50 Ways (to eat an elephant)

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways…

’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’
Paul Simon


Well, I have found this year’s challenge.

I had set myself the task of doing an Iron Man before the tender age of fifty. Whilst there is still part of me that would like to give it another go (and there are still parts of me scattered along the Ring of Kerry, to be fair), I can say that, yes, I have managed to drag this old carcass around the 226 odd kilometres. Plus, they gave me a medal. That’s the clincher. 😉

Anyway, there’s this 50k race on in a nearby wood; 10 laps of 5k. It’s the Donadea Irish 50k Championship, but I admit I didn’t know about the championship bit when I entered. Knowing some of the guys involved in the back-room team, I got the impression it was a local club gig. But not so. I am assured I will be lapped quite quickly. Ho hum. That’s fine. I suspect it will be ‘runner soup’ by the time the race gets into the latter stages. I don’t even know how the laps are counted, and already I am having visions of running around in circles forever as I can’t recall what lap I am on. Yep. Freud wouldn’t have to work on that one for long.

It’s on at the start of February so I haven’t given myself much time to prepare. I am doing the race as a prep for the Stone Mad Ultra, which is 62k, as I recall. However, I have learnt that the Donadea 50k has a cut-off of 5 hours. So the maths is quite simple. And brutal.

I need to run each 5k in half an hour. Each 10k in an hour. And we should be fine. That’s also beautifully simple pacing too: bang on 6 minutes per kilometre.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

A lot, is the simple answer. I have been running a fair bit lately, but not any great distances. Most of the runs in the park are around the 10k mark. So today, having received word from the race organiser that my entry was accepted, I set off into a cold, misty park to knock out 15k. The positive was the pace: 5:47 min/km average pace. The downside is that this represents under a third of the race distance.

This would be my first ‘ultra’ if I finish. In the general scheme of things, an ultra run is anything longer than a marathon. At 50k, it’s 8k more than the big one. So from an ultra runner’s perspective, it’s a ‘baby’ ultra. The ultra tag probably only kicks in when you hit some rather impressive milestone, such as 100k, or perhaps 100 miles. Or for the truly insane, there’s the Spartathlon, at about 250k. (At this point, I will say ‘greetings’ to fellow blogger Kristian from Scotland, and give him a shout out, as he is one of those crazy ones doing the Marathon des Sables next year; check out his blog at https://mdschallenge2017.wordpress.com/)

So, as with all things in life, it’s good to have a plan. My plan is to keep running. And at a set pace. For this I will need to borrow my mate’s Garmin as mine will not last the distance. I am using a fairly simple ‘monetary’ plan to get around.

I have a budget. It’s hopefully enough energy to go the distance. Every kilometre will be done in (hopefully) under 6 minutes. As each kilometre passes at, say, 5:55 pace, I will take that 5 seconds and make a deposit in the Bank of Later On. I will have to force myself to go at this nice pace, as I tend to go more at a 5:40-ish when I’m training. Hopefully these seconds will start to add up, and I can get some interest on them. Because later on, when the pain kicks in, I am going to have make some serious withdrawals. The trick is to bank the savings, but not take out a loan (by going off too fast). That way lies madness and ultimate failure. And a DNF. Shit, I didn’t even get a DNF on my first marathon when I had done no running or training for years, and decided to enter for the craic, as my cousins were doing it, and it ended in disaster (but a great story, which you can read here.)

I have about two and a half months to train. It may not be enough. Time will tell. It always does…

Before I go, a quick shout out to blogger Jim (https://fitrecovery.wordpress.com/). Jim’s blog kept me honest as I trained this year for the long distance triathlon. Buckets of great stuff there if you are into cycling, and of course, buckets of refreshing honesty too, but you can read that yourself in a few clicks. To rob one of Jim’s very own phrases: ride hard, my friend.

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8 thoughts on “50 Ways (to eat an elephant)

  1. Dude…thanks for the shout.
    As you say, just keep banging out the 5:55’s and you’ll be fine and keep all the spare change for the tough part, prob last 5k.
    Wishing you all the best on going ultra and i’m sure you’ll do just fine.
    If it’s any consolation, i did my first 50k with a similar amount of time. Just structure your workouts and remember the speed stuff too, ie fartleks etc. It’ll make the difference.
    Dont get injured and all will be well.

    Liked by 2 people

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