Now that I've committed to running in the North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run, which will host this year's 24-hour national championship, part of me wonders what the hell I've gotten myself into. I have to admit that the thought of running for 24 hours around a .9-mile loop sends shivers up my spine. Running 100 miles is hard enough. I've never run for 24 hours straight. But life's about new challenges and adventures, right? The NC24 (October 3-4) will be both, for sure. The fact that it's in Cleveland and only about a half-hour from home certainly helps alleviate a little bit of nervousness.
My training for the NC24 is now in full swing. For the week I logged 91 miles and had a good hill-repeat workout on Tuesday and a decent but not great showing at the track on Thursday. Now that Chagrin Boulevard has reopened, I knew visibility would be the key to safely running my fast hill repeats there. So I bought this super bright yellow Brooks technical tee-shirt and it's really great. You can't miss me, especially as I'm running the hill with my headlamp shining right in your eyes!
At the track, I ran some 100-meter striders, followed by 3x1600 at 5:39, 5:40, and 5:42 with 800-meter recoveries for a total of 9.5 miles. Maybe my legs were a little tired from the two-a-days this week.
I ended the week with a very enjoyable 13.5-mile in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with the Peninsula crew on Saturday (great to return to Peninsula!) and a pretty strong 20-miler in Solon with the Southeast Running Club. The weather on Sunday morning was rough--80s with high humidity. For a second there I felt like I was running in soup.
To prepare for the NC24, my goal is to try to hit anywhere from 85-100 miles per week until two weeks out from the event, when I begin my taper. I think I'm in pretty good shape now and hopefully I can enhance my fitness level in the next few weeks. I have six weeks of training left--plenty of time since I'm building on my Mohican 100 fitness.
I am still debating my approach to the 24. Part of me wants to go out aggressively and try to potentially break 16 hours for the 100-mile split. I want to continue talking with 24-hour veterans I know, such as Mark Godale (American 24-hour record holder at 162.4 miles) and Connie Garder (who has come within a hair of setting the women's American 24-hour record) to get their feedback on how-best to approach the challenge and come away with the best-possible result.
I've heard 24-hour races are tent and RV cities and bring a real community atmosphere. I am really looking forward to spending time with the other runners on the course and having some good conversations. Of course, I doubt there will be much good conversation late in the race....
Every once in a while you see or hear about an athletic talent that really amazes you and makes you wonder if this is a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy. This is sort of how I view Anton Krupicka, a 25-year-old mountain ultrarunner who currently lives in Leadville, Colo. Anton, or Tony as some call him, just won the White River 50-Mile Run in Seattle with a blazing-fast time of 6:32:09, besting Uli Steidl's old record by 43 seconds, and is now a few weeks away from the Leadville Trail 100, which he's already won twice. Leadville is an extremely challenging, high altitude, out-and-back course in the Colorado Rockies. The lowest elevation is 9,200 feet and the highest (Hope Pass) is 12,600 feet. Yikes!
What's amazing about Anton, who's been known to run 150-plus miles per week, is that he's won races at so many levels. He's won the Leadville Marathon, 50Ks, 50-milers such as White River and the Rocky Raccoon 100 in addition to two Leadville 100s. He's a mountain-running stud and it's going to be interesting to see what he does in the next few years. Had he been healthy for this year's Western States 100 (he was injured and DNS'd), the task before repeat-winner Hal Koerner would have been all the tougher. I think Anton is going to do some crazy things in the years to come.
I've always been fascinated by mountains and my dream is to one day run the big mountain 100-mile ultras--Hardrock, Leadville, and, of course, Western States. Closer to home, I also want to experience Masanutten, which is billed the hardest 100 east of the Rockies.
But before I do any of that, there's a 24-hour race to train for....