Sunday, September 13, 2009

Running the Potomac

I'll be heading to Washington, DC this coming week for Saturday's North Face Endurance Challenge 50K. I haven't run an ultra since last October in Wisconsin so this will be like heading into the unknown. But if the astronauts could fly to the moon in 1969 with the odds against a successful mission, guess I can tackle this. The motto for the race is, "Run your self-doubt into the ground." Exactly!

Heading out on the road Thursday with hopes of making the 10-hour drive in one day. Will have to see how that works for me. Only drove to DC once before and that was intentionally over several days with a stop at Gettysburg along the way. This time, I'll only stop for breaks and food. Would like to make it in 12 hours. Sugar-free Red Bull will be my best friend. Water, too.

On Friday morning, I'll head to Tyson's Corner to check in at race headquarters, then head into Washington to pay my respects at the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials. First time for me at the WWII so I'm really looking forward to that visit. Then a big pasta pre-race meal before settling in for the night.

It'll be an early morning Saturday as the race starts at 7 am. I like arriving at least an hour before to do final checks on gear, drop bag, etc. I also need to be up early to get a hot shower for circulation, coffee to wake my brain up, and moving around to stretch out muscles.

The start and finish of the 50 kilometer (31 mile) race is at Algonkian Regional Park near Sterling, Virginia. The entire race (a modified out-and-back) runs along the Potomac River just a few miles from the capital, with spectacular views in various locations. We'll run along the Potomac Heritage Trail and loop through Great Falls Park. There are two stretches that will include steep climbs and 150-foot elevation changes and a couple shorter climbs, but the course is not too technical.

I'm hoping to finish the run in 7 hours or less, but regardless of the time, I plan to finish it. I believe to do so will test my perseverance more than any of my previous ultra's including the 50 milers, 100K and 100 miler. This time it's not merely the distance but the long, long layoff since the last one. This will also be the first run in which I will send Twitter/Facebook status updates and photos along the route. I think doing so will help me connect with folks back home at least spiritually, and motivate me to keep moving forward.

After recovering on Saturday, I plan to head out very early Sunday morning and wind my way back home, with many stops along the way to battle stiffness and post-race hunger. Who knows, maybe I'll see something exciting along the way, similar to the world's largest rubber band ball!

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