Wednesday, August 21, 2013

running ultra long...

I've spent the last few months running, running and running a little bit more.  I had my sights focused on a marathon, qualifying for Boston and potentially breaking 3:10 or at least coming away with a PR.  I became engulfed in my training, I was back to doing long runs, the ones that I loved so very much.  I had weekly mileage goals and I was hitting them.  I was doing tempo runs on tired legs and attempting to push the pace during my 20 milers.  Yet something was missing, I was reluctant to actually sign up for a race, I had a few in mind but it took me a while to pull the trigger.  I eventually decided on the Marquette Marathon up in Michigan over Labor Day.  I kept on running, but found myself wondering, do I even want to race a marathon?!?  Could I just keep training but not actually race the darn 26.2, could I just keep running and then switch my focus to stairs and on Sears?  I wasn't sure where I was at as far as target pace goes, I hadnt' done a road race since April, I assumed I was faster than that but who knows.  The thought of ticking off 26 miles at 7:15 pace seemed virtually impossible.

I hit the 3 monster weeks where I polished off back to back to back 60+ mile weeks with a 24 miler, a 20 miler and a 22 miler.  The training all made sense to me, however my focus or excitement for the race was lacking.  I started to taper and it became evident, that I didn’t want to race, I wanted to keep on training, I didn’t want to ease up.  I wanted a new target, perhaps a moving goal?  During the first week of my taper, I decided I wasn’t going to race, I’d go to Marquette and I’d pace a few friends who wanted to qualify for Boston with a 3:25, which would also qualify me despite being 11 minutes off my PR.  I could be content with that. 

I was setting my sights on something bigger, something longer.  I wanted to do something unique, challenge myself in a totally different way.  This year I’ve been struggling with motivation when it comes to racing, nothing seems to interest me as much as it should and I seem to be burnt out which is confusing and hard to explain.  I just know that mainstream racing doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ve done 12 marathons, qualified for Boston 10 times and I believe there’s always room for improvement, ways to get faster but this year I’m just not interested in that.  I’m interested in just doing what I want to do, going against the grain and trying new things.  I want to experience different obstacles and challenges and find out new things about myself.  See what level I can push myself too and see what I can discover. 

For several years, I’ve been thinking about running an ultramarathon (which is considered any race longer than 26.2).  Initially I put my thoughts aside because I wanted to focus on running fast marathons, then I became obsessed with climbing high and scaling skyscrapers, which totally didn’t jive with ultra-running.  But now I’m getting the urge again, its calling me.  I believe you can definitely find yourself over the course of 50 miles.  So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to target a 50 mile ultramarathon for this fall.  My marathon training is a great base; I’m going to use Marquette as a training run and as stepping stone.  I’m going to start hitting back to back long runs on the weekends and I’ll do some 4-5 hour runs.  I don’t expect to go out there and crush this distance the first time around, I’m doing this for the challenge.  I’m doing it to prove to myself that I’m strong enough, both mentally and physically.  I want to see what I’m made of, can I force myself to go on when I want to quit.  I’m doing this for me and because I want to, I want to go my own way and do my own thing.  I don’t want to be stuck in the norm or doing what others think I’m supposed to. 
I know some people will encourage this challenge and absolutely love the idea; those are the people who are also contemplating stepping into the unkown.  Other people will think I'm totally crazy but will support me regardless and I know there are some who will not understand at all but I'm ok with that. 

Sometimes we need to find new things to inspire us, change it up and go a different way :)  I signed up for the Des Plaines River Trail 50 Miler on October 19th, so it's time to get after it and see what I'm made of!  Will definitely need to be fierce and focused, strong and positive for this one!!

1 comment:

  1. You go, girl! You are the picture of determination.