Today's Mighty Oak

Practice ultra



My training plan, from Relentless Forward Progress, called for a 50K in training. The jail loop in Pittsburgh is 5.5 miles, so I figured I’d just do six of those and make it an even 33 (of course since I didn’t run tangents and what not, it came out to 33.9 miles, so I’m calling it 34 for simplicity’s sake).

To keep myself on point, I made a chart of things to do/examine after each loop, and that was really beneficial, kind of like being my own crew ahead of time for myself.

I had the new season of Zombies Run ready to go, hit the trail early, and started on my way. It was humid, but wasn’t too terrible yet since the sun was behind the clouds. First loop was good and after a few missteps at my car, got into a rhythym moving forward.

On the other side of the river on the second loop, I ran into Elizabeth and Steve, and we ran together for a while, which really helped. We chit chatted, admired the new chalk art done outside the jail and generally had a decent time.

They dropped off when they needed to for their mileage, and I was left alone for the last two and a half loops. Halfway through loop 5, the sun came out. I ended up adding extra walk breaks when I was in direct sunlight, otherwise I wasn’t going to make it, and that was the right decision.

For the final loop I threw on some sunscreen, which helped, although I still got more sun than I hoped.

I did discover, my patience runs out somewhere around mile 29. I shoulder-checked a woman who was walking in a group four across, taking up the sidewalk. I was as far over as I could be, and she didn’t move, and I just didn’t care.

I did also call two cyclists assholes. One, who swerved to look like he was aiming right at me before correcting himself, and another who was riding on the (very narrow at that point) sidewalk, even though there was a bike lane (which means in the city, what he was doing was illegal).

Overall, I’m really proud of myself. My pace was good, and pretty consistent (aside from the sun walking breaks), and I stuck to my run/walk strategy. I was able to run the next day, and walking around and packing the rest of the day after my run was a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary; much better than after the marathon two weeks ago.

Did I do a 50K quickly? No. Was it even as fast as I could go? No. But I’m still super happy with what I accomplished. It was a great confidence boost for Eagle Up, and now I’m seriously ready for my taper!

Things I learned:

  • I’m good about not waiting around at the aid station/my car. I was pretty quick to get in and get back out onto the trail. My biggest hangup was when I was eating something sticky, I didn’t want to deal with sticky fingers or the wrapper, so I’d finish eating before I left. But even with that, I was surprised how efficient I was.
  • Having planned walk breaks helped me a lot mentally, and physically.
  • Direct sunlight is a killer. I knew this already, but it was really hit home for me. The extra walk breaks when the sun was hottest was key for me.
  • I had to work really hard to keep myself from going too fast, even on the last lap.

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