Prior to Sunday the longest distance I had ever run was 37 miles.  Why 37?  That’s the exact distance from my house to the Augusta Brewery in Augusta, MO.  Gotta have your incentives properly aligned.  Their IPA and cheeseburger are easily worth 37 miles.  All I had to do was tack on another half marathon to hit an even 50 miles.  No biggie, right?  Just another half marathon.

Why 50 miles?  The training recipe for a race like the Leadville 100 Trail Run involves an amalgamation of tasty ingredients.  The starting point, the base stock, is made up of training runs where you are on your feet for 8 to 10 hours at a time.  50 miles pretty much covers that; it’s the foundation of all that follows.  If you can’t run 50, you’re not going to run 100.

So, what’s it like to run 50 miles.  Well, (wait for it, because this is truly a subtly nuanced insight) it’s kinda like a marathon, only longer.  Much longer.  Like that flight with the colicky baby in the row right behind you.  Not-gonna-end loooooonger.

One of my co-workers, friend and mentor talks about GPA.  Goal. Plan. Action.  The goal part is fun, exciting, strategic, entrepreneurial marketing.  Let’s go to the moon.  The plan part is the stuff of engineers.  Let’s design something that will, in theory, make it to the moon . . . if all goes according to plan and there are no manufacturing o-ring contingency issues.  What’s left?  Action.  Here we are, on our way to the moon.  Nothing to it but to do it.  This is the stuff of operations folk — trust in your team and be prepared to roll with the long-tail, never-gonna-happen, Houston-we-have-a-problem moments.

This past Sunday I was the operations guy, and everything went pretty much according to the flight plan.  What follows is a quick review of how the day went down:

The Run Report

  • Mile 0.   2:50 AM wake-up, 3:40 AM properly caffeinated and out the door with headlamp and a couple bucks for Gatorade at the 7-11.  iPod battery completely drained at 3:47 AM.
  • Mile 15.  Yawning pit crew (Tami) meets me at the Page Ave. extension bridge with supplies (10 Hammer gels, 2 Clif Bars, 1 sweaty kiss) and gear (Camelbak and handheld water bottle).  Head roughly south on the Katy Trail.
  • Mile 20.  Twitter buddy, Mark, lives “0.16 miles” from the trail and shows up with ice water and a banana.  Mark and I have a lot in common: We run a lot of marathons, we are both married to a Tami (not Tammy) and we are both the same age.  What we don’t have in common is that Mark is gazelle-fast and he’s a computer-techie type who knows for a fact that he lives “0.16 miles” from the trail.  That’s Mark on the right in the pic below.

  •  Mile 30.  Meet good friend, running buddy and logistics expert, Dan at the entrance to the Lost Valley Trail north of Defiance, MO.  I’ve felt pretty decent to this point, but it’s getting warm.  And Dan has picked a trail with a bad attitude.  Up until now, I have considered Dan my friend and I thought he liked me.  He redeems himself with a buffet of runner-friendly goodies to replenish fluids and calories.  Take a close look at the PB&J sandwich at the top of this entry.  It is the best PB&J sandwich I have had in my entire life.  True, it could have been made from particle board and I would have enjoyed it.  But at 30 miles, it was a king’s feast.
  • Mile 41 – Most of the last 11 miles has been on technical single-track.  Not terrible, but very easy to catch a toe on rock outcroppings or roots . . . with no good place to fall.  Here’s a pic from the Lost Valley Trail . . . there is a trail in there somewhere!
  • Mile 45 – Matson, MO.  Dan trades pacing me for an air-conditioned vehicle and a quick drive to Augusta.  I don’t blame him.  It is now 88 degrees with full-on sun and I am wilting faster than the Red Sox in September.  One-minute walk breaks are blended in every half mile, then every quarter mile, then every 1/10th of a mile.  Muscles in my legs that have never given me a bit of grief are now fomenting unrest.  Their twitching is a Norma Rae call for a general strike.  They are appeased momentarily with the slower pace and promises of a day off.  The moment passes, but my pace is just slightly faster than roadkill.  Fortunately, it is too warm for the buzzards.
  • Mile 50 – 1:20 PM and done.  Sitting down never felt so good.  A cold beer sounded great about 20 miles ago.  But now, whatever synapses are still firing in my fried brain are ordering water, calories and sleep.

Many, many thanks to Mark, Dan and Tami for their awesome support.  And a special thank you to Linda T for the greatest peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever to pass these unworthy lips.  Next post: 50-Mile Epiphanies.

Training Update:  That 50-miler topped off a 100-mile week.  No major aches/pains.  2 days post-run and my legs feel pretty much like I ran 26.2, not 50.0.  The slower pace probably helped.  1348 miles YTD, with a light recovery week coming up.  Check out the newest additions to the Motivation Miles page.  A special Happy Birthday to Claire Chosid, now responsible for motivation at Mile 3 in Leadville!

Life & Hope Fund Update$2962 donated with 88 days to go until the Leadville 100.  Awesome support this week from Bruce, Shelley (Team Edwards!), Alison, Doug, Connor, Claire, Al D, Sandi and Scott.  Thank you so much, you have done good!  Just posted a new video with the good folks at the Life & Hope Fund if you would like to learn more about this awesome cause, click here.

  1. Loved this post. Always wondered what it took to go that far. If you ever need someone to pace you for 2.8-4.7 miles of your future 250 mile cross-Missouri run, I’m your man.

    1. Thanks, Kyle . . . but I know for a fact that you are good for at least 13.1 miles.

  2. Wow! What a recap, and what a training run. Great job, Eric! Sounds like your training is going exceptionally well. Continued success to you!

    Love the “GPA” reference as well. Good stuff! I will remember that.

    1. It’s the Loon Whisperer! Thanks, Jean, I’m surprised my legs are rebounding quicker than after a marathon. The GPA comes from Bruce, the guy that hired me 23 years ago . . . he’s still around keeping us motivated!

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