Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Will I be cool enough?

This Saturday I'm doing something I've never done before; I'm showing up at a race intending to do a 50K distance. I've gone that distance twice before, once at PCTR's Skyline to the Sea and at the Brazen Dirty Dozen. But I showed up at SttS intending to do a marathon and DD gave me 12 hours to cover that distance.

I've done several trail marathons with more elevation - a 50K race is a marathon with a bonus of five more miles. But there are some issues with this 50K that are making me nervous.

The first 8 miles is a nice, reasonably gentle loop. A nice bonus is that at the end of it, I will be back at the start area where I will get to see Mrs Notthat, and if necessary, I'll be able to change my shirt and get rid of things I no longer need (assuming it has warmed up by then).

Shortly after that, I head downhill. I do pretty good on downhill, and am hoping to bank a lot of time on that portion. At the bottom of the hill, a little over 11 miles, is the first cutoff I'll be facing. I'll have 3 hours to cover that first 11.1 miles, and I'm feeling confident that, barring something unforeseen, this will be no problem. I give myself a 90% chance of making it past that aid station.

As it turns out, for all the downhill, there must be uphill, and climbing back out of that gorge will be a big test. And it leads to the scariest part of the course for me - the 21 mile aid station and its cutoff. I have to get here in 5:45. This would be no problem in a flat race, but it will be challenging here. My guess is that I will have dealt with about 2600 feet of climbing by this point. I give myself a 50% chance of making it past this aid station. Maybe 60%.

Note: I swear that these cutoff times have changed in the last week or so, and have been extended by 15 minutes. Yay!

As a cruel twist, this aid station is followed by two challenging smaller climbs, the first of which (Goat Hill) appears to be a cliff. I suspect these will be the hardest hills I've ever climbed since I'm going to have pushed very hard to make that 21 mile cutoff, and will be more tired than I normally am at that point.

Making the finish line by 4:30 (eight and a half hours after the start) will be tough. If I make it past the 21 mile point though, I will make it to the finish line - there are no more cutoffs (although I can be pulled at any aid station). Making it by 4:30? I give myself a 40% chance. Making it by 5:00 or so, 50%.

Of course it's also possible that I'll get eaten by an irritated mountain lion somewhere around mile 19 - after being disturbed by all the faster runners he will see this slow guy struggling up the hill, way at the back of the pack, and have his revenge. (I'll try to get a good picture first though.)

The weather is looking great, which improves my odds a lot. I haven't trained nearly as much as I would have liked, but I'm in much better shape than at my last marathon attempt.

There will be a LOT of people at this race that I know, which also helps a lot. And of course, there will be frog cupcakes at the finish line.

I'm really excited about this event, and cannot wait to get started. If I finish, especially if I finish ahead of the 4:30 official cutoff time, I will be hard to live with. I'm just saying...

That's it - move along...


Meghan said...

Good luck!!! That is one gnarly elevation map. Make sure you have fun, stay hydrated, and practice mountain lion evasion techniques.

mary ann said...

oh, boy ~ good luck! I might walk several blocks for one (or two) of those cupcakes.

DAK said...

That huge crinkly fall followed by the rise of the same size worries me. Why does it matter if you go at a certain speed or not? Is this a race where they pack up their cupcakes and go home at a particular hour and anyone left over just has to walk home? What's going on here?

Beth said...

We are excited for you!!
I'm betting there are spread sheets breaking down those percentages : )
My advise...stash a purple tutu...when things get tough, put it on. It'll give you an amazing boost!!
No really, though, best wishes!!
You are sure to have an epic day no matter the outcome.

Chris Jones said...

See you soon Allen! And not to burst your bubble, but the new course has over 6,000 feet of elevation gain (not 3,600)! Now we are really going to have to earn that cupcake!!! Elevations:

Climb: 6,113'
Descent: 6,107'
High: 1,619' Pointed Rocks
Low: 590' Quarry Road
Start: 1,524' Cool Fire Station
Finish: 1,524' Cool Fire Station

notthatlucas said...

Chris - If you are right, I'm doomed. But I'm pretty sure I'm closer with 3600 feet. The values that show up on those elevation charts are usually wildly wrong - the Ultra SIgnup site had the 3600 feet claim, which seems reasonable. It's certainly what I'm going to keep telling myself!

Beth said...

You were totally cool enough!!