As I mentioned in my last post (here) my biggest goal right now is to prepare for the Ragnar Atlanta trail relay race. For the uninitiated Ragnar races traditionally were held on roads and often were point to point races stretching between Chattanooga and Memphis, Fort Lauderdale to Key West and several other point to point locations. Most of these road relay races stretch about two hundred miles. To complete the distance, twelve man teams are formed. Each person in a team is responsible for running three legs in a series til the entire distance has been ran. Basically, a member of each team is always on the course, morning, noon or night.
In the last year or so Ragnar expanded to the trails, establishing a series of trail relay races. Unlike the road relay there is no van and there is no point to point running. The trail races are set up in a central area, dubbed the village. Each team s given a camping spot and only has eight members instead of twelve. From the village runners will tackle three different trails, each more difficult than the next (green is easiest and red is the hardest). The mileage falls in the 12os and thus explains in the usage of eight man teams. Similar to the road relay team member take turns running and everyone runs each trail in differing orders. Basically, each team always has a person on the trail from the moment the race starts till the finish the next afternoon when a teams twenty four legs are concluded.
I have desired to do a road race since I started discovering running a year and a half ago. At the time I feared my lack of speed would prove a hindrance and my lack of endurance would be a difficulty. While I am still slow, my endurance is solid and I know I can endure allot of discomfort from physical activity. This is why I joined when I found a fun team that did not mind a slower runner. Of course this is not a road Ragnar but a trail ragnar, the first time ever ran in the state of Georgia.
After doing some research I tried to assess what I could control and work on in the month to better prepare me for hours of running followed by waiting a few hours then more running followed by waiting and then running, something around or over 24 hours in total time to complete. I realized the two best things I needed to start working on involved running with little rest between runs and a stricter focus on trail running each week.
I believe in preparing as much as possible and I realized I could figure out numerous things by running twice within a four or five or window. How will food effect my runs before and after? How hard will it be to run a second time? How sore after each run and how much recovery time will be required? A thousand questions popped up that could only be figured in the end by going out and running and seeing what worked and did not work.
Today I decided I would start with a run in the morning and again at lunch. Usually my runs have twenty or more hours between them and rarely do they involve the same intensity. The first run was nothing new, I just had a hard time getting going. After the four miles I wolfed down a good supply of protein and carbs and stretched to try to keep things loose. Then off to work. As the noon lunch hour arrived I was back at the gym and soon back out on the same four mile course. Surprisingly my legs felt fresher and better able to run. Some of the small supporting muscles complained a bit, but I ended up really close to reducing my pace by a minute on the second run.
The difficult part involved food. I consumed a yogurt and snacks before my run and felt hungry still. During my run I felt ok through most of it, but as I got to the last mile I was flush with hunger. I think food and fuel is going to be an issue. After I showered and ate lunch, as time passed the effects of the split eight miles started to show up in my legs. The second leg might not be too bad, but the third leg will take some work to get the muscles loose for a third run.
I have a few more weeks to work through and prepare for this race. I think if I can keep pushing two runs a day at least once a week for the next couple of weeks I think I will be stronger by the time Ragnar Atlanta is to be ran, April 5th. I am encouraged by the fact that I do not feel worse than a minor bit of fatigue and some growing soreness. I was expecting extreme soreness and lethargy after the second run. I think my current 88 miles a month and growing endurance has helped with this greatly. April cannot get here soon enough and I dream of running relays on trails nightly… til next time.