Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By The Numbers: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three part series taking a closer look at my training numbers leading up to my four previous Vermont 100 finishes. To read Part 1, please click HERE.

My third Vermont 100 was in 2009. By this point in my 100 mile running career, I was feeling pretty indestructible. I had just finished 2008 with an Epic run across the Widest Part of New Hampshire. A non-stop 125 mile jaunt for S&G's. What else was there to prove? Though, by now the Vermont 100 had become my hometown-hundred. It's where everybody ultra in New England would be during that weekend in July and I just truly loved being there. So I set out to train as I had the previous two years. A periodization training plan that slowly built up in monthly miles, following a well deserved rest in November. I ran almost an identical schedule with 2008 in preparing for 2009 and the results were not-surprisingly similar. The biggest factor in training for the 2009 Vermont 100, was the beginning of my now annual winter fat ass series.. which really helped keep my eyes on the prize and working towards the goal of another sub-24 hours.

Training Miles: Oct '09 - Jun '09

Events Leading Up:
9.28.08: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 8:58
10.19.08: The Run Across New Hampshire 124 Mi: 31:50
1.25.09: The Boston Prep x2 50K FA (NH): 5:27
2.22.09: 30 Dark Miles FA (NH): 6:06
3.6.09: Pittsfield Snow Ultra (VT) 52.4 Miles: 15:07
4.12.09: McNaughton Park 150 Miler (IL): 36:15 (DNF @100 Miles)
5.16.09: Massanutten 100 (VA): 33:35
6.6.09: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:27
6.19.09: Pemi Loop Challenge 50K JR (NH): 12:24

Result: 2009 Vermont 100 - 23:27


And then came 2010. After 3 consecutive finishes under 24-hours at the Vermont 100, and two consecutive run's across New Hampshire.. I started to think about "what's next"? I became rather complacent with ultra-running. I felt like I could accomplish anything and no challenge was too small. So.. after finally getting into Western States, I signed up for the Grand Slam of Ultra Running. I also signed up and got in to the Barkley Marathon, where my goal would be to complete at least one lap. I was biting off way more than I could chew except I didn't know it at the time.

Then I got this idea in my head that I had such a solid ultra-base that I didn't need to train as much. Besides, I was now a Junior in college and was getting married in June (right before WS100). I didn't have as much time to train as I used to.. but who am I kidding.. I was tired. I didn't have as much drive either. At the end of 2008, I had run 100 Miles or more, 11 times, in just two-years of running them. That doesn't include the 50K's, and 50 Milers, and all the Fat Ass/Journey Run events in which I organized and/or participated in. In the time between the finish line of my first Vermont 100 ('07) and the Starting line of my fourth Vermont 100 ('10) I had run in 19 official ultras and completed 10 Fat Ass/Journey Runs. All of this between the ages of 25 and 28 in a time when so few young people participated in our sport.

For a few years, I had been warned by numerous veterans of Ultra that I was poised to burn out. And when I do, I'll disappear from this sport just as ever other young person before me. I poo-pooed their notions, confident in my abilities and an unwavering spirit to never let someone tell me I can't so something. The training numbers heading into Vermont 2010 Tell the tale better than I could here...

Training Miles: Oct '10 - Jun '10

Events Leading Up:
9.27.09: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:14
10.17.09: The Run Across New Hampshire 118.5 Miles: 34:26
1.24.10: Hammy Slammy in Hillabammy 50K FA (NH): 6:45
2.27.10: No Power? No Problem! 50K FA (NH): 6:40
3.27.10: Barkley Marathons (TN): 12:25 (22 Miles = ONE Loop)
4.11.10: Cross Rivendell 50K (37mi) JR (VT/NH): 9:55
5.8.10: McNaughton in Vermont 100 (VT): 7:02 (DNF @ 30 Miles)
6.5.10: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 11:22
6.26.10: Western States 100 (CA): 28:29
Result: 2010 Vermont 100 - 28:58

I was humbled in 2010. After squeaking by at the Western States 100, I squeaked by at the Vermont 100. A mere hour and 2 minutes to spare and I had to dig deep for that. The training numbers above are indicative of a burned out runner. I lacked passion or urgency. I wasn't scared of any single event.. I was cocky to my own previous successes. Finishing that 2010 Vermont 100 was eye-openning. A race I had come to finish in under 24-hours, almost like clock-work, was now what I considered to be blemished. I was heart broken.. I now had 3 buckles... and one plaque (For sub 30 hours). The next month.. I travelled to Leadville, CO and ran in the Leadville 100. I barely made it out of the 50 mile turn-around aid station.. and timed out at Twin Lakes 2 in a section known as "The Grand Slam Graveyard." 

I'd been running ultras for 5 years now. I had accomplished a lot more than I ever dreamed I would. But my legs, my mind.. I was burnt out. I didn't train.. certainly not enough for a major undertaking like the Grand Slam of Ultra. So there I was.. hunched over at the finish line of the Vermont 100.. looking for answers I wouldn't find for a few years to come.