Ultra Planning

I’ve got the Seafair Marathon coming up in two weeks, yet after doing Saturday’s run… I’m not that excited. I think it will definitely be a challenge, and I would by NO means consider myself a marathon expert, but somehow it just isn’t as exciting as it was when I had never done the distance. I’ve done a marathon now, and I’ve run even further than a marathon in training. There’s no excitement of testing myself and wondering if I can finish because I’ve never done this before.

So what’s next? I really want to do an ultra now (but just a 50K – not ready for more just yet). Unfortunately, I can’t really find many in the summer.

The Great Cranberry Ultra sounds kind of cool, but it’s a 2 mile out-and-back. That is, 2 miles out, 2 miles back… which needs to be done 8 times. Ew. However, it’s tempting because it sounds like a pretty course, it’s close (both in distance from Boston and in timing), and it’s not trails (which I’m still scared of and probably will be until I go to trail running camp in July). Speaking of which, this is the same weekend as the trail running camp. So I’d have to decide between the two. I suppose the trail running camp would be better for me in terms of expanding my running horizons… but an ultra would be SO cool! And this is one of the few ultras that isn’t trail running, which is appealing.

The North Face Endurance Challenge sounds fun. It doesn’t sound like the trails are too difficult, and still afford some pretty scenery. Downsides of this one are that it’s far away timing-wise (September), and they have a 50 mile option as well, which would take away some of my glory :) Though maybe by then I could be ready for a 50 miler? I don’t know – I think that would require an actual training plan. I’m much more a fan of the spontaneous running!

The Finger Lakes Fifties is only a week after the Seafair Marathon, which would be tough. Plus, I’m moving apartments on July 3, so I’d have to go from NYC to get there. And they have a 50 miler (see above). But it would be cool to head back up to my Finger Lakes stomping grounds! And it has the advantage of allowing me to go wine touring the day after… mmmm. I could probably get a lot of friends to come cheer me on if I arrange a wine tour weekend. I think it might be too cocky to think I’m already ready to do a 50K though just because I did one ultra training run – I should really take longer to prepare. This one’s a definite no.

According to the description here, the CanLake 50 sounds totally doable. It’s roads, not trails, and while it has both 50K and 50M options, I’m thinking that by October, I might even be able to do the 50M option? Plus, it’s in the Finger Lakes region which means… wine tour!!! And I could have a post-race dinner at my favorite restaurant in the country, Dano’s on Seneca. My only concern is the no iPod rule. I really don’t think I can run 6 hours without music, which sucks b/c other than that it was perfect. Wonder if it’s going to be enforced? Or if it’s one of those “we’ll say no music for insurance purposes, but really you can do whatever.”

If I’m looking for a far out 50 miler, there is always the JFK 50 Miler, which isn’t until November. The Albany Running Exchange is organizing a group to go, which would be fun, and the race itself is the biggest ultra in the country, which I think I’d like. The more other crazies running a race with me, the better! The course sounds kind of tough though…

So of the four (excluding Finger Lakes Fifties): what should I pick? Or should I just stick with marathons for a while?


  1. Wow! Very ambitious! If you want to do a 50k I say do it – not many can or will. Good luck with whatever race you choose.

  2. LMAO… why would a site promoting an ultra have a pic of this guy on it????

    Sorry, I thought there was a 50K in Lake Tahoe… but it’s a 72 miler. I was trying to be helpful and just ended up entertaining myself.

  3. UM. I’m gonna say do whichever one you want. That’s reallly really cool.

    I’ll do one someday

  4. Or if you want to stay close to home…there’s always the Knickerbocker 60K in mid-late November…9 x the middle 4 loop in CP. talk about going loopy :-p

  5. Laura –thank you so much for leaving me a birthday message –we do alot of the same races -I’m just older than you!! by about 40 years:)
    I don’t think it’s ambitious at all to run an ultra -the finger lakes 50s was my first 50 miler and I loved it! I would like to do the canandaigua 50 miler also -that is is on roads, which is tough on one’s body. I and Frank (RUNDangerously) have also done the JFK 50 last year –heads up-sign up for it in july or it gets booked up. I say go for it! If you can do a marathon, you will have no prob. with a 50K. good luck with your racing!

  6. Shhhessshh… You are tempting me! After reading your post, you are influencing me to do the ultra. With the Cranberry ultra, I am afraid I will have vertigo if I keep repeating the loops several times. I have heard that doing a marathon is more intensifying because of the timing. With ultra, there is more of doing both running and walking which can be more challenging but not so pressed with timing. I will have to think about doing an ultra this summer. Hmm hmmm hmmm….

  7. you need to come do the SF marathon!!!! you need your CA race :) this one isnt madness like bay to breakers and is a real race hehe…

    good luck deciding the rest! i have no doubt you will be running an ultra very soon!

  8. Aron, I’m almost definitely in for San Fran, but my project is supposed to end in mid-August so I can’t really make plans until July, in case it ends early. I’ll let you know!

    Emmy, thanks for all the ultra advice!

  9. A 2 mile out and back sounds like it would be a beating by the 3rd trip. You might want to use a marathon or two as training runs and shoot for the September race as your first ultra. Totally cool! Good luck!

  10. I sort of ran the Seafair Marathon last year. I ended up walking much of it with my husband who was having severe problems with cramping due to heat and hydration. We had the honor of being the last finishers before the 6 hour cut off, with a police escort for the last 10 miles. Race report here http://seedivarun.com/blog/index.php/races/seafair-marathon

    I was so excited about the new course that I talked a lot of people into signing up this year. Then I developed a bad case of plantar fasciitis and had to cancel all of my race plans. I still think it will be a great race, and I’m very disappointed about missing it.

    I wore an iPod last year, and it wasn’t a problem. I haven’t heard anything that made me think it would be a problem this year, either. Have a great time in Seattle.

  11. Laura

    I have done the JFK 50 three times and it is a well supported race. There are ample aid stations and easy access for a crew if you have one. But a crew is really not necessary. The first 16 miles is the roughest and consist mostly of an uphill road run and then the Appalachian Trail. After that there is a marathon run on the flat C&O tow path and an 8+ mile run on rolling country roads. At the finish there is plenty of food and locker rooms with HOT showers. The only real negative is that they are real strict on the no ipod rule.

    I believe registration opens up on July 1. Try to get you application in ASAP since this race fills fast. I suggest that you go with the 5 am start since this gives you 2 extra hours to complete the race. It is also good to make you hotel reservation early (I made mine last November). I suggest the Hampton Inn on Dual Highway in Hagerstown. It is close to the race HQ and walking distance to a Denny’s for that early morning pre race breakfast and a liquor store for the needed post race refreshments.


  12. Oh awesome! I was actually thinking about the NFEC for next year. The Cranberry one I would definitely not be able to handle with all the out and back but if you don’t think it would bother you, go for it! Personally, I’d choose one where I could also do wine tours after, haha.

  13. you are my inspiration :) seriously, just reading your blog makes me wanna be a runner.

    La Petite Belle

  14. Go for the 50K, pick the easiest route! At least thats what I would do, LOL.

  15. laura, it’s so great you’re thinking of ultras! woo hoo!! you can definitely move up to 50k from marathon training. moving up to 50m is a tougher nut to crack w/out increasing your base mileage during the training phase.

    you may want to check out “timed” events as well. there are two 6 hours races coming up (staten island/mid-sept. and long island/mid-oct.) as long as 26.2m is covered, you get credit for the event. but runners also pick a distance, i.e. 50k – and will stop there.

    good luck whichever event you pick!

  16. Aaah! I must stop reading about ultras–I too am getting very tempted to make the jump up to at least 50K . . . especially after that recent Runner’s World article informed me that you can train for them and still have a life. I’d always assumed I’d have to quit my job to train for one! Hmmm . . .

  17. Diva, thanks so much for the info! I signed up for the full this morning and will plan to use my iPod. Sorry to hear you own’t be running it again :(

    Jim, good to know about JFK! Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to do it, as I can’t really plan that far in advance to be able to register in July. I’ll keep looking, especially for one with an iPod. I can’t imagine running for 7 hours with no music!

    Marci, I like the way you think :)

    RunDangerously, those sound interesting – I’ll look into those…

    Irish, I totally thought the same thing! Though I think it WOUDLD involve giving up my weekends… hmm…

  18. If you can run a marathon, and you can, you can step up distance-wise to a 50k, the challenge comes when you change terrain. That is most marathons are on the road, some rolling hills, maybe even some short sharp ones but when you shift to the trails it can be a totally different experience, elevation gain will slow you down more than you can imagine; my marathon PR 3:45 my 50K 6:34, that nearly three extra hours for 6 extra miles. So that’s the thing to consider and train for. As for 50 miles, well you’ll need to really train for that, it’s more than two consecutive marathons and if you don’t have enough speed you’ll miss the cutoffs and be pulled. Anyway my 2c from a newbie. For sure whatever you decide you have the tenacity to see it through it’ll be just a case of how much you want to leave out on the course.

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