I’m celebrating a milestone birthday this year, and have decided to mark the occasion with a nice 50 miler in July. My dilemma is that this requires some conscious training.
For the better part of the past five years, I’ve run marathons and 50k’s often enough that I’m more or less “trained” for them. It’s convenient – I don’t really have to think twice. If it fits on the family calendar, I can do it. But adding another twenty miles or more makes it a new ballgame. I’ll have to plan for this.
At the beginning of March, while running a marathon in the Redmond Watershed, my friend Brian Pendleton gave me some great advice. The White River 50 miler can be viewed as a 50k plus another twenty miles of hiking. The more significant climbs are ones I’d probably want to walk. And with a net ascent of about 8700 feet, it will be important to build my base mileage up a bit. The other suggestion from Brian was that I consider doing the crazy Dizzy Daze run, put on by our friends Betsy Rogers and her husband Matt Hagen. It’s a 12 hour event – the goal is to cover as many miles as you want (or that you can) between 7am and 7pm.
That’s what brought me out to Green Lake this Saturday morning in March. I wasn’t sure what sort of effort I’d be able to coax out, so just decided to relax. In fact, I relaxed so much that I ended up starting about 40 minutes after just about everyone else. That’s a nice thing about timed events – starting late doesn’t have to be a big deal. It’s about the miles you cover.
As luck would have it, Brian showed up at about the same time, so we set out together. We spent the first several loops running/walking and swapping stories. The week’s rain had let up, so the conditions were great.
I did my middle loops solo – keeping a steady 9:15/mile pace. After doing this three or four times, I was ready for some company again. Solo loops around Green Lake can be sort of like watching paint dry. But spending it with friends make the miles much easier. We saw our friends Leslie, Lee, Stan, Monte, Paige, Ross, Rick, and Lisa on the course. There were other friends who volunteered (hey SRL!).
We spent the next two loops circling together, and passing the time. Brian’s goal was to call things good at 50k (he was going to do the Cupcake Run the next day, so needed to leave something in his tank). I was aiming for about 41-42 miles. That would be ten more than I’d covered in a day before.
Brian’s wife and friends had set up a “rogue” aid station roughly at the midpoint of our 3.2 mile loop. They’re raising money for the ALS Association (Brian is living with ALS), and were out there cheering us on just when we could appreciate it the most. The last time around was a bit tougher. Brian’s IT band was bothering him, and my feet were hurting. We can look past the immediate aches and pains, and focus on our goals. For me, it’s about getting ready for White River. For Brian, I think it’s about getting to event #200 (12 more to go).
We parted after he’d completed his miles, and I did my final two loops alone. About halfway through the final loop, my GPS clicked over the 40 mile mark. I’d never imagined I would do something like this. You can argue that these are (very) flat miles. And it’s true that there are going to be tougher runs ahead, as I prepare for White River. But I was happy to have covered these 41.6 today.
Please consider giving to the ALS Association. They fund continuing research towards a cure, as well as treatment and services for people living with ALS. Do this in honor of people you know who have been affected by this wicked thing, or in honor of our friend Brian as he runs towards marathon/ultra #200. Pictures provided by Christy Hammond.