Okay, so what better to do the day before the big race than sit down and crunch some numbers in an effort to make myself feel better about the impending challenge. Welcome, everyone, to my taper madness. Actually, the taper hasn't been too bad overall. I tend to freak out less before ultras than I ever did before marathons. When I was training for a marathon, I knew that everything needed to go damn near perfectly for me to achieve my goal. For an ultra, you know that even if things start off perfectly, they're probably going to go to hell in a handbasket at some point. You may very well emerge from hell and finish strong, but there will be highs and lows. For ultras, I put less pressure on myself to run fast and have more of a focus on just finishing (something I didn't do at Bighorn last year).
In any case, here's where my number crunching led to. I tried to get in as many trail miles as I could this year in preparation for Bighorn, feeling that I didn't do enough trail running last year and that it contributed to my DNF. Ideally, when training for an event like Bighorn, I would do pretty much all of my training on trails. But, winter/spring weather in South Dakota, along with not having trails immediately available (I have to drive to them), just doesn't make that realistic. So, I end up running the vast majority of my miles on roads and hope I can hit the trails enough to survive a trail ultra. Not the best scenario, but it's what I have to work with. I was pretty sure I had run significantly more trail miles this year leading up to Bighorn, so I decided to actually take a close look at my training logs and find out. Here's what I found From Jan. 1st up until Bighorn in 2010, I ran a grand total of 163 trail miles out of 1,610 total miles, for a paltry 10% of my mileage on trails.
In the same time period this year, I've run 334 trail miles out of 1,522 total miles for 22%, over twice as much as 2010. Those miles include 50 at Collegiate Peaks and four other long trail runs of 21, 29, 30 and 30 miles. I logged only one long trail run prior to Bighorn last year, and it was only a 20 miler (I did many other long runs, but all on roads or the Mickelson Trail, which doesn't really count as a "trail").
Granted, 22% still isn't all that impressive. That number would ideally be reversed, with 20% or less of my mileage occurring on roads. But it is what it is and I do feel that my trail running has improved as a result of the extra trail miles.
Hey, if 10% trail mileage got me to mile 34 of Bighorn last year before I DNFed, then twice as much mileage should get me twice as far, right? Lucky for me, I don't need to go twice as far, just an extra 16 miles. Of course, it probably helps that I'm not nursing a raging sinus infection this year. I guess there's only one way to find out...