Well...crunch time is finally here! 2 months to go until the start of Gobi March and I feel like everything is coming together. I typically hit the 8 week window with feelings of burnout and pre-race anxiety, causing me to second guess my training. However, I'm feeling strong, mentally focused, and ready to bang out these last weeks! I have had to suffer through some low points, including a very severe bout of posterior tibial tendonitis which hobbled me for about 3 weeks. After discussing the problem with my good friend Daniel Rowland (winner of the 2013 Atacama Crossing Stage Race), I felt a bit better about what was happening. He assured me that with proper care and some training adjustments I would be back sooner than later. Of course, he was right! It actually worked to my advantage, I believe. The injury caused me to reduce my normal training workload, focused my energy on recovering my body, and probably gave me some much needed rest, potentially staving off the burnout that I typically experience just before a race.
I've also begun the inevitable accumulation of potential race gear. While I have most of my race items dialed-in from previous race experience, there are a few things I still tinker with. My big one is finding the "perfect" shoe. My home becomes a temporary stockroom for boxes from Amazon, Zappos and Running Warehouse. The crazy thing is that I've always ended-up settling on my original choice! Overall, I'm making very few kit changes, as I feel that everything worked great in the Sahara Race, so why mess with it, right?! I'll post some detailed pics later in the month to give everyone an idea of just what I'll be carrying and surviving with for the race week.
Training is sometimes hard to gauge going into one of these races. You don't want to arrive at the start burned-out and over-trained, but you do want to have put your body through its paces in the preparation period. Specifically, that means a high training volume and lots of LONG back-to-back runs. To get a feel for how I was progressing, I logged somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 miles over 5 days a couple of weeks ago, then entered a trail marathon on the 6th day. Surprisingly, I actually felt pretty fresh for the race despite it being probably the most technically difficult trail race I've ever competed in. I was fortunate enough to place in the top 10 (8th) and left with a feeling that my training was working and that I'm on the right track!
Flights, visas, transfers, room reservations and the like have all been locked down...so now is when the anticipation starts to build. I'm hoping to roll through the next 2 months with a good mental and physical focus, and to arrive at the start amped-up and ready to roll. Thanks for reading and check back soon for more updates!