Zumbro 50 Training: Week 5

Zero miles.

Already looking for a backup race. I kind of needed a backup race anyway, due to a possible trip to the NCAA Frozen Four the same weekend.

I am hoping to get back to running on Wednesday. My energy has mostly returned today, but I’ve still got crap to clear from my lungs. Tuesday is my scheduled rest day for the next few months, due to my Fundamentals of Engineering exam prep course, so Wednesday is my target date to run again. Just in time for the temperatures to start going down, but not terribly so!

Zumbro 50 Training: Week 4

Monday: 8 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Tuesday: 6 mi, road (UMD campus)
Wednesday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Thursday: 5.1 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 7.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Sunday: 8 mi, trail (Hartley)
Total: 40.5 mi

Well, another week below the 50 mile mark. This was an unintentional cutback week, but things happen.

I suffered through several bitterly cold days before a milder weekend. I am pretty proud of myself for getting my butt out there and running when it was super cold. Tuesday it snowed about 3 inches, and I still went out and ran on UMD’s campus (the only place I was certain was plowed) in a biting wind. Wednesday I ended up covered in ice pellets and had to scrape my car off. Thursday I just gritted my teeth and ran what I could stand to run, so that I wouldn’t have to run before Friday’s hockey game.

Saturday and Sunday, I got late starts. I really need to stop doing that. I had hockey games on Saturday and a movie (Hidden Figures) to see on Sunday, so I had hard deadlines to finish running. I wasn’t on time to Saturday’s hockey game, though. Sunday I had no problem getting to the movie on time, because my planned 18 mile run turned into an 8 mile run. My heart was not in the run, almost from the beginning. Running at Hartley has become somewhat frustrating as the trails are much shorter than they used to be (most likely due to the storms this summer) and I was trying to piece together a loop. After an off-leash dog (actually, a dog wearing a leash allowed to run free) jumped on me without an apology from its owner, and a group of probably 12 bikers stopped on the trail while they each very slowly went over one of the wooden footbridges, forcing me to pass them all on the side of the trail in shin-deep snow, I was done. I forced myself to make it to 8 miles (which would give me 40 miles for the week), and even that was rough.

It turned out to be best to cap the run at 8 miles, as I’m down for the count with a cold. (Yes, just as the temps warmed up, I’ve come down with a chest cold.) But this is not a good sign – 4 weeks in, I still haven’t run 50 miles in a week, but yet I still want to run 50 miles in a day. Yikes.

Zumbro 50 Training: Week 3

Monday: 7.7 mi, trail (Hartley)
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6.8 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Friday: 5.6 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Saturday: 5.3 mi, trail (Hartley)
Sunday: 15.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Total: 47 mi

Once again, I missed the 50 mile mark. However, almost every run this week was done in very cold temperatures. The only nice days were Monday and Sunday, and Sunday it was still only like 10-11 F, so my standards are very low right now.

I ran on trails for the first time since Wild Duluth! It was very pleasant. Monday was my first time back at Hartley since the huge windstorm last summer that wreaked havoc on the park. There are some noticeable bare spots (although they were also in the midst of a project to thin out the trees, so I’m not certain what was due to that project and what was due to the storm), and there are a lot of downed trees still visible off the trails. I might be imagining this, but I think some of the trails have been re-routed a bit. There seems to be about a mile (maybe more) chopped off of the Root Canal – Guardrail loops, when I compare last year’s running log to this year’s. It stinks if that means there’s still significant trail damage to deal with. It stinks on a more selfish note because that means it’s harder to get a longer run out of the Hartley trails, especially since some of the trail system is converted to nordic ski trails for the winter.

The good thing is that I’m much faster on these trails than I used to be. I never looked down and saw a 20 minute pace (unless climbing a hill). Hooray! I made a good choice to focus on speed for awhile. Well, I didn’t really focus on speed, rather I focused on running terrain that doesn’t naturally slow me down.

Most of the week, I ran in frigid temps, sometimes below 0 F. Yes, I am a total bada$$. I’m not even going to pretend to be humble. I bought new gloves (they were very expensive but TOTALLY WORTH IT, my hands are never cold anymore), a pair of long underwear bottoms, and a balaclava on my rest day. I was able to survive running on Thursday and Friday in the bitter cold, although my butt and thighs were still frozen. I can’t seem to figure out how to fix that. Even wearing shorts over my three layers of pants isn’t working. I might have to try wearing some pants that aren’t tights. The balaclava is ok. Even with the breathing holes over the nose/mouth, my glasses still fog up. I have to pull the nose/mouth covering down, which defeats the purpose of the balaclava. A few times I ended up having to take my glasses off and carry them, because I needed to warm my face. Surprisingly that did not end up with my glasses getting crushed under my foot after I dropped them.

Sunday’s long run went ok. I would like to run a long run NOT on the Lakewalk, but with the condition of most sidewalks and roads, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. If it is warm enough I could do a trail long run, but when it’s cold, I need to finish the run as quickly as possible. It actually felt decent out for most of the run, and I never truly felt COLD. However, my water bottle did freeze up and become useless after about 2 hours. I dropped it at my car after 11 miles (and swigged a few glorious gulps of vanilla Coke) and finished up the final 4 miles without anything in my hands. It started snowing at that point, stinging little pellets that have left me with a red nose this morning.

I’m vacillating between confidence and pessimism regarding my ability to cover 50 miles on foot. I’ve got 13 weeks to go, but so much can happen between now and race day – illness, injury, mental fatigue, major life events, college hockey national championships (ok that’s a major life event). No matter what, as long as I keep working and training like I am going to run this race, I will benefit, even if I am in Chicago instead of the Zumbro River Bottoms on April 8th.

Zumbro 50 Training: Week 2

Monday: 5.4 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 8.1 mi, road/trail (Lakewalk and Park Point)
Thursday: 4 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Friday: 9.2 mi, road (UMD campus)
Saturday: 7.2 mi, road (Park Point)
Sunday: 13.7 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Total: 47.6 mi

Monday’s run was tough, because of the ice storm on Christmas. It was really slippery, so I just took it slow and hoped for the best. Monday night I ate some frozen pizza that gave me horrible indigestion so I was down for the count on Tuesday, which was annoying since I had the day off, my final day off before I returned to work… for 2.5 days. So glad I hoarded my meager vacation days so that I could have a nice long time stretch of time off at the end of the year to just chill out.

Running on Wednesday was just as frustrating as it was on Monday, possibly worse, since people still had not cleared their sidewalks or salted them. The sides of the streets aren’t plowed very well either, so I had basically nowhere to run that wasn’t slippery, slushy, or covered in ankle-deep crusty snow. Only like 3.5 more months of this!

Friday our office closed early, so I thought hey, I’ll get out and run while it’s still light out! This didn’t happen. I farted around at home for awhile and then had to go out while it was snowing. I ran to campus and then did some loops through the streets on the campus, because the sidewalks are pretty well-maintained compared to the rest of the city.

Saturday I zipped through a run on Park Point as best I could (still a lot of shoveling issues) so I could get home in time to watch the USA-Canada World Junior Championship game (spoiler alert: I did not get home in time to see the whole game). Sunday I was similarly pressed for time. I planned on running 17 miles to kick off 2017, but I chose to sleep in (I was really tired and if I’m tired in week 2 of training, I’ve got to re-evaluate) and had to get my butt in gear to even run the 13.7 (the entire length of the Lakewalk, both ways) with enough time before I went to see Rogue One with my family. (Still a good movie, not as good of an experience as last time, since there were a bunch of kids in the theater and they wouldn’t stop asking their parents questions about the movie. It’s PG-13 for a reason, people.)

I’m still undecided about signing up for the race, but I am in the lottery now for the Superior Spring 25K and the Moose Mountain Marathon! I really hope I get into both, I am looking to have a nice PR in the 25K, provided it is not 80 F again. And heck, even if it is 80. I’ve almost forgotten what warm weather feels like.

Zumbro 50 Training: Week 1

*Remember, I’m not yet committed to this race. Getting closer every day, but we’ll see what happens once the deep freeze sets in.

Monday: 6.4 mi, paved trail + road (Lakewalk + Park Point)
Tuesday: 8.2 mi, road (Park Point)
Wednesday: 6.6 mi, road
Thursday: 15.2 mi, paved trail (entire Lakewalk both ways + a little extra)
Friday: 8 mi, road
Saturday: rest (holiday travel)
Sunday: rest (holiday travel + horrible weather)
Total: 44.4 mi

Biggest running week in awhile. Probably not a good idea, I am sure, but they’re not extremely challenging miles. I haven’t run on a technical trail in quite awhile, although that’s got to change soon.

I bitched about winter running in my previous post, as it’s been affecting my runs quite a bit. Running over unshoveled sidewalks, running on busy streets because the sidewalks are impassable for a block – or more! It sucks, and it’s limiting my routes. I’m going to be so sick of the Lakewalk in a few weeks.

I have been running with my trail shoes, as they have lugs for traction on the bottom, which have been sufficient so far. I haven’t tried them on a snowy trail yet, so I may need to replace the chain grippers I had last year, but I’d prefer not to. I received some gift cards for Christmas for trail gear and shoes (from REI and Austin Jarrow, my fave local running store), so I’ll be stocking up on gear for the winter. I may or may not buy snowshoes, I haven’t decided.

My first long run in awhile went relatively well. It hurt a bit, that’s for sure, but the time really flew by. I carried a water bottle for the first time in a long time, and for awhile couldn’t figure out why I was so off balance – I thought I had vertigo. Turns out it was the sloshing of the water in the bottle. I ate gels for the first time since Wild Duluth, which went well. I was concerned my stomach wouldn’t be ready for them but I had no issues. I do have to make sure to carry them close to my body to prevent them from solidifying. Opening gels with gloves is also much more annoying than opening gels in nice warm weather with free hands. My gloves got a little sticky.

I originally planned on running 4 or so miles on Saturday before we headed down to the Twin Cities for our whirlwind Christmas tour, but my back was stiff and I didn’t want to push the miles. 44 was enough, 4 extra miles wasn’t going to have any benefit, and I was going to sit in a car for 2.5 hours.

15 more weeks to go. I haven’t set my “drop dead” date for signing up for the race. I think that’ll come after my first huge back-to-back weekend.

50 or Bust?

Today I’m embarking on the first week of training for either a slightly under-trained Zumbro 50, or an extremely over-trained Zumbro 17. I’m still not sure.

I hate to equivocate, but I am really uncertain about my ability to put in the mileage necessary, and to stay healthy for 16 weeks in a row. However, I do want to be transparent about what I’m doing. There’s no reason to be secretive about a goal, just because I might not make it. Of course I’m setting myself up for failure by not committing 100% to the race RIGHT FREAKING NOW, but I’m being honest. Last winter, I was sick for like 8 weeks straight. I trained through some of that, but I also had long stretches of time with no running. I ran Zumbro 17 in the midst of that illness (and on about 2 hours of sleep), but that was 17 miles. (Well, 16.7.) Running 3x that distance, starting at midnight, in who knows what weather, is entirely different.

I’m a bit concerned about ramping up the mileage after several weeks of very low mileage, but I have several days off this week, it’s warmed up considerably (I ran 5.6 miles yesterday in sub-zero Fahrenheit weather), and I am feeling pretty good. I don’t have any nagging pain, I’m not mentally beaten up from running, and aside from a bit of a runny nose and some sneezing most likely brought on by poor air quality in my house, I’m not feeling sick.

My goal was to loosely follow the plan laid out in Hal Koerner’s book. I was going to use the plan from Bryon Powell’s, but I can’t figure out where I put that book. It is probably under my bed or under my couch. I’m a slob, but I’ve come to terms with it. It prevents me from having too many houseguests, so it’s got its good points. Hal’s plan is far too ambitious for me, but I’m also hoping to just finish the race before the cut-off, not win.

I’m under no illusion that I can half-ass this training the way I did with Wild Duluth and Moose Mountain. There was a lot of winging it, mileage-wise. I made virtually no changes to my nutrition. I haphazardly did strength training. I didn’t concentrate on sleep or stress management. And I didn’t have to worry about when I ran because it was decent weather most of the time and there was lots of daylight. If I am able to successfully complete the Zumbro 50, it will be because I was able to eat well, run well, sleep well, and live well. It will be life-changing in a way that running a marathon and a 50K were not.

I am really, really excited to see what happens.