Monday, May 28, 2018

How to run a 50k with no actual training, in 11 easy steps!!

I think the best advice that I can give on this particular subject is "don't."

That being said, if you just want to throw caution to the wind (as I do) and run the ever loving f**k out of your legs just for kicks, then here is how to do it.

(note: for those of you who might be new to me, I'm obviously 100% full of shit. Never, EVER come to me for advice!! Training for endurance races is actually serious business, and even though I did not *train* specifically for this event, I have been running decent mileage for a number of years, and thus, can pull stunts like this and remain intact. Please do NOT attempt this if you have never run before!! Dear Lord!!)

But yes, I did just complete a 50K at Pineland yesterday. Totally unplanned. 100% spontaneous.
No, I really, REALLY did not train for this (as any of you who follow me on Strava are sure to have noticed.)
Also, I really did pull the trigger on this one the moment before online registration closed. So yeah, last minute.
So, now that I am an expert on how to almost win (or get like, 100th place) at a 50K, on junk miles only training, I have written up this handy dandy guide.

Today's blog is brought to you by the giant *rooster*
Step 1 for running a 50k, untrained: Pick the right weather day (meaning, you must wait until 24 hours before to sign up. #planning)
The REAL reason that I decided to participate was to capitalize on the ideal weather. 58 degrees, cloudy, breezy. The only thing missing was some heavy rain!! This is KEY because if you plan ahead, and your race ends up being on a 90 degree day, it will be awful for you. So no planning ahead, just wing it.
The face of a highly prepared woman.
Step 2: Have a rock solid training plan:
Or.... Marathon train all winter and then run junk miles all Spring. When you don't actually have anything to train for, junk miles are key. I ran some crap miles all last week before (first) being lazy for a day or two and (then) deciding that "lazy" was a good "taper" because, obviously. I ran 26.2 miles back in April some point, and that was obviously *instrumental* in getting me to the start of this adventure. (I need a sarcastic face emoji, for right here.)

Step 3: Give yourself a ton of time to prepare at the start, because everyone is *so* competitive: 
Well.... I didn't give myself a ton of time, but I did make it to the start before the gun went off. (shut up Danielle and Sarah.) As I drove in, I saw the 50 milers loping along through the hayfields, already well into their day (no thanks. but I was pleased not to see the 50k-ers starting without me.)
There was a good sized crowd lined up for the 50k, and while I did my best to line up as far back as possible, people kept moving back in line to get into last position. So, I would move farther back. And then they would. I would then move back even farther. And then they would... on and on this went, until the announcer basically yelled at people to get up to the start line!

Just let me start at the back!
Step 4: Know the damn terrain that you will be running on.
(FYI: I actually knew quite a bit about this particular aspect.)
Pineland is a hilly stupid farm. This is the only difficult part of running any of their races. While they are "trail" races, what that means for this location is running on dirt roads (like atv, or very wide xc ski trails) and wide, mowed grass paths. There is not one step of challenging single track terrain. No large rock faces to scramble over, no stream crossings. You even run on pavement for a hot minute.
It's like trail running for city folk. (like, trail shoes totally optional.)
HOWEVER. The easy appearance of the footing doesn't mean it is an easy walk in the park (hay field). The hills are quite relentless, with the elevation for the 50k coming it at over 3k'. There are definitely a few steep hills, and if you aren't careful they will smack you in the face your second trip around! Also, the hay fields are all cambered and your will always be running with one leg rather lower than the other (my left leg calls shenanigans on this every time I run this race.)
Anyway. I know that Pineland kind of sucks, so my 24 hours of preparation allowed me to mentally achieve zen, to embrace the suck.

Hilly Field. ALL ALONE!!!
Step 5: Have a (mental) turn by turn directional guide for how you will run each mile of the course.
Well. I knew that I was going to show up. Check!
I planned to run 25k for sure.
I thought then I would run around the first "loop" again, and then bail. Or walk. Or maybe something entirely different. I got bored for a while at mile 8 and thought maybe I'd just stop then.
Who could really know.
I figured I would run, at some speed, until I was over it. (winning here, as usual.)
Luckily, at Pineland you don't need *actual* turn by turn directions, because it is impossible to get lost. If you go off course, you will end up in with the cows.

Happy cows
Step 6: Nail the nutrition and hydration 
(I totally did) 
Right away, like at mile 3 I began to get hungry. This is never a great sign that early on, but I was pretty well stocked and planned to use the excellent aid stations. Over the years I have become much (MUCH) better at eating and drinking while running, and actually consider myself to be quite an expert in that area.
Over the course of the race I consumed:
-2 bottles of water (I carry one in my flip belt, and I refilled it half way through)
-Quite a few small cups of gatorade, starting at the half way point. I do not train with gatorade but I was parched and water wasn't doing the trick.
-2.5 bananas. I hate bananas. But I like them during very big runs (weird) I also will not eat unpeeled bananas that other hands have touched (gross) so I was VERY VERY HAPPY that the aid stations happily gave me some nice, whole, clean ones.
-a few little cups of pickles. YUM. (and only from the aid stations that had individual cups of snacks. No snack trough for this lady.
-peanut butter filled pretzels (a very good choice)
-one tiny cup of ice cold coke
-5 packets of untapped syrup, which is the gold standard for race fuel as far as I am concerned (I have used it exclusively for a year, and can't sing the praises loud enough.)
The moral of the story is that I might have been hungry for a hot minute, but I refused to stay that way.
I also refused to run doing the pee dance, and I stopped to pee 3 times.

Step 7: Don't be a jackass
Don't try to run fast. Ever, not even one step. Or, do. But don't say I didn't warn you!
During my first 50k I bolted off like a madwoman and paid the price.
Don't be me (of 2013), don't be that guy. If you normally run a marathon on the road, at an 8:00 pace (assuming, of course that you are not secretly an elite trail runner, undercover) plan to add actual honest to God minutes to your per mile pace. I ran an 11:20 pace, (which, of course took into account my 5+ minutes of stopped time, as it does/should.)
Even though I walked up every hill during both laps, I was still pretty friggin creaky for the last few miles.
Also, if you are going too fast you will not be able to take selfies, and snaps.

The all important selfie
Step 8: Wear the right kit
Don't wear the shorts that chafe your lady bits, even if they do have the best pockets.
Consider wearing your trail shoes maybe once (this year) before running 30 miles.
So, this segment of the program is basically "what not to do".  Heed my warnings.

Step 9: Prepare for things to not feel all that great at some point. Prepare to carry on.
I actually felt just fine for the vast majority of this run. I felt a little foggy just after the half way point, so I walked, had a big snack, and then felt good again.
I began to feel the impact of the mileage around 20, but did not feel sore until 24. And then it got pretty unpleasant. (I was just sore though, I mentally felt good, and my stomach was great.)
But the real TMI moment? Ready? So, as mentioned, my lady-parts-region (although, thank heavens not my *actual* lady bits) became super nasty chafed. And (as we all know) I have this really big fibroid. I had to pee late in the race, and I sneezed and peed just the littlest bit (as one does, shut up). My chafing burned like the fire of 1,000 suns and it was a horrible moment. The worst! (so, I pulled over immediately and peed.) Clearly the advice here is simple: don't pee yourself.

Step 10: Don't expect to win the race if you haven't trained. 
I, however, would not expect to win the race even if I HAD trained, so what's the difference, really?
While I did not win the race, I ran very close to the time that I predicted for myself. I expected to take 6 hours, and I managed 5:47 (about 40 minutes slower than my *best* 50k at Pineland effort.)
Really, the training for a 50k is pretty unpleasant, so I almost prefer the slower time, as completely skipping the training is pretty great! Fuck it! I'm not going to train at all for anything, anymore!

Not winning! Not caring!
Step 11: Because 10 is not enough, when the advice is of this elite caliber: 
Prepare to have a nice day. Really.
If I had ceased to have a nice day, I would have walked my ass back to my car and gone to get some pizza.
But, I did have a nice time. The weather was very pleasant. I enjoyed a perfect mix of running alone (which I like, when I am not pushing for a fast pace) and running with some very nice people. (Hi Mari and Haley!) I enjoyed looking at the cows, and the scenery (and the never ending hills..)
I enjoyed collecting my big green bell, even thought they tried to give me a tiny stupid one. I was like, "nope, I get a BIG bell, yo."

Big green bell
So there you have it. A very comprehensive guide to doing something that *in real life* requires quite a bit of training, with no training at all.

The best news? I'm really none the worse for it. My chafing has already retreated, and my legs are marathon level sore, nothing too extreme! I now plan to retire the 50k distance for a few more years, when I may actually put forth a modicum of training effort (or not, tbh. I felt pretty ok about how this run went!)


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Running, Horse showing, making ugly looking food, and more!

Somehow I managed to fit in 40 miles last week, even though I had a ton of work stuff going on.

On Monday I took my first run in a long while over the infamous Bitch Hill. It was a glorious Spring day, and even though it was hilly (some things never change) I had a really nice outing.

Always pretty
I also found a tiny Robin's egg that had blown out of its nest. It was been SUCH a windy Spring around here. We always have a windy April, but May has continued to be so blustery. 

Sorry little egg
Once I got home, Eric and I made 5 batches of pesto from the kale and basil that my Dad grows in his indoor garden. I can't imagine how much that much basil would have cost me in real life, so this is one of my favorite activities (is making pesto an activity? I guess it is.)

Batch 1 of 5, and about $100 worth of basil

On Wednesday I ran across town to meet Eric in Norway after he finished up the Green Machine group ride. It was a really, REALLY, fantastic weather day (temps the low 60's, sun, and breeze. perfect.) I should have stayed home and worked on household projects, but it was far too pleasant of a night to pass up running.

Super athletic power couple
While I fully intended to run on Thursday, life seemed to have other plans for me and I decided to peace out on the whole plan. Honestly, even when I am marathon training there are some days when staying home payoff more than a run!

On Friday, I ran some quality junk miles in a new pair of shoes. I am trying to wait for the Hoka Clifton 4's (not sure when they are coming...) And the Brooks Ghost 10's seem to be ok. Not Hoka level good, but I got a good deal on themes that makes me feel positive!

Eric and I have been trying to expand out breakfast food horizons lately. We need something quick and easy in the mornings, and toast with PB&Honey almost always does the trick. We recently tried the Muesli (basically, overnight oats) from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook. The final step to these oats, is to add a grated apple. This step made them almost inedible to me, as they looked like cat puke (Eric said they looked like tuna... still not good.) and the texture was exactly what you would expect from cold oats with a grated apple added. *barf* However, they tasted great.
I made them again, without the weirdly offensive apple, with excellent results. They still look gross, but it is a gross level that I can handle!

Slightly gross looking breakfast
On Saturday, we had some pretty ideal marathon weather. It was in the upper 50's, drizzley, and quite windy.
I DID NOT run a marathon, but I did run abut 13 miles to the pub. I met Lee and Eric there, and we had pizza and talked about the Royal Wedding (I secretly love Royal Weddings!)

Sharing tiny beers!
On Sunday, I had a horse show outing with my little one which took up the whole day. I wasn't planning to run at all, but decided to head out for a couple very easy miles when I got home. The weather all day had been muggy and damp, but as things dried out I definitely felt like getting (back) outdoors! I really mean it when I say "short" run. It was just over 2 miles, so nothing tricky!

Baby horse at the show!
Next week (well, this week at this point) is probably going to be a little lower in mileage. I am considering possible "race" options for Sunday (since I actually have most of the day off) but this plan is still completely up in the air. So we shall see!

Miles run: 40.2
Elevation: 2,178
My placement in my Strava running club: I had to go check, because I am no used to this being something I care about. But 14th. That seems good!
Hottest day: Gross humid upper 70's on Sunday


Sunday, May 13, 2018

The week with 16 miles instead of 60

Last week was amazingly, and completely uneventful in the running department.
There was a good reason that last week was my random 60 mile week, there was NO way that could have happened this past week!
I knew that I had 3 days that were going to be completely out of the question for running, with two others being highly questionable. I actually thought that a zero week might be a terrific idea, but the weekend was just too nice to pass up (plus, I finally had time to hit the road!)

Eric joined me for a Saturday pub run, after what feels like a long time of not running together. It was a really stellar weather day (60, dry, breeze, sun) and it was a solid run.

Here we are again!
Typical Saturday
Doing this run, I definitely was noticing the need for a new pair of shoes, which is a little crappy at this point. I believe I have just over 300 miles on these Clifton 3's (which is a perfectly reasonable number, if we are being honest.) BUT....  I became extremely spoiled with the Clifton 2's. They held up incredibly well even as their mileage came close to 600. *sigh*
Since the Clifton 4's are not a thing yet, and I am not super crazy about the 3's I may try another shoe for a bit. BUT WHAT??? I like my shoes nice and cushy, so feel free to give suggestions.

Sunday marked my first trip up Hawk Mountain this Spring.

It was a warmer day (72) but really just perfect.
The mountain is still a bit of a mess after the logging extravaganza of last fall and winter. Now that things are greening up, it looks better and also seems to have survived the drenching rains of April. (I was worried about possible erosion.)
It was a fun run, a little weird getting back on the trail after so much pavement running, but weird in a good way! And super pretty.

Rocks and things that are not pavement
So, with this crazy, busy, appointment and commitment filled week behind me, next week looks (slightly more) open for running. I hope to be able to get around 35 miles in, with the possibility of a speed workout tossed in there (or not) as the case may be. I haven't made a big push for bike miles at this point but that will happen as the weather becomes warmer and the roads get better.

Oh, and a random note. The amount of laundry this past week vs the 60 mile week was SO much less. I thought I might have been exaggerating about the laundry sitch but I certainly was not. AT ALL. So much soggy, smelly clothing.
The moral of the story is that winners like me run 16 mile weeks to avoid doing 300 loads of stank clothes.

Miles run: SIXTEEN! HAH!!
Elevation: 1,307
My placement in my Strava running club: From an all time high of 4th last week I dropped, predictably, to 48th.
Hottest day: 79 but I totally avoided running that day because #omgsobusy


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Summer goal #1: Low key 60 mile week

Last week, feeling fully recovered, I ventured out to run my first (last?) 60 mile week.

"WHY?" A sane person might ask! (logical query)

Last year, after slogging through Boston and Slopping through Providence, I thought it might be fun to run a high mileage week, while still fit, just to see if I could. Could I? Who knows!
But.... I did not do it, and instead became delightfully lazy and decided that anything over 4 miles was crap. I had some donuts. Rolled around a bit, as one does.
I actually ran up every hill in Waterford just for shits and giggles. Apparently, after marathon season is over, I like to play and have fun in ways that a non runner might see as torture.

My EPIC QUEST began last Monday, when Eric and I went out for the Final Winter Run (it was cold and wet. the end of it, from the looks of things.)
We were taking about my proposed 60 mile week, and when it would take place. In the midst of our run, it dawned upon me that if I did not pull it off last week I would really need to take time to have a short rebuilding cycle before making an attempt (because this week and next are a silly silly shit show, and I might run 5 miles. bye fitness)
Ain't nobody got time to rebuild for a lame personal challenge.

So.... After running a WHOPPING 4 mile Monday, it was on. ON, I TELL YOU, ON!

4 miles, last day of winter
This isn't the kind of crapola that I would pull during Marathon training. I don't tend to randomly run huge mileage while training for goal races, because getting grievously injured is not on my agenda.
**this being said. I have recently discovered that I am a *terrible* Instagram runner. Apparently, one SHOULD arbitrarily run high mileage before a big race. become grievously injured. continue to run because #headpats #sponsors #why??. become diagnosed with legit injury. and then RACE....???? #sobrave #muchelite #fuckno**

People: do not follow the example of Insta runners. FFS.

Anyway, moving on.

I decided that all my runs would be, essentially, junk miles. No workouts, no long (LONG) runs, no massive mountains, no crazy crazy crap. Just the most basic, low key 60 miles that you could ever hope for.

So, after the worryingly low mileage start to the week, I ran 10ish miles on Tuesday to meet Eric at the track. He was doing a legit workout, and we timed it perfectly to run .25 together and take a selfie. Duh. (and another reason that I fail as an Instarunner: I did not post a daily selfie with a motivational saying!!! Shit.)
It was a lovely day, 62 degrees which felt toasty compared to the previous day, and it was a good (and hilly) adventure.

Run to the track. 
Wednesday was SO HOT!

Summer roared in and I was like "woah homie, ease back!" It was 87 degrees, but dry heat. Dry heat is NOT something that Maine does, we like it dripping, humid and dank. Thus, despite the heat I was able to have a very pleasant 11ish mile run to meet Eric at the bike shop, after the Wednesday group ride. Dry heat is, apparently, something I can live with.
There is a 1.5 mile stretch by the lake that was infested with mayflies like I have never seen. It was like something out of a horror movie. BUGS EVERYWHERE. NO GOOD.
Eric and I had to go to the pub to recover from the buggy disaster of doom.

Beer helps us to forget the hawk sized bugs
Thursday was a more typical Maine "summer" day. 72 and soggy.
I ran 11 more miles, over hill and dale to meet Eric on his way home from work.
Apparently, I preferred the point to point run during this particular event. I like being able to see as many things as possible while I run, and this plan really maximized the sights that I could take in.
This wasn't my favorite run because there were quite a few scary dogs running about, I much prefer an abundance of mayflies to extremely intimidating dogs. Also, apparently people in these parts drink a lot of fireball nips while driving, and toss the tiny bottles out onto the road. This is not a good habit, peeps.

We should be car drinking fireball. EXCEPT NOT.
Friday.... Oh, that was my easy day. My legs were feeling tired, but generally fine. Clearly, if at any time during the week I felt any premonition of injury, I was going to bail HARD. However, all was well.
I pottered around my own stomping grounds, and ran 6ish miles at a 10 minute pace, just to kick back and chill. I did some good thinking. Profound stuff. (I thought about Harry Potter the whole time. Well, mostly I thought about Hermione and how she really is the hero, but we all know that.)

Boring, solo run
Saturday was pub run day, duh.
It was a stunning summer day, 73 degrees, dry, freakishly windy and blazing sun.
I felt especially good on this run, enjoyed being on my normal route, was pleased with the lack of both terror dogs, and lake bugs, and I had a quite nice day.

This photo was brought to you by Eric's sweet helmet
Eric biked over (#lame) and we met my Dad for a beer, a decorative nut covered cheese ball, and 13.1 more miles. (clearly winning the Half Marathons around here!)

It was a busy weekend, and I definitely had a lot of options. I could have snagged some miles at a 5k (and checked "semi-fast 5k" off my summer list!) or, I could have taken another shot at a duathlon (another summer goal to mark off, along with what *could* have been the continuation of my streak of duathloning with ZERO bike practice.)
However. Logic and reason told me to hold back, and finish up my miles here at home, in a mellow way (especially after running around like a fool all weekend, plus actually RUNNING around like a fool...)
So, I wrapped up my 60 mile week in an easy way, with 4 miles here at home, with Eric.

How did this make me feel.
Ummmm. Or fine? Sweaty? Sick of doing laundry daily?

Really, here is my takeaway message.

-Don't run a 60 mile week unless you already have a solid fitness base (like some years of distance running.) I have a lot of years of 45-55 mile weeks under my belt, so this was not a complete shock to my bod. I can't recommend this if you aren't already hitting some mileage, but that goes without saying.

-Prepare not to get anything else done. Work, run, laundry, beer, eat, sleep.
(actually. this sounds like a pretty ideal routine to me!)

-I can not speak to the actual benefits, or lack thereof that this had on my overall "training" because my training cycle is done and dusted. I was tired on Sunday, for sure, but I had no pain, or suffering, or anything that would make for a better story.

-Will I now consider making 60 mile weeks a regular part of my training? I can't see a reason to, unless I decide that I significantly want to lower my PR. I can run a 3:30 on 45 mile weeks, and I have a 60 hour a week job and shit, so probably not. (and yeah, I know a *training* 60 would have a workout or two, and a long. not just 10 mile junk runs.)

-Was it fun?? Yes, yes it was. I really enjoyed looking around and seeing Spring arrive (and bugs. and dogs. and fireball nips...) I like running. And I need new shoes now....

-I threw down some "self care" that I completely avoid with my more typical 45 mile weeks. Ice, just for fun. Stretching. Foam rolling. I am such a good little athlete!

-I might do this again someday.

Miles run: SIXTY, BITCHES!
Elevation: 3,252
My placement in my Strava running club: 4th!! I'm never 4th!! (also, follow me on Strava. Strava is the best.)
Hottest day: 88 wtf summer, coming in aggressive