An ultra-marathon doesn’t begin when the race starts. It begins when you decide to do it. For me, that was November 12, 2022. I had eight months to prepare, and now I am down to 6 weeks. In reality, I have 4 more weeks of training and two weeks of tapering. I’m nervous. I have cause to be. The last ultra marathon I completed nearly killed me. I worry that I haven’t done enough to prepare. Mostly because I haven’t reached my goal of losing 15 pounds. I am nearly the same weight as when I started this journey in November, 156 pounds down from 159. Yet, there are signs that I have improved more than I fear.
In November, my Apple watch reported my VO2 max as 45.5. Today it sits at 51.2. It is not nearly high enough, but I still have some time. I can run for hours in the heat without any chafing.
I took some measurements tonight. My neck is down an inch and a half, and my chest, abdomen, hips, and thighs are all each a full 2 inches smaller than they were. My calves have expanded an inch and a half. My Renpho scale thinks I’ve added 8 pounds of muscle. I guess the lesson here is not to fixate on a single metric, like weight. Change is happening.
This week, I ran 102.5 kilometres in training and did 3 twenty-minute HITT workouts. I am not sore in the slightest. Not all my runs were comfortable, and not all of them were strictly runs. The wildfires in Alberta have it looking like an apocalyptic nightmare.
The last two days of training have been on the treadmill as a result. Yesterday, I walked for 2 hours at a 3% grade and a speed of 3.4 miles per hour. This is a great speed for two reasons. 1) that is just a little faster than you need to go to complete 100 miles in 30 hours (the cut-off) and 2) it is about as fast as I can go and still focus on the book in front of me. At the two-hour mark I ditched the book and pumped the speed up to 6.4 miles/hour. For the next hour I alternated between 6.4 and 7 miles an hour. Indoors, even with the fans going, this produces far too much sweat. It was carnage. I felt great! When I hit 3 hours I walked out another 10 minutes just to end on 21.2k.
I intended to use this blog during my training to stay accountable. That didn’t happen, obviously. I spent 8-weeks in the dead of winter working on strength training and my core. I’ve done less running than I might have otherwise. I quit reading “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning” by Jason Koop (second edition) about halfway in. It was not because it wasn’t good but because it was too good and making me anxious. Look I’m an amateur, and the real science behind these kinds of distances is overwhelming. I was starting to fixate on all the things I should be doing and didn’t have time for. I will finish the book, and likely read it 2 or 3 times, but that will happen as I get more of these races under me. Maybe that isn’t the best approach but it is the approach I’m going with.
It is my rest day today. I took a very solid nap in the middle of the day. Sleep hygiene has been pretty important. I love sleep training. More of that, please. That long nap is probably responsible for the wicked 39 beats/minute average resting heart rate for the day. yesterday was 40. I am in decent shape. Still. I am nervous. 100 miles, 161 kilometres, 20,000 feet of elevation gain, and 20 more thousand feet of loss. That is intimidating. Will I be ready?
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