from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I was out of town for a few days around Thanksgiving and again in the first week of December. By then my average weekly mileage was in the high thirties.

Not that much when training for a 100, but serious enough for me. I have never done consistently so much before. Aside from a lingering pain on my right side, sometimes radiating downward (I had a tight muscle in my buttock), I got to be comfortable doing 22 miles or so every other weekend, a little bit under 20 on the weekends in between. As a rule I still ran only three days a week, with the leisurely intent of adding a fourth day at some point, which would propel my weekly mileage in the forties.

I didn't want to interrupt this nice streak while I was away, so I used the exercise room in the hotel. I usually shy away from the treadmill - I started on one, but once I ran my first mile outdoors I didn't go back. This time the treadmill was convenient. I didn't need to negotiate distances, traffic, and weather in foreign cities. I could monitor speed and incline and experiment with it. I ran faster than I usually, just to see how fast I could go. I even played with the elliptic, which I had never done before. It was almost fun. I certainly had a few solid workouts.

A day after I came back I ran a slow 6.5 miles before work, not pushing too hard. The rest of the day I limped while walking. It was then that I understood that I don't have a tight muscle - I have an injury.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


One thing I like about running 100 miles is how it changed my perspective. I mean, of course, the idea of running 100 miles, since I haven't run that yet.

But even without having run it, the way I perceive distances has changed, radically, yet almost without me noticing when it happened. Before I ran my first marathon, a marathon was this incredible distance that I hoped to cover somehow, crawling if need be. Far out there. When I started training for a 50, a marathon became... duuuh, the halfway point. Now, thinking about a 100, marathons - I read this on a bumper sticker - are cute. A 50 is a warm-up run.

The body might think differently about this. But the mind, the mind has already adapted.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

signing up

I was monitoring the race on ultrasignup - it was 20% full, 22%, then 26% for a long time. I had already signed up for a couple of "warm-up" runs (a marathon and a 50-miler) but didn't yet feel compelled to sign up for the 100 miles as well. Mostly because I wanted to push the payment out to a later credit card cycle. Maybe I was still undecided - did I really want to do this? There was still a lot of time - to make up my mind, to train, to get ready, to pay.

I didn't want to miss it either, because it is a nice flat race with an indulgent cut-off time. Over a few weeks I checked it pretty often. It got to be 33% full, which meant 66 runners out of the 200 allowed had already signed up. Still no reason to hurry.

Then one day I didn't see my race on the site anymore. It was simply not on the list. I scanned the whole thing once more, clicked on this or the other link, couldn't find it. I imagined 134 runners signing up all at once. I thought for a few moments it was sold out.

Given my ambivalence I expected to be relieved. Hey, I do not need to do this race, it's sold out. This one was mine, easy, I don't want another one. Never mind.

Instead I was disappointed. I wished I would have simply signed up.

Later I found my race on a different list, of races about to open for registration in a few days. I didn't understand how it could have been more than 30% full if it was not open for registration yet, but I didn't fret about it. On the day it opened I promptly signed up.