Monday, March 5, 2012

Rising up for the Grave...the Graveyard 100

Well folks, we are only five days away from the inaugural Graveyard 100 mile run in the Outer Banks. This is a race I know little about, but it looks to be a formidable challenge in a rather nontraditional sense within the context of ultra running. The course is almost completely flat, non technical, and is 100.7 miles of point to point pavement. It will likely be windy, cool, possibly rainy, and very lonely with only 87 runners in the 100 mile event. The Graveyard 100 breaks away from the trails and mountains that I have grown so acustomed to running, and the monotony and pounding of seemingly endless pavement should be a whole new mental challenge.

The race logistics are rather unique. Runners are being given the option of either being driven over the course's 2.5 mile bridge, or running it. Riders must make up the distance at another designated point in the race. The aid stations are also rather sparse, given that they will be spaced over segments of 18-25 miles. The one great thing, especially for me, is that the course is essentially a straight line on one road, so it should be humanly impossible to get lost. Can I get an amen!

The game plan: I'll be going at this race old school like most events I run. I will be driving down before the race and sleeping in the hotel de sedan (aka my car). I have no crew and no pacer. Unlike Western States, I will be wearing a watch, and perhaps even a gps for the last third of the race.

The race director has stated they are preparing for racers who could potentially run in the 14 hour range. I'm not sure anyone in the field is capable of that, but it does appear the course could dish out some fast times, especially if we are treated with a nice tail wind from the north.

Goals: Making time goals for any 100 miler can be daunting, because there are so many variables that can change over the course of 100 miles. I suppose I'll start by saying that I am trusting the "training" that I've done over the past few months, but also aware that with only three one hundred mile finishes, I am still a relative novice at the distance. My 100 mile personal best is a modest 21:52 at the 2010 Old Dominion 100. On paper it looks like a stout race, but in reality the run was marred by a few poor decisions with nutrition and dealing with feet issues. I also lost about 20 minutes trying to find the course during a section where the flagging had been removed. I think I'm in shape for this run? I won't divulge all my training secrets, but is does involve a lot of Taco Bell. The irony is that I still understand that even with all the training in the world, I could end up having a disasterous race at 20 miles, or a huge personal best. That's life.

All in all, I am going to enjoy this event and the pure solitude. Yet, sadly I will be running in memory of two good friends that I have lost in the last month. They are Bill Parkins (61) and Ian Hodges (22). These were two people, born of humble beginnings that eventually touched people in mighty ways. Bill wore braces on his legs as a child and was told by doctors that he would never walk. But, Bill had another idea and though his life was never full of the physical health we value, he was more alive than many of us. When Bill passed away from cancer, you knew that the boy they said would never walk ran the good race. Then there is Ian. Ian Hodges was born with Down Syndrom. He was a beacon of light in our community, in our church, and in my life. I will miss his smile and the frequent hugs.


Casseday said...

Good luck Mike. Sounds like some remarkable folks you're running in honor of.
May the wind be at your back,

ultrarunnergirl said...

Good luck Mike! Have a great weekend out there on this new adventure. Can't wait to hear all about it.

Mike Bailey said...

Adam, thanks for the kind words. My two friends embodied the spirit of the ultra and they didn't even know it.

Kir, it should be a wonderful adventure. I haven't been to a beach for spring break since college. I'm looking at it as 100.7 miles of ocean front sight seeing ;-)