The week of 5/9-5/15 was solid. I ran 81 miles and 10.5 hours, starting a slight taper for the Jemez Mountain 50-Mile Race on 5/21 (a non-taper week would have been about 90-95 miles and 12-14 hours). The week saw hill repeats on Tuesday, a treadmill tempo run on Thursday, 18.25 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday. All other days were at "easy" pace. I avoided any single long runs over 13 miles and instead doubled up on Saturday and Sunday.
It's hard to say how Jemez is going to go, but I can guarantee I'll be focused and will run a smart race. So far this spring I haven't spent much time in the mountains, mostly because of weather and lack of time. I'm super excited about getting high in the mountains in June, July, and August, as well as into the fall. With Jemez, I think the key is running a smart race and understanding that this is no ordinary 50-miler. It's a long day in the woods. The course is so punishing, with monster climbs, bomber drops and off-trail running, that it can absolutely waste you. So as I see it, the key is to avoid going out too fast, hike the big climbs, run the runnable stretches, and go easy on the descents for the first 40 miles--which should minimize damage to the legs. Then in the last 10 miles, with a long descent back into town, if I run pretty aggressively, maybe, just maybe, I can reel in a few folks and finish with a respectable time. A strong finish at Jemez is as much about running a smart race and ignoring the bad voices in your head telling you that climb up Pajarito is going to kill you as it is about being in good shape. Luck plays a role, too.
Here's the elevation profile for Jemez:
will be lots of talent there on Saturday, along with plenty of regular guys like me looking for a decent finish.
Right now I'm reading Chris McCormack's new book, I'm Here to Win. A review on this blog will soon follow (once I'm done with the book). McCormack, who once won 32 consecutive triathlons and has twice won the legendary Ironman Kona race, is the most decorated athlete his sport has ever seen. In his book, he talks extensively about the mental edge. Racing, he says, is as much about psychological advantage as it is about training. You train to accomplish your goals on race day, always focusing on quality instead of quantity, and you race in a way that gives you advantages (i.e., running smart, nutrition, tactical passes). With that said, I think Jemez is a thinking man's/woman's event that destroys a lot of runners who aren't prepared for the mental and physical challenges of the course. I think in the final 10 miles there are going to be lots of suffering runners. I just hope not to be one of them, but I might be. If the Cheyenne Mountain 50K is any indication, I'll be at my strongest in the final 10 miles. But it comes down to running a smart race.
McCormack's book raises an interesting question for ultrarunners. When training for 100s, what's most important--quality or quantity? For 100-mile training, I've always kind of taken the quantity route but, with my new coach, quality seems to be trumping everything. Hills, tempo running, long runs and races are the bread and butter of the plan. I think when training for a 100 you want maximum strength, but there's a fine line between running tons of junk miles and diminishing returns. Efficiency is the key. I'm still not convinced that junk miles work. But I think a combination of good quality, reasonable volume, adequate recovery and mental training will produce a decent result.
Last week my GPS died on me. I was out in very cold, wet conditions on Wednesday morning when all of a sudden my Gamin 205 starting turning off and then back on. Then the light went on. Finally, after about a half-hour of acting possessed, it died on me. All the while the rain had turned to snow and the temperature had dropped 12 degrees into the low 30s. My quads were cold and wet and fatiguing on me. It wasn't one of my more enjoyable runs. After lots of research, I bought a Garmin 210. It lasts only 8 hours before needing to be recharged. So we can send a space shuttle into orbit (for now, at least) but we can't design a cost-effective battery that lasts more than 8 hours? Wow.
Speaking of lasting more than 8 hours, let's hope on Saturday at Jemez I can get 'er done in around 10-10.5 hours...or better.