Baby Steps Towards 50K

I haven’t quite taken the plunge and signed up yet, but I think I’ve found my first ultramarathon and I’m pretty sure I’ve found my training schedule.

The race I think I’m going to do is the Can Lake 50K.  It’s relatively close (just outside of Rochester), scenic (it loops around Canandaigua Lake, which looks gorgeous), and is a road race, meaning I don’t need to try to fit long trail runs into what will already be a packed schedule.  It’s also in October, so I’d have enough time to complete a 20 week training program before the race.  The main drawback is that it is on October 8th . . . which is M’s birthday.  I can’t think of any worse birthday present than forcing your partner to wait around with your two kids for five to six hours while you go run in a big circle.  The other race I’m thinking about is the Mountain Madness 50K.  It is on October 15th, so not on Mulzer’s birthday, and is even closer Can Lake, but it’s a trail race.  I would have to find time to get in a lot of running on trails over the next few months, or else I would be pretty much just signing myself up for serious ankle and quad injuries.

The training schedule I’m adopting from the one found over at the UltraLadies Running Club.  I like it because it’s a 20 week, rather than a 16 week schedule, and since I have the time, I’d like to make sure I do my first ultra right — meaning plenty of preparation and no sudden jumps in milage.  As I sat down yesterday to plan it out, however, I suddenly realized that a 20 week training plan would start in just under a month!

I’ve been averaging in the mid-twenties for the last few months (with my one 42 mile week in there), so after this week, I’ll spend the next three easing my millage up toward the 38 that this program starts at.  My biggest hesitation in actually signing up for an ultra isn’t that I’m scared of the distance or uncertain about my ability, its whether or not I’ll be able to fit all the required running into a schedule that includes a crazy toddler and a 9 week old — and do so without driving my partner utterly insane.  Also, I ran the New York Marathon last year and this year she’s going to, so I need to make sure my ultra training doesn’t interfere with her marathon, since I owe her.

I figure I’ll start out and see how it goes, and if things work, fully commit to a race by signing up in a month or two.  I think it will work.  The mid-week runs aren’t all that bad (I can do the two 4 milers over my lunch, and the 6-8 on the way home wednesday), and I’m already regularly doing 12 or more miles each Saturday with Nat.  Anything over 20 I might need to drop him back off at home, but that will involve only an hour more of running, tops.  The main thing that makes an ultra training schedule different from a normal marathon training is that instead of following your long run with a rest day you do more running, but since that’s never more than 10 miles, I can do that with Nat as well, and it shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half.

So I’ve started to solidify my ultramarathon fantasies.  I think this might work.  Now why on earth do I want to do it?  That’s a topic for another post . . .


Today I got in a quick run in the morning, a 5 mile loop down and through Ft. Green Park and back.  It was unseasonably warm and humid, and by the end of the first mile I’d stripped down to just my shorts and shoes, since my shirt was already soaked with sweat.  I didn’t take my GPS or time it, but I tried to keep it fast and fun, aiming for obstacles to hop over or run along, and I made it back in just around 40 minutes, which was pretty quick, especially considering the muggy weather.

Distance: 5 miles          Time: un-timed, roughly 40 minutes


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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