Back in September I decided to run three races over five weeks. They were two 50K runs on week one and week three and a 50 mile run on the fifth week. I thought this would be a great way to train and it was. (Of course, I didn't finish the 50 miler, but that had nothing to do with back to back to back races.) I have decided to continue racing as often as possible.
Last weekend I ran two races. Neither was as ultra, but together they were a marathon although I made a mid-race modification to the course of the second race to make the combined total an ultra. More on that later.
Last weekend there were two 21K races here in Birmingham. The first, the Ruffner Mountain 21K was Saturday and the second was the Xterra 21K at Oak Mountain State Park on Sunday. I entered both. The Ruffner race had a lot of tough climbs with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain and some really rugged trails. I ran 2:10:13 and came in 16 out of 115 starters. I was happy with that.
The Xterra race was not quite as hard with a fairly flat first 4 miles but the 21K runners were running with 10K runners and we all got caught in the middle of the Duathlon runners that started 30 minutes after the 21K and 10K start. They were really slow and obviously not trail runners so I had to spend a lot of time jumping off the single track trail, dodging trees and sprinting around very slow runners. Somehow in the middle of all that madness I missed the place the 10K and 21K split and I ran the final two miles of the 10K course plus an out-back section of the finish of the 21K before realizing I was not on the 21K course.
When a corner worker tried to direct me to the finish, I told her I had not run any thing close to 21 K and started back up the trail to find out where I went wrong. I started climbing back up the "yellow" trail and within 100 yards came to a "blue plate" with an arrow pointing back down where I just came from. (The 21K was to follow blue plates and I had been following blue plates.) Obviously, I got off course somewhere way back. Then I ran back down to the finish area and found the "main guy" from Dirty Spoke Productions and asked where I missed the turn. He told me and I headed back up the Peavine Falls Road about half a mile to where I missed the split. I hopped back on the trail after loosing 30 minutes or more and running at least an extra three miles. I was now dead last. I ran as fast as I could and made up a lot of ground and actually ended up missing 3rd in my age group by 3 minutes. My time of 2:38:53 and I missed an age group win by 17 minutes. But I got in a good workout.
After failing to finish the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile race in Pine Mountain, Georgia, I came home and immediately entered the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Race in Chattanooga on December 17th. This weekend I will have my only hard run since the 50 miles on October 15. I plan to run 6 hours with, I hope, 5 hours of hill repeats. It is time to start getting ready for Hardrock. The drawing is December 1st!!!
Then I will recover by running two hours Christmas weekend and 4 hours New Years weekend the jumping up to 8 hours on January 7. On the 14th I will run 6 hours and two hours the following weekend. If it looks like I am tapering again that is because I am. On February 4th I am entered in the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race in Huntsville, Texas. This is one of the flattest 100s around and I am curious to see how I do. Flat hundreds are supposed to be incredibly hard because you have to run so much of the time.
It is now March 1 and I think this "Training by Racing" thing is great. It has almost totally eliminated the need to run as many really hard training runs. In the recovery period after the 50 miler on December 17, I had time to build back up to that one 8 hour run on January 7th, then it was time to taper again. After three weeks of recovery after RR, I ran the Cheaha 50K (2/25/2012) last weekend and I had "pretty well" recovered. I could tell my legs were heavy and I struggled a bit in the middle, but did OK. As usual, I started out too fast and that didn't help.
Synopsis of the last eight months.
July 16 and 17 - Tahoe Rim Trail 100
August - No Races - Built up to 5 hour training runs, August 13 and 20
September 18 - Autumn Equinox 50K - Birmingham
October 1 - Stump Jump 50K - Chattanooga, Tennessee
October 15 - North Face Challenge 50 Mile - Pine Mountain, Georgia
November 12 - Ruffner Mtn 21K
November 13 - Xterra 21K
November 20 - 7 hour 15 min run - 10 hill repeats
November 24 - Montclair Run - 10K - Local Thanksgiving Day run
November 26 - 6 hour run - 10 hill repeats
December 17 - Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Race - Chattanooga, TN
January 7 - 8 hour flat trail run - followed by three weeks of taper runs
February 4 - Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile - Huntsville, TX
February 25 - Mt. Cheaha 50K - 80 miles north of Birmingham
This is more races than I normally run in a year, no, more than a year.
And the next six months:
March 31 - Oak Mountain 50K - Birmingham
April 7 - Georgia Jewel 100K/50K - Dalton, Georgia. I will likely run 50K but will enter the 100K
April 21 - SweetH20 50K - Litha Springs, Georgia - I understand this is a very hard race.
May 5 - Run for Kids Challenge (My Race) I plan to run the 50K or 50 miles on the 6th
April 20 - Xterra Trail Marathon, Oak Mtn State Park, Birmingham
June 15 - Chattanooga Stage Race (3 Days 60 Miles)
July 4 - Peavine Falls Run (8 miles) Oak Mtn State Park
July 5 - 15 Hardrock 100 Trail Work, Trail Marking, Aid Station Captain
August 25 and 26 - Cascade Crest 100, Easton, Washington
This is going to be interesting! I think I had better go buy a couple of extra pair of trail shoes.