So how in the world am I getting ready for my 40-miler? By gradually ramping up my mileage, of course.
Easier said than done, especially working 80+ hours per week with no days off. Most ultra training plans for 50-milers suggest a long run of 30-32 miles a month or so out from the event. Well, if I have any hope of functioning the next day at work, I just can’t do that. That’s a 5-6 hour run, leaving just 4 hours of sleep before I have to be back at work again. Not gonna do it.
So the max I think I can fit in is about 21 miles. So I’m at that point right now, doing a 21-miler on Saturday and following up on Sunday with another long run (8-15 miles). In other words, doing the double-long that treated me well getting ready for the Country Music Marathon back in April. A few encouraging words from Gary Ditsch helped me formulate a plan to adjust it for my 40-miler, although I suspect he thinks I’m being a bit aggressive. But believe me, Gary, when I say that I’m monitoring very, very closely.
So this weekend’s iteration, the first week of my peak period, was a good one. I actually pushed it harder than race pace, but kept the heart rate in Zones 1-2, although the last 20 minutes were in Zone 3 as I picked up the effort and worked a solid tempo finish. This one worked out to be a good negative split.
I took off at a comfortable 10:15/mile pace, keeping to the 4 min run/1 min walk strategy. Decided that was a bit quicker than I needed to be going, so backed off a little bit, but never let my overall pace go above 10:26/mile pace. Hit 11 miles and was feeling good. The next 10 miles were consistently faster than the previous. By the time I hit mile 18, I was holding a 8:00/mile to 8:15/mile pace for the run portions; individual splits for miles 18-21 were all under 10:00/mile, including the two minutes of walking. And since pictures speak louder than words, here’s a mile-by-mile graph of my average pace up to that point:
I did have three off-the-clock fuel reloads. Doing these runs unsupported, I have to make a side trip to refill my water bottles. Not to mention sucking down a can of ice cold coke at mile 15. Ahhhhh, that’s refreshing.
For my first several long runs here, I kept the clock running just like in a race. But it really wreaked havoc with my average pace, etc., which didn’t seem representative of the effort. Had these been supported runs, I’d grab the water and keep moving. So I made the decision to do them off the clock.
This run was quite a unique experience too; one that made me reflect on how full my life has been so far. I didn’t know until that afternoon that we were going to have a lunar eclipse, peaking at 80% while I’d be out on my run. It was quite odd to start out the run with a full moon and that lighting, which allowed me to get off of the asphalt and run on the rough dirt shoulders. But by mile 15, it was definitely dark and I didn’t dare run on the shoulders anymore, for fear of hitting a hole and turning an ankle.
All the while, the local mosques were rolling out their eclipse prayers, which were actually quite beautiful to listen to while running. Apparently there is a specific prayer for eclipses and it’s the same for both solar and lunar eclipses.
It made me think of some of the things that I’ve been able to experience in my life – surfing the North Shore of Hawaii (and getting completely pitted, then stuffed, at Pipeline), traveling the length of the Panama Canal, crouching down a small tunnel to see a chamber inside one of the pyramids of Giza, snorkeling with whale sharks off the coast of Western Australia, etc., etc. That was a nice way to pass a few miles.
So this run was definitely another page added to life’s experiences.
On Sunday, I had an 8-miler planned as my second half of my double-long. Since I run at night here and there’s little lighting (especially during a lunar eclipse), my long runs are entirely on asphalt/concrete. So my Sunday night run is on a treadmill to save my legs.
I started off with the first 4 miles at a very comfortable 10:00/mile pace. Then picked it up to 9:00/mile pace for a mile, then 8:00/mile for the sixth mile. At mile 7 I ratcheted it up to 7:00/mile pace, then crushed the 8th mile, covering the first half mile at 6:30/mile pace and finishing up the last half mile at 6:00/mile pace.
I was comfortable the entire time, never feeling like I was going to lose form. So I was quite pleased with this one, especially considering the 21-miler the night before.
I hope all is well with each of you.