Friday, October 4, 2013

It's only one more aid station, right?

So the day of reckoning is at hand - tomorrow morning I'll line up with 201 (according to the participant list) other weirdos who believe that running 50 kilometers is a reasonable way to spend a day. I'll head on down to Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area and Run for the Toad, though I can't think of a damn thing that toad has ever done for me.

All smug in his little cape..

The weather looks like just about the worst possible combination for anything resembling performance - it's going to be wet (read: muddy) and warm with high humidity, so I'll have trouble with both traction and overheating. While the daytime temperatures lately have been very summery, it's only been in the mid-teens (low 60's fahrenheit) when I've actually been out running, so I'm far from heat acclimated.

I'll be soggy, slipping AND gasping - hooray!

I haven't worn trail shoes since the spring, so I haven't fully decided if I'm going to go with my old and trusted New Balance WT100 (which, at 782.6km on the clock, have precious little of their lugs left and probably even less rebound) or the newer pair of WT1010 I wore for Frosty Trail all the way back in January (which I've honestly never really liked all that much, which is one of the reasons they only have 141.4km on them). The latter would probably give me better traction, and I think I've solved the two problems I had with them by the application of thicker socks (as they fit much larger than my WT100s) and a couple of safety pins (to give me an attachment point for my Dirty Girl gaiters further forward than the laces)...but they've never had much in the way of cushioning to them, and the Toad has some paved sections that may get really painful in minimalist shoes after awhile.

Of course, there's another option: I could go looking for a new pair of shoes tonight. I'm actually tempted to stop by Runner's Choice and see if they have the Leadville 1210 or 910 in stock. Those look sexy, and right up my alley - I can always keep the 1010s for winter running, as they're ok with snowpack to provide a little cushioning from the hard ground and they do give great grip in frozen conditions.

Well, sexy except for the actual colours.

But - I hear you cry - you shouldn't use anything new on race day! While I generally agree this is true, I'm already breaking that rule for tomorrow. Since I wasn't terribly happy with my homemade solution for carrying a gel flask from Midsummer Night's Run and will actually need 2 flasks of EFS Liquid Shot to get me through the 6+ hours of slogging that tomorrow will entail, I decided to track down something that would hold what I need for long-course racing without the weight of my Ultimate Direction Wink vest - I still prefer to use a handheld bottle for hydration when there are aid stations, but I want some pockets.

Enter the UltrAspire Alpha. At just over 7oz (compared to the Wink's 1lb 4oz), the Alpha will be my companion for at least the first lap of the Toad. It comes with a reservoir/bladder, but I will leave that behind and merely stuff the pockets with gel flasks, cookies (because little chocolate chip cookies are the only real reason to run for more than 2 hours), and anything I wear that I may need to ditch along the way (gloves, earband, brain, etc). Huge thanks to Spafford Health and Adventure for getting it to me ASAP!

The problem? I've only run about 6.75km in the pack, and I was a bit "meh" about it. The gel flasks in the front pockets bounce in a way that things have never done in my Wink, said pockets are not big enough to accommodate my hand bottle with its strap while running - I can just barely squeeze it in there with the vest off me, standing in my kitchen (this is not the same as wearing the damn thing and trying to do it while not tripping over roots, rocks or other runners, while too stupid to remember my own name after 4 hours of running), and the material of the vest itself seems like it may pose a chafing issue. I may just have been suffering from sensitive skin on Tuesday when I ran with it (since other things seemed a bit rough, too), but it was sufficiently grabby to gather the back of my shirt up under it as I ran, leaving it to rub on my lower back. 

First - and only - test run was not a raging success.

This is not necessarily encouraging. BodyGlide will have to be deployed in generous fashion, and probably kept accessible such that I can re-apply between laps. I do also have the freedom to just chuck the thing at Tanker after each loop, but at 12.5km and hopes of finishing in around 6 hours (my best 25k time on the same course being 2:47:32), that means I'll have to live with it for at least the first hour and a half...and if I want to ditch it, I'll be left with either carrying my gel flask by hand and exchanging when it's empty, or relying on aid station calories only. Alternatively, I may have to switch to that loathed accessory, the SPIbelt.

Ergh. None of these are good options.

All this on top of the fact my longest run this year was actually Midummer Night's 30k, with another 29k run 2 weeks ago after the legendary week of backpacking, and I'm a bit nervous. On the bright side, I have already surpassed my running mileage total from any other year (with almost 3 months still left to go in 2013), and I have run 46.2km in a day (at Horror Hill in 2011) on less preparation, and that's only 3.8km short...right?

Nonetheless, I ask that you cross your fingers, do a little dance, cast some runes or just chortle a bit and wish me good luck - I'm clearly going to need it.

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