A four week, and now noticeable, lacuna in my running has yielded me a sufficiently exhausted mind and physically fatigued, but a 50k finisher, nonetheless. I cannot begin to explain the sheer joy in finishing such a demanding distance with the injury-card I've been holding in my hand (Achilles) for the past four weeks. The 50k run is mental challenge more than a physical challenge which I assume is on par with the ultra world.
Outside of the lack of running in the past four weeks my preparation for the Sweetwater 50k went quite well. My race highlights included: 2010 Flashlight 5k (0:19:30?, *Tripped at the start and hit the road hard), 2011 Sweetwater Sweetheart Half-Marathon (2nd Overall, 0:1:42:00), and the 2011 Thrill in the Hills Trail Half-Marathon (01:35:14); all though the original plan included a couple more races, most noticeably the Publix Georgia Marathon, an original training plan is just the framework of what's to come, not a definite. The Achilles injury kept the 26.2 miles of road sidelined, but truthfully, I can't complain because asphalt beats me up.
The official training began in October and as far as numbers are concerned, I've covered 886.47 miles, an average of 161.18 miles per month, 40.29 miles per week, and 5.75 miles per day. I've gained 84,666 ft in vertical ascent, or the equivalent of 2.92 ascents from sea-level to the summit of Mount Everest, or 79.64 ascents of the Eiffel Tower, or 0.0067% of the distance to the Moon...putting accomplishments into perspective will keep you humble. I trained for 131 hours, 7 minutes, and 43 seconds; an average of 1:02:56 per run. I burned roughly 81,626 Calories, which, disgustingly, is only 60 McDonald's Big Mac Meals (Large) or, just as disgusting, 71 Burger King Whopper Meals...please do not draw the conclusion that a Burger King Whopper Meal is healthier. Healthy, in the form of title, does not include indulgences in fast-food meals.
I've learned quite a few things about my body, in terms of my strengths. I'm, as Brady puts it, "a crazy son-of-bitch," when it comes to enjoying the masochism of running up a mountainside. I've never run on the Appalachian Trail before and this season I decided to implement the crazy idea and philosophy that the more efficient a runner is at running uphill the stronger the runner is during the run. I've come to appreciate the seclusion the trails provide from the convoluted chaos of society (beautifully orchestrated in reality television) and have an amazing draw towards the diluted humbleness of putting one foot in front of the other and repeating for 30+ miles. I run better when I'm surrounded by teammates and people just as crazy as myself. Robert, Brady, thank you for stupidly following me up Blood Mountain more than once.
Along with the positives come the negatives that are, in my opinion, more important to change during the next training season. 28 weeks of training was too much for my mind and body, at this point. I think adjusting to 20 weeks of focus will be the best idea. I need to ice, stretch, and massage more after long runs. Honing in on form drills had huge dividends, but I need to focus more on form after I'm fatigued. Perhaps, running my long runs and the next day, which is generally an off day, I focus on form instead of cross-training only. I also need a medium distant/time run. One long run is great if you just want to finished, but I know I can compete. Next training outline will look like this: Long Run, Form Drills, Easy Run, Quality Workout, Cross-train, Medium Run, Recovery Run, Repeat. And I may throw in a couple of back-to-back long runs to help induce fatigue related pain.
Overall, I'm impressed and glad this season is over. I'm going to take between one and two weeks off of running to let my body heal. I'm going to be swimming, rock-climbing, and hiking a lot more and slowly start picking out my next 50k race for sometime in the late fall...and in my, soon to be, new home state of Washington. More to come on that move as well.
I'll post a race review for the Sweetwater 50k in the next few days, so keep checking back for updates. Leave some comments, questions, concerns, or advice. Thanks.