100 mile week – 13.1 every day for a week Challenge

100 miles in one week

Pretty easy you’d think for the person who has ran two 100 milers over the course of less than 2 days (note both have been the same mountain 100, maybe I should try a normal 100 one day). But I never had a 100 mile week in training. Seeing as the pandemic has no end in sight, I have a bunch of free time to see what the body can do outside of a regular training season. Traditionally, I would up miles, focus on race course specifics in training, and then have a nice taper. I’ve been doing one ultra distance a month since October 2019, and now am faced with harder choices to make those up on my own without events. I managed an ultra distance and a marathon within 10 days of each other last month. But my training has a feeling of loss and purpose.

My original goal was to train up for my first attempt at a normal 100 and go under 24 hours whatever that looked like, and even if I failed, gaining valuable experience for a 2nd attempt later. It has now switched to maintaining a good base and slowly working on speed again. Mixing distance and speed training is always tricky. I always feel kinda bummed when I see my 10k pace still about 1-2 minutes slower than my PR, despite being in much better shape physically. I can hold paces longer and without as much effort as ever before. I am recovering and able to go hard basically whenever I want, but that top speed has left my legs, especially after last year’s stress fracture. But now what, we are all there. You can see it as endless opportunity, like me, and then get bogged down with the decision of WHAT to do, or this whole thing has stopped you in your tracks and you do less or nothing at all…or you could be someone who just runs for fun and this changes nothing. Aimless training can be fun for a while, but then you wonder, what now?

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Early January 2019, I came up with the idea to challenge myself to a 7 day streak of half marathons in the winter to keep me motivated. This was before I found out how bad it was for me to train outdoors for long periods in the winter air. Enter pandemic Spring 2020. This is the perfect opportunity to do this. Time to taper, time to commit, and time to recover after. The idea was to do a manageable distance every day. A marathon was too complicated at this time, especially given what I know now even if that even makes sense, more on that later. 10Km seemed too short (and word is constantly correcting to a capitalized K, sorry about that folks, there’s no stopping the autocorrect here!), but my speed wasn’t where it needs to be to feel a sense of accomplishment and that could be less than an hour every day…not enough. I did some quick math, and 13.1 miles a day would get me to 91 miles for a week. What’s 9 more miles spread out over 7 days? I could walk those as cool downs at least. Plan accepted. 13.1 miles minimum a day in one activity with as much effort as I could give balanced out each day, and walking for active recovery to meet the 100 miles for a week goal.

So I began tapering, seeing a good 70-80 degree high week in the long term forecast for most days. During this time, I planned out routes and what would occupy my mind since I would be running alone (two reasons: I never have anyone to really run far with at whatever pace I am feeling, and pandemic mode). I decided to skip Monday due to bad weather (rain, in the 50s), and this was a good choice. Friend Megan debated me saying it seems more natural to start on the first day of the week. I thought about it, and decided that Tuesday would still be better for me. Tuesday’s weather was still overcast with chances of rain and upper 50s to low 60s. Not great, but better than Monday.

Day 1, I would do 3 of my neighborhood loop, which I thought was about 4 miles. Stay close to home and use home as my aid station. Catch up on all things Becoming Ultra podcast.

Day 2, I would use the arboretum loop, a known 10k loop which the MadCity Ultras are run on. I had never really done it by myself but two loops and then some seemed good enough using my car as an aid station. Would listen to Ten Junk Miles.

Day 3, unknown, would wait on the weather and maybe do the park and ride out and backs.

Day 4, unknown, Devil’s Lake? Depended on weather.

Day 5, Lake Kegnosa was the plan.

Day 6, Military Ridge at Riley out and backs was the plan.

Day 7, Donald Park, if it wasn’t wet.

Accept things will be fluid and go with the flow.

As you can tell, a lot of these were tentative on weather. I wrote down my thoughts and a lot of them stayed that way. One thing about ultra running or training is that you have to move and adapt to your situation. I had NO idea how I would feel each day, and the dynamics were always transforming into something else I could not even hope to plan for. It was half way through the week that I realized that it was Memorial Day weekend, and that would mean people. This immediately shifted a lot of my running routes as I didn’t want to be around people as much as possible if I could help it. This nixed Devil’s Lake on the weekend and Monday, and nixed Lake Kegnosa as well. It was a bit overwhelming, but I only took it a day at a time.

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Day 1, it was hard to even get out of the house with all the cloud doom and gloom looming over the house. It was drizzly and cool. I took a hand held water bottle and waited until the highest temp of the day to start. I wasn’t fond of the late afternoon start, but it forced me to try and be done before dinner. I knew this loop and headed out at an easy pace. I have to say my first few miles got me excited that my easy pace was this fast. I decided to walk more up the hills. Yeah, that’s another reason why I didn’t do all this near my house…hills. They are driftless style hills and I am not fond of doing them over and over again without reprieve. I thought for a first day, this would be appropriate forcing me to keep it a bit slower. Good thoughts, hah. Hahahahaha.

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It was pretty peaceful. When I got done with the first loop, my watch had almost clocked over to mile 5. This loop was longer than I recalled. I guess I only remembered the times it took me to do the loop and not the exact mileage. I came inside, had a quick potty break and grabbed some soda and refilled my water. Probably not enough calories, but I had eaten before I left for the run. I thought about doing the loop in reverse, but really cringed at the idea of running 1.5 miles up to my house in that direction. I settled into the same paces as loop 1. Ran up the 1st big hill which I hadn’t before, but walked more the 2nd. I did the same soda/water when I got done with the second loop, and the drizzly intensified. I was mostly protected from the wind with the hills and trees surrounding me, but why was there wind?! I was so tired of the wind here. Natasha friendo had informed me that with warm weather comes the price of wind. Boo I say. Vetoed.

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Rich was supposed to have joined me and I waited a bit on his response, but he was still working. I headed out for the final miles. I realized I was almost at 10 miles when I stopped back at the house again. I could just run my hilly 5k route, which uses the first third of the big loop I had been doing, but it meant going back up my big hill for 1.5 miles. Whatever right, I was almost done. I headed down and came back panting from pushing up the hill as to not lose pace on my watch. Silly me.

I ended with 13.5 miles in total, lots of Wisconsin style gain, and a pretty good half time. I ate some food and decided that I was going to play dance games as it was the first day for Stamina RPG4 tournament. My legs felt horrible and uncertain. I did some lower level songs and called it a little over an hour in playing. I noticed that my blister I had been battling from the previous week was not healed. Enter the fight why don’t you?

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Day One half done! Hills!!

The blister in question was in the middle of my forefoot on the bottom. I had to act fast, and was something I was clearly nervous about being an issue for the rest of the week. I started wearing socks to bed, and covering the skin in question in lotions and vasaline. I would also switch out my daily Altra shoes every day and wear different kinds of socks. I used XO Skin the first day and my first pair of Altra escalantes since my foot wideness is sometimes an issue early on in runs. I finished my run with a 0.6 mile cool down walk. 14.1 miles done.

The next day was beautiful, yet windy still. The sun was out though and that’s what mattered. Again, I waited until a bit later. So to wait, I decided to play dance games again. I managed some speedy passes and my legs felt stiff but less wobbly than the previous night. I played for nearly 2 hours, although a bunch of that time was modding the pad I played on and testing it out. Headed out to the arb with new clothes after the dance game sesh.

I arrived a bit before 2:30pm. The parking lot was overly full, people parked everywhere. I didn’t think in the middle of the day on a Wednesday (state parks closed Wednesday) that there would be this many people. I found some open parking in a back lot that I guess not many people knew about (they were still parking on the side of the road when I arrived). I set out with my garmin and a water bottle with a stored gel. Need to eat more I said to myself. Did I listen?

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I told myself I would walk a lot more today, and have forced walking breaks. The arb loop was saturated. Bikers, walkers, runners…everyone. Since they had closed the back half to traffic (which is another reason I decided to go there), no one was in the right place. Heading around the bend, I almost was hit by a bike! He wasn’t even watching the road, but looking off into the lake at the boaters. I yelled, and he whizzed by, too late to be phased by the runner in his path. The last two days proved I could not listen to podcasts with my phone. The connection would break with a lot of cord jiggling that I could not prevent. I was pretty saddened by this as I was going to use my music more as a motivator later on. It often disconnected (sometimes every 5 steps, and I would have to take my whole phone out and push play again each time it disconnected) with podcasts, but never did with pandora. So I settled on music I didn’t have banked on pandora.

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The only wild critter I cam across.

The sun was so inviting, and I shook off what was happening around me. The arb trees were in full bloom. When I made it to the end of the drive, I followed my watch for turns. Eventually, I got off course and about mile 5, I had to stop and open google maps to figure out where to go. I did this another 2 times. I was a bit frustrated, I shouldn’t care about pace, but I did not stop my watch for any of the half runs, but stopping for directions was annoying. I eventually made it back to my car. I fueled up with the soda I had waiting. I wanted to do a reverse loop but I was not confident I could make it around by myself. I followed my previous black line on garmin navigation. I STILL got lost on the back loop. Opened up google maps. Blah.

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I weaved in and out of people, left side, right side. I was bored now. 10K loops (thanks autocorrect for that capital k) are just long. I got back to my car thankful to have more soda. I was missing a mile somehow, so I headed out backwards this time along the open road to the arb. Motivation for running waning, and legs still stiff from the first day, I took a few pics that I found funny. As I was making my final back to the car, the oncoming cars (run against traffic they said) I came up on a parked large worker truck. I could not go to the left of it, there was too much brush, so as I came up to the right side, a car suddenly came around the bend and I went a bit too close to the truck and slammed my left shoulder into the side mirror. Ouch. But better than being hit by a car suddenly there. I started hobbling back to my car again as another runner leaner than me passed me with ease. I felt discouraged and slow. Every time I face the headwinds, my body would get chilled. The temps still weren’t too high, but the sun was still nice. I managed 13.15 miles and then a 0.55 mile cool down walk through the pretty trees.

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Responsible pet owner.

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Don’t go too fast, it’s only day 2!! Should taken this as a SIGN.

When I arrived back home I was even more stiff and DOMS had settled in from day one. GREAT. I was used to those paces, but somehow was still sore. Two weeks before for the Yeti 24 hour run, I had kept a faster pace for all 5 mile intervals and wasn’t sore from that at all. Maybe taper was a bad idea? I was having trouble making dinner, so we opted to go out to eat. This became a tradition for the week. It was hard even with just a half marathon, I lost a lot of time decompressing and prepping each day. I was starting to get hungry, a lot. There were things like that, that started happening I did not plan for or account for.

Day 3 was back to being cloudy, though a bit warmer. I talked with Megan and agreed hitting the trails up was probably for the best. I was sore and it was becoming hard to keep a forever pace. I hadn’t been on a few Madison Ice Age Trail segments, so I made a deal with the husband to come pick me up when I was done so I could go one-way, south to north, on the Ice Age Trail. I mapped it out on garmin connect, that Verona to Valley View Segment was just under 13 miles. Good! Simple! Follow the yellow trail blazes, what could go wrong?

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Warm welcome!

In an effort to really get in the mood, I plugged into the Between Two Pastries Podcast with Annie Weiss, the holder of the Ice Age Trail FKT – the whole thing – and a friend from the Altra red team. After reading her husband’s book, Meet you at the Terminus, I took a page from there and walked the first mile to warm up and just enjoyed the first part of the Verona segment, way more hilly going north than south! My legs were unhappy when I took a run down the first hill. The trails were dry and in fantastic shape. I was off and on again running for the whole Verona Segment, but not a bad trail pace…still around my 100k pace. This is when I started noticing that I was drinking a lot more. I shot a gel after 45 minutes anyway. I had to get better at eating. And today I would nail it. I arrived at the beginning of the Madison segment and it was lovely.

98191728_298084787868787_4817769127793917952_nThen I came up on a trail closed sign. I followed the detour and hoped it would get me back on track. No idea if this added or subtracted miles. Moving on!

I was always busy trying to figure out where I was in relation to everything else I knew about the area. So very distracted by the 100 mile man story I was listening to on the podcast, I took a not turn, and added an extra mile. Oops. I was using Garmin navigation, but completely missed the trail turn with the new inviting paved trail.

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I made my way back to where I came off the trail, just like in a race. And soon enough I was off the trail again near a construction area. I opened google maps to find the trail and where I went wrong. Again, I hate stopping to figure this stuff out. I headed back again and found the tiny forest opening without the yellow blaze noting it.

I was starting to run much better, though my strides felt short. I came across a golf course, and it was literally littered with people. There are two stories from people with opinions. Those that believe golf is one of the safest socially distanced sports, and those who believe that nothing with gatherings of people is safe. The 2nd group would be right today. True, golf CAN be safe if you play alone. No one at this golf course was playing alone, as they all would park their carts next to each other, and travel to each hole together. In addition, it looked like the women with kids were hanging around as well. This really steamed me up inside. I had time to go into deep though. How is it fair I have been sheltering to protect myself and others, when these people find it perfectly ok to do just the opposite. I ended up concluding it wasn’t worth the internal turmoil, and that these people are why we are still in this situation and we aren’t going to get out of it. You can’t blame everything on the government, local or national. All I can do it try to be safe myself and take my own appropriate levels of risk. Ok ok venting done. Back to running.

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Very interesting hide-a-way in the Madison segment??

Upon ending the Madison segment, it dumped me onto a road. I took the right turn and saw a girl with her dog running dead in the middle of the road. I found it odd and stayed off to the side to soon come up on a giant ROAD CLOSED sign. Again? Twice?!

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I stood there pondering my action. It was due to some construction nearby and torn up road. I figured I could squeeze past and get through fast enough to not impact anything, so I did just that. I also noticed (weird timing) that a car that lived in the closed road area, squeeze past the barrier to get to their house.

Soon enough I was well on my road connector way. I was thankful for the sidewalk along the busy road. Legs were feeling even better. I gazed out to the country side and start encountering the hills.

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Why is this photo so long? The hill was just as long.

I knew I was near Timber lane, which is one of the 3 sisters on the ironman bike course here. Usually hills are much worse for me biking than running, but still they were daunting looking at them from afar on foot. Rich was on his way. He would park in a small lot (found thanks to the IAT virtual map online) and come meet me for an out and back. He actually found me! But I also realized I got lost on the road connector and went a block too far. No navigational damage done since it popped me out where I would have been anyway.

100730413_1098588413848209_229310812194340864_nRich parked at the beginning of the very short Valley View segment. This segment is ALL downhill from south to north direction. Very nice for me, but probably not so nice for Annie when she had done it. It was beautiful and loved the vert. When back at the car, I downed a mountain dew, like literally POUNDED it SO fast. Ahhhhhh. The segment ended with a very rich neighborhood. I ended with 13.82 miles, a bit more than the predicted 12.98 miles. I started a new walk activity, and walked back to the car. It was exactly a mile back to the car. Ended the day with 14.82 miles.

I got Rich to take Friday, Day 4, off, so we could run together. I was planning on getting there early, there being Devil’s Lake and doing that Ice Age Trail segment (which is 9 miles by itself), but life had other plans. We needed to take my car since my car had everything I had been using and the state park sticker. But when I got in my car, it did not start. Same face I had with the close road signs, sigh, I stared at the steering wheel. Switching cars, we took off in the non-park sticker car, fully aware we might have to pay a fine. It was muggy and humid, like most of the days had been so far.

100051378_2612336448984789_6154929465085394944_nWe arrived around 11am, a bit too late of a start. Heading out we met very few people. The climb in that direction (still opposite the way Annie went) was brutal. It reminded me of the east coast and I loved it. I looked for mushrooms and morels. No luck. A runner came up on us (one of two that day), and we had a nice chat in passing (we stood to the side). The power hiking continued as my legs felt a bit weak, and the trail continued to climb up and up. I tried to run some flats and a few downhills when I could, but my legs were not having it. In addition, when we finally made it to the bluffs portion of the lake, the crowds began. I was overwhelmed. We stood far off the trail when we could, and one time a huge family with no regards to the 6’ rule was coming towards us and I jumps on a nearby rock. I did not know it was very wet and I instantly bit it. I slipped hard onto my right hip and tore open my pinky finger and scuffed up my right arm pretty good on the large rock. No one cared to really help, and I’m sure it looked pretty bad. Only about 4-5 miles in, this was a bummer for the mood. 100092808_252695372490230_7167323500942721024_nI just wanted to get away from people as fast as I could. And it got worse. I lost confidence in the rocks and had a hard time scaling down the bluff rocks, and the people were everywhere. I’d like to toss that one out. Most people were kind however. We finally made it to the bottom. The parking lot on the south shore was PACKED. People were grilling, mingling, and just various levels of not caring about what was going on in the world. We trudged on and found the trail going up again on the other side. I was kind of excited because I had not been this way.

But there was almost as many people on this side. Albeit this side was easier to maneuver than the other bluff without all the rocks, it was just as steep. We finally made it up toward the campgrounds. Certainly no one would be out that far with the campgrounds closed until further notice. Not as scenic or exciting, we passed by empty campground with the exception of one camper. This is when the 2nd runner passed us. No words, just passed on. Garlic mustard became so prevalent in the landscape. We made our way back as I kept looking down at our slow pace thinking it was going to take x hours to make it back. The glory of running is getting there faster. I was so bummed out I just was defeated. And I was also trying to beat the oncoming rain.

We made it to the road and decided to head back the way we came. Eventually, we made it close to the car and I started trying to run again. It was hard but doable. Ended the run with 14 miles. We stopped for gas and got snickers ice cream bars and more soda.

100090388_2980727262041125_506109613196705792_nI should note that all my water was filled with liquid calories. I wasn’t going without. But I was afraid both of the trail days I would run out of water so I wasn’t drinking enough as I should have been. The idea I was only slightly over half way with the week weighed on me.

Back home, we grabbed some take out again. Later that evening I needed a milkshake. Now a new tradition! I needed the salt and whatever else it was offering up. I rolled out and stretched. I was feeling much better but Rich got sore despite mostly hiking. I felt like I had cheated. I didn’t even run 50% of the time. I got the miles in, and I did them all at once. Later that evening we went for a short walk, 1.22 more miles for the day pokemon Go shiny hunting.

I was dreading day 5, so I kept it simple. I got up, ate breakfast and headed out to the Riley parking lot for Military Ridge State Trail. I knew I had to get it in early to beat the afternoon storms that were predicted. I was sad my car was dead, I was sad I didn’t run like I was supposed to. It was only a half marathon. I was still doing well preventing the old blister from getting worse, which was a miracle. I was doing well with calories and doing my best with recovery. The first two days, my feet tried to swell up, and I would put them up. The next two days, they did not have that affecting them. The first 13 miles did not feel like a half had gone by. The 2nd day felt exactly the miles I had been in a marathon (day two mile 2, felt like mile 15 for example). Day 3 felt like ultra world, and Day 4 felt like 100k mark for sure, the time when I feel most down in a 100 or late in a 100k race. Everything matched up to the one-time mile experiences.

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Feeling defeated from all that, I started walking on the trail. I was surprised there were hardly any cars there. Most people bike from this location, and a few runners. Locals will walk but there aren’t many of them. Last time I was here, the parking lot was plum full and chaotic. I walked one mile for my warm up. Then I started running. THEN I started RUNNING. I felt way better than I had any of the other days. I refused to look at pace. I went by feel, and the first mile was faster than my first day. I kept this up for a few miles and made it back to the car. I didn’t have to carry water bottles for this one for most of the plan.

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The plan was to do shorter out and back from the parking lot. I would fuel and drink when I came back each time. On the 2nd out and back, I decided to put in a few walking breaks. This is when I noticed I could not slow down when I was running. I switched my garmin to the heart rate screen and gauged effort by that. I didn’t want to become sore again after what happened the first day. This day flew by and was my 2nd fastest day, and I think only slower because I walked that first mile. As soon as I made it back to my car the skies started opening up. 98344663_266436794553118_248339965446979584_nIt was good timing. I squeezed in 13.2 miles plus a 1.15 mile cool down walk after. Wow that felt so good, and started making me wonder what was possible.

I had little aches and pains along the way, but none would last for more than half a mile at a time. Some would return on a different day, but still never lasting. Everything ended up working itself out.

The 6th day came and I decided to walk it to be sure I was recovered for day 7. I had gotten over most of the guilt of walking to get in miles. Maybe some of it was avoiding disappointment. I had had such a good day 5, and I didn’t want to ruin it. Today there was pokemon go community day, so from 11am to 5pm, there were shiny pokemon spawning.

Today was the first day I took a huge break in the activity. Rich and I parked at a nearby park and walked all the trails hunting pokemon with no course objective. This was far less stressful. The sun was obscured slightly by haze, it was hot and I was living life. 100683037_911486999324088_342332275293159424_nWe took a break to get sunscreen and drinks and food. We had a picnic on a blanket in the park. Then we continued on! Somewhere around mile 11 I discovered I was toasted. Beyond help. How was I so red and Rich was not? I had spent way more time outside than him this year. I worried but finished the day with 13.15 miles and a slower 1.4 mile walk at home. The idea behind walking for community day was to not dawdle around and go fast to click on as many as possible. It’s hard to cover ground fast when you aren’t in a car or populated area with a lot of spawns (like downtown you can go a crawling speeds because you’ll get 4-5 spawns at any given point around you, versus where we were you’d get one every minute).

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I got home and realized how bad the burns were. I had no aloe, and everything was closed for Sunday/Memorial day. I used lotion I had and A&D. That night was horrible and uncomfortable. I did not sleep hardly at all. I wore very similar clothes the next day to prevent any of my burned skin making contact with literally anything. I covered myself in sunscreen, way more than usual.

101230583_563209330910195_5319741738296803328_nSince it was day 7, I would end it at the park and ride. I would do very short out and backs or loops so I would not have to carry water. It was up in the mid 80s for this one. I was so happy with it, even if I was suffering. This is what I wanted (not the burns). I started off running, but quickly realized this pace was not sustainable and pretty sure I burned out my energy very early on. I made it 4 miles before burning out. I fueled with soda and now a new drink fuel powder (have to say I was not impressed). I was out of gels, so I used pixie sticks. I ran along to music. I would go up the trail under the trees (avoiding sunlight), but the air was stagnant and the humidity was real. I thought this way would be better, but when I took the turn to loop back on the sidewalk (fully sun exposed and no trees to block wind), it was magical. The wind was more a breeze in my face and I welcomed the cooling effect. This loop became my standard…just under 2 miles. I will probably use this in the future now!

100523712_2643652702622880_8193978967116480512_nI could tell my adrenaline was popping off, as I was able to ignore my sunburns. I thought about all the men and women and what memorial day meant as I passed under the giant flag from the fire station. I thought about the war on the virus…the front line men and women might look a little different than a physical war between countries. I constantly thought about my friend (also Altra red team) Ray who mentioned how not fighting someone’s perspective about something to bring more peace between people in a keyboard warrior world. I still think about that a lot. 13.45 miles later I finished. I was done with 100 miles. I managed to finish running. I thought about how I was able to run at the end of Cloudsplitter 100. I will always keep that with me. It wasn’t even slow. Though it did hurt.

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I did a cool down celebration walk in flip flops (1.57 miles). My blister had finally reared its ugly head that day and I was caught walking because of it. If it popped today, then it did. My calves were tight and tired. And still looking back, was I able to do more? I should just walk away from this experience for now and not ask what if; this is valuable experience. Most high mileage weeks involve spreading out the miles differently. Doing semi-high mileage each day was way more taxing than I imagined. 101216609_971534586610976_6849640343609016320_nIf I had done 15 one day, 10 another, and a longer 20 miler later in the week, it would have gone differently. You’d take the 20 slower than the 10, but not go all out in the 10, recovering better in the 10, and being more aware of recovery for the 20 and so on. 13.1 miles is definitely a mix of different things, but at least it’s a distance where you can recover from it decently and you don’t have to do too much extra work with nutrition unlike marathons. Still I considered the time I was out versus the miles and tried to compensate. No matter how you look at it, getting in 100 miles in a week is certainly something to be reckoned with, no matter how you do it.

The ending was quiet, much like my Military Ridge FKT, you just stop, no one was there this time. No family or friends, just me and my car to get back home. There weren’t even any people at the park and ride lot, I am guessing from the midday heat. No post celebration, no where to go that is safe but home.

The biggest quandary was stopping. I didn’t have to stop. I was almost at 13.5 miles for that run alone, just to push me over 100 miles while still running (not the cool down walk I was doing every day). I considered doing more, but my skin was in pretty bad shape and my blister was on the verge of giving me more issues if I’d kept going and as I was then, I could still run and do whatever after that week, something I don’t always get to do after long ultras. My body was in good shape, no sense not continuing to run on after. I wouldn’t even call what I got niggles, they were so short lived and randomly cropped up in random places.

100061185_2832678846859657_4914316311821025280_nSo what was recovery like? I did taper two weeks into it, or at least 10 days. I feel like this was too long judging how I felt after day one and two. Maybe this would be more acceptable had I did all the miles at once, but with the recovery day to day, I am not sure the taper was short enough. Between the runs, which were mostly 11am-1pm every day, with a few later in the day, I started eating more and more every day. I was hungry, but would feel full after a good meal. I ate out more, but it did help with sodium levels…but I needed to make sure I balanced that out with water, so that’s all I would drink during the days outside of running. I listened to my body and ate when I was hungry. I stopped when I was full. I feel like that is important if you’re doing something like this or everyday life. No need to overstuff yourself. But don’t feel guilty for getting in a bit more than you’re used to. The milkshakes post run just felt like the icing on the cake I needed to really polish off the calories. I’m not saying it’s the best choice, but whole foods weren’t always appetizing.

During runs, I used mainly liquid fuel, whether powder mixed with water or using soda. I am a huge fan of sodas, and never have GI issues with them and they are fast calories. Still holds true. I used a lot of my expiring leftover gels to get them out of the way. I hate them, but hey, they were mostly free from races (“free”, you pay for the race and goodies). I am having more and more issues gagging them down. I could have fueled more at the beginning. But I did consume a majority of my calories around my runs.

100856910_1387549798104723_6157262401126268928_nOtherwise, I used a hand massager mainly on my calves when I felt like I needed it. I used recovery boots, but not sure if they had a major impact. I foamed rolled larger muscles to keep them in check a few times. But mainly I focused on feet.

The biggest thing for me, in a race or during this (and I have previously lacked the motivation and not put in the effort during training, usually a huge mistake), was taking care of my feet. The blister I had gotten before it started was problematic. I had power hiked 7 miles and was not used to walking at a very fast pace (13-14 min/mi) on trails, and nor did I pre-treat those areas for the long walk, and it resulted in two blistered areas…three days before the week started. I didn’t run the two days prior to starting to let it heal, but it did not. I carried this blistered area the whole week. I was successful but using vasaline every run on every area and switching off shoes and socks every day for a different foot sensation. At night I would use neosporn and socks and make sure I was hydrated every night (and started hydrating for the week the two days prior). You can control a lot of variables if you feet are happy.

The day after the week was over, I did an easy walking day, babying the blistered area. The 2nd day after, I went for a run, a harder run. There were so many variables that I am not sure which was contributing to my run. It was humid and hot, in the upper 80s. It was sunny, my skin was still in bad shape. My calves were really tight and my heart rate ran a bit higher with less effort. Nothing felt off however. I am certainly not heat adapted yet, and we have had hardly any days here yet above 70°F before this started. I love heat, but it’s still a beast to deal with. I was managing my Yeti pace with a lot of effort. The biggest thing was I could NOT find my forever pace. My body was so confused. Walking was too easy, even walking fast. Running a slower pace than I’m used to was hard to maintain (again maybe it was the heat), and I could not slow down from that slower pace without walking without sacrificing form or cadence. I was in a puzzling state. I will run today in the 60s and report back.

Overall I felt like I could keep going, albeit at some random and weird paces with walking mixed in.

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Miles all at once, or spread out? On day 3 and 4, I was saying to myself I would MUCH rather be doing these miles all at once. After day 4, it became a lot easier than doing the miles all-at-once feeling. So in conclusion, I would say at first, it sucks. It’s just hard and feels harder than it should. At some point, your body does adapt and it gets better, and you will feel good and then bad, and the waves will keep washing over you, but never as bad as it was for the first few days. I can’t say how it would feel to do more miles than this in a day, but listening to longer FKT runners, it does always get better. I feel like 13.1 miles at a time is such a drop in the bucket compared to 30+ miles a day.

Someone asked about laundry. I will say the same as I did for my Yeti blog. I got all my clothes washed the day before starting. The temperatures fluctuated daily so I was never stuck wearing the same thing from day to day. I had enough bras and undies to last the week so I never did laundry again. But doing laundry BEFORE you start is key! I would not want to be worrying about getting laundry done or putting it off for late at night when all you want to do is decompress from the day. For me, decompression after a run is imperative, and sometimes takes as long as my runs.

101547915_623555658252942_4912846406508609536_nLastly, sleeping. Mostly sleeping was normal to weird. Normal that I got good sleep until I got sunburned. But weird in that, I was getting up earlier and earlier each day. I wasn’t going to bed later typically, but looked forward to sleep each night, but not to the point of exhaustion, which was very nice. Honestly the challenge was probably more helpful for my sleep than anything else.

I was planning on also using this as a way to see which distance I would virtually try for the Midwest States 100/100k for June. I am still on the fence. I am not great at 10 miles, but it’s shorter than 13.1, but for 3 days longer, which doesn’t seem to prove an issue after this experiment. However, doing less than an hour of running a day (10k/day) option and trying to go hard is really tempting, though I know people will be much faster for obvious reason. The huge drawback of this sort of thing is you have no visual of who you are competing against. I don’t even know if I can be ranked as competitive, but I will most certainly try. My bones are itching to do well either way. Not everyone is on the same playing field. I am luck I am near flat land and can use it to my advantage, I can use trails or road. I have access much lower temperatures, though I will likely not choose to do morning runs to avoid heat. If I were in Virginia, I would have a hard time being faster than I would be here.

Advice. If you want to try this, a few things to note that I found useful for myself (and I know others are different, even from talking with Heather from Team BU as she completed it today—so proud of her, and having her start it mid way through mine was really neat to sit and chat about every day, feeling connected and not so alone!!):

– Come up with pre-planned routes that are interesting. Routes where you have access to a car, bathroom, aid station (house), or plan to go long. I split mine up between short and long loops, and one-way runs. I mixed things up every day. Trails and roads. Heather I believe did the same out and back every time…that could create a lot of accountability!

– Plan one day ahead each day. When you are done with your run, prep for the next day while that day is still fresh in your head. What could you have done better, fueling? Socks/shoe combo? Hydration? Don’t wait until right before your run. Keep all your running stuff in one area so you don’t lose things. Charge your watch every evening.

– Laundry all done before you start. Lay out your outfit the night before.

– Weather checks. I checked the weather daily and planned accordingly. Sometimes I would switch where I was going to run according to the weather. If it was rainy the previous day, I would avoid trails. Hot and sunny? Choose a more shaded route (or find out your route wasn’t really shady after all and learn for later).

– Fuel around your runs. Avoid post run eating binges and hunger by doing this. And hydrate really well before and after.

– Always be over-prepared for your run. Treat them like a long run. Avoid the chaffing through prevention, and same goes with the feet. It’s not just 13.1 miles, it’s a week effort that deserves respect for the long haul.

100825618_1358361484443627_2290365261338902528_nI think this is useful for anyone who plans to do a streak from 1 mile a day, or 5 miles a day, or 13.1 miles a day or up to 30+ miles a day. The longer you go the more complicated things get. But every bit of this is a learning experience. I have never done a stage race and clearly I have underestimated the effort to go into it. Don’t feel guilty if you have to take a walk day, just don’t stop moving. The goal of this was to do the miles all at ONCE. Based on the Yeti experience, splitting up the runs throughout the day, even if I did 3 miles and then 10 miles, it would have felt much differently. I wanted to do the minimum miles I set a goal for in one go. Even when I stopped briefly for lunch/drinks during my 2nd to last day, I wasn’t relaxing necessarily, I had my watch set to go again as soon as I was done and was the only time I paused it. I did not mentally take a break and I think that counts for something…especially when I knew I was going to try to go as hard as I could on the final day. It was a bit weary on me mentally knowing I had 13.1 miles a day weighing on me and I absolutely did not want to have to start over for any reason, probably why I do not ever count how many days in a row I do anything (running or otherwise).

As a final remark, if you are to try this, absolutely never give yourself a time constraint. This is supposed to be a fun thing, and you can easily add enough pressures and stressors to make it not fun real fast. It really was like a roller coaster of 100 miles, and as close to doing a 100 in training as anything I’ve ever done. I’ve done 26+ mile days once a weekend for 3 weekends in a row. Vastly different. I feel like this is much closer to the training for a 100 miler than that was based on how I felt. However, I have no way of testing it out since there are no races.100939825_670490540178145_3604119542990635008_n I will potentially redo a week similar to this in July in case Badger 100 is still on. It would be interesting to see if 10 miles over 10 days is any different stress wise. Would 3 more miles, and a few walking miles a day make a difference? Loads of questions still remain for me. I hope to get some answers at some point. Looking forward to my big weekend coming up to see how the legs do!

Update, ran a half mile PR today (3 days post last day). Legs are doing better!

The Yeti 24 Hour Endurance Challenge

I knew about this event for a while, but didn’t want to sign up. What was just 5 miles every 4 hours worth? I could do that easily. But with that sort of confidence, you know you will be thrown for a loop…or out and back. Whatever is your style.

Looking for something, some goal, to keep me motivated in May with the whole Pandemic happening (it’s still not quite “springing” out yet here, just greener grass, I am sad I was unable to go home to Virginia this year), I wrote up a blog post on my thoughts current to the time I wrote it and when I posted on my facebook timeline to share, I started to include links to virtual races for smaller race companies.

This got me thinking more and more about doing one myself just to say I did something. Mentally, the easiest one I posted about was the Yeti 24 Hour Endurance Challenge, running 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours. This differs from the Goggins challenge (4x4x48, 4 miles, every 4 hours for 48 hours I believe), which is free to do, and vastly different from a virtual 50k or 1-week 100 miler. With the weather in Wisconsin being ever so unforgiving during the “spring” time (mind you, it snowed in May last year, and Spring wasn’t even to be found until June…per my opinion on what Spring means to me as a southern), I spied a weekend of low 70 degree days! I saw this about 2 weeks in advanced, but never trust a 14 day forecast, so I sat on it. A few days beforehand, the highs and weather did not really shift much. I decided that Sunday would be my day. I signed up a few days before and made my commitment to it as well as the 1000k virtual race across Tennessee…more on that later I guess.

I thought about start times a lot, but didn’t put it on paper (literally) until the night before. I decided that 3am would be the official start time when I could go for a run, come back and nap and go out again for the rest of the challenge. I previously have done a similar challenge, the Solstice Challenge (50 miles in 2 day without overnight runs). It went ok, but this challenge provided me the opportunity to fix what didn’t go well during that. The major difference being that I had time goals for this challenge, and was doing far less miles, and I could not travel for this challenge to get a change in scenery. This made me ponder hard since my very local area is very hilly, and any way I go out from my house is directly up a long hill in any given direction within a few feet of departing. Cue the eye roll.

What didn’t go well during the Solstice challenge? I did not eat enough throughout. I did not take good enough care of my body between legs of the challenge, or before or after, did not plan routes ahead of time (and I had FAR less time between legs, though less miles per leg), had nothing laid out in preparation (clothes, nutrition), and lacked what I needed to fight the weather (it was late June and very hot/humid, and BUGGY). I did not care about pace, just getting it done.

This time the weather was a non-factor, just windy with temps between 50 and 73, sunshine as far as the eye could see…or clear dark night skies. I had enough bras to switch in and out and enough clean undies (doing all your laundry beforehand, key tip!). I would rinse my body with a quick soap-over after finishing, and had all my foam rollers out, my air compression boots, and hand percussion massager out.

I picked out 6 routes, 2 left up in the air for creativity for down time at home. My first route would be during the night, and planned a route that would be ok to run alone, a simple out and back. The second would be early morning with low traffic, so I picked a long loop I could do that ran along a highway (I encountered a total of 2 cars). The 3rd would be a loop and stick I traditionally did that I considered “flatter”. The 4th and 5th leg would be left up to the creative part of me, seeing where I could go in 5 miles without using any of the other legs too much. The 6th and final leg would be the out and back I took first, but with a longer out (my first one was two shorter out and backs to break up the mileage and not be too far from help should I need it in the dark). I ended up changing the final leg, more on that later.

The week leading up to my “event” I put in some hard speed work time and tempo pacing (for me at my current ability anyway), not really knowing if the event was going to happen. This would be the first thing I changed. I gave myself a week after my virtual Blue Ridge Marathon/Half/bonus ultra mile to recover before ramping back into pace. I virtually ran with my sister for her first half (self-supported!!) on the actual Blue Ridge Half marathon course and checked in via phone for minutes at a time at least every mile as I ran in a county park that provided me with the 130 foot (or as I called it, 130 points) hill that I would run up and down in order to get as much elevation gain as she was. After she finished, I continued on to do 26.2 miles and a bonus 1.5 mile to officially make it another “ultra” in April to continue my one-ultra-per-month streak. A cheap one, not even a 50k, but an ultra by definition.

The day before, Saturday, I did a 90 minute dance game marathon with my husband (the East Coast Stamina 8.5 Lower Division marathon, which meant playing 24 songs in a row ranging from 2 minutes to 8 minutes each all in a row, switching off to get the best score). Then a bit later, we went for a 3 mile shake out run and a 1 mile walk. My legs were dead from playing. I wondered if and how this would affect me.

Went to sleep around 10:30pm, which was on the early side of normal for us, but I was tired from the day and figured it would go well. It did not.

I sat there for hours, and every time I looked at the clock, one hour had passed. I tossed and turned. Nothing. I was so tired. Eventually it was 2:45am, and it was time to get up. I set an alarm, but didn’t even use it. SMH. The neat thing I came up with for my first leg was to run without my contacts. My vision isn’t good enough to drive without contacts to give you perspective, but not too shabby in my honest opinion. I was always scared if I was in an ultra and something happened to my contacts (I always pack an extra pair for my drop bag if temps are above freezing), and I would be without “seeing”. I thought, why not try to run without? I was running on familiar grounds I knew and passed over often enough to know where the cracks in the sidewalk were worse. I also was lazy and did not want to take them in and out between legs when I fully planned on napping between legs 1 and 2. I had prepped my clothes for the first two legs and would go based on temperature after that (though all bras and undies were prepped).

I slipped everything on and went downstairs to find my headlamp had yet again not charged overnight. At this point, I fully expected it to not have charged (long story with this particular headlap, and am still working with their customer service 9 months later). I grabbed my backup headlamp and lighted vest and pocket knife and headed out. BLIND, not really. It was so dark I couldn’t even really tell I wasn’t wearing anything to help my vision. Neat.

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I left up the bigger hill (shorter though) from my driveway which I decided to be the stopping and starting point each leg. Whew, this sucked sleep deprived. I was feeling the lack of sleep and lack of nervous adrenaline that usually keeps me afloat during normal early morning events (see Ironman which I also had to wake up around 3am and last until midnight, or Devil’s Lake Dances with Dirt which starts at 6am over an hour away from me). I drug along uphill then downhill which led me to the Military Ridge State Trail where I would do two smaller out and backs and head back home. The air was thicker and I breathed easy. My legs already felt heavy, as the fatigue of the past week showed its head immediately. There were no people, no cars. The trail was tricky with the hard divoted footprints and bike tire tracks carved into the dirt. I moved slowly along, slower than my A goal pace.

I had a secret goal that I wanted to hit around 5 hours, which I thought was possible given I kept around a 10 min/mi. I feel like this was asking a whole lot from my tired legs which had been dishing out much faster paces all week.

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There were technically two ways to record your legs. 1) Stop and start your watch each time, you would have an average pace for each leg, could start from different places (should you drive to another place) and not have your data look like a 3 year old found your sharpies in the junk draw and then found a nice clean slate called your basement wall…, you won’t have a “total time elapsed” unless you paused during a leg. However you would have to add up the distance, risk going over or under with ultra brain, and it would be much harder to have an “overall” pace (rest in peace pace calculator 😦 ). Of course this is all speaking from a data standpoint, you could just run with a timex.

2) You could pause your watch (this is for the Garmin series at least) which sends you to a screen that says “save, resume, resume later”. Pick resume later, and the watch preserves your run for “later”. You cannot start a new activity during that time. When you go back to record an activity, it goes straight to that last activity on pause until you hit go. This disadvantages of this method is that you can accidentally hit that start button and easily get bad additional data, you will have an overall elapsed time and moving time, and it will pick up where you left off. To explain that last point, if you started one run in a park near your house and paused and resumed near your actual house, the point where you stopped and where you started again, the data would show a straight as-the-crow-flies line from A to B. It doesn’t count the distance between, but it sure does look weird and questionable. The advantages are you will have a continuous overall pace, cumulative miles and time.

I chose to resume later to have that accumulation of data to keep me accountable. Since these were training miles, I didn’t care about the time adding up between my pauses. I did care about overall pace. One goal was to keep a consistent pace throughout the legs. I figure if the miles get done, it doesn’t matter what the overall elapsed time (which was 24 hours, but technically whatever it took you from hour 20 on if doing the challenge by the book). Having multiple legs/splits would also make me question which mile I was actually on, this ended up being really great to have after mile 15. I took a picture of the paused screen with the current data at that point each time I stopped each leg, which ended up being a very specific sidewalk tile line I came to find out.

I arrived back at home, drank my pre-prepped iced BCAAs (I love cold drinks), drank some milk and showered off avoiding my hair. The temps hovered around 57 for that run, so I didn’t sweat much. I slipped back under the bed covers and proceeded to freeze? I didn’t expect the cold to keep me awake. I was shivering and basically had a repeat of what I experienced before my 1st leg. Ugh. My next leg had me starting at 6am. Seemed logical, until I figure out it was only 3 hours and not 4?! I majored in math.

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So this is what 6am looks like?

I flowed off the side of the bed, the sky lighter out. The sun shone brightly through our windows as I gave it a dirty, sleep glare. I opted for a long sleeve shirt, capris (my legs got a little chilly in shorts at 57, and now it was only 50), a vest, and ear warmers. I have to say BOTH outfits were very appropriate and I was never overly sweaty or uncomfortable. Winning!!

The route this time was a giant loop. I started with the less steep, longer hill (which also adds some distance), and then down into my personal 5k out and back course, but this time I would continue on the highway to do a loop around. The local farmer on the road was out and about and waved. The highway was longer than I recalled. I passed by many many worms and I often thought about how the early bird gets the worm, and maybe there was some truth to that (though then I started counting birds and got to 6 and mentally gave up haha). I concluded there were way more worms than birds. It became a dodging game. I passed by another farm, and heard roosters. How iconic. I hate it, thanks. My morning hate really came out and I considered quitting the run. However, my logical brain popped in to say “hi, brain here, do you wanna start over and have to run in the morning AGAIN?” No. I continued on.

I watched all the red-wing black birds cautiously hoping it wasn’t their nesting season yet. I know this highway stretch is notorious for attack from them. I narrowed my eyes, like they could even tell I was “watching them”. I made the turn onto my road leading to my neighborhood (again, this is #2 hill repeat up this massive thing), and agreed that if I could drop my pace before I got there I could walk at the fire hydrant 2/3s the way up.

This got my pace brain working. My paces from leg one were probably more sluggish for me because I was without contact and it was dark, and it was 10 minutes after I got up. But my paces were a bit better on leg 2.

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I got home and decided to try the nap thing ONE last time, and dedicated myself to getting the 3 hour break in (4 hours between legs, not 3). I rinsed off again, and cuddled in bed. I managed 1 hour of sleep. I felt a little better now. I got up and had a banana and orange cutie and a mountain dew. Caffeine and sugar seemed to be the ticket.

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10am was the next leg. I got dressed up in a loose shirt and shorts and headed out. It was so much warmer, now 67 degrees and sunny, with the wind starting to pick up. Rich decided to join me. I decided to make my route go downtown, but all left turns so we would not cross traffic. I went a bit faster! I was feeling much better and awake.

For those of you who do not know, I am not a morning person, and 95% of my alone runs are done after 10am. I was cranky and tired from the sleepless night. But the sun just kept shining regardless, and I couldn’t be mad at that.

We started by heading up the big hill and doing a left turn town loop. I thought this would mainly be downhill/flat for the 2nd half of the run, but I was mistaken. I also did not know how far this loop was but I could troubleshoot when I got closer to home again. Turning the corner to head out of downtown (which downtown is like 5 blocks long lol), we got hit with the wind. WHEW!! That is the exact type of wind that would make a biker think twice about going out for a ride. The push-back was incredible. And guess what? It was gradual uphill! I had not really run this section in this direction before, and it was a long stretch. After making the next left turn to head back towards home, I figured out I would be about 1 mile short, so I took a short out and back on Military Ridge I had done earlier that morning sans contacts. The path was so knotted with divots, I have no idea how I navigated it earlier. It was also much harder to keep up pace on. I headed back out to home and went back up my big hill keeping my fire hydrant plan.

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Does this shirt make me look fat? Yeah cause the wind is way up in there!

Back home, it was time to lunch it up. I didn’t shower after this run because I frankly wasn’t sweaty between the low humidity, the wind, and the pacing. I immediately started my foam rolling and recovery for the next 30 minutes after grabbing a banana. Lunch was leftover quinoa soup. In retrospect, this was a mistake. This was not a calorie dense food. Even if I ate a lot, I would not get in sufficient calories, this would catch up with me later. It was at this point I decided that I didn’t want to drag this challenge on longer if I didn’t have to. I’d made so many mistakes in timing so far, I felt as if there was no going back anyway. I decided to run every 3 hours for MY challenge.

I had made up a list of things to do between my legs. The first space between legs was dedicated to napping. The second was supposed to have been for plants, but ended up being napping. So between eating and recovery efforts, I repotted some plants I had been rooting, and refilled some water jugs, and cleaned my computer screens (something I have put off for YEARS). I watered my plants too. Trying to be productive between legs is a great idea, but difficult to execute because you might be a tired runner (who got like no sleep).

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The next leg I ended up doing at 1pm alone. I headed out in the warmest part of the day (who knew the wind had NOT maxed out yet?!), miles 15-20, and did a new downtown route. I knew this would be risky especially in the middle of the day with two major road crossings. But it WOULD be flatter, except I still had to climb the big hill back up to my house again. After climbing the longer, less steep hill (and an amazing choice for pacing and energy) I headed downtown and around to streets I had not ran, ever. I had calculated the distance on garmin beforehand to make sure I wasn’t going to be majorly off. What a beautiful day! I was cheery and had more energy, thanking lunch at this point. This route was uneventful with the exception of the two road crossings I had to stop briefly for. I cursed the hill I had to climb to get back to my house, and crossed the made-up stopping line at my house with my fastest average (I think) yet!

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Cue the recovery with boots and massager and foam roller for the next 30 minutes. I was still not overly sweaty so I remained in my clothes. I got pretty miffed at having to climb a hill every time I was within 0.3 miles of my house (which made me out of breath and tired despite having easy going miles beforehand), but there was no way to avoid it…literally no way. The other side to enter our housing area is still a very long hill and out of the way mile wise. My mileage ended up short of what garmin connect showed me before starting leg 4, and it continuously makes me wonder how much garmin is cutting me short of miles sometimes.

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I forgot to eat this time, if I recall correctly, I had a few cheez-its but it was not enough. I was more thirsty and had chapped lips. I prioritized that. Got full from drinking and did not get in real calories. Rich would go out with me again for miles 20-25. I decided to do this before dinner and decided during my downtown run, I really wanted McDonald’s (which never happens).

It was also between legs 4 and 5 I discovered a blossoming blister on the ball of my right foot (unsurprising because if a blister happens, it’s always there). I couldn’t even feel it, and it was still intact. I cleaned my foot and decided to switch socks and cover the blister in a blister pad and KT tape. As I walked around in-between legs, I noticed that the tape was all coming off. UGH. If this blister popped, it would surely hurt my pace and my mood. I had been switching shoes EVERY leg and was rotating through to make sure I didn’t get any hot spots, but didn’t matter, I should have also been switching socks as well and doing more prevention. I know personally if I go faster than a 10:00 min/mi pace, I am prone to extreme blistering for whatever reason. I’ve done 100k without a blister, but have done 5k and gotten huge ones. Shrugs shoulders.

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Gotta recover!

We left for miles 20-25, leg 5, up the less steep hill to get additional distance in. I had a plan to make this more residential in an area I had not been, but the initial garmin data said it would be hilly, and for some reason I did not believe it. I was tired immediately and my pace was noticeably slower. As we traversed down our big hill (I decided to come up another side of it coming back), I told Rich that the wind was a headwind both uphill AND downhill! I had no idea how or why, but it was true cause I made a joke last time I went down that the wind was blowing in my face downhill (against the wind!) so coming back, it would be a tailwind…and was wrong hah. We made it to a neighboring subdivision, and it was just hilly as garmin said. I made it to the end of where we would add on that 0.7ish miles and was defeated and said “Rich, let’s just do the out and back, I’ll figure out how to get more miles somewhere else”. I was tired of the wind and the hills there. I was scared my blister would pop. Mood bad. I just wanted this one to be over. I hit my slowest mile climbing up the other side of the big hill heading back, and did a small hilly loop to get the miles made up from cutting my loop short at the out and back.

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My pace 😥

I knew the end of this leg meant McDonald’s though. And I showered up like before and changed for the upcoming final leg which I knew would be cooler as the sun set. I felt more fresh and had all new clothes on. My blister was a big issue now. I ignored it and scarfed down two cheeseburgers and a fry with a half of a large Dr. Pepper. My spirit was renewed. I saved the last half of the soda for when I finished as a reward since we had no soda left in the whole house (major planning mistake).

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Back home, I had little time to get myself together and head out for the final leg. I had little hope I could hit 9 min/miles this round but if I did, even if it was 9:58 min/miles, I could break under 5 hours for the cumulative running time. I held myself to my 5 miles each leg, and not pausing for traffic or whatever if I felt bad or needed a break. I was lucky to not really need to and to really focus on a pace where I did not need a break for anything. I’ll preface this also with I am not a fast marathoner, and have never really trained to be fast at that distance, and really don’t want to as it’s not something I’m interested in (Boston Qualifying).

I spoke with my friend Megan about the paces. She cleared my head and gave me insight. I didn’t HAVE to climb my hill back to my house, it was the last leg, I could end where-ever I wanted! This was brilliant. I knew the course I had picked, heading down and out and back on Military Ridge, was mainly flat, but tough to run quick on compared to road, and coming back from that I would have a 1 mile climb. So the thought was to end the run a mile before getting home and walk the bonus 50k mile as a victory lap playing pokemon go haha. This would mean a longer out and back.

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This was on the way up the big hill from my house as well as the cover photo. I passed by each time and made me smile.

I lubed up my foot the best I could and wore my loosest shoes and tightest socks. The sun was setting and it occurred to me that we might not make it back before dark…I mean anything could happen, and we’d be stuck without a light. I trusted myself and headed out with Rich who agreed to do the final few miles with me. I was warned by a friend that the McDonald’s would backfire, but I had faith that it would not. I had one hour to digest.

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Turns out the late bird can get worms too. Last leg, worms are coming back!

The wind was still blowing. I tried my best heading up that big steep hill at first and pounded the down, and landed at my fastest mile of the day. The rest was a struggle to maintain hitting the limestone path for the long out and back. I had a dream to watch the sunset on this journey, but the timing didn’t work out and I had no time to just stop. This section of trail is very meaningful to me. This was the trail I would go to every day during my stress fracture recovery, run as far as I could given the time I was allowed to run/walk, trying to make it to the goal of the oasis. We did not get to the oasis during the out and back, based on distance and not time, but I saw it in the distance. I was reminded how far I had come since then and how far I still had to go even now. I remember getting that far in my first few runs. I remembered the hot sun from late summer as the last remaining sun set in the distance. How I miss the heat. I had switched to a long sleeve shirt by this point as temps dropped to the low 60s. I knew the temperatures would drop fast. The McDonald’s rumbled, but nothing came of it. I managed to suppress its call pretty well. It proved way more of an advantage than a hindrance. And it was a great conversation point with Rich.

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At the turn around I feared the wind would blow into my face all the way back, but as we turned, it did not. I pressed on switching my iPod to one of my go-to go-hard songs. 180 bpm, 5 minutes. I can always run that. I made it back to the streets, half a mile left, slight uphill and then down to the finish of 30 miles. I pushed, but the pace would not budge. All my miles during this leg were faster, if not by much even, than a majority of my miles that day. But my effort was now much higher. As I turned the familiar corner I had visited so many times that day, my watch clicked over to mile 30 and beeped. I ran a few seconds longer afraid it would not be 30 if I stopped right away.

 

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I beat my A goal by almost 3 minutes, and at the end of the 5th leg, I was only about 30 seconds ahead of that goal. Just wow. I worked. I sat down in some cool clover bed of the nearby park and opened pokemon go. The first pokemon I clicked on was a shiny pokemon I did not have in the game. How lovely! I chilled for a bit and then started my bonus mile and back up that darn hill for a final time and get that last half of the Dr. Pepper.

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I showered up for a final time and we headed back to McDonald’s for a sweet tea and a Sprite. The final Sprite felt SO very good. It was like magic.

My blister did not pop, and I am not sore, but am a little inflammed. I would have liked to follow up with a recovery run or walk, but the blister is fragile and I will allow it to heal a bit more before heading out again. Listening to my body right now is a great thing. I had some weird aches and pains in random little places while I did my recovery session between legs, but repeating those after it was done, they are all gone.

Speaking of which, doing this broken up is good and bad. I had time to think about this since I have done this kind of thing twice now and have done similar distances all at once, fatigued and not. It’s a very different experience than doing it all at once. When you break up all the runs, you get time to recover between and you can take care of yourself, eat, do whatever. You can go faster theoretically, and come out the other end not as sore. However, breaking it up over hours gets tiring, and could impinge on sleep. And it takes planning especially if you don’t want to do the same route every leg/split. When you do a distance all at once, it’s over, but it takes a larger toll as you are out there, and there is less chance to be consistent. Nutrition is tricky and you can’t as good of care as yourself.

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The weird sick Onix!! Shiny!!

Looking back, doing the distance all at one time is probably still my preferred method, as the one message I can’t stress enough over these two experiences is your day is so consumed with the run. That can be fine, but I am used to having more of my day available to doing things other than running or recovering/eating to run. Also people tend to dislike it when you pause your watch during a run. I hate the stigma behind it but I do understand it. I think if you are claiming a pace you got with pauses is disingenuous, but if you are doing it for training, it’s fine. I set a marathon PR technically using this method, but to me, it was a training run and one I took massive breaks in, so this “PR” doesn’t even register, though I hope it shows I have some potential in beating my marathon PR one day.

I think that’s something you can truly ask of yourself if you were doing the 5 miles or more at a time. Can you hold those paces for a longer effort? I love thinking of the possibilities. If you are stopping your watch and going like 50 feet and resting, I’m not sure this is productive training, though doing mile repeats or putting purpose in your intervals, I think the value will add up. This is how I got my half PR. So I’m setting out to test the waters this way again. I think this endurance challenge is great training. The only thing it’s not great about for a training run is showing what things are really like when your legs get overwhelmed late in a long race. And in Ultras there is really no way to replicate how you will feel at mile 70 of a 100 during training, but training for “shorter” distances like 50ks or under, you can possibly get there if you so choose to. I think there is a lot of valuable discussion to come from comparing the two methods. But for now, I’m just posting my musings about it. I do prefer these backs to backs rather than long runs for myself, and then going out for one long effort as checkpoints. Everyone is an individual though, and finding what works best for you is a great experiment. There were several people who reached the coveted 30 miles in 24 hours during this virtual run experience and a great challenge for anyone and can be done walking.

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It was my thought that this challenge would bring no value to me, but that’s the other thing to discuss right? You can go as slow or fast as you want because in the end it’s counted as 24 hours regardless if I finished early or on time. It’s a level playing field with a lot of creativity left up to you, the runner. My goal was around marathon pace and keep at it for the 30 miles. I knew if I went faster, I would start falling off in pace and risk injury possibly for my fatigued state. I knew I could go slower, but I don’t, because that would rid the challenge part of this for me specifically. It doesn’t matter what distance we are talking about, 1 mile or 5 miles or 20 or 30 miles, you will have a pace. You probably have a 5k time, and maybe you’ve tried to beat it, and maybe that’s hard, but if you walked a 5k you would not have the same experience as going balls to the walls bat crazy pace. They are two different experiences within the same distance covered. I’ve never truly raced a 50k, so I don’t have a base for that particular distance, but speaking from the close cousin the marathon, I’ve taken them super easy and I’ve tried to PR. Two experiences. Usually the slower ones are more enjoyable from a personal perspective, but I do love a good challenge to fight myself over pace in a race. I see value in both.

I really thought that this would not be challenging enough since I can do 30 miles all at once, but doing it at a faster paced then I might otherwise was actually a great learning tool. But that’s the thing, you can make something as challenging as you want! Go hard, go fast, until you fizzle out on the 2nd leg, or maybe you never do and you find out more about yourself either way! Start slow, speed up. Start and stay steady like I did. Do anything you want. There’s no way to compare you experience to anyone else in this kind of environment. And that’s kind of the beauty of it. Maybe I will try a 12 hour challenge soon for 30 miles? Maybe span it over two days? It makes for great training and I have some tough things to train for right now, races or not.

Choosing a time. This is a big personal choice. My best advice is are you a morning person or night owl? My biggest mistake was probably starting too early for myself. I’d say starting 1-3 hours earlier than you’d normally run is probably wise, but for me that was on average 7 hours earlier and was just overwhelming. I would have had an easier time running into the night, but on the other hand, I was able to enjoy more sun and heat by having a majority of my legs land in the hottest part of the day. Also take weather and temperature into consideration, since you can start when you want (technically, I know busy moms and work interfere with this kind of decision). People tend to not like the heat, so if you have a hard time running in the heat, make it so you don’t land later runs in the heat…cause usually later runs are harder and harder to do and manage with or without weather. Draw up some potential plans, see what you like best. I know I don’t sleep well before events, and I do not sleep well after an event (the 2nd night is mmmm sweet though). What do you work well with?

Find stuff to do before you start to do between your legs. Get creative with your legs by finding new routes or challenging yourself to beat your own times on the same route. Wear fun clothes (wash ALL your clothes before starting, again, key tip). Rotate through shoes if you have the option. Sweat builds up on our shoes after time. The whole point of this challenge was to be alone together and have fun. Share what you do, explain what you are doing. Make it a goal to find a certain object on every run, observe more around you. And eat. Definitely eat.

Recover as you would any long distance. Get out and walk about the day after. Get those feet up and relax, take a bath, drink water and replenish yourself. Take care of yourselves out there!