Friday, November 16, 2012

JFK goals

Warning: This post got really long - sorry - I guess I stored up a lot of final thoughts in 5 months of training.

24 hours from now, I'll finally be running JFK! I signed up in May, and ran my first 50 mile week back in June, so this has been a long time coming. I'm starting to get pretty excited, so I guess I'll talk about some goals. 

JFK is a strange bird due to the terrain. It's been really tough trying to figure out a reasonable pace goal. I realized I've been thinking of it almost like it's a triathlon, because there are three distinct parts. 

Part 1: The Appalachian Trail    Distance: 15.5 miles Goal: No broken bones
The race starts on a rocky, challenging mountain trail, similar to what I ran at FOTM. I ran this portion back in July and it starts out with an insane climb, the type where I'm gasping for breath just walking and it's difficult to stay upright. I will be walking this part. There is a 1,000 foot elevation drop at the end of this portion, but I don't remember being paralyzed from fear like at FOTM, so I think it's spread out over a little more distance. I'm not good with technical terrain like this, and it's really easy to fall and get hurt. My goal here is to take it easy and not be stupid, although I'm sure that will be frustrating tomorrow. Still, I'd rather lose time walking down a steep hill than fall, get hurt, and have to DNF. 

Part 2: The C&O canal  Distance: a marathon (26.3 miles)    
Goal: Keep up a comfortable pace and don't die of boredom 
After that terrifying mountain ordeal, we run a marathon on the easiest terrain imaginable - a flat, crushed stone path along a canal. It's boring, but if FOTM was any indication, the ability to take your eyes off your feet for a split second and not fearing instant death will be a welcome change. I've done two 20 milers on a similar path at about a 10:15 pace and it felt sustainable, so I'm thinking I'll aim for that. 

Part 3: Local road   Distance: 8.4 miles Goal: Walk the hills, run the downhills and flats
Historically, the last portion of a race has been my forte, so I'm just hoping to keep that going and feel good here knowing the end is in sight. 

I also have some time goals. I didn't do any math to see how the above actually lines up with those, but here they are.

A+: Beat Kara's time last year of 9:26. No idea if this is realistic or not based on my training, but she publicly challenged me, and it would be awesome.
A: Under 10 hours
B: Under 11 hours
C: To be alive at the end of the day

My next goal is to proactively tackle the problems I experienced in Stone Mill. Problem 1: it was more than 50 miles. Thank God that's not the case here.

Last year at the Stone Mill 55 miler, I really struggled mentally. Running 20 miles and having 30+ to go wore me down. I know this race will have similar highs and lows, and that the lows don't necessarily hit when you think they will. 

Last year, I had Lily to get me through them. I signed up for this race alone, which was scary (although I wasn't really alone, because I have an incredibly supportive husband willing to give up his entire Saturday to do the ridiculously boring job of crewing for me). Due to blogging and my running store job, I won't be alone. Jessica is nice enough to help pace me for some boring canal miles. We totally randomly met up in Ohio last year and did our first post 50 miler run together, so I'm guessing this will be just as fun. I'm super excited to see Abbi and meet Kristin, fellow JFK virgins. I'll be running at least a chunk of the race with fellow shoe seller Matt, and our friend Katrina is coming to cheer for us.   

Last year, Lily and I met for drinks a few weeks before the race and drafted a list of conversation topics to get us through. I've been informally thinking of some topics to occupy my mind during this race. The first and foremost is to think of some freaking Christmas gift ideas, because right now I've purchased a whopping ONE. During the lows, I'll get prepared for Thanksgiving early by focusing on all the things I'm thankful for in my life. If that doesn't work, I'll revert to what got me through in Stone Mill - telling Lily about the person I hate the most in the entire world and why I hate this person. Fun Fact - this person attended our wedding. Anger is a great motivator. 

I also experienced nausea, and Stone Mill had tons of ginger ale at the aid stations. Kara recommended mints and ginger for this race, so I packed those up last night.

I was afraid this was going to be a totally picture-less post.
Lastly, I can always motivate myself by thinking of dessert. Actually that's a lie, it usually makes me want to puke during a race. I'm very disappointed in myself for not doing anything home made this year, but I just didn't have time. The takeaway from that statement is not "OMG I'm the busiest of them all!!" but rather "wow, Alyssa is such a devoted Twi-hard that she will suffer eating a store bought dessert on the day of what will probably be the greatest calorie deficit she'll ever experience to continue her streak of seeing every Twilight movie on the night it opens". 

I'll be picking up this little gem before the movie tonight. As anyone who has been to Wegmans knows, Eric and I won't really be suffering tomorrow night.  

The quantity is listed as two, because we don't share.

Wow, that was a lot of thoughts. JFK 50, here I come!


  1. Alright, this post answered my last post's question re: terrain. I'm so excited for you and this race - good luck!

  2. I hope you beat Kara. She'll be so pissed.

    Now, I'm very intrigued about who the person you hate the most is.

    I am so excited for you for this race! Good luck! Have Eric text me if you die.

  3. good luck! this is very handy for me (terrain explanation) for when i run it ;)

  4. You better beat me. You trained so much better than I did. Although if you don't, I'm going to blame a lack of stroller runs in your training.

    I really wish there were facebook updates for your race splits. I expect a text as soon as you finish :)

  5. Yes, beat Kara! She'd be furious!

    I do have a very important question - you're running 50mi and getting a MINI dessert?!?!

    Who are you and what have you done with Alyssa?

    GOOOOOOD LUCK!!!!!! Can Eric text updates? I'll be in an all day legal education course on Saturday...and updates would be awesome!

    1. Not to worry, while the mini pie is way bigger than it appears in the picture, Wegmans was out so I was forced to get the full size. Darn.

  6. Hahaha, I wasn't at your wedding, so I'm not a candidate! So that means you've forgiven me a little bit for SM55 :)

    I like your goal. And your "occupy your mind" plan.

    Personally I plan to occupy my mind with thinking about how tired I am, and counting down the miles to the next aid station.

    Ok, I really should go look at the weather forecast.

  7. You are going to ROCK this race :D I cant wait to hear your crazy stories.... we will have to do another Stone Mill to share the stories from your JFK!!!

    Don't forget somewhere between 30-40 we prayed :D !!!!

    xoxo and miss you!

    1. Cool -- see, Alyssa, you're doing Stone Mill again!

      Only we need to make sure they don't accidentally give you some weak, short distance like only 50 miles, b/c I'd hate for you to not get your money's worth.

  8. I love how many people are rooting for you to beat me. :)

    1. If it lools like she is coming close? Do you want me to tackle her?!?! Ha.

  9. I will see you tomorrow morning, but I think you are approaching it the right way. The first 15 miles - you should just focus on staying vertical. Take it easy - think of it as a fast hike. I didn't think the towpath was boring at all. It is really beautiful running along the water with all these neat cliff and rock formations. I can't wait!!

  10. Good luck! I will be doing my very first trail run tomorrow-a 5 miler-and I will be thinking positive thoughts for you!! Have a great race!

  11. ermahgherd. Wegmans desserts are the next best thing to homemade. I want one of those pies now. Happy running tomorrow! Will anyone be ghost-tweeting for you during the race? ;) Be sure to smile a big cheesy for the photog like Kara did on that rocky terrain last year.

  12. How do I not know who the person you hate most is? I have an idea, but not exactly sure. I will need to be informed.

    I hope when you are thinking about Christmas gifts, you think of some ideas for yourself, because I am clueless on that front.

    Good luck! I was so glad I was not alone at 4am this morning.

    That Wegmans' PB Pie is an excellent choice. Not a disappointment at all!


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