Today's Mighty Oak

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!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: Rest. This was supposed to be speedwork, but after 90 minutes and driving to three different tracks, I finally gave up (they were all either closed or so crowded I couldn’t park, nor would have I felt comfortable with that many people). I added the mileage to my Sunday run, and I’ll put the speedwork in Week 4 (which is a down week, but speedwork really is important).
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 16 miles. Got to the trail early to beat the fishers, but and it was a good run!
  • Sunday: 14 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but a good way to cap off the week. Was so incredibly foggy and humid that it felt and looked like I had run through a rainstorm, but it was just what was hanging in the air. Then the sun came out and baked me a bit. Was good to do a back to back, but I’m certainly sore from it.
  • BWF/Core work: Finished up the next mission of Zombies, Run!: Home Front. It feels like they’ve really gotten into the story at this point, so I’m enjoying it a lot!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

First week with speedwork in this cycle, time to see how much speed I lost!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8 miles. A beautiful day and I was in Oakland, so I went to the park to do a combination of one of the Frontrunner loops and lots of fun and some winding through CMU and Pitt.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Remember how beautiful Tuesday was? This was speedwork at the track in the snow. Proud of myself for doing it, but man, what an April Fool’s day. VO2 max: 6x1000m, 5K pace. I’m actually a lot faster than I expected to be, and not nearly as slow as I was expecting. Still took a lot out of me, but I’m hopeful with the rest of this plan I can get back to where I was!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 15 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but that’s okay. Was also the first day of trout season, so the stream (and parking areas) were full. I’m always happy people are getting outside and enjoying nature, so nice to see.
  • Sunday: 5 miles. Back to the track on Easter morning to do some loops as well as the first event in the 2021 Corndog League season: Thatch Hut Rabbit Habit: A 100m one-legged hop. So much harder than I expected, but I did wear a costume (bunny tail)!
  • BWF/Core work: I was in the middle of a Zombies, Run! Home Front mission when the app crashed, so I’ll have to pick that one back up.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

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)

Miles 0-15

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.

Miles 16-32

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.

Why yes, I did come in fist place, in my corner of the Multiverse

Mental Health

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.

Looking forward

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!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in new shoes!
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in the rain with a friend!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 5 miles on a new trail! Hit up the Five Star trail in Greensburg on my way out to Ligonier. I parked at the Trolley Lane access and went north to the Route 30 underpass. Spoke with a cyclist after, he suggested going the other way for a more scenic view, so I may do that next!
  • Sunday: 12 miles. Glad to be back on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. Was able to start my run in between the rain, although it really opened up on the way back, so the last five miles were really wet.
  • BWF/Core work: Zombies, Run! Home Front mission with Peter.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run! Glad to be in the habit of doing it, it’s much needed.

I’m still working on my race report for Pink Lightning, I promise!

Virtual race week is here! And of course, the weather went bonkers.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops after yoga.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 2 miles. Got through two and a half miles before the skies opened up and I had to call it due to lightning. Was supposed to do three, so not a big loss.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Pink Lightning virtual 50K: Full race report coming up!
  • BWF/Core work: More yoga! And I signed up for the next block of yoga in September and October!
  • Stretching: More stretching, this time, with the aid of Galavant!
  • Virtual Races coming up: Mario Lemieux 6.6K, New Holland Lightpoint 5K, The Great Race 10K and 5K

I’m working on my race report for Pink Lightning, hopefully I’ll have that up later this week. For now though, taking this week off and getting back at it next week.

Second to last week of this training block, let’s do this!

  • Monday: 10 miles.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops after yoga.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 7 miles. New (to me) shoes! Got some green Ghosts!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Woke up and was supposed to run 10, but my stomach was all kinds of not cooperating so I made the good decision to put off those miles to the next day.
  • Sunday: 25 miles. Catching up on miles from yesterday, and sadly, Strava lost my data! Not a huge deal, but I had wanted to see my pace, as I felt faster in the new shoes and wanted to really see that difference.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Gatorade, Gu, Bobo’s bar.
  • BWF/Core work: More yoga! And I signed up for the next block of yoga in September and October!
  • Stretching: More stretching, this time, with the aid of Galavant!
  • Virtual Races coming up: Pink Lightning 50K, Mario Lemieux 6.6K, New Holland Lightpoint 5K, The Great Race 10K and 5K

Next week will be the end of this training bloc, and my Pink Lightning virtual. It will mostly be a day of decision how much I run based on the weather and how I’m feeling. I think I have a sub 6-hour 50K in me, but I don’t think I have a sub 6-hour virtual 50K in me (although I certainly have the radical self-reliance and Leave No Trace principles covered!). So it will be between just a casual 50K or a 50M. We’ll see what happens, especially in the spirit of immediacy!

Shuffling some days around, but it all worked out. Lots of early morning miles on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail! This is also my peak week (would have been one of two), and my second time at or above 60mpw!

A note on my mileage, I always round to what I was supposed to run. So even though on days when I run a mile or so more than I’m supposed to, I don’t log it below. I figure it gets added in to wherever I’m missing a few tenths somewhere or something like that, even though I’m consistently running more than what I write. Strava says I actually ran 62 miles this week, although if you follow my math below, it’s only 60.

  • Monday: 10 miles.
  • Tuesday: 4 miles. Tiny loops after yoga.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 5 miles. Was supposed to do more, just not feeling it, so I added the mileage to my Saturday run.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 21 miles.
  • Sunday: 20 miles.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Gatorade, Gu, Bobo’s bar.
  • BWF/Core work: More yoga!
  • Stretching: More stretching, this time, with the aid of Galavant!
  • Virtual Races coming up: Pink Lightning 50K, Mario Lemieux 6.6K, New Holland Lightpoint 5K, The Great Race 10K

Here’s the timeline:

  • Signed up for Eagle Up as my A-Race for the spring, goal of 50/50 (81 miles).
  • Built my training plan (combination of two different RFP plans with the speedwork workouts from Pfitz), training started the week of Christmas, 24 week plan.
  • Signed up for both O24 and Get Lucky as tune up races in my plan.
  • Get Lucky became virtual, ran that on the river trails.
  • O24 got delayed until the first weekend in October.
  • Eagle Up cancelled, had made it through 18 weeks of training.
  • O24 became my new A-Race and was exactly 24 weeks out from when we got the news Eagle Up was cancelled.
  • Took a week off, reconfigured my training plan so I wasn’t starting back at week 1 and started up again (eventually sliding back in at weeks 9-11).
  • Signed up for the virtual Pink Lightning as a tune-up (and to support them).
  • O24 cancelled until 2021.
  • Currently, I’m in week 17. I have two more weeks until the Pink Lightning virtual race, bringing this cycle to 19 weeks.

Total, with one overlap week, that means I will have been in a training plan for 36 weeks. It’s time for a break. As much as I’d still love to run 5050 in 2020 (my original plan), it’s just not in the books (I’m not at a point where I could, logistically or mentally, run that much by myself).

Pink Lightning is a virtual 50K, and on my plan, it’s either 50M or 100K (62M). Depending on the weather and how I feel, I’ll play it a bit by ear. Part of me want to run it as a 50M, but I’m also okay not destroying myself for it.

I’ll have to readjust my eating a bit during some off weeks, but maybe it’s good to mix that up as well, we’ll see. And part of me wants to end with something big and exciting (I’ve never run a 50M before), but again, I have to weigh it against what’s smart in the long run, my right leg has what could easily turn into an injury if I’m not careful, so there is a bit of babying that at the moment, anyway.

The yoga I’ve been doing (in the park) has been great, just the right kind of class for me! I also want to get back into my bodyweight fitness routine, I know I’ve lost a chunk of that progress. A ‘down’ fall with less mileage and focusing on some core and strength work I think would be good, and will put me in good position to start training for spring races (tentatively again, Eagle Up and O24).

Through all this, I still haven’t gone back to a gym (I’ll have to change anyway, as mine closed), but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my neighbors a bit as I do my tiny loops, or at least getting almost all of them to wave back at me. I’ve caught up on most of a podcast series (Critical Role), so I’ll need something epic to listen to again anyway.

I’m so glad I forced myself to run this summer, something I’ve never really done before. I definitely learned a lot (including how much a new pair of shoes really can change in my running), but I’m looking forward to running in the cold once again.

This has been a tough and strange year, and I can see the finish line a few weeks away. Then I’m looking forward to some much deserved time off.

Virtual Races coming up: Pink Lightning 50K, Mario Lemieux 6.6K, New Holland Lightpoint 5K, The Great Race 10K (and hopefully 5K when I sign up for that challenge as well).

Well, O24 got cancelled (which was the right choice). I’ll have another post about what I’m doing next, but I still have a virtual 50K to run at the end of the month, so I’m sticking to this plan for a few more weeks.

Back to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail for my long runs. Getting out early enough to beat the heat (And Ozone Action Days) worked, as this was also Mysterium weekend! I’ve never been able to go, so it was great to attend virtually, getting back in time after my weekend runs to see all the panels and join the Discord! I also reconnected with some friends from the community, and watching so much about URU brought back some really amazing memories!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles. Tiny loops after yoga.
  • Wednesday: 10 miles. More tiny loops.
  • Thursday: 8 miles. Even more tiny loops.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 22 miles.
  • Sunday: 10 miles.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Gatorade, Gu, Bobo’s bar.
  • BWF/Core work: Week 3 of yoga in the park! Really enjoyed it, it was lower body focused, so felt really great!
  • Stretching: Slowly getting back into it (with thanks to Netflix, although I need a new show to watch while I stretch, preferable a half hour comedy)
  • Virtual Races coming up: Pink Lightning 50K, Mario Lemieux 6.6K, New Holland Lightpoint 5K, The Great Race 10K

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