I’m packed and ready for the second ultramarathon of my season tomorrow, the CIEC 6 Hour race. I’m looking forward to having a long run and the niggle in my leg has mostly subsided and thus made my decision to rest a couple of extra days all the more wise in hindsight. The only thing standing between me and a great day out is going to be the weather which, if the forecast holds up, is going to be wet.
If this was a race held on the road then this would only make things miserable and wet. However, as about 40% of the course is off road and on trails, this is going to make things miserable, wet, and muddy. I really think this will contribute to a less than Saint-Fons-like distance on my part and so I’ve provisionally set my sights on hitting 50km to be somewhat happy and 55km as a goal for the day. I figure that a 60km target as at Saint-Fons is probably out of reach owing to fitness (this was not on my calendar and I haven’t tapered for the race or run the high mileage I did preparing for Saint-Fons), the trail (slower than the hard-packed Saint-Fons course), the weather and the inevitable mud.
Another difference from Saint-Fons comes in that I will have a crew. Cécile is coming out to offer moral support, fill bottles and keep my motivated. I think this will help me keep moving a little more than at Saint-Fons where I spent some time waiting for bottles to be filled, or stopping to grab a bottle as I ran by and then pausing to drop it off again as I passed by on the next lap. It all adds up over the course of six hours and though I never sat down or stopped to do much more than peel off compression sleeves, I ended up spending 10 minutes in total not moving during that race. Even being able to cut this in half means an extra kilometer of running for me and – in tomorrow’s context – this could be a big help.
Jamie has been preparing me for the race and, while he won’t be there, he has drilled into me his preferred strategy:
“Dad, you should start slowly and do some endurance, and then at the end if someone has passed you just run fast as you can and pass them.”
I’ve assured him I have little chance of finding my way to the podium at the end of the race but he’s convinced that if only I followed his advice I’ll win. I think I can handle the run slowly part but my end of race kick is far from impressive. Still, who am I to argue ultramarathon race strategy with a six-year-old?
In terms of clothing and nutrition I am doing things basically the same as at Saint-Fons. I don’t need much more than sugar to keep me going for a race this short and I am happy to keep circulating on water for the six hours. I have changed up only the electrolytes situation (I have some tabs Cécile can add to the water so as to keep the right sort of salts moving around) and I’ll be taking water earlier and more regularly (I don’t think the heat will be a problem but I don’t want to be dehydrated all the same). I plan to take a bottle every two laps or so and drink it during the next lap so as to take in about 1 liter every hour or so. I didn’t stop for the bathroom last time but, with luck, I’ll be better hydrated this time around and a 15 second stop should be a sign I’ve got things right.
So all-in-all, tomorrow is going to be a long, wet, muddy day of running fifty-plus kilometers on an army camp west of Lyon. I’m packed, I’m ready, I’m hopeful of getting a nice long run in, and I’m hoping to have some good, old fashioned fun in the dirt.