5 weeks to go until my first 50k. Suddenly it all seems very real.
I’ve been plugging away at my training plan and staying fairly healthy, and haven’t really given a lot of thought to the specifics of the race. Now that it’s visible on the horizon, I’ve started contemplating the biggest factor that will be a major deviation from my training. 29 of the 31 miles are on the beach. Total training experience running on the beach, life-to-date: 0 miles.
I’m really undecided on the whole shoe factor. Lots of folks insist on running barefoot or in minimalist shoes on sand. I certainly understand this, but it would be too major a departure from what I usually do when I run. I’ve pondered the pros/cons of wearing trail-running shoes, but haven’t found any specific info either in favor of or opposed to trail shoes on sand, and I would need to buy a pair and quickly break them in before I’d try them out in a race. Lots of information against road shoes on the beach, especially with regards to the heel digging in too well and ramping up the effort much higher than a regular run. What to do …. What to do??
This weekend I’ll be heading to Kitty Hawk to visit my parents, specifically to try two longish runs on the beach to see what I’m up against. My plan is to lace up an older pair of my trusty Gel Nimbus, and see how they do. As long as I stay near the water line in the more packed sand I’m thinking this will work out fine for me. I’m going to start Saturday morning’s run from the actual marathon start and go for 10-11 miles. Then Sunday, depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll start from around where I stopped on Saturday and put in another 10-12 miles, making any gear adjustments I think are needed based on Saturday’s experience. Hopefully the weather cooperates. The weather is always a roll of the dice in the Outer Banks.
In related news, my legs have been exceptionally cooperative lately. No significant injuries, and generally just wanting to move fast (or fast for me). I’ve dropped several pounds since the start of February, and I’m attributing a lot of this to the weight loss. Amazing what a difference it has made in pace and general endurance. Yesterday morning I did 8.3 miles at an average pace of 7:39, which I’m pretty sure is the fastest 8 miles I’ve ever run.
It didn’t feel effortless, but it did feel good. Hopefully I can keep this vibe going over the next 5 weeks.