Going into Gorge Waterfalls 100k

I don’t know if anyone ever feels ready going into a race. I mean, I’m ready to go ahead and get this show on the road, but there are always the questions about whether I prepared enough and whether I prepared in the right ways. This course will be different than anything I’ve run lately, including my training runs, but I know that it will be beautiful, and I’ll be there with my husband and baby, so what else is there to want?
A little info about the race
I signed up for Gorge 100k because my husband said that he wanted to travel if I was going to keep signing up for races, and my coach recommended this race as one of the most gorgeous races out there. (I have the best husband in the world in case you didn’t catch that.)  From the videos and pictures I’ve seen, I think I’m in for quite a show of God’s glory!  Gorge Waterfalls 100k is a golden ticket race, meaning the top two male and top two female winners get entry into Western States 100 for 2017.  So this will be a very competitive race with everyone going for gold, but it also means that I’ll get to race with some pretty impressive runners!  The course is out and back with about 12,000 feet of elevation change.  I have read that some parts of the course are very slick and rocky, while other parts are fairly rolling and easy.  With that much elevation gain, I don’t think my legs will get bored.  🙂  The RD is James Varner, and everyone who talks about this race also says that James is a great guy.  I look forward to meeting him at the finish!
It looks like the weather will be in the 50s with a 90% chance of rain.  We are also told that the trails may be icy and snowy in parts, so might be slick!  I mostly feel bad for Cadence and Jon to have to stand outside crewing for me if the weather is so unpleasant.  Hopefully the scenery will make up for it!
How I trained
I ran a goal marathon in the middle of January, and then my coach had me cross training for about a month.  During that time, I built up my strength with weights and continued with a pretty big weight schedule until the middle of February when I started running again.  My training plan is also heavy on speedwork and weights, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a little over a month now.  I haven’t had any really big long runs, but that’s not really part of my plan.
It’s so hard to trust the process, but so far, my coach has gotten me to the start of every race in good shape for a solid run!  As a working mom, it has been hard to get in the “extras” in cross training.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I incorporate Cadence into my training as much as I can.  Most mornings, I workout solo before work, but after work, Cadence is with me so a stroller or a baby carrier are often involved.  Time is so precious, and being present with Cadence, as well as a good night of sleep, have won in this training cycle.  We’ll see how that translates to race day.  🙂
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What I packed
Everything.  Just kidding!  I have all of my race food in little ziplock bags divided by aid station.  I’ve packed a lot of Honey Stinger products and Bonk Breaker bars.  I tried on my race outfit (same thing I wore for my marathon), and packed up extras just in case.  I have a race plan written up, but I know that that may fly out the window as soon as the race starts.  I bought extra pepto bismal after what happened for the first 66 miles of the Yeti 100.  Ha!  Packing for a baby is also another challenge, so hopefully we won’t be doing any last minute shopping out there for stuff that I forgot!
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Last Thoughts on Mental Toughness
I read an article yesterday saying that the best way to help train an athlete for endurance is to toughen them up. Hands down being a mom is the best mental toughness training out there!  The guilt (working mom + training), the late nights (still not sleeping through the night), the emotions (mine and hers, ha!), the breastfeeding (yep, still breastfeeding)… and still getting out there to train and do the hard stuff.  When I start to doubt myself, I don’t have a huge log of training runs or past performances to draw from, but I do have the confidence to know that I grew a tiny human in my belly, brought her into the world, and have kept her alive and thriving.  And my reward will be to see that tiny human and my strong husband at aid stations cheering for me as I pursue one of my passions.
Thanks for all of your support on my running journey! 
What do you do to relieve race nerves?

Ready or not, here comes race day: preparing for the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run

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!

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Virtual friends who ended up real life friends!

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.

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Practicing runs with the hydration vest. I will miss her on the trail!

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.

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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!

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What is the longest race you have ever run?  Any tips for race day prep?