Photo Credit: Mike Guth, Ice Age 50k 2011
I haven’t run Ice Age 50 since 2011 when I was in the best running shape of my life. I had an extremely slow second half to pull off a 4:40 first place finish. Since then, Ice Age has been one of the most popular races in the area, if not in the country. Big names like Cassie Scallon, Kaci Lickteig, and Max King have stolen the course records these past couple years, and it continues to get more competitive for both the 50k and 50 miler.
This year, I decided to make the 50 miler my ‘A’ race. That’s really easy to say back in January when planning out the racing season with your coach. At this point, after finishing Chippewa 50k about ten days ago and feeling the jitters of racing pressure for this weekend, I’m ready to just ease my way through Ice Age as a training run, but that can’t happen. I work too hard to give up.
My pre-race jitters generally start the week of the race…I start to ruminate about all the possible things that could go wrong….my hamstrings end up tight from the start, I don’t fuel or hydrate right, I have to go to the bathroom, I have to go to the bathroom again!, what if some superstar shows up that I didn’t know about, what if I get in the single track trap…all of these WHAT IF questions create so much undo stress and typically they end up happening just because I thought about it too much! That’s the irony. Ok. So dealing with all the WHAT IFS….first, take a deep breath and obviously….talk to your coach. Coach knows best! Start to create a list, prepare: mentally, physically, and emotionally for all scenarios.
Tommy tells me often, “you’re going to be ok.” As easy as that sounds, he is absolutely right! I am going to be okay! He is also right when he says, “You will still feel like crap for the next couple of days but you’ll feel better come go time.” TRUTH! Just when you feel like you aren’t exercising (because your recovering/tapering) or you aren’t eating that well, it generally is a good sign….the focus now is SLEEP! I never realized it until recently just how valuable sleep is for runners. So after race jitters went down just talking to Tommy, I started to map out the day, the course, and what I need. You can’t just wing this stuff like you can at shorter distances. This helped me curb some of the mental stress!
I keep a log of my race week food intake so I can repeat what I have done in the past. I don’t have to focus on nutrition – or worry about it! I drink water regularly which is a good thing, so there is no need to worry about that. If your baseline nutrition and hydration are spot on, so will your race week. I know just what to eat the morning of and how to stagger my fuel during. I can wash that off my worry list! And in the end, your body is going to do what it wants to do; so honor it and go to the bathroom when you must! 🙂 That doesn’t have to kill your race!
So WHAT IF all the best runners in the world show up? Then they do. I have to remember at this stage of the game that even though there are many people out there running, it is still my own run. It is my own pace. My own miles. No one else decides how I run that day. I can choose to fail or I can choose to succeed. The thing people forget (and this goes for me for sure!) is that succeeding does not equal winning. It will cut emotional and mental stress in half during race week to just accept that people will be ahead, and they will be behind – settle into your own race because at the longer ultra distances, anything can happen. Gosh that’s soooo hard!! But it’s been done. I did it at BC100 and just as Tommy said, it worked in my favor. There is something to be said for starting conservative and just letting others make the mistakes.
My plan for Ice Age 50: Start at the same pace that I will finish at….I need to keep it controlled and steady the whole way, and its okay to negative split of course 🙂 This way, I remain calm and within my own race – no one elses. The talent out there is incredible, but no matter how many jitters I have the week before, it always works out and the training did what it was supposed to do. So I guess that’s really what I need to remember….my training is unlike anyone else’s, it’s specific to me, and now I need to show the world that I worked hard to earn the time and place. My goal for Ice Age 50 is finish in the top 3 and also see a significant PR in the 50 miler. It is possible to achieve anything if I believe I can do it. I do believe I can do it and setting myself up for success this week will be the best thing for me 🙂
Don’t let pre-race jitters win the race – prepare, plan, and mentally remind yourself that you run your own miles. That right there is the first success of race day. Let the running fall into place.