The 50 Miler

Never do anything half-way; that has been how I approach many passions in my life, whether it’s music or running. The issue I have is not whether or not to throw myself into an event whole heartedly, it’s the discipline of preparing for it. Sure I’ll run that 50 miler, oh, you mean I should train for it?

A perfect example of this is two years ago I decided to run the Finger Lakes 50. I had signed up for it three months in advance and did very limited training. My training consisted of a couple of half-marathons and a couple of long training runs with the Oven Door Runners, ODR. On 4th of July weekend my wife, Amy, and I headed down to the Finger Lakes National Forest at 3 AM to make the 6 AM start. The plan was that Amy would go to town, Ithaca NY, for shopping and relaxing, I would run 50 miles, anticipating an 11.5 hour finish and call Amy to let her know to pick me up. Two problems occurred. First I was in no shape to run 50 miles and when I finished 50k in 7:18 (12 minutes before the cut-off for the 50 miler) I knew my day was done and dropped. Second, there is no cell phone reception in the Forest. Oh well, it was a nice long day.

A decade ago I was running strong, completing many ultras including: Bull Run Run in 2001, and 2002 both less than 11 hours. I won the KISS 50 miler (although I should mention that Monica Schultz’ 50 mile split on her way to a 100 mile finish, was two minutes ahead of my 50 mile finish. I DNF’d at 87 miles at MMT and finished 10th at Haliburton 100. Then I blew out my Achilles tendon at a 12 hour asphalt race (completing over 100k), and have struggled ever since to be consistent in training.

Massanutten Visitor

For the past ten years I have had this nagging annoyance in the back of my mind, ‘I have unfinished business at Massanutten’. At MMT 100, if you make it past 50 miles (Bird Knob) but DNF you become an ‘Official Visitor’ and are given a piece of the trail stating as much. You go on the VHTRC rolls until you come back and finish. The big annoyance of all of this is that MMT is the only 100 mile qualifier for Hardrock 100 in the east. I know I will never qualify for Boston, but Hardrock is a possibility. So this year I decided to see if I could get myself back to MMT shape in the next few years (2014?).

Did I mention I don’t do anything half way? I decided my start to this adventure would be to commit to at least two 50 milers. The first being the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 on June 8th, followed in 4 weeks by the Finger Lakes Fifties. On the way there I am considering the Cast a Shadow 6 hr Snowshow race, the BPAC 6 hour, and the Highland Forest 1-2-3. Following the Finger Lakes Fifties is the possibility of the Can Lake 50, and Virgil Crest 50, or 100, closing the season with the Mendon Trail Runs (50k) which is almost literally in my back yard.

My intention with this blog is to post weekly updates regarding training, to help me stay consistent, and to get feedback from other runners.

Coming up:

The tentative training schedule

Categories: Running | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The 50 Miler

  1. Wow, what a trophy! haha. I don’t think I would ever be able to manage 50 miles. Sounds like you have had a lot of success at the distance! How do you even train for such a distance?

  2. Hello there! I will get into my tentative training schedule in the next post. But the key to my training has always been LSD. (Long Slow Distance); the weekend long run on trails when possible. It’s not so much the miles as it is time on the feet for any one run. The beauty of the long run and trail ultras is that the muscle groups get broken up by walking, hills, technical trail running, etc. I have found that there is less recovery time afterwards and I feel fresher on trails than on roads. There is less of a chance for a repetitive use injury, plus the scenery is nicer.

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