This weekend is the Landsford Canal 24 hour run. It is, just as it sounds, a race that goes on for 24 hours. The course is a 4.25 mile loop and whoever runs the most laps wins. Spoiler alert: that person will not be me so you can get off the edge of your seat there, punkin.
Landsford will mark my first foray into ultra running events. I thought a 24 hour event would make a good newbie event because it lacks the pressure of a clock. Well I’m sure a number of runners there be will racing the clock to run as much as they can within the time allowed. I’m also pretty sure there will be plenty of runners there to simply hit a certain number of miles or hours as a personal milestone.
I don’t have any intention of staying for 24 hours this time around. My goal is to hit the 50k (31.1 miles) mark and earn another tacky sticker for the van. Given the loop distance, in order to hit the 50k, I will end up doing around 34 miles so I’ll also be running my age but there isn’t a sticker for that. Sad. Why would a person do something if there is no sticker?
I signed up for this event shortly before running the Columbia Marathon in March. I think I thought March and April were further apart because I felt like there was a ton of time to add some longer long runs to my schedule. Turns out March and April? Totally neighbors on the calendar. Woops. So I ended up with five weeks between the events. Not too bad, I don’t think, if I had mapped out an intentional plan that ended at Landsford but started in say January and made Columbia a long training run. I’m just pretending that is what I did but it’s not really. I’m not at all what I would call unprepared but, by contrast, I followed detailed and careful training plans for my first and second marathons. These last two events have been very “by the seat of my pants”. Probably wouldn’t be a big deal to a seasoned runner to slap together event plans without a lot of planning but its a bit of a risky choice for a newb like me. To combat that risk, I’ve chosen a very attainable goal and plan to run a super easy pace to get there. Most 50k training plans will suggest that marathon training plans are sufficient for completing a 50k. My “training plan” since Columbia has just been maintaining the marathon training. I’ve gotten in long runs of 18, 20 and 23 miles. Also if we are pretending that I did start training for Landsford in January, then we could count the two times I did 26.2 in February and March. So now I just have to hope sheer will gets me from 26.2 to 34 miles. Let’s see if that works.
As a side note, I absolutely plan to map out a less spastic plan of attack for the fall events I have on deck. I want to make some time goals on a few of them so I’ll want to be better prepared.
I have done a lot ultra prep via reading blogs written by people who run ultras locally. My Dad had a friend once who swore he was training to become a pro football coach by playing football video games. I’m not sure if that worked for him, now that I think about it, but I’m using a similar philosophy here. I’ve learned about eating real food, rather than all gels/GU/sports drinks and taking salt tabs. So I’ve practiced that a bit and I’m going prepared with a bag of chips and some diet coke, along with the trusty Pineapple Roctane and Margarita Shot Bloks that have always done me right. I’ve also learned to go slooooooow and I’m all over that idea. Glancing at the roster for Landsford, I see several of my favorite bloggers will be there. Carrie is very afraid I will be chasing them for autographs. She might have a valid fear there…
So today finds me in the taper for my first ultra. Taper week is always a bit of a mess for me. I want to go run but I’m not supposed to so instead I make awesome choices like eating a lunch of chocolate eggs and tortilla chips. Then I write lists of things to bring and things to eat and things to remember. Then I rewrite all the lists. Then I obsess about what time to set my alarm and what time to leave. I always think I’ll enjoy taper week and use the free time to do some house projects. I pretty much always end up just sitting around being kind of cranky. The sitting around gives me just enough time to worry over new, phantom aches and pains. (At the VWD today I almost mentioned a weird achilles pain I am having but then decided not to. You tell that man something hurts and he jabs a needle into it!)I have to wonder if better, faster runners are also this dramatic about taper week or if I’m just a total pain in the ass. Don’t answer that.