Saturday, July 27, 2013
Taper Thoughts- One Week till Death Race
"You're running what?! How far?!" my coach from university fumbles with the phone, I can hear him rubbing his head like I'm use to him doing after he hears something ridiculous.
"Neffster, you use to be a miler!" he chuckles.
"I still am coach, I'm just doing it eighty times.."
Not many people understand why someone would want to run 125km, over three mountain summits, in a single day. Even amongst racers, organizers, and fellow runners does anyone think this actually a good idea. One week out from the race and I think its a good idea to remember why I am doing it. What was I thinking nearly eight months ago when I signed up for this?
One of the biggest reasons is I'm getting ready to move out of Canada again, being transferred to Houston with work. In fact I leave just 4 days after the race. Although I know I will be back I wanted one last epic adventure, a Canadian one. Though there are so many routes on my list that I could have attempted this long weekend The Canadian Death Race stood out to me.
The CDR has given me a single goal to work for this entire year. I have had my doubts, through an injury in April and not wanting to mess up my race at Worlds in Poland after making the Canadian Mountain Running Team. And now just one week out from the race there is nothing I can do that will increase my chances, I can only hurt myself now. So I think back over this year and hope it was enough. My biggest mileage week, last week, was still 'only' 118km. It was fairly high intensity and done between 5000' and 10,200' elevation. To think I will have to cram that entire week into a single day is a little terrifying.
My dad, finisher of multiple marathons, still cannot fathom the training involved. His training included runs that were further than the race distance, how can you run a race fast if you can't run further than the distance slow? Fortunately for me the mileage does not have to increase with the race distance. Different programs work for different people. I recently raced my first 50km where I set the course record in 4:01. Prior to this race my furthest one was 29km when I was 14, and most recently a few trail half marathons last year would be my longest. I've gone over 30km in my long runs less than a handful of times and overall run between 30 and 118 kilometers a week with varying intensity and as much vertical as I can find. This is considered, even by some milers, low mileage. It seems to work for me, we'll find out on Saturday.
With this one adventure in mind it has made for a great year. I had a ton of "epics", runs through the mountains lasting for hours. Sometimes alone and other times with friends new and old, really motivated people who I have watch grow with me this year. The trails allow your personal barriers to fall, people that are mutually considered as competitors are now my friends. People I would never have talked to; older, slower runners are now great mentors to me. And the mountain, dangerous as they can be, have been magical. Through hip-deep snow, blistering sun, humanless landscapes, floods, winds that could push me over, cliffs requiring technical climbing, rain to hail and everything between. Encounters with bears, eagles, deer, moose, coyotes, foxes, snakes, mountain sheep, goats, and so many more were moments I paused and took in along with the views of sunsets, sun rises, snowy peaks, waterfalls, and lakes. As much as I ran this year I stopped just as often.
Its all coming together and to top it off my brother and dad will be joining the adventure by being my support crew. I cant think of a better way to have it, just the three boys driving along the Icefield's Parkway, staying in the mountains, and helping me through my highest of highs and lowest of lows that are undoubtedly coming.
My goals going into the race:
Listen to my body. It will tell me when I am thirsty, hungry, can go fast or slow, and hurt. The hardest thing to do will be able to differentiate between "I'm hurting" and "I'm hurt". This will be the most important thing. I am prepared to pull the pin. This goal should also be, get to Poland healthy.
Run smart. The pace is going to feel brutally slow for the first few hours, but the few minutes I save early will be worth hours late in the race. I need to run my own race and not that of other competitors, and really we're all in this together. I have not heard yet of any pro's coming, for sure there will be someone and I will be happy just to be in the same race as them.
My expectations are for leg one to feel easy, leg two to be a grind, leg three to be that leg in between two and four, leg four to be an epic, and leg five to be bringing her home with whatever is left. Its that simple. My only nightmare about this race is that I get stuck in the transition zone, that I forgot the instructions for my crew and they cant find anything and don't know what to do- that I forgot to print the mandatory gear list... I should really sort all of this out!
This week I've taken a few days off, getting back to work and after a big week of training at altitude I am tired. Tapering overall kind of sucks, my body feels better when I'm running. My appetite has been low and I love to eat! This weekend I will be running in Cochrane on Saturday morning with the Red Rock Runners and Canmore on Sunday with the Grizzly Ultra group, last few chances to see friends before I go.
What is my expected finish time? What is my expected placing?... I don't know. Its the mountains, its other people. You're going to have to wait till the end to find out just like me!
Stay tuned for race day announcements, I am going to try and have my brother hooked up on my Twitter account @TheNeffFace for real time updates.