Today is technically the start of my road trip, but I don't really see it that way because I'll actually be back in Baltimore Sunday evening. Today, I'm headed to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York for the inaugural Twisted Branch Trail Run, which begins at 5 a.m. tomorrow. The Twisted Branch is a 102-kilometer (63.7-mile) trail race with almost 11,000 feet of vertical ascent. It's going to be a hard day. I've been anticipating this day for almost three-quarters of a year now. And, with 16 hours to go, I'm ready.
There's obviously a lot of training that went into this race. But from here on out--that is, until I cross the finish line at mile 64--all I'm thinking about is execution. Prior planning and training only go so far. All the miles I've logged, all the sacrifices I've made up until now--they all mean nothing if I don't execute on race day. Execution, in short, is everything.
For the last couple weeks, I've been working on execution by tinkering with my race plan. I always start with a course elevation profile. I annotate that profile with significant geographical features, general milestones, and aid station locations. I write down numbers so I know exactly where I'll be and when. The plan also incorporates my notes on the race-day principles that I'll do my best to adhere to. I've been looking at--and will continue to look at--this one-pager over and over again today.
The race plan might seem unnecessarily detailed. But this single sheet of paper does so much, not only to remind me of what lies ahead tomorrow, but also to prepare me mentally for what is bound to be an extremely challenging, but incredibly fulfilling, day out on the trails.
The Twisted Branch Trail Run marks the start of my running road trip. I couldn't have asked for a better challenge to kick things off. I am ready.