Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Drop Dead Legs

Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner, or later…

When you spend the year pushing your body to the limit, by training for (and racing) ultras, eventually it’s going to push back. And, that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend at the TARC Summer Classic 50m. The race began just fine, but I never really got comfortable. I felt downright awful at around the 12 mile mark, toyed briefly with the idea of just running a 50k and then finally dropped out altogether at mile 20. Logging the first official DNF of my ultra-running career.

At the time, I didn’t really know what was going on out there, I just knew that something wasn’t right. My legs were very heavy and sore from the start. My energy level was low. And, my overall attitude was terrible. Feelings which are normal in the last quarter of a 50 mile race - not the first quarter!

Now, after having reviewed the last 10 weeks of my training log (since my last 50 Mile Race) I know EXACTLY why things went south...       

...Because I am an idiot!

After training for (and suffering through) the TARC 50 in early June, I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking. Summer is my go-to hiking season, and I certainly wasn’t getting short changed this year!  Chocoura, Monadnock & Moosilauke, the Pemi Loop and the Hut Traverse were all on the menu - and I gorged on them happily! Unfortunately, I also had a huge serving of Bear Brook Marathon, with an appetizer of two long hot road runs, and two very long bike rides for dessert!

Notice anything missing there? Yeah, that’s right. REST! No recovery weeks in the bunch! I know that I previously joked that "recovery is overrated", but this is ridiculous!

Below is a little spreadsheet I put together to help me pinpoint the exact level of my stupidity:

Last 10 Weeks of Training:

W  M Key EventDurationComments

1 70TARC 50m 12 hrsEmptied the tank. And then some!
2 6514m Chocoura 4 1/4 hrsStrong Run. Good "recovery" week. 
3 6814m Monadnock 3 1/4 hrs9 minute PR! Felt great throughout. 
4 6418m Road Run2 3/4 hrsHilly. Very warm during run.
5 78   50m Hut 2 Hut 21 hrsBonked with 8m to go. Fin. next day.
6 60 18m Road Run 2 1/2 hrs Very warm during run. No issues.
7 7030m Bear Brook 5 1/4 hrsFelt good til last 1/2 hour. Tired.
8 76     32m Pemi Loop 10 hrsFelt good til last 1/2 hour. Nausea.
9 6622m Moosilauke5 1/2 hrsFelt good til last 1 hour. Dehydrated
10 7480m Bike Ride4 1/2 hrsFelt good til last 1 1/2 hours.  Dizzy.

6927.5m7.10 hrs

So, as you can see, instead of following my 100 Mile Training Plan after the TARC race, I ended up “freelancing it”. Instead of averaging 63 miles per week with long runs of 24 & 28, I averaged 69 miles per week with long runs of 22, 28, 30, 32, and 50! With an average long run of more than 27 miles and an average duration of more than 7 hours! And, if you look at the comments for my last 4 events, the results speak for themselves.

Yup, the writing was clearly on the wall. I was just too dumb to read it!

The good news is that I'm not damaged (physically anyway) and I've got plenty of time to right the ship before Ghost Train. Overall, I feel fine. Just a little fatigued. Going forward, I just need to start following my training plan better and stop freelancing as I go. Over the next two weeks I plan to take it VERY easy. Nothing where I'm even close to having to dig deep. And, for Pisgah (my final tune-up race before the hundred) I'm going start VERY conservatively. And then, if I feel good, pick up the pace over the second half.

BTW, as "bad" as those last 10 weeks were, it actually could have been worse! If not for a strained calf just hours before, I would have done a 8 to 9 hour Presi Traverse on the final weekend. Instead, I rode 80 miles (4 1/2 hours) on my bike. Yes, I think I may be in need of some professional help! "Running Through" a 5k, or even a 10k, is fairly normal. Doing the same for a 50 miler is pretty dumb!

But, the way I figure it, if I do every possible thing wrong, eventually all the choices I'll have left to make will be right!



  1. You are logging some serious miles, man! Yup, I'd say it was bound to happen but if you rest up, all those miles should absorb well and you'll be good to go! As for the DNF, we all need one on our resume - builds character :)

    1. Thanks Danielle. I sure do hope you're right! It was a fun summer, but I'd hate to think it derailed my plans for the GT 100. We'll see. Only time will tell...