Monday, July 7, 2014

I want to run 100 miles

In addition to the artwork and criticism and other sporadic postings on this blog, I'm going to use this space to chronicle my journey to become an ultramarathon runner. An ultramarathon (an ultra) is defined as any race where the mileage exceeds the 26.2 miles of a standard marathon. Typically, ultras in the US are 50 miles and 100 miles.

My two year running goal is to run The Western States 100.

To do that in anywhere near a competitive capacity, I'll have to complete probably a dozen races with distances of 50 - 100 miles between now and then. I'll have to break down my body and build it back from the ground up and become an endurance athlete.


Why do I want to do this? Why would anybody want to run 100 miles?

I suppose the answer (my answer) is simple:

I want to be the person I have to be to do it.

I want to be disciplined. I want to work really hard at something. I want a trial, to train my body as well as my mind above and beyond the normal human being.  I want to do something that nobody else I know can do. I want to shed the ego that feed those self-serving urges. I want surprises. I want a metamorphosis. I want a goal that is totally dependent on my hard work, my body, my mind. I want to stand in success or failure with nobody to praise or blame but myself and no excuses. I can either do this or I can't and I want to be the person who can.

In the back of my mind I have more specific goals. Can I become elite? This is a sport where the best runners are in their late thirties and beyond. I'm 31. I have a decade to work to become among the best in the world at something. I want to know what that feels like. Can I finish this race or other 100 mile races in the top 10? Top 3? Can I work so hard and be so focused and want it so much that there is no other possible outcome?

All of which may seem laughable. I just completed my first trail marathon last month and posted a less-than-stellar time of 4:04:51. That's not elite. But it's also not average. And I know I didn't train as hard as I could have. I didn't bring the discipline to it that I'd need to survive on the big stage of a world-class 100 miler like The Western States. That training has started in earnest. I've started incorporating 25 milers into my weekly runs, building my strength to go beyond and with more frequency.

I hope to run 50 miles without stopping in September. Race 50 shortly thereafter. I want to have run my first 100 mile race within 12 months of this post.

I want to do this. And I think I can.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Road to Marathon

August 2012 - Started running 3-4 miles a few times a week.
September 2012 - Upped that to 3-5. More or less every other day.
October 2012 - A low mileage month at the start but picked it up and ran a 17 mile run more or less by accident.
November 2012 - The season turns and you learn how to run with that.
December 2012 - More excess and indulgence than running.
January 2013 - Back at it with a vengeance. Highest mileage in a month yet. Lots of solo runs through Rock Creek Park in the tilted winter light.
February 2013 - Keeping it up. Decided on a goal of running 100 miles a month every month in 2013.
March 2013 - More long runs more often. 8 - 12 miles regularly.
April 2013 - Busy work schedule. Just made it my goal of 100 miles.
May 2013 - Same for May. Upping the mileage a little.
June 2013 - Work and a nagging hip issue keep my mileage below 100 for the first month ever.
July 2013 - Family vacations. Some running. Brutal heat. Wussed out this month too.
August 2013 - A foot infection sidelined me from any real runs until the later part of the month.
September 2013 - Getting back into the game. 8 - 12 miles regularly.
October 2013 - Long runs in Sligo the norm. 10 miles each on average. Speed training on a treadmill at 3, 5 and 10 mile distances. Ran 3 miles in 14:40.
November 2013 - Lots of Rock Creek runs. Moving away. Saying goodbye in a way.
December 2013 - New digs are half a mile on quiet road to Sligo. I start exploring north.
January 2014 - Bitter cold. Not a lot of running.
February 2014 - Start a longer regular route. 3 run, 15 mile days are getting common.
March 2014 - More cold. Bad weather. Work. Less running. More 7 milers and 15 milers less frequently.
April 2014 - Better weather, better runs. 15 milers now common.
May 2014 - Exploring new routes. Finding great trail running. A 21 mile run more or less by accident. First 1/2 marathon. The Alexandria Running festival. Posted a time of 1:31:45 and placed 35 in a field of about 900. Displeased with my performance.
June 2014 - Ran my first marathon.

A doozy. The North Face Endurance Challenge DC Trail Marathon. I ran an excellent first half with some top notch runners (far behind the two immediate true leaders) My two running companions and I rounded out the top 5. Then we more or less broke up at the turn.

On the second half I cramped up in ways I didn't think were possible and should certainly be studied and employed in torture methods. Walking and cramping up between bursts of sloppy and slow and mechanically disastrous running. The entire pack that passed me was super supportive and offered aid. I learned salt is a key ingredient for distance running. It was great to be with a group of people for whom running brings joy. In the end of the day it's about the run. The only result that matters is being better than you were before the run.

I'm not necessarily bummed with my time of 4:04:51. I would have certainly shaved 15 minutes off of that if I hadn't been cramping. I doubt my case was unique. In a field of 230 I placed a better than expected 20th. I was aiming for top 50. I suppose the course was truly kind of a beast

I'll run this marathon annually. It's a rewarding trail run. Laking just a bit on the trail side of things and occasionally crossing into ecologically dicey terrain. Had to keep my eyes peeled for critters. A cold bath in a river stream did help relax my muscles.

I should say that through all of my training I've had an exceptional training partner, which helps on the motivation side of things when you've got the aches and pains.

I think with a year of focus, he and I could both place top five. This marathon is right in our stylistic wheelhouse.

So my immediate goal is to run a lot and train more rigorously on trails. Get strong. Get focused.

Run a road marathon (organized or not) in July. For speed.

Run another trail marathon in August.

And so on until I become as good as I can.

So today, two days after my first marathon, after a day of rest and excess, it is time to get back to that beautiful sound of feet sailing on the ground.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Star Wars Episode 7 Cast Revealed

Heaven help me I'm actually blogging about this.

Here's you main cast for Star Wars Episode 7: Something of the Something

Neat picture. Classy way to announce it. For my money, these names come in five flavors:

No shit, Sherlock:

Mark Hamill
Carrie Fisher
Harrison Ford
Anthony Daniels
Kenny Baker
Peter Mayhew

This is news?:

John Boyega
Adam Driver

I'm so happy they got these guys:

Oscar Isaac
Andy Serkis
Max von Sydow

The relatively unknown ingenue:

Daisy Ridley

And Bill Weasley:

Domhnall Gleeson

Seems like an impressive cast. Hard to believe JJ and co would have a hard time getting top-shelf talent for this one but with the Prequel trilogy's legacy of tarnished reputations and stillborn careers maybe it was a harder sell than I imagine.

Hope the movie is good. I have my doubts. Have you watched Return of the Jedi recently? Time has been about as kind to it as gravity has been to Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014