Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Less Than 3 Weeks to Black Mountain Marathon

The other day I was reading through facebook and saw a few course photos (see right) posted from the Black Mountain Marathon / Mount Mitchell Challenge course.  The photos were all snow and ice covered.  So I thought to myself, "How technical is this course?" So I set out to do some additional research.

This is what I knew
- 3000' climbing over 1st 13 miles
- Partially on road, partially on trail
- Weather is iffy: In the teens 1 year, in the 60s the next

This is what I found
After a little bit of searching and reading, I found a race report from 2011 from a man named Gordon Cherr.  Below is an excerpt.

"A full twenty miles of this course is on rock and boulder strewn single track and jeep trails. All except the first and last 3 miles or so. The higher you go, the bigger and badder the footing. Slippery, slick in places, tripping, turning ankles, stubbing toes and cursing is the order of the day. Snow and ice and a lot of melting streams and wet boggy areas across the trails add to the ambiance. Going up, fine, you pick your way carefully. Coming down is simply sadistic. There is no place to pick it up and run mindlessly like on the roads or graded trails. You have to watch every step, literally every step. Every step for 20 miles. There is very little conversation among runners out here. I was surprised to hear a woman running with me say something about being above the clouds and not being able to enjoy the view of the valley below. What clouds, what valley, all I saw was rocks and rocks and rocks."

After reading this, I thought to myself, "Oh shit!  What have I gotten myself into." With a little more reading, I found out the author was from Florida, so when I apply the Floridian factor, the above paragraph becomes a little tamer.  Not to say that there aren't good runners from Florida, but it isn't NE.  Being used to running in the mountains of VT, NH, and ME my definition of rock and boulder strewn single track and jeep trails are a little different.  Only time will tell if I am right about this one. 

My Training Thus Far
I have just come off the best run training month of my life.  I put in 190 miles of running in January with two 21+ mile runs, some serious hill and track workouts, and even ran a race with Neil (of which we ran the last mile in 6:20).  I am starting to become much more confident in my abilities as a runner and can knock out 20 mile runs without feeling like I am an arthritic old man for the next few days.  What I haven't been doing much is trail running.  Between the weather and the fact that it is dark out when I get home from work, it just hasn't been happening. 

Training Left to Complete
I am currently in my max volume training week before the race.  The goal is to get in 55 miles with a long run of 23 miles this week.  After reading that race report, I will be spending the majority of the next few weeks hitting hills and trails (roads when it is too dark) as my final preparations.  

Project 17:59
Project 17:59 officially commenced yesterday and is scheduled to conclude on April 14th at the BAA 5K.  I have had the goal of getting under 18 in a 5K for a while now and got so close this past December (18:02).  With my marathon training concluding in February and already providing a solid base, I will have a month and half to focus on speed.  What better place to hit a new milestone then the finish line of the Boston Marathon the day before its 117th edition. 

Weekend at Wildcat
We spent the weekend with our friends at there ski house (The Nut Hatch) in North Conway area and got a full day of skiing (or almost full as it was a windy 10 degrees) at Wildcat Mountain.  Neil was trooper and spent the day at mountain child care and even shared some of his toys with the other children.

I also got to spend some time discussing crazy endurance events with my friend Lindsay (Ironman finisher), who is currently training for the Boston Marathon.  She even tried to get me to convince her boyfriend Jake that it was completely acceptable (and doable) to finish a half iron distance triathon in MA in June and then go to a wedding in NYC later in the day.  

Special thanks to Jake, Lindsay, Bill, Liz, Marc, and Becky for hosting us this past weekend.

- The Multisport Maniac 

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