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Finally Fifty

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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:47 am

Loved the GAP ride and Ohiopyle was one of my favorite little towns along the way.  Did you eat in Confluence?  We had ice cream, but there is supposed to be a fun little brew pub.  Actually thinking of riding the GAP again next year - just the 150 miles to Cumberland as I think that is all my daughter will be able to handle, but we will see.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:19 pm

Mom - We didn't end up eating in Confluence other than the dehydrated potatoes, beans, oatmeal, and wraps we brought with us.  Laughing  To spare the suspense... we're in the early phases of planning a run-ride along the 150mi of the GAP (definitely not adding C&O) sometime before we leave the area (mid-summer).  Basically we'd have the gear on the bike and I'd do the morning run (up to 20mi) while Haley rides, then swap and she'll run probably 10mi or so while I ride ahead and set up camp.  Since I like running first thing and she likes running later in the day, this should work well.  Ideally, it'd be a 4-5 day trip sometime in May as part of my peaking for Laurel Highlands (could even stay an extra night in Ohiopyle so I can get a long run on the course)... but I'm not sure she can get the week off work.  Might have to just be a casual deal after the race.

---

So, training paid off.  Either that, or shaving my head did.  Y'know, race superstitions.  

In short, the half I've been training for (Parks Half Marathon) truly was a fast course and it was a fast day for me - I set a huge PR with an official time of 1:26:54.  There are a few photos from the race, but the majority of them are laughable and "beefcake"y - why do I still look so stout in photos? - so I'll spare y'all.  

I'm pretty proud of how I ran the race, staying calm and conservative as the 1:30 pace group shot out of the gate, catching them at mile 2 and making a quick pass before settling into what I felt was manageable (somewhere around 6:40-6:52 pace, depending on the rollers).  Waited until mile 7 to really put forth any effort, where I started picking off some of the top-10 women and tightening the vice slowly.  Mile 9 brought the hardest hill - though not the biggest - a 75' kicker that had me running a la ultras (half bent over with hands on quads pushing through my stride).  After that I knew there was nothing significant, so I let the red-line effort creep in and just sustained myself on continuing to run down those who went out fast and faded late.  Came to the last hairpin turn about 10sec back from a duo who were duking it out and nearly caught them (right on their heels) during my kick.  Found a gear I didn't remember having and finished probably somewhere in the low 4s.

Easy 5.9 today (why not 6? because the loop is 5.9 and I'm not THAT neurotic... usually) to just see how the legs were.  They're pretty great.  Hamstrings are tight but otherwise no real discomfort.  

Got a pretty busy work week coming up, so the miles are going to be very easy while I recover from the race.  Schedule shows somewhere between 60-65mi, most of which is coming over the weekend.  

Next race - Tussey Mountainback Relay on 10/8.  I've got 15mi over 4 legs with the hardest climb on the whole course, so probably about 18mi on the day after warm-ups.  Not going to go quite as hard as the half, but going to run as a pretty solid tempo day.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mark B on Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:24 pm

Dang! Nice job on the half marathon! That "beefcake" may be boosting your strength more than when you were more whippet-like?

Anyway. Sub 1:30 is great, 1:26 is amazing and being able to finish strong is even better.

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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  nkrichards on Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:48 am

Impressive race Mike.  Sounds like you ran a smart race.  Don't you love it when you find a gear you didn't realize you had.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:55 am

Mark - Definitely could be additional strength... what I lack in the ability to climb for miles and miles at a good clip, I've made up for in the ability to take much more of a leg-shredding before breaking down.  Either way, since my upcoming 50M is not super hilly, I'm not too concerned about cutting weight.  I'd like to be in the high-140s by my spring/summer races, which isn't too many more pounds.

Nancy - Feels so inspiring.  There is a HILARIOUS photo of me gritting my teeth and charging towards the two I was trying to catch within about 100' of the finish.  I've just passed a woman who has a very bemused/shocked expression on her face.

---

Well, I've made it through the hardest part of the week, so I guess I can safely update this and say it's been a success.  As per usual, Hard-Run-Plus-48-Hours was a very sore and uncomfortable run.  The same 5.9mi loop but with a little niggle behind the right knee and a stiffness in my right arch that wouldn't let me flex my feet properly.  Took the run very easy and haven't felt the aches since.

Double yesterday as a sort of pretend race simulation.  Pretend because it was a solid 7-8hr between the runs instead of 45-60min.  Easy 6 (a full 6!) in the morning with 4.3 commute home after work.  It was hot and humid and kind of gross by the afternoon.

Today is just a long work day leading into a 4-day "mostly weekend," as I only have a single 1hr gig tomorrow evening and a 2hr gig Monday.  New shoes arrived this week (Saucony Peregrine 6s) that seem to fit like a glove, so I'll be giving those a spin during my looooooong run Saturday - of course, I'll be bringing my Breakthrus and Cascadias in case the Peregrines need more breaking in before spending 4hr in them.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:13 pm

Good news and bad news.  

We'll start with the end of the week...  Accidentally left my Yeti on top of my car while leaving a job and watched a bus flatten it as I ran back to get it out of the street  No.  My phone slipped off a shelf into my running clothes drawer and tapped the edge of the drawer on the way down - bust.  Screen was already spider-webbed from a drop this summer, but this one did it in.  Got a new phone that came with a few glitches of its own during set up and I'm still not sure I'll be keeping it.  That's what I get for trying to save a buck on Amazon.

---

Then there was running.  Friday's 12 miler was good and snappy until the strides at the end.  Middle of the 4th stride brought a right hamstring cramp so the last mile or so was just an easy shufflejog home.  

The heat and humidity has been creeping back in here, and yesterday was not much kinder.  The planned 4hr on the trail turned into 3hr as the wheels fell off somewhere around 2hr30min.  Guess I took it a little too hard on all the rollers early on.  Hydration was almost on point, though.  Nutrition was not.  New shoes felt great and are definite keepers.

Back to the drawing board to figure out this imaginary 4hr boundary.  I've always struggled with it, and I know it's going to be the hardest part of the next 2 months leading up to my race.  Meh.

---

We're headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway area of VA next weekend for a quick overnight trip with 2 big run/hike days planned.  Should be ~4hr each for me (~15-16mi w/ 4k-5k' climbing per day), assuming I can learn to pace myself.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mark B on Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:37 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:New shoes felt great and are definite keepers.

Woot! The shoes are keepers! cheers cheers cheers

All the other stuff kinda pales by comparison. Good shoes!

Enjoy the Blue Ridge adventure this weekend. And pace yourself! You've got all day, after all.

(Kinda sucks about the Yeti, and the phone, and the cramp.)

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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  nkrichards on Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:03 am

Seems funny to hear you talk about the 4 hour boundary...we slow runners run into that all the time!

Enjoy Blue Ridge...
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:06 am

Mark - True.  A dose of perspective and humor is important when dealing with unfortunate events like last week.  

Nancy - Got any tips?  My brother's thrown me a few, but I'm always happy to hear more!

---

This week's running has gone well.  Had a focused 2hr jaunt on the "hilly loop" around Arlington Monday and easy days on T/W.  Today will be easy with some strides to open the legs for this weekend.  I've mapped out "minimum" and "maximum" length routes for both days...  Saturday is 18-21mi w/ 4.8-6.5k' gain, Sunday is 14-17mi w/ about the same range in elevation.  I think pacing should be a non-issue, since all the climbing is steady and long, which I tend to prefer.  

---

A slight change in the "master plan" due to an announcement by WS100.  The hundo I was targeting for Thanksgiving 2018 (Chimera 100) is no longer a qualifier.  Bust.  This ruins my plan to qualify for 2019 in June (Laurel Highlands) and then qualify for 2020 in November (Chimera).  

The upside of this is two-fold, though.  First, after last week's misadventure (WS announcement of 2020 qualifiers came on Sunday afternoon, I think), I gave some serious thought to how badly I wanted to spend 16hr+ on a rocky/rooty/punchy trail.  Despite being out here for 3 years, I still have a very love-hate relationships with the trails on this side of the country and would pretty much always pick a West Coast race over anything out here (that smooth single-track, those long mountain climbs... ah...).  I decided that if there's no longer the possibility of a double-qualifier in 2018 (there isn't), I would rather drop the Laurel plans and focus on a race I think I'll really enjoy.

I've decided on the Cuyamaca 100k in October.  It's 3 loops of varying length with the same start/finish - cool for crewing, probably kinda cool for motivation?, cool for comfort of always being near familiar grounds.  From the pictures and videos I've found, it looks like pristine single-track, fire road, and some asphalt.  I plan to go scout one of the loops (either the 2nd or 3rd) during the holidays.

So, the first upside to all this is that I don't have to have an extremely technically challenging ultra hanging over my head.  The second is that the summer has just opened up (no need to plan for 1mo recovery for most of June and July) for more running adventures.  I'm ok with this.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  nkrichards on Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:56 pm

Sounds like some fun...challenging running coming up in the near and far future!

As far as running 4+ hours I don't have any magic bullets.  It's a dragon you have to slay just like running your first mile, first hour, through the wall at 20 miles during a marathon....  We all have different dragons of varying sizes/strengths.  I will say that your pace and nutrition during the first two hours are probably more important than anything you do in the last hour.  You just need to have your head in the right place during that last hour and when it's all over you'll laugh and wonder what the big deal was.

Have a great running weekend...
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:14 pm

So, that went really well.  Like, really really well.

I combined my brother's and Nancy's advice (the former being: "save the best part for last, think of it as all day in the mountains so 4hr seems short, and have someone to run with for part of it") and ran both days with the whole weekend in mind - ie, I have some 8-10hr of running to do over the next 2 days with more elevation than I've ever done in a weekend before.

---

Saturday was a 5:30am wake-up call and a quick exit to begin the drive to Old Rag on the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park.  It's considered one of the best hikes in the entire region... and for good reason.  We'd done it earlier in the year during our spring break road trip, but at that time there were no leaves to be seen and not many people.  Quite the contrary on Saturday.  The parking lot was about 80% full by the time we arrived at 7:45am and everything was SO GREEN (with touches of yellow as fall is approaching).

We had decided that I'd have Haley join me for loop 2, so off I went into the cool morning with a full pack and high spirits.  I stuck to a pretty rigid "hike everything steeper than 3-4%" plan, which paid off in the end.  The rock scramble at the top (oh yes, there's some Class 4 action after climbing for 3 miles) was a little harder than I remembered, but altogether not too bad.  I took the descent super easy (~9min pace as opposed to spring break's 7:1x) and decided to nix a possible side trip up a 2nd mountain, as that'd have me arrive at our predetermined meeting point almost an hour late.  Instead, I was early enough to make it down the road to the car in order to save Haley from having to mule my water/Gatorade resupply the mile up to the trailhead.  

Now, last time we did this, Haley turned back at the rock scramble.  The first section is 3x 3-5' downclimbs with minimal to moderate exposure.  Nothing TOO bad, but still not something to take lightly.  This time, by the time we got to the top, there was A LINE OF LIKE FIFTY PEOPLE WAITING because the first move is into a chute and there's no other way around it.  Fortunately for Haley, this super-freakin-long wait gave her time to calm her nerves and gather her courage.  Having her there was perfect, as it kept me from losing my cool because I wasn't moving anymore and this doesn't simulate race day and and and and and, etc.  I mean, shit Mike, there are no mountains on your race.  None of this simulates race day.  

The downclimb was uneventful and easy-peasy for both of us, which I think bolstered Haley's confidence.  We popped through the next quarter mile or so with the occasional rock obstacle before arriving at "the Chute," which the group in front of us had been dreadfully talking about for the last hour.  Thank God Haley left her hearing aid out, because with how they talked about it, it sounded like a 100' chimney with treacherous exposure.  Really, it's a 10' Class 3 scramble followed by a 45 degree chimney with a rock plopped in the middle of it that you have to climb over/around.  Haley's paddling arms made easy work of the crux of the climb and we moved onward.  Towards the top, there's a single crevice that is truly frightening, since the gap is about 30" between the rocks and it involves climbing UP onto the next section with minimal good handhelds (ie no jugs), so for short people like us, the move is basically to lay on the destination rock then scootch up it.  Haley wasn't happy about this one, nor was I, but I didn't give her much time to overthink it, and with that, we were past all the scrambling.

Running down from the top, she turned to me and said, "this is so fun.  I've never had this much fun running in the mountains before."  Yes, high as a kite from the adrenaline.  But a high pacer is an excellent pacer...?

Strava

---

We camped overnight at Peaks of Otter campground, which is across the road from the Lodge, where we stayed over spring break when it was MUUUUCH cheaper than normal.  Having the Lodge nearby let us feel connected to the world (which we often struggle with while camping), and gave us a nice big restaurant meal for dinner.

Another early morning brought forth some soreness and nervousness, but also excitement.  The plan was to head a few miles up the Blue Ridge Parkway and get dropped off on the far side of Flat Top Mountain, the decidedly least-favorite of the 3 peaks outlining the valley.  From there, I'd run over and down to the Lodge, meet Haley in the parking lot, head around Harkening Hill (the least steep and technical of the 3 peaks) to the Visitor Center, cross the road to the Sharp Top Mountain trailhead, and summit that once with her.  Then I'd continue on to do Sharp Top again and either do it one more time (because that's not insane) or run back around Harkening the other way.  I ended up choosing the latter, as Sharp Top is very popular and I was getting tired of telling people that yes, I'm running it AGAIN, and my knees were starting to get a little cranky from all the hard descending.  

Strava

I'll save the race-esque report on this day, as there really isn't too much to report other than another very successful day in the mountains.  The insane amount of traffic on the way home kind of dampened the whole thing, but it's okay.

---

This week has been pretty creaky, though the legs did open up enough for me to clock a sub-9:00 mile on my commute home... in 85 degree heat.  For real, it's disgusting again here.  C'mon fall, hurry up.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  nkrichards on Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:07 am

Sounds like an awesome running weekend!

Fall weather has arrived here in Central Oregon...I'll send some your way.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:01 pm

Sounds like you guys had a great time.  Did see some of your stuff from the half on Insta.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:01 pm

Sounds like you guys had a great time.  Did see some of your stuff from the half on Insta.
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:33 pm

Another good week since the last update...

We're kinda gotten into fall now?  Last weekend was nice and chilly (even moreso because I was in PA - more on that in a minute) and it's in the mid-70s this week, though I guess it's heating up again this weekend?  I don't know anymore.  It's October, damnit, I want to be cold in the morning!

So last week wrapped up with an interesting couple of days.  A childhood-through-adulthood buddy of mine works for Rodale and was going to be in PA for their Fall Classic ride and had invited me to come up and ride with them - at half price!  On the DL, I also got to stay at the Rodale family farm with him, but I'm not sure that was ever actually approved by the company.  Whoops.  Since the ride was Sunday, I headed up Friday night (after a last-minute job I took because a long-time client was moving to a new job within the agency and this was her goodbye party... felt like I should be the one to work it) to have a little more time to catch up.

Saturday brought my first ever triple run day - my one and only real "racelike" training run for Tussey... which is this Sunday.  The plan was 3x 5mi @ "progressing to race pace," whatever that means, with 1hr in between each run.  The short story is that it went really well, with the last run coming in at 4mi @ ~6:35 w/ 1mi cool down.  Hurt like a bitch, I bonked really hard on run #2 (which my buddy ran with me... he blew up about 5k in, which is much farther than I thought he'd last), and learned some lessons about how to run a relay.  That all wrapped up around 12:30, which left just enough time to take a quick shower, eat lunch, and get ready for the shakeout ride put on by Rodale (another freebie of the weekend thanks to my buddy) at 2:30.  So, yes, 4 "workouts" in one day.  Needless to say, after dinner and a couple beers, I was asleep by 9pm.

Sunday's ride was a helluva lot of fun, given that I hadn't really ridden a bike in 6mo and definitely didn't put forth any effort on Saturday.  Buddy and I basically ran course support, despite getting lost (oops), which meant extended stretches at 20-24mph with some spinning in between while we chatted with other participants.  The ride ended on the local velodrome, so I got a quick introduction to the sensation of dropping in from the curve and hammering down the back straight.  Lots of fun.  Afterwards, there was an insane amount of food and UNLIMITED FREE BEER (WHAT?!)... and a free T-shirt and pint glass (I've lost count of the freebies at this point) that I sorta worked off by bar-tending for a bit.  

---

This week has been all easy runs, with Monday at Great Falls after work; yesterday and today were just 6mi commutes home from work, today's w/ 6x strides.

A funny thing happened with our Tussey relay group... our third dropped out.  Yes, despite me requiring a definite response one month before the event so we'd know whether we are running 18&15mi (Haley&I, respectively) or 22&28, our third had a bunch of life stuff come up and we're now a duo.  Which is kind of what we talked about wanting to do all along, since we know each other's race energy/psyche/etc.  So, yes, I'm suddenly doing not 4 but 6 segments over the course of 8-9hr.  Which will actually be GREAT, because it's going to be the length of my 50mi but with breaks in between to actually eat and drink and figure out nutrition and stuff.  

Oh, and there's an on-course training run for my 50mi the day before; it's 19mi.  Time to strap in for the next 2.5 weeks - we're looking at 70+mpw until taper.

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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mark B on Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:27 am

Sounds like you're making great progress, Mike, both physically and mentally. That weekend of running/rock scrambling may not have replicated race conditions, but it helped you deal with the inevitable weirdness that happens in ultras. Besides, it sounded like great fun.

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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  nkrichards on Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:11 am

Mark B wrote:Sounds like you're making great progress, Mike, both physically and mentally. That weekend of running/rock scrambling may not have replicated race conditions, but it helped you deal with the inevitable weirdness that happens in ultras. Besides, it sounded like great fun.

+1 on the progress and the fun but I can't imagine running that much!
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Re: Finally Fifty

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:50 am

The good times continue to roll in.  I've noticed a definite pattern emerging: the beginning of the week tends to be good, by Thurs I tend to be tired and kind of dreading the weekend (I just want some time to relax!), and by the end of the weekend, I'm feeling more and more confident.

Pretty much the pattern of last week.  Friday brought a short recovery jaunt with Haley, including some long strides to loosen up for the weekend.  Saturday was the first of 3 organized training runs I'll be doing on the Stone Mill 50 course - it was the first 11 and last 8 miles, as the course is a lollipop with a bonus loop of a small lake on the way out (hence 11+Cool.  Some good course recon, found a group to chat with (turned out to be the 3 of us who finished first out of everyone who ran the whole distance), and started to dial in my pacing strategy a bit.  Looks like 10min/mi will be the race pace, at least for the first 50k.  A bit technical, which is keeping me out of comfort in the low 9s.

Immediately after that run, Haley and I drove to PA to visit her brother/sister-in-law and get a bit closer to our perhaps ill-advised race for the weekend - the Tussey Mountainback 50mi Relay.  Now remember, we originally had 3, but then just 2.  So I had ~28mi on the docket to Haley's 22.  She hasn't run a 20mi day since May, so this was going to be a challenge.

The short version of the race is that we couldn't have had a better day, given the non-taper and unseasonably balmy and sticky weather.  We came in under 7:30 (I think 7:26?), giving us the win for mixed supra (2 runners) and 2/6 for all supra teams.  The first place supra team actually won the entire relay race, which included options of up to 8 runners on a team.  Guys were SMOKIN' fast (6:17 average).  I ended up averaging ~7:40 for the day and, despite a never-settled tummy, felt pretty good about everything.  We were very, very tired on our drive home last night.  Thankfully, I don't work today.  Haley does, poor girl.

A hair over 70mi for the week, looking at about the same this week.  I'm not sure I want to go run - it's wet and sticky and bleh - but I'll probably get out for at least a few miles to shake out the race.  Not until this Imperial Stout is done brewing, though.
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