One month from today, I'll be toeing the line of the Stone Cat 50 Mile Trail Race. I'm just going to re-read that sentence until it stops making me nauseous, and then I'll declare myself ready. Yeeps.
From a strict mileage perspective, I feel prepared. I have executed an asinine amount of runs over 20 miles, as well as a 30+ miler. I have one more 28-30 mile run next weekend, and then I just let my body absorb all the work. I am not injured (knock some SERIOUS solid wood), and I feel strong. But my God am I slow..
Which brings me to the cut-off. Being a solid middle of the packer, I never have to worry about cut-offs in a race. Not being all "mightier than thou"; I have just never gone into a marathon worrying that I won't make the 6 hour time limit. This ultra trail running stuff is allllllllllll new territory for me. As I mentioned, I've run silly amounts of miles, but there hasn't been any speed-work. I've done it deliberately; with my surgery, and reaching higher mileage weeks, I knew I couldn't have it all. I sacrificed speed-work to avoid injury this training cycle. It worked (are you still knocking wood?), but when you run a bazillion slow miles, it gets to be all your body knows. Slow.
The Stone Cat course is a 12.5 mile loop which you repeat 4 times (for all of us that aren't so great at math, that equals 50. You're welcome). The race starts at 6:15am, and you must start your last loop by 3:15pm. Again, for all of us non-math majors, that gives runners 9 hours to run the first 37.5 miles, which is a 14:24 pace (min/mile). If I were reading this on someone else's blog who has run a marathon in the low 3:40's, I would laugh. And maybe you are too; but I'm scared to death.
For anyone who's done some trail running, you know that your pace slows dramatically from the pavement to the woods. And God KNOWS what I'm going to feel like at 34/35/36/37 miles; I may feel like Usain Bolt while rockin' 16 minute miles.
The goal of this race has been something dramatically different than any race I've done in the past (yes, including my first marathon) - to finish upright and preferably without too much damage. I'm trying to think of this cut-off as a friendly reminder that the volunteers and race staff don't want to have a sleep-over in the woods of Ipswich because I decided to tun a 50 miler in 20 hours.
In 31 days, I will have my very first 50-miler under my belt, and WILL collect my finisher's jacket. Even if that means attempting a 7 minute mile at mile 36 to make the cut-off. Maybe I should think about ordering some rocket-launcher shoes.. Hmmmmmm...