Comrades Marathon

UPDATE: Apparently the foreign athlete cap was also reached this morning so I actually managed to just get it!

Comrades is the largest and most popular ultra marathon in the world. It is held in South Africa and is around 90KM long. It is a point-to-point race and it alternates each year between an up race and a down race. That is, a net elevation gain or net elevation loss.

This has been on my radar for a while and I finally pulled the trigger. Yesterday I registered for the June 14, 2020 edition. A down year. Registration only just opened on October 28 and as of this morning, all 25,000 slots for South Africans have filled up. There are still slots for foreign athlete but that is expected to also close soon.

In the past, I never actually registered due to a few factors:

1) I was concerned about the running load. In the past, any time I build up my running distances, I would suffer an injury
2) I didn’t want to do an up run and so I’m limited to registering only on alternate years
3) The cost of flying there with the family

Wile doing my Ironman training, I am running less volume, but still doing long runs. I did a 2.5 hrs run last weekend and I have a 3 hr run this weekend. So far (knock on wood), I have managed to remain injury free. My left Achilles which is my achilles hasn’t been an issue. So I’m thinking that if I keep the build up gradual, the volume should be manageable. I looked at some training plans and the longest run doesn’t appear to exceed 3 hours. I may have to do two long runs on back-to-back days, but I think I can manage a 3-hr run. My body is accustomed to do ing two back-to-back long workouts, although one of those is a long bike ride.

With 2020 being a down run, the timing seemed to be perfect. I’m already in great shape due to my Ironman training and after a short break, I can move right into the Comrades training in January. I’ll be able to start with a good fitness base.

The cost is still a concern, but we’ll treat this like any other big vacation and enjoy traveling to a continent that we have yet to visit.

I’m at the point where I’m not getting any younger. If I am to run Comrades, the time is now.

I plan to still swim and bike, but they may end up bring relegated to perhaps once a week. I can do those on recovery days and hope that it is enough to at least maintain a certain level of fitness in those sports.

Ironman Training – Week 26 – October 21 – October 27 2019

The previous week was one of my best training weeks, but this last week of training has got to be among my most disappointing.

First, the best workout has got to be my long run on Saturday. It went great. I ran the first 12 miles without taking any walking breaks. I ran/walked the last mile to end the run at 13.1 miles. My average pace for the entire run was11:52 min/mile. I will take that any day!

For the remainder of the week, there were two factors at play:

1) I was traveling for work and that makes it challenging to do all my workouts. It’s not that I didn’t have the time. It is just always a little bit harder
2) My motivation these days has been at an all time low

For my swims, I started off as normal, but on my first day swimming in the hotel pool, I got to about 400m when a kid came into the pool. I know he would have seen me swimming laps and there was plenty of space in other parts of the pool. but he seemed to insist on playing right in my path. I almost swam into him a couple times. I ended up cutting that workout short. On my next swim day, I just got tired or bored of swimming and ended the workout after swimming juts over 1000m. My motivation just isn’t there!

All my runs were done as planned, but I had to run/walk while running in FL. The heat and humidity was tough.

My long Sunday ride was disappointing. Due to the weather and a family commitment, I had to start my long ride around noon. While I planned to do a 5 1/2 hr ride, I decided to abandon it after just over 3 hrs. I could have gone more, but just the thought of sitting on the bike for another 2 1/2 hrs was not appealing.

I don’t know if this is normal, but I am so ready to stop training!

Now, to make matters worse, I think I may be getting sick. For now, it’s just a congested feeling in my chest but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Ironman Training – Week 25 – October 14 – October 20 2019

I think was my most perfect week of training so far. Not only was it my biggest week at 15 hours, but I did all the workouts and I felt great doing them.

The week was capped off with a big weekend of training. This involved a 2:30 hr run where I ran just over 12 miles and then a 5:28 hr ride on Sunday where I rode 100 miles. This was my first 100 miler.

The long run went really well. Like my previous long run, the cooler weather helped a lot. For this run, I just ate gels every 45 mins and I think I will stick to gels for my actual Ironman.

For the ride, I didn’t know what to expect. When I tried a long ride the previous weekend after a long run on the Saturday, my body was just tired. This Sunday, that was not a problem. The biggest issue was the cold weather. I started off feeling OK, but once I started to sweat, it got a bit chilly. The good thing was that it didn’t start to feel any colder so I stayed the same for the first couple hours. Once the Sun came up, it warmed up a little and by the end of the ride, the weather was comfortable.

For the ride, I stuck to drinking SOS, eating Golden Oreo cookies, and licking salt. I think this is the right formula for me. With the Oreo cookies, I’m getting about 200 calories per hour. I need to see if that is sufficient. I did start to get some very minor initial signs of cramping, but once I licked my salt at my next scheduled time, it went away. I think I was borderline dehydrated. I know for the first couple hours I didn’t’ drink as much as I should have, My first bottle lasted 90 mins instead of 45-60 mins. The colder weather fooled me and I wasn’t drinking as often as I should.

This week was the first for a 3-week stretch with 15 hours planned each week. This was a great start.

Ironman Training – Week 24 – October 7 – October 13 2019

This week of training was going perfectly until the last day, but more on that in a bit.

A cold front moved into the North TX area and this helped bring the temperatures down. The result of this was that my runs were great. For my long run on Saturday, I managed to run the whole 10 miles without taking any walking breaks. That is quite an accomplishment for me as all my runs over the last few months have been run/walk runs. I did have a run during the week that was cold, wet, and windy, but I didn’t mind at all.

The downside of the cold front is that it impacts my cycling. While I don’t mind and actually love running in the cold, I hate riding in the cold. I was due to do a 5 hr ride on Sunday, but it was too cold at my normal start time so I decided to start riding around 9 am when the temperature was 60F. Initially it didn’t feel too bad, but as I started to sweat, the wind started to feel cold and I was miserable. I abandoned the ride after just over 7 miles.

I then decided to wait until the afternoon when it was due to warm up to the low 70’s. I headed out and while the temperature was fine, my heart and head just wasn’t in the ride and I abandoned that ride after just over 10 miles. In the end, I rode a total of an hour and I didn’t do my 5 hr ride.

Mentally, I’m getting to the point where training is getting harder and harder. I don’t feel physically tired. I’m just not motivated to do those long workouts. While it is scary that the Ironman is only 6 weeks away, a large part of me is glad. I just want to get it over and done with!