45 Miles

Motivation-November-20A week from Tuesday I face my biggest physical challenge to date, 45 miles. If it were not for taking control of my health I would never have consider this idea an option. Since achieving my goals I have had a new found energy to “do epic shit.” It started in 2013 when I completed my first half marathon in 1:58. In April this year I had the itch and completed my first 50K (31.7 miles) in 8:53. I walked around for 4 weeks on a runner’s high desiring to run longer, go further.

Based on a post by Mark Rowlands from the Trail and Ultra Running group on Facebook, I read about a challenge to run your age on your birthday. I thought about this for a moment…hmm, 45 years old. Looking back on the 50K and knowing how I felt the last 2 miles, could I accomplish another 13.3 miles for a total of 45 miles? I decided to look into the possibilities of pushing my body yet again.

While my training hasn’t been up to par recently due to other priorities, on November 11 I will be slipping on the Luna Sandals and looking to run farther than I ever have. I spent time reading up on 50 mile races, which I will be participating in for the first time next April (AR50mile.com). Originally I was planning on using trails at Contra Loma Regional Park. Unfortunately, the parking lot I wanted to use in order to stage my aid station never seems to be open, so I abandoned that course.

I wanted to keep the run to a 2-3 mile loop on relatively flat ground on trails. I started running during my son’s soccer practice at a Creekside Park in Oakley, each loop was only a quarter mile, but offered some things a trail wouldn’t. Looked at some of the local school for a bit longer loop but nothing fit the bill.

Without having to drag out all sorts of equipment and be gone probably 10-11 hours acting crazy (well, running) I started looking at the local trails around the house. Unfortunately none of them are dirt trails but I finally conceded the fact I would not be able to have a trail close to home, on dirt.

45milerunWhat I did come up with after some searching and mapping out routes was a 3.26 mile loop that would keep me close to home and take my by my house every 1.63 miles. This will allow me to use my house as an aid station and I won’t need others to help me along the way or have food and drinks ready to give me when I stop by. It also gives me access to a restroom, something that I only used once when I ran my 50K. The other nice feature, if I get tired and DNF, then it’s a short walk home and I reevaluate where the failure occurred.

I look forward to this run as it’s relatively flat and I should be able to manage a consistent pace. With that said, 45 is nothing to shake a stick at, it’s going to be tough and challenging. The 50K is the only distance run I can compare with and aid stations were roughly 8 miles apart. The best part is I don’t have to carry a hydration pack or hand held bottles for that matter.

To fuel this run I am planning on Medjool dates, yellow potatoes, boiled and quartered, bananas cut in half and possibly some pinole and chia based snacks from Fuel Your Run courtesy of No Meat Athlete. I have made the hand pies with bean and squash filling as well as iskiate, which is a chia fresca. I have read many comments from other ultra runners and some of the food they fuel themselves which sounds absurd. I am going to try and keep it all natural and not rely on the processed sugars see on the shelves and sponsoring many running events.

The goal, to finish. Times are irrelevant, but many judge endurance by how long or how far. Both will be personal bests WHEN my feet carry me over mile 45. While the AR50 will be more challenging and grueling, I believe I could accomplish this 45 miles run in 9 hours. Again, the goal is to finish, but tying a time to it will provide me something to shoot for. So if you live in Oakley and see that crazy guy running when you leave for you and running when you come home from work, it will be me. Looking forward to the challenge.

45 at 45

justrunNever did I think running would be part of my life. I don’t enter many races, to date I have run a half marathon in 2013, my first ever race and this past April was a 50K. Both were goals I had set for myself to gauge how far I come on my journey since taking control of my health. It’s been amazing to say the least and I am always looking for that next challenge or goal to achieve.

Recently I join a Trailing and Ultra Running (TAUR) group on Facebook. After completing the Diablo Challenge 50K I was on a “runner’s high” for about 4 weeks. All I wanted to do was run, run longer distances and push my body to its limits. Next April I will have that opportunity as I will register for American Rive 50 Mile Endurance Run, which will require me to finish the course in 14 hours. That event is still months away and I will have time to train and ready myself physically and mentally to finish the race before the time limit expires.

Reading another thread on the TAUR group, a 36 year old, male runner named Mark Rowland embarked on his challenge to run your age on your birthday. You can read his results on his birthday run here. That got me thinking. I will be 45 this year and in the best shape of my life. What is preventing me from taking a day and running 45 miles? Depending on the amount of training leading up to November, 12-13 hours would not be out of the question.

I see this as a learning experience, how I will feel after all this running, what sort of mental state will I be in and can I actually finish all 45 miles? Running 31.7 miles was long, but was amazing as I crossed the finish line, arms raised. In some respect this challenge could be easier because of a simple and flat loop I plan on running. No point to point on this run. I would set up my own aid station and use it every 8 miles or so. Currently I am looking at a few options for the course. With any luck I will be able to put together a 2 mile trail loop, but more recently I have been looking at running at one of the local schools, even though the loop would only be .67 miles long (about twice as long as running around a track).

This challenge would set me up for the 50 mile attempt in April. It would allow me to gauge where I am physically and what I need to accomplish mentally in order to prepare myself for a 50 miles or distances beyond.

50K Training

dt50k_google_earth

Diablo Trails Challenge 50K as seen in Google Earth

While 2014 had been off to a running start, I’ve just haven’t found time to provide updates on T6F. It’s just one of those things that seems to fall through the cracks as the days roll into weeks, weeks to months and you realize the site has not been updated for what feels like an eternity! One goal that will be here before I know it is the Diablo Trails Challenge 50K. Thankfully my 5oK training has started and it’s going to be a great adventure!

Following up on the January 11th post, Diablo Trails Challenge 50K, I have been training for this run by running the same trails I will be running come April 19. The best part is just how close the start of the race is to my house, it takes me about 15 minutes to drive to Round Valley Regional Preserve and within 50 feet of the parking lot, the Diablo Trail begins.

I have mapped out all 31 miles on Garmin Connect, as well as in Google Earth. as I will be running with my Garmin Forerunner 210 and have broken the challenge down to four, approximately 8 mile races. Based on what I have mapped and time spent running the first portion of the race, the big climb begins at mile 3.75, where you gain 1487 feet over 2.33 miles. While the challenge won’t get any easier, the second incline happens right out of the first aid station, as you climb 1003 feet over 1.6 miles.

PS – You can download the .kmz file for the Diablo Trails Challenge 50K. Remove the .zip extension and change it to a .kmz and then double click (if you have Google Earth installed).

While this will be the longest distance I have run since taking up the sport last year, much of this race is going to be a mental challenge. Physically, I will be ready to spend some 7 hours running trails, but it’s the mental aspect that could tell your body, “I can’t do this any more.” In order to deal with this challenge, I have started running with music (again!), I find it mind off the silence and occupied with lyrics running through my head. Not quite sure if there is a benefit or not.

Mileage is going to have to continue increasing, as I look towards putting in some 20+ mile runs near the end of this month and will even consider running the entire 31 miles in March. The hills alone are worth the training, even though I have yet to run up some of these steep hills, even walking them, as I have been doing has helped my overall conditioning.

These trail runs haven’t been necessarily about setting records or posting low times. This is a challenge I want to finish. There won’t be many 8:30-9:00 minute miles posted, I do expect a few over the course of 31 miles. I am looking to average about 12:30/mile, obviously that number drops dramatically walking up the steep inclines, but will work out with all the downhill running I will face during in the second half of this race (more so the last 8 miles). Without knowing what the conditions will be like, one can only hope for good running weather; temperature about 59, maybe a thin overcast layer. Lots of rain or high heat is going to be a killer, neither of which I want to face, as I stare at my first 50K.

Diablo Trails Challenge 50K

diablotrailsMark the calendar now. April 19 at 7am begins my first ultra marathon, as I officially signed up today for the challenge and adventure of my life. Just 2 years ago never did I believe I would ever participate in any sort of running event. Now after hundreds of miles, a Tough Mudder event and a half marathon I have started training for a 50K (31 miles).

While it is tagged as a race, I am not out to win or challenge others. This is about me and just how far and hard I can push myself. It’s a mental battle to overcome, endure and survive whatever Mt Diablo throws at us when the race begins. Training has got off to a slow start, as I didn’t do much running leading up to the middle of November and only a few late runs to close out the year in December.

Yet, I am not worried. Not that I have fully committed to run the Diablo Trails Challenge 50K I am in the right mindset. Training will be running 5 days a week, along with core work for the next 16 weeks leading up the start of the race on April 19. Training won’t be easy with hill work on hump day and core training twice a week after a run of 60-90 minutes. The training schedule looks grueling, but it will pay dividends when I am on the mountain digging deep in order to finish.

This race will push me to the limits of my endurance. Just think 50K is the shortest of the “ultra” marathons, they only get longer from here. Between now and then I have a lot of work to do in order to be race ready. The vertical climb for the entire race is 7,142 feet with a net gain of only 87 feet between the start and finish. You can see the profile and look at some of the big climbs, including 2 within the first 15.6 miles of the course. It won’t get easier as just after the midpoint of the course, you hit the third big hill.

I won’t be alone during the race, as a co-worker and Tough Mudder teammate, Otto will be joining me on the 50K. While I would like to think we will run together and cross the finish line together, as we support and push each other to continue on and not give up. Yet, who knows will will happen between the start and the finish line. I would not think of holding him back because I am struggling. Yet, Otto is a team player, I still recall him helping one of our TM teammates through the entire course last year. That alone speaks volumes about the man!

As I mentioned this race is an adventure, one that I look forward to. Time doesn’t matter, where I finish doesn’t matter. My goal for the Diablo Trail Challenge is to cross the finish line.