Along My Run | 24 Clinton Lake Ultra Training

I haven’t posted much about running since October, after I ran the Chicago Marathon. Yes, I am still running. Yes, I am still taking photos out when I run. Yes, I am signed up for a Spring Race. And since it is officially Spring, yes, the race is this coming Saturday! No, it is not a marathon – it’s a little crazier than that – it’s my first Ultra Marathon!

In the beginning of 2016, I looked back at 2015 and set some future goals. One of those goals was to complete an Ultra in early 2017, before I turned 50 years old (this May). So here I am, ready to tackle 30 miles with 2,100 feet of elevation change on a single track trail.

16 Weeks Training
1. Happy Trails, 2. Be my shelter, 3. On Saturdays We Wear Pink ... and Go Trail running, 4. Magic Carpet, 5. Landmark, 6. Trip the Light Fantastic, 7. Tracks, 8. Winter white glow, 9. The Rest of the Story, 10. Surreal Saturday, 11. The Sun Came Out! , 12. Oh Sun, How We've Missed You, 13. Such a Perfect Day for a Run in the Woods, 14. First Real Run in the Snow!, 15. Back to winter training on Campus, 16. Green Sparkles, 17. Wide Open Space, 18. Diversity, 19. Our Last Long Training Run, 20. Twin Peaks

I signed up for the Clinton Lake Ultra in November, the day race registration opened. The race is limited to 125 participants and I knew it would sell out before the end of the day (it sold out after 6 hours). The trail is a 10 mile loop around, you guessed it, Clinton Lake. I ran the loop for the first time in May last year, and it was the longest, hardest 10 miles I had ever completed. My average pace was 14 minutes / mile and a complete struggle. So I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up – this would be something challenging and to be quite honest, something that scared me. Fortunately, a few of my friends signed up for the same race so I knew I would have training support (and consolation when it really got tough).

Starting at the end of November, I changed my running schedule to include two days of trail running at a forest preserve about 20 minutes away. During the 16 week training program, I estimate running a little over 50% of my miles on the trails. The hallmark of an Ultra training plan is back to back long runs on the weekends – at our peak weeks, we logged 35-38 miles over two days, including runs on the actual course. My running comrades and I have stuck together through the ice, wind, snow and cold conditions; we’ve run through the mud and ankle deep water. We also enjoyed the beautiful trail scenery, watched the deer thunder through the woods and been refreshed by a light misting rain while the spring frogs started to sing.

I am ready for the upcoming adventure, even if it rains (yeah, in the weather forecast). My goal is to finish within the allotted 8 hour time limit, and if the conditions are like what we trained in, I believe I can finish in a little over 6 hours.

One of my friends, a seasoned Ultra Marathoner (she’s completed two 100 milers and casually completes 50 milers like they are 5Ks) gave me this advice: “Walk all the hills (we’ve practiced that), and don’t stop moving forward. Walking is faster than standing there crying. Because I’ve done the crying thing and it doesn’t get you to the finish line any faster”.

Something to remember if it gets really tough on Saturday...


Lisa Gordon  – (March 21, 2017 at 1:16 PM)  

This sounds brutal, Shirley!
I wish you all the very, very best.

Anita Johnson  – (March 21, 2017 at 2:14 PM)  

I don't run, but I do love your photos!

Jennifer @ Dashing in Style  – (March 23, 2017 at 7:01 PM)  

Awesome! So excited for you! Sounds like your training has gone great and you're ready. Good luck, have fun, and please post a recap!

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