Monday, August 22, 2011

Peak Ultra Training

The last two weeks have been the peak of my training for the 50k. While my overall mileage wasn’t all that high, my back-to-back long runs were huge and I’m feeling very ready to take on the ultra!

First of all, I finally did officially get into the McKenzie River 50k. We entered the lottery this spring, and while Zach got in, I didn’t. I had been on the waiting list all summer, but I finally received my official entry a couple weeks ago. They only took the first 10 or so people out of about 90 on the waiting list, so I lucked out!

This training cycle has been very different than any major race I’ve done. I am at this weird junction where I’m interested in long trail races, but I’m NOT interested in really intense, high-mileage training. I’ve been running 4 days a week, with most of that being in the long runs. I’ve alternated back-to-back runs (like 10 and 14 miles for example) and a single long run (16+ miles). My mileage was in the upper 30’s until these last two weeks when I ran in the low 40’s.

It’s a different approach to training for me, for sure. In training for a marathon I usually used the 55 miles per week plan and ran 5 days a week. And this is 5 miles longer than a marathon! So yes, I feel a bit nervous about this. But, it’s perfect for me. I don’t want to make running my WHOLE life, I need some balance. I want to enjoy other activities, other hobbies, my house, my friends! It’s been great. And really, it’s not like I am doing the bare minimum. I have put a lot of effort into my training. And any worry I have is definitely eased by the long runs I’ve done. Here are the details of the last couple of weeks.

Coming off the Cascade Lakes Relay a couple weeks ago, I was feeling good. I ran twice during the week on the roads in town and kept a really good pace. My 5 miler was around 8:45 and felt nice. Then I ran a hilly 8 miler at 8:40 pace with a crazy negative split- 9:30 pace on the way out, and 7:50 pace on the way back (mostly downhill). Wee!

That Saturday, I ran 10 miles on the Leif Erickson trail. I haven’t been running there lately but it was perfect. It’s a wide trail, basically a road, but it is unpaved and through the forest, so it is similar to trail running. I definitely used to consider it a hard run, but it is cake compared to the singletrack trails. I ran about 9:15 pace for the 10 miler.

The next day, we headed up to the Wildwood Trail for 20 miles. We did a double out-and-back in different directions so we could stop at the car halfway and refill our waters. I felt SO great on this run! I walked up a few of the hills in the early miles, but otherwise kept a comfortable pace the whole time. Unfortunately, I did trip and fall about mile 14. I got some mild scrapes and bruises but I shook it off and kept running no problem. I sped up a bit at the very end and finished feeling great! The 20 miles took me 3 hours and 49 minutes, almost as long as my last marathon! That’s just under 11:30 pace, which I’m definitely happy with. Slow and steady!

This week I only ran one time during the week. That was definitely not planned! After the 20 miler, I got sick. I think I caught a little cold or something and I was laid up for a couple of days with a sore throat and sniffles. Thankfully I felt better and on Wednesday got in an easy 8 miler on the hilly road route. I could have crammed more miles in, but with a big back-to-back run coming up I didn’t want to take any chances.

Friday I only had a half-day of work, and I once again headed up to the Leif Erickson trail. I ran 12 miles at about 9:30 pace and felt great. It was hot and sunny but it’s always really shady and comfortable in Forest Park.

Saturday was the BIG run. 22 miles on the Wildwood. I was really nervous, I got myself all worked up the night before. This would be the farthest I’d ever run in training, and because of my slow trail pace, I knew it would take me HOURS. And I was worried about falling again. But, Zach encouraged me and we got out the door ready to hit the trails Saturday morning. It kind of freaked me out when we were about to start and Zach said “Ok, it’s 9:30, so you’ll be done about 2:00?” YIKES. I could tell from the beginning I was running pretty slow but I was being careful of all the rocks and roots to avoid a fall, and I was also pacing myself for the loooooong run ahead. Back at the car about halfway through I filled my water and was feeling great. I ran the second part (not exactly halfway – the second part was about a mile longer than the first) in the same amount of time as the first part- so a negative split! The whole run ended up taking 4 hours and 30 minutes, about a 12:15 pace. WOW- that is the second longest I have EVER ran! The only longer run was my 4:43 Ironman marathon. And there I actually walked every aid station, so plenty of walking. This 22 miler? I ran the whole thing. I didn’t even walk up any hills! That’s crazy! I definitely felt very tired toward the end but I did it. And I didn’t trip or stumble at all! Success!

These last couple weekends have definitely built my confidence for the 50k. I know I can complete the distance and I am excited for the experience! Training for this ultramarathon has been really great – I love the trails, I love not worrying obsessively about my splits or pace, I love just running and running for hours in the forest. 

Quick shout out here to my super trail runner husband, Zach… this guy just continues to amaze me. He has been running all these same long runs (and usually trail runs during the week by himself too) and is just a natural out there. He is so speedy. Out on the trails, he is just unstoppable. It’s great! Unfortunately this means he has to wait a long time for me – he finished the 22 miler an hour and 10 minutes before me. Wow! I’m so proud of him and it is so fun to have a trail buddy.

The 50k is in less than 3 weeks, which means I am tapering! We will be spending a big chunk of this taper in eastern Oregon on vacation. It’s going to be incredible – plenty of trail running, of course, but also rock climbing at Smith Rock, climbing mountains, swimming in lakes, and more. Plus plenty of relaxing time too. Our families are coming up for a few days also which is going to be great. I will have a full report with plenty of photos when we get back.

This week, however, no photos. I’ve been doing all these long runs pretty “naked” – no Garmin, just a watch (the trails are marked), and not carrying my phone or anything. It is very freeing, but I do miss taking all the pics! Here is one Zach took of me a few weeks ago at the end of a short run on Wildwood.  

Thanks so much for reading! :)


Run July


Jo Lynn said...

I remember doing a 26 mile training run once. I will NEVER do that again.
Good job on running the entire 22 miles. :)

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

The main reason I loved running Ultra's is because it was more about the steady endurance than it was about the speed. ENJOY!!!

Ewen said...

I think you'll do fine on that plan - good recovery and you're getting in plenty of quality trail running too - 4 hours 30 is some long running! I like the photo - looks like you're really zipping along that trail.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Nice work on the 22 miler! Trail runs do take a lot of time. I can't wait to go watchless after these upcoming races.

KK said...

OMG how nervewracking that Zach got in months before you and you had to sit and stew on that waiting list-not okay people!

I know what you mean about enjoying the "nakedness" of trail running. While I'm not a huge trail runner, I have really enjoyed the shift from intense speed-focused training to running for the sake of running and enjoying the outdoors.

Congrats on completing your longest training run to date. This race will be a huge milestone for you in an already accomplished athletic career. Good luck and can't wait to hear how it goes!