I had a real enjoyable weekend of running even though I didn't feel great during the runs and I now believe that I will finish my first 50 miler in less than 4 weeks. I have to admit up to this weekend I had doubts, ok, who am I kidding I still have doubts but I now know it's achievable.
Why? Well, my plan for the weekend was to run 2 loops at Murphy and I actually did it. My original thinking was to run Sunday as I thought Karyn and I would be running the river bottoms on Saturday and I thought my daughter would have cross country, as it turned out neither happened so I decided to go for it on Saturday. My plan was to run the 1st loop kind of by feel, I would walk all the major uphills, walk when I felt like it, take a drink break every 20 minutes or when walking a hill depending on where I was, take an S-Cap every 40 minutes, take fuel around an hour and a half and whenever I needed it there after.
I got to Murphy around 8:30, I went to the entrance that the race would start from as I wanted to emulate the race at least as far as the loops go. It was a cool morning so I through on a jacket and some pants, I loaded up the Nathan, decided on which shoes (Teva Romero's) and off I went.
I didn't feel good from the start my left IT band was tight and I was expecting my left knee to bug me as it had been recently causing some issues. Nothing too urgent, probably just tendinitis but the hills at Murphy I figured would aggravate it. I thought I might run into some folks as Wayne had emailed that on the Surf the Murph website they said they were having a training run at 8:00 am. I also should admit that I got there after 8 as I didn't want to run this with anyone else. I do enjoy my solitude when I run but on this morning and for this run I needed to do it at my pace and being social means I am not running my pace.
I tried to keep the pace slow, my thinking was to shoot for between 14 and 15 min/mile on the 1st loop and then see what happened on the 2nd loop. I marked out the hills mentally so that when the race happens I can keep the positive voice going, things like just 3 miles and then the hills that hurt are done. Oh there are many other hills at Murphy but only 2 that really cause me issues to walk up. In order to stay true to the course I did have to go around a couple of closed gates but I needed this test to be as close to the race course as I could make it. As I meandered through the north section, I felt ok except for the IT band and a feeling it was going to be a long day. I just plodded along and kept thinking that 2 loops was going to be a struggle, then I stepped back and I told myself to relax, you have all day. My thanks to my wife and my family for allowing me to take on this time consuming task.
When I came into the horse parking lot, I decided I should go for some fuel as maybe my malaise was just low energy. I went for a couple of clif shot bloks and continued on. After a mile or so I was feeling a little better but still not real good. It was cold or I should say I was cold. It had drizzled a bit but it was more from the exposed southern section. It could be interesting if there is a stiff wind for the race. After another hour, I decided I was still having some low energy so I went for a chocolate #9, it was a bit stiff from the cold. I hope they don't freeze. I may have to test that out before the race. I was heading to the single track section that takes you out of the southern section when I heard someone behind me, it was couple of women. I figured they would pass me during that section, I crossed the road and was heading up the hill when I came across yet another locked gate (course marker 15 to 9), this one had multiple signs on it to stay out, so this time I decided I would. I took a left and then looped back to the other side of this gate (meaning from 15-13-12-11-10 to 9), from the map this looked to be about the same distance. I turned around and headed back to the main parking lot, after a bit the two women reappeared and passed me as we came into the main lot, they continued on as I went to my car to grab more fuel. One loop done in about 3 hours 45 minutes, the Garmin said the distance was 14.6.
On to the second loop, I decided I had gotten hot so off with the pants, keep the gloves, more chocolate #9, a liter and a half of electrolyte, a few more S-caps. I wasn't too sure how it would go as I was feeling low energy still and my legs seemed dead. The IT band had not gotten worse nor had it gone away. I was crossing the wooden bridge in this section that is over a marsh and I slid right down the last part (it was like sliding on ice) which kind of snapped me a bit. I was a bit surprised and walked it off, no damage. I made it through the hills and got to the horse trail lot, I was thinking I was going to make it. The energy remained low so I just kept moving, I took a 5 minute walking-fueling break with the hope it would get me going. It didn't but I just kept moving. I was doing a lot of walking in a very runnable section, I just didn't have it.
On I went, until I was back on the single track section and I debated do I just pack it in or do I repeat the exact previous loop. I decided I had nothing to lose so on I went. I got to the gate again(15 to 9) and debated, nope, not this weekend and proceeded to repeat the first loop again. As I worked my way towards the main parking lot, I was starting to feel pretty good not where I could run but more with the realization that if it was race day I would just continue on for one more loop and do exactly what I did on loop 2, walk, run, just get through it. I finished the loop right at 4 hours, the Garmin said 29.3 and it went to 29.5 when I synced it later.
So on a not great day, I got through almost 30 miles and felt like I could have gotten through a third loop, I can do it. I won't be fast and I will probably be on my own as my pace will probably be a bit sporadic. A couple of things did come up, I lost track of when I was taking S-caps, my chocolate #9 was pretty thick and I developed a couple of hot spots on both feet but considering how wet my feet were, that was ok. I ran 8 miles today and outside of the hot spots on my feet from yesterday all seemed ok.
So 4 weeks out, things are looking good, one more long weekend of running and then it's taper time.