Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughts Before FANS 24-hour

Every time I say I'm going to be better at updating this blog, I end up not doing it so this time I'm going to say I won't update this often and hopefully I'll have a recap of my next race up within a week!

So what has happened since the Grand Slam accomplishment last year?  A few weeks after the last race I ran an easy trail half marathon called Paine to Pain up in New Rochelle.  It was so much fun to push hard on a short race!  The entire time I kept saying, it will all be over soon so no walking hills and keep pushing the pace.  I was happy with my finish time of 1:38:50 and more importantly, went to the race with friends and saw a ton of other friends there and had a lot of fun not having to run for a whole day.

After Paine to Pain, I was feeling good and talked into joining a small group of Team in Training friends to run the JFK 50-miler in Boonsboro, MD.  There were 7 of us that went down and we called ourselves the 7 Dwarfs.  I was chosen as "Doc".  Prior to the race, I guessed what all of our finishing times were.  The guess for my time was 7:57.  I was hoping I could run this under 8 hours.  The course is hilly and trails (Appalachian trail) for about the first 18 miles.  Then it is a marathon on the easy C&O canal toe path.  Then it is 7 miles on rolling road.  I was pushing on the trail section and once we got off that onto the C&O canal I was trying to hold an 8 minute mile pace.  That didn't work out as planned and I noticed my splits slowing and then I was in the pain cave at mile 34.  I tried to use the bathroom but couldn't go.  About 3 miles later at an aid station I grabbed some food and ate and walked after it when I heard some cheering coming from about 100 feet away in a parking lot where some friends that came down to cheer for us were stationed.  They taunted me with "why are you walking?" and I decided I might as well jog a little at least until I'm out of sight and once I was, I decided I didn't feel as bad and kept the jog going and then slowly picked up the pace.  Finally, I got to the road section, looked at my watch and realized if I could run at sub-9 minute miles to the finish then I could come in under 8 hours.  So I pushed myself to maintain that pace on the rolling hills.  At the aid stations I filled up on Coke in my bottle (rocket fuel) and kept moving quickly.  Finally, I got to the finish line and the announcer called my name and said I was also the first placed Tutu runner (I wore the tut again for this race) and I came in at 7:56:50, 10 seconds faster than my predicted time!   That was pretty amazing!  Even better, all of the Dwarfs finished and I was pretty close on my estimates of their finish times too!

Next on the agenda came Rocky Raccoon 100-miler in Huntsville, TX.  It is a relatively flat trail run that comprises of 5x 20-mile loops.  I went down there with two friends and we had hoped to run much of the race together.  The course was hillier than I expected but on very easy (though rooty) terrain.  I ran very easy for the first 40-miles until Snipes told me to just go out and run my own race.  So I took off running hard.  I felt good and everything was ok until I started having the Corneal edema problems that I had in Leadville.  My right eye fogged up and then my left eye was fogged up too (but not as bad as my right eye which was completely useless).  Combine that with my headlamp batteries dying out quickly and that made the night section a slow slog as I couldn't see where I was going and stepping.  Still I managed to finish under 23 hours and given my slow first 40 and my slow last 20, I'm ok with that.

1 week after Rocky Raccoon, I lead my Bear Mt. Team in Training group on a trail run in the Palisades Park and about 6 miles into a 12 mile run, I started to feel pain in my knee.  Since it was an out and back course, I couldn't just stop.  It was a familiar Patella Femoral Syndrome (Runners Knee) so I tried to do what I could to heal it but it came back again the next weekend during a group run I lead on the Staten Island Greenbelt.  Because the pain got worse and I needed to get it under control, I went to physical therapy and stopped running for 3 weeks. Thankfully that is all that was needed and I was back running well and the mild winter, especially compared to last year's nightmare had us hitting the trails nearly every weekend and we went up to Bear Mt. to train at least 5 times before the Bear Mt. races on April 30th/May 1st.  I ran the 50-miler for the 5th year in a row and beat my best time by about 90 seconds.  I had hoped to run faster but had a pretty rough stretch from mile 14-20. I was still happy with that finish time as it showed I was in good shape.

A week following Bear Mt. I ran the Long Island Greenbelt 50K and was very happy to come in 9th place with a time of 5:11.  The race was tougher than I expected although I did expect my time to be around 5:10.  I just didn't understand why it would take that long on Long Island trails until I got to the section that was just very hilly that explained why times were so slow on this course.

So my training had been going well.  I wasn't running very long runs on my own and my longest runs were the two races on back to back weekends.  I was putting in mileage each week by running to work most days of the week and then running home and then sometimes running more after that.  

So what am I expecting out of this 24-hour race around a 2.14 mile lake in Minnesota?  For starters, I am not sure.  I have set goals for myself and we'll see how well I do in hitting them.  I want to run 100-miles in 16-17 hours.  So my intermediate goals are to basically run 25 miles in 4 hours and repeat that 4 times.  That's at its fastest a 9:36 minute/mile pace for 16 hours including any bathroom breaks and stopping to refill my bottles and fuel up.  Hopefully I can hit that goal and then my "A" goal after that is to run over 140 miles.  I do not know what the odds of me doing that is.  But if it is a great day for me, maybe I can.  "B" goal would be 130 miles and "C" goal is just survive and keep moving after I hit my 100-mile goal.  If my 100-mile goal takes me longer, in the 18-hour range then the same concept will apply.  Just keep moving and see how many miles I can get in the remaining time.  It's a new type of race for me compared to mountain running.  I don't know how I will come to like this type of event but that's why I am trying it.

I do not have anything on the calendar after this race and likely will not do another 100-miler this year.  Hopefully I get into Hardrock next year and if not, I'll probably sign up for Bighorn to get another two years of qualifying towards Hardrock.  But the real ultra is now in the cards and that is birth of my first child due on July 18th.  So if you've read this far, that's what it really on my calendar. So that's an update of what's been going on and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to update this blog shortly after the FANS 24-hour event.  

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