This is Pinnacle Mountain where the Ouachita 50 miler takes place in a couple of weeks. (Image from Once the race starts, you run about 3 miles and then you have a 700 foot climb over this bad boy.  It makes a pretty big difference in the first section of the race, and can take a lot out of you if you aren’t prepared for it.  Luckily, I think my strength help me a great deal with this portion of the race.  Once you get up to the top, there’s a photographer taking pictures of everyone as they get ready to make their way down the other side.  Someone posted this picture on Facebook a couple of days ago, and it got me started thinking about strategy and how I want to attack this race.

Back in January, my goals for the new year were set.  5:30 50K, 10:30 50 Miler, and a 350# back squat.  Back in February at Sylamore, I missed my first shot at a 5:30 50K.  I still have another 50K on the agenda for September so I can still make 5:30.  However, I don’t plan on running another 50 Miler this year so this is really my one shot at 10:30 for the year.  Last year I finished in 11:27.  This was an hour improvement over the year before that.  That’s a 13:44 pace.  10:30 is a 12:36 pace.  That may sound slow to some of you, but when you’re up in those mountains running it gets tough sometimes.

In a race of this distance, you have to be just as mentally fit as you are physically fit.  There are a lot of demons that can get to you somewhere between 35 and 50 miles.  This being my 3rd time at this distance, I feel like I’m more ready to deal with those demons that I have ever been.  A guy I met at Faction a while back, Matt Baird, is doing really well in the Crossfit Games Open.  A couple of weeks ago there was a great article about him on the games site called Forging Mental Toughness.  Something Matt said in that article really stuck with me and I’m carrying it with me in a big way to this race:

“In CrossFit, the margins of victory are so slim,” Baird says. “If you are taking the time to say, ‘I think I can,’ or ‘I hope I can,’ then you are not believing that you actually can. So I eliminated certain words from my vocabulary in order to swing the margins in my favor.”

Yes!  You really can apply this advice to many different areas in your life and while I’m certainly trying to do that I am really applying it to this particular race.  Failure is not an option.  This is going to be a great race, and I’m going to crush it.  There is no what if, maybe, probably, I hope so, bonk, quit, dnf, etc.  Those words are not part of my vocabulary any longer.  I’m focused, I’m dedicated, I’m bigger, faster, stronger, and I’m going to kill this race.

All that said, here is the goal.  12:36 average pace.  This shaves off another hour from last year.  I felt so good last year at the end of this race that I feel that I should have left more out on the trail.  With that in mind, I’m giving it everything I’ve got and a 12:36 pace is a great goal.  I will run to the mountain at a 9-10 minute pace and get over it as quick as possible.  Once I’m over the mountain I will settle into a 12-12:30 pace and keep it there until the turnaround then see how I am feeling.  It’s going to be great, and I can’t wait.

19 Days.  Stay tuned.

Lift Heavy Run Long,