I first found out about this race somewhere around February/March after finishing my first (trail) marathon, the Pilot Mountain Payback. What drew me to it was the fact that they were inviting as many 'elite' runners they could, in an effort to make this a race a true 'Ultra Race of Champions'. I wanted the opportunity to meet some of them and share some of the same trails as them, as I may not get this opportunity again. The prize money is another thing to help lure the runners in, with a $10,000 purse and $2,500 going to both the men's and women's winner. Geoff Roes, current course record holder at Western States, is among the runners and is also on the board/panel of folks who invited the other elites to join the race. I hope to potentially meet some of these great runners while there this weekend.
Once I decided I wanted to run this race, my training increased. I was going extra long on the weekends on the trails nearby my house. I ran up and down Pilot Mtn. on these runs numerous times. I ran eight long runs of 20+ miles since the last weekend in May. In June, I had long runs that were 23.2, 21.5, and 26.2 miles respectively, all in back to back to back weekends. In July, I ran long runs on back to back weekends of 28 and 26.2 miles. Due to vacation schedules and cut back weeks, my other weekend 'long runs' were somewhere in the range of 10-18 miles. My final long run came 5 weeks before this race and was truly an eye opener into the eyes of what ultra running seemed to be. After completing roughly 24 miles and returning to where my car was parked, I had a decision to make. Do I continue and do another loop as originally planned? Or do I bow out after a near fall and say, 'well I guess 24 miles is enough'? Without much hesitation, I took off up the mountain again. I ended up with my longest run to date, both time on feet, and mileage. 30.75 miles in 7 hours and 9 minutes. This was truly a breakthrough for me as I wanted to give up, but didn't. I will definitely use this to remind myself that it can be done.
My training for this race (and the 40-mile ultra I have also registered for, conveniently waiting for me 3 weeks out from UROC), also had me run some very high mileage weeks (for me). I ran anywhere from 40-80 miles per week, and one week where I hit 91 miles. Then came the tapering period. Not ever doing an ultra before, I didn't know how to taper. All I knew was to decrease mileage. So I stopped running doubles, and cut my long runs back to 14-17 miles, and only ran 40-50 mile weeks. The week of the race (now, as I write this), I've ran just a couple miles each day to keep my running streak alive. My legs feel so fresh. They feel like they haven't ran in forever! Which is kind of true given the aforementioned training I did. But I guess that's a good thing, because I'm ready to run.
My goals for this race are obviously, to finish, but I hope to finish in under 7 hours. With the last minute course change, I don't think it will be a problem. This change has decreased the elevation gain from 7,600 ft. to 6,400 ft., so that will be an advantage. And the five mile (potentially muddy) uphill ending is out of the picture and replaced by a three mile ending on pavement with a slight downhill at the end. I now mentally am making a secondary goal of 6 1/2 hours to complete the race. I guess we'll find out soon enough!
I hope to be writing a successful race report following this milestone race of my short, but hopefully to be long, running career. I've gone running!