Final Pre Fifty Miler Post

The next time I write a blog post, God, Newton & Hammer Nutrition willing, I will have completed my first 50 mile ultra-marathon. In no particular order, here's a list of thoughts regarding the race.

1. I've been asked about a time goal. Do I have one? What is it?
The answers are yes and no. First off, I am 100% comfortable with whatever happens. I can miss the following goal by two hours and will be fine with myself. But still, I am a competitive person. Moreover, the important thing about a time goal is that it can help you to set your pace early in the race when you don't want to go too fast.

In last week's newspaper article, I said I expected to come in around 8:30 and would be thrilled with an 8:15-8:20. Many articles say that a first time 50 miler should double their marathon time and add two hours. (3:20 x 2) + 2 = 8:40. However, I've noticed that many guys around my speed don't need that full 2 hours... many are closer to 1:40. Hence, 8:20.

In addition, my training runs have often had me around 3:50-3:55 for 25 miles. If we figure I'll be rested, tapered and racing, but will inevitably slide during the second half, it still puts me around 8:20.

To do this, I plan to go out around 8:40 pace (assuming I can see the pace in the dark) and maintain a running pace of 8:40ish as long as possible. There will be walking breaks, and eating breaks and blood sugar testing breaks, but when I'm on the go, I'm going to try to run 8:40 miles as long as possible.

And all of that being said, the last portion of the race will be a mystery. I remember coming into the last six miles of the Susquehanna Super Hike 45 minutes ahead of goal. "Surely, I can't lose 45 minutes in six miles!" I thought. But I did, and then some.. missing my goal by 23 minutes.

2. Will I listen to my iPod? Yes. In addition to music, I have the latest Stephen King book -- all 13 hours of it -- ready to go. I listened to 1 audio book on a long run and loved it and didn't have any drop in pace. The only thing I haven't decided is whether or not to start with the book. Part of me is worried about not being able to get into it if I wait too long to start it.

3. What will I eat? Anything that isn't nailed down. Though there will be a lot of food and Hammer Gels at the aid stations, I will be carrying plenty of Clif Bars. The advantage of aid station food is variety. The advantage of Clif Bars is I know the carb count. I'll mix it up as much as possible. All total, I expect to consume around 2500 calories and burn 5000.

4. Am I carrying a Camel-Bak? With aid stations no more than 6 miles apart, I won't need a Camel-Bak. But I love my hand-held bottle and will be carrying that. Typically, I carry water and take gels, but the ultra will have HEED, so I will likely drink that. However, you never know if they will mix it to the right strength, so I will have extra gel with me.

5. What am I wearing? This one bothered me much of the week. With a low temperature of 41 and a high of 48, you could justify shorts, or tights or sleeves. In the end, I'm pretty sure I'm going with shorts and Zensah calf sleeves, short sleeves and arm warmers. I expect to regret that decision for the first few miles, but will warm up nicely. And if the 50% chance of showers happens, my bare skin will be better than cold nylon tights. But still, I am packing the tights, just in case I change my mind.

6. Am I scared? Is there any chance I won't finish? How will I do it? These questions are all of the head trash variety and most of them don't come from other people. They come from the little voice inside my head. Here's how I answer it: Truth about these long runs is this, it's not about 50 miles. I have done so many 25-35 mile runs and at this pace, it's kind of boring, but it's not hard, so that doesn't scare me at all. What we're really talking about is the last 15 miles. While that's scary, as I've never ran more than 35 miles, in the end, it's only 15 miles of discomfort and I've done that many times. I know there will be a place where I ask myself, "How the hell am I going to do this?" because I've asked myself that question on every race of marathon distance I've ever done. I remember laughing on the trail of the Susquehanna Super Hike, being five miles from the end with utterly shot quads, honestly wondering how I would ever get it done. But in the end, the answer is simple: you get out of the mess the same way you got into it - one step at a time.

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