Sunday, June 7, 2015

Western States Taper

Well, I made it. The meat of training is over and I am still standing, wobbling a bit, but still standing. I do three week tapers, which means the first week is more of a cutback week than a true taper. There are still a few key runs to go! Nonetheless, the most important thing from this point forward is to emphasize rest and be conservative when in doubt. Taper marks a key psychological moment for me: the end of the grind and the beginning of the pre-race jitters.

As I analyze my training the past twenty-two weeks, the first thing I have to say is that I have a great family and friends. This crazy hobby of mine would go nowhere without a wife and family that supports me. It isn't always easy, but they are great about it. And, I am really lucky that my buddies see me through on these big weekends. Chuck has been with me through all my hundreds and virtually all my training, he's a rock and a great friend. Jon has been through his share of runs and running conversations with me, providing feedback to all of my ideas. Mike, Wyatt, and John have been great supporters and joined my group runs to push me through. Steve is always my best cheerleader, even from Arizona. And my sister, this will be her third time as my crew chief. Hopefully she gets to pace a few miles this time around too. I am a truly lucky guy.

The one thing that stands out about this training cycle is execution. The amount of thought and preparation that I put into training for this race is unparalleled, even for me. I have measured everything (heart rate, diet, nutrition, sleep, cross training, etc...) and been quite disciplined about my approach. I met (or exceeded) every one of my training goals. There were no major setbacks, but a few cases where I exercised caution and backed off. My mental toughness has had to be at an all-time high to work through a wet and snowy Spring. So many memories, most of them involving crazy rain or blizzard like snow. There just isn't really any reason to be dissatisfied with training. Will it culminate in a Silver Buckle? I don't know. But, that's just the nature of the beast. Months of preparation are no guarantee of results. You have to appreciate the journey and the fact that you have a body that can absorb the training week after week. I often compare training to the space shuttle taking off -- bolts rattling and things on the brink of disaster at any moment. It is a fine line we walk when we push the limits of our bodies.

Here are a few highlights that I covered in training:
- My first ever back-to-back-to-back run.
- Three high quality long-long runs (5+ hours)
- Four night runs, three on technical trail
- Five good weekends of back-to-backs with either good volume, good vert, or both
- Average weekly volume was 60 miles and about 10 hours
- Seven weeks of 70 miles
- Seven (so far, hoping for 15+) sauna sessions to prepare for the heat

This is the most prepared my body has ever been for the challenge. Unless something unforeseen goes wrong (always a strong possibility in 100s), my race will likely come down to how well I handle fatigue and how deep I can dig in the final 50 miles. It all comes down to how I manage my mind and execute on race day. Scary and satisfying at the same time. I was a hustler at Leadville. I never let anything bring my attitude down or settle for any result other than moving as quickly as I could at that moment. Then, I nearly threw in the towel at Bear and walked the final 30 miles without putting up a fight. Soon I get to test my mental strength again....

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