Heading for (Double) Trouble

As mentioned previously, my first key race of the fall is the North Face Endurance Challenge, in October. That will be my 2nd 50 miler, but the first on a truly technical course. (My 2nd "key" race will be the Sacramento Marathon in Dec... a much different race)

But being prepared for the Endurance Challenge means some interesting "challenges," along the way, the first of which is this weekend's Double Trouble.

The reason for the name is simple. The Double Trouble consists of a 15k loop (9.3 miles). Once you run the first loop, your results are recorded for the 15k race. But then, you're welcome to continue for another loop. Hence the 30k and the name.

Unlike any other race I've done, you don't even need to decide whether or not you're continuing until you finish the first loop. Thus, runners can (and do) finish up to 2 races, and are even eligible for awards in both.

As for me, this will be my longest trail race in a couple of years, but I've been on the trails often for the past 2 months, so I'm in better trail shape than I have been in some time. Still, pacing on the trails can be a challenge, so the biggest thing I'll be working on (in addition to blood sugar control and not falling) will be pace, and to accomplish that, I'll be keeping a close watch on my heart rate. My goal for the race will be to keep it around my marathon HR (141-144) for the reason that the terrain means the race should take me just under 3 hours to cover the 18.6 miles. During road training, I was training to maintain that HR for about 3:10. Of course, the terrain, temperature and a lot of other things will be different on Sunday, but that's a good way to at least make an attempt at it.

If I can come in around that time, I stand a chance to sneak into an AG award. Placing in my AG for road races is fairly common these days, but I'm not at the point where I have that confidence on the trails. Simply put, there are fast guys who train hard on the trails, and it takes a good race to put them behind me. I did manage to place last year in a 16 mile trail race, but it was a smaller field than what I'm likely to find on Sunday. Still, it's never about trying to manage the results.. if I can get my HR and blood sugars where I want them for the 30k, I'll be glad to take what comes my way, regardless of place.

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