North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Miler Training Weeks 4 – 6 Part 1 (The Marathon)

Can the title of this blog post get any longer? I really have to find a better way of doing this. Better yet, I really need to find the time to write more often. Apparently training for an ultra marathon takes up a lot of time, and this is only a 50-miler. I can’t imagine the time I would need to put in to train for a 100-miler. I’m going to try and capture everything in a 3 part series for weeks 4 – 6: The Marathon, The Half Marathon, and the Last Long Run.

These past few weeks has certainly had it’s ups and downs with training. Frankly, Week 4 was sort of unsuccessful. Because of scheduling and travel, I only got in 18 miles of the much needed 45-50 miles. Can you say “freaked out?!” The good thing was, I was able to log some those miles in Arizona where the temperature was a lot warmer than it was here in Maryland. I welcomed getting in some “heat training” to get my body acclimated to the warm temperatures that a June race would bring and I welcomed the change of scenery. It was gorgeous! I only wished I had more time to hit the trails while I was out there.

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During Week 5, I had an amazing six mile run with a 9:47 pace. This is HUGE for me! I’m a slow turtle, so running this strong was the confidence boost that I needed. It would be short lived.

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I would say that the last 8 days have been the toughest beginning with the Delaware Marathon on May 11th. I was considering this as a “dress rehearsal” for the 50-miler. I wore the gear that I was considering for race day and packed my GUs, Honey Stinger Chews, EnergyBits, Electrolytes, and of course my coveted PlowOn Gum. Whatever I thought I was going to need, I carried.

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The morning started out with me, Kendra, and Reds heading to the start line when Kendra started to feel a little ill. After trying to compose herself, she made the decision to back out of the race. I know it was a tough decision to make, but in the end it ended up being the right decision. You have to listen to your body and if your body is saying, “Not today,” then you have to just say okay.

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So then it was just me and Reds. We started out well and then eventually our happy paces were no longer in sync. She dropped back at around mile 6 or 7 (I can’t remember) and then I continued on on my own. I had some really great moments during the run where I felt strong and my confidence was high and then there were the “WTH” moments where I questioned the reason why I liked running in the first place because after all, it’s a stupid sport and I have no idea why someone would run 26.2 miles on purpose. Anyway, I digress. Below are my splits:

Mile 1 10:39
Mile 2 10:50
Mile 3 11:02
Mile 4 11:32 – Got caught in a crowd at a water stop
Mile 5 10:56
Mile 6 10:55
Mile 7 11:30 – I think this was a hill
Mile 8 10:56
Mile 9 10:58
Mile 10 10:55
Mile 11 10:48
Mile 12 10:22 – Plowing On!
Mile 13 10:39
Mile 14 10:56
Mile 15 10:44
Mile 16 10:50
Mile 17 10:47
Mile 18 10:56
Mile 19 11:03
Mile 20 12:07 – Hating life
Mile 21 12:02
Mile 22 11:34 – Saw Steve and the race was on!
Mile 23 11:21
Mile 24 11:07
Mile 25 11:05
Mile 26 9:52 – Crushing it at the end

As you can see, I had my ups and downs during the course. I didn’t do a great job of keeping a steady pace and you can see when I sort of hit the wall. One of the highlights of the race was when this guy named Steve yelled something out to me midway through the race. I had no idea who he was and how he knew my name. I had “So What? I run.” on my bib, so I was a little taken aback when someone actually yelled my name. I managed to catch up with Steve around Mile 22 and when I tried to pass him he started running faster. OH HELL’S NO! This is on now! Challenge accepted! He pulled away and I had to slow it down just a touch to catch my breath before going for it again. Every time I got closer, he took off. Frankly, I was beat. I was beat at Mile 20 and here I am trying to actually race someone. And while he took off and crossed the finish line before I did, my chip time beat him by approximately 15 seconds. He was great and gave me a run for my money. We had fun which is what it’s all about. Shout out to Steve…good times my running brother!

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As I approached about a quarter mile to the finish line, I pulled up next other runner. SHE TOO began to pick up her pace. I asked her, “Are we racing?” and she said, “Okay!”. And there it was again, a sprint to the finish! She manged to cross the finish line one step ahead of me and I loved every minute of it. Looking at my splits I have no idea how I managed a 9:52 pace for the last mile. It’s amazing what your body does when your mind takes over. I wish I got her name, but I didn’t. Shout out to you too Amazing Beautiful Runner Friend!

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So, what are my thoughts on the Delaware Marathon?

  • Very well organized!
  • Plenty of water stops, but not enough port-a-potties (thank goodness I didn’t have bathroom emergencies).
  • The course was great the first time around, but sucked the second time around. Guess I’m just not a loop-course kinda gal.
  • Some parts of the course were very narrow and when the half marathoners began, the full marathons had to squeeze over or otherwise get plowed. One poor full-er was plowed by a half-er and was completely knocked down.
  • This is NOT a flat course! There are two long hills that are manageable, but if you didn’t train for them, they’ll kick your butt. Thank goodness these hills were in the shade.
  • Would I do this again? No, this was a one and done for me.

As far as gear goes, I was okay with wearing the vest with a t-shirt and skort, but I’m not sure if the combo I wore is going to be right for the 50-miler. In a pinch, it will do.

All in all, I was short for my scheduled mileage for weeks 4 and 5. I ran my fourth marathon and was happy with my performance. Next blog, The Half Marathon.

Training Schedule 4 and 5

8 thoughts on “North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Miler Training Weeks 4 – 6 Part 1 (The Marathon)

  1. Sandy, I have said it many times – you are amazing and I truly, truly mean that. You inspire me daily. You said 100 miles and my face dropped to the floor though – please help me pick it back up. I can’t wait to read your post on your 50 miler. You got this. Your positive attitude and hard work training will pull you though with flying colors.

  2. Where did you get your 50M training schedule? I am currently signed up for the 50K NFEC-WI in Sept, but was thinking about doing the 50M instead. By the looks of the 50M plans I’ve found so far, I may just be too busy for a 50M right now… thanks! 🙂

    • I’ll be posting my training schedule this weekend, I hope. I piggybacked off if my 50k training with an additional 9weeks, but you’d be surprised at the lack of mileage I got in.

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