Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Specific

I’ve been told by people wiser than me (which is just about everyone) that, with the Ghost Train 100 Miler less than 8 weeks away, it’s time for me to start focusing on “race specific” training. Meaning, I need to try and emulate the conditions I can expect to see on race day in my everyday training so that I can become comfortable with them prior to toeing the line.

So, what does that mean exactly for a race like Ghost Train? To figure that out, let’s take a deeper look at the aspects that make the GT 100 the race that it is...

The GT 100 course is almost completely flat. It’s run on a dirt trail that was once an abandoned railroad track. And, other than a couple of road crossings and one small hill, it’s as flat as a pancake. So, for my training, it means I need to cut out all that damn Mountain Running and start doing some long runs on the actual course itself! Get myself used to the nature of the rail trail and try to become as comfortable as possible with the mostly flat terrain.

The GT 100 course is 7.5 miles long with an Aid Station at each end.  And, in order to complete 100 miles, I’ll need to run the length of it almost 14 times! That’s a LOT of back and forth. And, as recently pointed out to me, a lot of easy opportunities to drop out! So, I’ll need to work on strengthening my mental toughness by doing some repetitive long runs and specifically ones which will also give me an opportunity to drop early. So, I can try to push through the urge to quit when I'm tired and before the full distance is run.

Despite what Karl Meltzer says, 100 miles IS a long way to run! Not only in distance but also in time. With the pace I hope to maintain, I expect to be out there (on the course) for almost one FULL calendar day! Think about that for a minute. When you eat breakfast, I’ll be running. When you eat lunch, I’ll be running. When you eat dinner, I’ll be running. When you go to bed, I’ll be running. When you wake up again, I’ll STILL be running!

Needless to say, it’s going to be a major head game trying to not let that aspect of the race get the better of me. So, I’ll need to work on focusing on one small part of the race at a time - one lap, one leg, or one aid station stop. Break the race up into smaller, more digestible segments so I don’t get overwhelmed by in the sheer bigness of the task. What does that mean for training? I don’t really know yet. Let me get back to you on that one.

The GT 100 race takes place in late October, in New Hampshire. And it starts at 9:00am. Which means, if I run the full 100 miles, I’ll end up having about 9 hours of daylight running and about 13 hours of running in the dark. Now, I typically run at lunch during the week and at mid-morning on the weekends, so nighttime running is not something I’m accustomed to.

Headlamps, flashlights, reflective vests & blinky lights? These are things I’ve only used when running my second leg at Reach the Beach. So, I’m going to need to get some legit night runs in and work on what sort of lighting situation works best for me out on the trails. I’m also going to have to find a way to get over a crippling fear of running in the dark – as seen HERE.

Temperatures at night, in New Hampshire, in Late October can get pretty chilly - with an average overnight low of about 34 degrees. Now, since I run pretty hot anyway, I don’t necessarily see this being a big issue for me. Unless, of course it rains, or (God forbid) snows! But, I’ll need to be prepared clothing-wise for pretty much any type of weather situation. I’ll need to remember not to stop for very long, for fear of getting hypothermic.  And, I’ll need to make sure to have extra clothes with me, just in case!

The organizers of the Ghost Train 100 take great pride, not only in their race, but also in the name of their race. That means: ghoulish decorations, pumpkins with glowing eyes, and other spooky things “which go bump in the night” are to be expected in great number along the course. This is not a problem for a short race. But, for an ultra-marathon, when you’re already at (or near) hallucination state, it could be downright terrifying. So, I plan on enlisting Ghost Pacers to help shepherd me through the course and keep the nightmares at bay.

Anyway, this is the sort of stuff that I expect to be working on over the next few weeks. If you think you'd like to join me for a few laps of the Course one weekend this fall, e-mail me and we’ll set it up…

Happy Trails!

1 comment:

  1. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around 100 miles, let alone 100 flat looped miles! That's pretty challenging in a lot of ways.
    Smart of you to prepare by running flat. You will do well!