Warning: long ramble about me.
I am treating my upcoming race similar to how I rested for Ironman. I've always believed that once you get within 10 days of an 'A' race there's nothing you can do to improve fitness outside of resting. I did bump it one day by running solid on Thursday (9 days out) but since I'm not swimming or cycling and my recovery is very solid right now I'm feeling good with that. In 2000 I raced the Pacific NW 10k Road Championships 5 days out from Ironman Hawaii and accidentally won not running hard, it was a taper workout... I was ridiculously fit. I ran 2:55 at Kona but I had wanted, and thought (and still think), I was fit enough to run 2:45, so it was a mistake.
I'm not tapering- using the word taper implies a peak and that's not going to happen. In order to peak you have to train specifically to peak. The right mix of intensity and volume has to be aligned correctly and I haven't done that. So I'm just resting for the race. Yesterday was no running. This morning I jogged for 15:00. One 'rule' of resting that I learned from Tim and Tony DeBoom was to not run 2 days in a row during race week. A little bit of tightness or a micro tear in a muscle will become worse after many hours in a race so you have to go in 100%. Geoff Roes' run at the Mountain Masochist is a good example of what resting can do.
I changed my race nutrition a little bit on Thursday, part of the goal of that run was to experiment a little more. The plan next Saturday will be to use a mix of maltodextrin and fructose for the first 2:00, then switch to a more simple sugar for 2:00 (Gatorade), then switch to very simple sugar for the last 2:00+ (Mt Dew or Rockstar energy drink). As you fatigue and as your digestive tract stops working efficiently, it works to gradually shift nutrition from complex to simple. Coke at Ironman was always the only thing that I could digest after 7 hours.
I'm not implying that I know what I'm doing, but with my racing history I feel I'm not going in completely ignorant. The rule of thumb at Ironman was to start with 'plan A', then if that fails to turn to 'plan B' and then to have a 'plan C'.
This will be the first race of my life where I haven't done the distance in training. For my first Ironman I had swum a 5 mile ocean crossing from one island to another (I dingy hitched back to St John). I had biked 140 miles a few times, had run close to 26 miles and had a few 9+ hour workouts. Saturday is exciting to me because I'll be going down a road I've never been on. I don't fear the race, but I have a certain amount of respect for it. If I have any fear it's fear of how I will mentally handle the race. I don't plan on holding back much in the opening miles. I'll run comfortable and easy but that pace for me now, on a flat sea level course, might be relatively fast. So I expect to hurt by halfway. Then it will become a mental game in processing the distance to go with pain management, and that's what I want, that's what I'm seeking. Pain management is pretty much the fundamental skill in racing.
The way you process discomfort + how much desire you have to do your best = the outcome.
I always become complacent with where I am in a race and don't push to my limits, I've never pushed myself to my limits in any race (the day after that Ironman race in 2000 I was running up and down the beach playing frisbee). I'm not a competitor at all and the difference between places at the finish means little to me... but I'm getting tired of that mentality. Not the mentality that I don't care where I place, but the mentality that I've never reached my potential with my mind, and therefore my body too. A better way to think of it would be: get super fit, then push myself to my absolute limit... my place at the finish will take care of itself.
Peter Reid once said something to the effect that he dreamt of racing Ironman so hard that he blacked out on the finish line. He also said he would train so much and so hard that he could win Ironman easily because he hated hurting in the race. I think that it can be learned, but we can't practice it often. Only once in a great while do we have that opportunity. I think the key lies somewhere in the idea that I believe it has to be 'worth it' to push to my limit, I place too much extraneous value on the outcome. At Denver for example... the night before the race they changed the prize money from top 5 to just the top 3. When I found myself in 12Th place at half way I didn't care anymore and I only ran with half my heart. Ironically I ended up in 5Th place (I'm guessing that quite a few other runners realized they were out of the money too and gave up?). This isn't the healthiest way to think of racing, from a money perspective, but that was an example. Saturday there is no prize money, it's a small 'fun' race. There's little riding on it. It's possible that by simply taking the pressure off myself I can let it happen. Trying too hard might be my problem. I don't feel as though I am racing anyone but myself and the distance.