Monday, July 9, 2012

The Ultra-met Challenge

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been much more interested in running long than running fast. Maybe it’s because, as I age, I’m finding it near impossible to come close to my previous race PR’s - despite the fact that it feels like I’m training harder than ever! Maybe it’s because I seem to keep breaking down when I try to run too fast. Or, maybe it’s because there’s just something inside me that likes to see just how far I can go!

I guess I’ve always been a bit of a mileage junkie. Even in the beginning. Heck, my second race ever was a marathon. And, during my training runs, I always seem to get stronger the longer I’m out there – to a certain point of course! A few years back I did my first Ultra Marathon – a 13 hour, a 33 mile trek called the Pemi Wild Ultra. And, since then, I’ve kind of had it in my head to try to go a bit longer. This year I decided once and for all to take the LEAP!

A couple weeks ago I signed up for the Stone Cat 50 Miler and have been trying to wrap my mind around the race (and the training) ever since. How do I do it? How do I train for and finish a 50 mile race? It’s more than twice as long (distance & time–wise) as any official race I’ve ever done! I was both excited and overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to figure it all out. I guess after 15 years of running I’ve kind of run out of new problems to solve. Until now!

So, I reviewed some Ultra Marathon training plans and finally settled on THIS ONE from Runners World. I liked the way it’s laid out and the fact that it has two long runs back to back so I can fit most of my “extra” training in on the weekends. Two weekend long runs with some shorter stuff during the week was the way I used to prepare for Boston in the past and it seemed to work well for me back then. Hopefully that will continue this time around.

I’ve got a 5m course mapped out in Mine Falls Park in Nashua that somewhat matches the terrain I’ll experience on the Stone Cat course at Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA. So far, I’ve done a 3-loop version (15 miles) of it and I think it will do quite nicely as a home-town training ground. I’ve also planned some single-day, mountain run/hikes in the White Mountains and along the Wapack Trail and will hope to do a multi-day extended run/hike the later this summer in the Presidentials.

Now all I have to do it put the work in. Oh, and decide out what’s a good pace for 50 miles worth of running. And, ummm, develop the patience required to run that ”slow”. Oh, and, figure out what to eat/drink during a potentially 9-10 hour long race.  And, determine what shoes to wear. And, what to do if it rains. Or, yikes, snows…

... gotta' love a challenge!

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