Thursday, September 06, 2012

Adventure Report #1: Ultrarunning fun!

I've been quite lax in getting adventure reports up -- in part because this summer's adventures have tended to seem slightly less adventurous than "our" usual standard, and in part b/c of a dearth of photos.  But that just won't do, because this summer's activities have "us" on track for a very adventuresome next couple of years. So this first (of several) adventure reports is more a report of plans for the future.

Summer adventures typically start with an early ultramarathon and backpack/climbing trip, and this year should have been no different.  Unfortunately, while my spring training had been fairly good, May was a disaster from a training standpoint, and once in Montana I found myself scrambling to get back into shape.  I entered the Old Gabe 50K in late June and found the scrambling wasn't good enough.  Although I felt fine, I was horribly slow, sufficiently so that I switched the the 25K race at the halfway point so as to avoid still being on the course when the awards party was finishing (this is one of the few races that allows you to switch from one event to the during the race).  After finishing I did some extra mileage to make it an even 20 (miles), but it was a very poor and sobering performance.

Што делать?  For the rest of the summer I concentrated on serious speedwork  -- intervals and short two-or-three-mile time trials, plus long runs in excess of the marathon distance.  It seems to be paying off (I'm certainly faster and feel better when I run), and in August I managed to complete the Elkhorn 50K on the new and tougher course... not in any very interesting time, but without any serious difficulty either.  Just before leaving Montana for the east I did another 50K by myself on dirt roads near our top secret fortified compound; it felt good and recovery was very quick.

I'm now slated to run, as usual, the Le Grizz 50 Miler in October.  Given my current condition I'm fairly confident about grinding out my twelfth Le Grizz finish, but what about something more challenging?  Well, for some time I've been thinking about another race, one that would go beyond anything I've ever done before -- the Arrowhead 135 winter ultra in International Falls MN.  Given the typical low temperatures of minus 40, and the fact that once you've completed 100 miles you still have a 50K to do and after that you're still not done, and you're pulling a sled full of survival gear, and it's all point-to-point in the wolf-infested backcountry of Minnesota -- well, how can anyone not want to do that?

However, I don't believe I could get into sufficient shape to reasonably run the 2013 version; I need more extremely long runs and more winter training than I've had recently, plus some experience in pulling a pulk (sled).  Hence I'm now focused on the 2014 running of the Arrowhead 135.  And since I'm in the east for the year I've signed up for the 2013 Beast of Burden Winter 100, 26 January in Lockport NY.  The terrain at the BoB is flat (it's run on the Erie Canal Towpath), and it's just four twenty five mile out-and-backs with an aid station every 6.25 miles.  Sounds easy, right?  It's apparently famous for blizzards.  I'm hoping for frigid weather this time around -- training for AH135, you know -- and one friend has already suggested he might be willing to spray me with cold water and throw ice cubes at me during the race if it isn't cold enough.  (Any readers interested to working as a crew member -- or running with me -- are welcome to volunteer.)

I suppose it's a bit lame to report "I didn't do anything very exciting, but plan to..."  So I'll get another report up in the next few days, as I actually do have a few interesting summer adventures to document.

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