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.

Oct 22, 2008

October Project: week 3

There were 8 updates last week, so 6 this time.

10p16 - asphalt - 1.52 miles in 15:16, 10:03 pace. Lamest run ever. Went to Costco with my wife, she had to pick up a pair of eyeglasses. I decided that the only chance I would get to run all day would be then. Parked the car, gave her the keys, said "pick me up at target." 15 minutes later, I was at Target and she was picking me up. This was nighttime, through parking lots.

10p17 - asphalt - 3.09 miles in 32:07, 10:24 pace. 281ft of climbing This was a nighttime mixed bag. I ran to a small park in Suffern where there are a couple of short trails, then on the way back I decided to run up a hill, only because I've not done any hill work in a while. It was surprisingly hard, and I felt dehydrated.

10p18 - trails - 3.12 miles 33:27, 10:43 pace. 375ft of climbing Saturday morning before breakfast run. Had a very busy day ahead of me, and it was great to start it with a short, brisk trail run at Ramapo Reservation.

10p19 - track - 1.05 miles in 10:21, 09:53 pace legs felt tired and wanted a day off. An easy mile at the track seemed like a good compromise.

10p20 - track - 1.11 miles in 10:01, 09:01 pace legs still felt tired, and the day was kind of crazy. so I put in my mile, but went harder than the previous day so I could feel like I actually worked at this. Lap 4 was run in 1:56, my fastest 400 ever. My wife saw me on the final turn and described me as "intensely focused," which made me think of David Goggins (people describe him that way.) I then hit myself in the head with a hammer for having the nerve to compare my fat, wuss ass to David Goggins.

10p21 - trails - 3.39 miles in 39:29, 11:39 pace. 527ft of climbing It actually got very dark on this run, and the fallen leaves covering the rocky trail made it a twisted-ankle mine field in the low light. I need to get some more night-time trail running in, as it still freaks me out and I need to sack up and get over it. The deer really come out on this normally-crowded trail at night!

Thoughts on the October Project

At times it seems so pointless. I'm running every day just to run every day. I like that I have a streak, but then I'm having a streak just to have a streak. Some days seem like I didn't train at all, some days I train despite my body telling me, "take a rest day." As of today, I'm run 21 days in a row and that ties a personal record - by tonight I'll be working on a new PR. I often figure I'll probably try to continue running every day in November, just to keep the streak alive, but probably give it up the first day the weather is truly nasty this winter. My legs feel tired all the time now and I hope, perhaps incorrectly, that they'll adapt to the running everyday thing. They don't seem to have adapted yet. Also, my miles seem low, so far I've run only 65 miles all month, including the Chicago Marathon, my only run over 5 miles in three weeks. I'm compromising quality distance running for this idea of daily running.

At other times I feel like a million bucks and running seems effortless despite the tired legs. I know this is a direct result of three weeks of consistent training, something that I normally struggle with. I figure that the daily mileage will go up in time, as the speed has already gone up noticeably. If I can keep up the consistent training and make a habit out of it, such that I run 5-6 days per week every week all year, I know I will find success in my races and in my fitness. I love running fast as much as I love running distance - both are extremely hard, and both are extremely rewarding.

General Update

Weight is stagnating. I tend to lose about 4lbs during the week and gain it back on the weekend. Looking at the calendar, this cycle has been happening for about four weeks now. I'm still in the low 290s, and it feels like a plateau, even though it's really just non-discipline and inconsistency.

I'm finding it easier and easier to maintain a 10-minute pace without getting too winded, and even though at this point I wouldn't attempt it on distances longer than about 4 miles, I am curious as to whether I can realistically run a sub-1hr 10k right now. Probably not, but perhaps 1:02 is possible.. and 2 minutes really isn't much to make up over that distance.

Fun fact of the day: I've run in probably two-dozen races in my lifetime, including 5 marathons, 3 half-marathons, 3 ultras, god-knows-how-many 5ks, and several "strange" distances (my personal favorite: 4.01K at the wall street rat race) but I have never run a 10K race. Weird, eh? of course, I've done 6 miles numerous times in training, and I've always tipped a hat when I passed the 10K mark at longer races that point it out, but never a 10K race.

My first 50-mile race that I finish.

With the JFK50 31 days away, I'd like to get long runs in this weekend and next, and really put forth a big effort in the race. I've been advised to go hard in the first ten miles, which goes against every instinct in my body. But the adviser knows more about this particular race, and racing in general, than I do, so I'm seriously considering it. My goal is just to finish, and with the last 35 miles being relatively flat, it might be good to get to them sooner rather than later. Not sure. The field will be very sparse with the 5am start, and it'll be dark for the first hour or two of the race. So we'll see. I am committed to finishing this race, and the only way I won't is either injury or if I miss the cutoffs, like Vermont. I don't expect either.

My first 100-mile race.

Rocky Raccoon is 108 days away and, just so there's no confusion, I am extremely freaked out about it. I think about it on each of my training runs, and it has basically become an 800-lb gorilla on the horizon. I don't know how I'm going to properly train in the dead of winter. I don't know how much weight I can lose. I feel like I have wasted a month in terms of weight loss, because today I am a mere 3 lbs lighter than I was a month ago, and I expected to be 15-20. OTOH, I appreciate so much the encouragement that ultrarunning friends are giving me, it's really helping. So, yeah. Look for a post next week with more details on this..

Oct 15, 2008

October project: week 2

Rizzo was so slow, I had a beer at mile 14 of the Chicago Marathon. Yum.

Don't have much time again, so I'm just going to quickly report on week two of the October project. It's still going, and in fact I just finished day 15, so there are 8 days to report here:

10p08 2.06 miles in 21:03, 10:11 pace. "the fever run" I had a fever the night before and ended up taking the day off of work. went to the doctor, and got better as the day went on, I decided to try to do a mile at the track. the first lap sucked but my disposition quickly improved and by the time I completed the fourth lap, I was feeling so good that I added another 4 laps.

10p09 1.62 miles in 15:55, 9:51 pace. Still not feeling 100%, but finished an uneventful run from home, around lonergan dr and back. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6942783

10p10 1.11 miles in 10:44, 9:40 pace. Morning that I left for Chicago, needed a mile before work. Ran around the block four times. This course is such a slog.. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6942784

10p11 1.34 miles in 14:29, 10:48 pace. Day before the chicago marathon. Picked a random neighborhood in Chicago and ran for a mile. Took it easy. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6969008

10p12 26.2 miles (corrected) in 6:51:19. Chicago Marathon. This wasn't my pace, it was rizzo's. We ran most of the first ten miles, walked most of the last 16. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6969009

10p13 1.5 miles in 16:20, 10:47 pace. Day after marathon & sleep-deprived: had only gotten 2-3 hours of winks the prior night, then only in 30-minute chunks. Ran to a pizza place that Alex and Joe drove to, then ate pizza. yum. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6972213

10p14 1.54 miles in 15:46, 10:16 pace. "The Suffern slog." I did not want to run that evening. Ran anyway. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6972213

10p15 1.02 miles in 8:30, 8:22 pace. Had to get out and get home quickly so Alex could go somewhere. Ended up running my fastest mile ever - seriously. http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6980987

so.. 15 days down, 16 to go. fun times. I feel good.. better than the last time I ran more than 10 days in a row. Last time, I tended to have more daily mileage, but I also didn't have a marathon last time. I should be increasing the daily now that the marathon is over, but day-to-day life at work has been very busy lately. we'll see how it goes.

Oct 13, 2008

Quick Chicago Marathon Pics

Taken from approx. the same spot and 4:45am and 7:45am

Bottom line: rizzo finished. Good job.

More later, but for now...




Oct 10, 2008

Stalk me on my drive to Chicago tonight!

My Cubical. It's not in chicago.

Hi everyone. Just a quick blog today to say that I will be firing up my iphone tracking application on my drive to Chicago tonight! All you's can click here and see where I am:

I should be leaving in a couple hours (hopefully by 3pm EDT)..

FYI, I'll turn it on also for the drive home Sunday night after the marathon.

PS, 10 days into the October project - ran this morning, the streak is still alive!


Oct 8, 2008

October project: week 1 done

Our last ever game at shea stadium

So here I am, one week into the October project (10p), my goal to run at least 1 mile every day in the month of October.

I am lying in bed with a fever. Called in sick today.

Here is the week, so far:
10p01: 1.9m, 8:54 pace. ran home from work. went super fast for me.
10p02: 1.5m, 9:25 pace. Still very fast for me.
10p03: 1m, 9:16 pace. Track. Went fast on purpose, but still.. three fast days in a row.
10p04: 3m, 10:02 pace. slower, but still too fast given the 3-mile distance
10p05: 1.3m, 9:21 pace. trails. see a pattern here?
10p06: 3.26m, 10:47 pace. ran home from work, took scenic route. finally kept the pace under control.
10p07: 1.7m, 10:30 pace. pace under control again, but i was getting sick.

and that brings me to today.
I just got back from the doctor, who said that I can continue running ... IF I watch out for warning signs (don't kill yourself out there.) I neglected to mention that I was running a marathon this weekend. (:
I feel crappy right now, but just took some tylenol which hopefully will get my fever under control. maybe in a couple of hours, when the tylenol kicks in, i'll go to a track, put in 4 laps to keep the project going, then go to bed early.

we'll see..

so yeah, by the way.. this weekend is the chicago marathon. as of right now, it's still on. rizzo's counting on me.. (:


Oct 1, 2008

The October project

Third to last game ever played at Shea Stadium. The Mets lost that game, too.

This project of mine is very simple. Run at least 1 mile, every day, in the entire month of October 2008.

I'll post daily updates in twitter. There will be a code that looks like this: 10P#01. 10P refers to the October Project, and #01 refers to the first day of the month (10P#16 would be the sixteenth day of the month, and so on..) My twitter feed is here: http://twitter.com/stevetursi , and also at the top of my blog under the title "what is steve doing?".

Going out for the 10P#01 run now. It's 10:15PM and I'm armed with a reflective vest and a flashlight. Gotta do what you've gotta do.

Here goes nothing..