Thursday, May 19, 2011

OK Ultraman, then what is the plan ?

Pr's and course pr's.

Pretty simple plan huh?

Yes, call me crazy. Go ahead. All lot of people have and the rest are thinking it I'm sure but it hasn't stopped me yet. See, the goal for the next 10 months (no plans beyond next April so far) is to either run a personal record time for each distance or a personal best time for each particular course. An ambitious goal to be sure but I am confident that as long as the body will hold up I will be able to accomplish these goals.

It has been said that running ultra's is 90% mental and the other 10% is mental and I am totally mental so I should have it in the bag. I just have to show up and run. No, seriously I feel that I am physically prepared to be successful going forward as long as I am able to stay healthy and focus my training on each upcoming event.( and the weather cooperates). I look forward to the challenge and as always I like to put it out there for all to see as it helps to motivate me to succeed. Having all my family,friends and followers behind me helps to make the effort worthwhile in success or failure.

Other than I love taking on the challenge and having goal oriented training, there is another reason why I intend to make this a big year. Time. Yes time is catching up with me and I have accepted the reality that I will not be able to achieve pr's much longer at any distance. Don't get me wrong. I do not intend to quit training hard and try my best after this experience over the next 10 months but it is just a fact that I cannot continue to improve much more at age 55. Although I have had an amazing year including a 50k pr last January at age 54 I can tell a big difference from just 5 years ago. I have trained more miles and just as hard as ever only to basically stay at the same level and it's not getting any easier.

Over the next several months I will be changing the focus of my training from a marathon type program to more ultra specific workouts. One of the main things I need to work on is my speed and strength power walking up long steep hills. That is one component that I have not needed or used for the past 3 years and it shows. Success in the mountain ultra's is dependent on a strong hike and even running a fast time at Umstead requires it. I will still be doing some types of tempo running and occasional mile repeats to maintain speed but the focus now is on mileage, time on feet and race specific workouts.

First up is the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 mile in just 3 weeks. I hope to deny the definition of insanity by not only once again going for a course pr but an overall 50 mile pr at this one. Not much in the way of training I can do for this one now. I'm in shape to make the attempt but the weather will play a role in the success.

Tahoe Rim 100 is a first for me and probably will be among the toughest things I've ever done. So just finishing will be a course pr !

Iron Mountain 50 miler is another first time and so another course pr just finishing.

By the time Hinson Lake 24 Hour rolls around I hope to really be back in ultra shape because I will have to be to top my 2006 performance of 103.3. miles

I look forward to returning to Mountain Masochist in November and go for a course pr there. It is one of my favorite races and one of the inspirations for getting me into the sport.

I hope to recover enough over the following three weeks to go for another 50k pr at Derby. It has worked in the past and I have set my 50k pr there several times although my current pr is at the Frosty Fifty.

In January i will do my first Weymouth Woods 100k for a course pr but I will also be going for a distance pr there. If I just finish that should happen because my only other two 100k's were on extremely hard mountain courses.

In February I return to Holiday Lake 50k++, the site of my first ultra. They have changed the course I believe since my last time there so I just hope to have an event pr.

And this whole plan leads up to a big pr attempt at the 100 mile distance next March at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run. They should be prepared with TV camera's because it will either being an amazing story and finish or a really big crash and burn.

But right now I gotta go run. Stay tuned

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Return of Ultraman

The time has come for me to get serious about my ultrarunning once again. Well, not so serious that I can't continue to keep it fun as the top priority but it is time to focus on the long distances again.

After a great 2007, I went into 2008 struggling with nagging pain. I had a decent race at the Frosty 50k in Jan but over the next few months I was not able to train like I wanted. This lack of training was a big factor with my DNF at Umstead after 69.4 miles and I was burned out mentally as well as physically. there was more frustration when I had to drop at just 10 miles at the Boogie because my legs and butt were in so much pain. I tried to run Mt Masochist with Jenn in November even though I knew I wasn't prepared and dropped out at 33 miles. Running very slow and easy I was able to get only my 2nd ultra finish of the year at the Derby 50k and then I quit running completely for the next 5 weeks to allow some healing. This was after having completed 10-12 ultras' a year for the past several years.

2009 was a re-building year and the only ultra I ran was the Derby 50k again in Nov.

In 2010 I focused on the marathon and qualifying for Boston but I did begin the year with a 50k pr at Frosty Fifty thanks to the marathon training. After getting my qualifier in March I was able to run a few more for fun while still focusing on Boston training. I had one 50 miler at a miserably hot Boogie which tested my will to go long again and then I had two more 50k's at New River and Derby.

Now that Boston is behind me I am eager to get back to training for the long stuff and particularly getting back to doing some 100 milers. If you've been keeping up then you know I kick started my ultra training with the Promise Land 50k 5 days after Boston and then used the New River Marathon as further training. Unlike in the past though, I am planning to do some different things in my training than just running more events. More on training specifics and goals later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New River Marathon

I wasn't really expecting too much out of myself for this one. After Boston and then Promise land 5 days later the body was feeling pretty beat up and I was still sore the week before this one. I was just hoping to get in a good workout, and not feel bad again using this race as training for my next couple of ultras. Lisa had gotten sick so she didn't make the trip and there was no Princess to run with either so I was planning on going out easy and then see how I felt. I hoped to run a decent pace and thought about at least 10mp, around a 4:20 would be great but expected a lot slower with the difficult hills coming late in the race.

I saw Angela Dukes from the NCRC just before the start and she was planning to try and run with me. I thought that would be nice to have the company so we lined up together along with Don Smythe. The start was actually on a bridge over the river. Due to some problems getting everyone parked the start was delayed for about 15 minutes. It was in the low 40's and so I wasn't too happy with that having just a singlet to keep me warm. I saw Doug Blackford just before we began.

Once we got underway I was letting Angela set the pace. I was feeling ok considering I did no warm-up. I was wishing I had on some gloves but otherwise was comfortable as we headed down the road parallel to the river. We passed the first mile in about 9:14, probably faster than I would average but comfortable pace at this point. 1/4 mile later we crossed over the river and began the first climb of the day. This hill would be about a mile long and gain around 300ft. It was steep in a few places and I walked just a bit to keep the heart rate down but most of it was runnable. I had pulled ahead of Angela and after taking a picture I waited for her but she quickly fell behind again so I just decided to go ahead and run how I felt. I looked back a couple of times but it was obvious we weren't going to be running the same pace today.

Even with the hill I had kept the pace below 10. That mile reminded me a lot of the early climbs at Grandfather Mt and it made me think the The Trail Angel should be here. After the climb we had a sweet downhill and back down to the riverside. By now my hands had finally warmed up , it was sunny ,a gorgeous day and I felt great. I was enjoying cruising along easily and caught up to a guy named Tim and we had a nice conversation over the next 1.5 miles. After mile 5 I noticed the pace had relaxed more than I wanted so I decided to kick it up a notch. I told Tim I may regret it later but I feel good and I'm going to see what happens.

There was one more climb of about 100ft to the next aid station just before mile 6 but after that the next 7 miles were pretty flat along the riverside and I was cruising along easily at about 8:35 to 8:40 pace enjoying the view and snapping some pictures along the way.

The course turned away from the river at mile 13 and began the tough part of the race. I was very happy to pass the half in 1:58 but I knew there was no way I could hold that pace over the next 4.5 miles. I had driven the course Friday night and I knew what was coming. The next half mile was a climb with one part quite steep gaining about another 100ft followed by half a mile of downhill.

Then the real fun began. Over the next 2.25 miles we would gain nearly 500ft as the road became gradually steeper. And just when you thought it couldn't get much steeper we turned onto a gravel road at the 16 mile mark and it became steeper than anything on Turkey Creek for you Umstead runners over the next 3/10ths mile. A little downhill and then right back up just as steep for another 3/10ths to the summit. It was a fantastic view (picture above story)but the best thing was knowing there were no more major hills. The next 2.7 miles we dropped back down into the valley but there were a couple of small uphills so it wasn't a total quad smasher like coming down at Promise Land.

I still felt good but was beginning to notice the energy level was dropping and my feet were getting tired. No surprise considering the past few weeks but I was still holding out hope that I could pick the pace back up on the flats again like before the climbs. Well reality set in quickly as my pace had dropped considerably at the same effort as before. No problem though as I was well ahead of the pace I had hoped for. All I had to do was relax and hold steady. Well that worked for a couple of miles but then I was just tired. Still moving along ok but I had to start taking some walk breaks which ticked me off a bit.

Finally reached the finish and was very very happy to exceed my goal and other than slowing more than I wanted the last 4 miles, I felt better than I could have hoped. Now why couldn't I have felt half this good at Boston? I think I'll stop tapering for races.

Here is a link to the pictures I took.

And here are the results.

On to the next one

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

New River Marathon Preview

I'm looking forward to running the inaugural New River Marathon in Brownwood NC this Saturday, May 7th. In case you have never heard of Brownwoood , it doesn't have a zip code but is close to Todd NC or just a little North of Boone in Ashe County.

My main reason for signing up was for some fun and training. I'm not really looking to run a fast time this soon after Boston and Promise Land but with the 100 miler coming up this summer I was looking to run some distance and I would rather do it in races rather than long solo training runs. I was hoping I would be able to run it with The Marathon Princess since we haven't run a marathon together since last July at GMM but with her foot injury over the Winter she doesn't feel like it's in her best interest to run another one so soon after Boston.

Lisa "Mountain Girl" Howell will be making the trip. She was raised in Ashe County and her Mom still lives there and hopefully will be able to see Lisa finish.

The race is in a beautiful area and I hope to get some good pictures but that depends on how the race is going. My plan is to go out easy and see how the body responds. If it feels good I'll pick it up and run a decent time but no PR attempt I promise ! Otherwise I'll just enjoy the scenery while getting in a good workout.

here is a link to the race website

Stay tuned for the results !