Saturday, September 13, 2008

Additional Thought on Punxsy...Review of the Week...

I have a few additional thoughts regarding the Punxsutawney 50k last weekend. I've had difficulty explaining to people who are not distance runners why I was so happy with a 4 hour 59 minute finish in a 50k (a bit more than 31 miles) when I run marathons in 3 hours 15 minutes. After all, 50k is only 5 miles more than a marathon, right? So why would I be so pleased to finish nearly and hour and 45 minutes slower when its only 5 miles longer?

I could have gone into wordy descriptions of the unique challenges of ultra-running, but at the risk of sounding preachy and loosing the few blog-readers I have, I went a different way. I created the following graph to help make my point. The Boston Marathon is an infamously hilly marathon, so I compared the elevation profile of Boston to the profile of Punxsy.
(Click on the graph for a larger image.)
If they were amusement park rides, Boston would be the KiddieLand Kozy Koaster, and Punxsy would be the Vortex 3000. To further my point, I'll reference an article in this month's issue of Runner's World. It is titled, "Sublime Climbs: The greatest, most daunting hills in U.S. races". They describe Boston's Heartbreak Hill, which you can see between miles 20 and 21 on the graph, as rising 88 feet in 0.37 miles. By contrast, one of the Punxsy hills called Two Beers rises more than 300 feet in 0.35 miles...and to double the fun, you get to climb it twice.
Hills aside, and additional miles aside, most marathons are run on paved roads, and ultras are almost exclusively on trails with stones and ruts and mud and muck and...alright already, I think I made my point. So please, don't ask me why I am happy to have finished in 4:59.


As you might have guessed, this week I have cut back a little on my mileage, but not for the reason you might think. The day after Punxsy, I ran 10 miles with the SERC group and actually didn't feel too bad, although it took me longer than normal to get loose. I did 6.5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, taking Tuesday and Friday off. I did about 13 very wet and mucky trail miles today, and did not feel too bad. The two days off were not actually for my legs, which feel fine. I've been struggling with a very painful left shoulder which got so bad that I couldn't take the pain while running, and I was having trouble sleeping. I don't know how I injured it, but the pain started about two weeks ago, and slowly worsened. As of the end of the day Friday, it was feeling better, and today better still. I just wish I knew what I did to it.


The following article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today. Connie Gardner runs with our Lock 29 trail group on Saturdays. She is one of the toughest and most talented runners in the world, and it is great to see her receive some recognition. Good Luck in Korea, Connie.

Click on the image to enlarge.


E-Speed said...

That graphic is awesome Frank! Very well put!

solarsquirrel said...

Thanks for posting that article! I am so pumped for Connie - she is amazing. Too bad there aren't cash prizes...
I like your explanation on the time - I just can't believe anyone is even questioning it! It's an incredible time!!! I guess people who don't run ultra trail runs will never understand.

Steve Hawthorne said...

Frank- thanks for posting the article...the bp by my house was sold out by noon.

Babs said...


4:59 for Punxy?? Fantastic! Only Punxy Peeps..or those who know them..would understand. I've never done it, and looking at your graph, it 'freaks me out!'

Papa Louie said...

Now you got me scared to go on the Vortex 3000 but then I love roller coasters so I might have to give Punxsy a try one of these years.
My hat goes off to all those running and completing such a race as the Punxsy 50K.