Tag Archives: running

Could it be this easy?

I have been battling knee pain for just about a year.  Basically, as I was recovering from my ankle injury last year, I babied my right ankle and wound up messing up my left knee somewhere in my crash-training-for-a-half thing.  I tried resting it, I tried doing more squats and lunges, and inevitably I would tweak it doing something at home.  Something dumb like mountain climbers.  I’ve run two 5ks since my half last May, and I keep meaning to get around to going to see a doctor or a PT or something.  I did a free injury clinic and the guy was like, “come by my office and I will dry needle you for free!” and I did not because 1.) my follow up isn’t great and 2.) I have no time.

So when one of my best friends asked me about my knee again at Stroller Strides, and I complained that it still is busted, she told me to come over so she could dry needle me (she’s a PT, not a weirdo who just has a house full of needles.)  I said sure, then promptly did not do it.  She bugged me again about it last week, and I was off on Monday and daycare was closed and I really want to do another half this year, so off I went.

She poked at me and then told me to foam roll a LOT more than my current amount of none, and so I did, and then my knee didn’t hurt after our run on Monday and it didn’t hurt after Body Back on Thursday night when we did a lot of running, and it didn’t hurt after Stroller Strides on Saturday.  She made me come over again on Saturday night and recommended I keep foam rollering and told me to come back in a week.

Here I was, convinced that I had some kind of crazy runner’s knee situation and I would need 6-8 weeks of PT and many many clamshell exercises and lunges and squats and other things that are good for your knees.  And it turns out it really is as simple as foam rollering a ridiculous amount and also following through on the dry needling thing.  I’m sure I can also benefit from PT, and I will go if this doesn’t turn out to be a long term solution.

She said something really interesting last night though, which is that for each decade of life that you have, you should do that x10 minutes of stretching, foam roller-ing, or general work to prepare your body to like, be functional. I mean, I don’t have 30 minutes a day to stretch right now, but I think I’m going to try for at least 10.  And it made sense, because I’ve been feeling generally stiffer and less flexible, and I thought it was just a not-going-to-yoga thing, but I do think it’s also an age thing.

So yeah, stretch and like, go see a doctor.  I highly recommend it.  Sometimes things have a simple fix.

 

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First Half After Baby

On Sunday I crossed the finish line at my 8th half, the first one I’ve run since I was pregnant a little over two years ago.  Even without the setback of my foot injury in January, it was a tough road to running this race.  The furthest I had run until March was 6.2 miles in a very difficult 10k last September.  And running long distances just hurt for the first year after having a baby, and I really started to feel like getting back to half marathons and long races would be impossible. But I signed up for my first half anyway, since races motivate me to train and because I wanted to at least try and see how it went and see whether it was achievable.  My husband and my sister also ran it, which was nice because my sister and I were able to stay together for most of the race, and I’m honestly not sure that I would have been able to get through the whole thing on my own.

I get asked a lot why I race. Not why I run, people seem to understand that weight loss and not wanting to die of a heart attack and wanting to be in shape are all valid reasons to exercise and that running is the cheapest method of achieving that. But why do I pay money, wake up really early, and join a thousand strangers to compete in a sport that I will never ever win?

Races are a chance to learn more about myself, to challenge myself and push myself and try to achieve things that I haven’t done before.  All of the things I doubt about myself, all of the mean things I say to myself, all the mean things I ever said to myself, those all disappear on race day.  I focus on myself and what I can achieve and putting one foot ahead of the other.

So what did I learn on Sunday? That muscle memory is powerful.  That my friend E is right, that what matters the most in race training is just time on your feet – I did a lot of walking to train because my running ability was limited.  I learned that physical therapy is amazing.  I learned that running a half marathon is still possible.

Sunday was also mother’s day. And what I found myself thinking about, after my sister and I had separated and I was alone with my thoughts, is what my body has been through since my last half.  My last half was Rock and Roll DC in 2014 and I was fortunate that excessive cardio was the only thing to quell my morning sickness.  Pregnancy finally feels like a distant and uncomfortable memory.  And while I was in it, I had a hard time getting past the discomfort to a place where I could appreciate my body and what it was doing.  But for nearly two years, I grew and nourished and sustained another person who is amazing and that is amazing. And I thought that I would be able to focus on that while I was in it.  And I wasn’t, and that was disappointing to me.  And somehow now, or more specifically, during Miles 11-13, I was able to focus more on how huge motherhood is, and how much I appreciate my body, not just for its ability to grow and sustain an entire whole other human being, but for its ability to allow me to lift her and carry her and jump up and down when she commands me to.  I took a moment to thank my thighs and hips, which frankly, I have recently been berating for still not fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes. My legs and feet, in particular, had done some very serious work to recover from my injury, and I appreciate them for it.

I didn’t set any PRs.  I did come in well under my 2:30 goal, and mostly I met my goal of finishing, but also, the most important part about crossing the finish line is that the me who crosses the finish line gets to rub my accomplishment in the face of past-me who was full of doubt. Because as every amateur athlete knows, the greatest competition is with yourself.

 

 

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2016 – Goals

I do believe in new year’s resolutions.  A new year’s resolution in 2007 started me running and down the path to losing 30lbs.  It led to me discovering all kinds of wonderful things about myself.  A resolution in 2011 to Get a Job led me to two fantastic opportunities that paved the way to better things later.  In 2012 my resolution was to Get A Better Job.  In 2014 my resolution was to Have a Baby and Do an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

So, right now I’m still stubbornly at around the weight I was post-delivery.  So my goal is to kick the baby weight, now that I’m done nursing. I’m signed up for another session of Fit 4 Mom’s Body Back boot camp, which is awesome and includes a meal plan and journaling and feedback on your food journal.

I signed up for a half marathon and a sprint distance triathlon. I signed up for a training plan for the half marathon and I have high hopes of doing the local Masters swim class this summer.

My other main goal is to simply my life. To spend more weekends at home.  To say no more.  We have a toddler now, and our life needs to be more about making sure she is enjoying herself and getting to do things that suit her and challenge her.  None of us is at our best when she is running around a brewery and getting stuck to the floor and my husband is trying to chug a flight of samplers and I’m chasing down the waitress with my credit card to get the check paid ASAP.  We have a few big trips planned, but we have a lot of weekends at home.  We built a deck. We joined our local science museum.  The good thing is, it becomes easier to say no when your child is less portable.  Our daughter has needs.  She wants our attention.  She does not want to linger at a bar for cocktails.  She isn’t happy to sleep in her carrier or nurse at the table anymore.  And people don’t invite you out as much after they see an epic meltdown.  (My in-laws had asked if we’d like to go out to dinner tonight, and we passed, and once they saw our kid have an epic meltdown over the mere existence of her Ikea play tent, they understood why we had opted for takeout.)

Anyone else make goals? Setting limits for themselves this year? What are you going to make happen?

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Training: This Week

I’m still trying to pick a training plan.  The Beginner Tri plan for this month is:

Month 1   

Week M T W TH F S S TOTAL Vol
1 24-Swim Off 40-Swim 24-Run 80-Bike Off 40-Run 4h 16m  
48-Bike 256m
2 26-Swim Off 44-Swim 26-Run 88-Bike Off 44-Run 4h 41m +10%
53-Bike 281m
3 29-Swim Off 48-Swim 29-Run 97-Bike Off 48-Run 5h 9m +10%
58-Bike 309m
4 17-Swim Off 29-Swim 17-Run 58-Bike Off 29-Run 3h 5m -40%
35-Bike 185m
Notes Short Swim Off Long Swim Short Run Long Bike Off Long Run    
Short Bike

Grand total:       17h 11m           

So that means for this week, the plan is to do 24 minutes of swim and 48 minutes of Spin on Monday.  Tuesday is a rest day, but I’m planning to still do some cardio – my theory being that a rest day should still involve enough activity that you meet the minimum suggested number of steps, etc. for the day.

Wednesday is 40 minutes of swimming, which is the most swimming I will have done ever.  Thursday is a run day, and Friday is a pretty intense bike day.  Sunday is a 40 minute long run, which is no problem since I’ve been anchoring my husband as he does his 3-5 mile recovery runs as part of marathon training.

The TriNewbies 18-week workout’s first week is as follows:

Mon 750 yds  15 miles  
Tue 750 yds    20 min
Wed   15 miles   
Thur 1000 yds    20 min
Fri      
Sat     30 min 
Sun   20 miles   

So there is more swimming, and the biggest problem is I have NO IDEA how many “miles” I bike in spin class.  The Spinning website suggests that while very varied, a 40-minute class with a high cadence is the equivalent of a 15-20 mile ride.  So I think I’d be safe in assuming that a 55 minute class is at least 15 miles.

Here is what I think my average week might/should shake out to for right now:

M – spin class in AM, weights in PM
T – swim in AM, run in AM if there is enough time (and I don’t get totally bored running on the indoor track at the gym
W – spin class in AM, weights in PM
Th – swim in AM, run in AM if there is enough time
Fr – hot yoga class
Sa – swimming and spin class/long bike rides once there is less ice on the ground
Su – 3-4 mile run & hockey

And my average week once I’m also half-training:

M – spin class in AM, weights in PM
T – swim in AM, run in PM
W – spin class in AM, possible weights in PM
Th – swim in AM, run in PM
Fr – hot yoga class
Sa – long run
Su – long bike ride & hockey

Moving the runs to the evening will allow for me to do longer swim workouts in the morning, which will make up for dropping the Saturday morning swim.  This will shift as I hopefully sign up for a tri club and maybe somebody will share their preferred training program, and also as I decide whether to join the master’s swim program at the gym.

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Training Plan

So, if I’m going to do an International Distance Tri next year, I need a training plan.  Here are my current steps:

1.) Pick race.  I found a good looking one that is “only” $95 if you include the one day USAT fee.  The date is Sunday, May 18th.  

2.) Join a local tri club. I’m waiting until January 1 to do this, because they do their fees on the calendar year, not a year from when you sign up, so signing up now would be a waste of money.  I have two local tri clubs and I’m trying to decide between them.  The biggest factor is that the bigger, more active, and slightly more conveniently located one does their swims at a park that has jellyfish, and I don’t want to.  

3.) Find a training plan or app.  There are some good free ones out there, but some of the the better looking apps and plans charge. I’m also looking for a plan that allows me to also train for a half-marathon and strength train at the same time. I do not believe these goals are mutually exclusive and I do not believe that I am the only person to try this.

4.) Get a base level of fitness where I can make it through a 6 mile run without my legs feeling tired, through an entire spin class without choking on my lungs, and swim…some distance. Swimming distances confuse me. I think being able to swim about 1000 yards is a good base level for this.

5.) Join a masters swim class. There is one on Saturday mornings I might get up the courage to go to.

What else have I forgotten? Obviously, actually start training, but with a 12 week program, intense training won’t happen until the beginning of March.

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Race Photography

One thing that I somehow missed in the registering and planning for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC was that there would be no race photographer.  Which, honestly, I’m probably okay with except for a few things:

1) Our bibs said there would be.  I wondered, as we were running, which company was providing photography, because I didn’t see the usual MarathonFoto folks out.  (By which I mean: their lanyards. I do not know actual race photographers.)

2) This was not communicated to runners beforehand.  There was a Facebook album that came up late Sunday with a few pictures, and folks immediately started clamoring for where they could get their photos.  At this point somebody from Nike said there was no race photographer, which caused a lot of outrage and one smug girl to say that “jeez, they announced it earlier this week”.  I can’t find where they announced it, and it certainly wasn’t included in the bizarre email we got (which was a photo of race info and not an actual email).

3) The reason given was, “we find runners prefer to coordinate take their own photos.”  Which is certainly true, if you know to have a friend come and take pictures, or you can use a camera while running, because nobody on earth actually wants to pay $60+ for their race photos.  They simply want their race photos badly enough to pay the money for them.  And a lot of people never buy the photos.  This is partially because they are expensive.  (Also, um, some of us do not take good race photos.)  I honestly wonder if they dropped the price for all digital files to $30 instead of 60, would they sell twice as many packages and therefore make the same amount of money?  I mean, they’ve already taken the photos.  They don’t have to do any more work to give them to you.  If you want them expertly photoshopped, you could pay extra.

I do think that photography companies should compensate their photographers – standing outside for 4-6 hours taking pictures is not easy, and I certainly want the photographers to get what they are worth, though based on the quality of a lot of race photos, the companies do not seem to be hiring real talent, and then they have to be tagged and organized (though I’m pretty sure that is done by a software program), and I know that the equipment is expensive and websites and hosting and all of that are expensive.  But I can’t help but feel as if that $60 purchase price is basically the people who buy their photos being willing to subsidize those people who can’t or won’t swing the $60 cost.

What do you think? Do you buy race pictures?

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Running a race after Boston

My running buddy is from Boston and she’s the one that got married the weekend of the marathon.  We talked a little bit about it after it happened, and I imagine we’ll talk about it in the future.  But we didn’t talk about doing anything for the race, but we were surrounded by people running in “Boston Strong” t-shirts and a few homemade shirts and signs attached to the back of their shirts showing support for Boston.

As we ran around the course, the cheers of the marching band in one section were drowned out by one of the police helicopters that was watching us along the course.  As we passed under a bridge, we waved to the photographer – and realized he was watching with binoculars not a camera, and we realized he was law enforcement.  None of this was surprising, because we passed this at the beginning of the race:

Photo Apr 28, 9 59 21 AM

I don’t know if this is the future of racing.  I don’t know if the dozens (more likely hundreds) of people wearing Boston shirts were from Massachusetts (a number were wearing Massachusetts or NE team in training shirts), people who have run Boston, or just members of the running community who wanted to show support.  I’m not sure if I feel the police presence was truly reassuring, or if I’m more reassured by the idea that the Boston bombing was a freak accident, or if I’m more reassured by reminding myself that I’m actually less likely to die because I run, since I’m significantly more likely to die of heart disease than a terrorist attack, but while I had a few moments where I wondered if we would even know if something happened at the finish while we were on the course, where we waded through the crowds and I wondered if this was how the spectators felt, and if anything would happen, and how would I react.

Do you think Boston will change the way you run?

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Race Report: Nike Women’s Half DC

I had the pleasure of running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC yesterday.  

Photo Apr 28, 10 13 50 AM

I had some major reservations coming into this race because: 

1) My training was hampered by a wedding and also by my own laziness, so I was concerned I would have a difficult race.
2) The race seemed pretty disorganized – our acceptance emails went to our spam folders, the website is pretty useless, and we didn’t get an email about packet pickup until the last week; the expo was in Georgetown (nowhere near the race) which is 25 minutes walking from the nearest metro and is impossible to get through on a Saturday evening.  
3) The race was extremely expensive.  Instead of a finisher medal, you get a Tiffany necklace (presented to you by a fireman in a tuxedo), and you also get a pretty nice Nike shirt, and the entrance requires a lottery, and so I convinced myself that the outrageous entrance fee might be worth it just this once.  

We got to the start line on Sunday morning and were extremely pleased that despite the number of runners, there were more than enough bathrooms.  This is a hallmark of women’s races, I have noticed, and also something that makes me not mind a hefty entrance fee.  There was a line for the first set, but if you walked past them, you got to some very clean port-a-pots with no wait.  We checked our bags at the bag check, which was also well organized with no line, and then went to line up.  The corrals were tricky, because they limited the entrance points and it got really, really crowded.  There were waves, but they didn’t stagger the start, which worked really well.  They did require everyone to wear a wristband with their pace on it and told us that we could only go in the corrals we were paced for.  There were 15,000 runners but I didn’t see a single person with a “wrong” colored wristband in our corral, and we were with other “orange” runners the entire time.  

My only other DC race has been The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, which is a similar course, slightly smaller crowd, and similar start line Wave Start – CB has had major issues in the past, particularly with crowds and bathrooms, and I would say the Nike Women’s Half did a better job of managing the crowds.   In Cherry Blossom, runners regularly run with other waves, and also start late because they are in the long line for the bathrooms (much better managed this year though).  

Photo Apr 28, 6 40 06 AM

The course for this race was absolutely beautiful – it started off with the capitol framed in the start line, and we went under the mall in a tunnel (running through the bore in a tunnel has always been a race goal of mine, it was pretty cool), up onto the freeway, and then down around the Washington monument, across the bridge to Arlington and back, and in the direction of Georgetown, then we turned around and came back past the Lincoln memorial and down to Haines Point.  That stretch was pretty long and pretty quiet – this race in general did not have the fantastic crowd that many “hometown” races have – the Mall and sights of DC are not residential areas, so it wasn’t like people just came out to watch the race – they had to make an effort, and the race was awfully early.  There were a few “cheer stations” set up, but the ones towards the end were pretty lackluster.  After Haines point, we started to turn back into the Mall and Capitol, which meant actually getting back on the freeway (which was the WORST – it was straight uphill and it was mile 10) .  We had to go back through the same tunnel, which was a little smelly after 10 miles of sweating, but pretty energizing because the band was still going, and the tunnel was mostly downhill.  We rounded out of the tunnel and started heading towards the finish line – fortunately, you couldn’t see it, so we weren’t upset that we were so close to the finish and still had to run around the capitol.  (We were also emotionally prepared for this, since we studied the course map.)  

Mile 12 was where my body shut down a bit and I lost my pacing.  My running buddy was having knee problems and needed to take longer strides, so I told her to go, and at that point people started passing me and I was struggling.  After we rounded the front of the capitol (we didn’t actually have to run around it, which was great), we started coming down Pennsylvania avenue and you could see the finish line…which I thought would be pretty inspiring and make me run faster, but I was pretty tired and couldn’t breathe enough to pick up the pace any.  The finish line looked so small for so long – you could watch it for about .7 miles, which is a pretty long time to be watching a finish line not get any bigger, especially because the crowd wasn’t really generally supportive, it was a lot of people silently holding signs and cheering only for their own friends or family members when they saw them.  

According to my husband, who was at home, the live runner tracking software actually stopped my marker at the 20k mark until I caught up with it because I was so off my projected pace.  However, I finished in 2:07 so I’m not unhappy with my time – the last mile cost me about 2 minutes, since my friend finished in 2:05.  Still pretty good considering my 11-minute-mile pace in training runs lately.  

The water stops were pretty frequent and well organized – with one huge exception, which is that they were not on a consistent side of the road, and they were not on both sides of the road.  They were serving Nuun instead of gatorade, which made me really excited, but once we were on the course I couldn’t find the Nuun when I wanted it, and then I wound up just wanting water the rest of the time.  Mile 4 had Cliff Shot Blocks, which was awesome – they were cut into 3-block sections of a package, so really easy to grab and get out without getting your fingers sticky, and a manageable amount.  I would have been so happy if they had Shot Blocks later in the race, but instead they served mini-luna-bars, which are okay – we split one, and it was just enough for the rest of the race, and I was happy to get “real food” on the race course but another Shot Blocks station would have been appreciated.  Or a random stranger holding trays of gummy bears, but see above, not a residential race.  

The post race was relatively well organized – we came across the finish line – although this was a big first timer race and the girls in front of me got over the finish line and stopped dead, which meant I actually had to pause right before the final timing mat and then walk around them, which was really annoying.  Anyway, past the annoying girls, across the red carpet (which was a fun touch), I found my running buddy and we made our way to the food line, which was sparse – banana, fruit cup, and bagel, plus a bottle of water, and then we got our finisher T-shirts which were seriously adorable, and our necklaces (I felt so bad for the guys in the tuxes, they must have been pretty warm, although they had not just run 13.1 miles so maybe they were a reasonable temperature.)  We passed out of the official finisher area and then walked around – we got some free samples from Bare Minerals and Paul Mitchell (I could complain about the sexism of a race that caters to women, or I could enjoy my hair product samples and admit that women-friendly stuff was part of why I ran the race).  We then found the Kaiser Permanente Stretching Lounge, which will forever be my Happy Place.  They had strawberry-banana smoothies, water in big infusion jars with lemon, mint, watermelon, and basil cucumber.  We also got stretching bands, stress balls, first aid kits, and washcloths.  The washcloths were the GREATEST THING EVER.  

Photo Apr 28, 9 34 58 AM

We made our way back to the bag check, which was where things were pretty disorganized.  The crowds getting both into and out of the corrals were a mess, and then we still had to fight down the sidewalk on Pennsylvania avenue to bag check, but bag check was again easy, and there was plenty of extra water and Nuun around the bag check, which was great since I was pretty dehydrated, and there were still plenty of fairly clean and available bathrooms.  

On the metro ride back, we debated whether we would run this race again, given the hassle of travel and the extreme cost.  I tend to think that the race was definitely worth it to do once, but I’m not sure that I’ll feel a strong pull towards doing it again.  I definitely am considering the Rock and Roll USA half though -it’s earlier in the year, so less hot, and more residential, so hopefully a better crowd.  I have also loved the GW Parkway Classic in the past, which is a great race and I would also happily do again.  

Have you ever run one of the Nike Women’s Races?  What makes a great half marathon for you?

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Community.

I just got back from Boston.  I was there for the wedding, not the marathon, and my friends who went down to watch the finish line made it back safely to get on the 3:50pm flight.  We were waiting in the airport, and suddenly we realized what we were seeing on the screen, and we all gathered around the televisions and called our family to let them know that yes, we were fine, no, we were nowhere near the marathon.  Runners were trickling through security, boarding flights, fielding concerned calls from family.  Spectators were staring in horror, because they had just been there.

I was feeling such an odd mix of shock and horror, because really, marathon spectators?  Runners?  Who has it in for runners?

I feel heartbroken for the people who lost family, who lost limbs, who lost an awful lot of blood on the sidewalk.  I felt heartbroken for all of those people who put so much effort into training for today, only to have it blown away so quickly.  I felt anxiety for the people who were searching for their loved ones.  If you have ever run a race, you know that finding your significant other or your friend after isn’t an easy task.  And then I saw this picture.

(source)

And that’s when I lost it.  Because that could have been me.  Not specifically, because I will never qualify for Boston, but really, it could have been any of us.  Yes, we could also have been in the stands, and this is where we were genuinely lucky that my crazy ultrarunner friend didn’t qualify for Boston when we ran our marathon last year.  Because we were in Boston for this wedding and she might very well have tried to run the race and there is a good chance we would have gone to cheer her on.  She was at the finish line this morning, and then she watched the televisions at Logan with horror.

Race day is such a wonderful thing.  And for these runners, today, I can’t imagine how they feel.  Especially anyone who couldn’t finish because of the bombing.  Can you imagine coming down the home stretch and then…total and complete devastation?  How scared their families must have been.  How scared the actual injured must have been.  I can’t even think about the fatalities, because I can’t imagine taking your kid to watch the finish line and coming home without them.  I can’t imagine going out to watch a friend or a family member run this amazing race and not coming home.  When somebody comes out to support you during a marathon, it is the greatest feeling in the world.  It feels larger than life.  And here we are.  None of these people will ever be the same.

Going forward, do we change the way we race?  Does every marathon become a potential terrorist attack?  I don’t know.

In the meantime, we lace up our shoes, we take to the streets, we roll up our sleeves and give blood, we hug our loved ones, we worry about the future and we mourn the past.  We try to make the world a better place for our children, and we remind ourselves that senseless tragedy is everywhere, and we are obligated to do everything we can to prevent it, not just hide from it.  I only wish I had any kind of idea how to do that.

 

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Ultra-Half-Marathons

I was chatting on Twitter with some friends and we were discussing Beth’s first marathon, possibly in 2014.  This was because Beth mentioned she read Born to Run (do not read that book near the internet or you will sign up for a 50k and order yourself some Vibram Five Fingers while you’re at it).  And I pointed out that a lot of the camaraderie and awesomeness that is on display in Born to Run, and is, in fact, running at it’s best, is not necessarily something you are going to find at your average marathon road race.  For that, you need an Ultra.  And she said that she would probably start with a marathon.  I pointed out that there are shorter Ultras, like 25k and 20 mile races, and Robin piped up and said, correctly, “an Ultra is >26.2, yes?”  Robin’s husband just ran his first Ultra, and yes, Robin is correct, that an Ultra short for Ultra-marathon and a 20 miler is not, in fact, an Ultra-marathon.

I think of a 20-miler or a 25k or a metric marathon or some other distance between a half and a full marathon as an Ultra-Half-Marathon.  This is for a few reasons.  The first is that you usually find the ultra-halfs as the shorter distance at an Ultra.  You often have a 40 miler or a 50k with a 20 miler or 25k option, the same way you often find a half marathon with a full.  The second is that most true Ultra-runners do not sign up for these distances, unless they are using it as a training race.  The people who sign up for these races are the spouses and friends of the ultra-runners who get talked into going along for the ride and think the distance is something they can handle.  It’s people who have done a half and are looking for more, without the grueling commitment of a full marathon.  But the races are often the same races – it’s usually a loop or a half of the course (I’ve only done the one 20-miler but I spend a lot of time browsing race websites looking for my next ultra-half), and the food is usually the same, and the crowd is usually the same (small but mighty), and the people are usually the same (super-friendly and way supportive).

Trail racing is not for everyone.  If you want a really good crowd and a lot of energy on race day, it’s probably not for you.  If you hate hills, it’s not for you.  If you are afraid of falling down, it’s definitely not for you.  If you don’t like dirt, stick to the road.  If you are easily lost, you may want to stick to the well-defined course of a road race.  (My favorite ad for a trail run included, “THIS YEAR WE WILL MARK EVERYTHING CLEARLY AND NO ONE WILL GET LOST.”)  Longer distances than halfs are not for everyone either – I don’t even really think that they are for me.  I’m not planning on doing another full marathon for awhile, and even then, it’ll be brutal again, I’m sure.

Anyway, the real issue is: ultra-halfs are hard to find.  There are simply not that many people who want to run a 15-miler.  (Which is odd, when you consider how many people want to run a 10-miler and a half-marathon, but something about those two extra miles, oh no!)  Even trail halfs can be hard to find.  I’m sure this has a lot to do with zoning issues as well as logistics, because parking is an issue and hiking in all the stuff to set up aid stations can be tricky, so I guess I understand the low availability.  Anyway, where do you stand on trail running vs. road running and half-ultra-half-full-ultra?

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