Hello everybody. I thought I'd keep you up-to-date with my training since the Run for the Toad in September and share my thoughts for the 2013 season.
This morning (December 2nd) I went back to Sulphur Springs at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area (where the Sulphur Springs 25km, 50km, 50mile, 100 mile and 100 mile relays take place). I have not been there since I DNF'd in the 50 miler in May 2012.
We meet up the first Sunday of every month starting in December at 8am in any weather conditions so if you are close enough and are thinking about entering you should. It's a great course and if you are getting into ultras it's a great one to try. Today there were 20 of us and myself and a group of about 5 others headed up the front group but I faded 1/2 way through and ran with a guy who was coming up behind. Joe, who is the race director, helped some of the slower runners around the course. It's got lots of turnings and is very easy to get lost so it's good to stick with someone that has done the course before.
It's about a one hour drive for me but it gets me out and I like to run with other people sometimes and I probably would not have driven an hour to run on my own, especially since it was pouring rain. It was very mild but the wet leaves and my steamed up glasses caused me to go very cautiously. I did the loop in 1:49. Each loop is 12.5 miles. We were soaking wet and I just quickly got into the car, changed my top and then drove to work. I feel very stiff/sore from it as there was lots of slipping and sliding around and of course because trail is allot harder than the treadmill.
I have discovered a new training route which is great. Again, if you are living in the Niagara area you should definitely check out the Short Hills Provincial Park. It's not as extensive as Sulphur Springs but there are 5 different marked trails and the hills are challenging. I wish I'd discovered it sooner but I've gone twice so far and run all the trails at least once. I found it very slippery but when it's drier or when the snow finally falls it will be great.
My mileage has trailed off since the Toad 50km. I have done:
September: 174 miles
October 158 miles
November 148 miles
I will ramp up the mileage after December, hopefully getting in some 100 mile weeks in the Spring and will also try some 2 a-day sessions. My Achilles problems continue and do hurt after the trails but I guess I'll have to live with it. Besides a long lay-off I don't know what else to do.
As to what ultras or races I have my eyes on for 2013, I am considering the Around the Bay but not really that bothered. I would like to get the silver medal if I did that one which is a 30km in less than 2:15. I know I could do 2:20 but it would depend on hills and other factors whether I'd pull that off or not. I'd probably rather go run the trails but I suppose it is in March and gives you a good measure of your fitness. Plus this race gets filled VERY early so if you are considering it don't delay.
I'm definitely doing/redoing Sulphur Springs but the question yet remains; do I do the 50 miler again and actually try to finish it this time using a bit of common sense and tactical pacing, or do I attempt my first 100 miler. I'm very tempted but it scares me. I know other ultra runners seem to be able to grit their teeth and emotionally plough through the tough times but with me it seems when (not if) I fall apart that's game over. Still, I've not tested myself in this way - to take a really long race and slow it down ALLOT and just walk and run when you can. I love the thought of running in the night. Again, we'll see how the training goes but I'll have to start playing with some long walking stints in my training. Walking for long periods is different from running long periods and if you're going to walk far you want to know you can when it comes to race time.
I would like to do the Niagara Ultra again and so the question is either do I re-run the 50km and attempt a sub-4 hours this time (4:07 in 2012) or do the 100km. Niagara is where I live and this course is my regular stomping grounds and the course is pretty but it's like anything, if you do it too often it gets boring. I can wrap my head around the 50km out and back but when I'm back I think I'd be groaning if I had to turn around and do it again - but if I'm contemplating 24 hour and 100 mile races later in the year then it would be good training. We'll see. . .
What else. Well, the only other NEW race I'm considering this coming year is the Dirty Girls. It sounds fun (from behind my desk sitting on my ass that is)! I've spoken to a few people that have done it and I was considering the 24 hour. I like the idea of a race that isn't a specific distance but to go as far as you can in an allotted time. So you can go chill in your tent for awhile if you are feeling rough or need a break. I considered the 12 hour but it starts at night and although I'd like to run in the night, I'd rather not start a race in the dark - especially since I don't know the Mansfield course at all.
I think I'll give the Limberlost a miss this coming year. It was a disaster for me last year but is a lovely course. It is a very long drive there and back and so I'll have to try to redeem my DNF another time.
And of course there is the Toad in the Fall which I definitely intend on running at again. I love this course. The first time was a DNF (my first off-road ultra - all my training was on road and I paid the price of failure because of that), in 2012 I managed 5:09 which was kind of disappointing since the first 3 laps went amazingly well thanks to great pacing by April and Melanie Boultbee, but then I blew it. So I think I can work towards a faster time.
That's what I'm looking towards for next year so we'll see.
Kit-wise I think I'm going to invest in a pair of compression socks. My calves tend to do a very merry dance for hours after long runs and I'd be curious to see if it helps in recovery or to feel better through the actual race.
I'd love to get a Garmin watch telling me pace so I wouldn't crash and burn so often. I have an old Polar which does the usual but back then GPS and pace were not so big it is more of a HR monitor and watch than anything else.
Let's see. What else do I hope Santa brings me. Well, I think my Under Armour shirts are getting 'pongey' so maybe it's time to invest in another one or two and I definitely need a new pair of trail shoes. I have my light-weight Asics Fuji's but need something a bit more supportive I think.
I've also been researching what head-torch to get and will look into that some more and ask around but Pezl seems to be a good brand. I have a clunky one I bought for camping many years ago but it's a weight on your head with 3 big +++A's.
I also want to buy some S-tablets and try them out and hopefully stop throwing up in these ultras. I'll carry on with the Hammer Gels and Perpetuem but I think the Enduroylte doesn't agree with me so maybe I'll try another product.
And of course there is the need to experiment with foods and drinks over these extended training runs and see what works. There is always something to learn and you learn something new each time you have a race.
Well, that's about it for now. I hope all your training is going well wherever in the world you are. Keep at it and keep learning and enjoying :) Until next time. . . The Running Dude