I’m just about as ready as I can be for Race Day, and I feel strong as Friday approaches. The reduced volume of training this week has given me extra time to make race day plans and go shopping for supplies. This is my first 100 mile race, so I am sure that I will learn a lot about what I need and don’t need on the run. I ran 33 miles of the Creeper Trail course in June on a training run, so that really helps as far as anticipating the terrain and elevation. I know that I will learn a lot about limits on this course, as I push further than I’ve gone before, but thankfully, I will have family and friends (both in body and spirit) there with me to help!
I always pick a verse for my goal races instead of thinking of a mantra, and that helps me refocus and remember that God is in control, and as my Creator, He designed me to run for His glory. I chose Isaiah 40:26 for this race because it is a reminder that out of all of humanity, God knows each one of us. He created me to run and He knows my passions. He also created my sweet little baby, not one of them is missing, and He loves her individually.
Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.
About the course: You can see more about the course here. In summary, this is an out and back, out again course, so I will run the same 33ish miles three times. The trail is an old railroad bed, so it is mostly smooth and wide. The elevation profile is like a tipped bowl, where most of the first 33 miles will be descending from White Top Station to Abingdon, then I’ll run back up and then down again. The risk is that it is easy to go out fast downhill for the first 33 miles and bust your quads for the last 66+ miles. There are 5 aid stations that runners will pass multiple times due to the out and back nature of the course. It is anticipated to be in the mid to upper 60s during the day and in the low 40s at night. I am told that White Top Station can feel downright cold and layers are necessary.
My crew and pacers: My husband is my number one support in every way, and he will be critical in helping me on race day, as he knows me better than anyone. My parents are joining to help watch Cadence and crew during the day. Finally, I have an awesome new speedy friend, Katie, who will be coming out with her husband and baby as well. I met Katie through Instagram (@katyhaytay) when she was traveling to Atlanta. She’s from Memphis, so this is no small commitment from her. We went for a run together, bonded over running, babies, and Jesus, and the rest is history. Actually, it’s not quite history yet, but it will be after she paces me through the night with a headlamp blazing the trail!
How I expect for the day to go: For people unfamiliar with trail running or ultra marathons, there are a few things that are very different from road racing. Endurance running most often involves a mix of running and fast hiking. I won’t be running the whole time, but I would like to keep moving forward as quickly as reasonable. I’ll carry my food and water with me in my hydration vest and restock at aid stations and when I meet with my crew (parents, Jon, and Katie). The fuel that I plan to carry includes gels, shot blocs, pouches, and bars. Plus, I have a variety of foods to eat when I meet with my crew and at the aid stations. I plan to run a conservative pace in the beginning in the hopes of saving some juice in my legs to finish strong. There is a 30 hour cut-off, but it would be fun to finish earlier than that.
The plan is to see Cadence at least twice during the race, thanks to my parents who will be helping out. I will either need to feed her or pump. Most likely, I’ll be pumping. I’ll meet with Katie at mile 66 to have her pace me for half of the remaining leg, and then I’ll pick up Jon to finish out the race. I am so thankful for the team helping me run this race, and I am just about as excited to share it with them as I am to run my first 100. :)))
There will be race tracking about every quarter of the way that can be found here, and I’ll hopefully we’ll have enough cell signal for Jon to post a few updates to my Instagram account, @runningwithcadence.
Prep: This being my longest distance yet, I have spent a little extra time trying to map out what I’ll need each hour and mile of the course. I have planned out my fueling strategy, and I am aware that the digestive system works really differently when it is forced to operate on the run for this long of a duration. I purchased supplies over the weekend, including tape, etc just in case I have foot problems or anything else. On Monday I saw my fabulous medical massage person, and she did a final easy massage to keep things loose. Most of my supplies are packed up in little baggies so that I can grab what I need quickly on the run when I meet my crew.
Any concerns: I followed a training plan developed by my coach, and I feel strong going into this race. I have one little place on my ankle that every once in a while gives me a little pain, but when it does hurt, it seems to go away once I start moving. 100 miles will be the real test! Also, I had surgery in May, and I am always aware of the incision spot above my belly button
My biggest concern is that I am still breastfeeding, so my nutrients and hydration will be diverted to feed a baby. Cadence turns one year old on Thursday, and I didn’t want for this race to dictate when I weaned. She’s been waking up a lot in the night to eat lately, so my supply is not as diminished as I would have hoped by now. Either way, she’s my number one priority, and breastfeeding is worth whatever happens on race day as a result. I also hope that she will let me get a little more sleep on Thursday night, as this past week has not been her best sleeping record.
Travel: We will leave on Thursday late morning to go to our AirBNB house in Abingdon, VA. There is a mandatory race meeting on Thursday at 7 pm, and the race starts at 7 am on Friday morning. We’ll stay through Sunday morning before hitting the road again.
Ready or not, here comes race day!
What is the longest race you have ever run? Any tips for race day prep?