I’m only a few days away from my first 100 mile race and I’ve got a million thoughts running through my head. My goal has always been simple, just finish! The more I think about the best way to accomplish my goal of finishing I keep coming back to the same basic principle; efficiency. I want to cover as much ground as possible while exerting the least amount of energy.
I’ve settled on a three part strategy to get me home.
The first thing I have to do is walk up every hill. It takes too much energy to run up hills and you can hike up them without loosing too much time, but saving a ton of energy. When I’m walking I have to remind myself to walk with a purpose and maintain my effort.
The second thing I have to do is take care of my food needs and my body’s needs. I have to come through every aid station with a game plan. Even if I’m not hungry or especially thirsty early on I must stop, I must eat, I must drink, and I must take aid with me. If I have any ache, pain, discomfort, or stomach issue I have to address it early on before it becomes a bigger issue. It could be an hour or two until I come upon another aid station and I have to make sure I’m 100% ready before I move on.
The third thing I have to do run as comfortably as possible during the flat and downhill section. Don’t run too fast, it’s 100 miles there’s no rush, but also don’t run too slow. From what I can tell I’m actually a more efficient runner when I run 9:00 pace as opposed to 11:00 pace. When I try and slow it down too much my form gets sloppy and I develop a lot more aches and pains. I know it sounds crazy but my most efficient stride is somewhere in the 8:30-9:30 pace. When you factor in all the walking up hills and time at aid stations this will probably work out to 13:00 average pace, which is right about where I should be.
Regardless of my pace early on and no matter how well I take care of myself at the aid station I’m going to be hurting after so many hours out on the trail. That’s just a reality I’m ready for. I want to make sure I cover as much ground as possible while I’m feeling well so that I’ve got fewer miles to struggle through late in the race. The key words are run comfortably and efficiently (I promise I won’t be out there pushing the pace, which is typically my tendency).
I feel very lucky to have such a good group of running friends that have stepped up to help pace me during the race. The plan is to have my friend Roger pace me from 61-75, Vince pace me from 75-90 with Sandy joining us from 82-90, and my dad brining me home from 90-100. My friend Dave is also joining me for some miles as well, but he’s going to be a floater. I may even have my wife’s friend Jeanette join me for a few miles. My hope is that they really enjoy their time out of the trail and help out another runner if someone is in dire need of a pacer. They are all accomplished marathoners and well conditioned to pace for long stretches. I know some of you are probably laughing and will tease me about bringing an entourage, but I want to share the Mohican experience with as many people as possible. I want people to fall in love with trail running like I have. I’m sure I’ll want to go the tough-man route without a crew for a 100 eventually, but I’m happy to share the experience for my first 100.
I’ve been looking forward to this race since 1995 when I was 13 years old cheering Ron Ross on, as my dad paced him to a Mohican finish. At the time I flippantly thought, “I’ll run Mohican one day, this looks cool”. I haven’t been able to get that thought out of my head, even 14 years later. I can’t wait until Saturday morning at 5:00 am, when I get to create my own Mohican experience.
Mohican I hope you’re ready for us!