Monday, July 7, 2008

The Last Long Run.....Before Running 100 Miles?!

Hi everyone,

I'm always a little late in posting, but here goes. I awoke the morning of June 28th at 4AM dreading what I had to do; a very long long run. Don't get me wrong, I love going for a long run, but this was going to be a little longer than usual, with the added benefit of two hill interval workouts on top of it. It wasn't the running I dreaded, it was the scenery, the same scenery that I've been looking at for months now. Not to mention the fact that when you go out for a forty something mile run the same paths and roads can get really boring. What I didn't know was that the run was going to be far from boring, actually like something out of an Alfred Hickcock movie would be a little closer, but more on that later. As I began mixing up my drinks for the run it finally dawned on me that in three weeks I would be running twice the distance of my longest run, 100 miles!! I mean, I had thought about it, but mainly in a training aspect, but for some reason the thought of running 100 miles just left me wondering if I had gotten in over my head this time. I've run pretty far in the past, 50 mile races, quite a few 30 plus mile races and a lot of marathons. I had just done the Ocean Drive Marathon twice back in March. I knew what I had felt like after those runs, so what in the world was I going to be like after (hopefully) completing a 100 mile run, over some mountains in Vermont no less. But now I had a some additional motivation on top of the desire to just finish the race. I recenly learned of a friends friend whose child is seriously ill and I felt I needed to do something. It was then that I remembered an organization that was police affiliated who granted wishes to terminally ill children and children that were abused or physically challenged. So I contacted the Sunshine Foundation and told them of my plans to run the Vermont 100 Endurance Run and that I wanted to help raise money for them to help in their cause.
There are two ways to donate to the Sunshine Foundation. If you wish to write a check to sponsor me for the run the address is:
Sunshine Foundation
1041 Mill Creek Drive
Feasterville, PA 19053
Office: 215.396.4770
Cell: 215.669.2703
I am hoping that everyone who reads this will donate a least 1 dollar, but any amount will help! Just please put on the check: "AJ Johnson 100 mile run" so they can keep track of the amount. You can also donate online at: Once again, please put, "AJ Johnson 100 mile run" on the online form. So now with extra incentive I completed my pre-run preparations and headed into the garage for the beginning of a long day...........
Now on to my last long run report.
My day started on the treadmill of which I was going to be on for one and a half hours of hill intervals. I created the workout to simulate the hills in Vermont, at least try to simulate the hills. The workout consisted of a five minute warm up and then it was three minutes up an incline that I varied at six to eight degrees and then a one minute recovery with the incline at zero. This went back an forth for an hour and fifteen minutes before a minute run at zero incline again. It was then time to load up on my supplies; I don't want to bore you with those details, and then head out the door. I could tell as the sun was coming up that it was going to be a hot one, perfect for acclimating to the probable heat in Vermont. So off I went into the woods and trails off Corson Tavern Road in Seaville to make my way to Tuckahoe and parts of Woodbine. The only company I had was my IPod, I just wasn't sure if the battery was going to last the whole run. The run was initially uneventful, plenty of deer tracks, a few wild turkeys jumping up and running down the path (they are fast) and the ever present strawberry flies, AKA Deer Flies . So I continued on occasionally swatting at the flies but mostly concentrating on my running and trying to determine when to begin the walk portion of the run. My normal run to walk ratio for Ultra Marathons is 20 minutes running and 2 minutes of walking. The walking portion allows your running muscles to recover and to also give you a chance to drink and eat. I've used this ratio in 50 milers but figured for a 100 miler it would probably end up something like 15 minutes running and 3-4 minutes of walking. I was trying to figure up times in my held, trying to determine miles per hour to run. In the Vermont 100, you have 30 hours to finish the course or you are disqualified. I wanted to finish in under 24 hours but realistically it would probably be more like 26-27, time will tell. I was somewhere around 20 miles into my run when I entered the Tuckahoe (Lester G. MacNamara) Wildlife Management Area . I was about a half mile into the forest when they set upon me, the strawberry flies had returned and they brought all of their relatives, all of whom were very hungry. It was like the Alfred Hitchcock movie, "The Birds," except this would have been titled, "The Flies." They were literally everywhere, I was being swarmed and chased. I never saw anything like this before, did I step on a nest or something? So I picked up the pace only to find that flies can go faster than I can run. I continued at a quick pace, much quicker than I really wanted to go considering I still had a long day ahead of me. I was hoping that once I reached the part of the trail/road that was open to the sun, that the flies would go away; they don't seem to like being in direct sunlight. I really can't explain it any better than this, there were hundreds of flies trying to bite every part of my body that they landed on. They bit me through my shirt, my hat, even my shorts. I really believe that if I fell down and knocked myself out, the little buggers would eat me alive. I must have smashed dozens of the little monsters but they kept coming. I must have looked like a crazy person, running and swinging at what probably looked like imaginary objects. After about a mile and a half of hard running I temporarily left the for forest and began running around a big lake. The attacks subsided somewhat, but they were still present, now the amount was down to a few dozen and not in the hundreds. So I got a two plus mile break but I had to go back into the forest on the other side of the lake. After completing the loop around the lake I had to enter the forest to be able to continue on to Mosquito Landing Road to make my way to Tuckahoe. As soon as I left the direct sunlight, they were back. I mean, did they call ahead and say lunch was coming? So another couple of miles of fighting the flies before I came to Route 50 in Tuckahoe. Once on the pavement they just disappeared. To make a long story short, I simply stuck to the roads, which might have been more dangerous due to the summer traffic. Buy the time I made it back home, I had had been through Upper, Woodbine and Dennis Twsp. I also made three stops at different stores to get more water and snacks. After I got back home it was one more time on the treadmill for just another hour and then I was done. For my last long run I ran for a total of seven and a half hours and covered just over 44 miles. For good measure I put in another 12 the next day and began my taper for the race. With the majority of my training now done, it would be the three week taper to contend with. Thanks for reading and wish me luck (I'm going to need it) on July 19th & 20th.
Also, please take a moment to check out my sponsor,
Holloway Home Improvement Center is the creator of the finest custom kitchens, not to mention great friends. If your ever in need of a new kitchen, do yourself a favor and give them a call. Jeff will also be accompanying me to Vermont to once again crew for me. Basically that means he will meet me at the various aid stations and assist me with whatever I need to keep moving, provide moral support, supply me with various food items, and occassionaly bust my chops for getting myself into this in the first place.


1 comment:

Ultradawg said...

AJ, congratulations on your 2009 VT 100 miler. Tom Curtis