I have nine weeks to get ready to run 50 miles.
On some level, I’m confident that I’ll be able to do it. On another, I’m terrified.
When I finished my 50K two weeks ago, I had something left in the tank. If it had been necessary, I might have been able to run another three or four miles that day. Running a slower pace, maybe I could have even managed 10 more.
Still, that puts me at 40 miles, not 50.
I can’t do it. It’s this thought that has woken me up in the middle of the night several times since I decided to run this race. I can’t remember the last time I was scared about running, if I ever have been.
When I was trying to qualify for Boston, I was never scared. I had my doubts at times, but “failure” in that case meant finishing a few minutes later than I had to, and another six months of training. The last miles would hurt as I tried desperately not to let 3:10:59 slip away, but that’s it. Finishing was not an issue.
This feels so different. If things don’t go well, if I start too fast and hit a wall with 25 miles to go, I don’t know what will happen. I can’t imagine quitting.
The alternative, then, is to suck it up. To walk/run/shuffle for the remaining marathon, and probably experience more physical pain than I ever have.
Part of what makes it so scary is that so much of the race-day mileage (nearly a third of the race!) will be new territory, since I won’t cover more than about 35 miles in training. When I’ve asked my ultrarunner friends about how to train for a 50-miler, the advice of most of my them has been, “Do a bunch of 50K’s.”
You’re not supposed to run much more than 30 miles in the training. If I manage a 35-miler beforehand, that still leaves 15 miles of unknown.
15 miles. Fit people train for months to run a half marathon. Yet to run a 50-miler, you leave at least that distance for the big day.
My plan is to do training similar to that in Run Less, Run Faster for the next nine weeks, but to increase the distance on the long runs. I’ll probably do three or four 20-25 milers, a 30, and a 35. And one day a week, I’ll do the strength-training workout that I’ve grown to swear by. (And oh yeah, there’s a baby coming too. Any day now!)
But something about being so scared tells me this is exactly what I need to be doing right now. Anything less and it wouldn’t be much fun. For me, that’s how it works (and it’s probably related to why I like gambling a little too much).
Anyway, I’m excited. I’m in one of those modes where I’m totally juiced about running again. And if that takes signing up for something so scary that it wakes me up in the middle of the night, so be it.
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