I have three more weeks of training in the books for the Twilight Zone 6-Hour Run where I aim to run a 50K. As someone at work referred to it, my “super marathon.” Someone else knew it was considered an ultra marathon, but it was a fun reminder that although this is my reality, most people don’t know much about this crazy world of running.
Aside from coping with some snow, cold wind, and an ankle that was angry for a few days, my training has continued to go fairly smoothly. I finished February with 239 miles and am up to 449 miles for the year so far. I finally broke the 60-mile barrier for weekly mileage this past week. I have run more than 60 miles in a week a few times while training for marathons, but I believe the 65 miles I ran last week may be a new high for me.
I was scheduled to hit 60 miles for the fifth week of training and I made it to 59. The snow and ice melted enough to run around home a couple days, but I went back to Stony Creek Metropark the rest of the week. One or two of the runs had a real-feel in the single digits. We’ve been lucky that this winter has rarely been that cold. I had back-to-back 13-milers on the weekend. I ran one of them with a group and ran solo the next day. I thought I was a little on the fast side the first day then ended up a few minutes faster the next day. I haven’t been doing any speed or tempo runs so I guess it’s okay if I run a little faster now and then. My body must have felt the effects of the high mileage because I woke up with night sweats following the second 13-mile run. That usually happens to me at some point during marathon training and so far it’s only been the one night during this training segment.
I was supposed to run 61 miles the sixth week but only made it to 45 miles. That Tuesday night my right ankle/shin felt a little tweaky during my run. It seemed okay for a few miles so I thought I could run through it. Of course it really started to bother me once I got about three miles out from the parking lot at Stony. I ran one more mile but had to walk two. As if it wasn’t challenging enough to walk back with my angry ankle, I got really cold and the strong wind didn’t help. I was frozen and miserable by the end of that workout. I’ve experienced that tweaky feeling many times over the years where my ankle/shin area locks up. If I take a day off I’m usually fine by the next day. Since I pushed through it I was afraid I’d made it worse. I took two days off to recover and luckily that did the trick.
That Friday I did a test run and was relieved that I felt good enough for 8 miles. I ventured by one of the rail-to-trails, but they’re still too icy. I miss having flat routes like the trails for easy runs. Pretty much all of my paved winter routes are hilly. Hopefully the hills will make me stronger though!
I went back to Stony for my solo 18-mile run on Saturday. Stony has been a good place for my long runs because I can stop at the car to swap water bottles as I rack up the miles. I went back for 13 miles the next day and did the first seven solo, then ran six with my friend Carmen. This week was a reminder that taking a couple days off will not derail my training, but trying to push through injury could. I still got my long runs in, and although I still didn’t break that barrier of 60 miles for the week, at least the tweak didn’t turn into something more serious.
I finally broke the 60-mile threshold for the first time during this training cycle with 65 miles for the seventh week. Monday is usually my day off but I shifted it to Wednesday to avoid running in the snow and ice that came that day. Unfortunately, the conditions weren’t great on Thursday either. There was a really strong wind that blew snow across the path at Stony. A tenth to a quarter of a mile was the longest I could make it at a time with clear pavement. When I found one clear stretch, I ran back and forth on that to rack up a couple miles. It was a slow run trying to fight the wind and run through snow drifts, but I got it done. At least it looked pretty.
The path was almost totally clear on Friday but it was still pretty windy. I’ve grown tired of battling the wind lately.
I had a huge weekend of mileage with 20 miles on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. I got a late start for Saturday’s run, but that was a good thing because it was a sunny afternoon and the temperature made it into the 30s. I treated myself to some new running shoes that morning. With all of the mileage I’ve been running I can always use more shoes, plus I was tempted to see what the new, lightweight Brooks Hyperion Tempo shoes felt like. I didn’t think I’d run 20 miles in them for my first run but they kept working so I kept using them.
I ran 12 miles to start then stopped at the car. I swapped bottles and brought an Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich with me. It was my first time trying that during a run. I’m concerned that I usually get tired of eating chews during the late miles of marathons so maybe I should experiment with some of the things ultra runners eat. I ate the sandwich in quarters every 2.5-3 miles which seemed to work. I was tired by the end of the 20 miles, but I didn’t feel too beat up. Good thing since I had 15 more miles to run the next day. For that one I ran nine miles, swapped bottles, then experimented with eating a Honey Stinger Waffle for the last six miles. I ate a quarter of the waffle a couple times within the six miles and that seemed to work too. My legs were pretty tired and I had to fight through a strong wind to finish, but I successfully finished a 65-mile week.
I haven’t raced since the Chicago Marathon in October and will get back to it now that March is here. I’m not sure that I’ll really be “racing” so much as using the events to help me get my mileage in. I sure could use a change of scenery from Stony since I’ve been doing almost all of my training there. This coming weekend I plan to head to the Toledo area for a 15-mile March Mayhem training run that will be formatted like a race. I also have the Ann Arbor and Rock CF half marathons coming up later this month. I’m looking forward to getting back to the race environment and hope that having others around will help pull me along faster than I’ve been running recently.