I thought I'd give you guys a little update about how my training for a 50K trail and road marathon are going, and how my body is holding up amidst it all.
Let me start at the beginning. Amber, Lisa and I had chatted about doing a destination race last October when we all ran the Portland Marathon in a torrential downpour. It was so fun to finally meet these ladies and it felt like we'd hung out for years.
While we talked about meeting up at a sunny destination (AZ, Hawaii, Mexico), we knew that wasn't quite in the cards financially so soon. Instead, we decided to all meet for the Victoria, BC Marathon (including Leigh whom I haven't met).
Well, the timing actually fit perfectly with this little 50K I'll be running because Victoria is exactly four weeks after the McKenzie River trail run! I figured that I'd be able to do a lot of training throughout the summer and wouldn't have to do much extra work for the marathon.
A little more about the McKenzie River 50K - This is a small ultra that people around Eugene brag about in their running circles. It's along a beautiful, semi flat path that follows the river, crosses small log bridges and has sights of waterfalls, blue pools of water and lava rock and is located 90 min out of town.
Only 200 or so runners get in every year and when Michelle asked me to run it with her, that was all I needed to sign up - just a little push. Soon enough, I got word that we had been accepted in, while many others remained on a waiting list. Unfortunately, Michelle's unable to run the race, but I decided onward! with training.
Luckily, the Eugene running crew is broad and crazy so several other friends also got into the race and we've been training ever since. There's a lot I've learned about trail running over the past few months, a few extra bruises and gouges I've sustained, but overall it's been a blast. Every time I think "THIS is the limit as to how far I'm going to push my body," I manage to sign up for another longer/harder race. Go figure.*
So, what have I been doing?
I've done a lot of trail running - some longer runs on the McKenzie River where I'll be racing and some shorter runs in Eugene on various trails and terrain.
I've stuck to weekly speed work - and really kicked my own butt (thanks to great coaches)
I've worked on my core and arms - which should help when I start losing steam during the races (stronger core = better running posture)
I'm trying to listen to my body when it feels exhausted - i.e. I didn't run at all Tuesday or Wednesday because my knees and glute were cranky with me from my weekend runs. This often tends to be during my "step back" weeks, so it's a convenient time to be forced to do more cross training and not freak out that my mileage is a little lower one week.
There are just 16 days between me and my first ULTRAmarathon and I have to say (perhaps naively) that I feel ready. I'm planning to do one more long(ish) run in on Saturday morning before heading to Portland for a friend's housewarming party, but it will most likely be on road. I just don't have time to hit the trails.
My long runs thus far have included several 16-18 milers on the road and an 18, 20 and 21 on the McKenzie River trail. Although I haven't come close to the 30 mile distance, I'm not concerned. I feel like come race day I need to be aware of my body, walk when it needs/wants to and just take it as it comes. And the bottom line is, anything past 20 miles is going to hurt, a lot.
After I conquer the 50K, I plan to take a week of rest(ish) and do one more 20 miler before following a two week taper for the Victoria Marathon. My goal? If all goes well, I want to PR at Victoria, big time.
I don't know how my body will feel on race day or what will happen between now and October 9, but my dream is to qualify for Boston. Running a 3:35 marathon (the new standard as of Sept 24, 2011) would be a small miracle for these legs. Perhaps it's time to scratch that dream and move New York up to the #1 spot.
Oh, and the whole point of this post - signing up for two long distance races one month a part is like getting one for free. I do all the hard work over a matter of months and get to reap the rewards in two different races!
*But seriously, I don't ever want to run a distance further than 50K. Running gets to the point of being a chore rather than something fun and relaxing and I simply can't do that to the activity I love most.