Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Grand Canyon 100 Race Preview

Saturday I am attempting to finish 100 miles. My first attempt was back in February, and I timed out in 80 miles after 24 1/2 hours. I didn't really flip the switch to decide to try a 100 miler until sadly my friend Brian took his own life back in October. He had pressed me for over a year to do a 100 miler. It's been over 6 months since his passing, but I think about him from time to time as I've been preparing and training, and I've wondered what he would think and what he would have to say about all this.

So a couple weeks ago, I decided that right before the race, I would do a preview of the upcoming event since it's an inaugural race most runners won't be familiar with, and I'd do it in the style that Brian used to do his race previews on his blog before each one he ran. So here we go...

The Kaibab National Forest on a plateau near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The home to the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the United States. The home of *FUN FACT* the Kaibab Squirrel, a funny looking squirrel who is a cool little example of evolution due to geographic isolation.

I leave tonight, the evening of May 15th, for Las Vegas. There's a 4 hour drive on May 16th. The race starts 6 am, May 17th. And I have to finish by 2:00 pm, May 18th.

Grand Canyon 100

Finisher Belt Buckle (pic from race's FB page)

Because when I didn't finish the 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon February 1, I didn't sit in my house and cry for a week. I immediately searched out my next chance to go after that finish line again. I wanted my friend Jeremy to pace me again (he was a really great pacer at Rocky), and since he's inconsiderate enough to be doing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning with 4 100 milers between June and September, he told me my choice was sometime in May or wait until October or later. I didn't want to wait that long so I read up on all the 100 milers in May in the United States, and even in Canada, and chose this one.
A good part of the course goes along the rim of the Grand Canyon! (pic from race's FB page)

Reasons I picked this one of the May options:
  • I've never been to the Grand Canyon, 
  • it fit my goal of having a scenic race, 
  • I'm excited to try a 2-loop race of 50 miles each loop, 
  • I'm happy I get to have a pacer for the entire last 50 miles (and the timing fit in my pacer's racing schedule)
  • The weather for this time of year on the plateau is normally lows of 35 overnight and highs of 65 degrees,
  • The 12,600 feet of gain/loss is hilly but not impossible,
  • The 32 hour time limit is 2 more hours than I had for Rocky Raccoon.
Start/finish line has an old west feel. They will even put us in one of the cattle holding areas and swing open the gate to start the race! LOL (pic from race's FB page)
Here's the elevation profile of that 12,600 ft of gain/loss:

Only 25 other people in the 100 miler. There are another couple dozen in the 50 mile race (1 loop), and another 30 or so in the 50K race that starts an hour after us (shortened loop). There is no one going that I already know. But there is one other person from Texas (from Dallas) who I have mutual friends with, as well as a Utah runner who I also have mutual friends with.

Thankfully, I won't be alone. My good friend Jeremy who helped pace me at Rocky Raccoon is in for this adventure again and gets to pace the whole second 50 mile loop as I move at a glacial pace.

Supposedly, the weather is typically 35-65 degrees over the 32 hours. However, the forecast for this weekend is actually looking much hotter. Highs in the 80s, and overnight lows in the 50s. I am susceptible to heat exhaustion so I'll just have to be careful. 

It is just a couple days after the full moon and with clear skies, the stars should be bright and beautiful.

If no one else shows up AND I manage to finish. Ha. Brian was a fast runner. This question made a lot more sense for him than for me. And he measured win by an actual physical win. The "win" for me will be finishing. I've trained, I feel mentally good, I've rested well during taper, I've visualized scenarios and my finish, I've planned out my gear and race execution, and I have a great pacer/crew. Now I just need to go get it done and keep pushing away the worries about the variables that can derail a 100 miler that I CAN'T control.

1 comment:

  1. Love you! Be safe first, then do this for you! M&D