Holy crap, guys. One week to Kettle! I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling prepared, and right now, I'm feeling antsy! Another week of taper, oh man. To distract myself, let's give you a short rundown of my last race - Spring Superior 50K.
Since Superior was a perfect three weeks out from Kettle the plan was to use it as a last good long run weekend. So no taper and no attempts to really push a pace. Actually, just this year have I either finally realized or finally gotten to the point that I DO have a difference in pace between long runs and races, which is a very neat revelation for me. I did have a bit of a rest the week before, which was nice, as I pushed my rest week back a week so I could make it coincide with Fishing Opener so I wouldn't have to worry about a double long run at the cabin.
I started the race trying very hard to stay reigned in and just run a relaxed pace, not letting anyone else push my pace. I was walking a little more than I felt like I would have had I been pushing. Though, I quickly discovered that it was ten times easier to run through every mud hole than walk through. And there were a LOT of mud holes . . . I was thinking in the back of my head that I would like even splits but decided to wait until I actually hit the turnaround and go from there. The turnaround came and I felt great. I LOVE out and backs - I love seeing everyone and I get such a lift in spirits from it. Which means Kettle should be fabulous since it's made up of two out and backs - right?
So the way back was quite good. I felt good, nothing was seizing and my stomach was cooperating. A possibly related new thing this go round was it being my first full race using the Lisa/Ron gel method - putting two gels into a small flask and having them premixed with water. Then just sipping on it as I go, making sure to get at least half down in an hour. I also managed to refill it on the go, so I'll definitely be using that method at Kettle. When I got back to Oberg (the last aid station, 7.5ish miles from the end), I realized I might have a chance at an even split so I figured I would be okay to push the pace for the last section. I charged up Moose Mountain pretty good, trying to strike a balance between moving fast and keeping the heart rate not redlining since the point was to be recovered for a run the next day. I was passing people (something I've never really done in the second half of a 50K!) and starting thinking that I was placed fairly decently. I didn't pay any attention to the number of women I saw coming at me at the turnaround so I only had a general feel for things. I knew I was doing well when this woman (who was walking for no particular reason) turns around and saw me. Her eyes got HUGE and she took off at a sprint leaving me giggling behind her. Because really - if you were walking before and now you're sprinting and we still have a mile and a half to go, then there's no doubt I was going to get her. I've never had someone react that way before! When I passed her, she asked how old I was and was relieved to hear we weren't in the same age group.
I came strong into the finish and felt fine immediately afterward. In fact, I might have made a bee line for the computers that were set up to check your results . . . 5th woman for me! I am super happy with that result! Spring Superior was exactly what I needed - a good long run on the SHT that went well. Good training for the legs, good boost for the mind.