TL;DR – MMT race plan and bigger goals
Season 12 has been rough. I thought I would have the perfect season. After 6 years of running, and two whole years of ultra training, that originally it seems I would have the least distractions and I would be well prepared for my 100 mile race at the MMT (Massanutten Mountain Trail) race.
Last season, I ended my training early due to my mom’s health issues. It led to a DNF (unfinished/dropped) in my final race. In that race, I injured my knee and left foot. I might have gone through some post race blues, and that delayed the start of training for this season until much later in February. Also we had some bad weather days in January, so I missed the first training run (MMT tr 1, and the WTF50 race).
I came into the season with a vague plan of how to tackle the MMT. Unfortunately on my first MMT training run (officially it was MMT TR2), I injured myself by pulling my hamstring. At the time I didn’t know what was wrong and thought it was just being tired, but a week later, it became severe enough to keep me from walking and running and even laying down was difficult because there was no position that would keep my hamstring from hurting. Don’t ask why I didn’t seek professional help.
This took about 8-10 weeks to recover. April came around. I was getting better with each passing week. I had to (re)build up my cardio. I ran two marathons: Newport News and Salisbury. I did much better by the second marathon. Since then, it was a mad dash to improve on my cardio and my endurance as much as possible. I ran an 8 hour endurance race night run. I felt I did well. I had a lot of fun.
As for MMT, I went on the remaining Training Runs (#3 & #4). I DNF’ed on my 3rd but redeemed myself on the fourth. Looking back, the only section I didn’t cover was the first 30 ish miles. I guess, you should always leave some unknowns for race day to have a bit of fun.
As of today, I feel stronger than ever been since the start of the year. My hammy though has not completely healed, but is around 95-99%. It shouldn’t hamper me. Some days it feels better but on some other days, there is a slight pull or at least a feeling of it. It is like some phantom pain. That is on me of not seeking PT to recover properly.
I can only run with the body I have as of now and not the body I want to have. During the training runs, I was jealous of many faster (and older) people who have the ability to dash up and down on the mountain and here I was panting.
My previous concerns regarding the MMT were whether I will make various cutoffs. I finally sat down and calculated the cutoff pace for each section of the MMT. Basically before mile 54, I need to keep a 17-18 min mile pace. It might seem easy on paper, but that has been the pace I am struggling with this whole season. My plan is to give myself about 5 mins at each aid station. After mile 54, I can go at a 22 min mile pace. This is also during the night time. So 22 min per mile makes sense because everyone slows down at night. The final few miles though requires a bit of a faster pace (I forgot what it is, but that part will be on the road). This is for a total 35 hour run. I plan to give myself a longer stop at the night time aid stations. All in all, the total time for all the stops will be around 130 mins and it gives about 33 hours of running. I will try to skip the first two aid stations, so I will make the final cutoff of 35 hours. It is a bit tight. We’ll see. I sat down and planned all these paces but usually on race day will be completely different because we will go according to what the circumstance (and body) dictates. Hopefully, I will be faster at the beginning so to give enough buffers for the night portion.
My strategy is to go slow in the beginning, but fast enough to make the cutoffs. The point is to get to mile 54. Then hopefully I could go faster after that and the cutoff threat would be off my mind since we have more time to get to the next station.
Currently the weather forecast is worrisome because it seems we will have some nasty storms heading our way. Both Saturday and Sunday shows rain. Temperature wise seems to be on the mild to hot side. Last weekend we had a cold spell, so I need to plan for the night if the temperature unexpectedly to be colder (imagine 50s and being wet).
I plan to take the day off work on Friday. I still need to prepare my drop bags. I plan to have about 5, Three bigger ones and two mini ones. The big one will have almost everything. Maybe two pairs of shoes for the drops (one at mile 30 ish and another around mile 65. The small ones will have a shirt and one or two items. Mini is for optional stuff. As for something I still need is food for Friday (lunch and dinner). Saturday morning breakfast / maybe lunch. The rest will depend on the Aid Stations. The Sunday after race lunch and dinner (5-6 meals). I plan to sleep in the forest for the night before driving home on Monday morning. A tent is needed.
Race checking in time is 1400h on Friday. Race day check in is 0300h on Saturday. I plan to leave for the camp around noon and will be camping out. I have some shopping to do first (for meals). I did my laundry. Still need to Pack and Label my stuff.
Probably very important is trying to get some weird snacks to keep myself awake on Saturday night. I had a hard time on my last two 100 mile races to keep myself awake at night. I haven’t found a formula that works. In those races, I somehow was able to push through the night, hard it might be. Some coffee beans might help.
Am I excited? I am hyped. I haven’t been able to sleep the last two nights. Yikes. I think I had some anxiety. I should be fine I am telling myself.
I have been a bit introspective, like what I have done for my training. I spent a sleepless night updating my journal pages here (WP). I hope they will be of help to someone if they look up my race reports. I don’t doubt whether I have done enough or what I could do better in regard to MMT. I also reflected on my goals.
One thing on my mind recently is what I want to do after this. A couple of weeks ago, I met a runner, Tek, who had similar goals as mine and she already finished them. It made me question myself whether I still want to do it. I know I will still run in all 50 states but I no longer see it as a life time pursuit as before. Even before meeting her, I already knew I could finish it in a year or two and there was no reason to drag it out to ten or twenty years other than for financial reasons. And I have been thinking about what to attempt next. My goal is a bit different from Tek, in that, I have no interest in getting a grand slam for ultra or to run a 100 mile in every state. I think that is crazy to even try and my ability is way below hers. Unlike her, I don’t sign up for a 50/100 mile race as a training run for another bigger race, at least not yet. There is no easy 100 for me nor is there an easy marathon.
My focus instead is either to hike the appalachian range or walk/run across the US. I can see I have more than 50% chance of success. I wrote about SubwaySean1, how he is walking across the country and I am tracking him closely. Also there is a local runner, Wardian, who is doing it in the opposite direction started about the same time frame. Wardian is running it around 50 miles a day, so he is expected to finish sooner. I follow Sean closely because he is a twitch streamer and is more interesting to watch. Wardian has a full support crew while Sean only has a baby carriage (self support) for his trek. Sean is nothing close to an endurance athlete, but Wardian is a seasoned ultra runner. This is Sean’s first rodeo and he is two weeks in! Sean’s planning though is amazing.
Those are the things I want to do, something a little bigger than what I think I can handle but at the same time I think I can do it. If there is a remote possibility I could do it and it is exciting, I should go and do them.
After a long post, so what, right? Indeed. Nothing will be accomplished unless I go out and do them. Back to why do I like to do them like running a 100 mile? I ask myself the same thing. The closest thing I could get is I like being alone for a long time doing nothing but running. It forces the mind and body to go into a special state that I found very relaxing. It is weird and I can only compare it to worship — I try to avoid using this word for a religious reason, but I think that is the closest I can describe it to be. Maybe more on this later.
ps: this was originally a scheduled post before my race, but technology didn’t work as intended or maybe it did except I didn’t see it being posted. I knew the internet connection at my race was bad. Sorry, if you receive this a second time. I will have the race report up when I get to it, probably by the next posting
One response to “Day476 i got this / anticipation”
Very excited to read the race report!! You got this!