Friday, May 18, 2018

50 Miles - Part 1


I will be using stick figures for picture of my run
because the event wants to charge an additional $80 for event photos.

I kept thinking, what did I get myself into? Kept telling myself, don't quit!


Every Fall I look ahead and attempt to put one spring race/event on may calendar to stay on a training plan through the winter. I’ve always felt like a good hard event early in the season springboards me into summer and having the ability to hop into a variety of races on short notice.

For the last few years, my running has been getting slower and my ability to go particularly fast at any distance has diminished. This cannot be all attributed to age, the largest contributing factor is that I have not dedicated the time and effort to get any faster. During training I’ve been enjoying the longer slow runs more and less inclined to do intervals and faster, higher intensity efforts. Going hard and fast hurts. Going slow and enjoying the scenery hurts less.

In the fall of 2017, I read a few books and articles about ultrarunning, and found that type of suffering to be fascinating. Since doing an Ironman, the Leadville MTB 100 and Wilmington/Whiteface 100K MTB, I’ve always wanted to stretch into longer and bigger, but never considered running to be a strong suit nor enjoyable for extended amounts of time.

Time to test my new found appreciation for the long run and see if an ultrarunning race was the correct event to focus on over the winter.

I targeted The North Face Endurance Challenge Series stop atBear Mountain, New York as it was fairly close to home and at a good time on the schedule the first weekend in May. Also, I had some part in creating the whole series for The North Face back in the early 2000’s when I worked at Rodale/Runner's World. I delayed shelling out the cash for the entry until I could get past a few of the longer training runs and felt confident I wouldn’t be a liability on the course. That confidence never really manifested, and I didn’t register until a few weeks before the race.

My training plan started in late November and was built from my reading and exploring a number of different philosophies and plans. I went with the theory of building into back-to-back long runs on weekends, rest days (light spin on bike, walk or jog) on Mondays; harder efforts on Tuesdays; easy long(ish) day Wednesday; hill work on Thursdays; and a rest day (again light spin on bike, walk or jog) on Fridays. Every third week, I would back it off and have a bit of a recovery week.

I did my best to stick to the training plan, but had to adjust on the fly with work, life and motivation factors. At first, I would do a long slow run on Saturday and then a long bike ride on the bike Sunday as my big back-to-backs to ease my body into so much running. I missed a few days and augmented the workouts over the holidays while skiing in Colorado, but I figured if I was putting a lot of time into being on my feet and fatiguing my legs, I was helping the process and building different kinds of leg strength that could help.

Once President’s week passed, I stuck closer to the plan and was knocking out solid 10/10, 15/15 and 20/20 back-to-back mileage days Saturdays & Sundays. Better yet, because it wasn’t all about mileage, but time on feet, I was making those runs slow over varying terrain. There was nothing easy about running 20 miles/5 hours on a Saturday and then doing it all over again Sunday, but I was hoping the payoff would be worth it.

About two weeks before the event, as I was tapering, I started having extreme stomach pain. I hadn’t changed anything in my diet or lifestyle to point to a clear indicator. Through some assessments, it was determined that I was suffering from stomach ulcers. This was thought to be a result of stress and too much NSAIDs for too long a time. I immediately stopped taking ibuprofen and started Nexium to try and help right the ship. My body was not happy, and the taper wasn’t helping; I felt like I had restless leg syndrome and was as cranky as ever.

Finally, race day was here…

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