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So, Now What?

Posted November 11th, 2012 at 09:01 PM by Black Spurs

Now what? That is the question on my mind. My wife wanted Pinhoti to be my last 100 mile race, but my last 100 mile race won't be an unfinished race. No, I can't go out like that. So after a week of mulling it over, I broke the news to her that I would be going back to Pinhoti next year, do or die. And with that, I've laid the groundwork for the plan of attack, which is kind of a fun thing to do. Throughout the week, I have had moments of certainty and moments of doubt. The doubt is fading the more I reflect on the race. I was concerned about my pace being a very hard effort for a fairly conservative pace until I looked at it carefully. My pace was looking at about a 23 hour finish when the stomach issues hit me; that is a hard pace. I was trying to pad my goal finish time knowing I would wane in the later stages. But, I didn't feel overly tired when I was hit by the other issues, so I am encouraged by that and the fact that I have a huge amount of fitness to build upon.

Basically, I am taking the next year and going into what I am calling an advanced stage of training. That is, building upon the point from where I am now to go beyond my expectations for this year. I may not have a pace chart that has anything other than cutoff times for aid stations, though. In fact, that is the only pace chart I will have. The following plan will be implemented starting next week, or this week, actually:

Long runs of 25 to 30 miles will be done twice monthly until February where a 40 miler will be thrown in. Long runs for March will be done on the front end of the month, and long runs for April will be on the back end for the purposes of turkey hunting. Eventually, I will put in at least one 100K (62 miles) distance followed by a 70ish mile run three weeks prior to the race.

Hill work will be essential. The Pinhoti boasts over 16,000 feet of elevation gain. That is alot of climbing, and I didn't hit half of it last week. But I experienced enough to know what kind of climbing I have to do, switchbacks at a grade I put beyond a gradual ascent, but not very much impossible climbing, except for a couple of places. How do you do that in Louisiana? We have some hills up here, but nothing that really compares. However, one thing that really translates pretty well to hill climbing is a treadmill. On a treadmill, a 10% incline is equal to 528 vertical climbing feet per mile, which is pretty significant. As such, if you go 5 miles at 10% you climb 2640 vertical feet. The formula would be (miles in feet x miles) x (percent incline) or, in this case, (5280 x 5) x .10 = (vertical feet). By the time August gets here, I will be doing about 16,000 vertical feet, or vert per weekend. That would be over about 30 miles, which is insane and probably overkill. But I would rather suffer now than in the race.

Going into Rocky Raccoon, I was afraid of failing to accomplish that goal, and I pushed very hard through the training. I trained smart; I ran smart; I mentally conditioned myself right. Going into Pinhoti, I was overconfident and rested on my training laurels from Rocky. You can't do that in life any more than you can do it trying to run 100 mile endurance runs/races. I was like the guy who goes on public land for the first time as a turkey hunter and kills a big gobbler. He comes out thinking that it is not as hard as others make it out to be, or perhaps, if he is really dumb, that he is just naturally talented. All the while, folks who have done it time and time again are shaking their heads because they know how difficult it is. I was definitely lucky at Cajun Coyote and Rocky Raccoon, but I had worked hard to get there. I just didn't have enough experience to realize that luck played a major role in my success, no stomach issues at all in either race to speak of. But just like that young turkey hunter who will eventually be humbed, so will the long distance trail runner who experiences some early success. However, DNF'ing a race is not nearly as bad as missing a turkey. It doesn't even come close. You know you probably won't finish every 100 miler and sort of accept that going in. It is hard to accept missing a turkey.

Of course, I knew it was hard to run a 100K or a 100 miles and never thought I had much talent, but I didn't realize how lucky I had been on those runs until everything went south on me early in the race on Saturday. I wouldn't say I have dwelled on it obsessively, but I wouldn't be writing this if it didn't weigh on my mind quite a bit. I don't think there is much that I could have done differently once I got there, but my training wasn't what it should have been. My longest run for one of the most difficult 100 milers in the country was 36 miles? Really?!? Can you say stupid, arrogant, foolish, and ignorant? I can. But then again, I did do a number of 3 and 4 hour tempo runs that were supposed to take the place of the long, slow, distance (LSD) running I did for those other races. I am back on LSD, and I don't plan to get off of it. Stay tuned. I'll update things every month or so until things start getting closer. Thanks again for reading these ramblings.
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