Race week is finally here and taper madness has set in! We have enjoyed some distraction with the help of our Rosie, but when I found myself vacuuming the walls in the family room, I could no longer deny the taper vortex I am currently being sucked into.
Since Saturday, I have really tried to take stock of where I am in relation to this race. What are the positives and where do the challenges lie?
My training has been spot on, having only missed a few runs, and none of my long runs. I did cut one of the long runs short by about 2 miles, but the heat that day more than made up for the lost miles.
500+ running miles have been invested into this race. I have run as many "hill" workouts as I had intended to and utilized spin classes to further prepare my legs for the climbs and descents that I can't get living in the flatlands.
Biking, swimming, yoga, weight-training, were all added in this year and I believe have made me stronger and better conditioned as an athlete. I didn't set out to just trash my legs this training cycle.
I am better trained physically for Cactus Rose than any other race I have ever run. I am not injured. My weight is right where it needs to be, and my energy levels seem good.
I have experience on this course, even though I DNF'd in 2010, I have a good idea of what to expect out there. If I can make the first loop a fun experience, focused on enjoying the scenery, taking in the proper nutrition, and not let the brick in my head take over my race, I will get to the second loop and turn on the endurance machine.
I know what I need to get through this race, I know how to prepare my drop bags and I know that if I put one foot in front of the other, I may not meet my time goal, but I WILL finish the race barring an unforseeable injury.
The terrain. The terrain. The terrain. No amount of hill training I can do on a treadmill can fully prepare me for the inclines in Bandera. What's more, the rolling rock can't be duplicated on the flats I live on.
I will be alone for this race. I will know people out there, but I will be alone. No crew, no family coming to encourage me, no friends that I am planning to run with. I don't have a good track record with these circumstances, but this does not mean that record needs to continue.
My nutrition plan has not come together as well as I had hoped. I began using EFS a few weeks ago and it looked promising, but thanks to my high maintenance stomach, I can't use the product anymore. So water and S caps are the standard for the day. I do know that I need about 200-250 calories per hour and I should be drinking about 20 ounces per hour, especially in the heat. Looking at the forecast, race day will be the coolest weather I have run in this season, possibly requiring gloves and a long sleeve to start. I will need to be very aware of my hydration level as becoming dehydrated has ended a few races for me.
I woke up with a cold today. I have been so healthy, so strong, and have really tried to steer clear of illness and injury. Today, the cold that has hit several friends and family members has tried to make it's way into my body. I'm taking everything I can to combat this thing. The last thing I want to do is DNS because I have a cold...
My goals for this race are simple. I need to finish. I need to win the mental battle of this bad boy and finish this thing. For Hans. For Monika. For Kelly. For a dear friend who was suddenly sidelined from his racing schedule during one of his most successful racing seasons ever.
I'd love to finish this race in 12 hours. I'd be happy with 13. What I don't want to do is set a time goal that will cause me to drop from the race if I don't think I can finish in that time frame.
This race will serve as a mental preparation for Ironman. Self-supported, no crews, no help other than a bare minimum aid station. If I can get through Cactus, I feel I will be one step closer to finishing IMTX in May.