The North Face 50 Mile Championships Race Report

I had a pretty rough day in Marin (again) at The North Face 50 Mile Championships.  Like last year, I had quad issues from the descents, but I also had kind of an off day generally. I’ve worked on my climbing a fair amount over the last month or two and really should have been able to hang on the climbs without much trouble, but I never really felt comfortable out there.  I was forcing it early on and found myself dropped on the big climb to Cardiac at mile 18.  The rest of the day was a bit up and down, mostly down in terms of how I was feeling.  However, I kept a much better perspective on the race this year, doing my best to enjoy the rest of the day despite my poor race.  I hooked up with some 50k runners for a while and just enjoyed the gorgeous trails and the company of other runners. 

The major takeaway for me is that I’m simply not going to be able to excel on this course until I live in a place where I can have regular access to several thousand foot ascents and descents.  The trails in Marin are just too steep; descents like those to Muir Beach and Stinson Beach completely destroy my legs.  On courses with either less total vertical or more gradual slopes (e.g. TNF50-Wisco and UROC), I can sort of fake my way through—or at least handle things well enough that my training limitations aren’t a major handicap.  However, the lack of specificity in my training terrain is fully exposed on this course.  I know I'll come back here again to compete, but not until I’m ready.   

Now I’ll take one week easy before doing a 12 week training block for the Albany (Georgia) Marathon on March 3.  This will consist of a 4 week Fundamental/Special Phase where I work a bit more on my non-Specific fitness (along with introducing just a bit of running at marathon pace (MP)) and an 8 week marathon Specific Phase.  Along the way, I’m headed down to the Tallahassee Marathon on February 5 and the U.S. Cross Country Championships on February 11 in St. Louis.  I think I’m going to go to a weekly log format for the blog for these 12 weeks, as the training should present a good opportunity to explain how I prepare specifically for a marathon.  It could get pretty interesting trying to do a marathon Specific Phase during a Chicago winter.  There could be a fair bit of improvisation involved while working around the weather, but all the better as an example I suppose—having to adjust things on the fly.  Luckily, I have treadmill access in my apartment building, which could be a savior. 

After the Albany Marathon, I’ll take some down time in early March before ramping up the training volume and racing some ultra, trail, and mountain races in the spring and summer of 2012.  I’ve got a number of specific races in mind and I’ll probably post a tentative 2012 schedule soon.

“Some people said, ‘You cannot win a race.’  But I knew my day would come.  I knew nothing was going to stop me.”
The Emperor, Haile Gebrselassie