Some time ago, Duncan convinced me, with Pete’s assistance, to start running again in earnest, with a view to run a sub 3 hour marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon. (Perhaps not in that order, but the goals remain the same.)
Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Boston Marathon (hereinafter “Boston“) is a big deal. It’s like “The Race To Run”. At least, that’s the impression I get. I don’t experience that feeling first-hand. But I’m told it exists. Why? Well it’s a big race – the entire city shuts down to host it. It’s hard to get into – you have to be able to run, at my age, a sub 3:10 marathon. (And now, really, sub 3:00, as the entry format just changed.)
“…the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events.”
Now, I’d previously had a goal to run a sub 3 hour marathon, courtesy of Brendon. He is much faster than me, and though he stuck by me when we ran our marathon (in 3:36) he was basically jogging backwards at the end, yelling at me to “Keep going, you can do it!” and went on to run 50 km, running his last 8 km faster than any of our previous 42, while I collapsed into a heap. Eek. So he felt sub 3:00 was very doable. Me, not so much.
But anyway, my excitement was revived by Duncan, and Pete (mostly via his recent running successes, and hard work) and so I figured ok, let’s do this.
So I put together a running schedule, based on Chris Wardlaw’s Training Plan, a random .pdf I found on the internet. (Not entirely random. Chris Wardlaw was Steve Moneghetti‘s running coach, and no slouch himself) I liked it, it was generally consistent with what I knew. I modified it to suit my completely impatient style (no, I will not be waiting 2 years to build up a solid foundation, thank you,) and started running. It helped that the gff was starting a running program (designed by yours truly) and so I’d have a running partner for many of my runs. Basically I kicked off running at the start of 2011. A nice easy to remember start date.
Training went well. I completed almost 3 months of my plan, running 6 times a week, incorporating hills and track work, etc. Feeling very good, probably more fit than ever, already.
However, after running the Six Foot Track last year, I have had my eye on ultra running. Road races are cool and all, but I don’t want to kill myself to gain a few extra seconds every time I run a marathon. There is more to running than just the time it takes. In fact, I don’t want the run to end sooner. I want it to last longer! Don’t get me wrong, I love road running, but ultra running is the real jewel – travelling to new places, running super long trails, often the nicest ones around, the high risk and even higher reward… that is the place for me.
So when I noticed that the Tenderfoot Boogie was coming up soon, I looked at the schedule and said “I can do this.” It was gonna be tight. The run is 80 km, and the furthest I’ve ever ran is 45 (twice!) The race is on May 15th, and I only made my decision to run it around the 1st of March. At that point my longest long run (this year) was only 17 km, but I’d logged 63 km that week, and felt good. I felt like I had a good base to work with, given my infrequent summer & winter running (including some off the couch 35+ km runs) and I had 2 and a half months to train, anyway!
Immediately I shifted to running 2 long runs, something I’d seen in some ultra plans online. I kept my total mileage constant, (don’t wanna get too crazy and hurt myself) but reduced my mid-week mileage, stopped running on Mondays, and moved all that to a Saturday run. I planned a couple weeks of taper, and that left me with a peak mileage of about 110 km for the week of April 18th, with a 27 km run on Saturday and a 45 km run on Sunday. Given more time I would have shifted from a two day to a one day weekend for a few weeks, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll have to trust that time spent on my feet will be sufficient.
So at this point I’m just finishing my 4th week of Tenderfoot training, which is a rest week. It’s gone very well, aside from a minor hiccup where I decided to start running in Vibram Five Fingers and promptly destroyed my calves for a few days. Lesson learned: start slowly with the minimalist running! The pain at the end of my long runs appears to be just about right – Not too much, not too little. I take that to mean that I’m improving about as quickly as is safe. My weekly mileage is up to 83 km, and my long run is 34 km (plus 23 the day after.) Still a far cry from where I want to be, but I’m happy with it.
It’s an easy week this week, then one more month of hard training. This month the race organizers are hosting a series of training runs, which I have decided to attend. I hate the idea of pre-running a race, but in this case it seems wise, given my relative lack of fitness and the uncertainty of the conditions (snow & ice?)
I will follow up with some info about my training plan, my upcoming goals, and some more details about the Tenderfoot Boogie in later posts.
Running is life,