Sunday, November 25, 2012

Experiments in Unpreparedness

I don't know if my writing ever inspires anyone else, but it does occasionally inspire me. My recent Flatrock bit is a good example. I confess I've been back to read it at least a dozen times, and every time I do, I become even more captiviated with the idea of making challenging races even more challenging by purposely not preparing for them. What an original thought, if I do say so myself.

It enchants me to think that I could properly consider myself an "extreme runner" just because of the extreme mismatch between the training I do and the races I run. My running friends are all shocked to learn that I ran my first marathon and my first ultra having trained, on average, barely over one day a week. I ran closer to two days a week leading up to my 50-miler that never happened, but I could not have sustained that for much longer. One day a week is a nice number--extreme in its smallness, as distance runners go, but nice.

Still, I wonder where the limit is. Does one really need to train at all? Can any reasonably fit person, as I am, complete a long distance just by knowing it is possible and doing it? For the last five weeks, my training has consisted of taking calcium citrate and a multivitamin every day. I did run an unknown distance in an unknown time a while back, but other than that, I have done no training at all. It will be interesting to see how many laps of the ballpark loop at J. B. Hunt Park I can run in twelve hours this coming Wednesday. It's about eight-tenths of a mile. Any guesses?

Donald and I reconnoitered this loop tonight and confirmed that the structure just southeast of the easternmost parking lot is indeed a second playgound area. It has three levels. The top level is accessed by a ladder in the center and is completely caged in to prevent suicides. A really kick-ass tube slide takes you back to ground level in only a few seconds.


Martijn said...

Guesses? I'm a scientist, deep in my rotten heart, Sir! If I could make guesses, I could write poetry, enjoy football and fall in love. No, guesses are not my nature.

However, based on your earlier perfomances, I can make an educated guess. On your 21 k, 42 k and 50 k runs, you averaged a speed of 0.14, 0.13 and 0.11 kilometres per minute, respectively. Keeping in mind the slowing down on longer runs, but ignoring the training coefficient, I say you can maintain a 0.10 kilometre per minute speed on this run.

Twelve hours of 0.10 kpm is 72 kilometres. A lap is 0.8 miles, which is 1.28 kilometres. So if you don't collapse or pause for diners or naps, you could do in theory 56,25 laps. Yes you can! ... not counting the banana peel factor of course.

Dave Renfro said...

Thank you for your intelligent guess, Martijn. In other words, thank you for not offering some patronizing cheerleading about how amazing I am. Me, I'm guessing 52 laps, only because I know 51 laps would get me past the psychologically important 40-mile mark, and the 52nd lap would placate my anxiety about the accuracy of my measurement (40 miles being important only because our number system has a base of ten and 40 is divisible by ten, otherwise 40 is a completely arbitrary number having no more importance than 39 or 41). Distance running, in my brief and limited experience, is more a mental effort than a physical one. My buddy, once it became apparent that he would not achieve his goal of a sub-24-hour finish at Leadville, I believe fell apart mentally and dropped at mile 80. If his goal had been to finish 100 miles in 30 hours, I believe he would have. I will see what happens to me at mile 40.

You rock, dude!

Martijn said...

Aha! Yes, I had anticipated the psychological factor but I had thought (and let's see who's right!) that the number 50 (laps) would mean far more as a goal than the distance in miles, since you keep track of the number of laps and will probably not be calculating those back into miles. That would be foolish thing to do anyway because that way you can feel the distance agonizingly slowly creeping up. Like counting the hours one has not smoked a cigarette...

You should have one of those 'clickers' biologists (such as I) use for counting geese and eye blinks and such. Then you can just ran and worry about your numbers & goals later. When you have to remember the number of laps, you're bound to loose energy doing that, or getting worried you might have counted them wrongly once the post 20 mile madness sets in.

I can hardly wait to see what happens. Too bad I can't sit there in a deck chair with a beverage and note book and see.

red dirt girl said...

Wow. I was going to say how amazing you are, but I see that remark would only have offended you. What do i really think? You are as crazy as a loon, and I love you for it.

good luck.
break a leg.
break the tape.
chin up.
good fortune.
happy chance.


Dave Renfro said...

Hi mule friend! Hi again, Martijn! I have things to say but must get to bed now. Thanks for the confidence and the good wishes. Trip report, hopefully epic, is forthcoming.

Good night!