, and did a lot more treadmill or road running thanks to snow, ice, and darkness. I’ll have to do a comparison after the race is over.
My illness plus the running conditions (cold, icy, snowy, muddy, etc) that I’ve faced over the past few months have left me uncertain of my abilities. I also have done very little running over my target heart rate, so I don’t know what kind of speed I have at, say, an average of 145 bpm, or 150 bpm. What kind of a boost do I get if I let go of my self-imposed limitations? I don’t know.
The goal in the back of my mind for months has been 5 hours. So I’m going with that.
A Standard: 4:59:59
B Standard: 5:29:59
If it’s muddy, pouring rain, snowing, or the weather is otherwise extreme, goals take a backseat to finishing.
I need to maintain about a 17:38 pace in order to finish in 5 hours. I’m giving myself a little fudge factor, because the race is actually 16.7 miles long. That pace includes stopping at aid stations, which I want to minimize. I hope to refill on water and grab a snack or two at stations 2 and 4, and run through 1 and 3, unless I need water at 3. My friend is a ham radio operator at the 1 / 4 aid station, so I will have to make sure to say hi on my way through. The distance between aid stations in this race is pretty short (the longest distance between stations is 4.33 mi), so it’s very easy to skip a couple stops.
As always, I don’t want to puke, become incontinent, pass out, or otherwise have a medical emergency. I’ll have my heart rate monitor on and while I won’t be strictly regulating an aerobic pace, I will make sure that I’m at an aerobic HR before I start eating. I think that was my problem in HNH when I got nauseated and couldn’t eat. I was going uphill and my heart rate was probably pretty high, but I didn’t have a monitor and wasn’t as in tune to how I felt at different heart rates, so I tried to eat.
Starting the race in last/close to last worked well last time, so I think I’ll do that again. I can start off slowly and take the first climb at my own pace. I will run everything that I can, and walk the rest without feeling guilty about it. Post-race, I may stick around to help, or I may drive back to the hotel after eating plenty of food. I felt kind of crappy after the HNH but once I ate some fries and chicken tenders I felt amazing. I want to feel safe to make the drive back before I head out; I don’t need a low blood sugar situation taking hold while I’m driving down the highway.
I’m looking forward to getting out on the trails, cheering on 100 and 50 milers who pass me, high fiving people at the aid station, and overall having a rockin’ time. If I finish smiling, it’ll be a success.