The triumphant return of PRANK! As the event was called, “PRANK got all our shots and we’re shaking off the winter SADs,” and it was so wonderful to run with people again! And just like any good PRANK it included snacks, questionable routes, teenagers running with us for about a block and even a wave from another runner across the street in the middle of the night! Otherwise, had to do a lot of shuffling days around this week due to schedules, but I got it all in, and had a really good speed workout!
The weather was a bit goofy, and Sunday was brutal under the sun (but I wore sunscreen), but I remind myself it’s good training. Otherwise, good week, although my schedule is a bit goofy this upcoming week, so I know things will be shuffled around quite a bit. It’s also hard to believe this is one quarter of my plan done and under my belt already!
I’m finally registered for my fall race, Miakonda! It’s a very limited field, and (fingers-crossed) vaccinations should be really good by then, so I felt comfortable signing up for it. It’s the first year for it, but it’s run by a great organizing group and members of PRorER will be there, so I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m still not quite sure what my goal is going to be. The course video looks like standard camp roads and trails, which I run in road shoes, but the website says to bring trail shoes (I’ll bring both), so I may play it a little by ear to see what I end up doing that day. This is the plan I made to get myself to 81 miles, but I feel like I’ve lost some significant fitness from the colitis; or I can use this as a test for a full 24 hours, as training for next year’s O24. So many choices!
It’s also Labor Day Weekend, so fingers crossed it isn’t too toasty, but after last year training in the heat, and doing it again for this race, we’ll see how I do. It is ‘third time’s the charm’ for this training plan, but of course, depending on how things go, I’ll probably use it again for what I have planned in 2022.
Either way, I’m excited to be registered and committed, and I’m so excited to see some of my running family again soon!
Anyway, this week of training included my second vaccine shot. Like the first, I had a bit of a fever overnight and felt a little crummy, but bounced back fairly well. I think I’m still feeling a bit under the weather, but nothing too terrible.
Weird week weather wise, and this week will be a lot more of the same (looking at you, snow predicted for Wednesday). I’m also already planning on a missed run if I need to, I have my second vaccine shot this weekend and if it puts me down for a few days, I’d much rather deal with a missed long run than COVID.
This week was unseasonably hot, and (I think we can all agree), just a dumb week, from work to personal lives, but hey, we survived!
First week with speedwork in this cycle, time to see how much speed I lost!
The year that was. Well, you know. 2020. What I had been training for (Eagle Up) and all my tune up races (Get Lucky and O24) got cancelled, so what was supposed to be a 24 week training cycle, got extended to 36 weeks and I ended with the Pink Lightning 50K as the end goal of my training.
Pink Lightning is the running camp at Burning Man, and I hope to someday run this with them, but it was nice to do it as a fundraiser for their camp, even if we can’t all be in the dust together. It looks like it will once again be offered virtually this year, so I’ll be able to participate again, which is nice.
The aforementioned training plan was a combination of the 50 miles per week and 70 miles per week plans from Relentless Forward Progress, with the speedwork from a Pfitzinger half marathon plan built in as the workouts.
After O24 got delayed I took a week off, restarted in the middle, and eventually, when O24 was finally cancelled, decided to do a virtual 50 miler to cap off this year of training. I put together a plan to use my car as an aid station on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. Going east was a ten mile out and back, going west was a five mile out and back. I put together a plan of four of the longer legs and two of the shorter ones and had a great spreadsheet (of course) of fueling, nutrition and gear to keep me on track.
I feel like I had finally, maybe not gotten used to, but at least better acclimated, to running in the summer heat. Of course the week of my virtual race, the weather turned extra hot, and the night before, a huge thunderstorm rolled through (more on that in a bit)
I got to the trailhead as it was still dark to get some miles in before the sun came up. As I was getting everything ready out of the trunk of my car, a runner came in from the western side and let me know that a tree had fallen across the trail on the eastern side, about a mile up, due to the storm the night before.
Well, that threw everything I had out the window and I had to adjust on the fly. It was a big defeat, and I decided to cut down to a 50K instead, still a good run (and the actual distance of Pink Lightning), but also because at this point in the year, I just did not have the mentals to deal with that kind of big wrench.
I ran out east to at least turn that side into a two mile out and back, and sure enough, a huge tree had fallen across the trail. I took a moment just to make sure that I really couldn’t go around it, and confirming that, began redoing all the math in my head. This now meant that this was a two mile out and back, and I knew if I ran past the original turn around on the western side, I could increase that to a six mile out and back (instead of five). This let me cobble together a new race, although it ended up just over 32 miles.
The day was hot, but I was (over) stocked on Tailwind, Gatorade, water and food. By this point, I had dialed in my fuel, and swapping between gels and Bobo’s bars for the first half the race, and I just ticked off miles. The day was humid as well, and there were a few other people on the trail, but generally it was pretty quiet, except when I ran past BY Park.
The second half of the run, as expected, brought some more walking breaks, and truthfully, more than I had hoped for, even if I had been running 50 miles. The mental break was a bit of a letdown, but honestly, it all felt okay for 2020.
The second half of a run like this, especially after mile 20 in the heat, is always a bit of a grab bag for what I’m going to want to eat or able to stomach. Thankfully, some Pringles and a Moonpie just hit the spot, were easy enough to get down and kept me going. I was actually very consistent through mile 25, but after that, the temperature, humidity and direct sunlight just zapped me.
As I was coming in from my last eastern out and back, I saw the crew of volunteers assembling with their chainsaws to take care of the fallen tree. By the time I finished my final western out and back, they were packing up and heading out, having opened up the trail. For a moment I thought about continuing on and changing it back to a 50 miler, but having already changed once, I was dialed in for that distance and decided to call it at 50K.
Final time, 6:18:04, 32.13 miles. Still missed by goal of a 6 hour 50K.
This race seemed to be the embodiment of 2020, so I just had to roll with it. I’m certainly proud what I ran, but even more so for training and running over the summer, normally a season where I don’t, so that’s a huge win in my book.
I still have yet to hit my goal of a 6 hour 50K, which is disappointing, especially since this was after two (or maybe one and a half) training cycles. I surprised myself when I broke two hours in the half marathon, so I know this goal is possible, I’ll just keep working on it.
I’m finishing this as I start up my next training cycle, so it has been seven months since I ran this. Knowing everything that has happened, I wonder what was going through my mind about future goals and races. Plans, as we first lay them out, as well as hindsight, are always 20/20.
And, I’m back at it, and what a journey it has been. Even putting the global pandemic aside, after my running season last year, I took some time off after my last virtual race (Pink Lightning) and enjoyed some downtime. I was getting back into it, and ramping back up, when I got super, super sick (not COVID, at least but getting healthcare during a pandemic was an extra challenge).
That sidelined me completely for two months. After the new year, ice settled in, and that also held off my running (as I’m still not comfortable going back to a gym and ice and lightning are the two things I won’t run in/on), but I did what I could. As the weather broke, I increased my mileage and did what I could to get back up to a a decent (for me) number of miles per week.
Currently, there’s a lot against me: being sick for so long, the sudden temperature swing (except it might snow again on Thursday), sudden humidity, extremely high pollen count, and a busy work schedule. I’m also in the last week of a Phase 1 Clinical Trial, which is great science, but as such, is rough of me in terms of the amount of blood draws and tissue biopsies, so it leaves me a bit drained. But nothing is ever easy I suppose.
I have a race in mind over Labor Day Weekend. It’s really small, vaccinations should be widespread by then, so I should feel comfortable. I’m giving myself three weeks of this plan to see how I handle it after being out of practice so to speak, for so long, as well as to give me time to get past the last phase of this clinical trial. As well as these three weeks go well, I’ll sign up; and the idea of having something to train for, something to look forward to, is really appealing.
And truth be told, last week, my first week, went really well. I hit all my mileage (speedwork starts this week), did all my stretching, even got in a bodyweight workout. I did a really good job dialing in my food too, so now I just need to keep that up for the next 23 weeks.
I’m once again, because third time is the charm, doing my hybrid plan based off of RFP’s plans. I took the 50 and 70 miles per week plans, split the difference to make a 60 miles per week plan and added in the speedwork from a Pete Pfitzinger plan. I’ve certainly lost a lot of speed with my time off, but after the second day, I at least felt good about the volume, so I can work with that.
Aside from the goal race over Labor Day, I’m also looking at two tune up races, one would be a virtual race, the other would be an in-person point to point that looks like it lines up pretty well and is one I’ve wanted to do anyway, so as it gets closer, I’ll reevaluate safety levels and protocols.
That’s it for now, I’ll keep this updated as I figure things out and hopefully everything goes well!
I’ll have a longer post up soon about my state of running and what I’m potentially training for, but in the meantime, here’s my first week back on a training plan!
I’m still working on my race report for Pink Lightning, I promise!