I’m pulling into the home stretch here with my ultra training, with the big day just over 2 weeks away now. I would say that the past 3 months of training have gone especially well. Or at least very consistent if nothing else – without planning or trying, I’ve run 169 miles in each of the last 3 months.
This past weekend, I ran a solo 50k as my last big training run, 3 weeks out from race day. There wasn’t nearly as much elevation as I ideally would have liked, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get. I figure that at the end of the day, 50k is still 50k – which is to say, a long damn way to run. Overall I felt like it went pretty well, although when I finished, my initial reaction was holy crap I have to run another 19 miles in 3 weeks!
I started out slow and took it easy, walking any of the bigger uphill sections. I quietly passed the marathon mark around 4:25 (almost exactly how long it took me to run my first marathon). As a surprise, my wife and kids were out cheering for me around mile 28, which put a huge smile on my face and helped power me through those last few miles. I finished at my parents’ house, running a total of 31.2 miles in 5:18, a 10:11 minute/mile average. This 50k capped off my biggest running week to date, leaving me with 64.2 miles for the week. I was pleasantly surprised with how well I recovered afterwards. The day after I actually felt mostly normal again, and 2 days after my soreness was almost completely gone.
I used this run as the last big test of my hydration and nutrition plans for race day. My hydration pack holds 100oz of fluid, with a decent amount of storage space for food, some extra clothing, etc. There’s also a holster for an extra bottle across the bottom of the back of the pack, which I plan to make use of as well. I’m just going to carry water in the hydration pack, supplementing with 2 S-caps per hour. I’ll use the extra bottle to alternate between Gatorade and Perpetuem, since that will be much easier to refill at streams than the bladder in my hydration pack. And even though I can’t remember the last time I drank a soda, I’ve read in a number of places that for many ultrarunners, a flat Coke or Mountain Dew really hits the spot late in the race, so I’ll have those waiting for me in my drop bag at mile 38.
For fuel, I’m mostly planning on my usual favorites: Clif Shot Bloks and Honey Stinger Waffles. Additionally, I’ll be packing along some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and something I just tried for the first time on this 50k and really liked: PocketFuel. They’re easy to carry and are very calorie-dense, which is great for a long race like this.
One of the biggest concerns that I’ve always had about this race is that for the first 38 miles, you’re pretty much out there all on your own. If something bad happens, help is going to be a long way away. Fortunately, over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that I know several other people running this race (one that I ran together with for part of the Frost Bottom 25 miler in January, and the other I know from Dailymile). We’ve been emailing back and forth, and we all have pretty similarly relaxed race goals (to finish), so there’s a group of 4 of us that are at least going to start out together, and hopefully at least mostly stick together through mile 38 until we’re off the remote trail section.
The race starts bright and early at 6am on Saturday morning, July 28 (which also happens to be my dad’s 50th birthday, so I’ll be running 50 miles for my dad’s 50th – kinda cool!), and we’re supposed to be there and checked in an hour early. The start of the race is about 2 hours from Anchorage, which means I’ll be driving down there Friday night and camping at the start. I doubt I’ll be getting much sleep (but then again, I rarely get much sleep the night before a race), and then it will be time to start this big adventure!