So I’ve got two updates this week. This week I peaked on my mileage build-up leading to the Back on My Feet 20in24 in mid-July. For the first time ever, I ran 100 miles in one week (more on that later). Immediately following the 100-mile week of slow-paced, repeated longer runs, I jumped right into a 5K. Makes perfect sense right? The 5k was Race #7 in the West Chester Downtown Grand Prix, put on by the Chester Country Running Store, the Fatiha Khattabi Freedom 5k. My legs held up pretty well, and despite the recent heatwave hitting the East Coast this summer, I put up a pretty decent time.
The Fatiha Khattabi Freedom 5k was started in 2009. The race honors the mother of one of the local high school’s cross-country runners who succumbed to cancer. It was started by several senior members of the team as a high school senior project, and the proceeds go to the Cancer Center of Chester County. This year, Fatiha’s son spoke at the start of the race, which really made the cause very real. This race was Race #7 in the Downtown Grandprix, and it was exactly what I had come to expect after running the previous 6: on the small-side, low-key, but very well run.
Of the previous 6 races in the series, 5 have been on the 5K downtown loop course, and the 6th was a 4-miler using some of the same roads. This was the first 5K in the series that used a different course, looping around the neighborhoods near Henderson High School. The start of the race was right outside of the track, and all the pre-race organizational stuff was inside the stadium. The race shirt was a standard white cotton tee, and it seemed like there were plenty to go around. I had no problem getting my size after showing up and registering at 8:30 for the 9:30 run.
Prior to the 5K, the race organizers put on several kids races on the track. Its usually a fun distraction to see those races go off. I was also blown away by the girl that one the age 9-12 800m run. She had pretty much perfect form, better than anyone I saw in the 5K for sure. She just seemed to be gliding through the race with only the slightest bit of effort.
Once the kids races were wrapped up, we lined up for the 5K start. The course had some rolling hills all throughout, but nothing major. Temperatures were already pushing the 90 degree mark (at 9:30), so I was expecting some heat for the race. Fortunately, the course wound in and around shaded neighborhood streets, so there wasn’t too much direct sun. The rolling hills were not too bad; they amounted to a little over 120 feet of climbing over the five kilometers. My splits showed me coming in at 6:34 and 6:29 for mile 1 and 2. I covered the last 1.1 in a 7:37 bringing me in at 20:40. Not bad for fatigued legs and heat.
Another nice feature of the race was that it finished on Henderson’s track. With about 300 m left in the race you enter the stadium and you’re on the track for the last 200 m. While I’m sure any actual time improvements are minimal for me, I feel like I always have a little extra kick once I get on a track and am heading towards the finish.
The post-race spread was pretty good. Plenty of water to go around and quite a few snacks including donuts, bagels, and TastyKakes. The heat definitely sapped my appetite, so I stuck to water. Another good thing I’ll add about races the Chester Country Running Store puts on is that the awards ceremonies always follow the race pretty promptly. I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 20 minutes or so after the final finishers came in to hear the awards. I don’t win awards too often, but I don’t mind sticking around and applauding the winners, especially when things wrap up quickly.
One final note. I’ve started connecting my GPS watch to my computer again, and I’ve starting using Garmin’s Connect site. The site is quite nice, and I’ll be making an effort to post the race courses I run up on this blog as I do them. Here’s the course for the Freedom 5K.
As I’ve already mentioned, this week was also my first 100 mile week. I’ve been ramping up mileage for the 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon put on by Back on My Feet. The race goes for 24 hours, and the goal is to see how many 8.4 mile laps you can run in that period. This is my first attempt at anything longer than a marathon, so I’ve been shooting for 6 laps, which is a little over 50 miles.
In early spring, I turned my ankle pretty good, and spent most of the time up through May recovering and the rebuilding my base to the point where I could comfortably run a moderate paced half-marathon. Starting on June 6th, I started a week by week progression of building weekly mileage and running multiple times a day in order to prepare my self for the 20in24 race. Each week started with a “long day” on Sunday. This ranged from 15-30 miles split over 3 runs (preferably all with 12 hours). After that, Monday-Friday consisted of two-a-day workouts. They started out as 6′s and 4′s (10 miles/day) and built to 8′s and 5′s (13 miles/day). Saturdays were basically my clean up days to catch up on any runs I missed throughout the week. My plan was to start at 65 miles, and ramp up 10 miles each week until I needed a rest or I got through 4 weeks, whichever came first.
My week-by-week progression looked like this:
- 6/7-6/12 – 15 Miles Long Day, 6′s and 4′s = 65 Miles Total
- 6/13-6/19 – 20 Miles Long Day, 7′s and 4′s = 75 Miles Total
- 6/20-6/26 – 25 Miles Long Day, 7′s and 5′s = 85 Miles Total
- 6/27-7/3 – 30 Miles Long Day, 9′s and 5′s, Extra 5 = 100 Miles Total
At the start of the build, I thought realistically that I would make it through the 65 mile and 75 mile weeks and then have to cut mileage and rest. While the first two weeks were a little rough and left me pretty sore, I found the more I kept at it, the better I felt. It was a given that the first mile or so of any run would have some soreness, but I found that my legs bounced back really well from shorter rests, and it was not a problem to run 2 and 3 times a day. By the end of week 4, I felt great, and added on the extra 5 miles to bring my weekly total up to 100.
I’ve been varying my pace somewhat, but definitely slowing things down. Outdoor runs I have been doing anywhere from 8:30-10:30 paced runs, while on the treadmill inside, I’ve mostly stuck with 7:45-8:30 paced runs. I’ve been pretty happy with how well I’ve held up so far, and I’m really looking forward to the 20in24 race.
I’m currently into my taper now (60 miles this week, 30 miles next week, and then the race). Assuming all goes well, I’ll start by trying to complete a lap every 2 hours during the race. I figure at roughly a 10:00 / mile pace, each lap will take 1:25, leaving me 35 minutes of rest time before starting the next lap. After the first 4 laps, I’ll be pacer eligible, so I’ve lined up my sister and my wife to come down and run a lap with me that evening and then the next morning respectively. Those 6 laps in total will get me to my goal of 50. I may try to push things a little further, but I’ll see how I feel once I’m on track for 50.
There probably won’t be a lot of running news from me until the race (July 17th-18th), but I’ll be back soon after to recap how everything went.