Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taper madness and pre race strategy

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k is less than 10 days away, and the old predictable routine has begun.

You know what I mean. You've felt it too.

As a goal race day approaches, your mind begins to drift back to your countless miles of training, the fueling strategies you tried on the long runs, the stretching, gear,'s enough to cause a headache.

But I sort of dig the mind game of it all. Of everything leading up to a marathon, I can't begin to imagine how many hours I spend just walking through race strategy and plans. I don't know why, but that part of the marathon game really speaks to me. I know, I'm weird.

Back to the original topic of this post; taper-time. I have decided that this week is the first taper week for me leading up to the race, and I have cut my mileage somewhat. I think more of the drop has been due to the near-cold temps that have been around at 4:30am these past few mornings. I haven't gotten out as much this week in the mornings, but have been doing shorter runs at either lunchtime, after work or evenings. Either way, my miles have declined about 30%, so the taper is on.

I should conclude this week with no more than 35 miles or so, and I'm targeting no more than 25 miles next week. I will be taking next Wednesday very lightly and taking Thursday and Friday off completely. I'm guessing most of you have a hard time not running whatsoever, even in the taper period. It's just hard, isn't it?

With all of my thoughts on strategy for the 50k, you would probably assume I have a well-laid plan by now.

Yeah, right.

Seriously, I'm going to make myself take it cautiously for the first half of the race (about 15 miles) and then pick up the pace, to whatever degree I can still "pick it up." Make no mistake, I plan to RACE this thing, and not just shoot to finish it. But, I am going to be smart also, and not blow a gasket at mile 5 or something equally dumb. The only real question I still have revolves around the start of the race. Because the entire race will be on some of the narrowest single track around, there will be zero opportunity to pass on most of the course. But, the race starts with a 200 foot long field that will allow the faster runners to distance themselves from the pack and get out in front. My only question is how far ahead of the pack should I position myself? I'm thinking the front 1/3, but I'm just not certain. Any thoughts on that one would be appreciated mucho.

Nutrition and hydration on the course will be plentiful. In fact, it's virtually a 50k buffet in terms of the chow that will be offered at the aid stations. The usual ultra fare of potatoes, pb/j sandwiches, cookies, fruit, pretzels, nuts, gels, etc. Sounds like a feast to me.

I'll be back shortly with a follow up.

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