To Boldly Go Where I Haven't Gone Before...

So three weeks from today, assuming I don't break a leg or something, I'll be an ultra-runner, with one ultra-marathon under my belt.

How does that happen, exactly? How do you go from saying that you're not training for a fall marathon in one blog post to announcing that you're taking stupid to a whole new level just two posts later? Well, first up, you don't blog so much. That helps. But beyond that, you do something I haven't made a habit of doing: you run a race that you're not trained, peaked or rested for.

This all started bout eight days ago (yes, that's how much mental planning has gone into the process, too... about as much as I typically put into mulching the yard) when my training buddy, Dave, mentioned the Susquehanna Super Hike and Ultra-Trail Run to me during a 12 mile run.

Dave and I - it should be said - are in a similar place, runningspirit-wise. I went into the late summer fairly fit but mentally fried, whereas he entered it too-soon removed from injury and illness to put together a good fall build. In a nutshell, we're strong, but not strong enough to attack a marathon plan and get the results we'd both want.

That said, we have been going out most weekends and doing long runs, though I haven't gone beyond 15 miles and I don't think he's gone beyond 12. But this isn't just an ultra-run we're doing. No, it's billed as a Super Hike, too, and with 8,700 feet of elevation, we're counting on there being more than enough walking to carry us through the 28.4 miles.

And that's another point - at 28.4 miles, this is firmly in the just-barely category of ultras, which are defined as anything beyond the marathon distance of 26.2. It's not like it's an ultra-ultra. Rather, it's just an ultra. So with all of those excuses in place, we thought, "What the hell?"

We're planning on doing this together, which should work out well for us. In a flat out run, my fitness might be a hair ahead of Dave, but where he has copious amounts of hiking experience and knows most of the trail, I've run a single small section of it exactly once. When you couple that with the fact that we've run countless numbers of 18-20 mile runs together, our plan to just have fun on this (or as much fun as a man can have on a 28 mile run) seems to make sense.

Diabetic-wise, I'm looking forward to it, too, as I'll be bringing more food with me than I ever have before and making use of the aid stations. Judging by last year's results (when the race was 25 miles), our best guess is that if we were peaked, rested and ready we'd go for about a 6:20, but we're not, so our casual goal - as much as it makes sense to even have a goal for an ultra you haven't trained for - is 7 hours. That's a long time to be active, so it'll be a good test for this diabetic.

Truth be told, I'm more nervous about the 3:30 or so wake-up call I'll need than I am about the actual race, which in my head seems more interesting and less grueling, though I expect it will have equal parts of both.

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