The Five Hour Marathon (#2 and #3)

Here’s a not-so-secret secret about the Front Range of Colorado — we sometimes get  spectacularly nice days during winter. Although they’re not often as nice as they were today and yesterday:

Monday Weather

Yesterday’s Weather

Tuesday Weather

Today’s Weather

I had these two days off work, so I decided to try back-to-back five hour training marathons.

The run yesterday was the same 5 x 5.25 mile laps around my neighborhood as last time.


Lap 1: 56:51 (HR: 125)

Lap 2: 58:46 (HR: 123)

Lap 3: 58:39 (HR: 128)

Lap 4: 59:51 (HR: 132)

Lap 5: 58:22 (HR: 135)

Lessons Learned:

  • Maybe I need to give more thought to running some of the initial miles at Umstead in lighter shoes. Rather than the Hoka Conquest (13.05 oz) I wore on my last five hour marathon, yesterday I wore the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante NYC (8.45 oz), and I felt like that let me put more energy into moving forward rather than battling the weight of the shoes.
  • I played around with walking techniques and found that, at least on flatter terrain, focusing on lengthening my stride (rather than trying keep a higher cadence with a shorter stride) let me move noticeably faster.
  • My movement patterns generally consisted of more running at a slightly quicker pace, along with more walking, than last time. This seemed less stressful on my body than a steadier but slower jog.
  • I used a handheld instead of my single-bottle HydraQuiver, and it seemed to work just fine. Perhaps I’ll alternate hydration methods at Umstead.



I didn’t want to cover the same ground again today, so I mapped out a nearby 4 x 6.55 mile course that was dirt trail, and had a bit of elevation thrown in for good measure (1,300′ total climbing today vs. less than 300′ total yesterday).

Lap 1: 1:14:36 (HR: 123)

Lap 2: 1:13:21 (HR: 122)

Lap 3: 1:13:26 (HR: 127)

Lap 4: 1:12:49 (HR: 131)

I’m quite happy with this run because most of the time difference lap to lap can be attributed to gear changes and bottle switches. For example, I did my first lap in a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes (in the hopes of establishing a relaxed gait that would carry through the middle and later parts of the run), and then switched to Montrail Rogue Racers, which added a minute to that first lap time.

It was tough to not just slap on the Hokas at the start and say “I ran long yesterday, so I need more cushioning!”, but I’m glad I did — I felt great without the foot bulk and I think it helped wake my legs up.

Lessons Learned:

  • Maybe I don’t need Hokas as often as I think I do. They sometimes feel really good, perhaps even necessary, but in what circumstances, and at what time/energy cost?
  • My average HR was a little lower on Tuesday, despite an extra 1,000 feet of climbing, and some fatigue at the beginning of the day. Maybe to some degree a little more climbing and descending makes for an easier run than a flat course?

New Questions:

  • When the temps got to the mid-60s, I began to feel it. Are there any steps I can take before Umstead to prepare myself a little better for warm temps and humidity?
  • How sore are my legs going to be tomorrow?

Stop Looking Too Far Down the Trail!

Good news last Friday: I got into the San Juan Solstice 50 miler through its inaugural lottery. It looks like the odds were favorable, at least as far as ultra lotteries go — 250 accepted runners vs. just 62 names on the wait list (as of this afternoon) — but I still feel lucky. This looks like a kick-ass race that really seems to challenge runners, and one that’s becoming increasingly popular.

A quick search and review of race reports on the Internet revealed that the time spent above 10,000 feet (most of the race), not to mention the sustained climbs, pushes a lot of people into serious discomfort. Cool — I’ve never vomited in a race before!

Except that this wasn’t a quick review of race reports. I spent more time reading about the event than I should have last weekend, particularly when I have a bigger race coming up in about two months.

It’s a bit tricky sometimes when there are so many awesome events for us to do, and we need to sign up for some of them so far in advance, to keep one’s eyes on the stretch of trail that’s just ahead. I needed to remind myself today to focus on the path that’s in front of me, and don’t worry about the next section of trail until it’s time to run it.

The Five Hour Marathon (#1)

My work schedule and the weather finally aligned for me to do my first five hour marathon training session yesterday.

And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s true that I’m feeling the 26.2 miles of pavement a little bit today, but for the most part the run was a success.

Having intermediate goals throughout the workout (60 minutes for each of the 5.25 mile laps), but not having any specific plan on how to meet those goals, let me go back and forth between analytical problem solving mode (“Ok… how’s my pacing so far this lap? Is this a good time to take a walking break? How’s my fluid/calorie intake? What do I have to do right now to stand a better chance of meeting my lap goal?”) and simply running without thinking about anything. If I had been focusing too much on hyper-specific goals, I’m sure it would have been a lot more mentally draining. Good practice for my upcoming Umstead attempt. Sometimes concentrate, sometimes cruise….

My data are as follows:

Lap 1: 59:39 (HR: 123)

Lap 2: 58:41 (HR: 129)

Lap 3: 58:43 (HR: 133)

Lap 4: 59:20 (HR: 136)

Lap 5: 58:36 (HR: 139)

I’m glad I was able to come close to meeting my goal pace on each of the laps, but I’d like to do a little better next time.

Lessons Learned:

  • I found out that (at least under cool temps and on a flat course) I’m capable of taking in 28 oz of fluid and 250 calories an hour (all calories from Tailwind) without even the slightest hint of stomach distress.

New Questions:

  • Could I bump that 250 calories an hour up to 275 or 300?
  • My eyes felt really dry the evening after the run. (It was a slightly breezy day, but I wore sunglasses throughout.) Would using eye drops during the run help?
  • That average HR increase over the last two laps is kinda ugly. Anything I can do (besides more training) to keep that better in check?
  • How close could I come to meeting lap time goals only checking my watch just once or twice (or perhaps even zero times) during a lap?