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!