This is nothing entertaining here . . . at all! Realistically, there is NO REASON to read this. I've just written it to help me sort things out. And I do believe I feel slightly better now. But seriously . . . save your time and skip this one.
I can't help but be torn between two saying:
- Never, ever give up! and
- Some things are just not to be!
The dream has been with me now for about five years. It started in 2007 soon after becoming a member of the Mangum Track Club. Trust me . . . these folks are a REALLY bad influence on you! And it became a full-fledged goal when I paced the last lap with Cam Kelly and saw him accomplish this seemingly impossible feat. I've now tried to accomplish this twice and failed both times. So now I'm thinking about this dream. Should I try again? Or not?
For me three major questions come to mind:
- Can I realistically do this?
- Should I try again?
- Should keep on with my current strategy or re-train to use a different strategy?
I honestly do believe the answer to the first question is yes, it is possible. Men and women much older then I do this regularly. And my health is good. So this should be possible. Period.
Should I try again?
This is not quite so clear. It's a lot of work . . . and pain. And why? What is the point really.
Quite frankly I really don't like where my fitness is right now. In order to run the Umstead 100 I've spent literally months in training. My strategy was to go slow and steady. So I trained to walk every two minutes and run one. I thought this was smart. Now I'm not so sure.
Today, even on a 3 mile run, I'm finding myself walking! And when I try to run faster then normal, I get out of breath quickly. I hate to think of how long it would take me to finish a 5k right now!!
Plus, walking is now a mental habit I would need to break. Especially if I decide to move away from this 100 mile run goal. Heck, today find myself walking and there is no physical reason at all to walk! I just do it. Strange.
I honestly believe a shorter, harder run gets you to a better level of fitness then where I am right now. So, once I decide about this 100 mile goal I know I want to work to improve my speed. I did for awhile last spring/summer and results came quickly. It's not really all that hard to do. I know I can.
Simply add intervals and hills one or two days each week. And convert my long run to a shorter, but harder tempo runs. There is work to do, sure. But it's no harder then what I've been doing. Just different. And it would take way less time!
I was never really a fast runner but I wasn't the slowest runner either! My best 5k was a 20:01. Certainly not really fast, but respectable. Convert that to what I might be able to run today . . . maybe 22 or 23?? That would be a good goal to strive for probably.
Should keep on with my current strategy or re-train to use a different strategy?
So . . . IF (and I do mean 'IF') I do decide to try another 100, the remaining question is what is the best strategy for me so that I maximize my chances of achieving this dream? Is it a continuation of my current strategy, or should I change my approach and re-develop my fitness to support a new strategy?
To answer this I have to know why I failed in the past. Realistically you never know for sure. But I believe I pretty much understand . . .
My first failure was not at an official 'race.' Instead, I staged my own attempt. My failure was likely a combination of several factors . . . 1) insufficient miles of preparation, 2) the day I chose to run was the first really hot day of the year, 3) I didn't think through a good approach for a crew and pacers. These three things doomed my first attempt. Notice I didn't say that trying this alone was a failure factor. I run alone a lot. Even at the Umstead 100 I was running alone most of the time. It is nice seeing others while you run, but I'm not sure it is a real requirement.
My Umstead 100 failure was a combination of two factors . . . 1) a mental collapse and 2) dealing this the physical pain.
The mental collapse began when I realized that I was moving too slow to finish within the 30 hour time cutoff. I passed 50 miles at 14:51. Maybe I was just having a not so good day. Maybe the hills got to me. No matter . . . the second 50 miles just couldn't happen in another 15 hours! While I had taken two bathroom breaks and two clothing changes during the first 50, I had slowed to only infrequent run intervals. My last 12.5 miles took me 4 hours and 50 minutes and I walked it all!!! That's just over a 23 minute per mile pace . . . only a moderate walking pace!
And I was hurting pretty bad. Its hard to explain the pain. But trust me . . . it hurts a lot! I do know I could have kept going and now I'm wishing I had. For sure I had at least one more lap )12.5 miles) in me . . . and possibly two. But I'm questioning if I really could have finished the full 100. I'm not so sure I could have. Even with an unlimited cutoff.
But if I trained to run faster, realistically how much would this help?
- In some ways I could look at my Umstead 100 failure as a training run.
- Two weekends after Umstead, I traveled to the Va 24 Hour race and completed 56 miles and I knew FOR SURE I could have gone further if needed to assure that our Team Awesome won the ultra relay. (We didn't . . . Team Awesome finished with over 800 miles . . . almost 400 miles more then our nearest competitor!). I walked from about 30 miles on . . . I believe due to being tired from Umstead, but I kept a good walking pace. So this, too, could be considered another training run.
One of my problems is I'm not sure I can just 'give up' this goal as long as I feel like there is a chance I might be able to do it. But in some ways that exactly what I want to do. Let's face it, my running is excessive and compulsive. I know it. But right now, I just don't have anything to take it's place!
I'm mulling all this over . . . and I guess I need to decide pretty soon if I'm going to try this again this spring.