Captain Grose's Marathon pages

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Training for two marathons and an ultra-marathon all within a month is not as easy as it sounds. I mean, you gotta run and stuff. And for an amateur runner like myself, I had no idea where to begin. Gary, who is arguably a slower and less experienced runner than I am, seemed to have all the confidence in the world about accomplishing this. He sent me articles and kept me updated with all his plans and gizmos he was purchasing. The net effect was that I felt like a even bigger imposter for even considering such a feat was within my meager abilities.

Now don't get me wrong, it was great to get all of the "fame" associated with going around telling people what I was attempting (although most people just wrote me off as stark-raving mad). I think deep inside, they felt the same thing I did: how many people on this Earth can ever say they did such a thing? Or maybe they were thinking "What an idiot!" Whatever the case, I made out a schedule and stuck to it, trying to forget that for all intents and purposes, what I was attempting was not possible.

My plan was not much different than planning for a normal marathon. My logic was that if I was ready for one, I would be ready for the others. Now, to skip ahead, I did nothing more spectacular than finishing all three (an amazing feat in itself, I'm told) so maybe a little more training would have produced better times. But it sure makes it a lot easier to shoot for "just finishing" than for any specific time. I missed the Big Sur goal of under 4 hours (by 17 minutes) but scored a PR on the Wild Wild West by coming in 4 minutes shy of 6 hours. The goal of the 50 miler was loosely set as sub-12 hours but to finish was to be the revised goal and I just made that by 27 minutes.

So how did I train? Well, I got online and downloaded a marathon training schedule, altered it to fit my schedule and executed it. I ran on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, which was the long run. I ran early in the morning and dragged during the day but it was nice to get it over with in the AM. I never watched what I ate and fell victim to my junk food addiction but I stayed injury free for most of the training except for some poison oak battles right before the races.

On the topic of "Stupid, time-wasting preparation" I spent more than a few hours foolishly planning out exactly the pace I would run and when I would hit the checkpoints. The email is below and if you know anything about this type of racing, you know that the best laid plans are decimated the minute the starting pistol sounds. Looking back at it, it is quite humorous that I was so optimistic.

The ignorant email:

(Horsemen, I sent this to all for any advice you may have or comments. We got a late planning start so any gouge would be helpful)


The soreness subsided in a couple of days. Strange thing is that I was OK all day Sunday and Monday (other than being very tired). So I thought I had sidestepped the pain. But when Tuesday rolled around, it felt like "The Day After." So who knows. But the pain went away in a couple of days.

I posted my 2nd worst PFT ever yesterday. But I stayed first class and had a decent run (20:10). I guess not doing any pull-ups nor sit-ups since the last PFT requires payment at the next. I will save the embarrassment of revealing the score but it wasn't pretty. Had to do well on the run to get a 1st class but was up for the challenge.

Now onto the next order of business. Here is my take and some questions concerning the 50 miler:

1. Pace: I applied some Excel work and optimization for this, thanks to my new ten-pound brain.

Race time starts at 0600 and the first cut-off is at 1530 so that gives us 9.5 hours to make it to the 32 mile mark! But that pace would sink us for the next cut off. (See spreadsheet, first tab)

Now if we can shoot for 15 minute per mile pace, that would put us at 4 miles per hour and get us to the first cutoff in 8 hours, 5 minutes and then able to hit the other two cut-offs with time to spare. (Interesting side note: we can maintain a 16.5 minute per mile pace and still make it right on time but who wants to go that slow and barely make the cutoff? But this marks our slowest average if we want to finish)

The next cutoff will be at the 42 mile mark (10 miles down the road). Keeping at a 15 minute per mile pace, that would get us there in 2.5 hours or 1624, an hour before the cutoff.

The last cut off is the finish line: 50 miles by 8:00 PM. To make this all easier to picture, I made a spreadsheet with notes. Take a look and let me know what you think. I think we should shoot for the last tab: 15 minute miles. (I assume you know the basics about Excel. If not, let me know and I can walk the dog via landline.) Notice the notes embedded (hover over the red cornered cells for notes.)

If you want to set some alternate goals for cut-offs, I can quickly figure out a chart to get us there. Let me know so I can crunch the numbers.

And I know what you're thinking, like a battle plan, this one will fly out the window immediately because our pace will vary with the terrain. But it gives us an idea of what we need to AVERAGE and it gives us goals between points and at cut-off points.

2. Gear: I need some advice on what to bring. Cold weather gear? I have running leggings and plan on bringing gators. I think I'll stick with my running shoes (A.K.A. I'm too cheap to go any other route). Also, I plan on carrying a camel back and an ass pack. Do you think I need more than that (like a small backpack)? I'll bring my GPS, of course.

3. T-shirts: If I understand the website, we get a t-shirt with our entry and have the option to buy the "10 Reasons..." shirt separately. Is this how you understand it?

4. Arrival time: I plan on leaving on Friday at 0500 and getting in around 1500. Is this good since the bag handout doesn't start until 1530? What other prep plans do you think is necessary?

5. Massages: notice we get them for $1 per minute after the race!!!!

6. Lunch at turnaround: There is a place to buy chow at the turnaround. What do you think? May cost us some time.

7. What is your chow plan, overall? Do you think we will have time to buy and prepare locally on Friday afternoon /night? I assume they will want the drop bags packed and dropped of Friday night.

8. Drop bags: what should we put in them?

I spent most of the day playing with this spreadsheet (notice the sexy formulas, all of which I came up with by myself so I expect the requisite amount of "ooohs and "ahhs." If I knew how to calculate using time format, I could have saved a lot of time but I had to make up my own system. I know there are functions to do what I did the long way but damn if I could figure it out so I just hit it taking the long road).

I will check out the site more thoroughly, tomorrow to include the pics. Let me know when you want to do the phone call thing. Until then, send email and we can get the 90% solution that way.

-- N.T.A.

Back to 2002 Bishop Main page

How it all started...

2000 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2001 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Big Sur International Marathon
2002 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

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