Ken Ober loves that reference.
Well, the answer to the question is that I am, in fact, alive. Very much so, but life, work and thankfully, training have trumped blogging. On the life end, the kiddo continues to grow, do more things and, generally, be excessively cute...when she's not being...well...a kid. Work is...well...work. And, training is going very well. So, here's a post about it. Maybe now, my wife and Jamie will get off my back about being a bad blogger.
Since I last posted, much has happened on the training front. Initially, things took a turn for the worst as over the span of three weeks, I ran a total of 45 miles. I was ill, and I just couldn't shake it. (See the aforementioned kiddo.) By the middle of November, I was able to get back to our regularly scheduled program, and then starting the week of November 21, everything changed.
That week marked week one of an 18-week training program. This represents a major paradigm shift for me. From my return to running in late 2007 through May of this year, I had a "it's enough as long as I get out the door" mentally. Well, at Pineland, it was evident that that attitude wasn't going to cut it. I adjusted my training somewhat over the summer by upping the mileage and mixing up the type of runs. The results were positive, culminating in my performance at the Pisgah 50k. At this race, I proved that I could complete an ultra, and it was, in reality, a huge relief. But, I was really just flying blind, and upon further reflection, I know I can flat out run stronger. The only way I see to do this is to "train for real." I picked the brains of both Jeff and Jamie after their stellar fall marathon performances, and I picked my next goal race. I'll be racing (not running) the Gator Trail 50k at Lake Waccamaw State Park in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina on March 26. (Doubles as a visit to D's parents.) For a training plan, I'm using Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning, courtesy of Jamie. Hence, the 18-week schedule. And, away I go.
Now, Pfitzinger's plan is great, but it doesn't account for trail running and snowshoe racing. Not a chance I'd be dropping either of those from my schedule, so I'm doing some heavy modification. But, that only makes sense, since I'm training for a trail 50k, not a road marathon. However, I'm confident that the basics of his plan will work for my race and that the schedule of long runs and speedwork will pay huge dividends.
So, how's it going, so far? It's going very well, and I've easily moved past the "just get out the door" mentality. In fact, when I missed a planned run, I get cranky about it. I'm adjusting well to the mileage increase and have been pleasantly surprised with how fresh I've felt.
Here are some highlights:
Week one (32.5 miles): This was Thanksgiving week, and we were actually in North Carolina visiting D's parents. We took a morning to check out the Gator Trail course, which was a great move. I've had something to visualize whenever I've been feeling less than great on a run. For the 50k, we'll run 6 laps of the 5.2 mile course, which is at least 90% trail with a one short road piece and one boardwalk. It's fairly flat, but it does get sandy in a few places, which will be tricky (read: slow and annoying). Unfortunately, this was the only trail run of the week, and my left achilles was sore.
Week two (35.5 miles): I arranged two back-to-back off days to rest my achilles and that was all it needed to feel fine. Long run for the week was 12.5 miles on the Cathance River Trails and beyond, through which I discovered a new trail.
Week three (45.75 miles): Big jump, but with no achilles issues, I went for it. I struggled through a 4-mile tempo effort in the wind and snow on Monday, but the numbers were right what I wanted. Put in a solid 14 miles on the roads later in the week. Unusual for me to run that long, so far out from my goal race, but, like I said, paradigm shift.
Week four (42.25 miles): Missed a day due to work and travel, or I would have been closer to 50. However, all these miles were on trails, so the difficulty quotient more than makes up for it. Again, flexing and stretching the Pftiz Plan. I bookended the week with two very hilly runs, one at Bradbury Mountain State Park and one at the Green Hills Preserve. Highlight of the week was a 14.25-mile "Double" Cathance run.
I'm now in week five and still rolling. The only complaint is my ankles/top of my feet. I have some soreness here throughout the day, but I, generally, don't feel it when I run. This week is my last build up week before an easy step back week, so my hope is that the rest will resolve it.
So, that's the big news. I've set some pretty big goals for myself for this race, and as the training progresses, I'll find out just how much of a reach my "A" goal is. But, no, I'm not divulging those goals here. I may outline them pre-race, but you'll definitely hear how I stacked up in my race report. Right now, I'm just enjoying the training, and looking forward to snowshoe season. And, of course, beyond the Gator Trail 50k, I have a few ideas planned out as well. Those will depend on my training and race recovery...for another post.
In the meantime...here is the most requested tune in our house: