I don’t have a whole lot to report this week on my running as I continue prepping for my late summer races. The one update I did receive this week was the amount of snow still present in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. This is going to be interesting as I prepare for my race at the end of July with a predicted 80+ inches of snowpack still around. That is a little hard for me to comprehend since here in Arizona it was 114 yesterday. Some people say that is good heat training but I am not sure it really how that comes into play when you are traveling to Utah and South Dakota for races. I think the summer season will help me during my hundred mile race in South Dakota but will have little effect for Utah except I can complain about the heat while running and complain about the climbing when I am in Utah.
I have continued to maintain my 80-100 mile weeks in preparation for my hundred mile race but I have woke up several times lately thinking I am just plain nuts. Am I nuts because I just need to take a day off, or I am nuts for continuing on with this crazy fun sport. The problem is every time I am down on the mileage I find a new trail, read a book or article on ultras, get a pep talk from my coach, or meet up with a group to run I feel 100 percent and the pain magically disappears just like it does five minutes after a race has ended.
Anyone that has ever ran a race from a 5K to a 100M has said during the run that I will never, ever do this again only to see to do a complete 360 once the medal is placed around your neck or that buckle is handed to you as a reward. Running is not about the prizes or the honors but it mirrors the ups and downs in life. I can’t tell you yet how a hundred miles feels but I can tell you the range of emotions one goes through during a 50 mile race. We all battle demons during a race and its how you fight them off that matters in the end.
This past week I completed another 90+ mile week that was capped off by track on Tuesday, Squaw Peak on Wednesday, a 10 mile tempo workout on Thursday, 20 miles in the McDowell Mountains at 3am on Friday, 31 miles in the McDowell’s, on Saturday and what is suppose to be a nice restful 6 mile run on Sunday. We worked on our hill training this past weekend climbing Tom’s Thumb twice, east end, and Bell’s Pass for just under 6000 feet of climbing. It felt pretty good running these hills from 4-7am but the heat took its toll shortly after that and really put us in our place.
After reading that most people would think the 30+ mile Saturday was the hardest day but actually it’s that 6 mile Sunday. It seems so difficult to wrap my mind around running 6 miles as recovery. Not because it is a short distance, but because it just seems to hurt so bad and mentally you are constantly telling yourself it is just 6 miles so increase the speed a little. I have zero speed by a Sunday morning, and really all I want to do is take an ice bath and relax. Most of my workouts revolve around hill training, a couple days of speed training, and distance.
People that run ultras will tell you that it is not about miles, but about time on your feet when training. A roadrunner can usually run a 50K in 4 hours or under depending on the athlete, while you can expect it to take 5-7 hours to do a 50K ultra depending on the terrain. For my Utah race in the Wasatch mountains the average finish time of the 50K is 9 hours. 9 hours to run 30.8 miles should seem ridiculous because that is a 17.5 minute mile pace. I would like to see myself complete this race is 7-8 hours but you never know what you will encounter at 11,800 feet of elevation, 11,000+ feet of climbing, 11,000+ feet of descent, snow, a rocky trail, and sometimes a body that just doesn’t want to cooperate.
My training weeks have been to run 80-100 miles per week and incorporate 9-10,000 feet of climbing in during the week with 6-8,000 during my long day. I have a couple of long running days coming up this weekend so we are off to Flagstaff to get out of the heat, work on elevation and distance training. The craziest part of this is that even going to flagstaff to train will come nowhere near the elevation I will encounter next month in Utah. I may need to do a few Humphreys repeats in order to get ready for that.
I have begun writing a book of what I hope to be some good ultra stories and on my background of losing my Dad way too early in life to a pulmonary embolism, and how in a year and half I started running for the first time in my life, lost 100 pounds, and I have currently run 467 consecutive days with at least 4 miles and completed almost 3600 miles last year. My life has drastically changed during this time and that is why I like to share my stories with everyone as a type of therapy for myself. I am not an experienced writer so I am taking my time, sharing a few stories with you along the way and hopefully I can complete a first draft by later this year. I had to put this down on paper somewhere to get me motivated to write again as I have taken a few weeks off to just concentrate on my training during my down time from work.
Let me know if you find my stories interesting or if I should halt my progress on the book now and find another hobby. Have a good week and I would love to hear the feedback.