Well, it is here! Tomorrow morning at 5:45am, I will be meeting Kara, Christian and 1100 of our best Ultrarunning friends in the Boonsboro High School gym to embark on this 50 mile trek. The weather forecast looks perfect - mostly sunny with highs in the lower 50s. We lucked out big time. In 2008, it was 19 degrees! It doesn't seem real. The pre-race briefing will take place at 6:20am and then all the runners will file out of the gym to walk about 900 meters to the start at 7am. From the very beginning of this journey, I have just said that my goal is to finish the 50 miles uninjured, which is still the plan, although I have put some time goals in place. My family arrived in Hagerstown last night and will be following me throughout the race. They need to know where I am going to be and when I am going to be there.
**There is not an automatic athlete tracking system, so my Aunt Jane is going to be the social media update queen and will post updates on Facebook and Twitter as I progress.**
So...time goals. This race can basically be broken down into three "legs":
LEG 1 (Miles 1 - 15.5): Kara and I have agreed to run this first section together. The first 5 miles gain over 1,100 feet in elevation. The course from 2.5 miles to 15.5 in on the Appalachian Trail. This section is rocky, rooty, slippery and covered in leaves, rolling across a mountain ridge. At 14.5 miles, the course drops 1,000 feet in a series of steep switchbacks. I didn't even know what a switchback was when I started training. They are as scary as they sound and must be taken slow. As Coach George recommended, I am going to think of it as a fast hike. TIME GOAL LEG 1 - 3 hours
LEG 2 (Miles 15.5 - 41.8): This 26.3 mile leg is on the C&O towpath. It's a flat surface covered in crushed gravel. This is the surface I did most of my long runs on, so I am very comfortable on that terrain. This is really where my "race" will be begin. The first 15 miles will be a warm up :-) TIME GOAL LEG 2: 4 hours 30 minutes
LEG 3 (Miles 41.8 - 50.2): This 8.4 mile section will no doubt be the hardest. I have no idea how I will feel mentally or physically. This leg is on a paved country road with rolling hills. I have a feeling these will be slow miles. TIME GOAL LEG 3: 2 hours
PREDICTED FINISH: Between 9 hours and 30 minutes and 10 hours (depending on stops at aid stations)
I have based this on past training runs, but it is entirely speculative. I have no idea how I am going to feel after that 32 mile point. It has helped me to mentally prepare by breaking it down though and I will just concentrate on one mile at a time. I can't focus on how I am going to feel at mile 38 when I am at mile 16. I have to concentrate on being in the moment and putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on what I can control like hydration and nutrition. I feel confident in my training. On a scale from 1-10, I give my training effort a 9.5. Although I feel like I gave it my all, we can always do a little more, right?
Tomorrow will be an emotional day for me, no doubt. I need to stay strong though. I only have one rule for myself: No tears until I cross that finish line. I will CONQUER this race.
If you want to cry for me as you watch the course Fly Over, that would be appreciated. :-)
JFK 50 Updated 10/2 from The Endurables on Vimeo.