"The ultimate goal and the most satisfying reward is not how fast a runner goes but how well a runner manages his or her struggles to find the finish." - Dave Bursler in his Bull Run Run 50 race report.
I'm a little concerned that I don't have the LONG miles in my legs that I need to train properly for Badwater. My last 100 miler was Western States in June 2005, so it'll be more than three years that I've done that distance by the time Badwater rolls around. As any veteran ultrarunner knows, the legs and body have memory and remember the demands of the 100-mile distance even if you haven't gone that far in a while. BUT, a "while" is what, maybe 6 months? I don't know...but it's certainly NOT 2 years!
Thing is, I'm haven't even run 50 miles since June 2005. In fact, my longest runs since then have been a couple of marathon distances, 3 50k's and last week's 43-mile DNF at the Mad City 100k. That's it! That's no ultrarunner "base"! Certainly not base enough that I can do an interim 100-miler for "training" for my 135-mile Badwater race on July 23rd. No, I will have to forgo a 100 miler between now and then. That would only put me at risk for injury before my goal race. So, what's a debunked ultrarunner who's running Badwater in July to do??
Answer: Make the best of what you've got.
OK. I can do that.
So, I need to do some longer runs with limited time in my schedule. They must be training runs, not racing runs.
I've started to search for races when I have time (like usually between midnight and 2 am.) Problem is, so many of my weekends are booked up the next few months. And some that are open must be used for work. My partner is retiring the end of April and it is his wife who does our bookkeeping....so now, I must learn to do it myself! It's not that I don't WANT to do it. I think it would actually be fun. I like to learn new things. BUT, what I CAN'T do is spare the TIME for it. There are just 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. If there were 8 or 9, I could swing it. But then there's reality.
So, I need some runs, preferrably on roads to save the ankle. That leaves marathons and just a few other ultras that do not fit into my complicated schedule.
So, I decided to look into the Bishop 50 on May 19th. It looks like a tough 50 miler based on course record and average finishing times. The sandy surface must play a role in that. It was Dee Dee Grafius from Independence, CA who told me about the race. Of course, I had heard of it, but it wasn't until the day after the Mad City 100k that the fear of the ultrarunning gods was instilled in me. She thought it'd be a good race for me. It is trail but it supposedly is non-technical. The sand could be a problem though. It is usually hot, so that'll be good. And I think I can make it as far as my schedule works.
So, maybe I'll do that one.
Still, I need MORE.
Then my friends Dennis and Gunhild reminded me about the Spokane River Run 50k this weekend. I was thinking about going to the Wenatchee Marathon or Mt. Si 50k or 50 miler and forgot about this one. Of course, it's on a fairly rocky and rooty trail, so I hadn't given it any thought till this week. So, I decided that I WOULD do this one. I mean, how often can you roll out of your own bed and be at the start of an ultramarathon in just a few miles? Trail or not, I can't pass it up. I will just have to remember that it's BADWATER that I am running towards, not this race in and of itself. I must be careful. No trail injuries! That's the number one goal. Number two goal is to have fun. Number three is to finish. Number 4 is to finish feeling strong and recover easily so that I can resume training a few days after the race.
I've also thought about going to Death Valley for some of my own training runs. I decided against the DV Training Camp, which is in a couple of weeks. It sounds great, but I'm already booked with patients during that week. I also want to spend more time running the course, maybe doing 100 miles of it over 4 days or something like that. I asked Dave Remington - my friend and other Spokanite who is running Badwater this year (YES! His name is really DAVE!) if he'd go with me for some training, and it sounds like he is all over that. Maybe Memorial Day weekend. That seems to work, though I'd have to renege on the Western States Training Runs, where I was asked to give a talk. But again, there are only so many hours, days, and weekends available in the next few months and I MUST make them work best to my advantage. I do a lot of "stuff" and am really not too selfish when it comes to my running. I always feel a little guilty when I am. But this time, I realize that if I'm NOT a little selfish here, I stand a very good chance of blowing my Badwater race. I can't let that happen for me and my awesome crew.
So, here's the tentative plan:
*Spokane River Run 50k this Sunday, April 22.
*The Sunflower Iron Double, May 5th, a 43 mile gorgeous run from Mazama to Twisp. Yes, it's trail, but again, I MUST go back. Had such an absolute blast in 2004 (pictures here).
*Bishop High Sierra 50 Miler on May 19th.
*Our own Death Valley training runs over Memorial Day weekend (after which I would fly direct to New Orleans for my favorite 5-day ACSM conference, where I am a symposium presenter for "Research and Clinical Medicine of the Toughest Ultraendurance Runs" on May 30th.)
I am very open to suggestions for other races, especially for flat trails or roads, from the marathon to 100k distance.