Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Registered for my First Ultra Race!

I realize that after Mt. Everest and compared to Mt. Everest, the things that seem like a big deal to me, no one else really cares about. I think this is really the process of me learning marketing. How do I make some crazy thing that happens slowly and right outside the place you live, seem as interesting as a far away exotic thing? Not sure, but I'll start by just talking about it.

My first official ultra distance race, a race longer than a marathon, will be the North Coast 24 Hour Endurance Run in Cleveland, Ohio in two weeks. I am so excited! This is going to be crazy! Here's the deal, it is a 0.9 mile loop of pavement, and the goal is to see how many times in a row a person can go around it in 24 hours. This is going to be fun!

Where to start, most people take a progressive approach to ultramarathon running, first run a 50k, then run a 50 mile, then a 100k then finally a 100 mile race, and maybe for a few crazed souls a 24 hour race (and for the really insane people there are such things as  a48 hour, 72 hour, 200 mile, and the grand daddy… the six day race). So for me a 50k is just not interesting. Why don't you just make it a marathon and double the number of people that do it? Now the 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile distances are all interesting. Plus, there are a lot of odd distance trail races out there like 135 miles of Badwater. They are all interesting, and I plan to get into ultra running more seriously when I am older and run them, the challenge is that many of those are out on trails in the wilderness. Even though it is a race, and there are staff and volunteers, you're still out there and something can go wrong. In two of my three serious marathons I've been taken into the medical tent. So on such a short loop, I can never get very far away from another runner, the start line facilities, and hopefully I don't get lost on a paved loop in a city park, but don't rule it out. In short, it becomes my own personal aid station every mile, with whatever coffee, fruit, juices, and salt that I desire. I think that will be a huge advantage for my first ultra, because when things go bad, and you know they will, I can take a drink or eat something or change my shoes or socks.

I'm going to set a ton of personal records. 40 miles, 50 miles… most miles run in six hours… you name it, I'm going to put down more leagues than I ever have!

Plus, how I look at a 24 hour race is like this:
8 miles per hour - you just broke the world record by 3 miles, nice job!
7 miles per hour - you're one of the ten best in the world
6 miles per hour - you're one of the ten best in the USA
5 miles per hour - wow, that's amazing, people are going to be stunned
4.2 miles per hour - you just ran 100 miles… in one day.

Personally I look at that, and I won't give away my goals or pacing strategy until after the race, but 100 miles in 24 hours is a fast walk. I must be able to do that. Of course, who knows!? Unlike the Wonderland Trail or running the Sawatch, this is a race and it is flat which means using exactly the same muscles for every step, but even if it goes really poorly, it only lasts 24 hours, not 34. There is comfort in knowing it can't go on forever.

It's a USA championship. Which mean the opportunity to compete against many of the best 24 hour runners out there. Plus, the possibility to make it to the next level... Competition will be high, which is good.

My biggest fear is the nutrition side of things. Physically, I know I am capable of running a lot of miles. Mentally, I know I will go to a rough place with hate and tears and fears, but it's only 24 hours on a flat paved trail in Cleveland, so I'm not really that worried about it. If I can give myself back pain from stress and fear, I can run for 24 hours. The challenge will be eating and drinking the right kinds of foods that I am burning up at 70+ calories per lap. I've already jotted down some notes on nutrition and I will have one or two more blog posts about my preperation going into this before it happens, and of course an article afterward.

I'm leaving Dubuque Friday night and if anyone wants to come with me I'll pay for all the gas. There are still entry slots left open if you want to run. I'm actually pretty concerned about my ability to drive nine hours home Sunday safely and get enough sleep to make it into work at 7 AM Monday. A copilot would be much appreciated.

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