at the Wilderness 101. 5 days from now I'll be in the middle of battle at the Wilderness. I've been waiting all season for this and my benchmark for the season is upon me. The past two years I've had some decent success at this race and I'm planning on doing even better this season. In 2007 I wanted to just finish and hopefully not be pulled since I didn't bring lights. I met that goal and finished with a time of 10:36. Elated with my performance and begging to do more. In 2008 I returned in better shape and then set my sights at breaking the 10 hour mark. It seemed pretty tough considering I'd have to knock off 37 minutes from the previous year. Things went well as I set a blistering pace early but bonked on the first major climb and that really set me back. I found a way to pull it back together and actually had a decent kick at the end to finish in a time of 9:51. Once again I was really happy with the time I rode but thought that there was much more in me if I did this race right.
Now I'm approaching my third W101 and with a lot more knowledge of the course and a much better preparation for the course. Even better I looked at the posted map and can piece together the sections of the course I remember just on sight of the map. This will be a huge advantage. I recall a lot of the course and seem to know that the sequence will help me pace myself much better. So far the strategy seems to set a fairly hot pace in the beginning of the race but save some for the big climb at mile 42. I need to set a good pace on this climb and burn it pretty good and the rest will fall in place. This is the climb that killed me last year. I'm looking to use that as my springboard for a much better race this year.
So far in the Cohutta and Mohican I've cut two 8+ hour race finishes, and I'm looking to make the 101 my 3rd 8+ hour finish. I know this means shedding 51 minutes from my previous best, but I'm up for the challenge. I dropped almost two hours off my previous time at the Mohican so it's possible. Also I seem to remember thinking that the Mohican course was harder than the 101 course. I know that by shedding a few pounds this season will be a major help towards meeting that goal. That and my training should set me up nicely for a good finish. I'll know more in a few days time. Either way it's going to be a blast.