It’s March 14th (happy Pi(e) Day!), and two days from now I’m going to be racing the earliest I’ve ever raced in a season, at the Chuckanut Mountain 50 in Bellingham. Also the second-longest race, at 50km. I’m finding it pretty easy to get psyched out about it… a long race, early, and with a very high-end field? “I’m gonna get shelled”, is pretty much all I can think.
That’s not a good thing to think about. Here are a few strategies I’m using to get my mind out of that negative rut, which are really applicable for any race.
1) Study the course. It’s an unknown course (to me) and a long race, but almost every race these days publishes a good map and elevation profile. Knowing what the race will look like, and where the hills will be, helps me plan out race strategy and hopefully get a bit of an edge.
2) Plan out race strategy. This one has a reputation for starting out with a 34-minute first 10km. That’s not a sustainable pace for me for 50k. I’m thinking about pacing now, so that I don’t get sucked into a 3:20/k pace off the start. This is very helpful in road races, too, particularly long ones – that 30 seconds faster in the first half of a marathon turns into 5 minutes slower in the second!
3) Make goals that depend only on yourself, not on others. “I want to come in top 10” or “Top 10 in my age group” or “I want to beat Jason Louttit” depend on someone else. When Jason has a great race, I can’t touch him, but if he has a poor race and I beat him, it doesn’t mean my race was good. In road races, it’s easy to set a time goal. It’s also important to remember that there are other factors – if I don’t meet my goal, but there was freezing rain on course, I’ll probably still be pretty happy!
And finally – 4) I’m gonna have fun no matter what!