(This isn’t my race report for the Umstead 100, it’s just something I wrote in the afternoon and evening before the race.)
I find myself, in the day before my first 100 mile race, struggling with the whole “planning” versus “approach” dichotomy. (You may know what I’m talking about: having a “plan” for a run or race, comprised of splits and numbers and HR targets and gear checklists; versus having an “approach” that’s based on monitoring how you feel throughout the run, and responding to the constant feedback in a somewhat more fuzzy and variable way.)
In the first week or two after I signed up for the race, I got lulled into a false sense of comfort and confidence with my race planning. At the time, I figured that I shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to come up with a reasonable race plan that would have me finish an hour or two under the 30 hour cutoff. I put together more than a couple spreadsheets with different finish times, and different amounts (sometimes percentages, sometimes specific numbers of minutes) of pace decay.
But with each passing month, as the starting line got closer, the finish line seemed to get further away.
Every plan I came up with now seems like utter nonsense. The fact of the matter is, I have no clue what to expect tomorrow. I can’t say that I’m particularly fearful or nervous about tomorrow’s race. Nor that I’m at all confident or calm, because that’s certainly not the case either. Rather, I feel oddly empty and blank.
Make no mistake – I’m extremely happy to run tomorrow, and I’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while. But I’m having some difficulty extrapolating from my past experiences when trying to form a vision for tomorrow. Simply put, I don’t think I have anything at my disposal to make any sort of plan whatsoever. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t really know what to expect.
It’s something like a “black swan” of sorts – I can’t imagine all the things that I don’t know today, and there’s no way for me to conceive of running one hundred miles based on what I do know.
Reading other people’s race reports has helped me form something of a mental image of the course, as well as the event logistics, but those runners’ mental emotional and physical challenges were uniquely theirs – shaped by the training they did, and the countless other things going on in their lives in the months and weeks leading up to the event.
As it stands I have no “plan” for tomorrow. So I’ll try to take the approach of being patient, and more importantly being honest with myself about how I’m feeling throughout.
Be patient, Jake!