While this is far from the "worst case scenario" of the 100 mile mountain race, my history with the race has me shaking in my boots.
Perhaps my biggest fear is going into a tough race with minimal crew and no pacer. My dad will be my one-man-crew as always, and he really does a great job. The guy always seems to have everything ready at all times. I had set up one , but due to a stress fracture, he had to cancel. Luckily, he gave ample notice for me to look for another. And I found one...until he came down injured as well on Wednesday. I can't blame either of them. And I can't possibly hold it against them with any kind of feeling other than hoping they recover quickly for their own gains. But without a pacer, I'll have to rely fully on my own mental capacity to start calling myself a wuss and get going faster even when I don't want to.
Having a pacer waiting for you is great. You look forward to getting to the aid station where they are allowed to start running. And when you get there, they are like a fresh batch of energy. It flows out of them and you can see them running effortlessly and in turn, it makes you feel better and energized. It's like starting a daily training run with an old friend. Both of you fresh and starting new.
At the Old Dominion 100 I ran without a pacer and it was very noticeable even to me in the differences in my running. In past races where I've had a pacer, the sections following where you pick up a pacer go quickly. And my mile times from the last aid station to the finish rival that of the beginning of the race. I've had pacers tell me they had a hard time keeping up in the last couple miles of a 100 miler. Though, I think they were just trying to be nice.
At Old Dominion, I realized this is a mentality issue. I was slow from the last aid station, I walked a lot, and my time showed that. The finish was very unexciting and even in the last mile I had no reason to "pour on the sauce." I couldn't get around the mental side of finishing strong. I just didn't care.
This race will be a test of mentality. I'm stronger...I think. And faster...I hope. All I need to do is figure out a way to just relax and just run. As long as I'm relaxed, and my head is clear, I run effortlessly. After all, it's just running in the mountains.
What's the worst that could happen...?