All right, so I am all settled in now in what seems to be a mini-Mecca of running. I have great runners to train and compete with. I have more spare time than I remember having since I was in college because my family is away on vacation and work is not too hectic yet. So what excuses do I have left? Not many, really. I have been gradually ramping up my mileage for the last 4-5 months, while staying completely injury-free. More importantly, with all the hills and fell races around here (which I am starting to get used to), the quality of my training is better than it has ever been. I think I might be ready for a race.
Well, this is good timing because my "A race" for this year is coming up in exactly eight days. I had not tapered properly for a race since last fall, consciously deciding to treat all of my spring races as high-intensity training runs. Now I am curious to see the effect of my gradual three-week taper before the forthcoming Vitosha 100k. Unlike last summer, I have managed to fully embrace the generally unpleasant running withdrawal and even enjoy it. I was ready for a break after the intense training in the last month, the most prominent examples of which were the double headers of the Snowdon and Cader Idris.
Another difference compared to the period leading up to the WV Trilogy last year, however, is that I don’t seem to have the same “bring-it-on” attitude. The Vitosha 100k has humbled me in different ways, but with the same severity, in every one of the three times I have run it since 1997. I even recorded my first and only DNF on my last attempt in 2005, when I decided that running ultramarathons with an inadequate training base was not fun anymore. So I am feeling a strange mix of trepidation and excitement that I might finally have a chance of running a good race on this course.
With the inter-continental move and new job, there has been lot of uncertainty weather I would even get to run this year’s race. I wrote it off and then worked it back into my schedule at least three times over the last months. But I think this was a good thing because I didn't want to get too fixated on any one specific race (which incidentally seems to work pretty well for this guy).
One thing I really look forward to is running with Daniel Tsokev again. We were both rather unprepared and struggled together through the 2000 race to finish in a tie. After running together for 11 hours and helping each other through multiple low points, racing to the finish line just didn’t seem right. But this year will be different. We are both fit and ready to go. And it is going to be a real race this time, with at least several other Bulgarian runners having made a lot of progress over the last few years. This should be fun!