Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 Weeks to Howl at the Moon Race

It's only 6 weeks until my favorite race of the year...Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra in Danville, IL. The Kennekuk Road Runners put on one hell of a race!  Free pre-race camping, free beer, free food, and a well supported race with 3 aid stations on the 3.29 mile loop course. The weather is usually hot and humid, but the volunteers do their best to keep you going for the full 8 hours.

This will be my 14th Howl race. In the 13 races I've done, I have accumulated over 550 miles. Average of 42+ miles each year. One year, I'd love to hit 50 miles, but my personal best is 47 miles (twice). This year will not be my best. I have not trained well lately due to illness. No high mileage weeks, no long runs. This week, I'm finally back to "regular" running. But with only 6 weeks to go, I'm not sure how much training I can squeeze into my remaining days. I feel lucky to be healthy and active again. Any running is better than none. Still, I want to perform well at races and be fitter and faster than I am. I suppose increased fitness will come over time. Patience.

I'll need patience at the Howl 8-hour race. If I can develop a structured run-walk plan from the start, I may be able to log more miles than expected. I could try a short 1-minute walk every mile. My GPS watch beeps at each mile, then walk for one minute. That strategy worked well at the Tunnel Hill 50-mile race last fall. I need to delay my fatigue as long as possible. A slow and steady start could keep me going further. Eight hours is a long time to be out in the heat and humidity (and mid-day sun) of central Illinois. Efficiency is the key. Run, walk, eat, drink. Repeat.

It's a bit strange, but I feel good about the upcoming race. I know it won't be a personal best, but I also know I'll give it my best, try a new strategy, and see what happens. As long as I notch at least 26.2 miles, it'll be ultra/marathon #100. That's worthy of celebration. There will be more ultras in my future, but this milestone will only come once. I might as well enjoy it and appreciate the day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

About 75% of Normal

It's been about 2 weeks since I started to run after being treated for pneumonia. The doctor said it would be about 2-3 weeks of continued coughing, followed by another 6 weeks of "healing" before I'd be back to normal. Well, I'm basically past the coughing stage. Still not "normal."  I'd say I'm around 75% of normal. Still get tired too quickly. I have no endurance and my speed is certainly not back. But...I'm improving.

I haven't had that many days of running to restore my fitness. A work conference this past week in Seattle delayed regular running (but I did get in 2 short runs in Seattle). I have the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra in 49 days. It'll be interesting. I should be back to "normal" by then, but not really fit. Certainly I can still knock off more than 26.2 miles and notch ultra/marathon #100 at Howl.

I need lots of simple aerobic runs to build back my fitness. I'm using my heart rate monitor to keep me in the "easy/aerobic" zone (under 70% heart rate reserve). I've been under 65% for most runs so far. No need to risk injury or a relapse on my way back to health and fitness. Endurance will come with consistent running over time. I think the Howl ultra will be fine. Not great...more of a celebration of long-time running and ultra racing. I'll be happy to complete #100. Then I'll start to worry about ultra/marathon #101...the Barkley Fall Classic in September.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

13 Zeros, Now 5 Runs

After logging 13 zeros in a row while sick, I've gotten in 5 straight runs. Nothing crazy, just basic easy runs of 2-3-4-4-4 miles. I'm taking today off to "consolidate" my wins. Actually, I'm sorta tired. Still recovering from pneumonia and feeling a little fatigued. Going forward, I'll get back to a normal schedule of about 5 runs/week. Usually I try to incorporate a tempo run each week, but I'm sticking to pure aerobic efforts for the next 60 days. After Howl at the Moon 8-Hour (August 8), I'll re-examine my health and fitness and make small adjustments as I head toward the September 19th Barkley Fall Classic 50K.

What counts as an "easy aerobic run" for me?  Good question. Maffetone training would call for a maximum heart rate of 131 (180-age). Most coaches would place "very easy aerobic" efforts at below 65% heart rate reserve (about 141 for me). That's what I'm targeting. After Howl at the Moon, I may move that to 70% HRR (148). If I'm fit, I can still run fairly fast at that low heart rate (around 8:30 minute/mile pace).  Of course, with the Illinois summer heat and humidity, it may be slower! I have NO GOALS for my next 2 races...just finish them feeling good. Howl at the Moon will be ultra/marathon #100. Barkley Classic will be #101. I'll be happy if I'm healthy and injury-free after Barkley. No ruptured achilles tendons (potential side-effect of my antibiotic for next 6 months)!

It sure feels good to get out of bed, lace the running shoes, and hit the road for a run. does a body good.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Post Pneumonia Run

Today the non-running streak stopped at 13 days. A full 13 zeros in the run log. Not a single mile. Nada. Nothing. I've been laid up with pneumomnia. Today, I finally felt well enough to TRY a short run. It was short. Very short. 1.94 miles on easy roads around the neighborhood. But it was more than zero. And I survived. I'm back...sorta. I go back to the doctor in about 2 weeks for another chest x-ray to make sure everything is really cleared up. Hopefully I won't suffer from one of the antibiotic side-effects...ruptured achilles tendon within next 6 months. Yikes!

The doctor said I'll cough for about 2-3 more weeks. And the lungs won't be back to normal for about 8 weeks. "Don't push the running too hard" in that time period. OK, doc. I have 2 ultras in the next 3 months. One is the Barkley Fall Classic--one of the hardest 50Ks in the country! Guess I won't push "too hard" on those back-country hills. Hope I'm not doomed. I plan on lots of easy runs. Maffetone style aerobic efforts that won't stress the body much...and will keep the achilles happy.

I have 63 days until the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra. I think I'll be OK for that race. It won't be setting any kind of personal records, but it'll be a celebration of running and health. My 100th ultra/marathon. Finally. 100.

Appreciate your health and vitality.