We had our last long run this Saturday. A little more then 4 hours, which I think meant just above a marathon for me. The legs felt good; I had a good snack in the middle of it and ran really well in that third hour. Towards the end, I was getting stiff and tired.
All in all, I think I have four good hours in me at Voyageur. I hear the course is rough, so 4 hours may translate into something like 25 miles. The rest of the course will be mere survival.
I plan to go out exceptionally slowly, enjoy the scenery and talk to other runners. I am sure I will see a bunch of people, whose blogs I have followed over the last few years. I may even meet my former brother-in-law, who took up ultras about the time I left the family. I think he is racing, but I am not sure.
I'll go slow for two hours. I don't know how far two slow hours will carry me; maybe 12 miles? That would be a 10-minute mile, which sounds slow, but of course I will walk every hill. So let's say 12 miles.
Then I will turn on the iPod and start cruising. I hope to run those middle four hours fast, passing as much of the field as I can. Of course, it's an out-and-back course, which will give me a sense of who is up ahead. In my only other 50 miler, I went from 50th to 3rd based on this strategy.
The problem is the last bit. The other 50 miler was plenty hilly, but not very technical. In that race, I only had an hour's worth of slowing down on painfully dead quads before it was over. This time, whatever comes after the "4 good hours" may be two or three hours, or even more. The thought scares me. In the other 50 miler, the field was so spread out that I didn't get passed by anyone in the last hour, despite walking most of it. I don't think I can walk/waddle at the end of Voyageur and not get passed by several people.
I have gained a little weight over the last few weeks but I am still light. I have trained too much speed and too little distance over the spring and summer. But, overall, I feel ready to do this.
The Girl is a similar story. Speed-wise she is faster than ever but, compared to me, she has loads of natural endurance. She has, probably, 10 "good hours" in her; the truth is, she has never maxed out her amount of good hours. At the end of her 50 miler, she felt like she could have kept going (so she said, maybe to make me feel bad). I know she is thinking about going out somewhat hard, which would be interesting to see. If that happens, she may actually start faster than me, or we could even run together for a while. She needs to remind herself to eat enough, and I will be sure to tell her a million times to eat, eat, eat.
Thinking about this race is a nice distraction; what is really on my mind is Daughter moving here. I feel the weight and responsibility of parenthood settling on me. My ex-wife told me that Daughter is starting to "freak out". I didn't know that was the case; every time I talk to her, she seems excited to move. It's only natural that she is nervous about this. She speaks Danish only haltingly and, really, she has no idea what to expect here.
What I do know is that she loves me. She is very grown up for her 8 years. Almost to the point of being able to bluff people with her tough attitude. We were talking on the phone and she told me, in so many words, that it wasn't a big deal that I was coming. But then she caved and showed her true colors: "Dad, you're still coming on the 15th, right? I just wanted to say that when you pick me up at day care, you should park at the back parking lot. You know, over by the playground, because that's where the school agers are playing. So I'll see you faster that way..." It almost made me cry.
Everything in my life, I think of in light of how she will look at it. I look at our apartment with her eyes, at our town, at the stores and the library. I look at the different spices in the kitchen and imagine what she will say when we are cooking together.
It sounds so simple; that I have endured six months away from the kids and now I get Daughter. I should be thrilled, but I am mostly scared. I will have to step up and be the main parent. The Girl is a great step-mom, but she is Daughter's friend first of all. I just hope I can do it, because, as it is, I feel stressed out about everything. Every day, there is some patient to worry about or some scan I forgot to call someone about. And there are small laughable things, like buying a present for someone or paying the rent on time. Normal life stuff that still has a way of burdening me more that it should. All the things that are now my main worries in life will have to become minor, secondary considerations when Daughter moves here.
I remember when she was born, though. I felt like there was no way I could continue with medical school and running competitively and be a good dad. But it worked out. My grades became stellar and I became faster than ever. It was like I found an extra gear in life. I'm hoping she will have the same effect on me this time. Maybe starting with Voyageur?