"Only those who risk failing greatly can ever succeed greatly." –RFK
Monday, September 08, 2008
Uncle Joe's 50k - Newport, WA
I've been trying to train better for the upcoming Spartathlon. Truth is, I know very little about how I should be training. I know only that I do not run enough miles, and I would be a better runner if I did. I have never limited my average weekly miles to 25 because I think that's all the training I need for running ultras. Rather, there is only so much time in a day and much of my time is taken by other responsibilities. So, attempting to increase mileage in the past has been difficult and sometimes impossible unless I were to sacrifice something else. Since most of my time is filled with work, my dogs (one of whom does not run with me), and other ordinary daily chores... and more recently, buying a new home and moving .... the only way I can find more time to run is to cut back on my sleep. Now, that wouldn't be all that bad a deal if it weren't for the fact that I am chronically sleep deprived to begin with.
I knew I had to train harder for the Spartathlon. Much of my Badwater training was spent in the sauna for the extreme heat conditions. While the Spartathlon weather gets up there too (in the 90's), the "extreme" that I must overcome there are the early cut-offs in the race. You see, I'm not a fast runner; I can just run slow for a long time with little decline in my pace. I never start with the front runners. I let them go and, as long as we don't run out of the course first, I can often catch up to at least the mid-packers, and even pass quite a few people if the course is long enough. That's just because I tend to be able to keep fairly steady through the miles.
BUT, at the Spartathlon, I must employ an entirely new strategy. I must run the first 1/3 of the race fairly quickly (for me) in order to exceed the cutoffs. Then, I guess I'll just hang on for as long as I can after that until the finish - I hope. I really hope I don't burn out this way. But it's gotta be done.
So, I've trained with more miles in the past 7 weeks (yep, that's all!). I moved easily from 25 mpw and tried to keep 60-70 mpw for about 4 weeks. I found I couldn't maintain it. I grew way fatigued -- not from the miles but because the only way I could get the miles in was to cut back on sleep, which was already chronically lacking. So after getting pretty beat up, I cut back to one 40 week and then hung out around 50 or so for the next couple of weeks.
This past week I put in much less than ideal miles (because I moved), yet I looked forward to this past Saturday's local Uncle Joe's 50k. My goals were 1) to not sprain my ankle on the trail, and 2) to run a medium-hard effort. I had no time goal in mind.
I felt strong from the start. The course is very hilly with about 5 early miles of fabulous soft single track trails followed by forest service roads with plenty of big and small rocks. I am pleased with my run there for several reasons: 1) I didn't injure myself (though my chronic hamstring tendinitis flared afterward as usual), 2) I felt strong on the uphills, 3) I really felt like I was moving much slower than I actually was; the effort was significantly less, and 4) I had lots of fun and experienced joy on the course the whole way.
So, that's the training effect! Wow. Go figure. I didn't believe that I would actually get stronger. So, it seems humorous to me: you put in the miles, you get stronger, the body adapts. :)
I do think I was overtraining for a while. But whether or not it was truly "overtraining" can be debated. It depends on how you define it. In the end, it really doesn't matter all that much. Truth is, sometimes we just have to cut back on the mileage in order to not burn out. There is only so much we can do, and how much we can get out of our training miles absolutely depends on how we are able to spend the remaining hours of the day. I love my job; I choose to do it well so I spend time at work. It can take a lot out of me, so much that I am too fatigued to run. But, that's my choice. I toyed with the limits of my weekly mileage and found the level I am able to do while keeping up with my life responsibilities. It's nice to have stretched and discovered where that balance lays.
Now.....the taper! Just how in the heck does one taper!?!?
Congrats to Dan and Francie on their wins. It was great to see so many friends, many of whom, like Tony P. and Van P., who have been running back to back ultras and marathons like maniacs!. Here are the results the race:
Uncle Joe 50 KM Ultramarathon September 8, 2008 Finishers
Place - Name - Age - Hometown - Finish time
1 Daniel Salazar 42 Tacoma, WA 4:10:37 2 Francie Hankins 44 Spokane, WA 4:52:34 3 Tim Englund 42 Ellensburg, WA 4:57:59 4 Lisa Bliss 40 Spokane, WA 5:00:36 5 Bob Peregoy 51 Spokane Valley, WA 5:01:23 6 Tony Phillippi 47 Tacoma, WA 5:04:25 7 Robert Towne 56 Spokane Valley, WA 5:09:22 8 Van Phan 37 Maple Valley, WA 5:16:14 9 Larry Carroll 68 Spokane, WA 5:26:47 10 Mike Haldeman 37 Coeur d’Alene, ID 5:26:53 11 Judy Carluccio 41 Liberty Lake, WA 5:27:21 12 Joe Richie 29 Seattle, WA 5:39:58 13 Kurt Lauer 46 Seattle, WA 5:44:26 14 Dennis Clute 55 Spokane, WA 5:51:33 15 James Derby 43 Spokane, WA 5:51:34 16 David Bliss 46 Spokane, WA 5:52:23 17 Lorie Alexander 49 Vernon, BC 5:53:48 18 Shirley Cornelius 48 Colfax, WA 6:02:42 19 Barry Hopkins 55 Castelgar, BC 6:06:39 20 Bill Greene 64 Spokane, WA 6:08:48 21 Deana Ashby 37 Spokane, WA 6:08:25 22 Leslie Miller 28 Newcastle, WA 6:09:33 23 Ken Briggs 57 Spokane, WA 6:14:33 24 Max Welker 66 Tacoma, WA 6:15:31 25 Brian Kathol 49 Calgary, AB 6:24:35 26 Matt Glew 29 Newcastle, WA 6:24:44 27 Stuart White 61 Great Falls, WA 6:26:34 28 Francine Weigeldt 51 Rossland, BC 6:31:59 29 Barb Bumann 54 Spokane, WA 6:35:02 30 Mary Ann Clute 55 Spokane, WA 6:35:39 31 Danielle Byres 40 Rossland, BC 6:52:09 32 Stewart Daroux 47 Rossland, BC 6:52:09 33 Sharon Carroll 65 Spokane, WA 7:21:57 34 D. Paul Piplani 61 Phoeniz, AZ 7:28:34 35 Dean Bays 47 Spokane Valley, WA 7:48:55 36 Deanna Brock 46 Caldwell, ID 7:56:23 Rachel Toor 46 Spokane, WA DNF
I am an ultra runner, physician and have been medical director of some of the toughest ultras. I tend to be a mover and a shaker and louder than my size suggests. However, my Gemini twin is gentler and contemplative, an artist, a writer, and a poet. I am a dog lover, a believer in souls, and have a special affinity for those who struggle because I have been there.
This is my crazy lovable huggable Weimaraner, Steely Dan. I call him Steely. He left us in January of this year at only 6 years from lymphoma that did not respond to chemotherapy treatments. Steely was a total goof. He loved trail running, road running, treadmill running, new experiences, making eye contact, sleeping on his back, me, kids, and liver treats. He was Zappa's best friend. We miss him dearly.
This is Stella. A rescue from the shelter. She's about 6 months old and a Border Collie. She is a joyous bundle of energy and curiosity and now also Zappa best friend. She will make a nice running partner when she grows up.
This is the now the big brother of my family - a rescued Greyhound. His name is Frank Zappa. I call him Zappa. He's 7 years old and has learned all about life beyond the track and crate from Steely when he was with us. It was very rewarding to watch his personality bloom as he settled into the family. And yes, he runs like the wind!
This is Natasha, my dearest friend. She was with me through college, medical school, residency, and she moved with me from Chicago to Spokane several years ago. She was my best running partner for 10 years. My sweet Natasha died from bone cancer in 2006. I miss her still. I hung a windchimes over the deck outside. When it chimes, I smile and think she has finally -- wherever she is now -- caught a squirrel!