Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful to be Back Running

On this fine Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful to be back running. I twisted my ankle at the Tunnel Hill 50 Miler almost 2 weeks ago. Tried to run a couple of times after the race, but my ankle (and lower shin) were hurting. Swollen, sensitive, and achy. So I took a week off from running to let it heal. No difference. I went to the sports medicine clinic yesterday and they said it would be OK to run lightly and let pain be my guide. After running, they said to ice, elevate, and take ibuprofen to keep the inflammation under control. That's what I did this morning. The ankle hurt, but was manageable. It felt great to run again. A week off is too much. I'm thankful to be a runner again. A little slow and a bit wobbly, but a runner none-the-less.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Am I Still an Ultra Runner?

Yesterday, I DNF'd at the Tunnel Hill 50 Miler Trail race. I stopped at the 36 mile aid station. This is the latest in a series of DNFs for me. Tunnel Hill 50 (November 2016), Howl at the Moon 8-Hour (August 2016), Riddle Run 28 (January 2016), Barkley Fall Classic 50K (September 2015), and another Howl at the Moon 8-Hour (August 2015). My last ultra finish was Clinton Lake 30 in March of 2015. That's a long time ago! Am I still an ultra runner? If you've completed one, are you an ultra runner for life? I've finished 102 ultras/marathons, but I sure don't feel like an ultra guy anymore. What's gone wrong?

I have an easy answer to that question? I've become an arrogant bastard. I think I can run an ultra with little training. I think I've done so many I can coast through yet another. I think the rules don't apply to me. I'm special. Well, ultras don't feel the same way. Ultras don't discriminate. They don't care if you are fast or slow, old or young, male or female, white or black. They don't care if you've "done a 100 miler" before. If you have not prepared, they will eat you alive. Even if you've prepared, you may suffer the humbling experience of a DNF.

My problem is I'm disconnected from reality. I feel I can run 20-25 miles per week and be ready for a 50 mile race. Why would I believe that? Because I've become arrogant. The rules don't apply to me. Well, the rules do apply to me...and I've just been humbled again by Tunnel Hill. It doesn't feel good. I can rationalize and say "It just wasn't my day" or "I don't really care" or "I've done plenty of these, I have nothing to prove." Sure, I've done many ultras, but it sure would be nice to finish another one. And it would have been awesome to set a new PR yesterday. I actually thought a sub-9 finish was possible when I started. Clearly I was delusional...or simply arrogant.

I've learned my lesson. If you want to run an ultra, you must train for an ultra. In the last 12 weeks before Tunnel Hill, I averaged 21.5 miles per week. That's about 3 miles per day. Does that seem adequate for a 50 mile race? An 8-hour event? No. Time to face reality. I either need to give up on ultras or actually train for them.

Whether I run another ultra or not, I am an ultra runner. I can proudly claim that title. I've finished multiple 100 mile races. I've run 303 miles in one week. Not only have I completed many ultras, I've raced many quite well. I'm proud of my PRs. Breaking 24 hours at Umstead 100 was a magnificent accomplishment. Completing over 47 miles at Howl at the Moon (more than once) was great. I have a lot to be proud of, but that should not turn into hubris. I'm a simple ultra runner. We all still need to play by the rules. Train or go home...often with a DNS or DNF.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Goals for Tunnel Hill 50 Miler

With less than a week to go, it's time to think about goals for my Tunnel Hill 50 mile trail race on Saturday. I ran the same race 2 years ago and finished 50 miles in 9 hours and 4 minutes. It was a personal record. I was in very good running shape at the time, but lacked endurance. I had recently run a PR at the half-marathon distance and was doing a lot of speed work. I had some decent speed and pretty good stamina, but lacked the long runs. This year, I don't have speed or stamina, and I'm lacking endurance too! Fortunately, I completed a couple of good long runs in October. I'm healthy and injury-free. That should count for something. So, what are my race goals this year?

Dream goal #1: Break 9 hours for the 50 miles (10:47/mile). 8:59:59 would be perfection! With perfect weather, perfect pacing, and excellent discipline and will-power maybe this is possible. Maybe. I can dream.

Dream goal #2: Set a new PR. That means 9:04 or better (10:53/mile). Still a stretch, but if you give me those couple of extra minutes, maybe it's feasible? Maybe? Again, I can dream.

Ultimate real goal: Finish in 9:10. That's an 11:00 minute/mile pace. Still very difficult. My friend Gregg is trying for this time so I might be able to hang with him and push hard at the end to get this solid finish.

Reasonable goal: Finish under 9:30 (11:23/mile). I'd be happy with this finish time. Not ecstatic, but happy.

Better than nothing goal: Break 10 hours (11:59/mile). This would not make me happy, but a 9:59 or better finish would be OK.

If I finish after 10 hours, I'll be disappointed. I suppose any ultra finish is a nice achievement. If I completed the race with no injuries and ready to resume training, that would be a success. I guess. But the ride home would not be full of glee.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From 5K to 50 Miler? How does that work?

I ran a 5K road race on October 15. Well, it was actually on sidewalks around campus...definitely not trails. Now I have a 50 mile trail race on November 12. The time between races is only 4 weeks. How do you train for a 5K and a 50 mile race? You don't. You pray and hope for the best.

I completed a 22 mile long run this past weekend. It went well. This weekend (with 2 weeks to race day), I'll try for a medium run of about 12-15 miles. That will have to suffice. I'm guessing there won't be a new personal record at Tunnel Hill 50M, but I'll finish. I think. No stress, no anxiety. Just run. Simple. I'm an ultrarunner at heart so the 50 miler should be "easier" than the 5K. Not really, but that's what I'm telling myself.

Not much more to say. I'll incorporate a run-walk strategy from start to finish. I'll chew RunGum, take in GU energy gels, and graze at every aid station. My water bottle will be filled with Tailwind sports drink. I'll try to stay with my friend Gregg as he cruises the course (hopefully at an easy pace). Finish time? Who knows! Two years ago I finished in 9:04. I was hoping to break that time this year. Nope. But under 10 hours would be reasonable. Wish me luck.