Sunday, May 25, 2008

5/25/08 Training run at Bull Run

On Saturday, I woke up early and headed out to Bull Run to do a training run for Vermont. Bull Run isn’t my favorite trail in the area, as it isn’t quite as scenic as some of the other trails in the area, particularly the trails out in the Shenandoahs. However, it is very convenient to get to and has some fairly challenging terrain that makes for good training. The goal was to run the whole trail out and back, which would total 36 miles. This would be my longest run ever aside from the JFK 50 in last fall.

I woke up at 6 and was on the trail by about 7. It was a perfect day for running. It was about 50 degrees when I started and 70 degrees when I finished. I was running with my Nathan 020 pack filled with water and a Nathan handheld bottle filled with Gatorade. I brought along a bunch of food and Ensure and was hoping to take in about 2,000 calories on the run. I’ve had a hard time getting in calories while running before, so this would be a good test of that before Vermont.

I felt pretty good for most of the run. Bull Run is fairly hilly, but I’d run out in the Massanutten Mountains the week before, so the hills didn’t seem so bad. I felt pretty strong until mile 18 or so. I was bonking and got worried because it was way too early in the run for things to be going downhill. The only thing I could think of was that I was a bit low on salt, so I took an extra Succeed and started drinking more Gatorade (I’d been drinking mostly water up to this point).

I started feeling a lot better a few miles later and didn’t bonk again for the rest of the run. I did run out of water and Gatorade with about 5 miles left, though. I’d brought about 110 ounces of fluid with me, which is way more than I usually drink, so I was surprised that I ran out. It was a good sign though that I was able to drink a lot throughout the run. Because I’d been hydrating well up to that point, I was fine for the last 5 miles.

I ended up getting lost a few times when I accidentally took the detours for horses, so I think the run ended up being somewhere around 38 miles. I covered almost 7,000 feet of elevation gain (calculated based on reading that the Bull Run 50 race has 9,000 feet of gain) and finished up the run in 6:30 (just over 10 minute miles).

I was definitely slowing down toward the end and hiking more of the hills, but I still felt really strong at the finish. I definitely could have gone for a while longer (though I would certainly have backed off the 10 minute mile pace). All in all, this was a great training run for Vermont and was definitely encourage. I’m planning two more big training runs of 40+ miles before Vermont, and hopefully they’ll go as well as this one did!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5/20/08 The 100 mile week

This week was something of a milestone for my running. It was my first 100 mile training week!

Saturday: 24 miles
Sunday : 30 miles
Monday: 9 miles
Tuesday: 13 miles
Wednesday 11 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 8 miles

My mileage has been on an upward trajectory for a while now. When I was running 5Ks, I’d built up to 50 mile weeks. When I started running marathons, my mileage peaked closer to 80 miles. I bumped it up to 90 miles when I trained for the JFK 50.

A lot of people, runners included, think the mileage I run is kind of crazy. Well, they’re probably right about that, but it does seem to work for me.

When I was training for marathons, I found that I had a really hard time running 80 mile weeks and also incorporating speed workouts, tempo runs, and harder long runs. I pretty much got injured every time I trained for a marathon.

What I’ve found since when training for ultras is that I can handle 90 – 100 a week as long as I cut back on the hard, fast runs. The beauty of ultramarathons is that you don’t need a whole lot of fast running in your training. The one thing I do try to focus a lot on is hill workouts. While I try to do them frequently, I’ll run them faster or slower depending on how I feel. I’ll also occasionally throw in some speedwork if my legs feel fresh and I feel motivated.

Basically it seems that I can handle high mileage training as long as I’m smart and listen to my body. I’m a firm believer that different things work for different people, and this seems to be what works for me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5/15/08 My First Post

Well, this is officially the first entry in my blog. For starters, credit for the title goes out to Danny Brome. Danny Brome loves the Boss. Danny Brome also loves streaking and Chinese Downhill, but those are different stories.

Now I will answer two questions you may have at this point.

1) Who am I?

I’m 24 years old and live in Arlington, VA. I graduated from college in 2005 and moved down with my girlfriend (we went to school together in New Jersey near where I grew up). We got engaged last fall and are getting married in September.

I’m a consultant with a small company called APT. I really love my job, but it’s not the kind of thing that sounds really exciting, so I won’t bore anyone with any more details.

2) Why do I like running so much?

Well, I hated running for most of my life. I was also really bad at it. Running a mile in gym class was a terrible, painful experience for me.

Sometime during sophomore year in college, my girlfriend convinced me to go on a run with her. She kicked my ass. I don’t know if it’s my general competitiveness or specifically getting beaten by my girlfriend, but it seemed to be a powerful enough motivator to get me running. I had been lifting weights every day for years but started layering in 2 miles runs a few times a week after lifting. I basically ran just enough to get faster than my girlfriend (yeah, I was a real gentleman).

Well at the end of sophomore year I just got tired of lifting. My dad was a professional weightlifter, so I always tried to follow in his footsteps. I just wasn’t built for it, though. I basically said screw the lifting and upped the running to 5 days a week with my distances getting more towards 5-6 miles.

I lost 30 pounds pretty much immediately and started to actually get respectably fast (or at least not embarrassingly slow). I started running road races in the fall of 2004 and really loved it.

My Type A personality really started kicking in, and my training got very regimented. Speed workouts, long runs, tempo runs, all that fun stuff. I got my 5K time down to 18:33. Not crazy fast, but I was really happy given that my first 5K was 21:07.

Next I started pushing the distance. I started running marathons, and my first two did not exactly go smoothly. I finally got it right on the third try in 2006 and ran a 3:04 at Philadelphia. After following it up with a 1:23 half marathon, I’d again gotten to the point where I was happy with my times.

What would I do next? Go longer of course! In the fall of 2007 I took my first shot at an ultramarathon, the JFK 50. I started training more on trails and really loved it. JFK went really well (7:51), and I was hooked on trail running and ultras.

Now I’m gearing up for my first 100 on July 19th and getting really excited for it. More to come about that soon.