When I asked for people to dedicate a day of running to Tess Fraser was instantly asking if I could run for her mother. I did not have the privilege of meeting Tess' mom but judging from the woman she raised she had to have been a great woman!
"This is my favorite picture of me and her. It was at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Patrick. Such a fun time for both of us. 14 months after this picture she was diagnosed and gone 8 months later. I’ve met many others on this journey that I honor through advocacy, but this beauty is my true “why” 💙"
Tess has not only been a true advocate for those fighting colorectal cancer but an amazing friend to my cousin and supporter of this run. It is a true honor to recognize both of these amazing women!
This entire run is for my cousin Kevin Hays obviously, but a few of the days I am out here I want to run for some other people that have made an impact in my life and those that have supported this event. All three of these individuals have also fought colorectal cancer in some way.
Today I am dedicating to my Aunt Roni! Roni was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the same age as Kevin, just 28 but beat it. She still suffered from the procedures and had to maintain a colostomy for the remainder of her life but never once did she speak to me about this!
Roni was a strong woman, and always great with me and my daughter, but most importantly she had a strong impact on my Uncle Mark. She truly brought out the best in him the entire time they were together.
Roni passed away on the same day as my first Spartan Race. Because of this every time I run any race I think of her. Today I am proud to say that I am running for her and I hope she gives me a little extra strength today!
It has been a few weeks since I updated this blog, and I apologize for that, but I am still here and still grinding. I a have also been making sure to update my training through the YouTube channel as well, but really should be putting more of that on here.
The long and short is that I feel confident in my abilities, but do not have confidence in my training as of yet. Responsibility is something that prevents all of us from doing EVERYTHING we want and that has been the consistent theme over the past few months but now I am also fighting an injury in my right ankle. This has not stopped me either but has surely slowed me down. This however does not appear to be a bad thing!
I was recently told by another ultra runner that going at even a 12 minute pace might be too fast for me to sustain over the course of a 6-7 day event like I am planning. Jogging at a 13-14 minute pace might actually be more likely and I should expect to walk a lot. The later part I already figured, but I was shocked at how slow I may actually have to go. Training at this pace has been nearly impossible. With the weather being nice out I want to just let go and run hard! I have been holding myself back a lot because of the ankle and this advice, but it is driving me a bit nutty! That is until last night.
I came up with a bit of a solution that SHOULD help me slightly. To help my ankle heal and prevent the pounding as well as to slow down slightly I started walking on my treadmill carrying a 40lbs ruck sack. Why would I do this you may ask! Well it was just my daughter and myself home last night first off so I couldn't go outside when she was asleep, at least for a 4 mile walk, but also I wanted a challenge!
That is the point of training for me, to create a challenge that I have to fight through. That and the wonderful training effects of rucking and how much strength it builds. It is amazing how much energy it takes to walk a 15:30 mile while carrying 40 lbs on your back. This allowed me to have the mental processes of a typical workout (struggling through) while also being able to take it easy on my ankle and train at a slower pace.
I am also realizing that pushing 60-70 mile weeks right now is a bit unrealistic at least to do so consistently. My life is too busy. Once the school year is over and summer school starts I will have an extra hour in the morning and the afternoon and I will be able to add in some additional miles. This will allow me to get to the number of miles that I desire while still being able to live my life.
Over the next few weeks I will be covering a bunch of topics I have learned about ultra running and the tips and tricks I have received from some of the best out there. I will say I am only learning so this information is more about my education than experience, but I want to share as much as I can with anyone that needs it. I will post a few stories on here but also check out my YouTube channel using the link below.
After last weeks 35 mile run I have been left with a confidence that I cannot accurately describe. The thought of running these long distances no longer scare me as much as they did, which is what I had hoped for when I set out to run last Sunday. With this confidence though I have also paid attention to what my body has been telling me.
My breathing was great on the run and my legs felt strong. This surprised me slightly due to the emphasis I have been putting on weight training the past few weeks, but also told me that it was working as I hoped. Going with lighter weights and longer reps has helped my body deal with longer runs. The burpees I have been doing have also been helping. These have been great for the time being, but I know that I need to ramp things up a bit more as I progress through the month.
I also had a few weak spots that I did not expect, one in particular. The very top of my abdomen was in a lot of pain at the end of the run. I have known for a while that long distance running requires a good core, but this shocked me as to how far up the muscles were significantly used. To help correct this I have started doing a new kettlebell routine I have come up with that engages all areas of my core as well as various other muscle groups.
Diet is still an area that I am working on tweaking, but as I progress forward and push a little more every day I can feel the mentality switching from "I really should train" to "I need to train... need to find my limits". This is obviously difficult with the lives we all have for any of us, but that cannot be an excuse! So for right now I am committing to 60-90 minutes of training per weekday and then 2-4 (or more) hours on the weekends. I will have recovery days, but these will still have "active recovery workouts" built in so I can maintain my momentum and maintain this mentality.
If there is anything I have learned from all of this over the past few weeks it is that my mentality is what can and will be my downfall. My body can obviously handle it so I need to ensure my mind can as well.
This week I want anyone that reads this to simply ask themselves "how can I push a little more today?" If you take this mentality you will be amazed by the results you get in a fairly short period of time!
Make sure you register for the Pain in the Canal Virtual Challenge which starts this Saturday, May 15th and join me in pushing our limits and seeing what we can really achieve! Click here to register today.
Over the past few weeks I have been leaning more on my strength training, healing my right calf and trying to get through the various obligations in life. This has been having a negative mental effect on me however. How can I ever run one ultra distance without substantial training let alone 7 back to back? I need to run! So last week I was planning on a light early week and a 30 mile run on Sunday to get myself back on track.
Things started ok last week with roughly 8 miles of running between Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday came and I had too many meetings and obligations. I knew that I was not going to be able to run on Wednesday and was ok with making it my rest day for the week. Then I got a call. "Marty, are you working the E-Race Cancer Half Marathon on Sunday?" my friend Mike asked me. I had completely botched the dates of the event and was stuck! I said I would work previously but now how would I be able to fit in a long run?
After a few minutes of talking to him about this and the difficulty with training I have had recently he offered to just let me run the half. This was nice and all, but not even half the distance I wanted to get in. We left the conversation and I went to get my daughter when I had a thought I heard from one of Dean Karnasas' books about how he would run to the start line of a race. When I looked at the directions it was a 22 mile run to the start line of the half. If I ran there then ran the half I would exceed my numbers and be good to go. I shot Mike the text and let him know the plan.
Sunday morning was an early start. Wake up at 2:45 and starting running shortly after 3:30. It was beautiful outside! The plan was to have my girlfriend meet me at sunup to ditch my lights, change at least my shirt and resupply my nutrition/water around mile 15. Then at the start line of the half change shoes and socks, resupply again and finish it off.
Things went as smooth as one could expect for my first ultra distance run. The only times I stopped running at all were at the designated refuel stops I described above. I had pain, that is just natural! The pain shifted though and never lasted. Started in my left knee around mile 12, then my right hip about 6 miles later. I got blisters on both feet around mile 20 but because of the planned stop at 22.5 I was able to address them quickly.
All in all I felt great! There were a few times where I wanted to try and keep up with the runners of the half, but I had to remember that they had a substantial edge on me, they hadn't done 22 miles prior to starting. So when they started blowing past me around mile 5 of their race I needed to remember that it was just my run and no-one else's!
At mile 31 I hit a wall HARD! My splits dropped form an almost steady 10:30/mile pace to over 12 over the course of the next 4-5 miles. This isn't a bad thing, but something that I need to take note of. I need to tweak when I am taking some sort of nutrition/food and adjust it to make things a bit better and smoother for me. I could feel myself draining but I never stopped!
Upon finishing the run I felt great! I felt like I could do more and knew that at least my shortest day of 42 miles this summer was within striking distance. I so badly wanted to get back out and finish another 7 miles but decided not to push it too much just yet, I still have time!
Overall I am satisfied with how I did and felt. 35.5 miles in 6 hours and 6 minutes (missed the stop on my watch when I crossed the finish) is not too shabby for my first 50k+. I am going to do a detailed analysis of the overall effort with what worked and what didn't just to ensure that things run smoothly as I move farther. Over the next month my goal is to hit 42 miles in 1 day. I am unsure if I am going to try for this all at once or take a break mid way through yet. My gut instinct is to just keep moving and have quick refuel stops along the way, but that will not happen until later in the month so we shall see how I am feeling when the day comes. Until then, keep pushing yourself and I will do the same! See you on the canal.
We have all been there. Life gets busy and we do not feel like we can hit our goals the way we want. This has been my weak. In this post I am try to decipher between my legitimate reasons and my excuses to find my weak points and also talk about a conversation I had with Charlie Engle about all of this and training for this run overall.
My week has been busy! Students coming back to school, computer based state testing prep, meetings and calls about The Pain in the Canal Virtual Challenge, and a few board meetings all have been on the schedule. Mix this with being a father to an active 5 year old and you have a perfect mix of a hectic schedule.
I honestly have been beating myself up over this all week because I often feel like if I really want something nothing will stand in my way. Did I make excuses this week that impacted my training? The answer to this question is always yes! I actively chose a few times to do something else that could have waited rather than training. These are the obvious excuses. Fortunately for me there were only 2 or 3 times this week that happened and really only provided me at most an hour or two of training. I did however look at it as rest for my sore calf and wanted to make sure I did not overdo it on my right leg just yet.
With all of that being said I need to make sure I remember that I have priorities and obligations and there are times where I am not going to be able to train the way I want! This is not the important thing from what I what I was told earlier today.
On a call with Charlie Engle who has done more running than just about everyone that reads this combine, Charlie pointed out to me that the number of miles is not the important factor for going into my run this August. The important thing is to focus on going in to August HEALTHY!
The fact that my days have started at 6 and end at 10 providing me only 8 hours to sleep and train is not nearly enough. I know this and anyone that has trained for any endurance event does too. So this week is going to have to be a light week and I have to focus more on getting the sleep I need to recover. That doesn't leave me off the hook for this weekend however! I still need to make sure I take some time to train and get the work in that I can.
Another shift I need to try and make is not to focus on the amount of miles I am putting in. Charlie stressed this to me early on our call. I need to focus on time on my feet. Walking and hiking count as much as running because this summer there will be a combination of all of this! With the plan, as of now, I need to spend 8-10 hours a day running (12 -14 if I walk a lot). That means I need to just get comfortable with being on my feet as much as possible!
With that being said I plan on taking a few calls while walking on the treadmill this upcoming week and maybe even a few calls while on a run. Charlie pointed out that he was out training during our conversation, so it was not too hard to do!
To start my weak though I get to see what it is like to be a lab rat! I will be going to Syracuse University's Sports Lab and having a whole bunch of tests ran on me. They are going to chew me up on Monday to see what kind of shape I am in and provide me with a lot of data points. The tests they are running are going to be:
I will be very interested to see how these tests go and where I stand. We plan on running these tests again in May and possibly June, July, and August to see how my body has adapted through the training. I am excited and scared to find out a few things about my body, but this will be very helpful!
Also, later tonight I plan to launch the new YouTube channel for this and get a few videos I have recorded up. This was not my idea, but I do love the opportunity to use my voice as well as my blog to let people know where I stand. More updates about that will be coming soon.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing your feedback. See you on the canal!
Over the past few weeks life has been BUSY! From trips all over the state to work related stress and all sorts of other "life" things I feel like I have been thrown around a lot more than normal. Not to mention the pressure I have put on myself to get things done for The Pain in the Canal Challenge. So a few weeks ago I had the thought of running longer but a little less frequently. Maybe 3-4 times a week with 10 or so miles for my normal day and a long run day. My thinking on this was that I needed to get my daily mileage up for my run in August anyway and as I get closer I would be able to start adding more miles to the runs and more days. I had a solid plan for my spring break from school and I was excited.
Spring break however was not much of a break. I ended up spending a lot of much needed time with my daughter and ended up driving the entire length of my run (Albany to Buffalo) throughout the week. With the meetings I had, the fatherly responsibilities, and a few unfortunate services to attend capped off with a packed Easter holiday schedule, my plans fell through.
My mental "go to" when things are not going my way or the way I plan is that I am not doing enough and I get in my head with this. It usually lasts for about a day or two and then I am able to snap out of it, but the fear of failure is real with this event! I am shooting for something that I have never come close to achieving while planning and organizing the majority of it myself and trying to train around a packed schedule. So how does someone like me get through these mental blocks?
I wish I had the golden ticket here! The magic bullet answer that would solve all the problems of fear in people. Today I am honestly wondering how Kevin deals with it! How does he deal with the fact that he has a fatal illness? What does he use as motivation to keep pushing himself the way he does?
When I ask myself these questions the mistakes or missteps in my training seem irrelevant and I am given a bit of a boost because in reality what the hell do I have to be afraid of? The worst thing that is likely to happen to me is I will embarrass myself and just look like shit as I beat the hell out of my body for a week! That is nothing in comparison.
So today I will focus on what I can do. This afternoon I get out of work a bit earlier than I normally do (Wednesday's we finish at 3) and I have a 90 minute window or so before I pick up my daughter. This gives me about an hour to get a run in before I have to start driving. During this run I am going to work on some of the mapping/direction questions I have that will be necessary to have hammered out on my run in August and hopefully also figure out why my watch is not sending a tracking link like it is suppose to (hoping just an update to the software). After all of that I will probably try to squeeze in another run this evening and see how many miles I can pack in today. The simple fact is that I cannot change the last week, I only can do what I need to today!
Later this week I am hoping to launch a YouTube channel dedicated to The Pain, training and reviews of products that have been donated to me for training including all of the wonderful shoes I have received! I will also post video updates of my training with the hopes that having a more fluent way of channeling my thoughts will provide me a lot more benefit and help me to get out of my headspace.
Please do not hesitate to leave a message here and let me know what you are going through with your training and how you are succeeding or finding motivation! Thank you for reading and look for more updates coming soon!
This past week I set out with a lofty goal, which is not abnormal for me. I have always been of the mentality that if I set my goals high if I fail, I will fail high. I started out strong with a 10-mile run on Monday morning last week and started getting some runs in early in the morning to start the week which has been my kryptonite over the past few months, but I still ended up fading a bit as the week went on.
By Thursday life got in the way a few times and I knew I was not going to hit the marks that I had set for myself, so I wanted to plan something bigger for the weekend. I figured that if I could push myself into the 30-mile mark in one day this weekend I would be at a good place to continue to train for 40 or 50 miles in a day. I marked my course and set out with a plan.
Saturday came and I had planned to rest completely for the long run of 32 miles on Sunday. We had a “crew meeting” where we revisited the map and the scheduled daily checkpoints for each day of the run. I am not going to lie, this freaked me out in a way that is hard to describe!
My shortest day of foot travel for this entire week is going to be 42 miles with my highest being 57. This means I will be running 7 consecutive ultramarathon distances in 1 week. We planned my lighter days in locations that are either filled with the most elevation or were at the very end of the run to allow me sufficient time and rest.
To decompress I went out with some friends and found out that my free day to run (Sunday) now had a few appointments in the morning that I needed to be at. These were smack dab in the middle of what I had scheduled for my long run. Now I was not only nervous but filled with some doubt. How could I do 7 consecutive ultramarathon days if I could not even schedule a full day to train for 1 ultra-distance? My mind was swirling, I was only at 30 miles of running on the week, my long run was now broken up and I was scrambling.
My solution was to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and run as much as I could before my first meeting. After 20 miles I stopped for the morning and jumped in the shower. Mildly satisfied with my performance and how I felt on the 20-mile jaunt I went about the rest of the morning fulfilling my obligations and thinking about getting more in.
By early afternoon I had some free time and decided it would be good to head out to one of the local Erie Canal Trails with my ruck sack and take some cards about the run. A nice and slow 5-mile ruck with about 30lbs of weight in my pack brought my total number to 25 miles on the day. I felt pretty good physically, but I was struggling with a few blisters that had been nagging me all morning. Desperate to get at least 5 more miles done I got home and while doing laundry I finished off the last 5 miles brining my total on the day to 30 miles and on the week 61. This is not where I planned on being this week, but I am satisfied with the amount in a day. By this time next month, I want to be putting up 40-45 miles in a single day in order to progress.
Since my runs on the canal will be broken up slightly and I will have a variety of breaks throughout the day I will continue with this plan and break up some of my long runs. So on the day I do 40 perhaps I will do 4 different 10 mile runs throughout the day, or two 20 mile runs depending on what I have going on. I want to simulate the start and stops that I will experience because the inconsistent rest and starting back up again will have a different effect on my body rather than just continuing to push my body non-stop.
With these ideas and reviewing the map there were some developments and discussions about the actual course. Originally the plan had been to run along the route typically used by the “Cycle the Canal” course. Recently however, New York State has connected all the canal way trails across the state. This may bring down the distance a little but will make the course easier to follow. The downside however is that being on the trial more will put me out of reach of my support vehicle. Also there is a matter of time. The canal trail is open from dusk till dawn, and I do not yet have permission to run through the night if needed on the trails, so this makes the original course a bit more appealing. There is nothing stopping me from running on roads at any hour! This is important to me because I have no idea what kind of shape I am going to be in as I progress through the week. I know there will be several instances where I need to walk rather than run, so this would obviously take a lot more time than running.
In the end and even though it will involve a longer distance with a lot more turns and directions it seems the best option is to run the cycling course rather than the canal trails all the way through. I will still spend the majority of my time on the canal trailway but will have a little bit of wiggle room in case I need to walk early or late in August.
The entirety of this expedition has finally set in! I know that I am going to deal with doubts along the way. I set out with the idea that this will put me through some of the same mental and emotional effects that Kevin and others have dealt with through their fight with colorectal cancer. I know that this will be substantially different but having an overwhelming task that I need to fight through, fear of not being able to push through all of the obstacles that I will face, consistent pain and suffering through training and the actual run all can be relatable to someone fighting this disease. Hell, I even have loved ones that are stressing over how I am going to get through this run safely and expressing concern and support throughout this whole process. The beautiful part though is I hope to also recreate as closely as I can one other aspect of Kevin’s experience. Through all of the pain, doubt, and suffering I also want to be a voice for those that are unable to fight! Watching Kevin use his suffering as a channel for good has been truly inspiring and I can only hope to use my pain and suffering (self-imposed) to do the same for others!
With all of that being said, here are the official stops (as of now) that will serve as my daily milestones for this summer.
August 15th, 2021
Albany – Fultonville
August 16th, 2021
Fultonville to Utica
August 17th, 2021
Utica to Chittenango
August 18th, 2021
Chittenango to Port Byron
August 19th, 2021
Port Byron to Pittsford
August 20th, 2021
Pittsford to Medina
August 21st, 2021
Medina to Buffalo
This plan might change slightly, but I feel this is the best way to accomplish this in the 7-day time frame. My lightest day will also be the day with the most amount of elevation on the route so it will be just as, if not more challenging. The nice part is this will be in my neck of the woods and I can look forward to a night in my own bed!!!
Now that the weather is finally breaking, I also plan to hit a number of different locations along the route and post a lot more pictures of what I am going to be running through. I won’t lie, I am very excited that this plan allows for a stop in Pittsford New York! I not only love this town, but it is where my favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, hold training camp each year… in August! Depending on what time I get out there maybe I can swing over and watch a practice! That would be awesome!
I hope each an all of you are having a quality week and hope you are pushing yourself through whatever challenges you are facing. No matter if it is running, training, life, school, work, or cancer we all know struggle and can support each other through it. Today is not a day to doubt, but a day to hope!
I adjusted my plans for this past week and took my usual 6 week active recovery week and made it during my 5th week instead. This was not due to illness, schedule, or anything in regards to training, but for mental health purposes. To be honest, I was down and struggled to get out of it. I say this not to draw sympathy, just stating facts and to stress the importance of listening to your body!
We hear this adage a lot, listen to your body. Many times it is in regards to injury or fatigue, not pushing yourself to the point of injury or other things like that, but in my case this week I was overwhelmed a bit with life in general and needed to take a step back. Running 60 miles this week honestly would have caused more stress for me than it would have relieved for once so I kept it under 20 and addressed the issues that were stressing me to the best of my ability.
This is something I do not see enough people do when they are training, and honestly I have not really done that well before. I know in my case I put so much pressure on myself to preform and get the job done that I set out to do that it can stop being fun and become more debilitating and distracting to the rest of my life. When this starts to happen though something eventually has to give, and for me I usually have to give up the thing that was designed to counteract the stress because I have allowed it to consume me too much.
Fortunately I am not taking my normal "bull-headed" approach to training for this challenge like I have others before it. Rather than run headfirst into training and pushing myself to be stronger, faster, and better than before I am actually taking advice! I am learning from those that not only have done something similar to this before, but also have done it with a similar lifestyle to my own. I have found a few guys that have not only run this type of distance before (in some cases much farther) but also have trained while having a career, family, and a few other things going on outside of the gym/trails. So this week I focused on getting my head right, spending time with my daughter, and tried to mend some things that have been eating at me because as of today I have 5 months!
That's right, today is March 15th and in exactly 5 months I take my first steps on running 361.5 miles in 7 days! This is both scary and exciting all in one. While I have been focusing on getting my head right I have also been looking at how I can maximize my training without causing myself to stress about not getting enough, because if I am being honest my biggest fear is not being prepared for this run! So I have worked to develop a bit of a plan again (I know I don't do plans too well) and am starting it this morning!
The plan is simple! First, I need to sleep. This has been my biggest struggle really my whole life, but has been exasperated throughout the COVID pandemic. Going to bed at midnight, having my daughter wake me up a few times, and then struggling to fall back asleep I have been physically unable to get up to an alarm to run in the morning except for a few occasions. This needs to change drastically! I cannot wait until later in the day to attempt a run between work, being a father, and the other responsibilities I have. If I am able to get out for a run during those times then it will be a bonus, but I need to get my ass going in the morning.
The first thing that I am doing is to try a few herbal teas that have been recommended to me. If/when they work I will share them with everyone, but until I have tried it I will be vague. I also want to start doing a nightly cool down, something like yoga or basic stretching. No impact to very low impact to calm me, slow my breathing, and still engage my muscles to repair during sleep.
Upon waking up I want to get a 90 minute run in before I start my day. No specific distance, just go for 90 minutes on the treadmill until the sun starts peaking a bit earlier, then I will be back on the roads and trails. I want to do this EVERY day during the week. If I can be on the treadmill by 5 everyday I can get my 90 minutes in before my daughter even wakes up and have my running done for the day if I need it to be. 90 minutes will be an easy 9-10 miles for me at a groggy pace and that will add up quickly over the course of the week. With 9-10 miles 5 days a week and a marathon or more on Sunday's I am anticipating my mileage to take a jump this week as long as I can follow through with this plan.
As long as I am able to do this I will take Saturday's as my rest/family day and Sunday's I will continue to have as my long run days. As I get closer to August 15th I will take one day during the week out and swap it with Saturday's on some weeks to have back to back long runs to simulate the Canal run a little more.
I am also still tweaking my diet, but hope to have a better answer for this over the next week or two. This Saturday I have tentative plans to meet with students and faculty from Syracuse University's "Sports Lab" where they will start conducting monthly tests on me for VO2Max, metabolic testing, and a whole bunch of other stuff that is way over my head but will help me to learn my body a lot more. This will help me to determine the various needs my body has, how my diet and training alter my body, and so much more data than I will know what to do with. This is a very exciting opportunity that will hopefully give me some insights into my current and changing needs.
Next, I am switching to tea and I am going to start going without coffee. I will allow myself a little leeway here and permit 1 cup during the morning, but I cannot continue to rely on caffeine to fuel me throughout the day. I have a feeling that this is one of the causes of my recent week of crap and I need to be at the top of my game, so coffee as much as I love you we are taking a break.
Finally, I need to add more strength training into my routine. This is where I started my fitness journey and what I really love, but with all of the running I am doing it has taken a back seat. I know realistically that I cannot get to the gym with a substantial amount of time to lift like I like to, but that doesn't mean I cannot do something! So every day I am going to do pushups, mountain climbers, squats and lunges. Today will be my baseline to start seeing how many I can squeeze in throughout the day and by next week I hope to have an idea of how many I realistically do throughout the day to share with you all.
I know some of you have found this blog today through the Dizruns Podcast and I would like to say welcome! I am glad you are all here. Regardless of your intent to sign up for the Virtual Pain in the Canal Challenge this coming May I encourage you all to leave comments here and/or join our Facebook Group "Pain in the Canal Challenge". This group is designed to support each other in our running challenges, or in the challenges that are presented due to Colorectal Cancer. No matter what, it is always a good thing to have a network of people there when you are struggling, whatever the challenge is, so please join us and show your support!
This week I do have several meetings with a few different companies and hope to have some really exciting news to share over the next few weeks, but until then keep running for a cause that is bigger than yourself and you will be amazed at how far you go!
It has been a busy few weeks when it comes to the Pain in the Canal. New partnership with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, working with Syracuse University on figuring out my needs for training and for the run, and even a few interviews! This has been crazy, but also a distraction from training (a good distraction if I am being honest). If that wasn't enough, my training took a massive hit!
As I mentioned in my last post I had to take a few rest days 2 weeks ago and I was well behind my 50 mile/week pace. I knew that I would not be able to hit that mark but I wanted to do something big. So on Sunday of last week I decided I would do my first "Half Day Pain" simulation by running a marathon. It is only half because this summer the plan is to do 2 of these per day.
I planned it out even simulating some of my breaks (although pushed through quicker than I plan to in August) and trudged along on my treadmill. I absolutely hate this treadmill, but it serves it purpose. I kept thinking about how I can't wait for the weather to break so I could run outside in the warm air of spring again, but knew that if I could push through a marathon distance of 26.2 miles on a treadmill I would have no issues outdoors.
Finally after just over 4 hours I hit 25.91 miles and I felt like sprinting to the end. I crank up the speed on the treadmill and then it happens. My treadmill comes to a complete stop! I frantically tried to revive it turning ever switch on an off, unplugging and replugging it in, desperate to get the last quarter mile done, but it was no use. In less than 3 months I had burned out the motor of this poor machine and it had died at 25.98 miles of my planned 26.2 mile run!
If anything it was decent timing. The weather finally tried to warm up here in Central New York last week and I was able to get outside briefly for a few short runs on Tuesday and Wednesday (7 miles) but it was still too cold for me to go out really early in the morning or late at night. I had a new treadmill on the way but had no real idea when it would arrive. March 10th was the date I was told which meant I would have a week and a half without the ability to use the machine I have come to rely upon despite my hatred of it.
During those few runs on Tuesday and Wednesday though I learned a few important things. First, I love running outside! It is so invigorating. I missed hills or changing up the tempo of my run based on how I felt rather than staying at a steady pace the whole time. Yes, learning to stay at a steady pace will be important for this summer, but at times takes the fun out of the run. I bombed down some hills and ran through some trails thinking about some of the adventures I have had the past year running solo or with friends. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories of pushing myself and others and how running has really become a solid part of my life.
The other and most important thing I learned was that I need to re-learn how to run outside. For me when I run (road or trail) I typically land with the balls of my feet first and then spring forward a bit as my heel hits the ground. On the treadmill however to help minimize the noise when my daughter is sleeping I land with my heel first. My gait was so awkward outside that I realized that I would have to spend a few weeks reteaching myself the lessons I had learned about trail running, hills, and what generally has felt comfortable with my stride and has prevented injury.
By the time I made it home on Thursday I had a surprise at my door, my replacement treadmill had arrived a week early! Now it was time to see if I could burn out a treadmill in 3 days rather than 3 weeks.
I woke up Friday with only 7 miles or so of training. I knew the weekend would need to involve a lot of running so I cleared most of my schedule for a fun challenge that was put out by David Goggins. The challenge was to run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours to raise money for a charity of your choice. It started at 8 pm on Friday night.
After clearing everything with all the necessary people I committed to run the challenge and get in 48 miles in 48 hours, easily hitting my mark of 50 plus miles of running for the week. What I had not realized was that Friday morning and Friday evening were the same day!
Taking the day off on Friday to participate in a few interviews regarding the Pain in the Canal Challenge I knew my morning would be clear. A participant of our challenge lost her grandmother to colorectal cancer just days earlier and I committed to run 7.8 miles in her honor (she was 78 years old). I got up and ran it without issue and continued on with my day.
Later in the morning while I was recording the DizRuns podcast I had made mention to host Denny that I was going to try and do the 4x4x48 challenge this weekend. Then it hit me. Just 12 hours before the start of an event that would take me farther on foot than I had ever gone before in 2 days I had put in a 7.8 mile run! This is when I started to get nervous and was unsure if I would have the endurance to last.
The runs at 8pm, 12am, 4am, and 8am on the first day were fine. I had virtually no problem with them, but then came dance class! Every Saturday my daughter has dance and I take her and hang out in my car. The insatiable hunger that I felt this week however while being surrounded by junk food brought me to a desperation I am not use to. I was willing to eat just about ANYTHING that would have provided me the amount of energy I needed just to drive us home.
The ride was only 20 minutes home from dance but it felt like an hour. I was groggy and not even the Red Bull I downed was enough to shock me awake. Yes we made it home safe (always first priority) but when I got home I realized I only had about 30 minutes until my next run.
The rest of the day Saturday was a bit of a blur, but I was able to accomplish all the runs. 4am was extremely difficult for me though. My legs did not want to run at all. I ended up walking the entire distance.
When all was said and done I had accomplished 12 runs of 4 miles in 48 hours (1 was a walk) and I felt physically good. I was nowhere near as stiff or sore as I feared, just tired from the erratic sleep schedule. This also taught me a valuable lesson, I could go farther!
Throughout the training for this extremely long run I plan to push my self imposed limits often. Knowing now that I can easily cover almost 60 miles in 3 days has provided me with a boost of confidence! I am a little over 5 months out from the actual run, and still have a lot more to go but this has proven to be a stark turn around in mentality over the past few weeks. I guess the solution to my problems, my self-doubt, and all things that discourage me about this endeavor can be solved simply by running!