At 8 pm on March 5, 2021, I will be starting my first ever ultra-marathon event, running 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours in support of the Maddie Project.
The distance does not scare me. The lack of sleep, and the constant toll of running, then resting, then running again, repeating every four hours for forty-eight hours does.
To prepare, I’ve decided to build out my long runs, mix in multiple run days, and at least one, maybe two 4x4x24 events to better understand the mental and physical toll.
In preparation, two weeks ago, I attempted a broken marathon. The goal was to run 10.55 km every 4 hours from 8 am to 8 pm. I started high, fell fast, and ultimately threw in the towel after the third run.
Today, Sunday, January 10, was attempt #2.
Run 1 – 10.55km – 56:08
When you throw trash on the ground, you apparently don’t see yourself as truly belonging to the world that you’re walking around in.Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
This past weekend, I wrote a book review for my work blog on Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. While writing the review, I came across the quote above, which spoke to me on my run this morning.
As I finished up the run, which went much better than last time, I came across this destroyed baseball diamond.
Although I’m not sure exactly what happened, it does appear someone drove right through it.
What I am saddened to say is this is not the first time this has happened. Earlier this summer, someone, somehow, drove through the splash pad, knocking down a water tower built with half-inch think metal, see below. Then, earlier this fall, someone must have been doing donuts on the soccer field and managed to take out the second set of soccer poles you see in the background.
Why? I can almost understand an isolated incident where someone does something stupid, totals their car, and ruins some playground equipment in the process. But three incidents, a waterpark, a soccer pole, a baseball diamond? That’s three cars destroyed in the process.
As much as I like to think I live in a good neighbourhood, the world is a very crazy place.
Run 2 – 10.55km – 56:57
The second run is always easy and effortless.
Like last time, the second run is about grand plans, with thoughts of how easy this all is, how I even need to consider pushing myself further and faster, with visions of hundred milers dancing in my head.
Run 3 – 10.55km – 1:03:01
Where the second run is easy, the third run is not.
It’s amazing how comfortable you can get in three hours and how fast those three hours come at you.
Two weeks ago, I was in a terrible mindset for run number three, today was much better, but as I headed out the door, the legs were just as dead as last time.
For this run, I decided to head south to G. Ross Lord Park. As a word of warning, if you’re planning to run out this way, the north-south trails within were treacherous, with pure ice throughout. As I made my way south, I even had multiple people warning me along the way to turn back, that the curved bridges were iced and nearly impossible to cross. I took my time, walked slow, gripped the railings for dear life and plodded on.
After going south, it was time to head north, this time over the G. Ross Lord Reservoir Dam.
As I crossed over the dam and looked west, I saw a skater’s dream. The flat frozen ice seemed so tempting, but with water gushing out the other side of the dam, I’m sure it’s way more dangerous than it looks. Which sucks, because skating, when you get on the ice, is one of the few family activities we’ve been able to do.
Run 4 – 7km – 43:00
From the moment run three ended, I dreaded this run.
My legs were sore, and my house never felt so comfortable.
Running every four hours is hard. Running every four hours in the brutal cold of winter is terrible.
Like last time, I gave myself every excuse in the world to throw in the towel. Unlike last time, today, I was determined to run.
The funny thing is, as I set out on the run, I may have been slower than run three, but I actually felt better. Of course, my legs were sore, but it was manageable, even surprisingly so.
To complete my broken marathon, I needed to run 10.5km; instead, I ran 7, finishing at 38.65, the equivalent of one day of 4x4x48 running.
I stopped not because I couldn’t go on, but simply that I got what I needed to out of the day. I knew I could have easily finished the broken marathon. At the same time, it was cold, I was tired, and it was time to go home.
Training for the 4x4x48 will be long and hard. There’s no point making it harder than it needs to be.
When I first started to ramp up my running in October, running 10km twice in one day was killer. Now, as the last two weeks have shown, what was once hard has become easy.
Hopefully, with a few more training sessions, this will feel the same.
With the broken marathon’s intended goal complete, the next leap in my training will be my first 4x4x24 training day, targeting 6.4 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours. The goal, train my mind to know what to expect on race day.
Thanks for reading,