With Nutcracker 6-hr coming up in three weeks, this week was a well-timed ‘peak week’, especially given that I had the full week off from work and thus plenty of time to run a lot of miles. Sometimes I find it harder to run a lot when I’m not working, since work is the only thing affording me any structure, which I so heavily rely on to stay focused and motivated, to my days. However, this week ended up going exceptionally well, with a solid race effort, some Uwharrie Mtn Run-specific training, and a great long run.
Monday: 7.1 miles
Mark and I meandered our way down to Chapel Hill, since we wanted to make a stop at Trader Joe’s before Thanksgiving, to get some recovery miles in. I took Mark on the Battle Branch trail, which he’d never seen, from which we ended up in a neighborhood with an amazingly steep hill. We ran up that, did one ascent of Lone Pine, and then jogged around to get 7 miles. A bunch of little aches and pains came and went throughout this run, following the previous weekend’s 20-3-17-mile three-day stretch, but I finished the run feeling better than I started.
Tuesday: 13.3 miles – 6 am // 7.3 pm
Both easy runs today – the first 6 were done around East Campus while Mark was at the dentist, and the double was some before-dinner miles to and around Duke Chapel.
Wednesday: 6.2 miles
As is tradition, today was Mark + Ari’s pre-Thanksgiving turkey trot course preview. We bickered most of the first few miles about how fast I should run during the race then ended by doing 1-min pickups (one per mile) for the last three. The pickups got increasingly faster but felt increasingly easier, which gave me slight confidence going into the race. I always find previewing the course helpful, particularly in mile 3, where I tend to struggle – reminding myself of the course profile, where I need to push, where I need to be tough, helps me execute on race day. At this point, I was sitting at relatively low mileage for the week compared to previous weeks where I’ve hit 80 miles – I was hopeful that this slightly bump down would help give my legs a bit more pop than they really deserve to have.
Thursday: Gallop & Gorge 8K – 11.1 miles – 1.5 mi warmup // 5 mi race // 4.6 mi cooldown
I won’t say much about this given the race report linked above, but the race went fantastically well. I PRed by nearly 2.5 minutes. Most notably, I felt great after the race and was able to easily tack on additional miles, bringing the mileage total for the day to 11. We then cooked a huge feast for Thanksgiving (my first time making a turkey!) – everything came out perfectly. Best Mark & Ari Thanksgiving yet! (And that’s saying something…we saw Hamilton at DPAC last year on Thanksgiving…).
Friday: 16.4 miles
On Friday, we had a plan to drive out to Uwharrie and run 20 miles (10 out/10 back) on the Uwharrie Mountain Run course (which, conveniently, is simply the Uwharrie Wilderness Trail). We did indeed drive out to Uwharrie, arriving close to 1 PM, but we turned around at 8.2 miles (Hwy 109) instead of 10 – had we not chosen to do so, we would’ve ended up finishing our run in the dark. Given the navigation challenges of this particular trail, that scenario might have ended with us lost in the woods. It was slow-going – we covered 16.4 miles in ~3 hrs and 45 mins. The trail is extremely challenging on any day but especially trying when covered in freshly fallen leaves and with trail markings that resemble lichen on trees and that seem to be missing in numerous spots. We couldn’t make out a clear trail for much of the run, so we spent a lot of time (and mental energy) navigating – we did so successfully, but it added up to the most draining run of the week by far.
Saturday: 4.3 miles
Given Friday’s Uwharrie effort and the plan for Sunday, Saturday was a glorious off day of just 4 miles in the morning before lounging on the couch pretty much all day. What a treat.
Sunday: 30.8 miles
I wanted one last big run to wrap up my Nutcracker 6-hr-specific training block, and 30 miles seemed like a solid number to aim for. I knew I’d want to fuel with Maurten, but running 30 miles on the ATT doesn’t exactly make it easy to get a second bottle, so we opted for a track run. Thirty miles is only 120 laps, which sounds manageable until you’re doing it. We set up shop at Duke’s track, starting in the rain, with two bottles of Maurten sitting on a high-jump mat for easy access during my loops. I took a split every 5 laps and ran consistently for 4:45 with only two quick bathroom stops. Maurten works great for my stomach, so these stops were quick and ‘normal’, not the type that used to happen consistently on my longer efforts. Coach said to do a 50K, but I couldn’t bring myself to add 5 more laps once I got to 120 – I happily called it, feeling great about my longest-ever track run and training distance.
Overall, this brought me to a new weekly distance high of 89 miles. Having previously slogged through a slow 20-mile track run taking nearly the same amt of time as the Sunday run, I couldn’t be happier with my 30-mile effort. I feel much more confident going into Nutcracker given that run, and with two weeks to recover and get a boost from this peak week, I should be ready to go. This week, it’s back to work and a drop to lower mileage before a ‘taper’ during race week. I’m thinking 60ish miles this week then a max of 25-30 miles pre-race the following week. I’ll be aiming for as close to 40 miles in 6 hrs as possible.
Notably, I closed out November with 324 miles – this is my first month at/over 300 miles. It was certainly the best month of training I’ve ever strung together, and I’m excited to recover a bit, close out 2019 with a second foray into ultrarunning, and start 2020 off fresh and ready to go. I’ll likely get close to (but not hit) 3000 miles for 2019, which I felt was an impossibility during the summer months, largely due to the huge bump up from September on.