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Stalking 50

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Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:35 am

It's been a year since I swore off races, deciding to spend 12 months playing with running and seeing where it took me. Now, after losing some weight, recuperating from injury and rebuilding from the ground up -- I'm itching to get out there again.

I have set my sights on running my first ultra this summer: The Mount Hood 50.

There's only one teensy little problem. I'm not actually, technically, you know… "registered" for the thing. I hesitated too much on sign-up day and the dang thing filled up! I'm 24th on the waiting list.

That's not the insurmountable problem that it might seem. They went 50 deep into the waiting list for last year's Mount Hood 50, so the race director says there's a very good chance I'll get in. But I probably won't know for sure until March.

So, what to do? Build up for a race I might not get a chance to run?

In a way, it might just be the best thing for me.

Why? Because this way, I can spend months building miles and preparing to run ridiculous distances without the hard-and-fast commitment to a specific race. I can sneak up on this ultra and pounce on it when the time is right.

Yes, you read that right: I am stalking a 50-mile ultramarathon. I kind of like way it sounds. It doesn't hurt that it's also how I'm approaching that "other" 50 happening this year.

I'll provide more details on the race and how I plan to get ready for it over the next day or so. But for now, let me just say that I hope you join me on this new adventure, because I think it's going to be a blast.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Michael Enright on Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:53 am

Wow, that sounds far! Barefoot, right? Smile
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  charles.moman on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:27 am

Come on Mark, a 50-miler is "just" two marathons - NOT!
Have you chosen a plan yet? I probably already mentioned Bryon Powell's Relentless Forward Progress.
I am doing a hybrid of the 50 mile and 100 plan. I used the 50-mile plan for last summer's North Country 50-miler.
Then I signed up for the IT 100, but switched down to the 50.

I like the 100-mile plan which peaks at 50 miles or so a week better. The weekly runs are shorter and the weekend runs are longer, which I think I need. I just feel I need more runs with a lot more time on my feet to feel better prepared for the April biggie.

I will wear shoes - my sweet Hokas - that is just about all I run in anymore.
They are not for everybody, but they are perfect for me.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:18 am

Love the title, Mark, and looking forward to reading along.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Jerry on Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:42 am

50K would do. Just saying.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  dot520 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:47 am

This sounds perfect for you! You seem to be in a good place right now! Looking forward to the training reports.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:36 pm

@Jerry wrote:50K would do. Just saying.

Between the walking before and after a marathon, 26.2 can easily become 31.xx. My first one nearly did.

Looking forward to seeing this play out, Mark. I think you're ready. I would agree with Charles that the weekend long runs are what are important, but I think I've told you that a billion times already.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:20 pm

@Michael Enright wrote:Wow, that sounds far! Barefoot, right? Smile

Uh...

Well, as much as part of me would like to do 50 miles on rocky mountain trails with naked feet, I'm thinking it might be a few years before I've learned barefoot running well enough to attempt something quite that crazy. Still, it would be so cool...

@charles.moman wrote:Come on Mark, a 50-miler is "just" two marathons - NOT!
Have you chosen a plan yet? I probably already mentioned Bryon Powell's Relentless Forward Progress.
I am doing a hybrid of the 50 mile and 100 plan. I used the 50-mile plan for last summer's North Country 50-miler.
Then I signed up for the IT 100, but switched down to the 50.

I like the 100-mile plan which peaks at 50 miles or so a week better. The weekly runs are shorter and the weekend runs are longer, which I think I need. I just feel I need more runs with a lot more time on my feet to feel better prepared for the April biggie.

I will wear shoes - my sweet Hokas - that is just about all I run in anymore.
They are not for everybody, but they are perfect for me.

Thanks for the ideas, Charles! I have a well-thumbed copy of "Relentless Forward Progress," and it has a lot of great information. I'll get more into the specifics of my training approach in the next few days. But I will say that, because of my schedule, I'm going to have to put more emphasis on regular back-to-back weekend (technically, Sunday-Monday) runs than RFP suggests. The midweek runs will include some medium distances, some barefooting, and maybe some hillier shorter runs.

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Love the title, Mark, and looking forward to reading along.

Thanks, Michele! I hope to at least keep y'all entertained as best I can.

@Jerry wrote:50K would do. Just saying.

Yeah... probably. But where's the fun in something that simply "would do"?

Besides, I'll actually be doing a 50K in training (probably not as a race), so I'll be getting both of those distances run! Also, if they don't go as deep into the wait list as expected, it'd be pretty easy to find a 50k as a fall-back event.

@dot520 wrote:This sounds perfect for you! You seem to be in a good place right now! Looking forward to the training reports.

Thanks, Dot! I've got a good feeling about this. I've been laying the groundwork for quite a while now; it's time to see what it's gotten me.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:
@Jerry wrote:50K would do. Just saying.

Between the walking before and after a marathon, 26.2 can easily become 31.xx. My first one nearly did.

Looking forward to seeing this play out, Mark. I think you're ready. I would agree with Charles that the weekend long runs are what are important, but I think I've told you that a billion times already.

Thanks, Mike! Your suggestions are guiding my thought process as I craft my training strategy.

As for 50K vs. 50 miles, I want to make sure that I am in no way tempted to try to treat this event like a long marathon. The last thing I want to do is push it too hard and turn it into an all-day sufferfest.

Also, I think that my particular type of low-intensity running will be well-suited to this distance. Going fast can be fun, but there's nothing like the feeling that you can keep going forever.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:36 pm

All right, time for a little information on the race itself.

The Mount Hood 50 is part of the Northwest Mountain Trail Series, which has some truly impressive runs in the Pacific Northwest.

Click here for a .pdf that shows all the races in the series.

I borrowed from the .pdf document above to get these images. First up is an overview of the course, looking north along the crest of the Cascade Range toward Mount Hood. The big lake you see is Timothy Lake. The race starts a mile or two south of the lake.



Here's a closer look at the course itself, which has an out-and-back to the north, then the south, with the start pretty much in the middle.



The red markers are aid stations (at miles 6.0, 9.2, 14.2, 19.2, 22.4, 28.4, 33.7, 39.2, 44.7). The darker green area is National Forest, while the lighter green is the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The relief shading on the map shows the terrain pretty well, but here's a look at the elevation profile:



Lots of climbs (5,630 feet), but the sort of climbs I prefer: longer, continuous grades. That'll match up well with the trails I plan to train on in Forest Park. I also sort of like how it doesn't start by going straight up a mountain in the first mile. That's rare in these parts!

The course runs almost entirely on the Pacific Crest Trail and is supposedly shaded. Taking a closer look at aerial views of the course doesn't show anything particularly volcanic or technical. So, if there was a mountain race that'd be relatively barefoot-friendly, this might be it.

The course opens an hour early for anybody who might need extra hour on top of the 12-hour cutoff. I'll probably want to do the early start, just to play it safe and take some of the pressure off. It means I wouldn't qualify for an award, but I don't think I'd be in contention anyway...

As far as logistics go, the race is too far away from my house for a day-of drive, but there are a number of campgrounds in the area. My plan/hope/scheme is to get a friend or relative to offer up their trailer as a base camp/crew quarters for sleeping and to keep Alec and Alita entertained while I'm out there. Failing that, I'll be renting something, or pitching a tent. There'll be time to figure that out, though I'll want to get a reservation in early. I suspect the campgrounds will fill up fast that weekend.



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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:36 pm

Snot-loaded interlude...

You may have noticed a lack of runs in the past week. Or even walks. That's because my niece gave Alita and me a nasty cold for Christmas. Alita came down with it on Christmas Eve, and I fell victim a few days later. Whew! It was a nasty one, and I decided to not run through it because it came with a slight fever - and because I didn't want to draw it into my lungs. Which, of course, it did anyway. tongue

At any rate, liberal application of Airborne and lemon-ginger tea seems to be doing the trick. I think I'll be ready to head out tomorrow morning. The downside is, I've missed a week of running. The upside is, I missed a week of cold, icy conditions... and I've gained another week's worth of red blood cells after my donation in December!

The real downside? Alita's still got the cold.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:46 pm

Low HR Run: About 60 minutes (5.08 miles)

Weather: Chilly and damp, but no rain. 35 degrees, 98% humidity. Gear: Testers, tights, pants (shed), T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves (on and off). Fuel: Grape Nuts w/rice milk and coffee before. No water during run.

My first run of 2013. Didn't expect it'd take so long, but I didn't expect to get the worst head cold I've had in years, either. Oh well. My body probably appreciated the mini vacation.

This morning's run was mostly a systems check, run on the local track with my training partner. It wasn't a MAF test, but I did compare the first couple of miles with my last MAF test, just before I gave blood. The first two miles were slightly slower than before giving blood, but close enough to leave me thinking I've mostly recovered from the donation.

I was thinking about doing six miles or so, but my buddy's knee started acting up on him, and discretion seemed the better part of valor. The other benefit of meeting up at the track.

I wore tights and tried my wind/rain pants to see if they were too much. They were, and I peeled them off after a mile or so. My tights were fine.

The cold seems to have mostly subsided, which means I should be able to go for a longer run tomorrow. Woot!

Walked first 5, last 7 minutes. Average HR for entire run: 130.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:54 pm

This just in from the Ultra Test Kitchen....

Blast you, Mike MacLellan! You had to introduce me to almond butter!!!

Just made a half sandwich with almond butter (creamy) and honey on a soft cracked wheat sourdough bread. The thing pretty much melts in your mouth, even without taking much fluid. And the taste? Heavenly. I'll have to try that when I start going longer. I also got some standard creamy peanut butter to try out, and I'm sure that'll be tasty, too. But I'd never had almond butter until today. Wow. I could see how some people could go through a couple of jars a week. What a Face

One thing I keep reading about ultra dining-on-the-fly is that if you can learn to make a PB&J a part of your running diet, you'll never be at a loss finding food at some far-flung aid station. Sounds good to me!

---

Also, here's a quick update on building a training plan. I checked out the Ultraladies plan Kevin mentioned over in the Training for a 50 Miler thread and sort of liked what I saw. I also have a modified plan I was fooling around with last year out of "Relentless Forward Progress," as well as some additional ideas that have been developing over time. I'm getting increasingly confident that I'll be able to come up with a plan that will work with my schedule and not make me crazy.

In a nutshell, it's going to be a Tuesday through Monday schedule, and the basic pattern roughs out like this:

Tuesday: Walking at work during lunch as active recovery and walk training.
Wednesday: Short barefoot run (3-4 miles?) before work. Maybe walking during lunch, too.
Thursday: Long midweek run on the roads. (up to maybe 12ish miles)
Friday: Sorta-long midweek run on the roads.
Saturday: Full rest day
Sunday: Back-to-back, Day 1: Sorta long run on the roads. (Top distance to be figured out later.)
Monday: Back-to-back, Day 2: L-o-n-g trail run. (Topping out in 50k range, or as many hours as I can fit in.)

I haven't plugged miles or build-ups into a schedule, but I'm thinking I'll peak above 60 miles in a week, counting walking. I probably couldn't handle any more. The ultraladies plan has a two-hard, one easy pattern to weeks. I might try that. If I'm lucky, it'll coincide with a series of 1-hour early release days they have on Mondays at school, which otherwise cuts into my Monday running time.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  John Kilpatrick on Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:26 pm

Good luck Mark - I say go for it. What do you have to lose?

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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Glenn on Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:40 pm

Awesome. Good luck - I'll try to drop by more often for this blog.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:08 am

@John Kilpatrick wrote:Good luck Mark - I say go for it. What do you have to lose?

Well, definitely not my youth, that's for sure... Wink

@Glenn wrote:Awesome. Good luck - I'll try to drop by more often for this blog.

Thanks, Glenn! Always good to have visitors stopping by. I'll try to keep things picked up and presentable. Smile
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:14 am

I was going to run today, but I ended up spending all my running time running errands and doing chores.

Just as well, I suppose. I overtrimmed a nail on my big toe and it hurts like the dickens, and a long run would have probably made it worse. It bled a little after Sunday's shortish run. Sheesh. Won't make that mistake again.

---

I figure I have a couple of weeks to get back into my running rhythm before I need to focus on building the long runs. I tried to rough out a schedule last night but didn't get very far, and I got stressed out. Some people love planning things to the nth degree. I don't think I'm one of those people anymore. Maybe I'll just keep a rough concept in my mind (mainly the general progression of longer runs) and leave it at that. I suppose that fits in with the whole "stalking" concept, doesn't it?


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Re: Stalking 50

Post  mul21 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:21 am

Try 4 weeks at a time. It gets you locked into something short term but gives you room to adjust as needed. Less pressure!
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:38 am

@mul21 wrote:Try 4 weeks at a time. It gets you locked into something short term but gives you room to adjust as needed. Less pressure!

Hmm. That could work, Jim. Good idea! Thanks.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  dot520 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:41 am

I'm with dividing the training plan into sections at a time. I'm doing that for the first time this year for my half marathon in May. I have an 8 week lower mileage plan but it has hills AND speed work in the same week. After the 8 weeks I'll build endurance and alternate speed one week, hills the next and those workouts will be more intense. I need a sense of accomplishment and consistency....this is one way to do it. If you have a 'list maker' personality type, 4 weeks at a time sounds like a great idea.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Kenny B. on Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:27 pm

@Mark B wrote:I was going to run today, but I ended up spending all my running time running errands and doing chores.

I figure I have a couple of weeks to get back into my running rhythm before I need to focus on building the long runs. I tried to rough out a schedule last night but didn't get very far, and I got stressed out. Some people love planning things to the nth degree. I don't think I'm one of those people anymore. Maybe I'll just keep a rough concept in my mind (mainly the general progression of longer runs) and leave it at that. I suppose that fits in with the whole "stalking" concept, doesn't it?


Wow! A 50 miler. It seems so typical on this forum these days however, in the real world it is a big undertaking of determination, dedication and discipline! Let's not forget all the hours needed spent running.

Your comment resonates well with me "planning things to the nth degree...maybe I'll just keep a rough concept in my minid..."

I am one of those who likes to plan to the nth and have done some fancy 18 weeks training schedules. However, this cycle the approach is much different. I am using a coach who iSos giving me my training schedule only 2 weeks in advance. I am freeing my mind of the planning and just doing the runs. I believe it will lend itself to a more enjoyable, spontaneous experieince.

I have run the past 7 weeks with no plan as I recovered from marathon and I have to say it was not the most enjoyable time. I felt purposeless. I think a short-term plan might work for me and maybe yourself.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:13 pm

You're welcome, Mark. Add some bananas to that sandwich next time. Wink

I've found that a 3/1 ratio in training weeks is a bit heavy for me (3 hard weeks, 1 easy). 2/1 was easier to handle, mentally. Either way, yes, divide up the workload. If you have enough time, even taking a full 3-week recovery/refocus interval a couple months out with a race at the end of it might help to keep you motivated and prepare you for the final stretch of training.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:57 pm

More good thoughts! I'll get back to them a little later.

Until then... finally.. activity! Only a walk, but after the past couple of weeks, I'll take it!

Walk: 2.2 miles

Weather: Damp and blustery. Gusts to 17 mph, some drizzle.

An easy walk to the Columbia River, trying to get some activity squeezed in without aggravating my irritated big toe. Stopped a couple of times to text Alita and jot down a brainstorm I had about structuring my training for the Mount Hood 50.

(The brainstorm isn't exactly brain surgery, but it did seem like a good idea. It would involve breaking my overall preparation for the MH50 into three phases of about two months each: Base, getting my long runs up to about 20 miles; Build, spending as much time as possible doing 20-22 mile runs; and Peak, ramping up from 23-31 miles. I'd build up the Sunday runs, too, though I don't know exactly how much. At least to 12, maybe more.)

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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:04 pm

@dot520 wrote:I'm with dividing the training plan into sections at a time. I'm doing that for the first time this year for my half marathon in May. I have an 8 week lower mileage plan but it has hills AND speed work in the same week. After the 8 weeks I'll build endurance and alternate speed one week, hills the next and those workouts will be more intense. I need a sense of accomplishment and consistency....this is one way to do it. If you have a 'list maker' personality type, 4 weeks at a time sounds like a great idea.

You helped plant a seed, Dot. I sprouted when I was out on my walk this afternoon. See above. I'll add as many details as I feel comfortable with a bit later.

@Kenny B. wrote:Wow! A 50 miler. It seems so typical on this forum these days however, in the real world it is a big undertaking of determination, dedication and discipline! Let's not forget all the hours needed spent running.

Your comment resonates well with me "planning things to the nth degree...maybe I'll just keep a rough concept in my mind..."

I am one of those who likes to plan to the nth and have done some fancy 18 weeks training schedules. However, this cycle the approach is much different. I am using a coach who iSos giving me my training schedule only 2 weeks in advance. I am freeing my mind of the planning and just doing the runs. I believe it will lend itself to a more enjoyable, spontaneous experieince.

I have run the past 7 weeks with no plan as I recovered from marathon and I have to say it was not the most enjoyable time. I felt purposeless. I think a short-term plan might work for me and maybe yourself.

I've been very regimented at times when it comes to training plans. I started to wonder just how much it helped, though, when I had a "perfect" training cycle building up for what became a total blow-up in Eugene.

Loosey-goosey seems to work for me, as long as I have some sense of progress.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:You're welcome, Mark. Add some bananas to that sandwich next time. Wink

I've found that a 3/1 ratio in training weeks is a bit heavy for me (3 hard weeks, 1 easy). 2/1 was easier to handle, mentally. Either way, yes, divide up the workload. If you have enough time, even taking a full 3-week recovery/refocus interval a couple months out with a race at the end of it might help to keep you motivated and prepare you for the final stretch of training.

Did you mention bacon and deep frying the sandwich, too? It's starting to sound suspiciously Elvis-like! Wink

BTW, can you believe the store actually sells a banana-pb-honey spread? Looks convenient, but sounds scary. They also have simple pb and honey, or pb and chocolate and honey. It has to be massively processed, I bet. I also noticed that Jif has a chocolate-hazelnut spread like Nutella. Apparently, it's a growth market!

A 2/1 cycle sounds about right, as long as the intensity isn't too high. Then a 1:1 ratio might work better.

No plan for an intermediate "training" race, though. Too big an imposition on the family and finances.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:02 pm

Glad to see you have joined the living again, Mark. Look into the "Justin" brand of spreads as they make several different mixtures.
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Re: Stalking 50

Post  Mark B on Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:10 am

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Glad to see you have joined the living again, Mark. Look into the "Justin" brand of spreads as they make several different mixtures.

Yes, Michele, I can breathe again! Not something you want to take for granted, believe me. Yipes. Better yet, it's cleared Alita's system now, as well.

I saw the Justin brand in the organics aisle at the supermarket. Looks like I may have some fun experimenting. Smile
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