This is it.
Tomorrow I leave for Washington, D.C., where on Saturday I’ll attempt to run 50 miles at the North Face Endurance Challenge.
Yesterday I went for my final training run. It was kinda hot, and I really wasn’t feeling the whole “running” thing. After what felt like a few miles, I looked down at my watch to see how much time I’d been out there.
10 minutes, when on Saturday I’m going to be running for 10 hours. And that’s if it goes well.
The longest I’ve ever run in my life is 5 hours, 40 minutes. The funny thing about this ultra running deal is that you can’t really train anywhere near the distance of your race. Sure, I could try to run 40 miles one day if I really wanted to be confident going in. But the general concensus is that the cost of doing so (in the form of stress on one’s body) is more than whatever might be gained from such a run.
I’ve heard that it takes 30 days to fully recover from a 30-mile run, 50 days for a 50-mile run, and so on. (Dean Karnazes, who’ll be at the race presenting awards, would beg to differ.) But if it’s true, then it’s hard to run an ultramarathon without taking a big leap of faith on race day.
In my case, the chasm I’m faithfully leaping is 19 miles long.
Bagels, Hummus, and Lots of Vaseline
My “to pack” list looks a little different than it has for marathons or 50K’s. Gels and sugary drinks have been replaced by bagels and peanut butter, hummus and pitas, and other actual meals. After all, in a 10-hour span on any other day, I’d eat three meals. If anything, I’ll need more than that on this day.
This time I’ll bring a change of shoes and socks for a nice refresher after 20 or 30 miles. And a tub of Vaseline and some blister shield powder for whatever new body part I discover when it’s chafing at mile 40. And a headlamp, required for all runners during the first hour of the race, since it starts at 5 in the morning.
And somehow, this all seems like a lot of fun. I guess that’s because it used to seem impossible.
Here Goes Nothing
So that’s it. I’ll head down to DC tomorrow to meet my friend Billy for a drink. (Even the night before an ultra, who can turn down the chance to have a beer with a beer blogger?) And then dark and early Saturday morning, I’ll take on the challenge I’ve been working toward for the past seven months.
If I can get it working, my Facebook page will automatically post updates as I cross several checkpoints on the course. If you’re into that, go join the page. (Personally, I’d suggest going for a run instead of sitting inside watching for Facebook updates!)
And for those of you who will be there running the race or one of the other distances, I’ll be wearing a red Charm City Run singlet (since they got me in free). So come give me a shout; I’m sure it will help us both keep going.
In the meantime, Christine will be back tomorrow with a post on five ways to spice up a dish that’s an absolute staple for vegetarian athletes.
Time to face the music.
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