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Category: Marathon

Taking on a 50K – Blues Cruise Ultra

So I finally completed my first Olympic distance triathlon, the Steelman.  The race was brutal, I did better than expected in the swim, but the run really suffered.  I attributed it to pushing too hard on the bike and really not putting in the time practicing hills.  As fun as it was, it was disappointing.  I didn’t place that well and I couldn’t believe how terrible I did on the run.  Running is my best event, I enjoy it the most so it was heartbreaking to say the least.  So what do I go and do???  Register for a 50K run, that’s what I did.  My wife already can’t stand how much time I spend training and this nearly put her over the edge.  It’s funny, most people think that the hardest part of completing a 50K would be the actual miles.  I would say it’s trying to convince your wife that what your doing isn’t insane.

Over the past two months I have had some early mornings.  It’s really the only time that you can put in those types of miles and not ruin any other plans you might have.  I live about 26 miles, by car, outside of the city.  My bright idea was to get my mileage up and take a series of trails that would get me to work.  I’m lucky to have a shower and an understanding boss who doesn’t care if I’m a little late for work.  So waking up at 4:30 in the morning has been tough but I actually look forward to it.  I started off small with some 13 mile runs from a train station that was closer to work.  As I progressed, following this training schedule, I moved the starting point further back to my home.  The total miles door to door is 20.   Add in a few extra loops of Kelly drive and that’s how I got the miles in.  The 2nd nice thing about my job is that I sit at a desk most of the day.  Another huge problem would be running 27 miles in to work, then trying to stand on your feet.  It just wouldn’t happen.

So I’m one week away from the race and the only thing that concerns me is the terrain.  Most of my long runs were done on a mix of road and trail, I just hope that it’s a relatively flat course and not too hot that day.  According to their site, it’s a great race for first time ultra runners.  The idea of running a gigantic 31 mile loop sounds fun, I just have to remember to pace myself.   I met a guy, on one of my morning runs, that said he made the classic mistake and went out too fast on his first ultra.  He said I should walk the hills to save my legs… I might just take his advice.

http://www.bluescruiseultra.com/

One of my runs to work:

The Philadelphia Marathon – 2010

After months of training, various 20 mile runs to work, decents amount of speed/hill work, it was finally time to face the marathon. You really couldn’t ask for a more perfect day, the weather wasn’t too cold, not as cold as you would think it would be for November.  This is my second attempt at the marathon, last year I suffered great pain and torture as I hit the 17th mile.  It was going to be different, having put in the necessary miles I knew going out I wasn’t going to struggle like last year.  Last year, I wasn’t happy with my marathon time.  I knew that I had left a large amount of time on the table, having to walk because of cramping was discouraging.  I saw several people that were in my same position as last year, it starts to happen as you head in to Manayunk.  The large steep hill, on main street, is brutal on your already tired legs.  This is also where you can find “race supporters” handing out beer. It’s one of the moments in the race you will either love or hate for, difficult because of the hill but great for the large amount of supporters.

A concern I had this year was finding a comfortable pace, I always worry about crossing the finish line with not giving it my all.  At the beginning of the race, I said to myself, if I can hold a 7:00 minute mile pace I would be happy with that.  Using my Garmin 405, I kept a careful watch on my time.  I like having instant feedback, it helped me avoid the problems of last year.  By the end of the race I ended up averaging 8:00 minutes a mile, 48 seconds faster per mile then my time last year.  As I passed Loyld hall in the final home stretch, I passed my father who was out supporting me.  Seeing my Dad provided an extra little boost I needed to help finish the race.

Running a consistent pace helped aid in the recovery process. I also made sure to continue walking directly after the race.  Last year, I remember sitting down on the side of the curb as I tried to recover. Massaging my legs with “the stick” for 30 minutes after helped with the soreness. I also continued to massage them daily, it’s painful but critical to a quick recovery. The Turkey Trot was coming up on Thanksgiving day so I wanted to recover fast so I didn’t miss it. I know I’m not even close to being competitive with the marathon. It feels good to PR in a short race, but nothing compares to defeating the marathon and beating your previous time.

Philadelphia Marathon Training

The Philadelphia Marathon is almost here.  This will be my second time running the race and with a previous time of 3:48 I hope to improve.  If you are new to the marathon, training for it can be brutal.  Many people see the marathon as such a great accomplishment because of the sacrifices you have to make.  Not only will your body be complaining, if you have a wife, kids, or a dog they will all be spending less time with you.  I started with a different strategy this year, instead of doing my longer runs on the weekend, I decided to start running to and from work.  I know this isn’t an option for most but if you live outside the city, where I am located, there are some different routes you can take to downtown Philadelphia.  If you live in the Plymoth Meeting and Conshohken area, the Schuylkill River trail provided an excellent scenic route.  Most of the terrain is flat, but you can park at different train stations to vary your distance in to the city.  This has provided me with an ability to run early in the morning, then take a train ride to get home.  The other part of this is having a job that provides a shower to use when you get to your destination.

The biggest issue I have had this year seems to be dealing with cramping and pains I experience in my legs.  I have been trying to take in different foods and always make sure that I drink plenty of Gatorade, but it doesn’t seem to help.  I think I just need to put in more miles to get my body accustom to the abuse.  This always seems to happen near the 20 mile mark, I’m beginning to think it’s more of a mental hurdle rather than a physical one.

I still can’t seem to figure out why I would want to do something like this again.  Maybe it was the fact that I had to walk last year during the race.   Maybe it’s the fact that I know I can run a faster time then 3:48.  Whatever it is that keeps you running it doesn’t matter, as long as you have fun and you enjoy it.  I think anyone that attempts a marathon should already have love affair with running, but it will break that relationship.  Once I cross that finish line I’ll hopefully say it was all worth it, until then I just need to keep enduring the pain.  Don’t do your next marathon until you’ve forgotten your last one, Bill Rodgers once advised. I would have agree with that statement somewhat, but that’s what got me back here.  I can’t forget all the joy I felt when it was finally over, I want that all again…  Just faster than I did last year.