Sunday, February 20, 2011

2/20/11: 50 Mile Training Run

Yesterday was my longest training run before the NJ 100. The plan was to run 50 miles on trails and bike paths around DC, much of which would consist of doing a 21 mile loop twice.

Melissa Chen (college friend) was also in town and doing her last long run before the Napa Marathon. My plan was to start running at 4am, meet her after running about 25 miles, run 22 miles with her, and then drag myself home for the last 3 miles. Certainly a questionable plan.

I staggered outside a bit after 4am, and it was an extremely windy day (gusts up to 50 mph). Unfortunately my legs also felt pretty tired from the start. I had taken the previous 2 days easy, but I think all the hard training had caught up with me.

I trudged along in the wind and the dark and tried to stay relaxed. The nice thing was that there was an amazingly bright full moon. It was so bright that I almost didn't need my headlamp.

My stomach had been going south for a while, my legs were totally dead, and I was generally in very tough shape around mile 20. I figured that when I saw Chen at mile 25 I'd have to tell her to go ahead without me. Over the next 5 miles, my stomach settled down though, and my legs started to feel a little bit better.

Then at mile 25 ... Chen! I think just having some company really boosted my spirits. My stomach was back to 100%, and my legs actually felt a bit better. I figured I'd run 5 or maybe 10 miles with Melissa and see how it went. If I needed to, I could cut the loop off short.

I kept on feeling better and was running sub 9 minute miles and feeling very comfortable. This was actually faster than the just over 9 minute miles I ran for the first 25. I decided to try to go for the full 50 miles. I figured there would be a good chance that I'd blow up, but I've always been pretty good at making bad decisions when it comes to running.

We kept on clicking off miles and making our way around the loop that went up around Bethesda. It was great to have some company and really helped distract me. At mile 35, I actually felt MUCH better than I did at mile 20. Distance running is a strange thing, but I was just happy to be feeling good.

Before too long, I was 40 miles in and still feeling decent. My legs were very tired, but I knew that I would make it to the end. Each mile got tougher and tougher, and by mile 45 I was in a world of hurt. But hey, what's another 5 miles?

Chen peeled off at mile 47. I was really hurting at this point and think I may have scared people I passed running through Georgetown, but I eventually made it home.

I finished a bit under 7 hours and 50 minutes, which made it a 50 mile PR for me by just a few minutes. Several things made me super excited by this run:
  • First off that I ran 50 miles. This was tied for my 4th longest run ever (Vermont 100, 68 miles at the TRT 100, 53 miles at Laurel Highlands, and tied with the JFK 50).
  • My legs were tired from the start, but I managed to keep on pushing for 50 miles, even when I really wanted to stop after 20 miles.
  • My stomach was not good but came back and felt great through the end of the run. I was able to get down a lot of food and dropped only 2 pounds during the run.
  • Got more used to running very early. I think part of why I struggled was the 4am start, and I'll have to face the same thing with the 4am start at the NJ 100.
  • Basically ran 2 big loops, which helped prepare mentally for 25 mile loops at the NJ 100.

I want to throw out a huge thanks to Chen. If it wasn't for her, I would have cut the run short at 30 miles and would not be as well prepared for the NJ 100. It was also really great to have some company at there. Chen, good luck at Napa!

I did end up tweaking my knee on the run, but I think it will be fine if I'm careful with it. I do have a bit of serious running left to do (including the Seneca Greenway 50K on March 4th), but the hardest training is done. Now I just need to stay sharp and make sure I'm rested for the big day!


Chen said...

Throwin' that shout-out right back at ya. Whenever I felt like I wasn't going to make it (which was the majority of the run), I thought about the fact that you were 25 miles ahead of me and that I just needed to suck it up. Good luck in Jersey, can't wait to hear how it goes!

Will said...

Thanks! Now go kick ass in Napa! And drink a bunch of wine :)