In 9 days I'll line up for a 100 mile race for the 3rd time looking for my 2nd finish. This is the time where I typically start feeling a bit unsettled.
I think it's likely normal for 100 mile novices like me because there is nothing more you can do to prepare yourself physically for the challenge, and a host of things you can do to derail whatever success you have perceived in your brain as a "goal".
My taper? Well, my taper hasn't started particularly well, but there was nothing I could do to change that. My wife and I bought our first home a week ago and spent the better part of the last week moving all of our crap over to the new house. I did my last real long run last Saturday night and I felt terrible. With all the moving of boxes and furniture, and my skinny runner ass, I was just exhausted. Perhaps I'll just have to go with the Joe Kulak method.
I've been trying to get some good sleep, though Oliver has made that difficult with some late night/early morning rousing due to sickness. So, I'm fairly resigned to picking up whatever he's got. Damn kids. Otherwise, things have been going really well, and I'm not injured which is really all you can ask for.
So, what are my goals? I'm not really sure, and I'm not entirely certain how I should go about it. My results this year have been the full bag; great, decent, and terrible. I'm confident about finishing (which is something everyone always says, thus cliche, but important nonetheless). Otherwise, with a new course/race, there is no historical precedent to look at to gain a decent understanding of where I could be. Going into Leadville last year, I knew I could look at the historical times of people who I'm usually finishing near in other races.
Looking to finish in a certain place is a fool's errand, and besides, the race is stacked. I have some concerns with regards to ruining my race early. First, the initial climb is steep, exposed, and starts at 1PM, which could make it pretty hot. Then, there's the fast miles from mile 7 to mile 40 where an overstepping of my fitness could set me up for a brutal second half. The fact that most of the run is at night actually doesn't bother me at all, as I really enjoy running at night on trail and it is something I practice quite often.
Where does that leave me? Who knows, but I think a sub-24 finish would be a solid time on the course, as it is at Wasatch. In regards to that place question? I'm realistic, and like Leadville, I think a top 10 finish would be simply my best effort on my best day, but likely not in the cards. I'll worry about that when I get back to Summit Lake. So, perhaps I'll just follow my Hellgate race plan: follow Karl Meltzer early and see how it feels. Besides, if anyone knows how to run a strong 100 it's him, right?