This is a continuation from my last post which can be found here.
The first part of 2014 provided the base for the rest of the year I had initially planned. By the time summer started I was preparing for three international/Olympic distance triathlons and a potential marathon or longer running race. I was still unsure what race would provide the larger end of year finale, so I continued to increase my running mileage, working on preparing for going longer later in the year.
During the summer I found myself back out on the Appalachian trail again, this time I was running as much of it as possible and I had a four pound base weight, exchanging comfort for weight reduction. Instead of hiking I learned to move swiftly and was able to put together multiple fifteen mile running days.
By the end of July I was up to twenty to thirty miles per week and had completed two international distance triathlons. While I found myself proficient in open water swimming, in oceans and lakes, I really did not have much of an interest in spending time on the bike, instead I found I enjoyed long hours of trail running. I decided to abandon the last planned triathlon, instead focussing on trail running.
I had decided I wanted to skip the marathon distance, I wanted to run the Tortoise and The Hare 50k as my first race beyond the half marathon. With the 50k trail ultra race in sight I pushed my training, focussing on running. I moved my weekly mileage up, often completing fourty to fifty miles a week, mostly on trails. In mid September I attempted to go long at the Mystery Mountain Marathon and came up short due to an inability to meet cutoffs. This trail marathon raced along on super technical and complex trails. Combined with rain and my slowness, it just was not meant to be on that day. My focus remained on the 50k ultra for the middle of November.
On November 15th, at six in the morning, I lined up at the start line of my first race over half a marathon. The first hour was ran by headlamp for those of us starting at the earliest time available. Unlkie other ultra races, this race had a variable start time, depending on how long each runner figured they would need to complete the distance. Unlike the Mystery Mountain Marathon, there were no cuttoffs, thus I took my time and just enjoyed the experience. Within the first five miles I suffered from IT Band syndrome, making it difficult to put my knee down and push up hills. I popped some ibuprofin and continued on, I was detereminded to not stop for nothing. After eleven and a half hours I finally crossed the finish line… completing my first race over half a marathon. I was an ultra runner.
Highlights 2014 Second Half
- Completed two International/Olympic Triathlons(.9 mile swim, 24-26 mile bike and a 10k run). The first one I had to ride with a broken bike tire over hilly terrain for most of the bike leg and could barely run when transitioning from the bike ( read it here) and the other was in Jacksonville where I had an ocean open water swim (details here)
- Swam several miles in the ocean and became proficient at open water swimming.
- Change of focus from predominantly running on roads and short distances to trail running on technical, hilly trails at long distances.
- Mystery Mountain marathon – finished twelve miles before getting pulled due to cutoffs (details here)
- Ran Ragnar Tennessee relay from Chattanooga to Nashville (details here and here) with twelve other friends.
- Tortoise and the Hare 50k – first race over a half marathon and first time I ran longer than 25 miles (details here).
- Ran over 1200 miles!
After the 50k I managed to acquire a non-running injury that mellowed out the last month of the year. Reflecting on the year I ran five half marathons, and several other races, two Ragnar Relays and two international triathlons, but the Tortoise and Hare 50k was my biggest achievement for the year. 2014 definately was a great year for me, I achieved more than I believed capable. Here is to 2015. Til next time.