My entrance into the North Coast 24 means I will not be running in the Tussey Mountainback 50-Mile, which is also held Oct. 3. I regret backing out of Tussey because it's a great race from what I've heard, but I have my reasons for running in the North Coast 24, and here they are:1) I have never run in a 24-hour race and have wanted to for the past two years. In fact, last year I almost created my own 24-hour event in Cleveland to raise money for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital (I work at University Hospitals in fundraising)--but those plans never came to fruition. I may explore ways to raise money for Rainbow and/or another charity through North Coast.
2) In my opinion, the 24-hour race is probably ultrarunning in its purest form. Modern-day American ultrarunning's roots go back to the famous six-day races in Madison Square Garden in the late nineteenth century. I love ultrarunning and everything the sport stands for and symbolizes, and want to experience it in its purest form.
3) I want to support Cleveland and Northeast Ohio as a mecca of ultrarunning. From the Mohican and Burning River 100s to other events, we have many premier ultramarathons and many top ultrarunners here in the northern half of the Buckeye State. We used to have another major event, the Olander Park 24-Hour Run in Sylvania, which served as the 24-hour national championship for years and attracted the likes of Yiannis Kouros. It was at the 1999 Olander that Mark Godale, a native Clevelander who I run with in the Cleveland Southeast Running Club, set the American 24-hour record at 162.4 miles--a record that still stands today.
Now that a 24-hour national championship is back in the Cleveland area, I want to be a part of it because this opportunity may not happen again.
4) I want to do another 100-mile event this year. I was unable to run in the Burning River 100 because I'd already committed to being a pacer, and I don't think I was quite ready for the distance with Mohican being just six weeks prior. I've scoured the schedule of 100-milers for the rest of 2009 and, due to a variety of reasons, the North Coast 24 is perfect. It will likely, of course, involve far more than 100 miles.
Beyond those reasons, I'm excited about taking part in a national championship event. I imagine many top ultrarunners nationally and even internationally, as well as an excellent group of runners from the region, will be at the North Coast 24.
Because I've never done a 24-hour event, it's hard to come up with specific goals for North Coast. I guess I'd like to go north of 130 miles and potentially go under 17 hours for my 100-mile split. It would be nice to also establish a 50-mile PR. Most of all, I just want to experience what it's like to go for 24 hours.
To prepare, I'm going to get back into high mileage starting this week, building on my fitness from my Mohican 100 training. I've been in a 70-80-mile per week zone for the past few weeks and will now begin working up to near 100 miles per week. The goal this week is 90 miles. I may not hit 100 miles at all going into North Coast, but I'll be in the 90something zone and will continue with my hill repeats and speedwork, which will come in handy in December when I run in the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship Gore-Tex 50-Mile.
For the first time in a few months, I'm really excited about my running and feel like I now have something to drive toward. For whatever reason, I wasn't that psyched about the Tussey Mountainback, but I'm definitely stoked about the North Coast 24 and feel completely energized. This will be a huge challenge but one that I look forward to.