Wednesday, March 3, 2021

February 2021 Running Stats: Not Good

Holy cow, February was a tough month! Lots of very cold (many -5 to -20 windchills), with snow and ice. One of my lowest mileage months ever. And no long runs either. Difficult to run long when it's windy and -20F "feels like" temperature. Fortunately, March has already warmed up nicely and should be a great month. March tends to be a wet and muddy trail running month, usually with lots of wind. But no extreme temps. Since I quit my local gym, the lack of a treadmill has hurt my overall miles and speed work. But it has made me a tougher runner too. Good trade? 

Here are my February running statistics, with a comparison to January. 

Total Distance114.79 mi73.40 mi
Average Distance6.38 mi3.67 mi
Max Distance28.17 mi13.22 mi
Total Activity Time19:23 h:m11:43 h:m
Avg Time1:04 h:m35:09 h:m
Total Elev Gain5,531 ft2,595 ft
Average Pace10:08 min/mi9:35 min/mi
Average Heart Rate136 bpm130 bpm
Average Run Cadence162 spm164 spm

The only upside was I had a faster pace with a lower average heart rate. Not bad! Need to work on longer runs and getting in extra elevation. Both good goals for March. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Riddle Run #22: I'm an Ultrarunner Again!

The 7 finishers. (Photos from Tom Rice.)
On January 30, I finished the full 28 mile Riddle Run (22nd annual version). Finished in 5 hours and 59 minutes. I was one of only 7 finishers out of 40+ starters. Full results are here. And a list of all past 22 champions is here

It was my first marathon or ultra in more than a year! And my 106th overall ultra/marathon. 2020 was not kind to racing. I completed zero races. My longest run was 16 miles (at Riddle Run #21 back in January 2020). I vowed to myself that 2021 would be different. And I carried through on that promise...but it was not easy to knock out ultra/marathon #106. I learned a few lessons during that 6 hours on the snowy Lake of the Woods trails. 

Long runs matter. My longest run in the previous 3 months was 12 miles. That does not prepare you to run 28 miles. I knew it would be hard, but I really suffered. As early as 16 miles, I was ready to give up. My feet were beginning to ache. I was tired. Those regular 18-20 mile runs harden the body and mind. They increase fat-burning. It's nice to be reminded of the importance of long runs. But not so nice to live the agony, and re-learn that lesson, during an ultra. 

Weekly mileage matters. In addition to long runs, I need more miles in my training. In the previous 3 months, I only had one week with over 30 miles (and that one was 33 miles). Not exactly high volume training. Certainly not ultra training. Just like long runs, "time on feet" makes a huge difference when it comes to completing marathons and ultras. I've never been a high mileage runner, but if I want to do marathons and ultras, I need more than 25-30 miles per week. Even just 35-40 miles would be a positive change. 

Me and Gregg.
People matter. Most of my running in 2020 was solo. And I had no races. That freed me to "do my own thing" and that "thing" was often going slow or short. I bailed on several long run attempts. Without people around, it's easy to give up. You can rationalize anything. Having so many friends around for Riddle Run helped a lot! I wanted to quit at 16 miles. Even more so at 20 and 24 miles (they were 4-mile loops). My feet burned and I was tired, cold, and hungry. But running with friends, or seeing them at different points on the trail loop, kept me going. A DNF was not an option. Need to do more serious training, especially long runs, with friends. 

Weather matters. It was cold and windy on January 30 (28F-34F with 20 mph winds), but it was not the kind of brutally cold weather we've had these last 2 weeks in Illinois. Today's short run was in -18F windchill. I can't remember the last time it was above freezing. And when did I last see actual brown ground or grass? Not a ton of snow, but it never melts when the high is 20F! If Riddle Run was scheduled for today, I would have quit early. Or not run at all! I don't need perfect weather, but I do need weather that allows me to run/walk for 5-6 hours. 

My greatest lesson learned at the 22nd annual Riddle Run? I am still an ultrarunner! Even after completing 105 marathons/ultras, I felt inadequate. It had been too long since I crossed that marathon barrier. After #106, I now know I'm still an ultrarunner. Always will be an ultra guy in my heart, but it feels good that my feet and legs can back me least once a year. Probably should do this more often. And actually train for it too! I plan on a good race at this August's Howl at the Moon 8-hour ultra. I'll be ready. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

January 2021 Run Stats

In addition to tracking my yearly running statistics, I decided this year to track them monthly. No surprises! If I am "behind" on one metric, then I can plan to get back on track. January can be a tough month in central Illinois. Weather is often cold, windy, snowy, and icy. Glad I exceeded 100 miles and got in one ultramarathon! Hope to continue solid running through February. Shorter month, but I still need to break 100 miles. Would love to fit in another ultra or marathon. Once March arrives, weather is usually better and I can start ramping up the miles. 

Total Distance114.79 mi
Average Distance6.38 mi
Max Distance28.17 mi
Total Activity Time19:23 h:m
Avg Time1:04 h:m
Total Elev Gain5,531 ft
Average Pace10:08 min/mi
Average Heart Rate136 bpm
Average Run Cadence162 spm

Last year, I didn't run a single marathon or ultra. I already have one ultra for 2021. Happy. My average pace was rather slow, but that is due to the 28-mile ultra that was very slow and accounted for about 25% of my monthly miles! 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Real Riddle Run 2021

Me after finishing 28 miles in 2015.
It's almost time for that annual event that we all look forward to: Riddle Run 28-Mile fun run at Lake of the Woods trails. This will be the 22nd year of this fine event. Tom Rice and I have done all previous 21 fun runs and we both plan on being back for the 22nd edition. The founder of Riddle Run, Jeff, has started a parallel event in Townsend, TN in the Great Smoky Mountains. Good for him! But, we all know the "real" Riddle Run happens at Lake of the Woods. So this year RR has become RRR ("Real Riddle Run") to distinguish it from that new, and somewhat fake, version in Tennessee. Gotta go with the OG! 

  • What: Real Riddle Run 22
  • When: Saturday, January 30 at 8:01 am
  • Where: Lake of the Woods original trails
  • Distance: 28 miles (7 x 4-mile loop)
  • Cost: Free
  • Aid: None
No fees, no aid, no goodies, no awards (except for the male and female champions). Just old-fashioned running at its best. It's just running. Run one loop or seven. Past winners can be found on this Google document. Course records: 3:39 (male) and 4:18 (female). 

Tom and I will not set any speed records in 2021, but we will continue our streak of consecutive (real) Riddle Run appearances. Looking forward to #22.