The Plan – NC24

Truthfully, I have no plan. Run. Keep running. Stay awake. Keep running.
All right. It’s a little more than that. I’ve read some race reports and talked to experienced ultrarunners. I’ve even found people who have run this (or this type of) event before (Thanks Keith, Stuart and Rob!).

Even so, I still have no idea what I’m doing.

But I do know a few things, and I’m learning more everyday. So here’s what I’ve got so far. In writing. So I can’t back out.

It would be unreasonable to run a 100mi endurance event without walking. This isn’t exactly the same thing, but outside of a few elite runners, everyone walks. I plan on walking right from the beginning. One of the most common plans I’ve seen is to run 25 minutes and walk 5 minutes. During those 5 minutes you take care of all the other details that you can’t while running: eat some real food, use the bathroom, change clothes if necessary. It keeps you on a regular schedule, especially with nutrition. Although I think that’s a decent plan, it’s not going to work for me long term. First off, the walking interval is too long for me. I’ll never want to start running again! And, over time, those 25 minutes of running will be too long. Too difficult to maintain.
I have seen an alternate plan that sounds more doable for me. Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. Having used the Galloway method to successfully complete road marathons, I know a shorter interval will work better for me. And the time in the 5/1 is exactly the same as the 25/5 anyway. Sure. I’ll have to take longer breaks to eat and rest. But I’ll have to do that regardless.

Maybe I should take a moment to lay out my goals for this race. I have a few, they are progressive and all mileage-based. And now that I’ve said them out-loud to another human, and he didn’t die laughing, I feel confident sharing them with you.

Safe Goal: Run 57 laps. That’s right. 57. That’s how many it will take to log 51 (and change) miles for the day. That will represent the longest run I have ever done. Unless I start the day ill or injured, I’m not stopping until I hit that number. Come hell or high water (please no high water!) I will have a distance PR.

Progressive Goal: My original plan was to complete my first 50miler at this event. It was a safe and well-supported course, and I had virtually no time limit. 50 miles in 24hrs is more than doable for most people (even walkers) provided you can keep going…at any pace. After my plans to pace Mohican fell through, I got this crazy idea to run my own 50, and I did. So what’s the next step? 100k (~62mi). It’s the next “regular” distance you can find amongst ultras, and the jump to 100 miles is just a bit too far. I’d be thrilled to complete 100k at this event, even if it means walking (slowly) for the last 12.

Stretch Goal: Now we’re in no-man’s-land. I have no business even making a goal out this far. So here it goes…one more step. If I hit my progressive goal, and I’m still feeling good enough to continue…

I’m going to take one more step, until I can no longer take one more step.
-Gordy Ainsleigh

That’s it. That’s the plan so far. Right now I’m running. Building base miles. Testing out food and shoes. Making lists. I have a pretty good idea of these things already, and I’ll lay that out next week. You can bet I’ll be bringing along my tried and true partners… ENERGYbits, Amrita, and Skora…more on that later.

Time to run!

Running through the Valley

I have an electrifying experience to share with you, but let me first tell you a story…

It’s a sad story really, but one to which many of you can likely relate.
Once there was a girl who ran 50 miles.
Ok…so maybe not that part. Let me fast forward a bit.

I felt fantastic after the race. Honestly. But I did the recommended two weeks of light workouts. I truly was feeling great…physically. My HR was behaving as expected, my appetite had returned, and I could run, admittedly without the previous endurance…all in all, better than expected.

The problem was this…I didn’t WANT to run.
I was warned it could take some time for the “mojo” to return after a tough event. Luckily for me, I didn’t have any mojo before the race…so nothing to lose, right?

Enter the valley.
I’m not talking about that luscious green grass nestled between two peaks.
More like that dry, desolate space. Lonely and unnoticed, because everyone else is busy climbing a much more attractive mountain.
A place where no one wants to be. I had to get out of there. I needed a group run.

I contacted a few trail buddies to hook up for a midweek run. They were busy until Thursday.

Thursday? I can’t wait until Thursday!
I’m just going to suck it up and run. I know once I get going, everything will be fine. Just start.

Did I mention it was hot last week? And humid? Downright dreadful. I needed to run midday AND keep my HR in check. Dreadmill it is. Monday & Wednesday. Thursday’s morning run fell through, so that was on the dreadmill too.

Apparently, you have to run through the valley alone. The good thing is, there’s only one way out. Well two really, but I wasn’t going back the way I came. Onward. And up the next mountain. The variable is how long you stay in the valley.

Call it whatever you want, but I’d like to think everyone goes through a period like this from time to time. Especially after some meaningful event.

Yesterday…Friday, and my feet hadn’t touched a trail since last Saturday. 20130719-191657.jpg
So when I saw Andrea was kid-free and hitting Darby Creek trails, I jumped at the chance. Not only had I never run there, but I hadn’t run with her in a while. I was ready to be done with hanging out alone in the valley, and I had a special milestone I wanted to share with her.

We planned to head out for 4 miles, but I knew I would run 5. You see…at mile 5, I would reach 1,000 injury-free running miles in 2013 (and counting). It’s not some huge goal of mine, but any chance to celebrate, and I’m taking it.

The first 4 miles brought no surprises. It was hot and humid with temps in the 90s and the heat index over 100…just as its been all week. The trails offered some shade, but with little breeze, we eased up on the pace. When we finished mile 4, Andrea informed me she was finished, but I wanted that last mile. We hadn’t felt more than a sprinkle, and I thought I’d be fine. I asked her to wait (in case I got lost), and headed out for a 1/2mi…and back.

Within 1/4mi, it was raining pretty hard, but the trees sheltered most of it. Until, that is, I reached an open space. I was instantly soaked. Refreshing!

I counted: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three, four, five.
Five clicks away. I’m good.
The next one was four.
Almost to the turn-around.
Five again.
And then it hit. Simultaneous light and sound.


I nearly jumped out of my skin. Time to get out of here!

When I reached the open space, a runner passed me. I made some joke about the weather. He said it felt nice, and I agreed…as long as we don’t get the hail. That was dumb to say. Hail. Not 30 seconds later, we got it. Pea-sized. Damn that hurts. I slid my sunglasses down even though it was fairly dark, just to keep the ice from pelting my eyes.

I thought I was lost. On the way out, I looked back at each fork, hoping I’d remember what it looked like. But it all appeared different now. Downed branches and leaves. Water washing out the trail. I kept going, and eventually saw the cars. I cut through a flooded field…splash, splash, splash…and stopped my watch. More than 5 miles. Goal reached. And then the rain quit.

Special thanks goes out to Andrea for dragging me out of the valley. I’m happy to be back on my way up the next mountain. And I couldn’t get there without my friends.

Overcoming Excuses

If you read this post earlier…you may notice a difference. The original text is below…so feel free to scroll down and catch up. But I wanted to say a few other things…and share how the rest of my day went.

A bit more:
Tonight, I’m feeling completely refreshed. I ran (more on that in a few), I talked with two ladies who really set me straight on a personal issue I’ve been struggling with, and had a reconciliation with a friend with whom I’d had a falling out about a month ago.
I feel alive.
So the kids and I celebrated with pizza and beer (for me).

I do want to talk more about the run today, and some of the things I’m doing while training for this 24 hour monster.

The course itself isn’t challenging…as long as you can handle the loops. I’ll be posting my race goals in a post later this week. The challenge for me comes in the time involved…and the boredom. Just shy of a one mile loop, nothing exciting is going to come from the scenery. So it’s best to practice running in the boredom. That’s when your thoughts can get you in trouble. But I digress…

I’ve decided to go back to HR training for at least the build weeks of this cycle. And here’s why…I need to keep this easy. It’s the only way to stay upright for this long. I know me. Give me a flat road, and I’m going to want to RUN! But I can’t, or I won’t make it.

Here’s my run for today. I ran on the dreadmill…as boring as possible, but it also kept external factors at bay: constant elevation, constant speed, constant temperature. I didn’t use the fan. Oh…and I didn’t eat or drink once I started.

The plan:
1. One hour in Zone 1 at “ultra pace.” Here’s the super scientific calculation for that:
Ultra pace = (Slow-as-sh*t + 30sec) per mile.
SLOOOW. It’s tough mentally. It’s just faster than I could comfortably walk. (My Zone 1 peaks at 147, max HR for this segment was 146)
2. Increase speed to force HR to the top of Zone 2 without going over. Hold for 15 minutes. So far…so good. (My Zone 2 peaks at 162, max HR was 161)
3. Decrease speed back to ultra pace. Keep HR in Zone 1 for 15 minutes. (Avg HR for this segment was 143 – Zone 1)

I’m trying to accomplish two things here. First, I’m training my body to learn my race pace and keep my HR low while doing it. Did I really use the above calculation? No. But I’ll tell you how I chose a race pace when I cover my goals. Second, I’m teaching my body to burn fat, instead of ingested calories. Believe it or not, this is possible. Will I eat during the race? Of course. But I’ll be doing this workout (in a controlled environment) each week without food or water. Of course, both are easily accessible during my run, and I’m watching my HR like a hawk.

I guess we’ll see how this plays out.
Next post should cover race goals. Look for that in a few days!

Here’s the original post from this morning if you missed it.
My recovery time is over…back to a regular running schedule (I use that term VERY loosely!).
I know. I have a million viable excuses to not train this week.

I ran 50mi just two weeks ago.
It’s hot and humid…even before sunrise.
The kids are restless.
I have a million things to do around the house, and to get ready for the upcoming school year.
I need a job. I’m stressed. I’m tired.

But I need to run!

I took two easier weeks after the 50 miler. This was especially tough, as I had no lingering pain and zero muscle soreness. Zero. Simply amazing what the body can do if you slow down and you do the right training!
The first week I didn’t run on any consecutive days, and staggered my runs to get two 36hr breaks. I managed 30 miles on my feet, including plenty of walking.
The second week, I ran no more that 2 consecutive days without taking a rest day. I went back to my hour long runs during the week, and put in 40 miles.

But now that time is supposed to be over. My resting HR is still in the normal ranges, but this heat and humidity is zapping all of my energy. I feel terrible…like a slug…a wuss.

Tired. I feel tired.

I’m going to work on a few things starting today. I’m going to wear my HRM during all my runs this week, just to see what’s going on. Maybe I’m pushing too hard. Maybe not. I need more data. I also need to increase my hydration just a bit. I’m not super thirsty, but I know I’m going to lose a ton of water in sweat the minute I step outside. So a little preventative maintenance there.

And I hope this feeling passes.