Thursday, March 22, 2007

070318 Finishing a 40 MileTraining Run

Distance:40.06 miles
Time:6 hr 40 min 43 sec
Avg Pace:10 min/mile
Marathon:4 hr 15 min
50K:5 hr 5 min
Calories:5260 cal

Accrued TimeCalories

After the 50K training run last week (see 070311 50K Training Run and Anew), I got more confident in going farther this week. I planned to do 40 miles and I had never run that far.

Even with that, more doubts were still wandering in mind and stayed even longer. In particular, I found Alameda Creek Trail, which I'd run on, was so windy and chilly when I had a bike ride with my two kids the day before. I imagined it could be even worse when I set out in the early morning.

The Day - Early Bird

Now it seems much easier to get used to DST (Daylight Saving Time) than the usual jet leg between USA and Taiwan. Unlike last Sunday when I couldn't start early for a 50K training run, I easily wake up at 3:30am earlier before my alarm set at 3:40am. However, the doubts are there about "Shall I?" or "Can I?". I am nervous about how tough it'll be to run the entire 40 miles.

Feeling sleepy, I finally get up 10 minutes after I reset the alarm. It's 3:50am. Again, busy morning ritual and preparation help me forget the doubts and I am motivated with some confidence.

Walking out to pick up the heavy Sunday paper, I find it's not that cold out there. But who knows what it is like a few miles away in the wild open area near the Bay?

I wear a long sleeve tech shirt and a short. I have two cans of V8 in one hand and a 24oz water empty bottle with a flashlight in the other. I have two pouches pinned at my waist belt with the following items.
  • 8 variety of Gel packets (GU, HammerGel, CytoMax, CliffGel)
  • 1 small bottle of GU2O powder with salt
  • 3 GreenToGo Fruit/Vege powder (bought from Costco)
  • 1 Gummy bear packet (with sugar and some Vitamins)
  • 2 pain reliever - ibuprofen (in case my toothache bothers me again)
Sorry no camera this time because I want to execute this training run successfully. I'm not sure if I can complete it today (still have doubts). Once I am able to do it and set up confidence, I'll bring it next time for fun.

Lap 1 (mile 0 ~ 2.32): 2.32 miles/21:28.92, pace: 9.15 min/mile, Accrued: 2.32 miles/21:28.92 - Practicing Carrying All Supplies

I wait for my Forerunner 305 to capture satellite signals in front of my garage. It's right before 4:40am. The street is quiet. I'll have to run 0.75 mile on my neighborhood streets. Then run another 0.75 mile on a paved trail called Ardenwood Path before get to the paved Alameda Creek Trail. Finally, there is another 0.75 mile paved trail to the dirt path at the other side of the creek. This is the first lap of mileages.

It takes some time to get used to carrying two cans of V8, a water bottle, and a flashlight with my hands. As later in the run, I find I have better arm strength to hold them possibly thanks to the training last week.

The end of the lap is the sign post of mile 8/4 that I will start the run on the dirt trail. It is 8 miles to the hill near Mission Blvd and 4 miles to the Bay, both end points of the 12 mile trail. I hide the V8 at one secret spot near this sign post because I'll visit it a few times.

Lap 2 (2.32 ~ 10.36): 8.04 mile/1:17:16.54, pace: 9.37 min/mile, Accrued: 1:38:45.46 - Enjoy the Solitude

On the dirt Alameda Creek Trail, I'll first run the 4 mile section to the Bay and back - 8 miles in total. I'll do this 8 mile lap twice before heading toward the other part of the trail. Having this plan is because I love this remote wild open section. Since there is no water there and it can become hot without shade later in the day, I'd like to do it as early as possible.

It seems darker than last week perhaps due to the DST. I have a flashlight in my hand but do not use it for a while because I can still recognize the trail about 10 feet ahead. There is dense cloud above covering the entire sky, even the Moon. The city lights from Union City and Fremont are getting farther and dimmer behind as I run toward the Bay. Those little lights reflecting from my surrounding are able to show me just enough, though little, about the trail ahead.

It's windy like yesterday and it's headwind. It is maybe chilly but I can take it because I'm running and able to get warm. To be honest, this is great running temperature with heat and sweat brought away so quickly that I do not break any sweat until two hours later - stay hydrated.

As I move farther into the Bay, I feel the city lights ahead from the other side of Bay getting closer even they are over 5 miles away. Although I can see the trail, I turn on my flashlight at half way as a way to practice using it in future 100 milers. I remember how I was nervous about nightly running before and how I suddenly had great time in some 100 milers I've done last year.

I am able to see the Bay water ahead knowing the turnaround is not far. When I get to the sign post of mile 12/0, it's the end of the trail and the place I'll turn around. The Bay water is only a few feet away. I'm far away from any city lights, or, as you may say, the civilization. It should be totally dark, but I can see only a little around me possibly with the help from the lights travelling from 5 miles away. Now city lights seem to form a big circle of a universe with myself alone at the center. I'm not sure if this is enough for a genius to find out that Earth is not flat. I only stop for a minute or less (to relieve). A great feeling of solitude mixed with joy fills up my mind. The joy comes from the intimacy with Nature, feeling like having sex. I guess endorphin, said to be secreted during exercise and making love, is now working. What a wonderful moment! Maybe that's why I love running :-)

Turning around, I'm facing the direction where Sun will rise later. A little sun lights seem to arrive first before Sun comes out of the hills. I still have my flashlight turned on for a while on my way back. At about half way (~ mile 9), I suddenly twist my ankle just like in the races early this year. It is painful, but what I worry about is how I can continue and finish the 40 miles with this happening at such an early stage. Fortunately, my ankle gets better when I slow down for a while.

I turn off the flashlight as I can see the trail more clearly and I think the training of running with a flashlight is done. It's not that I did not see the trail that tripped me, but I think I did not pay attention to running. Therefore, I don't need flashlight but need to focus more on my steps.

Lap 3 (10.36 ~ 18.42): 8.06 mile/1:17:50.96, pace: 9.40 min/mile, Accrued: 2:56:36.42 - Feeling Joyful about Lives

Before starting this lap, I hide the flashlight at somewhere nearby since I don't need it any more. At the end of the run, I'll stop by and pick it up.

It's getting brighter. However, it seems that I focus on the trail ahead instead of my sides. At the Alameda Ponding area, 3 miles toward the Bay, I am shocked by the ghostlike presence of a big object at my right only 10 feet away. It is a bull staring at me, and looks like the one we met yesterday.

On our way back during the bike ride yesterday, we were told by a scared woman that she could not keep going back since there is a bull with horn tips cut wandering on the trail. We then walked with her to pass that quarter mile of the trail. I used to deal with hundreds of cows when running at Ohlone Wilderness Trail, so I felt quite comfortable under such a situation. Right now, I do not slow down, but keep my pace. It does not bother me.

As I run toward the Bay (for the second time), the trail is now more alive with lots of songs from all kinds of birds. Once in a while I see hares running across the trail ahead of me. This is a great magic to feel so close with them. It seems that the daybreak is a natural alarm for these creatures. Therefore, we need DST to adjust our daily life. I imagine they are busy at hunting, feeding, and maybe going to bathroom just like our busy morning before work or school.

I turn around at the Bay after taking the first Gel (~ mile 14). I have planned to take Gel every 4 miles, so I'll take another one when finishing this lap at the sign post of mile 8/4. After a mile, I start to see a runner far away running toward me. I feel so refreshed to welcome the beginning of the day even after I have run two hours, while others may be still at beds or just start to get up. Sun must have floated above the mountain, but is hidden behind the heavy cloud. This is certainly a great day for running - without much sunlight.

The trail is still full of voices and songs from birds. There are some hares busy around. When I approach the Alameda Ponding Area where I met the bull, there are now a dozen of bulls there. They all stare at me as usual, but they begin to move away, seeming scared at my presence, a moving object with noises from my footsteps. They soon clear the trail for me to pass, but stay at the lower hill, staring at me again. I say "Good morning!"

I can see a few other people doing morning walk. All of us early birds have the privilege to enjoy the pristine green land.

I finally finish the lap at the sign post of mile 8/4. I drink the last can of V8 and take one Gel. Now it's time to run to the other end of the trail - 8 miles to go.

Lap 4 (18.42 ~ 26.34): 7.92 mile/1:19:34.50, pace: 10:03 min/mile, Accrued: 4:16:10.92 - Begin to Race with My Will

I'm entering my usual "wall" at 3 hours, but I feel better this time, thanks to the 50K training last week. I soon find out I forgot to take salt tablets with V8 when I finish the previous lap. I have to wait for finishing 5 miles before I get to a water fountain at Quarry Lakes. Fortunately, the various nutritions and sodium in the V8 does help me a lot at this 5 mile stretch. That's why I usually like having V8 in my training.

At the sign post of mile 4/8, I take one Gel as planned. Then at the sign post of mile 3.5/8.5, I stop at the water fountain to take all three salt tablets sticking to each other in a small plastic zipped bag. I finally can throw away the bag after carrying it in many races in the past.

Along Quarry Lakes, the trail is now run outside of the fence for a mile or two. I can see more visitors. At one time, I spot three runners inside the park on the trail parallel to mine. I catch up and pass them, trying to find out if I know them, but no.

After I pass Quarry Lakes, I get to another water fountain at a nice neighboring community park. I stop and fill up my water bottle for the first time, where I already put Gu2O powder and salt. I plan to drink at every half mile sign post from now on.

As usual, the dogs from the neighborhood backyard show their greeting by barking at me. They seem eager to jump over the fence and chase or bite me. Right before I get the end of the trail to finish this lap, I reach the marathon distance at 4hr 15min. I turn around at the trail end and take one Gel, completing this lap. The feeling of going home boosts a little on my mentality.

Lap 5 (26.34 ~ 34.18): 7.84 mile/1:21:49.05, pace: 10:26 min/mile, Accrued: 5:37:59.97 - Struggling But Feeling Home

Now I follow the pattern of eating and drinking completely - one Gel every 4 miles and drink every half mile. I also start to take pieces of tasty Vitamin Gummy Bear to complement with Gel on energy and nutrition.

However, I start to feel tired, but legs seem to be fine. As I approach the entrance of Quarry Lakes, I decide not to enter it for a big loop over the pretty trails inside because I'm not sure if I can run back home after doing that loop. It turns out later that I have to do some extra to make it 40 miles. I think I should include this scenic loop in my next training run.

I stop at a water fountain and fill up my bottle again with a mixture of powder and salt. I soon pass the 50K mark at 5hr 5min. I'm glad that this is faster than last week. However, I become struggling and start to feel the heat, although the sunshine is better than I expected. As I get to the sign post of mile 8/4, I figure that I need another 3.5 miles to make it 40 miles.

Lap 6 (34.18 ~ 40.06): 5.88 mile/1:02:43.91, pace: 10:40 min/mile, Accrued: 6:40:43.88 - Finish Gracefully with my Training Records in Distance and Time

I could have run on the bridge crossing the creek and head back home. However, I want to make up the 3.5 miles. I have to run on the trail toward the bay that I did in the first two laps. I'll run 1.5 miles out and 1.5 miles back. On the way out, the 1.5 miles looks like forever because Sun already comes out and show his power over this part of unshaded trail. Also I am really exhausted. I sometimes close my eyes, enjoying the pain, but wishing time going by fast and getting closer to the turnaround at a sign post.

Mentality is working again because I finally get to the turnaround and feel much better when I head toward home on the 1.5 miles back. There is a water fountain at the side trail, so I decide to go there and get resupply. After drink enough water, I feel more motivated in running with my exhausted body as I know I'll finish my longest training distance in 30 minutes.

Now I run magically better even when I'm running on the paved trail and neighborhood streets. I keep counting any progress in distance and it seems that every half mile is a milestone to me. Within 200 yards to my home, I found I have half mile short for the 40 miles, so I have to run around my neighborhood to make it up. At last, when I stand in front of my garage, the Forerunner 305 reads 40.06 miles. I feel like I can do even longer training run in future. I happily finish my training today and set my records in training distance and time!

Now I'm thinking when I can do 50 miles or 100K training run. I guess it should be in June between Ohlone Wilderness 50K and Western States 100M. I think I should be able to run better 100 milers in the second half of the year after training runs covering 60% of the distance in the first half of the year.


Rajeev said...


You are an amazing individual and an amazing runner. I tip my hat to you!


Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks Rajeev. I'll try to reach the usual 60% of the race mileage in training run. In order to prepare for 100 milers this year, I hope I can get to 60 miles before WS100.

Btw, I admire your 24 hr training run on the track (see 24-Hour Run). I don't think I dare to do it.