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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

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Race Report: Atlanta Fat Ass 50K

It takes guts to run a 50K.
It takes G.U.T.S. to host the Atlanta Fat Ass 50K.

Thank you to the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society (G.U.T.S.) for putting on a great race.  The Atlanta Fat Ass 50K is a time for their local group to get together, have fun, do some running, and have a chili cook-off.  The race is free to members, so I was happy to pay $15 for annual dues and get to participate in the run and the chili.  🙂

Now you know why it takes G.U.T.S to host the race.  Why would it take guts to run it?

The Fat Ass 50K was:

  • my first trail race
  • my first ultra-marathon race
    (ultra = running race longer than 26.2 miles)
  • my first trail run over 13 miles
  • my first run of any kind longer than 5.5 hours

First Trail Race? 

Yep.  I have run cross country races.  All of them were mostly on grass.  Very few roots or rocks.  All of them were only five kilometers long (3.1 miles).  I have run on trails many times, but never as a regular thing.

my fat ass

Apparently, I was not as happy as the runner in front of me!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Zen experience of a run through the woods.  It is life-affirming and relaxing.  In the end, however, I think God designed me to be a road runner.  My legs are much happier running on a nice smooth blacktop.  Most people have the opposite experience.  It’s not you; it’s me.  I’m just weird that way.

I absolutely loved the trail that G.U.T.S. selected.  It is gorgeous.  It has a nice variety of runscapes:  a few gravel roads, some very nice trails along the creek, and a good sized technical section including rocks to climb over and some steep inclines, including a long set of stairs.

Will I do trail races in the future?  Yes.  I will start adding them in this year.

First Ultra-Marathon? 

Yep.  The marathon was my main focus for several years.  I would do shorter races, but everything was planned around the marathon.  My goal was to get to the end of 26.2 miles with nothing left in the tank.  I was aimed at squeezing every ounce of speed possible.  If I felt fresh at the end, it means I was not trying.  With this mindset, I thought of ultra-marathons as a distraction from my training.  They took too much time to fully recover.  It just was not on my to-do list.

Will I do ultra races in the future?  Yes, but my next one will be a road race.

First Trail Run Over 13 Miles?

As I said earlier, I am not naturally a trail-runner.  If you are wise, you are wondering how I could prepare for this race with a long run of 13 miles.  Let me explain:  I did not prepare to race this race.  I signed up for a fun run.  Coming off a couple of Ironmans, I knew I could do the distance.  I knew it would be MUCH slower than I have ever raced on purpose.  I ran more trails in the month before, but I knew I was not prepared to “race” in any form or fashion.  I did prepare, but only enough to finish.

First Run of 5.5 Hours?

Yep.  Since I had never run longer than a marathon (26.2 miles), my slowest marathon was also the longest run I have ever completed.  I finished the Knoxville Marathon in 2010 in 5:25.  During the Fat Ass 50K, I had lots of flashbacks to that race.  In both races, I ended up doing a lot of walking.  In both races, I underestimated my fuel needs.  At Knoxville, I suffered through some very stiff winds and cold rain while I walked.  At the Fat Ass 50K, we dealt with temperature in the 20’s for the first couple of hours before it warming up just a bit.

How did I do?

It was my first 50K, so I knew that just finishing means that I would earn a PR (personal record).  That was the only goal.  I had guesstimated that I might average 12 minute miles.  That was based on averaging 11 minutes per mile while on the trail.  I expected to take about 30 minutes of breaks over the entire race.  Things went as planned until I made a fueling error on the 3rd of 6 loops.  That and a GI issue made the fourth loop quite a challenge.  By mile 21, I was in survival mode.  I was okay with walking a bit more.  My breaks got longer.  I finished with an average pace about 1 minute slower than my guesstimate of 12 minutes.  I also took a wrong turn at one point that added half a mile to my run.  If I had intended to really race this one, I would have been very upset with myself.  On this fun run, however, I was able to relax and laugh at myself.

Final Time:  6:40:20  (a personal record – Woohoo!)

Final Thought

I traveled to the race with Muna and several friends from the Rocky Top Multisport Club.  I knew Muna was out there setting her PR for her first 50K too.   I thought about her throughout the race and her presence motivated me when I needed it.

fat ass

Don’t look for me. I took the picture.

Although I did not run with the group during the race, we did have a group dinner the night before.  I knew there was group support and jocularity before and after the race.  All of this adds so much to the race experience.

Life is a team sport.  I am glad to have awesome people on my team.

Enjoy the Run!

 

.

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Progress Report on Revising and Expanding My Book

I have been working on an updated version on my book The Gift of Running.

So far, I have:

  • revised  it to update technical details based on new research and personal experiences
  • expanded it to include critical portions of my second book Wise Running
  • added some new content
  • revised the training plans to reflect the most up-to-date research

I will send it to a few runners for review and comment soon.

Getting excited!

front-pageWise Running Book COVER mockup

26.2 Miles of Joy: Race Report for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon 2016

It was glorious:  26.2 miles of pure joy.
The level of energy was amazing all the way.
I had a sinus infection and I was on antibiotics.
I was fighting cramps from mile 3.
I was on pace to qualify for Boston until the last 6.2 miles, when it got really tough.

There is no conflict between these statements.  They were all true simultaneously.  What a great weekend!st-judes-2016

Why I Registered for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon

This story starts out many weeks before the race.  The race director for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon had a conflict that kept him from working the expo at the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon.  He contacted Muna and me to see if we would be willing to go represent our hometown marathon and our club, the Knoxville Track Club (www.ktc.org).  From our perspective the question could have been worded like this:

“Would you like an all-expenses-paid trip to Memphis where you can talk about a marathon that you love that is run in a city that you love speaking with new friends that you will meet who all love kids and/or love running?”

It did not take us long to make that decision!  🙂

Not long before we were to run the Savannah Marathon on November 6, we were told that KTC would receive one free entry into the marathon because we were an exhibitor at the expo.  We were asked if one of us would like to run it.  Muna had been working towards the Kiawah Island Marathon which was the week after the St. Jude’s Marathon.  I was not planning to run a marathon during this time, but I had plenty of training throughout 2016 and was certain that I could relax and run a Boston qualifying time at St.Jude’s.  With that in mind and a free entry, I registered.

And Then Reality Set In

In the weeks before this marathon, I was maintaining my running fitness while I worked on other fitness goals.  About 9 days before the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon, however, my throat was sore.  I waited it out.  I did not have any other symptoms for the first 4 days.  On day 4 the sore throat was worse.  On day 5, I had sinus congestion and a headache.  On day 6, I had a full-blown cold and a sinus infection.  I started on antibiotics the day before we traveled to Memphis.  I would be on day 4 of antibiotics on the morning of the marathon.  Not good!  Antibiotics can leave you a bit dehydrated and knock out the balance in your digestive tract.  Digestive issues during a marathon can be disastrous.  I had to decide:

  • Should I race at all?
  • Should I transfer to race the half marathon instead?
  • Should I run the full marathon and lower my expectations?

I decided to lower my expectations.  The plan if I had been healthy would be to aim for a 3:05 to 3:15 depending on how I felt during the race.  As race day approached, I knew this was no longer possible.  I tested my legs and I could tell that my lactate threshold was clearly affected by the sinus infection and/or antibiotics.  I felt okay, but I would not be able to go my fastest.  How fast could I safely go?

Race Day

After two days of meeting great folks at the marathon expo, I was motivated to simply give it my best shot.  I know my body well enough to know when it is being pushed too far.  (interpretation: I have made enough mistakes to know when I am am moving from questionable to stupid.)  Under normal circumstances, I would run by pace primarily for the first 20-something miles and then finish by feel. I decided to start the first few miles of the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon slower than I would usually run a marathon and then race exclusively by feel instead of pace for the last 24.2 miles.  More importantly, I decided that enjoying the race was more important than qualifying for Boston.

Enjoy.  To engage in and experience joy.  That is what I did.  Memphis and the supporters of St. Jude’s do an awesome job of supporting runners.  They are there cheering every step of the 26.2 miles.  The aid stations were always completely stocked with what runners need.  More importantly, they were filled with adults and kids that appreciated us for supporting St. Jude’s and going the distance.

Whether they were at the aid station, lining the streets, standing on the overpasses, or sitting on their front porches, Memphis and the St. Jude’s people gave all they had.

  • They thanked us.
  • They cheered.
  • They encouraged.
  • They rang those cow bells.
  • They reached their hands out to high five us.
  • They showered us with joy.

After the first two miles, I decide to spend the next 24.2 miles giving it back.  Yes, I watched my pace periodically.  Yes, I paid A LOT of attention to my body and how it was feeling.  I had to back off periodically.  I had periodic twinges of that pre-cramp feeling.  But I also gave back.  I gave enough energy to run a solid marathon.  But I also gave emotional energy back to our encouragers.

  • I thanked them.
  • I cheered for them.
  • I clapped for them.
  • Where there was music, I danced.
  • Twice I stopped for a few seconds to play air guitar.
  • I smiled and shouted, “More Cowbell!” countless times.
  • I reached my hand out for as many high fives as I could.
  • I smiled and looked them in the eye wherever possible, trying to beam joy back in their direction.

In the end…

I was fading faster than usual in the last miles of the marathon.  I had used up nearly all my energy.  High-fiving was getting harder.  In the last 1.5 miles, I had to be satisfied with a very small wave to the supporters instead of a high five.  I gave what little I had left to the fans and to finishing the race.

I had been on pace to qualify for Boston (BQ) until the last several miles.  At my age, a 3:29:59 would be enough to make the claim that I qualified for 2018.  I would have liked to accomplish that, but I did not feel disappointed when that pace slipped away.  I felt strangely satisfied.  Although I had kept it as a possibility and worked towards it, the BQ was not the real goal of the day.

Hundreds of supporters had made me smile.

I had made hundreds of supporters smile.

It was a glorious day.

26.2 miles of pure joy.

______________________________________

Enjoy the run!

Coach P. Mark, WiseRunning.com

______________________________________

.About St. Jude’s:

St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Please support the effort.
Start by visiting https://www.stjude.org/get-involved.html

 

Updating Soon!

I know.  The content is outdated.  We had some issues with the changes in websites and the most current posts are somewhere in cyberspace.

I will get things refreshed soon!

risk

Wear a Wise Running Shirt to Your Next Race!

Are you a Wise Runner?  Show it proudly with this New Balance Tempo Performance Tank!

shirt pic 2 

It is available for $20 plus shipping costs.

This unisex tank comes in Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large.  
[I am wearing a medium in the photo, and I am 6’1″.]

Email me (pmark.runner@gmail.com)the quantity and sizes you wish to order.   I will email you a Paypal invoice of $20 per shirt plus the shipping.  You can then click the link in the email to pay by credit card, debit card, or Paypal account.  Your shirt should be mailed out to you within 2 weeks.

Runners in the Knoxville area can purchase a shirt from me directly without the need to pay shipping.

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