It’s race day.
Well, it’s technically race day.
The Ultra Boucle de la Sarra is a twenty-four hour race that starts today and ends tomorrow – and when I say ‘today’ it’s only just today as things don’t kick off until 11:00pm tonight. Hence, though this is ‘start of the race day’, 23 of the 24 hours I’ll be racing are, in fact, tomorrow.
But anyway: it’s race day.
I haven’t run for the last three days and, on Monday, I ran only a short shakeout run. The pace of that run was not too bad, I have to admit, and I ran sub-5:00 kilometer splits without any real effort at all. The hill climbing, the stair climbing, and the fitness base I have built over more than 2000 kilometers of training so far this season have all combined to have me in a good place heading into the race. I’m lighter than I was last year so that should help for the climbing, I’ve learnt how to descend, and I have more ultra experience under my belt. In short, I think that I am ready to race and in the best shape that I could be at this point in the year.
And it’s race day.
It’s also a work day and the fact that I won’t be sleeping tonight doesn’t mean I get to take the day off to nap in advance of the running. It’s a regular day in the office for me, though I have to say I have a long, leisurely lunch planned. Usually I would spend an hour walking at lunch but instead I am going to relax a little. Not sleep or nap – I’ve never been good at that during the day, even before events like the Saintelyon where I could lie in my own bed during the afternoon – but just relax, stay out of trouble, and get my calories in.
Because it is race day.
Returning home tonight I am going to make the final preparations for the race and eat my final meal, too. I’ve bought some good saucisson to slice up and have on hand for the race but I’m otherwise going to rely on the aid station food which, when Lyon Ultra Run is involved, is generally good. There is almost always something low carbohydrate to snack on be it salami, saucisson, or cheeses. In any case, I should be fine for food during the race with what I prepare tonight before I head up to the hill.
Cecile is a bit worried about me committing to a twenty-four hour race. She doesn’t think it is the smartest thing to do and she worries about the health and wellness impacts of running or even moving for that long. I’m obviously less worried, especially about the physical side of things. Indeed, I think that while there is a chance I will fall or trip or injure myself, as there is in any sporting event, the bigger challenge will be the mental challenge. Will I break mentally? Will I give up? Will I give in to the voices that tell me to stop moving just for five, ten, thirty minutes? I hope I will push through that sort of mental self-talk and I know I am prepared to, but it is always another patter when you are half a day deep in a race, it’s raining cats and dogs, and you still have another 12 hours of thankless up and down to go.
But it’s race day.
And I’m as ready as I can be. In eighteen hours I’ll be on the line with 70 other ultrarunners and ready to put in the best effort I can to achieve the goals I have set myself. I might not hit the 70 laps I hope to run, but I hope I will keep moving the entire time. I might not mount the 40,000 steps that I hope to conquer, but I hope I will not stop climbing those stairs just because I am tired. I might not finish in the top half of the field – indeed, I am pretty sure that I won’t – but I hope I have the strength to push towards it if it even looks possible.
Because, on race day, that’s what you do.
And today, it’s race day.