Two years ago I ran my first 5k road race. I followed that achievement with several triathlons and a half marathon a year later. As I have mentioned before, my goal for this year proved bigger than previous years, I wanted to jump up to a 50k trail race, skipping the marathon distance, embracing tough trail and steep elevations. This year I established this goal and focused my attentions on completing this goal. Over the past several months I have logged hours and miles on the toughest trails I could run and I have logged countless miles. After all this work the time has finally arrived to achieve my major goal I set for myself, its time to run the Tortoise and Hare 50k.
At the onset of this year I began laying the foundation I would need to achieve a big goal at the end of the year, slowly increasing my mileage from ten miles a week to twenty miles a week. In July,August, and September, with my race and distance selected I began to push the mileage up again, often running closer to fifty miles a week. These fifty mile weeks included long Saturday runs in the 20-25 mile range followed by a Sunday run of five to ten miles. My training plan was working and I could feel the endurance building in my legs, heart and lungs.
As a challenge I signed up for a super tough and difficult trail marathon in the middle of October, The Mystery Mountain Marathon. The toughest part of this race was the strict cutoff times. Two weeks before this race I ran my last twenty mile day and began to work through a taper. My body was tired, the fifty mile weeks and back to back weekend runs had worn me down as well as made me stronger. I felt a bit fresher as race day came. Unfortunately I did everything wrong in the race. Combined with rainy weather making everything slippery, I was forced to finish my day at twelve miles instead of the desired twenty seven (details here).
This experience did not prove a loss, instead it provided me insights I could only get in a race situation. This race reinforced the importance of calming down and not pushing so hard at the beginning (the dreaded going out too fast which kills more in distance than short races) and following my nutrition plan so as to not run out of energy (this happened around mile six, I stopped taking in fuel and was waning by mile six or so). More importantly it has lead to a calmness this week I was not expected… I made my mistakes already and now I know I have success in my grasp. That race has given me a very high level of confidence I was not expecting.
After that race I decided I would ease back on the distance leading into my 50k race. I realized I needed some extra rest and I had achieved a mild peak from this race. I figured I could coast off of that developed peak by pulling back the mileage, instead focusing on intensity workouts. I figured my body could use more rest and recovery time, but still needed a push. I dialed my mileage back to thirty or so a week and my long runs on Saturday became shorter, more focused workouts. to my surprise, when running my Ragnar Tennessee legs I found I had more energy and drive, I felt like the extra rest and recovery with shorter miles had given my body more energy and strength.
At this point I have to trust my decisions and training, my 50k race is days away. I think riding my peak and giving my body increased rest time, while maintaining intensity, will work out well. My legs and lungs have been feeling stronger than in previous months. This final taper week has been insufferable though, as I have been feeling nervous, excited and on edge. While I am dropping weight and watching my food intake, I feel famished all the time. I can tell my taper is in full force. Right now I feel strong and ready to run thirty plus miles on Saturday earning the right to call myself a marathoner… no an ultramarathoner.
Til next time.