Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I Have No Clue What I'm Doing

Today I realized I have no clue what I am doing.

So, I have this little race in August. It is a multi stage/day running race in which I will cover 120 miles over 6 days with 20,000 feet of elevation gain. That is unless I cry and vomit and drop out the first day then it will only be 21 miles.

But I am not planning on doing that.

Why is the woman behind the man? Well at least she has better form.

Here's the breakdown:

Day One: 21 miles, 2,200 feet of gain. Buena Vista, CO to Railroad Bridge
Day Two: 13.4 miles, 3,400 feet of gain (Hope Pass). Vicksburg, CO to Twin Lakes (Leadville)
Day Three: 24,2 miles 2,700 feet of gain Leadville, CO to Camp Hale
Day Four: 14.2 miles 2,900 feet Camp Hale to Red Cliff
Day Five: 23.6 miles 4,100 feet Red Cliff to Vail <this day is going to kill me
Day Six: 22.2 miles 5,100 Vail to Beaver Creek <-this day is going to kill me more

That all adds up to some crazy shit.

The thing is - with any other race I've done from a stand alone marathon to an Ironman I've had access to a million different training plans and tons of people who had done such races before and could give me advice. However, when you tell someone you are running 120 miles solo over 6 days, you know what you get? Crickets. Chirp, chirp. No one, including myself knows what to make of that or how to prepare for that.



Most people just tell me how awful that sounds and change the subject.

The other weekend I was running with a bunch of people in a single file line over the hills, I met a woman who had done this race last year.

Can you tell who is me? Probably the last one.

Me: Can I have some advice?
Her: You'll be fine.
Me: Umm...well like how much did you train
Her: Not that much. 90 or 100 miles per week.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I don't even drive that far in a week (BAHAAA I know you've never heard that one before).

Me training that much per week is the funniest thing I've heard since that girl got tricked by her brothers when she had her wisdom teeth out and she thought it was the zombie apocalypse (true story. Funny as hell. Go watch it HERE. Pants! Funfetti!)

So that's about the time I started looking for training plans and I found one. Only one. There are back to back long run days and my highest mileage week is 72 miles. There will be lots of power hiking, high altitude training and EATING.

This is what I figure. Even if I suffer for every minute of the six days (that is 8,640 minutes), running is ALL I have to do everyday. I don't have to cook, clean, pick up dog poop, work, or yell at kids. I don't have to take out the trash, shuttle people places or ponder why it is so hard for anyone to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Nope. Just run.

So for now I will take it one day, one run at a time. I will remember that I can do hard things and that I've never backed down from a challenge. I will embrace the suck that can accompany tough training and hard goals and know that that is part of making it to the finish.

And, Heidi is happy to join me on the trails for a little morale boost.




Anyone ever done back to back marathons or multi day stage races? Advice please.

What is your next BIG goal. Don't have one? Why not?


SUAR


53 comments:

  1. Ok, so you just put my whole "I didn't train enough for this weekend's marathon because I have plantar fasciitis" anxiety into perspective. So thank you for that!

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    Replies
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  2. Haven’t you heard? The hardest part of a race like that is the training! I was running...errrr....breathlessly hiking up a mountain yesterday with a friend that has her first 100 miler in October. She’s been training already almost a month and she was telling me that her training plan is almost overwhelming. Plus job and family...the dog poop can wait. hahaha Good luck!

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  3. Two marathons in a month was pretty much as close as I've been. Treat each day as a training run for the last day... that is what a British actor and comedian called Eddie Izzard did when he recently completed 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa - take a look at http://www.sportrelief.com/whats-going-on/eddie-izzard-marathon-man or a BBC article about how to recover from such a challenge http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35860902
    The very best of luck, I look forward to hearing about your preparation and epic adventure.

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    1. Thanks so much Andy. I'll check it out.

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    2. Least I could do in return for being able to read your brilliant blog :-)

      I hope you can view the BBC documentary that they did for the challenge (I know some content can be territory restricted by the BBC), it is pretty inspiring. He had a whole stretching routine that he went through before and after every run, and was using capsicum powder on his legs post run (which looked like torture). He also had a beer after every run - because its a 'good carb packed sports drink' apparently ;-)

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  4. I'm shocked there isn't way more info on training out there! That's nuts. I love doing challenging things but my challenge is like...two marathons in two weeks not the transrockies. I did the Leadville run you did and I had a lovely hike. I think I maybe ran three or four miles of that sucker. It was HARD.

    This comment is no good to you but I did want to say good job on hitting all the good mantras. :) I would definitely have those in marker on my arms to get me through the days.

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    1. Are you going back to Leadville? I think I'll do the full marathon this year as part of my training. That sucker is going to hurt.

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  5. I just paced someone who did a 100 mile ultra. Basically it's training for time on your feet. They would run by hours and days so one day run 30 miles than 20 the next.
    I would think for you would be to work on both time on your feet and elevation gain.
    I would tell you that you are batshit crazy but dealing with a husband who is drinking the ultra kool-aid, I just nod and smile and say "better you than me!!"

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  6. Have you watched The Barkley Marathons on Netflix? Holy crap....those people are crazy! And you are crazy too! (I say that with the upmost respect!) BUT I LOVE IT! Incredibly inspiration!!! And I HIGHLY recommend watching that movie if you have not already...not that you have time as you will be running all of the time. Barkley Marathon, 20+ miles in an area of Tennesse, 5 days in a row. I'm pretty sure a woman has never completed it. I think you should DO IT! http://www.runnersworld.com/races/the-2016-barkley-marathons-one-person-finishes

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    1. Yes I did watch that. INSANE. As much as I love running and challenges, that looked awful to me!

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    2. We are all waiting for the day you announce that you are running the Barkley. Just sayin'

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  7. I think I would consider the stage race an "extended multi-day hike with some running thrown in on the flats and downhills only". I would love to do that race, it sounds scary and super fun. Do they put you up in a hotel room at night or do you camp?
    I think the most important aspect of your training should be to make it to the start healthy and maybe even slightly undertrained.

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    1. So they set up camp for you every night, carry your gear, cook your meals...yes, healthy and maybe a bit undertrained is good advice.

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  8. I feel like Runner's World did a thing not too long ago about how to train for a multi-race weekend. It was geared toward the Dopey Challenge crowd, but that might be a good place to start and just, like, quadruple the training.

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  9. Well, assuming you intend to blog this thing, then you will also have to take notes. Oh, and photos. So you will have to take notes and pictures. Oh, and then publish updates to the Internet daily. Or nightly. So take notes, pictures, and write and publish. And then find time to actually run.

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  10. I did the 6-day last year. I was super worried, too, but it was way easier than I thought it would be. You'll do lots of hiking because the climbs are steep and the elevation is high. No one runs uphill except the elites. :) Prepare yourself for LOOOOOOONG downhills so that they don't trash your legs. Trekking poles help a lot. For my training I focused on building up back-to-back long runs. I started out with just a couple of 10-milers in a row, then when I felt ready I did three 10-milers in a row, then I worked on increasing my distance for those 3 days into the high teens/low twenties. Then near the end I added a fourth day. My last week of training was about 85 miles, and I did a simulation of the last 4 days of the race. That sounds like a lot, and it was, but the bulk of my training was more like 50 miles a week. I didn't follow a plan cause I wanted to go by how I was feeling and what I felt my body was ready for. I can give you more info if you have specific questions!

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    1. Thank you so much. I think this is great advice. What day do you think was the hardest for you? I am doing it solo and not part of a team. How much did you rely on your partner?

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    2. Most people do it solo, even the couples and friends that come together. My husband and I did it together as a team, but once we got there and saw what the race was all about we kind of wished we had registered separately. If you're a team you have to stay together, so that can be a pain if your paces don't match up. We did enjoy running together, but it also would have been nice to have the freedom to run separately if we had wanted to. All that to say, I don't think that doing it solo is a disadvantage. It's such a big race that you're rarely alone, and you'll find people your pace that you'll end up running with every day, and you'll become great friends with them. :) Stage 1 is the easiest day--fresh legs, "low-ish" elevation, mostly rolling terrain, but it's HOT! Take it super easy so you aren't tired for the next day. Stage 2 was my favorite day--super long climb to the top of Hope Pass, but the most beautiful scenery ever, then long, easy descent all the way to the finish. Stage 3 feels a lot like the first day as far as the course difficulty level goes, but it's higher elevation and mostly in the forest, so the temp is much more comfortable. You get to stay at Camp Hale that night and the next, which is THE BEST camping spot of the whole week! Stage 4 is another awesome, monumental climb with amazing views and was my second favorite day. The uphill was super tiring at this point, but so worth it! I thought the hardest day was stage 5. It has the longest continuous climb (like 11 miles!!!), and your legs are like lead from the previous 4 days! More spectacular scenery though, and if you haven't trashed your quads yet, you will on the descent from Vail! Camping in Vail is the worst--SOOO HOT. Stage 6 was hard, too, and my least favorite because the scenery wasn't as nice. You do quite a bit of pavement running through the town of Avon towards the end of the stage, which was not fun. Of course none of that matters anymore once you've got the finish line in your sites! :)

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    3. Such great info, thanks so much!

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    4. There's a facebook group, too, and you can get lots of good advice from all the veteran TRR runners there! It's called 2016 TransRockies Run 10th year Reunion Party/Run.

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  11. I have a neighbour that does similar events. He's got the Canadian record for his age group in the "how far can you run in 24 hours event". His record is something like 205 kilometers. Just shy of 5 marathons in 24 hours. Not sure what he is training for now but I see him out doing very long runs, very slowly various days throughout the week. If you want, I can get his contact info for you.

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  12. Just remembered an event that might have some training advice and blogs associated with it. The Brathay 10 in 10, ten marathons in ten days - https://www.brathay.org.uk/10in10
    Ps. If it helps, I don't think you're mad for doing it.

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  13. I did the 6 day Transrockies race in 2010. To prepare I did back to back days of long ish runs on weekends (20-25 miles but with hills and/or at tempo pace marathon training style, not dawdling), and overall good volume with some hiking and strength training. I think my biggest week for mileage was 60-70 miles... Lots of people didn't handle the altitude well- just to warn you I have never seen so much puking at an event outside of Las Vehas!!! (Har har.) Be sure to fuel well after each day's run and get off your feet- the year I did it they did not provide lunches & I had to supply my own. Bring a camp chair to sit in!!! Of course this is Colorado so it's bright strong sun, dry, dusty - the Buena Vista day was the pits! The Leadville to Vail /Red Cliff days are the best! Running to Beaver Creek sort of meh- in my day (cue the crotchety old timer voice) you have to cross over I70 and run a contrived course... It's fun and you'll do great! I just return to Colorado each summer (for work) and fit in runs on my favorite trails...I will be in Leadville for a month training for the 100 if you want some runs! :)

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    1. This is SO helpful, especially coming from a race veteran. I am very upset however about the puking. I am not a puker, but being around pukers is the worst for me - but maybe it will take my mind off the pain of running.

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    2. The only time I saw any puking was when some rowdy runners organized an impromptu beer mile after stage 4. :) Lots of people did struggle with the altitude though and didn't feel well. The only thing that I noticed was that my legs felt heavier than usual. You'll probably fare better than most since you already live at higher elevation. Oh yeah, and no lunches, but there is a snack tent that you have access to anytime you're in camp. It's mostly aid station-type food, but it's food. You will also have the opportunity each day to buy lunch in town or at the campground if you prefer.

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  14. I should add most of my training weeks were 40-50 miles as I would build up then step down in distance and on the weekends I did a long run (20-25 miles) then a run of 10+ miles the next day... I also tried switching it up and doing the 10+ miles first then the long run the following day.

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  15. Back to back long runs (run on tired legs). I didn't increase my overall mileage much when I switched to longer races, just the composition of the runs. Less/no speedwork required, but definitely back to back long runs.

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  16. "the cat, you idiot!" (just wanted to throw that in there)
    absolutely no advice, I'm just here to live vicariously through your crazy :)
    sounds pretty exciting though and I can't wait to hear about it!!

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    1. HAHA!! The cat you idiot. Simply hilarious. Thanks for reading!

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    2. That was NOT hilarious--she wanted to leave the dog because he was "dying anyway"--not funny at all-- I hate people even think about abandoning an old dying dog or any pet...

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    3. Ok...let's put it in perspective. She was on heavy pain meds for God sake. No one is promoting leaving dogs to die (during a zombie Apocalypse)

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    4. Heavy pain meds = "truth serum"--that's the way she truly felt about the old dog. I don't know how you teach compassion, zombie Apocalypse or no zombie Apocalypse. No way can I find it even slightly funny, it makes me cry....

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  17. So, I've done two marathons in a weekend (and 6 half marathons in 6 days), so I'm familiar with back to back racing. What works best for me is back to back runs. I know. Rocket science. My longest back to back was 18 miles two days in a row. For the half marathons, I did 6 days in a row of 10-13 miles each day. You just have to train your body to recover quickly and run on completely dead legs. Of course, you need to also run on similar terrain as most of my races were only mildly hilly, not mountains. But I would think that the premise is the same. Good luck! Some day I'd love to do that race...

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  18. No advice. I ran Desert RATS stage race last summer, 141 miles on Kokopelli trail CO to UT in 100 degree weather. My "training" was during the coldest/wettest May in years (remember last May?) and I *think* my longest run was a half marathon. According to my Garmin, total gain was around 18k. I did not go fast, but I was able to complete the distance. If you aren't "in it to win it" then I think enjoying yourself is the most important part.

    Uh, and don't get injured?

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  19. I have done back to back marathons and a 100 mile ultra, I started a training plan for my 100 mile ultra that made me want to quite running for good, so after a month I just went back to doing what I always do, and I made it. Just ran slow, and walked anything that slightly resembled a hill!

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  20. That race sounds awesome -- you are going to ROCK it (hehe...get it? Cause it's the transROCKIES run hehe...I know...#dadjokes).

    My next big goal is a marathon on May 14th. I've trained my butt off and I'm hoping to finally get a sub-3:30 finishing time. Fingers crossed.

    I usually don't have back-to-back long runs/races (I stick to two marathons a year, with some halfs thrown in). I work with a coach, however, and he just worked with a woman, who did the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons, 7 days, 7 continents). My best advice is to talk with a coach for training. I was hesitant to work with one at first, but he's really pushed me into paces and distances I never thought I could achieve.

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  21. What a great event. I just interviewed a person today about her recent race at Marathon des Sables. Which is obviously very different from your race outside of the fact that it's a stage race. She did a lot of strength and core work before the race so you might want to incorporate that. Also, she had a plan for her feet which take a beating when you run day after day.

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  22. Wow. Just wow. I am so impressed, that is an incredible thing to do. I was lamenting how far 26.2 miles is earlier today - I want to do another marathon, but I worry it's perhaps just too far for lil' ol' me. I'm now thinking the only weakness I have is in my head...

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  25. Sadly I haven't done the Transrockies yet. It is on my list. I do run a lot at altitude favoring long excursions through the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Crossing the continental divide twice on a run just sounds like you're a BA. A couple things I will pass along:
    1. Take care of your feet - make sure the soles of your shoes are stiff enough for rock protection. Consider inserting an insole as a rock plate especially for down hills. Post-run, rub out your feet and check for hot spots.
    2. Eat before your drink - sipping as you run is great strategy but when you inevitably need to voraciously attack the water bag or an aide station eat a little something before you drink. You use less water overall and don't cramp as easily.
    3. Don't forget to look up once in a while and take in the views (preferably not while flying downhill!)

    Have a blast!

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  26. I have never done such a race, but think it sounds fantastic. I remember reading once, about ultra-running (which this isn't exactly I suppose, but I think it applies), that the focus is just forward progress. In fact, come to think of it, I might have read this on your blog. If so, you should go back and read that post. If not, I still think it would be a useful mantra for such an event:).

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  27. If no one has suggested this yet (sorry, didn't read all comments) check out Sarah Lavender Smith's blog. She talks about her multi-stage race and about training a client for same race, different year. Feet and figuring out what you can eat are key. Over-training could be a problem too so you should probably plan some nights on the couch

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  29. Best race EVER! I did it 2 years ago, RIGHT BEFORE getting pregnant! Was a huge bucket list for me. While I prob won't do it again (because, let's be honest, I have a 10 month old at home and who has time to train?), it was the best running experience of my life! :) Whatever you do.. just have fun, because this is what TRR is all about.

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