"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Friday, October 28, 2011

Final Thoughts Before Running 50 Miles

Tomorrow is race day. 50 miles. And for perhaps the first time in a race I'm less concerned with my finishing time than I am with simply finishing. It's not since my very first half marathon, back in September 2009, that I have been more unsure of how a run was going to go. I've spent time working out various run/walk ratios for each lap (8 laps total), estimating how much my pace might decline in the later miles and trying to figure out how to replenish my energy stores on the go so there's something in the tank after 20 miles, and still I have zero idea what's going to happen tomorrow afternoon as I push past 25, 30, 40 miles.

I know I can run 25. No problem, especially with regular walk breaks early and often. That covers the first four laps. Two in the dark and two as the sun comes up on what should be a near-perfect morning to run.

I trust that I'll be able to handle the last two laps (miles 37.5-50). My buddy is going to run them with me and has been given cart blanche to do whatever he needs to do to keep me moving. As I told him a few days ago when I was going over my race plan with him, his one and only job is to make sure I don't quit.

That leaves laps five and six, miles 25-37.5. This is the great unknown. This is the portion of the race where I'll find out if my early-lap refueling has been effective or not. No idea what to expect here.

A few other quick thoughts:

My wife walked into the kitchen the other day and (obviously referencing tomorrow) asked what I was worth in terms of life insurance. She was joking. I think. But she seemed satisfied with the answer. Uhh...

I'm hoping to have my little sister tweeting updates throughout the day tomorrow. Check back for those. I'll put the twitter gadget at the top of this page so its easy to find.

Finally, I occasionally come across things that I either wish I would have written or had the ability to write. The following, from Jeff Edmonds at The Logic of Long Distance, is both. How do you prepare to run 50 miles? Like this...
This is how it works:

Training is doing your homework. It's not exciting. More often than not it's tedious. There is certainly no glory in it. But you stick with it, over time, and incrementally through no specific session, your body changes. Your mind becomes calloused to effort. You stop thinking of running as difficult or interesting or magical. It just becomes what you do. It becomes a habit.

Workouts too become like this. Intervals, tempos, strides, hills. You go to the track, to the bottom of a hill, and your body finds the effort. You do your homework. That's training. Repetition--building deep habits, building a runner's body and a runner's mind. You do your homework, not obsessively, just regularly. Over time you grow to realize that the most important workout that you will do is the easy hour run. That's the run that makes everything else possible. You live like a clock.

After weeks of this, you will have a month of it. After months of it, you will have a year of it.
Then, after you have done this for maybe three or four years, you will wake up one morning in a hotel room at about 4:30am and do the things you have always done. You eat some instant oatmeal. Drink some Gatorade. Put on your shorts, socks, shoes, your watch. This time, though, instead of heading out alone for a solitary hour, you will head towards a big crowd of people. A few of them will be like you: they will have a lean, hungry look around their eyes, wooden legs. You will nod in their direction. Most of the rest will be distracted, talking among their friends, smiling like they are at the mall, unaware of the great and magical event that is about to take place.

You'll find your way to a tiny little space of solitude and wait anxiously, feeling the tang of adrenaline in your legs. You'll stand there and take a deep breath, like it's your last. An anthem will play. A gun will sound.

Then you will run.

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