Overall, I have to say the month of February was a good first full month of training. The month started a little difficult, but it ended with a solid string of long runs that have left me feeling very confident in the training plan that I have laid out for the Western States 100.
February 1st-7th Workouts (Total 27 Miles / 3 h 48 min):
Monday – 8 Mile Tempo Run
Tuesday – 1 Mile Run w/ Denali and 20 Minutes Strength
Wednesday – 4 Mile Run
Thursday – 1 Mile Run w/ Denali
Friday – 4 Mile Run
Saturday – 1 Mile Run w/ Denali
Sunday – 8 Mile Run
After getting some decent miles going over the last part of January, my training took a step back to begin the month. I had a strong tempo run on Monday, completing a ladder workout (400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400 ) around a 6:45-7:00 min/mile pace with a quarter-mile recovery between each repeat. Unfortunately, this workout was about the only highlight of the week.
I have been struggling to balance work, running, and family life. It has become apparent that my passions are slowly shifting away from where I have focused for the last five years for a career. As I settle more into life as a dad, my priorities have become completely focused on moving my career forward in a direction that allows me to be around and helpful to my family. Too much time and stress going into not feeling like I am moving forward mean there are changes coming very soon. I have opportunities in coaching with my startup business, Sunrise Running Company, and interests in web design and social media marketing, all of which need time to learn, explore, and develop. At the same time, I can’t have too many weeks of poor training if I am going to reach my goals at the Western States 100.
February 8th-14th Workouts (Total 42 Miles / 5 h 59 min):
Monday – 5.4 Mile Stroller Run
Tuesday – 1 Mile Run w/ Denali
Wednesday – 1 Mile Run and 20 Minutes Strength
Thursday – 15.5 Mile Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run w/ Denali
Saturday – Almost 9 Mile Trail Run (Total 11.8 Miles)
Sunday – 6.2 Mile Run
The determination of putting last behind me and the relief of finally making some of my displeasure known lent itself to a great second week of February! On Monday, we had temperatures in the high-60’s, so I decided to take Samuel for a jog in the stroller for the first time. The run started out easy, but when I hit the turnaround, I realized that I had been running with a tailwind. The return trip back involved several walking breaks as I fought to keep the stroller going into the wind. I always gave kudos to parents who pushed their children in strollers for long miles, but now I have even more respect for them! Not sure how often, the two of us will venture out like this, but I can see it as a great way for Samuel to enjoy nature and for me to share my passion for running with him at a young age.
With a short race coming up over the weekend and a full work schedule, I took advantage of some downtime on Thursday to get in a 15 mile easy long run on the Sawmill Branch Trail in Summerville. Not my typical placement of a long run and not quite as far as I would have liked to go, but it would do for this week!
I ended the week with the Almost 9-Mile Trail Run on the Swamp Fox Passage in the Francis Marion National Forest. While this race is short, it is one that I enjoy participating in almost every year. The race is modeled off the Dipsea Race in California, where runners are given a time handicap based on gender and age. In 2015, I was able to come out of the last starting group to be the first person to cross the finish line and win the race. This year, the field looked faster, the course was less technical, and my training had fewer elements of speed, so I wasn’t too sure about being able to repeat the win.
It was chilly 28 degrees at Halfway Creek Campground when I arrived, so I elected to hang out next to the campfire to chat with friends and stay warm. The race started at 9:00 AM, but with the handicap, I wouldn’t start until 9:24, in the second to last group. I warmed up for about 2-miles and during this time, I could tell it was going to be a wet and sloppy trail. Thankfully it was a short race and I set my mind on going straight through every mud puddle. Finally, my start time arrived and I took off down the trail at a comfortable 7:30/mile pace. From past experience here, I knew starting more conservatively and surveying the field on the way out was a solid strategy to finishing in a high placing. I reached the turn around with 15 people still in front of me. Although I knew I was not going to catch them all, I turned up the effort for the return trip. I managed to pass enough people to finish 4th overall and maintained a strong 7:08/mile pace. I ended with a 2-mile cooldown and enjoyed more conversation and Valentine’s day chocolates with friends!?
February 15th-21st Workouts (Total 45 Miles / 6 h 10 min):
Monday – 5 Mile Run
Tuesday – 3 Mile Lunch Run
Wednesday – 1 Mile Run
Thursday – 4 Mile Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run
Saturday – 8 Mile Run
Sunday – 23 Mile Fast Finish Long Run
This marked the last full week of my stressful work schedule and with that focus in mind, I was able to stay on track with training. I took advantage of a calm evening taking care of Samuel on Monday to start the week with a 5-mile run. On Tuesday, I had to split shifts between two stores, and instead of taking the hour between the two to run errands or do nothing, I went for a short 3-mile run around Patriots Point, grabbed lunch, before finishing out my workday.
I was focused on getting up to 50-55 miles/week by mid-March, so it was important to keep adding on small amounts of miles each week to condition my body. As the weekend approached, my training schedule had a 20+ mile run planned on Sunday, which meant that a moderate distance run would be all I needed on Saturday. I managed 8 miles before going to work for the remainder of the day. On Sunday, my alarm went off at 4:30 AM and I was out running just a little before 5:30. I wanted to get my miles in before church so that I could have the afternoon to spend with Nicole and Samuel. As the run started in the dark, I did not feel particularly great, but about 10-miles in everything started to come easy. By mile 13, I was pushing the pace down under 8:00/mile. I ended up going out 11.5 miles in 1:36 and back in 1:31 with a strong fast finish (7:56, 7:26, 7:10) over the last three miles. As I ran, I could feel the stress of the last few weeks fading away and it gave me great energy to push forward with my training.
February 22nd-28th Workouts (Total 46.4 Miles / 7 h 14 min):
Monday – 1 Mile Run
Tuesday – 8 Mile Run
Wednesday – 1 Mile Run
Thursday – 5.2 Mile Brew Run
Friday – 1 Mile Run
Saturday – 20.2 Mile Trail Run
Sunday – 10 Mile Run
Armed with a schedule that was more conducive to taking care of my family, exploring new career opportunities, and training for the Western States, I maintained about the same number of miles for the week to close out the month. The two highlights of the week were the Brew Run on Thursday evening and the first trail group run of the season for Sunrise Running Company.
The 105.5 The Bridge Brew Run to the Bridge Run on Thursday evening was the first of a series of six brew runs leading up to the Cooper River Bridge Run. This series was formed out of my career at TrySports with the radio station. Each year we sought ways to get the community more involved leading up to the race in April and the relationship grew strong every year. Even without TrySports, the radio station was determined to find a way to keep things going, so I helped them form some new relationships to promote the events. While the first turnout was a small one at Triangle Char and Bar in Mt. Pleasant, we at least got the ball rolling and started planning out the remaining five brew runs. I ended up tacking on a few more solo miles after the run because 3 miles just seemed too short.
On Saturday, I headed out to Witherbee Ranger Station early in the morning for the first of three Spring Trail Group Runs planned out on the Swamp Fox Passage. I started these group runs in 2015 to help promote and prepare runners for the Wambaw Swamp Stomp 50-50 in early May. This year, I launched the series of runs through Sunrise Running Company and I am hopeful to see them continue to grow in size and popularity. For these group runs, I set up small stations along the route to provide runners with water and a sampling of typical trail food. It is a great way for people to get used to having to refill their own bottles and to learn how to handle more substantial food for the length of an ultra-marathon.
It was another chilly start to the day, 30 degrees, but three brave runners showed up with me to log some miles on the trails. We kept the pace around 9:45-10:00/mile and conversed almost the entire way. After the first 5-6 miles, I think everyone had warmed up enough from the cold and it was turning out to be a beautiful day. It helped that the trail was not as wet and muddy as we expected it to be as well. After completing a 6.75 mile out and back to our cars at the ranger station, we decided to repeat the same course again instead of venturing off in the other direction on the trail which was sure to be more underwater. We ended the day at 20.2 miles, and everyone was looking forward to the next time out on these trails together on Saturday, March 26th.
I finished out the week and month with a 10-mile run on Sunday back on the Sawmill Branch Trail in Summerville. After a rough start to the month, I was very happy to have three solid training weeks in a row and to extend my run streak to 44 days. Just another couple of weeks till my first test of endurance at Peyton’s Wild and Wacky 10x5K Ultra. While I am not going to get caught up in racing each 5K at this event, I do want to maintain a strong pace and finish the day feeling confident for the training challenge coming up in April and May