A Bit Milder A Febapple Frozen Fifty This Year!
If 31 is good on the way to 100 miles, then 34 is better, right?! That's the way I look at it! 34.25, to be more precise! Longest run I've done since, well, Bighorn last June, come to think of it! And all in all a really pleasant day out on the trails of New Jersey.
I was cruising along at around mile 28, hitting the last station. Way ahead of last year's pace in either the Febapple or Mayapple, also held on South Mountain Reservation trails but in a slightly condensed and easier form this year and with much more favorable weather conditions (upper 30s to low 40s, windy with some gusts, partly cloudy, a few snowflakes as day wore on, two-layer and skicap weather for me). A woman from Ohio whom I'd talked with briefly while leaving the "home base" aid station caught up with me there. We resumed talking about Ohio, ultras, and many other things in common, and ended up running together for what we thought would be the end of my race, and up to the 50K mark of her 50-miler. Well, as fate would have it, we missed a piddly little turn just before the bigger turn we surely would have recognized to head back over an overpass, in a brief section with two-way runner traffic. We only realized our error when suddenly we came up again to the same aid station we had just passed!
So, anyway, Kim (who's training for Umstead) and I kind of picked it up from there, and were extra-vigilant in interrupting our nice conversation at every fork to make sure we were in the right. I wanted it to be over with by then and she was worried about the cutoffs on her subsequent loops, and toward the end I was having difficulty keeping pace but we came in together. In any event, it was the only time I really ran for any length with anyone in the race, and an enjoyable way to finish. The time, even the extra time (!), ended up passing so much faster as we talked about where to run in Ohio (my native state) and the NYC area, 100 mile sagas, life in NYC, raising kids, etc.
Anyway, overall I felt surprisingly well. I came in to my first ultra of the year with no firm time goals, but was impressed by my first couple four- and six-mile loop times, and started thinking sub-7 hours was doable and briefly even sub-6:30. Considering I ran a 7:54 on the Mayapple course last May and an 8:59 on the icy/muddy/snowy Febapple 2011 course that seemed pretty impressive. I did then slow particularly on the second of the 6-mile loops, between miles 15 and 21, as some runners who weren't actually lapping me passed me. But I took some caffeine and Advil during that stretch, and then on the third 4-mile loop (miles 21-25) I picked it up and started passing some folks again. From there I never really had any more bad patches.
I probably would have made 6:45 or 6:50 had I not done the "bonus miles." Putting me more toward the middle of the finishers rather than in the latter third. Though I think quite a few others also got in their bonus miles. And this was really a test of where I was at and my endurance a little less than three months out from MMT, and not in any way an "A race" where I wanted to "ace it." On that I give myself a passing score! This was a confidence-booster!
The course doesn't really play to my strong suits and training, as it's more runable and rolling. But enough technical there and mud the day after some rain to make it interesting. Plus this year the mild weather has meant more chance to do some faster running than by this time last year.
While it's not that specific to MMT or the other 100s I'm preparing for, it helped me build a mileage base, and bump up my longest run of this training cycle from 6 to 7.5 hours. This was particularly important after the flat tire/late arrival saga and the missed chance for 30 miles of my previous weekend's trip to Massanutten! In fact, I'm sure had I had the chance to do the 30 miles there, and had I not had two days off running in a row prior to the race as I was coming down sick Thursday, I doubt I would have felt as strong. Weird how stuff happens! Totally by happenstance, I was a little tapered and rested going in!
As for the "who's who," it was a fun event to see lots of familiar faces. Mat went out with me and had a good race and first trip outside Manhattan since he became a daddy last fall. Guy named Eric from the Flyers joined us and ended up running like a 4:30 and finishing 4th. Also nice to say Ray, Cherie, Jackie, Chris J., and Karen whom I'd met at the mixer. And Szuszanna who was doing the 50 mile. But I did miss the guys from the usual training group, who were off with injuries, vacations, and other priorities.
I like the low-key nature of the event, and while I was skeptical about the new course and still prefer the old one and particularly some of its longer climbs, it wasn't bad. One advantage was that aid came more often, and you had more drop bag access at start/finish area, so you could carry less fluids, and access your own food.
Overview of Training Week Ending 2/26 (Week # 8 of Cycle): This ended up being a buildback week after the de facto stepdown of the week before. Still less time on feet than second week of February though, and missed that one unplanned day. But in the end it sort of made sense as a de facto taper and then recovery from the race. "Listen to your body" dynamics more than a "master plan," that's for sure! I was generally pretty tired most of the week going in, from all the driving over the long weekend in VA/DC coming back on Monday.
Total Running Hours: 11
Three-Week Moving Average of Weekly Running: 10 hours
Total Runs: 4
Speed Session: Solo session of mile/2 X half/mile with .2 mile jog/walk recovery on Bridle Path. *Need to recharge watch to get splits, but 7:20 and 7:05ish mile splits, and then just under 7:00 pace for the halves. Nothing spectacular and legs a little heavy, but first speed session in two weeks.
Yoga: 1 Vinyasa class
Upper/core Equinox session (mostly machines): 1
Iron Strength home full-body session: 1