Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Days 'till My First 50

The prep work is largely complete.
Somehow, barring a stray sniper clipping me on my last short run on Wednesday, I made it through my training plan with no significant injuries.

Saturday morning at 7AM I’ll be taking the first step in my first try at a 50-mile Ultra.  According to some who dismissed my 50K as “just a long marathon”, this will be my first foray into ultramarathons.  I’ve never gone beyond 32 miles in a single run before, training or racing.  The great unknown.  Testing my mental and physical boundaries.  I’m really looking forward to this.

I've survived 24 weeks of training specifically targeted for this race.  My underlying training plan was specifically defined for running.  I tried to add in cross-training, including weight training, along the way.  I was able to stick very closely to the plan.  You never know what you’re body is going to feel like on race day, but mentally I feel good about my training:
  • 1,055 miles of running
  • 297 miles on the bike
  • 33 trips to the gym for strength training (mostly upper body and core)

Despite the hurricane currently wreaking havoc on the Eastern U.S., the forecast for Saturday looks good.  Lows in the 30s, highs in the upper 50s, and sunshine.  I know better than put too much stock in extended forecasts, but I’m hoping this forecast holds up.  Mostly just hoping the rain stays away.

I’ve got my race day strategy figured out, and have a loose plan for nutrition and hydration.  Past races have taught me that I have a tendency to overhydrate and over-carb (gels, chomps, etc.) on race day, so I’m taking the less-is-more approach here that worked well in my recent marathon.

My biggest focus this week, aside from packing properly, is getting sleep.  I can’t fix my poor job of getting sleep over the last few months, but I can get myself to bed early and sleep as late as the taper allows this week, so I’m feeling well-rested on race day.

One key decision still remains open …. the official post-race celebratory craft beer.  These races serve as an excuse to overspend on an unusual craft-brewed Stout, so I have to choose wisely.  If that’s the biggest worry on my mind right now, then I know I’m feeling confident.

Bring on the Fiddy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Freedom's Run Marathon Recap

Cold and Hilly.

Great race, beautiful setting, great experience, but if I were to sum up the 2012 Freedom’s Run marathon in two words they would be cold and hilly.  I was expecting the hilly, but wasn’t expecting or prepared for the cold.

It's slightly misleading to call this a 'race' recap, since I didn't really race this one.  My plan was to test out my 25-minute-run/5-minute-walk strategy that I’ll be using in a couple weeks in my ultra, and I mostly stuck to the plan.  My only deviation was that I ran for the first hour rather than starting with the walking at the 25 minute mark because I was so cold I needed to keep running to try and get some warmth going.  It wasn't exceptionally cold at the start, 33 degrees, but I didn't pack for the cold, and was at the start 1.5 hours early, so by the time things got going I was nice and chilly.

If you’re thinking of doing this race, it’s really two races.  The first half of the race is primarily on the C&O canal, and feels like you’re running on a treadmill with trees on your right, and the Potomac River on your left.  Scenic, but fairly redundant and not terribly interesting.  The second half of the race, however, is where the scenery and the hills kick in.  The run through Antietam battlefield is really amazing.  They've obviously gone out of their way to keep the land looking much like it must have looked when the battles raged, and it’s very sobering.  There’s not a great deal of spectator support for this one, but the few that were there were very enthusiastic, and much appreciated.  I’d definitely recommend this race, and will consider possibly doing this one again in the future.

I basically stuck to my plan and made this a change-of-scenery training run, and a dress-rehearsal for the 50-miler that’s now less than 2 weeks away.  I ran much faster than I wanted to, and faster than I should have, and ended up finishing in 4:04.  My legs felt very good after the race, and even after getting in my car and making the 7-hour drive home my legs still felt pretty good.  Good enough to go out for a 12-mile recovery run 10 hours after arriving home.  Considering that my first 3 marathons landed me in physical therapy and caused weeks of downtime before I was running again, I’m very happy with a 17-hour turnaround for a return to training.

Saturday was my last 20+ mile training run, and now I taper for 2 weeks before heading to Nashville to see what the world beyond 31 miles holds for me.  I feel well prepared and I’m really looking forward to giving it a go, but I’m definitely anxious to see what happens when I get out beyond 50K.

I’ll be sure to pack lots of warm clothes for this one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Long Lost Blogger

Once upon a time I blogged on a regular basis.

In many of those posts I made mention of having a few too many things going at once, and not getting enough sleep.  It dawned on me that writing and reading blog posts was one more thing I was trying to wedge into the day, often late at night when I should be sleeping and recovering from the early-morning workouts.  So …. the blog got pushed well down into the depths of the to-do list, and suddenly two months had passed.

Some quick updates since last I felt bloggish:
  • My wife and two partners opened a tennis shop, and things are going really, really well.  Steep learning curve in the world of retail, but every day brings a new lesson, and learning is never a bad thing
  • Ultra training has been going very well, and I’ve been able to avoid any issues beyond the usual aches and pains that seem to come with running in your 5th decade.  I’ve dialed the biking way back and focused on quality running.  260 miles in August, 265 miles in September.  Really enjoyed the warm weather, and not looking forward to icy morning runs in the months ahead.
  • In the category of “hasn’t quite registered yet”,  I signed up for the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Raleigh coming in June of 2013.  I’ve been toying with the inevitable move to triathlons, and since this one starts about 15 minutes from my house, it seemed like destiny.  Guess I’ll have to get back into the pool once I’m through my upcoming races.  Damn pool.
  • In three days I’m driving up to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia to run the Freedom’s Run marathon.  My training plan called for a 25 mile run, so I figured I’d add an extra mile and have some fun with a race.  Treating it as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for my upcoming ultra, using my run/walk approach.  Hopefully my legs will bounce back quickly so I can wrap up the rest of my training.
  • Three weeks after the Freedom’s Run I’m off to Nashville for my first attempt at a 50-miler.  I’m feeling good about my training, but don’t really know what to expect beyond 31 miles, which is the farthest I’ve run in a race or training.  Should be interesting.  I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve got lots of blog reading to catch up on, but (hopefully) not at the expense of sleep.  Damn sleep.