Just a few weeks before this race, I set a new PR for the 50K distance at McDowell Mountain Frenzy. I know, a 50K PR doesn’t necessarily mean a ton with all the variation in trails, but it still felt like a pretty good accomplishment and boosted my confidence in my preparation for the Black Canyon 100K in February 2018.
Next up? Across the Years, starting the morning of New Year’s Eve and (theoretically) finishing the morning of New Year’s Day.
Laura put together a game plan to take the race on conservatively and run slower than one might think to run. Overall, her strategy worked out nicely as she and her running partner kept each other going.
My strategy, though, was to not really have a strategy. I’d run a pace that felt good, keep it no faster than 10-minute miles, and see how it goes. I put Finding Gobi on my phone via the Audible app and that got me through most of my race. Sure, the book is less than ten hours long, and I had planned on running 24 hours – right? Well, that changed…
I cranked through the half marathon distance at a decent clip. I had set a PR just months before running sub-9-minute miles, so this was no big deal.
By the time I got closer to the marathon distance, though, I was still running a pace that I wasn’t quite used to over that distance, and so I started to fade a bit…
Once I got to the 50K distance, I decided to take my first extended break where I actually sat down and ate a bit of a sandwich. I figured this would be the first of many breaks like this as I ran through the night. No big deal.
Yeah, so.. I started taking more breaks. Nothing big, but just decided to take care of myself along the way. Plus, my book was done at this point, so I didn’t even have that to keep me going. Music was fine, but it wasn’t nearly as distracting. Distractions are good with such a monotonous race as this. The people are great, but you can only get so excited about running a 1 mile flat loop, y’know?
By the time I hit 50 miles, I was under 11.5 hours into the race. 100 miles could be doable, but I really didn’t feel like it. My motivation was shot, and I took an extended rest break. The air had gotten cold and I found a heater, and that was pretty much it for me. I’d go back out for a handful more miles, both on my own and to accompany Laura, but I was fading fast.
New Year’s came around, and I celebrated with Laura and other friends. I was talking big heading into this race, in that I wanted to run the underwear beer mile after midnight and all that… Yeah, no. I layered up and laid down in the tent, not to emerge until the sun came up the next morning. Laura joined me some time later when her mileage had caught up to mine, and we crawled out into the next day to hobble around one final mile before turning in our trackers.
I felt pretty good about nailing down nearly 60 miles. It wasn’t quite what I thought I’d do, but it was more than enough for this venture. And I proved to myself that I could definitely run for the 100K distance. Game on, Black Canyon.