Recently on the lookout for a new challenge that will take me beyond my goal Ironman finish in 2015 I have stumbled upon the ultramarathon. Ultramarathons are apparently any running event longer than a marathon, how hard can that be? I was reading about the Western States 100, which was contested on June 28 and 29 this year.
After spending the last 6 months training in earnest for my debut Ironman 70.3 in September, I have come to realize that one does not just get off the sofa and run 100 miles. While I might feel strong and capable part of the time, it doesn’t take much more than a brisk 8 mile tempo run to put me back in my place right now. That being said, planning and preparation seem to be the key to successfully contesting any foot race that is more than 26.2 miles. One could argue that a fair bit of planning and preparation go into the 26.2 mile ones too I suppose.
I was planning on making my marathon debut on December 28th this year at the Jacksonville Bank Marathon. That gave me a good span of time after Ironman 70.3 Augusta at the end of September to ramp up the run training a bit through the precarious holiday season of cookies, cakes, and turkey. Then I got the bug to try running further than a marathon. As I began to think through stepping up distances and intensity to survive the 100 mile endeavor it seemed logical to add something just longer than a marathon and then something longer and then maybe your goal distance. When I looked at my local race calendar I was pleasantly surprised to find a 50K trail race right down the road from me at the start of December. How perfect would that be? I was going to lose a few weeks to prep for that distance but what better way to prepare for a marathon than by running 31 odd miles on a trail? And two long races on either end of December is certainly going to keep me from packing on some holiday weight this year.
That only gets me part of the way to my goal distance though, next up we need a good, solid 50-miler. Lo and behold there is a 50 mile race just north of where I live at the end of March, does this get any more perfect? Add to that the 26.2 with Donna and a couple other half marathons and other events and I’ve now got about 200 miles of racing to look forward to between Augusta and my next anticipated triathlon in St Croix in May. Even better, the furthest I have to drive is only about 2 1/2 hours.
The jump from a 50 mile race to a 100 mile race is still pretty steep but prepping for an Ironman will certainly help me mix up the training and stay motivated. There are a host of 100 mile events in the Southern and Eastern parts of the country that I looked at that are qualifiers for the Western States 100. The one that looked the most interesting and that lines up nicely with my calendar is the Grindstone 100, which is normally held in the first week of October in Swoope, Virginia. Is anyone else getting goosebumps? I know I’m pretty excited to see the steps to get to the starting line at Squaw Valley for the 2016 Western States 100 laid out in front of me.