Western States Training – March 2016

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Start of Peyton's Wild & Wacky 5k Ultra

Western States Training – March 2016

Peytons Wild and Wacky 5k Ultra race at Laurel Hill County Park in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina near Charleston.

Peytons Wild and Wacky 5k Ultra race at Laurel Hill County Park in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina near Charleston.

The month of March resulted in a very consistent Western States training schedule that left me feeling confident in my abilities leading into the final three months.  I have found that 50 miles per week truly is my sweet spot in training; balancing both family/work and physical/mental strength.  I am also finding that regardless of how easy or difficult a week is, about every 4-5 weeks I need a week that is a little lower in mileage and effort.  I don’t know where time has gone and it is crazy to think that it is almost May, but here is a quick rundown of how things went in March. The April recap will be out at the end of the week as well!

February 29th-March 6th Workouts (Total 24 Miles / 3 h 42 min):
Monday –  1 Mile Run
Tuesday – 6 Mile Run
Wednesday – 5 Mile Track Workout
Thursday – 4 Mile Brew Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run
Saturday – 1 Mile Run
Sunday –  6 Mile Run

I had once again rattled off several successful training weeks in a row, then life caught up to me at the start of March and I just could not find the time and energy to get the training in.  This is when I started to realize the 4-5 week cycle of needing to drop my mileage back. My energy levels were low and life was just pulling me into many different directions. Even with it being a lower mileage week, I managed a strong track workout on Wednesday night, completing 12×400 on 90-second rest all at an estimated 5K race pace (5:30-5:45/mile).

Then came the 105.5 The Bridge Brew Run to the Bridge Run with Skechers Performance at Madra Rua Irish Pub. Skechers Performance is supporting me this year through their ambassador program, so I was happy to come out, run with the brand, and share my experiences with fellow runners.  The group went on a short 4-mile run around Park Circle testing out Skechers running shoes.  By the weekend, I had settled with the lower mileage week and figured that I would now be going into Peyton’s Wild & Wacky 5K Ultra next weekend a little more rested and prepared to test my endurance.


March 7th-13th Workouts (Total 56 Miles / 7 h 48 min):
Monday –  5 Mile Run
Tuesday – KES 5K Re-Con Run/Walk
Wednesday – 4 Mile Run
Thursday – 4 Mile Brew Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run
Saturday – Peyton’s Wild & Wacky 5K Ultra (31.5 miles in 4:00:17)
Sunday –  8 Mile Run

I started this week with a little extra motivation to get my miles back up to at least 50 for the week.  With an unorthodox 50K race at the end of the week, it wasn’t going to be very difficult to get the other 20 miles of training in.  Throughout the week  All the runs during the week, I completed all my workouts at an easy conversational pace.  This included a run/walk of the 5K course being used for the upcoming KES Champs Cape Crusade Fun Run.  It also included a short 4-mile brew run event on the West Ashley Greenway starting and finishing from Triangle Char-N-Bar.

10365996_10207293233826267_2540982103663652902_nFinally, the weekend was here and it was time for Peyton’s Wild & Wacky 5K Ultra.  I picked up a small bin of Picky Bars, Tailwind Nutrition, Huma Gels, and clothes the night before the event and got a good night’s sleep.  Peyton’s race has participants run a 5K on the hour every hour for 10 straight hours.  The trick with this event is to run each 5K hard, but not so hard that you run out of energy before the end of the day.  In 2015, I went too quick early on (5K times in the low 21-minute range) and burned out by 5K number 7.  I finished the event, but it was not pretty, electing to walk the entire last 5K.  In 2016 however, I felt stronger, I was entering the race with fewer hard miles on my legs, and I set the goal to maintain an 8:00 min/mile average throughout the day regardless of what the competition was doing around me.

By the end of the fourth 5K, the temperatures were really starting to heat up.  We had not had a lot of warm days yet in the year, so it was going to be interesting to see how the slight heat wave impacted each of us.  I was glad that I had made such focus on hydration early once the sun started to beat down on the race course and the grass field littered with participants relaxing between each 5K.

2016 Peytons Wild and Wacky 5k UltraFor the next three 5K runs, I continued with about the same pace (22-23 minutes), then my lower back started to tighten up on me.  With the continuous starting/stopping, running/sitting/standing, tightness is inevitable and it was definitely impacting me.  At this point in the day, I knew was pretty far ahead of my goal pace, averaging about 7:15/mile, and somewhere in the Top 5 Overall, so I decided to back off for the remainder of the day. No point in causing more pain and discomfort than necessary when there are more weeks and months of training ahead of me for WS100.

I finished up the day with a time of 4:00:17, averaging 7:45/mile, and good enough for 4th overall. While my pace significantly dropped off the final three 5K runs and I probably missed a higher finishing position, I was more than happy with my performance.  The atmosphere of the event was amazing all day long, the BBQ sandwiches midday were amazing, and I would highly recommend Peyton’s Wild & Wacky 5K Ultra to anyone regardless of how far you have to travel to do it!

I rested up well the remainder of Saturday and pulled out one more run for the week on Sunday, an 8-mile recovery run to shake out the legs.  The back felt great and I knew that things were going to stay right on track with training.

2016 Peytons Wild and Wacky 5k Ultra

March 14th-20th Workouts (Total 40 Miles / 5 h 48 min):
Monday –  5 Mile Run
Tuesday – 1 Mile Run
Wednesday – 8 Mile Run
Thursday – 4 Mile Run
Friday – 10 Mile Run
Saturday – 5 Mile Run
Sunday –  7 Mile Run

As this week got going, my legs and overall energy levels were more drained than expected from Peyton’s Race.  I had originally planned on another long run of 20 miles on Saturday and 50 miles total for the week, but I elected to keep things easy and shorter.  By Friday everything felt 100% normal again, so I stretched the distance out to 10 miles in one run.  The week resulted in a bit of an unplanned recovery week, with nothing really exciting to report.  Sometimes no news is the best news ever though and it’s onto another week.

March 21st-27th Workouts (Total 50.5 Miles / 7 h 28 min):
Monday –  6 Mile Run
Tuesday – 1 Mile Run
Wednesday – 8 Mile Newington Hill Run
Thursday – 5 Mile Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run
Saturday – SRC 20 Mile Trail Group Run
Sunday –  10 Mile Run

Recovery week down, legs feeling rested, and excited for a Sunrise Running Company group run coming up over the weekend!  The key workouts this week were the 8-Mile Hill Run on Wednesday and the 20-mile-long steady state run on Saturday.  However, I did find myself pushing the pace up just a bit on Monday nights group run in Park Circle, averaging 7:35/mile for 6 miles.  On Wednesday, I joined the normal track workout group for a run through Newington Plantation.  During this run, I discovered that there were hills just off the bike path that I had run for the past five years that I never knew were there.

Deemed the Newington Spider Run, I stayed with the group until I got a feel for what the route really was all about.  Running up the first hill, down the next, then turning around and running back up, then down the next, etc….all the way around until you reached the starting position, then repeat…if desired.  I was so excited by the discovery of the hill route in Summerville that I ran the hill loop a total of three times averaging under 7:45/mile.  The workout was 8 miles total, about 6 miles of hills, and only 398 feet of elevation gain, but a great change of scenery from the track or Sawmill Branch Trail.

Moving onto the group run on Saturday,  it was pouring down rain as I drove out to Francis Marion National Forest and the Swamp Fox Passage.  However, as soon as I arrived, the rain stopped.  I joined two other runners, Jon Barrows, and Geoff Brittain, on the trails as they planned to run for 2-hours total. Geoff had not spent much time on trails before so he stuck close to our tails, followed our lead, and listened closely to the questions that Jon and I tossed back-n-forth about training/racing. The conversation between the three of us was one that made you forget you were running long.  Despite a good amount of rain that seemed to have fallen in the last 24 hours, the trails were in excellent shape and we all took some time to enjoy the forest.

Western States Training


This run was also my first time wearing the Skechers GoTrail Ultra shoes given to me through the Skechers Performance Ambassador program.  I ended up extremely impressed with the balance of cushion, traction, and stiffness in the shoes and ended the day looking forward to putting them in the regular trail running rotation.

Jon and Geoff had turned around after 6.5 miles, I kept going for another 2.  This meant by the time I got back to my car, they had already taken off for the day, and I had instructed them to not wait for me.  I could tell the skies were getting ready to open up again with rain very soon, so I had to push the pace of the remaining 4 miles to reach 20 total.  Just 5 minutes after finishing, the skies opened back up and rained for most of the rest of the day.

I capped off the 50-mile week with a 10-mile run on Sunday where I practiced some power hiking paces for ultramarathons.  As I have mentioned many times in my race reports, I do walk during races, and I try to incorporate this into my training a few times just to help my body adjust between the different muscle groups that are used.

March 28th-April 3  Workouts (Total 35 Miles / 5 h 2 min):
Monday –  4 Mile Run
Tuesday – 1 Mile Run
Wednesday – 7 Mile Track Workout (8×800)
Thursday – 3.5 Mile Run
Friday – 4 Mile Run
Saturday – 10 Mile Run
Sunday –  5 Mile Run

This week’s life schedule was not set up for any significant running and I accepted that for lots of different family and personal reasons.  My week would consist of driving up to Charlotte to get my mom who was flying in from Columbus on Wednesday morning, helping The Foot Store at the Bridge Run expo on Thursday afternoon, helping Nicole setup/ tear down each day at the Flowertown Festival, and working for InTown.com at the same Festival all weekend.

As the week began, I didn’t put a mileage goal out there.  Instead, I told myself to focus on keeping my run streak of consecutive days going and enjoy the time with my mom and family.  I made it out to the track workout on Wednesday night to complete another strong 8×800 workout with each 800 between 5:30-6:15/mile pace.  Even with all the different places I had to be Thursday-Sunday, I did most of my miles for the week during this four-day stretch, getting up early most days to run before anything else could get in the way.  My mom had a great time taking care of Samuel for a few days while Nicole and I worked at our respective places at the Flowertown Festival.

Closing out the month of March and starting into April, training will need to stay very consistent to keep me on track for Western States 100.  I need to do a better job getting in my weekly strength workouts, but otherwise, I am very happy with where my fitness levels are at.  I will begin to think more about my plans for both Wambaw Swamp Stomp and Western States as far as time goals, crew, and strategy are concerned.  I am anxiously awaiting the return of hot morning/midday runs and spending more time out on the trails in my Skechers GoTrail Ultra shoes!

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