On Saturday I'll be running the first ultra edition of the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run over on the Coromandel peninsula in NZ. This was planned to be the first ultra of the summer/ autumn season, but after the right hamstring began playing up after a hard year, it became the final race of the year before a bit of a break. In marked contrast to the build-up to TNF100, the preparation has been fairly relaxed since the Fitzroy Falls Marathon a month ago, with no runs longer than marathon distance and nothing too intense in an effort to let the hamstring make it to the race start in OK condition.
The relaxed lead-up has resulted in the legs feeling great, with plenty of speed and spring in the legs (the average pace on today's 9km easy run was around 4.10 min/km for the last 2kms) and the hamstring feeling great. It will be interesting to see what happens in the last 20km on Saturday - getting to 50km shouldn't be a drama, but the final 20km of the event are the hardest with a huge climb up to the high point of the race : "This is the most technical part of the run starting with a short and steep ascent to the Kaipawa track. Competitors will make their way up carefully to the Kaipawa trig which is the highest point on the course at 560 metres above sea level and 65km." (competitor race pack)
The first 40km is a rolling course that leads to the start of the traditional 30km race course (that is now in its 8th running). I clearly need to make it to this point with plenty still left in the tank, and plan to take a very conservative pacing strategy over the first part of the race - a maximum heart rate of 160, and making sure the pulse rate average is around 150. Once I get above 160, I'm adopting a strict rule of walking until the pulse is back down to 150.
Nutrition wise, I'm sticking with the plan that worked so well at TNF100 - a gel every hour on the half-hour mark, half a High5 energy bar every hour on the hour mark, and another 100 calories from High5 sports drink over each hour. Maxing out at 300 calories an hour works well for me, and its critical to have the discipline to keep the nutrition up early in the race and also when the fatigue sets in.
With these two simple rules - controls the pulse rate and stick to the nutrition plan - I'm confident of having an enjoyable day out there.
I'm going with the Inov8 X-Talon 212s as the shoes for the race. The 212s offer a bit more Achilles relief and underfoot protection over the 190s, and have become my preferred race shoe for distances over the half marathon.
The compulsory equipment for the race is pretty small - head lamp, space blanket, thermal top and jacket, and these can all squeeze into my Nathan Elite V2 Plus. I'd prefer to split the weight across a back-pack too, but don't have one that is small enough and will go with the waist-belt. I'll have support crew and access to a Camelbak Mule pack along the way, and will grab this if the hip flexors start to play up.
Aside for the obvious attraction of spending the day out on what looks to be an awesome course (I'm taking a small camera and aim to take plenty of shots along the way), the run marks the start of a week long holiday (the first extended break of the year!) and a chance to run with the NZ editor of Trail Run Magazine Mal Law.
Really looking forward to this event and will post a race report next week.