Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tale of Two Runs

How quickly your running can change. One day the run feels unending and fruitless, another day is smooth and effortless. This past Sunday was one of my worst runs in several months. I was slow, weak, and tired. I didn't even break 10 minute pace.  I intended to go for about 11-13 miles, but I stopped at 2.69 miles. I was defeated. It was simply terrible.

Then, a couple days later, I had one of my best runs in the last few weeks. It was a superb short run. I ran under 8 minute pace and it felt effortless. I was holding back but still gliding along at a low heart rate and fast pace. I stopped at 3.17 miles. I could have gone longer...and faster. I'm inspired and ready to return to more running.

So, if your running is in the doldrums, stay the course, it'll improve. Keep at it. Things don't always get worse. They often get better. After Sunday's run I felt like giving up on running and finding a new hobby. After today's run I felt like signing up for any upcoming race to kick some ass!  Three days. Big difference. Lesson learned. All runs won't be perfect. Some will suck. Some will turn you into a demi-god. Take what you can...and run with it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Subtle Pressure is Dragging Me Down

I'm slowly being dragged down by subtle pressure I put on myself. Crazy, right?  I'm tired. Running should be fun and stress free. I've been putting subtle, maybe even subconscious, pressure on myself to perform well. Run faster. Set personal records. Measure and improve. Read and apply new techniques and strategies. Change, measure, evaluate. Revise and plan again. It never ends.

No more. I'm going to run how I want. I'm going to listen to my body. No heart rate or pace alarms. I'll still measure and record my runs, but I won't be driven or pressured into following a set plan each day. Just run. It's simple. One foot in front of the other. Repeat. Sometimes fast, other times slow. Sometimes up a hill, sometimes down a hill, or over a creek and through the mud. Sounds good.

It's time to enjoy my running. Yes, I'd like to improve too, but most important is to remain injury-free and happy with my running. Let's see how this "new" approach works. I'm getting too old to pressure myself into running goals that create extra stress. Time to keep it simple. Just run.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

14th Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra

I have 94 days until the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour race. Over 300 runners circling a 3.29 mile loop course for 8 hours under the summer sun in central Illinois. What's not to love?  It's always my favorite race of the year! This will be my 14th Howl. Here are my current statistics based on the last 13 years...

Total race mileage: 551.31
Average mileage: 42.41
Lowest mileage: 33.9 (2010)
Highest mileage: 47.06 (2006, 2008)
Best placing: 12th (2005)
Worst placing: 99th (2010)


Last year did not go well. You can read about that experience here. With three months to go, I can train correctly for this year's race. It still won't be easy (it never is), but it could be a great race year if I get in the long runs between now and race day on August 8. I am trying for a new PR (47.06+ miles). For now I'll shoot for 48 miles, but I dream of 50 miles. No matter what happens, this will be my 100th ultra/marathon. That's a huge milestone for me. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Will Qualify for Boston...

Last weekend, the Illinois Marathon didn't go as planned.  I ran a 3:42:58. I needed a sub-3:30 to qualify for Boston. That's OK. It was a miserable day in Champaign...in fact, the marathon was cancelled when I hit 24 miles. Still finished and received a medal. The wind and rain slowed me down. Eventually, I gave up chasing the unicorn. That's also OK.

I will qualify for Boston...on a trail marathon!

Yep, I'll run a qualifying time on a certified trail marathon course. I love trails. And they love me. Of course, many trail marathons are rather hard. Lots of hills and uneven terrain. Fortunately, I've found several "easier" trail marathons. They are run on packed dirt or crushed limestone. They don't have lots of hills--they are mostly flat or net downhill courses. Here they are:

Towpath Marathon, OH (October)
Light at the End of the Tunnel, WA (June)
Tunnel Lite Marathon, WA (September)
Whistlestop Marathon, WI (October)
Peak to Creek Marathon, NC (October)

If you know of other fast trail marathons, let me know!

Not sure which one I'll try first. I currently have my eye on the Towpath Martahon this October in Ohio. I've run it before and it did not go well. That was a LONG time ago. I need to redeem myself. The two Washington marathons are close to my brother's house. Those would be a fun trip.

It's time to train for Howl at the Moon 8-Hour race (August) and Barkley Fall Classic 50K (Sept). Along the way, I'll figure out a marathon plan.