Friday, March 27, 2015

Goals for Clinton Lake Race

Only 18 hours to the Clinton Lake race start!  In my last blog post, I reported my strategy for running the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run. Basically, I'm going to start slow and keep it slow to the finish. Based on that "take it easy" strategy, here are my race goals fo Saturday. We all need goals, right?

  • Remain uninjured. I only have 4 more weeks to the Illinois Marathon and I can't afford an injury. I need to finish the day standing and ready to train. If things are going poorly, I'll not hesitate to drop out after 10 or 20 miles. 
  • Enjoy the trail with friends. Since I have no pressure to perfrom well, I can relax and enjoy the trail while socializing with friends. That may mean a beer or two during the race. Maybe a veggie burger too! And plenty of eating and drinking afterward. 
  • Get in a long run. With 4 weeks to the marathon, this is a perfect time to finish a long run. Hopefully, an extra long run. Thirty miles of trails will help build endurance. If I keep it easy, I should be able to re-enter training for the marathon after just a few days of rest.
  • DFL. I'll challenge for "dead fucking last" finisher. I'll settle for bottom 10%. I need to lower my UltraSignup ranking! The race cut-off is 8 hours. How about a 7:59 finish?
Care to predict my finish? Can I really contain my competitive nature? Will I race hard and set a PR? Or DNF? Or get that coveted DFL? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strategy for Clinton Lake Race

My strategy for this weekend's Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Race? Simple--don't treat it as a race. I'll go out slow, then taper the pace. Nice and easy from start to finish. It'll be an extra long run in preparation for the Illinois Marathon (4 weeks later). To achieve this easy pace, I'll need to keep my competitive instincts in check. That means I'll need to start in the back of the pack and connect with a fellow runner. Great opportunity to relax and get to know a new runner...or glom onto someone I already know! Maybe Tom Rice? I'm predicting a finish somewhere betwen 7-8 hours. That could be Tom's pace. The race cut-off is 8 hours, so I'd like to beat that time and have a recorded finish rather than a DNF. Maybe I can shoot to be the dead fucking last (DFL) runner. We all need goals, right? Here's another personal goal...drink lots of home-brewed beer at the finish line...or even during the race. I've been "practicing" this week.

If all goes well at Clinton Lake, I'll be able to jump into last minute training for the Illinois Marathon. With only 4 weeks to the marathon, I'll basically be done with long runs and simply concentrate on marathon paced efforts and a few shorter tempo type runs. Boston might be calling my name on April 25.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Like Being Fit

I like being fit. I like being healthy. I like being able to run whenever I want. I REALLY like being able to run long whenever I, or a friend, wants to run long. Ten miles? No problem. 15 miles? Why not. Twenty miles? Sure. How about a full marathon or ultra? Absolutely! Call me or send me an email and I'm up for any training run. It's a fantastic feeling being ready to run.

You give me a couple of days notice, and I'll run just about any distance you want. How many people can say that? And actually follow through? A 10 miler is nothing. Lately, even 20 milers are just fine and don't require any special planning. What a grand feeling to be ready to run. Anytime. It truly is nice being fit. I'm not yet in "race shape," but I'm getting close. The first step toward good racing is consistent, injury-free training. Build a solid base and you'll be ready for anything. The great thing about running is that you are rewarded for hard work. No short cuts, just straight-forward training.

If you are currently having a hard time running 3 miles...stick to it. Soon that 3 mile run will become easy. Same with 5 miles, 10 miles, even 20 miles. I'm not sure if a marathon or ultra ever really becomes easy, but they become doable and less daunting over time. Dream big, train consistently, and you'll start checking off more and more running goals. It's all about YOU becoming better today than you were yesterday. Not better than someone else, but better than you used to be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Clinton Lake Ultra vs Illinois Marathon

I have a decision to make. Fairly soon. In 10 days, on March 28, I will be running the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run. Then 4 weeks later, on April 25, I'll be running the Illinois Marathon. I've been training fairly well, with both distance and speed, but the last few weeks (most of Feb and the first part of March) I've tapered off and only done maintenance runs. Nothing really long and not much sustained speed work. Only this past weekend did I get back to "real" training with a solid 20 mile trail run on the Clinton Lake race course. That run showed me I was not where I needed to be--at least not in racing shape. I can't race both Clinton Lake and the Illinois Marathon. One of them will need to take a back seat.

So...do I run hard at Clinton Lake or the Illinois Marathon?  I can't do both.

If I really try hard at Clinton Lake, I think I can do well and even set a PR for the 30 mile/50K distance. I know the course.  The race directors and most volunteers are friends. I'll know many of the racers. It's my "home course" and I feel comfortable there. Heck, I founded and directed the race! I take pride in running Clinton Lake well. I'm not in perfect shape, but I'm in good enough "ultra shape" to race a 30 miler. It takes endurance and discipline more than speed. I think I have enough to conquer the course. And I love that trail.

The Illinois Marathon gives me an extra 4 weeks to train. Unfortunatelty, it also demands much more from me. To do well, I need stamina and speed over 26.2 miles. That's not my forte. And an extra 4 weeks isn't enough time to truly develop speed. But, using Clinton Lake as an extra long, but easy paced effort, will provide endurance. If I supplement that endurance base with marathon paced runs and tempo work outs, I might have a chance to set a marathon PR and even qualify for Boston. Maybe. A BQ would be an awesome reward.

So, what do I do?

I hate roads. I love trails. I love ultras and despise marathons. Love small races and avoid big events.

Clinton Lake offers a better opportunity for success, a fun time, but also less glory. Illinois Marathon offers up the allure of a BQ time, but it's going to be a stretch and I'll need to push my limits on boring roads. Failure is more likely, but success might mean a trip to Boston in 2016!

Any thoughts?  I have a tentative plan, but need to decide on a course of action soon. Very soon.

Do I use Clinton Lake as an easy extra-long run in preparation for the Illinois Marathon and a potential BQ?  Or, do I give it my all at Clinton Lake and try for a doable PR (and jeopardize any chance for a BQ at the marathon)?