My peak weekend is now behind me. Bring on the taper! It’s a little hard to believe that it’s been 20 weeks since I started training for Umstead with the goal of finishing inside 24 hours (24×60=1,440). I’ve executed my training plan almost to the letter. The only major changes was adding in an extra 27 mile run in February, bumping up the mileage on several of my long runs, and swapping out a weekend of 27/22 for the Naked Bavarian 40. I was a little worried about this past weekend heading in. I wasn’t sure if a week was going to be enough to recover after running 40 miles. Luckily, my legs felt back to normal after only 2 days, which I still find fairly incredible. So it was on like Donkey Kong.
New 50K PR (?)
But first I had to figure out logistics. I always do my long (or longest) run on Saturday mornings, however this week my son had a basketball game at 9am. I didn’t even want to think of how early I would have to get up to make his game. And it was a playoff game with a chance he could have games at 11am and 3pm. I also didn’t fancy running from 5-11pm only to chase that with another 21 miles Sunday morning. And did I mention the high temperature was only supposed to be 31 degrees on Saturday? Well, in order to be successful in ultras, and 100-milers particular, you need to be flexible. If Saturday and Sunday didn’t look like good, I would just have to take a vacation day Friday and move the runs up a day.
I was a little more excited about running during the day on Friday as it was supposed to be much warmer (about 40 degrees). This would have been perfect if it hadn’t snowed for the first 3 hours of the run. I was lucky that the temperatures where above freezing so the snow wasn’t sticking to the roads though there was 1-2 inches on several trails that I ended up running. I originally planned to do 30 and 22 miles, however I had been running so quickly for me that I thought I had a decent chance to set a 50K PR so I move a mile from day 2 to day 1. Now one could argue that it wouldn’t count as an “official” PR unless it is run during a timed race. I see the merit in this, however since I’m never going to go around bragging about my 50K time (hint: it’s not that fast) then I decided Friday’s run would qualify since I’m just counting it for myself (and the dozen or so others that currently read this blog). But I had to beat 5 hours 46 minutes first.
I put my son on the bus at 8:30am then went back inside to finished getting dressed as I wasn’t warm enough. Boy am I glad I added a couple extra layers. I’ve learned in the past that when the temperatures are relatively cold (under 40 degrees) and there is any kind of participation that you have to treat it like it’s at least 10 degrees colder than it is. I set up my aid station at my house (2 bottles water, 2 gels, 1 bottle Ensure Plus) and then hit the roads. I didn’t necessarily have a time goal, however thought it might be possible to hit a 10 minute pace or little over 5 hours. I was struggling a bit mentally during the first part of the run (31 miles and all), however managed to run a 9:35 pace through 10 miles.
The next five miles were quite a bit slower. This included the only couple miles of trails, which really slowed my pace down since they were partially snow covered. If that wasn’t bad enough, I rolled my ankle in a pothole and had to rimp (run/limp) for about half a mile. I was a little worried that I might have to cut my run short, but my ankle loosened up after a while and it was never an issue the rest of the day. I hit my aid station at mile 14 and took an extra minute or so to chug my Ensure and take care of business.
The remainder of the run was just about getting it done. The snow eventually stopped. It got somewhat warmer. And finally I was finished: 5 hours and 13 minutes or 10:03 pace. This was 33 minutes faster than my PR. So happy. The only caveat I’ll make with the run is that it was almost entirely done on roads or fire roads so my Blues Cruise 5:46 still stands as my trail 50K PR. Overall, it was a great run. Now I just needed to crank out another 21 miles.
This is gonna leave a mark
I still had the same logistics issues for Saturday, however 21 miles I could fit in before 9am. I just had to get up at 3:30am to do it. The temperature dropped dramatically overnight so I was “blessed” with 20 degree weather and the occasional wind gust. I bundled up and grabbed some hand warmers for this run. I’m lucky I did as this probably made the difference between a hard run and a miserable run. I started out and did most of the same course as the prior day and was not surprised to see my splits 30-45 seconds slower than Friday. My legs didn’t feel too bad, however they just didn’t have the same oomph. And that’s OK. I didn’t care if I ran 11 minute miles as long as I finished. Well, that and hopefully I wouldn’t do too much damage.
Apparently, my coordination didn’t get the memo because I tripped and took a header at mile 2. I got up and noticed the huge hole in my tights as I was dusting myself off, which upset me since they were still relatively new. Little did I realize the damage I did to my leg (photo below, but warning as it’s not for the faint of heart). My knee was a little stiff for a couple hundred yards, but then never bothered me the rest of the run. So 2 runs, 2 physical mishaps. I hope I’ve gotten them all out of my system at this point and it’s not a precursor of what’s to come. The entire run was a grind from start to finish and while I enjoyed parts of it here and there, I’m glad I now have it behind me.
So I’m left with 20 days till Umstead and I’m starting to get a little excited. My training is done at this point with only a 10 mile run/2 hour walk left next weekend along with five or six 5 mile runs. I can almost do that with my eyes closed. Not that I would, you understand, as I seem to have enough problems staying on my feet with them open.
Do you think I should count Friday’s training 50K as a PR?