Friday, July 18, 2014

Preparing to Goat

Some years ago I ran hard up the Pfeifferhorn in mid-July and felt pretty good, and when a friend said that he was bailing from the inaugural Wasatch Speedgoat 50k at Snowbird I decided to take his entry and give it a go.  I told myself that I would quit before I got hurt, and as it turns out I did indeed quit, but at least I did it AFTER I pulled a groin muscle that precluded me from running the rest of the summer.  It was a good lesson to me that running big races takes a lot of preparation, especially when it's "the hardest 50k in the country" (is there a harder 60k? 40k?), and as such I have not done it over the ensuing years as the race has grown dramatically in stature.  But tomorrow I will "sharpen my hooves" as race director Karl Meltzer likes to say and give 'er a go.  Here's a link to the site with some race info:

I read a preview of this race that called it "short and fast", and I guess that it is if you are accustomed to big ultras that are long and slow.  But for this non-ultra runner (it'll be my first "real" ultra) it sounds really long; I've run for 6-9 hours really easy with plenty of nice chitchatting and snacking, and I've raced pretty hard for 3-4 hours a couple of times, but going hard for 6-7 hours - and on foot, not the less-poundage skis or bike - have not done that, and it's intimidating.  It sounds long enough for a pretty protracted sufferfest, but short enough that there is a strong allure to go fast and hang on (and create said sufferfest).  And even though I've "trained" (lots of good hard 10-13 milers, a few longer ones, and an encouraging outing at the Logan Peak race 3 weeks ago) and have scouted most of the course, it's still quite daunting to me.  And given the fact that I've ended up on the wrong end of an IV line more than once at the end of hot bike races I'm no camel in the heat.

In talking to folks about the race it seems like "Speedgoat" and "hard" are synonymous.  So I guess going into it with the mindset that indeed it will be "hard": too steep, too hot, too loose, too technical, too high, and too mean will likely help the head a bit as the inevitable fatigue and quad ache sets in.  and hey, this is what you pay your hundred bucks for!

It's been interesting setting up a strategy for the race; with the ability to have a drop bag (seems like the running world should adopt the cycling's far more romantic term: "mussette" bag) at the summit of Hidden Peak and lots of aid stations there are some gear options:  how much water to carry for each section?  how much food?  And after the last scouting mission this week with the indomitable Tom Goth who was sporting some 100g carbon fiber nordic poles, what about poles for the considerable steep marching?  I think I have a "plan" but of course I haven't actually executed my plan in practice, so it'll likely be a cluster.....

But I think if I keep myself in control on the first big climb and the first big descent and focus on moderation with the goal to feel "good" and charge in the latter  - and harder terrained - hours of the race and keep reminding myself of Ash's description of me as a "food and water weenie" and take the appropriate actions it should work out ok.  However, I've often said that nearly all race places are pretty well-set at the top of the first climb, and it'll be hard not to be lured into a "hard moderate" pace in the first third of the race getting dragged along by other folks and one's own adrenaline. But if I can sustain "hard moderate?"  That's good.  But it's likely that not sustaining it and blowing up would be worse than good .

But the truth is that it appears that this race is pretty stacked with plenty of phast pholks who will leave me far behind (success is a function of who shows up), so I will just chug along and whether I get 12th or 20th or 31st or 40th or 72nd......well, no one cares.  Begs the question of "why race?"  especially on such a wacky, contrived course that ekes 30 miles out of a medium-sized ski resort.  But that's perhaps fodder for another blawg post.

Ironically, for being a shoe guy my entire career, I had a bit of panic recently on shoes; I basically realized in the last week that all my viable shoes were shot.  So I'm about to run the hardest course I've ever done, but at least I'm doing in in new shoes......

In the meantime I gotta start eating pasta, drinking weird beverage products, smear too much sunscreen on and fill in my pores, pull on my geeky compression socks, cover my balding pate with a hat, get all my gear (for a simple sport like running!) in place, make sure my outfit looks good and all my many sponsors' logos are showing prominently, kiss my crucifix, and....sharpen my hooves.

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