The Preparation Game

The countdown is at T-5 days until the Crown King Scramble 50k.

While I’ve had a few moments here and there of a more cavalier, “take it as it comes, stop overthinking” attitude, by and large I am operating closely within my comfort zone of “plan, overthink, and plan some more.” It’s what works for me. I like thinking ahead, planning contingencies, and organizing minute details. I love my lists, and orderly piles of things. A “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude stresses me out way more than my advanced planning. I’m a big fan of the “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” approach.

Planning also gives my brain something concrete to focus on other than nerves, more nerves, and imaginations gone wild. (I always know when I have a big event coming up…in the weeks leading up to it, I have some weird dreams. Very vivid, very detailed, and very bizarre. My subconscious has been working overtime this past week, and most mornings I’ve been waking up going “WTF was that?!?”.)

Yesterday was my last training run on the trails. At 6 days out, I wasn’t looking to add any fitness, but just keep my legs tuned up and remind my body that it has a job to do coming up shortly. I’ll do one more gym workout tomorrow morning (again, not pushing myself to capacity, but more to stay limbered up and keep the muscles awake but not tired), and then I’ll have several days where I will do nothing more strenuous than taking the dogs for a walk. (Which can be a full body workout in its own right on some days.)

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my bestest running buddies were happy to drag me down the trail

I had to borrow some superstition from my days of taking theater/drama classes from junior high school up through college: “A bad dress rehearsal means a great opening night.” Yesterday’s “dress rehearsal” run was not fabulous. By the time I finished I was feeling pretty good, but the first few miles were a major strugglefest, and all I could think was “I feel crappy at mile 3…how am I supposed to go 31 next weekend?”. Never mind that it takes me 3-4 miles to really find my rhythm, and I conveniently forget this every.single.time.

So by all rights, I guess that means the run should go well?

It’s also something of an “away” race — far enough of a drive, combined with the early start, that it totally justified the decision to get a campsite at Lake Pleasant and camp out Friday night before the race, and Saturday night after. That makes it seem like a “bigger” deal than a more “local” race as well in that it does require a bit more prep and forethought than “grab running pack and drive 30 minutes to nearby trailhead.” I managed to get most of the camping gear unearthed this weekend, and it’s currently sitting in a large pile in my garage.

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I found some gorgeous singletrack and amazing wildflowers

The wildflowers are unbelievable right now…next weekend should be quite the scenery spectacle, if what I saw this weekend is any indicator. I’m an AZ native and I couldn’t even identify half the flowers that were blooming out there…but a quick wikipedia consultation just told me lots of brittlebush (the yellow flowers), fairy duster (the fluffy pink stuff), desert lupine (purple), globe mallow (orange flowers on tall stalks), plus century plants, banana yucca, hedgehog cactus and probably plenty more that I either didn’t see or would be hard-pressed to identify.

The weather forecast has been absolutely wrecking havoc on my attempts to plan attire. In the past two weeks, I’ve seen everything from “it’s going to snow in Crown King the day before” to “sunny, high of 60” to “rain, rain, and more rain.”

After Black Canyon, I’ve got a bit of PTSD about being cold/wet. But Crown King 2015 was out-of-nowhere, near-record highs…which meant hot day with no heat training. So I don’t know which one is worse. I don’t suppose a high of 60, with just a light breeze and some scattered clouds would be too much to ask for?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Current forecast is for a high of 49* in Crown King, cloudy, with a “passing shower” in the afternoon. Friday night low at Lake Pleasant is in the mid 40s. Start time is 5am, in the dark, and the course just keeps gaining in elevation, so you end up in 6000′ elevation by the time you’re done.

I still have no idea what to wear. Typically once the sun is out, I’m plenty warm (mid-high 50s yesterday morning when I was out, and I was in shorts and a tank top)…but that clouds/cold/going into the mountains aspect of this run has me pulling my hair out. Want to be prepared, and not get cold, but don’t want to overheat, or make myself be a pack mule carrying all kinds of crap.

We get one drop bag to access at mile 15, so I can’t even stash a ton of clothes along the way.

Currently debating right now between shorts and capris, and tank top with arm sleeves, or tank top with lightweight half-zip pullover. Featherweight rain jacket will be carried in the pack no matter what.

I suspect I will end up packing all my options and deciding Friday night at camp. And spend a lot of time checking the weather forecast in-between. Right now I’m leaning towards capris/tank/arm sleeves, but I’m sure that will change over the next few days.

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decisions, decisions.

I’m nervous. I’m excited. But mostly I’m just ready for my feet to be on that course to give it another go. I was suitably humbled in 2015, and definitely do not feel overconfident this time. But I feel ready. I know I’ve trained better, and more strategically. I’m stronger, have done more hills, way more cross-training, and have figured out my own feeding and hydration way better. I’ve found shoes that are working well, and have an array of comfortable clothing choices. Pacing at Black Canyon put me through the mental wringer and taught me that as long as I’m physically okay, I can push through my mental barriers.

So let’s do this thing.

4 thoughts on “The Preparation Game

    • Thank you! I admit I have gotten spoiled by my desert scenery. I love the greenery of the east coast (something different!), but this time of year, the desert just knocks my socks off. :)

  1. Eeee! Super excited for you (and I still think you’re crazy ;-)) I love the theatre adage of bad dress rehearsal, great opening, but I don’t think the theatre adage of “break a leg” will work at all for you in this case! (All of my friends growing up were hugely into theatre and my brother is an actor now, so I’m a little too familiar with all of the superstitions haha)

    I wish you the very best and can’t wait to hear about it.

    • Ahahaha, yeah, we’ll avoid that particular superstition! Thank you much, and I’ll try to update Facebook if I can…can’t remember if there’s cell coverage or not at the finish.

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