Thursday, February 7, 2013

By The Numbers: Part 1

It's the new year, 2007. I've just completed a 3 month stint of what I then considered "Hardcore Ultra-running." My goals for the fall of 2006, were to run three 50 mile races in three months time. It was July of 2006 when I paced a stranger during that years Vermont 100, and I finally got it in my head that running such a vast distance was indeed possible. I figured, running three 50 milers in three months would be adequate enough to prove myself either right or wrong. I did it, managing to better my time for the distance in each race. Vermont 50 (10:31), Breakers Nifty Fifty Miler (10:05), and the JFK 50 (9:47). After successfully completing that amazing three months, I set my sights on running 100 Miles.

I trained all winter (2006-2007) on mostly roads in New Hampshire. The snow falls heavily there in the winter and buries the trails from November to May. An ultra veteran, living in New Hampshire at the time, mentioned on the Ultra List how training for a spring 100 miler is hard to do when you live in New Hampshire. I wanted to prove him wrong.. so off I went. My first 100 wasn't the Vermont 100 though. I was training for the McNaughton Park 100 Miler. A race held in Illinois, of all places, in mid April.
I'll never forget finishing my 1st 100. Ultimately that's not what this post is about. Though, a quick story. I originally wanted a tattoo artist to be waiting at the finish line for me. So that as soon as I crossed, he could tattoo "100 Miles" onto my leg. My pacer Jeff had a rad tattoo on his leg that said, "One Day 100 Miles." After finishing that race (in 34:15) I returned home and got the tattoo. "One Day 100 Miles." Immediately, everyone started saying, "but John... you didn't run 100 miles in one day." To which my response was always, "That's right, I guess next time I better." They always followed it up with.. "How do you expect to go from 34:15 in the farm lands of Illinois to sub-24 hours in the mountains of Vermont.. with only 3 month's between races." ...  "Watch."

I share these vivid memories with you all while I reminisce about those times. I'm jealous of every first time 100 mile runner I meet. Why? Because they'll experience something I'll never get to experience again. Their first time. I showed up at the Vermont 100 that year and run it in 23 Hours and 19 Minutes. To this day, that time still stands as my 100 mile PR. 

As I prepare for my 5th Vermont 100, I've really begun to dive into the numbers of the years I was successful at the event. I have 3 sub-24 hour finishes at Vermont, and one at 28:58 (2010). I'm not about to repeat my last performance there. While I continue to train this winter, I continue to look every where for advice, for training help and for a look back at WHAT WORKED. It's the only way that I'm going to complete the event in 23:19 or faster.

Training Miles: Oct '06 - Jun '07
As you can see by the chart above, I had a pretty solid training regime heading into my first and 2nd 100 Miler. I gradually increased my miles from October-March and then ran my 1st 100 in April. From there, I used May and June to continue training while actively recovering from McNaughton and continuing to train for Vermont.

Events Leading Up: 
9.24.06: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 10:32
10.21.06: Breakers Nifty 50 Miler (RI): 10:05
11.18.06: JFK 50 Miler (MD): 9:47
1.6-7.07: Disney's Goofy Challenge 39.3 mi.(FL): 5:59
4.14.07: McNaughton Park 100 Miler (IL): 34:15
5.27.07: Pineland Farms 50K (ME): 5:35:15
6.9.07: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 16:02
6.23.07: Pemi Loop Challenge 50K JR (NH): 10:14

Result: 2007 Vermont 100 - 23:19

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In 2008, I upped the ante a little bit. I would return to Illinois to try to run the 150 Miler there in April, and then follow it up with the Massanutten 100 in Virginia in May. Certainly, another "bite-off-more than you can chew moment" in life, but my training followed my plan with more 200+ mile months. Yes.. I know that Anton "Ego" Krupichka runs 200 miles per week. Good for him. I've always been a low mileage ultra-runner and it's treated me well. In September 2007, I ran the Grand Teton 100 in Wyoming and finished. Then ran the Vermont 50 three weeks later. I was a mad man. Truly in LOVE with ultra-running. Unaware of the burn-out that could follow. Regardless, I trained as hard as time would allow and pushed towards another great Vermont 100 in 2008.


There it is, plain as day. The beginning of many "blip December's" to come. Either way, I bounced back from that little rest quite well, pushing myself to churn out 200+ mile months all the way through my training schedule in June. I started my now annual winter Fat Ass series. More miles + more races + tougher races = better result?

Events Leading Up:
9.30.07: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:06
11.10.07: Stone Cat Ale 50 Miler (MA): 10:34
1.28.08: The Boston Prep x2 50K FA (NH): 5:10
3.23.08: Run The Kanc V3.0 50K JR (NH): 7:10
4.11.08: McNaughton Park 150 Miler (IL): 33:33 (DNF @ 100 Miles)
5.17.08: Massanutten 100 (VA): 32:09
6.14.08: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:20

Result: 2008 Vermont 100 - 23:37

Not all that bad. A whole 18 minutes slower than 2007 and with a running schedule over-loaded with events. I was just as happy with this result as I was with the year before. It was starting to look like I knew all the secrets of the Vermont 100. So much so that I had it down to a sub-24 hour science. At this point in my ultra-running career, I had just finished running 100 miles for the 6th time and yet, this is the only race (still is) where I'd be able to finish in under 24 hours. 

To Be Continued...