Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gearing up for the next big step

A fun run last weekend trying to beat the thunderstorms while trying to squeeze in my eighteen miler.
Managed to do pretty well, only got caught for the last four miles at which point it was a welcome cooling off.
The renewed week of training went well, sticking to the scheduled mileage without any undue stress, the building up process is going in the right direction.

Of course this weekend did have somewhat of a break for my birthday and with the 38 year milestone passed now it's on to the 40 mile mark next Saturday. Heading off to Wartrace, TN for the Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run. Have to say that I love one of the race directors comments "One rule of Ultrarunning is this - if you want something specific while on the race course, it's best to plan for it and bring it yourself. That way you'll KNOW it's there!". Yes this race will have relatively few aid stations so bring it if you want it. Toughen up time. The good news is that this will be another good practice for Leadville with, the aid stations at Miles 13, 21, 29, and 35. A few more than will be in Leadville but leaning in the right direction.
Reading up on the website about the race it's a rather relaxed affair with a lot of repeat runners, always a sign of a well organized event with a good buzz about it. Also not too many hills but enough to make it a challenge.
Looking forward to a good run under eight hours, give or take half an hour, hopefully trouble free. Of course the chance of thunderstorms may lead to a repeat of last Saturday, ah good job that I've had practice.

Of course the much bigger event this week was my sister Juliann having her baby girl, Maria Catherine whom I now get to share my birthday with. Wonder if she'll be a runner in a few years, no doubt she'll have Ger and Juliann running around after her to start with.
Congratulations to Ger and Juliann on the arrival of Maria Catherine Hayes.

Sixteen weeks to go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recovery week relaxation.

The milestones keep getting passed, this week was the midway point of my 36 week training schedule.
It also was a recovery week with lower mileage to take the pressure off of the body and let it rest a little.
I must say that it was nice not to be as concerned about getting up early enough to get my miles in or having my whole weekend dominated by long runs. What I had not anticipated was how much my mind to wander and with my concentration waning so quickly without a big immediate goal in front of me.  Of course it only high lighted for me how invested I am in this undertaking, bit of a shock to me really.
So a truly off week was enjoyed getting the requisite mileage done, eating off the planned diet and a relaxed mind.
Wrapped up the week with a very enjoyable run in the Granite Grinder trail half-marathon at the International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. An excellently setup race again this year but with a major difference in the weather. Last year was long sleeves and gloves, this year was sun screen and sun glasses. Which of course meant that the beer and pizza after was much more enjoyable.

So now it's back into things full speed ahead. My mind has focused again, ready for the task ahead.
18 weeks to go, lots more fun to come.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good weekend with no pressure

Recovery from last weekend has been surprisingly swift, managed to stick with my full running schedule for the week without any undue difficulty.
Saturday was an 18 mile day when I tried to keep the pace consistent and deliberately took as hilly a route as I could. Hills are the major thing that I have to work on. Found the joys of Emory and North Druid Hills neighborhoods, plenty of hills. Rules for the run were that each turn was to be uphill whenever possible. Tied that in with the spring weather which has stepped up the temperature a few notches the challenges are increasing. Carrying water has become a requirement now not an option. Time to start testing and get used to the various options.Guess I'm becoming a bit of a running nerd as I debate the merits of my Camel back or the Nathans water bottle belt. For the record the bottle is good in town where you can refill Camel back is the way to go if you are not sure of water sources along the route.
Well the training is officially having some serious effects on me. Sunday morning I was very nonchalant about heading off to do 15 miles, just a matter of deciding which direction to head off in and make sure that the battery in the Garmin watch is charged so I know how far I've gone. Strange thing was it was that straight forward hopefully I can get to that point for 50 or 60 miles in the next few months, well maybe. Mind you no way I'll ever be able to take sure distances so casually.
Have to note that when I started running 13 years ago I would never have believed I could build myself up to the point that I could be able to run double digit days back to back a week after having my ass kicked doing 32 miles. This was not where I ever expected I'd be. When I started running the plan was to help get back into somewhat decent shape after many years of boozing, poor eating, smoking and a generally crap lifestyle. Back then my dream was that at some point I would be able to do a marathon some day. A goal that seemed very unlikely as I struggled to do a few laps of the 1/2 mile circuit off Northside Drive where I started running.
I am still amazed by where I have gotten to so far, now I've just got to keep pushing forward. Still along ways to go but I believe that I can make it.
Doing a marathon seemed liked one of my least likely to ever happen pipe dreams. Strange now to talk and write about trying to get up to 100 miles, next pipe dream.
19 weeks to go, stuff that dreams are made of.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweet H20 50K rocks and kicks my ass

Now I can say that I have officially crossed into the world of Ultra-marathoners. The Sweet H20 50K was certainly a serious initiation. Complete with multiple river crossings and non-stop up and downs with killer climbs that sucked every bit of energy and resolve out of me and the experience of  the amazing power of a few salt caps and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The entire setup by the Douglas County Rogue Runners was very impressive complete with civil war actors and a cannon to kick the race off. Complete with warnings to hold on to your animals and don't stand in front of the cannon as it kicked us off. Then it was down the road to get let the crowd spread out before heading into the woods for first surprise, one and half miles in then across the river at the slipway complete with ropes to get down to the river and back out, it was just ankle deep but it delivered the joy of wet feet for the next 30 miles. That was just a warm up for the full on river crossing complete with guide rope at mile 17 and again at mile 20. Oh the joy of ultra trail running. This race had it all, river and stream crossing, river hugging trails which had been washed out by the winter floods, trees to climb over, rocky stretches, and sandy stretches, even a little flat piece here and there. The defining section of the race for me was on the second lap of the course working my way back to the stretch known as Top of The World, before it there are several miles of a power line section which goes up and down relentlessly with each up hill stretch being a little steeper and a little longer. First time round the pull up was tough but this time round it was a different ball game, pushing me to my limits. I got to the point where I was struggling to keep putting one step in front of another and get up the hills. My head was spinning and catching my breath was a full time job. My entire body had to put out every ounce of effort to get me up the last few hills. My resolve was seriously challenged, not quite sure I was having fun. Ah but then at the top of the final stretch there is a mini aid station with ice cold water and an oh so wonderful seat. Complete with two of the most wonderful volunteers ever that convince you that you will recover and that the next few miles are so very do able. It's quite amazing what a few minutes sitting down and ice cold water coupled with positive support can do to rejuvenate you. Following that few minutes it was over the top of the world high point of the course and onto the full aid station at mile 26, peanut butter and jelly sandwich coupled with some chocolate chip cookies and a few salt caps. Back on the trail for the last six miles to the finish line. A few more hills and then you reach aid station #3 who I must say were one beautiful bunch as they are the marked for end of the serious hills. There was the minor hiccup of finding out that it was 32 miles not 31 miles which meant two to go but no worries at this stage it made no difference I was going to finish, no question just a matter of time.
Round that last corner and up the steps (yes stairs at the end of a 50K) and the last 20 yards to the finish shut with the clock showing 8 hours 42 min 55 seconds. A little off the planned 8 hours and the hoped for 7 hours but I could not have been happier with it. Finished with my ass kicked and my pride and resolve in place.
With Angie doing the chauffeuring it was time to unwind and let the body relax. A good plate of finishers barbecue and a few bottles of water and I was right as rain. Ready to keep on pushing my boundaries.

19 weeks to go, the build up continues to Leadville. More running, more focus, more fun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Preparing for the new territory -SweetH20 50K

Getting all of the gear and water and Gu ready to hit the SweetH20 50K in the morning.
A little nervous reading the comments from previous participants has not helped.
Comments like

~"That was the best and toughest 50K I've ever run"
~"first loop through power line hard, second loop just plain ole mean, not right"
~"And the route (holy crap it was hard!!) was great -- well-thought out and well-posted"
~“Top of the World is just plain hard"
~"Please let this be it for the surprises, I prayed to the trail Gods"
~"What a GREAT race!"
~"Feeling a little frisky, the RDs decided to cut a climb, straight up, from the trail along the river"

Have feeling tomorrow is going to be quite the challenge. At least the weather has backed off a little bit, "only" going to be in mid 70's how nice. Will have to remember to enjoy the cool start. No doubt it will be nice to get warmed up by the sun when I get past the river section.
Of course I now also have the super sexy Under Amour jocks which no doubt will boost me along the trail, of course I'll be happy if they prevent friction in a few areas that have become uncomfortable in the last few long runs.

Oh well all ready now I guess just have to get that good night's sleep and be ready for Angie when she comes by at 5:30 to grab me. Really appreciate her doing the driving as she pointed out I may not be in the shape for driving at the end of the 50 K. Ready, steady, go off to my first official Ultra-marathon.