Oct 30, 2008

100 days to 100 miles.

February 7, 2009

Today is October 30th, 2008. In 100 days, I will attempt to run 100 miles in 30 hours.

And I have learned enough about ultrarunning this year to know that I don't know anything about ultrarunning.



What I thought I knew.. I'm not even sure if it's useful.

So.. here is a blog post about the kind of thought processes i've had lately..

I read something rather profound recently:
I honestly thought I was done. Every muscle in my body ached and I was freezing to death in 70-degree weather. I quit and told the volunteer I would never attempt another one ever again. The next morning I watched as a guy crossed the finish line in 29 hours and change. His finish was over the 28-hour time limit therefore he would not even be considered an official finisher. I was amazed with the amount of determination he showed and could not understand how or why he did it.
(source: http://www.relentlessrunner.com/index/How_to_run_100_miles)

I read that and thought, "holy crap!" It was almost the same experience I had with the Grand Teton 50-miler on Labor Day weekend of this year. I came into the 36-mile aid station at about 9pm, after dark, wanting to die. While I was there, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd (pictured left) came through the station. 50-something years old, Wearing her full habit. She had been going since 6am. had some soup and continued on, and finished the 50-mile race at 5:52am the next morning. To raise money for Orphans. (You should give. click here.)

I was humbled. He continues,
I wanted that feeling but still was not educated enough to know it wasn't going to come through physical training alone. I will tell you that physical training is obviously an important factor in running ultra distances but at the same time I will tell you that the mental side is more important. You have to have confidence and that confidence can only come from experience. Confidence is something most first timers lack. Gaining it on his or her own is improbable if running on a course alone without the help of anyone.

A week later, I wrote in this blog that I honestly felt I had reached my physical limits. It's hard for even me to believe, but I now know that's not true. I honestly didn't think at the time that I could finish.. but in retrospect, I could have.
I am here to tell you that you can command your body to perform no matter what kind of pain you are in. It takes desire, determination, and the willingness to push yourself to your limits in order to succeed. Now there are definitely times you must make rational decisions as to whether it's smart to continue or not. If, for example, you have a broken bone or you are experiencing symptoms of the three H's (hyponatremia, hypothermia, or hypoxia) you should consider quitting. If your goal is to finish than you must make yourself overcome the aches and pains generated from running the distance and trust me you can do this. I go into a run knowing that ultimately I am going to feel awful but I also know that I will feel good again only to feel bad again and then good again and so on and so on. It's a matter of how much you want it. If you don't have the desire than the pain will be your main focus and you will give in to it and never experience those second, third and fourth lives. If finishing is what you are concentrating on than I can guarantee you that you will overcome.
As the soreness wore off over the next two days, I became aware that I might have been able to finish. To be honest, that awareness was present when I wrote the race report, but I was trying to dismiss it. But the truth is this - I now know that I could have finished. It would have been frightening, lonely, and the most painful thing that I have ever done, but I could have done it. And I do indeed regret not continuing that night.
Pain does not exist in my heritage, it’s all in the head. I actually totally convinced myself that I am not hurting and just wussing out. -olga
That is one of the reasons why I registered for the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler. I now know it's more a matter of mental endurance than physical. Grand Teton taught me something about myself - I am not as mentally strong as I thought I was, and Rocky Raccoon is an opportunity to test myself with that awareness. I do feel confident, but freaked. I know that it's going to be one of the most intense, dreadfully painful, and demanding things I've ever done in my 32 years - and I'm very interested in seeing who comes out on the other side.

That's not to say I won't try to limit that pain by preparing as well as I can.. (:

100 days away, I weigh 288 lbs. That is about 10-15 lbs less than my weight at Grand Teton, so I'm already on my way to a more "pleasant" experience. If I could drop 20% of my body weight before the event, I feel that will make the biggest difference possible.

The night in Huntsville, TX On Feb 7th is going to be 13 hours 5 minutes long (home, by comparison, is 13:39.) So I have to be mentally prepared to keep moving for about 12-12.5 hours in complete darkness. This is the part the freaks me out the most.

Training. I can honestly say that from a cardiovascular perspective, I am in the best shape of my life. I can easily crank out 3-6 miles at 10:30 pace, and less than 3 at sub-10. I can also do 20 miles slow without even feeling it the next day. This is at 290-300lbs. I have never been this fast or well-trained before, even in high school. So where do I have to go between now and February? Well, I'd like to crank up the weekly mileage, which had been below 30 to something in the neighborhood of 50, or even 60. Consistently, from now until taper time. My daily mileage goal has helped, but too many times I've been content with 1 mere mile when I should have done 2-3. And my 2-3 mile runs should have been 5-6. By January, I'd like to run two 10 mile runs per week, not including the long run. There is also the treadmill walking, a workout that thoroughly kicks my ass where I crank the incline to about 11% and try to WALK at 3.5-4MPH for an hour.

Then, of course, there is also the Long Run. Current plans include a 50-mile race on Nov 22, and back-to-back 50Ks on January 3-4. I'll be looking through race calendars to see if I can add another marathon or 50K somewhere in there, and I'll also try to do one night run where I'll pick a weekend when the weather is manageable, work a full day on Friday, have dinner, then go out and run 30-40 miles until the wee hours of the morning. Preferably on trails. Fun. Otherwise, 15-20 mile weekend long runs are the plan and I'd think that will be enough when combined with weight loss, which (and I'm repeating myself) is the single most important factor.

Going back to the mental aspect of this, the night run I think is the key - it's the factor that I'm most freaked out about, and one that I can only tackle with some time spent alone running long distances at night.

If you're looking for an update on the October project, it's almost over. right now 30 days complete, 1 to go. I'll post a conclusion this weekend.

by the way..

According to the Farmer's Almanac, on February 7,
Huntsville: Sun rises at 7:09am, sets at 6:04pm.
Suffern: 7:00am to 5:21pm.
The race starts at 6am.