Monday, August 30, 2010

The North Face Endurance Challenge

So, although Cath and I decided to take a step back from Ironman racing this year, we came upon another challenge that we figured might be equally fun/physically demanding for the latter part of the summer - the North Face Endurace Challenge.
Sponsored by the popular clothing manufacturer, the North Face Endurance Challenge is a series of trail runs ranging in distance from 5k to 50-miles put on in five locations across the country, including one just southeast of Madison, Wisconsin, on September 18. Seeing as we have a couple friends who have done a few ultra-distance running events, Cath and I have discussed giving one a shot sometime, and the North Face Series seemed like a good place to start.
At first we considered going all out and registering for the 50-mile race, but I was pretty sure that I was not going to be in a good position to pull that off this year, so we settled on the 50k instead. Which is still a daunting proposition, seeing as I've never run more than a marathon at a time, and never run a race off-road.
Cath has been leading a marathon training group at work, and I've tried to glean some measure of fitness by dragging myself to their weekly long runs for the past six or so weeks. We've ramped up to 19 miles a couple of times, but it hasn't really done a lot to make me feel very comfortable or confident going into this race. In fact, it's made me wonder how I ever managed to get through a stand-alone marathon in one piece. Running for more than two hours straight is just a ridiculous thing to do, really. It hurts quite a bit. People say, "but you've done three Ironman races, each with a marathon tacked onto a bunch of other stuff..." Which is true, but an Ironman race can be broken down into a series of one-mile (slow) repeats, with a snack break between each one. It's much easier than thinking about - and then doing - 26+ miles without stopping.
I have tried to convince/delude myself into thinking that this course is generally considered the least technical of the race series, and Cath and I have agreed to stay together and tackle it in a run-walk fashion (ie, an 8 minute run, 2 minute walk sequence), so there's really nothing to worry about, but I'm still a bit scared. It's still a lot of miles to cover over uneven terrain.
Regardless, it will no doubt be an adventure, and something we'll remember for quite a while. And that's always exciting.

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