I've been thinking a lot lately about how to attack the Sun Mountain course, and previously I had mentioned that I thought I could go under 7:45. I've been breaking this down into pieces, because I think it's the most effective way to go about this.
There are 2 distinct courses in my view, piece 1 being 20 really fast miles. I think I'm in shape to run this section in about 2:27 without abusing my legs, the pace will be right about where I've been doing my easy runs, and after a small climb (4.5% over 2.5 miles) it's downhill mostly to the 20M water stop. 2:27 is roughly 7:50/m average.
The second "half" of the course is moderate to challenging 30M in a mixture of hill types. Having not been on the course, my calculations could be off, but I am trying to error on the side of caution by adding elevation if it comes into question. I see 4 climbs worth noting and 1 to know it's there. The first is right at 20M and extends 5 miles to the true halfway point at 6% it's not steep, but I'll have to stay motivated to not lose too much time and I'll be beginning to get tired. There is a small false summit, and a short climb about a mile after 26Mish.
The 3rd climb looks to be the steepest and shortest at well shorter than 1M but about +700' - 800' so it could be something like .5M at 30% (that's what I'm preparing for). I'll for sure hike that, it's later at 34M in and short enough that the hike will save energy and not lose too much time. The 4th climb is more like what I've been training on, 2M long at 11%, it's like Mt Falcon, just not as long. Actually it's like a mix between Mt Falcon and Green Mtn. So I know what to expect. That's at 38M so I'll be starting to hurt but smelling the line a bit.
The final climb isn't bad, and hopefully I'll have enough cajones to push it. It's about 1.5-2M long at about 5-6% so it's runnable, only it's at 46Mish and I'll be hurting for sure no matter how fast I get there. It seems that the course may be a bit short of 50M, but we'll see where they put the finish line!
So after what I'm assuming to be an extremely attainable 2:27 first 20M, there are 3 target zones for a good race in the last 30M.
Zone 1, balls to the wall: 5:00 flat over the last 30M (10:00/m pace). I think, THINK this is doable, but I've had one good last half to a 50 (leadville) and one bad (Steamboat). However, I feel like I'm much more ready than either of those races.
Zone 2, backing up my chatter :) 5:17:59 (10:35/m avg) would bring me in at 7:44:59 total time and allow me to be super happy my original goal was met. Still, I think this is super aggressive.
Zone 3, 5:30 (11:00/m avg) over the last 30M would bring me in at 7:57 total time and WAY below my PR either one you count (9:12 at a short course in Leadville 10:09 at a little long Steamboat). I think I should be able to hold this together as it allows for a lot of walking/hiking.
The bad place would be a potentially epic blowup, but I don't see it happening and I don't want to believe that it will happen. I think I'm ready and prepared to push it.
Looking at my training last year going into both 50's I peaked at 60 mpw, and that was abnormal, most weeks were 45-55 mpw or even lower. I feel much stronger, leaner, and fit with multiple 60+m weeks back to back. I'll keep training harder and more specific and try to be in "race shape" for the first time ever in June.