I'm pretty excited - always am to get out and race again - but I'm also feeling a lot of anticipation. This one sounds like a challenge. Over 25,000 ft of elevation, plus a 9PM start time on Friday night, so by the time Sunday morning rolls around I'll really be feeling wonky.... and then there's the weather.
Over previous years it sounds like the participants have experienced rain, snow, mud (ok, fine, mud is not weather), and winds, along with some pretty dramatic temperature swings. Probably fairly normal stuff for many 100 mile races, but it's still critical to be amply prepared for it... and I'm not sure I'm amply prepared.
These thoughts and others were going through my head as I ran over the trails this morning. It was muddy out, after it rained off and on through the last day and night. But it was the wind that bothered me more than the mud. At first, I had not noticed the cold breeze, but the longer I stayed out the more I felt it.
|Brooks Cascadias did well in the mud|
|Gloves are worn and have new holes in the seams|
I would warm up and begin to sweat as I worked hard up the hills, then the wind would catch me at the top and give me the chills. It was a good reminder of a conversation I had just the day before about the importance of being adequately outfitted for the C2M.
My conversation was with Jimmy Dean Freeman, an experienced ultra-runner and coach in the Los Angeles area. I had heard of Jimmy's running group, the SoCal Coyotes (or Coyote Running, not sure which is their official name... but I do know they howl a lot in their communications to each other on Facebook) and I had contacted Jimmy to find out more about the group and their training plan.
I got the information I was looking for, and a few tips besides that, as Jimmy was kind enough to offer advice on my upcoming race. "From what I've heard of that race, the swings in temperature can be a real challenge," Coach Jimmy said. "If you don't have a crew with you..." (I won't) "...then how you prepare your drop bags - what you put in them, and which stations you leave them at, will be essential. How well you plan those bags could increase or decrease your likelihood of a drop significantly."
The funny thing is, I kinda knew all this stuff, having read blogs and race reports about the race from previous participants, but still... I hadn't really digested it, or really thought about it, perhaps... whatever the reason, I heard it more clearly when Coach Jimmy said it. I thought about it again this morning as that chilly wind hit my damp skin. It's all very well getting chilly on a 5 hour run, I thought, but overnight on the mountains...
Well, that might suck. Worse, if I get too cold, I'll have to drop.
So enough screwing around - the race is 3 weeks out, and it's prep time. I will not drop out because I failed to be prepared.
Step One of Prep: Review the Inventory
I don't often need gear for the rain, cold, or snow, and subsequently, don't have much for those conditions. But, I better get some.
For running clothes, I believe I have most of the pieces I need:
- several pairs of compression tights (these noticeable reduce aches and pains for me in the days following a race)
- several short and long sleeve tops
- one lightweight wind and rain resistant jacket
- one waterproof jacket (Marmot Precip was recommended)
- 2 pair Drymax socks (recommended for running in rain and snow)
- gaiters (recommended for running in dirt and snow)
- several sportbras and pairs of undergarments (I was trying to say that in the most unsexy terms possible, which I think I accomplished)
- running cap (to keep sunlight out of eyes)
- two pairs sneakers (Brooks Cascadias and 1 other NB pair I used to wear as extras).
Regarding additional accessories: I already have a headlight, hydration pack, sunglasses, bandana (for the sniffles I get when I run).
Accessories I still need: replacement batteries for the headlight, replacement bottles for the hydration pack (because the two I'm using now are odd shapes and sizes and look stupid, which quite frankly, I'm above).
Besides that, I'll still need to pack my fuel for the race - I won't list that here as it's a bit more detailed (and a bit more tedious to list). But I do need to get some Nuun and Powerbars, because I am out of both of those.
So, those are the things I'm aware of needing. Of course, there are also going to be things I haven't even thought of yet.
Step Two of Prep: Research the Race
Ok, this one I've covered before so it's nothing new... it's just researching prior race reports, reading blogs, and sending e-mails to folks who have done the race before, either successfully or unsuccessfully. This is another piece of info I already knew, but that Coach Jimmy re-iterated in a way that really impressed on me how critical this piece is to finishing the race.
"Read as much as you can," Jimmy told me. "When I raced Badwater last year, I probably talked to about 30 people who have run it before."
I nodded when he said that, as I knew to do this... kinda. In truth, I've never researched a race to the level the Jimmy was suggesting, but as he talked further it was impressed on me that this, too, was critical to a successful finish. I made a note to start my research that day.
After doing both these steps (which are really done at the same time, versus in order) I'll be ready to arrange my drop bags. After that, I'll make a rough plan of what my time should be as I hit each aid station on the course - I typically do this by looking at previous finishers and in particular, the times for the top 2-4 females that finished.
With this type of preparation regarding my gear and my race, I'll have a much better chance of finishing the C2M - and the mental boost I'll need knowing I'm organized and stocked.
And did I mention? I'm starting to really get excited for this race!!
UPDATE: I've been checking out some reports and blogs about the race via RealEndurance.com; turns out this site does a great job of compiling videos, links, and blogs about each race. A great resource.