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Tales of a recovering over racer

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Addiction is a powerful thing. I am not sure exactly when it happened but suddenly I found myself wanting to run all the races! Between the Celebration Marathon in January and Boston Marathon in April, I raced nine times and even joined a new running club just so I could compete in their racing series. No wonder my hamstring injury never healed. After Boston I ran in four more races between the end of April and mid-July. I tried resting the hamstring for a week or two here and there and even went to physical therapy. Finally when I had finished the last of the Picnic Island Adventure Runs of the summer in July I decided to focus on getting healthy for marathon training.

I was set to begin the 18 week Hansons Marathon Method with a group of friends at the end of July. I knew I would not be able to handle marathon training with a hamstring injury. I followed the plan almost perfectly for weeks and weeks. I turned down invitations to race, which is difficult for me to do. I even had to skip one of my favorite summer cross country races. I trained consistently and did not race for 11 weeks. I even stopped having the urge to look at race calendars in running magazines.

Then it was time for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler at the beginning of October. “You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination, in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10 Miler!” Thanks Disney, I was already both scared and excited for this.

2014 Tower of Terror 10 Miler

On one hand, I was really looking forward to it because my training had been solid and it would be a good test of my fitness. It is such a fun race; probably my favorite Disney race. But on the other hand, I was extra nervous about racing. Would this trigger my racing addiction? Would I revert back to the bad habit of over racing? I am happy to report that as of two months post-race, it has not. I have kept my racing calendar from filling up. I am staying focused on training properly and only racing when it fits in with my goals.

I think much of that success is due to the amazing time I had at the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I hadn’t raced in 11 weeks so I could only rely on my marathon training paces to guide me. I started conservatively but quickly sped up because I felt so comfortable. A little before halfway I knew I could really race it. I ended up running negative splits, finishing a little over a minute off my PR that was set 12 years ago. I was the 5th overall female and Masters Winner.

Meagan & me in front of the Tower of Terror after we both had awesome races!

I am not sure if my addiction is racing, adrenalin, competition, or some combination, but let’s just say that my competitiveness does seem to carry over to other areas like Toy Story Mania (the best game/ride in all the Disney parks). Perhaps moving into the Masters category has helped me mature as a runner because I definitely learn from my mistakes and train a lot smarter. It took one great race preceded by many weeks of patience, listening to my body, and good training in addition to some serious willpower to stop over racing.

Masters award arrived in the mail a few weeks after the race.

Tower of Terror 10 Miler Results

Running Journal – January 2015 – Page 3

Running Journal

The Reluctant Race Director

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I never wanted to be a race director.  But, as head cross country coach at Manatee High School, it came with the job.  The Canes Cross Country Classic 5K is held every year on Labor Day and it serves as our cross country team’s main fundraiser.  When I first started coaching back in 2003 it also included a one mile fun run/walk which I changed to a 1K a few years ago in the hope that it would attract more families and younger runners in our goal to fight childhood obesity.  The 5K course gives the participants a unique experience in that it runs over our home cross country course and usually features tons of high school competitors in the field.

Start of the 22nd Annual Canes Cross Country Classic 5K

This past Labor Day was our 22nd Annual Canes Classic and my 11th year as race director.  Every year I state that my favorite day of the year is the day AFTER Labor Day.  The job of race director is a very challenging one and definitely way more stressful than I ever imagined.  Knowing that the experience of every runner, walker, and volunteer out there rests on me is a huge responsibility.  The one thing I can brag about is that we have the coolest t-shirt designs year after year!

Members of the MHS girls’ XC team showing off the 2014 shirt design

Working as a race director has definitely taught me to appreciate all the work that goes into the races that I compete in even more.  I no longer show up at races expecting things but rather appreciating all that has been done.  It is great idea for all runners and walkers to volunteer at races to develop more of an understanding of what makes a successful event happen.

Directing a race is much like training for a marathon.  You need to have a good plan and start working on it months in advance.  You must be consistent in that work over weeks and months in order to have the greatest success on race day.  If you lack that consistency, like I did for this year’s Canes Classic, you end up stressed out, sleep deprived, and struggling to complete all the tasks at the last minute.  And like with not so consistent marathon training, you may be able to cram in enough work in the last few weeks to get you through race day but you definitely will not do your best.  I thought I had it all covered:  permits, insurance, sponsors, registration, shirts, goody bags, volunteers, all the school paperwork and permissions, security, timing, awards, food and drink, course set up, and clean up.  But I forgot about marketing.  Without a plan, without the consistent work in the previous seven months, this very important item was left undone until it was too late.

While the race went off perfectly, our participation numbers were very low.  With this being our team’s fundraiser, this definitely hurts us.  I own this mistake and vow to improve.  I thoroughly enjoy following a tough marathon training plan and seeing the success on race day.  Now I just need to lay out a Canes Classic race directing plan and follow through with the same resolve.  Maybe the greater success next year will make me less reluctant.

Overall female winner Diana Sitar with me in the background announcing the award winners

Special thank you to Roxanne Britt for taking photos for our team this year!

http://www.CanesClassic.com

This time it was no picnic!

Monday, August 4th, 2014

One of my all-time favorite races is the Picnic Island Adventure Run in Tampa, Florida. It is actually a series of three races that take place once a month on Friday nights in May, June, and July. Hot and humid do not begin to describe the weather at 6:45 p.m. on the small island in Tampa Bay under a cloudless summer sky. So once you’ve accepted the weather factor, you’re ready for the real challenge.

This adventure run is unique and definitely not one of those mud runs or extreme obstacle races where you sign away your life in a waiver. I don’t do dangerous races like that. Picnic Island is challenging, don’t get me wrong, but it is definitely more welcoming to all ages and abilities who are seeking adventure. The obstacles are minor; you crawl under a cargo net on your knees over sand, run through six big, inflated tubes, and then hurdle, jump, walk, or crawl over one hurdle. The rest of the run is on the beach, grassy areas with hills, a couple of very small sections over pavement, and quite a bit through mangroves. Oh the mangroves! You never know what to expect until you get there. This July 18th, high tide was coming in so the water through the mangroves was pretty deep, very warm, and muddy. Yes, a little bit of “ick” factor, especially if you go splashing through like I did and it hits you in the face.

I always sign up for the three race series but this year I was unable to race the May and June races due to my post Boston Marathon rest period and rehabbing an injury. I knew I was not in top shape, but was very excited to race Picnic Island as well as I could. From the gun, I was out of breath and knew I would be. I was just trying to hold on to my spot in the top five overall women as we approached the last section of “non-trails” before the toughest part of the course. I say “non-trails” because they are not trails; they are overgrown areas of vegetation that someone walked through when setting up the course and stomped down a single track area for us to squeeze through. I was almost through this section, which is my least favorite of the course, and I tripped. I had an out of body experience. I saw myself floating down towards the ground, almost as if in slow motion. As soon as my knees hit the rocks at the bottom of the slight downhill I popped up, probably cursed (can’t remember now), and quickly ran off.

I attacked the five or six steep hills that zigzag up and down from the beach because I was so shocked that I fell and a bit embarrassed. But I wasn’t feeling any pain yet so I finished strong and ended up placing third overall and won Masters. Once I hosed off my legs to assess the damage, then the pain kicked in. So this one was no picnic but even now, two weeks after the event, my knees are still scraped, bruised, and recovering but I cannot wait until next summer when I can run all three Picnic Island Adventure Runs!

Exiting the water and heading to the finish line!

 

 

My poor knees!

Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Suncoast Striders started out in 2006 as a club based out of On A Shoestring Inc., the local specialty running store in Bradenton, Florida. They offered an organized walk/run on Monday nights for customers, friends, and family, basically anyone in the community who was interested in walking or running as a way to get in shape. The club was originally named after the store. After a few years the club officers saw a need for a walking and running club that offered more opportunities for walkers and new runners to train and receive coaching advice on a regular basis. The need for a club to help local charities organize fundraiser races also grew. In 2010 the name changed to what it is today:  Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club.

From SuncoastStriders.com: “The mission of the Suncoast Striders is to promote walking and running as a way to achieve a healthy and fit way of life through group training opportunities, community events, and coaching.” The club’s focus has always been on encouraging all ages and all abilities to become more active. Sadly, On A Shoestring Inc. closed April 30, 2013 but the Suncoast Striders have thrived, offering four group training opportunities per week plus numerous social events throughout the year. There is literally something for everyone. They promote walking as an excellent form of exercise when many local clubs focus only on their fast runner members. While the faces in the weekly training groups change from season to season with the weather, work and vacation schedules, time changes, and the different events they train for, the heart of the club is a strong group of individuals striving to make our community a healthier one.

Most recently they awarded their second annual running camp scholarship. This news was featured on Running Journal’s website: http://tinyurl.com/ss14schol. The Suncoast Striders offer incentives for their members through programs like the 1,000 Mile Club / 500 Mile Club and summer group run/walk attendance contest where members are challenged and encouraged to be consistent in their training, track their mileage, and attend more group training sessions. The club hosts a number of social events, including picnics and movie nights.

2014 Scholarship Recipient Sydney Britt of Manatee High and Coach Rae Ann

One of the most memorable moments for the club was when well over a dozen members decided to train together for the inaugural Celebration Marathon and Half Marathon in January of 2014. They spent 18 weeks working together and encouraging each other through some tough training, weather, and dark winter nights. But that is how they all made it to the finish line. For many, it was their first ever marathon or half marathon. At such a small, first year event it felt like the Suncoast Striders owned that finish line. One member even bought mylar blankets for everyone in the club so they could be wrapped up once they crossed the line and have that big marathon finish line experience.

This quote, shared by Suncoast Striders member Laura, describes the club very well: “Running has given me many things but the greatest gift has been the people that it’s brought into my life.” Thoughts from Maggie: “I enjoy being part of the Suncoast Striders because I have met so many wonderful people who want to live a healthy and active life. Also it’s not just about walking/running, but making lifetime friendships and going to social activities together.” Another comment from Laura: “I love the Suncoast Striders because I feel like I am at the bar Cheers where everyone knows your name except we drink Gatorade and water instead of beer! I get a great workout and training but also true friends to run with.” From Katie: “Through The Suncoast Striders Walking/Running Club, I have met a great group of like-minded individuals. Together, we strive to be better than we were yesterday. To me, being a Suncoast Strider is about friendship and consistency.”

Follow the Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club on https://www.facebook.com/SuncoastStriders and https://twitter.com/SuncoastStrider

The Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and USA Track & Field (USATF) club with certified running and walking coaches.  SuncoastStriders.com

 

Suncoast Striders before a Sunday group run/walk

Listening at the Midnight Run

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

After several weeks of physical therapy, cross training, and not running, I was cleared to start running again. I followed my physical therapist’s advice and literally started with five minutes of running and only increased by two minutes each day. My hamstring and piriformis were still a little painful and tight but definitely better than before I began the physical therapy and what seemed like a never ending rest period. Perhaps I was overly cautious, but I didn’t want to rush back and have another set-back.

After many weeks of doing more walking than running plus my half-hearted attempt at cross training, I soon found myself heading to Dunedin, Florida in a rain storm for the July Fourth Midnight 10K Run that I had signed up for months ago. As an over racer (recovering) I tend to sign up for races very early when they catch my interest. I was excited about the overnight trip and racing at 12:15 a.m. with friends from my S2 Timing racing team and fellow Suncoast Striders but not very excited about racing ten kilometers. I purposely did not bring my racing flats or “lucky” bracelet and earring that indicate (to myself at least) that I am in race mode.

I first discovered the phrase “listen to your body” when I read the many incredible books by George Sheehan, M.D. Since then it has become a regular part of my coaching philosophy. It is so simple, yet so difficult to do. Sometimes we may hear our bodies telling us that something is not quite right but do we really listen? That is the big revelation in my life recently – learning to really listen. I have realized that I cannot over race and get away with it anymore. Okay body, I’m listening!

At the Midnight 10K Run I had no race plan as far as goal time or pace. Coming back from this injury I decided not to put any pressure on myself. My friend Meagan was really surprised because she has seen me on a “normal” race day and I was definitely not in race mode that night. But I was not going to utter anything pace specific before that starting gun went off. I started my GPS and went out at a somewhat comfortable pace and didn’t even look at the Garmin the entire 6.2 miles. Meagan caught up to me after about a mile or two and thought that something was wrong since she is not normally so close to me during races. I felt a little surge of competitiveness but kept my effort in that somewhat comfortable range. After the turn around she caught up to me again and was about to pass me with about two miles to go. I knew there was no way I could stay with her. I encouraged her to chase down a couple of female runners that were ahead of us. She said that she couldn’t catch them and I yelled back that she could!

And she did. One of them passed her back in the last 400 meters but she still had an amazing race. She ran a new 10K PR, which is not easy to do in the hot, humid Florida summer at midnight, ran negative splits, and took second in her age group. Our other Suncoast Strider and S2 Timing teammate, Diana, won overall female. I was so proud of them and so happy for them! I truly was. I didn’t care about my time or place. I did end up placing fourth in my age group but was way more excited about celebrating their success and the fact that I really listened to my body and ran within its limits that night.

Team S2 Timing at the 2014 Midnight 10K

[Originally featured in August 2014 Running Journal]

Grateful

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When training and racing are going well, it is easy to start to take it all for granted. I have been running and racing since 1986 when I began a run/walk program to earn a fitness badge in Girl Scouts and then joined the varsity cross country team later that fall when I entered seventh grade at our junior-senior high school. I have had my share of injuries over the years, especially in college where I missed more competitive seasons than I raced. Since college I have been self-coached, which has been quite the learning experience. I have had a lot fewer injuries but I still make mistakes despite all of my trial and error, coaching education, and just “knowing better!”

In February while racing the Gasparilla 8K in Tampa, I felt a weird painful twinge in my left thigh. It hit me about halfway through the race and would not let up no matter how I changed my stride, sped up, or slowed down. I was fortunate to be able to finish and won the Masters division. I was definitely concerned about the pain but with only eight weeks to Boston, I could not afford any time off. I continued training and racing and racing and racing. Confession: I raced way too much this spring. With over ten years of coaching experience and 28 years of training and racing experience, I should know better. Yet here I am making this major rookie mistake. I think I have become a race adrenaline junkie.

I made it through the eight weeks of training with consistent hamstring pain which also hurt quite a bit during the Boston Marathon. After Boston I took five days of complete rest before the DeSoto 5K in Bradenton that Saturday night. I had committed to run it for my racing team, S2 Timing, and I had also challenged my track team that if any of them beat me, I would treat them to frozen yogurt but if I beat them, they would treat me. They definitely had the advantage since I was just five days off a marathon. I was hesitant to race but decided to just go out comfortably and not push that hamstring at all. I ended up running negative splits, finishing second female, and winning Masters. And let’s just say that I am getting treated to frozen yogurt sometime soon! Two of my track girls set new personal bests that night, which was fantastic.

2014 DeSoto 5K with my Track girls

 

S2 Timing Racing Team at DeSoto 5K

I was making excuses for why I won Masters – it was a very small race, my time was not that great compared to what I usually run, etc. I took another week off from running to rest that hamstring but had another race commitment the following Saturday with the S2 Timing racing team (which I am incredibly grateful for!). For the Miles for Moffitt 8K in Tampa, I had the same mentality going in; I would go out comfortably and let the hamstring pain dictate my pace. I finished sixth female, second Masters, and just missed winning Masters by six seconds! I think my friend Meagan’s comment was “you’re ridiculous” or something like that.

With Meagan after the DeSoto 5K

I started making excuses again saying things like I only placed because I’m over 40 now, and then she stopped me. I should not make excuses for how or why I placed in these races. I should be thankful that I have been able to run all these years. I should be grateful that despite the hamstring injury and missing two weeks of training, I was able to run these two races and place in them. I am grateful for all of my amazing friends who have come into my life as a result of running, so thankful for the incredible support of my husband and family over the years, and grateful for all of the athletes I coach. I just need to remember to be grateful for the fact that I must have some running in my genetic code and that I am ABLE to train and race at the level I do. Running is a gift.

#runhappy

 

Close to Home

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

I remember receiving all kinds of text messages, phone calls, and facebook messages last year asking if I was in Boston.  Thankfully I was not.  I could not imagine being there during the bombings.  My heart went out to everyone there and continues to go out to everyone it affected, especially those who were physically or emotionally hurt.  I wasn’t there physically, but it still hit close to home.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Yankee as a person from New England.  I am most definitely a Yankee.  I grew up in Monson, Massachusetts (about an hour west of Boston) where I spent the first 22 years of my life.  We had Patriot’s Day (Marathon Monday) off from school and always watched the Boston Marathon on television.  My dream as I became a runner at age 11 was to run it one day.  I have run it five times so far in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2011, and 2014.

After last year’s bombings, I wanted to be part of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon more than ever.  Luckily I had already run a fast enough qualifying time in January 2013 to register and make the cut.  My husband and I decided to make Boston our vacation this year and spent almost a week enjoying the true history of our great nation that can only be found in New England.  Somehow the whole experience, despite it being my fifth time there, seemed more exciting and special than ever before.  Maybe it was the fight, the spirit, and the determination to show that we were one year stronger.  It was literally all around us.

We spent four hours at the expo.  We have never spent so much time at an expo before but there were so many amazing people to meet, including Dick & Rick Hoyt, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, and one of my favorites “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers.

Boston Marathon Expo with Deena

 

At the expo with “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers

 

Team Hoyt

 

The weather was pretty cold for this Yankee who has lived in Florida since 1995, but race day warmed up to a near perfect 60 degrees and sunny.  Everything was pretty much perfect the whole trip.  Even my first half splits were near perfect; sadly, a little too perfect on those down hills.  I did try to hold back and stay relaxed like you need to that first half.  I had a pretty strong emotional moment in the first three or four miles when we ran by a large crowd outside a bar screaming, holding signs, and blaring music.  When I reached half way, I knew my legs were toast and this would not be a good second half.  Despite how annihilated my legs were with 13 miles to go, I never even considered dropping out.  I knew I had to finish and be part of the 36,000 who were there to show that we were one year stronger.  I am a very competitive runner so it was quite the epiphany for me to stop caring about my finish time or mile splits and push through the pain for something so much bigger than myself.

Running down Boylston to the finish

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  Words cannot adequately describe the feeling you get when you turn left on Boylston and can see the finish line.  You cannot hear your own thoughts.  I almost had tears running that last stretch to the finish.  I am definitely not happy with my finish time, but I was incredibly happy to have finished Boston Strong.  This city, this marathon truly inspired me.

Exhausted in the Public Garden after the finish

Space Coast Marathon: Mission Columbia

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Second marathon in my mission to join Marathon Maniacs. With an 18 miler one week ago, a 30K trail race two weeks ago, and a marathon three weeks ago, I knew trying to race Space Coast Marathon all out would not be wise. On top of that, I was sick for the past couple of weeks and my goal marathon is about eight weeks away: Inaugural Celebration Marathon. To join Marathon Maniacs, the minimum to become a member is to complete three marathons within 90 days.

My plan for Space Coast was to run comfortably around 8:40-8:45 pace to start then speed up and run negative splits. It has been so long since I have run negative splits and been able to finish strong in a marathon, I needed to not only remind myself but almost relearn how to pace myself early, hold back despite feeling good, and stick to a race plan. I was tempted by the 3:40:00 pace group and the 3:45:00 pace group. I could join the group and just hold on letting them do the pace work. But as a bit of a loner I decided to run my own race. I started out comfortably, letting the 3:40:00 pace group go by me. My Boston Qualifying (BQ) time is 3:45:00 now that I moved up to the 40-44 age group. In my mind I thought it would be nice if I ran a BQ and was able to stick to my race plan. At times during the first half I could hear the 3:45:00 group talking behind me but luckily they stayed behind me.

The first half of the race was comfortable which ended up being 8:30-8:40 pace and with the few rolling hills I clocked a few miles around 8:16-8:29 thanks to those down hills! I focused on hydrating, taking Gu every 45:00 or so, running comfortably, and happily watching my Garmin click off a nicely paced first half. At the halfway point we pass by the start/finish area so there are bigger crowds. The cheering and excitement of this area was where I picked it up too soon when I ran this race in 2011. Throughout the race I kept smiling and reminding myself of what I was trying to accomplish – a strategically paced race with negative splits. Once I hit mile 16 and then 18 I reminded myself again to stick with the pace. I told myself that once I reached mile 20 at the turn around I could let loose. I liked the fact that this was an out and back course because I was able to count all the women who were ahead of me by the time I reached mile 20. Once I started on the way back, my goal was to pass as many of them as possible.

There was a fairly strong head wind on the way back (last 6 miles) so I just focused on my targets ahead and did not worry about pace. I was having fun! I was tired but still felt strong and despite looking at my Garmin less and less I knew I was running faster. I must have passed at least 10-15 female marathoners in the last six miles. It was not always easy to tell because there were half marathoners on the course and some other women who were just out for a trainng run too. I don’t know what all my splits were towards the end but mile 24 was 7:56 and mile 25 and 26 were 8:05. I definitely ran negative splits, finished strong, ran a BQ 3:40:39, finished 4th in my age group and 21st overall female. I did not win anything or run a PR (technically it is a masters PR but I won’t go into that right now). I was so happy walking around the post race party area with my husband because I successfully executed my race plan, finished strong, and ran negative splits. Victory can have so many meanings.

I would definitely say the Space Coast Marathon was a mission accomplished!

2013 Space Coast Marathon

 

X-Country 30K

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year!  When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.

The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37.  Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet.  The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida.  There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish.  Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this.  It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN.  I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner.  I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record.  I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake.  We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.  I should have known the course.  I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!

2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records.  I was very excited about this!  I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line.  A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts.  But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race.  The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles.  Not sure if the heat got to her or something else.  I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days:  “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.”  Source:  Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter

As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish.  All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!”  They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year!  Ha ha!

This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails.  I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on.  I am just very glad I knew the course this year.  TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run.  Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.

IMG_9555

Uncharted

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel.  Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?

Talk about uncharted territory!  26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run.  So I did some research on how to train for ultras.  I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper.  I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.

Consistency is key.  That’s probably the most important tip I can offer.  And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone.  Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life.  But be consistent.

In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts.  I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs.  This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race.  But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts.  Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back.  So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle.  I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.

I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times.  I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring.  I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.

Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned.  But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.

But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested.  I had some of my best sleep the week before the race.  I have never felt so well prepared before.


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