It was actually 6 hours 22 minutes and 27 seconds between two runs at Bradbury this past weekend.
Emma and I decided a few months ago that we would run the Vermont 50 at the end of September and somewhere along the way Emma thought it would be fun to run this race together since all year long we've been doing different races and our training schedules haven't aligned very well. This seemed like a good idea at first but now that the race is less than 5 weeks away I'm getting a bit nervous about trying to keep up with Emma for 50 miles. I have more ultra experience than Emma, but she has always been a better runner than me and this was further proven earlier this year when she ran her first 50 miler and finished more than an hour and a half faster than either of the 50 mile races that I've done. I know that you can't really compare times between ultras because the courses vary so much from one race to the next but I feel like it's going to be hard work keeping up with Emma.
So with this in mind I have made the transition from 100 miler recovery to 50 miler training. I may have made the move a little too quickly, but I feel good and I'm trying my hardest not to be stupid with my training runs. Last weekend Emma had 30 miles on her schedule, and like a true ultra runner Emma planned to bump it up to 31 miles so she could call it a 50k. We met a huge group at Pineland last Saturday, 17 in all! After a few hours the group thinned and by the time we reached 21 miles it was just the two of us. We planned to run two laps of the Oak Hill loop to finish the run but as we finished the first lap I was feeling pretty wiped out. I knew I could continue but could tell that it really wouldn't be a good idea, I was probably at risk of doing myself more harm than good so I decided to call it a day just shy of 26 miles. The marathon distance was tempting me but I was being smartish. Emma continued on a final lap of the Oak Hill trails and actually picked up the pace, running up all the hills including Gloucester (WTF?!) and ended up with an even 32 miles.
Sunday I was pretty busy, and tired so I decided not to run. Monday I did an easy 5.5 miles around Back Cove, Tuesday we had a good 8 miler at Twin Brook and then Wednesday I decided to jump in the Weekly Back Cove 5k race. As a test of my 100 miler recovery I thought I'd see how fast I could go, I never do speed work so I wasn't expecting anything spectacular but wanted to see if I could go faster than what I had been doing before the 100. In near perfect running conditions I managed 20:15 which was indeed faster than I had done before my big race so I was confident that I wasn't being too stupid with my recovery.
Now back to this past weekend. Emma's schedule said 24 miles and I wanted to check out the 12 mile Bradbury Bruiser course now that the trails have had a chance to dry out a bit so running 2 laps just made sense. Well, made sense mathematically if nothing else.
We met a good group on Saturday morning that included Jamie, Stephen, Randy, Jim, Lilly, and for the first time running with us was Kevin. We set off at an easy pace and I expected a faster group to break off ahead but that never happened. Perhaps everyone enjoyed the easy pace, or maybe it was because I'm the only one who knows the Bruiser course, but we all stuck together for most of the run. Finally, after all the rain we've had recently the trails had dried out and conditions were great for us. There were a few muddy spots that resembled tar pits but they were fun too.
At about 8 miles Kevin decided to drop back a bit after we started to pick up the pace, I think Stephen was leading the group at this point. Before entering the O-Trail three members of the group had wiped out, this course gets at least one person every time I've I run it. About midway through the O it was my turn to eat dirt as I took a sharp turn with too much of a lean and I ended up sprawled out in the trail. We finished the complete race course in 2:13 and returned to the parking lot for refreshments.
After a short break Emma and I headed off for another lap with Chris who had arrived late and Lily who was determined to get in 30 kilometers in honor of her birthday. The day was starting to get hot but luckily the single track trails are shady and cool. A few of us were getting sloppy feet this time around but thanks to an even slower pace on this lap no one fell (or not that I can remember). Lily parted ways about halfway through the course and then there were 3. As is often the case when we run for more than 3 hours the conversation starts to dry up a bit, but I was feeling good and still enjoying the run. Second time on the O-Trail was uneventful, although dizzying. We finished this lap in 2:22 and the Garmin says we ran a total of 24.26 miles in 4:35:40.
At some point many months ago I decided that a "recovery" run of at least 10 miles the day after a long run was a good idea. I'm not sure that I can explain how or why I came up with that, but Emma bought into it so we returned to Bradbury on Sunday for at least 10. We forgot to bring the Garmin so had to rely on my sense of distance, which is actually pretty good on these trails since I've now mapped and measured three different race courses here. We started on the west side trails because I wanted to scope out the area where we plan to build a bridge on the Boundary Trail - September 7th, 9am - Come along to help if you can.
We summited the "mountain", ran down the Terrace Trail and then headed across the road to do the first half of the Bruiser course. We ended the run on the Knight Woods trail which encircles the O-Trail. 1:46:47 was our time and it sure felt like at least 10 miles.
Next weekend I think we'll go back to Pineland for a different kind of punishment... I mean training, the Schedule calls for another 24.