To Race or Not To Race – That is the Question

For a few months now, we have been tossing around the idea of going to the Mystery Ranch Ultra Challenge near Bozeman, Montana in late August 2013.  This is a new set of races offering both 50 mile and 100 mile distances. Bruce found out about it from an old friend from Ironman days and thought that it would offer a good challenge for both of us. The 100 miler is called The Ghosts of Yellowstone (for him) and the 50 miler is called The Fool’s Gold 50 (for me).

As the event is in its first year, there is very little information available. The two race maps on the website are impossible to figure out. They are both tiny and in differing scales so you have to mentally super-impose them onto each other to track the course route. There is no elevation profile available either, so the element of race day surprise is off the charts.

I haven’t run an ultra since Jemez Mountain 50 km in May 2011 and my last 50 miler was White River 50 in August 2010 (3 years ago). Since moving to the Queendom, running has receded as a priority while chickening, landscaping and working the land have taken over. I still run and love exploring the new trails in our new backyard, but I do not have the strong base that I have had in the past. With a month to go before a 50 mile run, I usually have logged many more hours on my feet and have added some 4 or 5 hour training runs as well as a 50 km race or two into the mix.

The other aspect that weighs on me is that my heart is not 100% committed to this run. At this point, I feel like I could just as happily crew for Bruce and read my book at the finish line. I know well that my mental state is what truly carries me through the tough sections in an ultra so I have some mental training to do as well.

On the plus side, I am motivated to get back into the ultra frame-of-mind and I wonder if I truly do run better with less training. I am excited about the terrain we would see in the shadow of Yellowstone Park and I’m pretty sure that the 14 hour cut-off is plenty generous for me. I was highly disappointed to not get selected for the Knee Knacker 30 miler this summer and this is an opportunity to renew my title of ultra-runner.

If I just sent in my money and registered, there would be no question!  What do you think??

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Along A Path

general lover-of-life, including ultra-running, teaching, enjoying craft brews, being outdoors and living simply

2 thoughts on “To Race or Not To Race – That is the Question”

  1. This is a tough one. I’ve personally experienced the serendipity of running a race when I felt undertrained and having a great day…. but kinda have the feeling that this enters a whole new dimension when you’re talking about a 50-miler.

    If you had a recent 50k or two under your belt it would lend a bit more confidence. The other thing is the first-year-event factor, with all of its unknowns and its apparent organizational shortcomings. If you’re gonna take the risk of going into a 50-miler undertrained, you want the confidence of knowing the race infrastructure is rock solid.

    This factor also plays into how important it could well be for you to be available to crew for Bruce.

    Realistically, the most likely negative scenario would simply be a DNF, and big deal! That doesn’t harm anyone. So the big question really would be: Would you enjoy taking the risk? Yeah, tough question, Martha….

  2. They say that it is difficult to fake a 50 mile run – and I definitely share your ‘first year factor’ concerns. Lots to think about and consider but not much time to train! Thanks for your thoughts, Tricia.

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