Ultra in my future?

Before I ran my first marathon last month, I was a bit overwhelmed by the distance. I assumed that during and after the race, I would feel so horrible that I wouldn’t want to do another one in a long time, if ever. After all, my 18 and 20 mile training runs hadn’t gone that well, and had worn me out so much that running another 6.2 miles seemed impossible, even though I ran as slowly as I could. I was using a training plan that was designed to minimize injury risk (and yet I still got injured!) and only had a long run mileage increase every other week, so I felt ill prepared by my training.

But it wasn’t that bad, probably easier than my 20 mile training run in some ways. Afterwards, I couldn’t wait for my second marathon. I’m actually looking forward to the day when I get to do it again! And if I train hard but smart, maybe I will be able to finish closer to the 4:30 I believe I am capable of and not be nursing shin splints as I stand at the start line.

Since I am still building my base mileage back after taking time off for my shin splints to heal, my second marathon can’t be as soon as I would like. I am planning to do the San Francisco Marathon next June and the California International Marathon next December. I briefly flirted with the idea of the doing the CIM this December, but then saw that it is already sold out unless you meet the qualifying time! I’m actually glad it’s sold out, because otherwise I might be tempted to do something stupid. I don’t have enough time to safely train for a December marathon, even if I wasn’t trying to build my mileage slowly to keep the shin splints from coming back. Doing too much too soon was a big factor in getting shin splints in the first place. There weren’t any marathons close to Davis that I wanted to do next spring, so running the San Francisco Marathon for my second marathon seemed the logical choice.

Not only am I crazy enough to want to run 26.2 miles again, but lately I have the urge to run almost twice as much. I want to run the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run in April of 2014 as my first ultra marathon. Yes, I have been bitten by the ultra bug. Big time. Blame Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Eat & Run just came out a few months ago, and I just got around to reading Born to Run this summer. All I knew about Scott Jurek before I read his book was that he is a famous vegan ultramarathoner. I had no idea that he was one of the best ultramarathoners in the world, winning the Western States 100 mile seven times (not that I knew what that was before reading his book either) and setting the American 24 hour record of 165.7 miles. And I didn’t know why anyone would want to run so far before reading Eat & Run. I even told a friend a few weeks after completing my marathon that I might do a 50K some day, but had no desire to do anything longer than that. But now I can’t go a day without thinking about ultramarthons!

In the book Scott Jurek described how running ultras had helped him discover himself. His book along with Born to Run also showed the friendliness and strong camaraderie in the ultra community. They showed how a trail ultra can be an exciting adventure, running through the woods or up mountains. Maybe when I try to do my first ultra I’ll find out I’m crazy and hate it, but right now the idea excites me.

For now I’m focusing on rebuilding a good mileage base and getting ready for a 5K (my first one!) in September, a 10K in October, and two half marathons in November. I would love to achieve my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon in one of those November races. Today I finally had a 100% shin pain free run of 3.5 miles. Until today, even if I didn’t exactly feel pain, I could tell that something was not right in my shins. But today I didn’t have that feeling. I’m trying not to make too much of it, but I think I’m finally on the road to ending my shin splints for a while, maybe even for good. I’m also getting ready to move to California for graduate school in a couple weeks.

Thanks for reading!

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