Marathon Across The Drake Passage

I’ve been in Antarctica for a few days, so I thought it would be cool to do some sort of unusual run.

By way of background, the passage between Ushuaia (Tierra de Fuego, Argentina) and Antarctica is known as the Drake Passage and forms part of the Southern Ocean, where the Pacific meets the Atlantic. It is home to the roughest seas in the world, and it takes a couple of days to cross by boat.

Fortunately, our vessel had a treadmill. So, on the way back from Antarctica to Ushuaia, I decided to run a marathon on the treadmill while the ship was crossing The Drake. It was actually a very good workout, as the heavy rolling and rocking made it challenging to run. At times, it felt like I was floating (no gravity) but then immediately the boat would spring back and I felt twice as heavy. At the same time, there was rolling side to side, so I had to balance myself (of course, without holding on to the handlebars as that would be too sissy). All in all, a fun and challenging sub-4 hour marathon.

Who knows, maybe it’s the first marathon ran across The Drake!

Dec/Jan - 6 to 7 Months Prior to Western States

I was supposed to do the JFK 50 mile run (again) on November 18th and then take off 4 weeks from running as a complete recovery prior to starting the ramp-up training for Western States, but my sister’s death during the week of the JFK race, needless to say, disrupted my life.

Since I was already well into my two week taper by November 18th, I simply took off a few more weeks from running and called that my time off (the “quiet time”). Many of the best ultra-runners recommend taking at least a month off from running every year. This gives all the muscles time to recover and get healthy plus has the additional psychological advantage of making you eager to run again.

I resumed running during the middle of December, increasing my weekly time from 270 minutes during the first week to 510 minutes during the fourth week -- lots of base building runs at an easy Zone 2 or low Zone 3, with a 3-hour long run during the last two weeks.

One week of recovery (390 minutes total for recovery week) and then another 3 weeks of building my base. I sprinkled a few short tempo runs (20 minutes at tempo) and strides (10 strides x 25 seconds each at 95% effort with 2 minute recovery in between) here and there, but most of my running is happening at high Zone 2 /Low Zone 3. My strength training (weights) continues twice per week, uninterrupted (2 sets of 25 reps each for now; later on I’ll decrease to 8-10 reps and increase the weight).

In general, here is my training plan for the last 7 months prior to the Western States:

Month 7: Off from running (some cross training and strength training).
Months 6 & 5: Base Building. Zone 2 and Low Zone 3. Long runs: 3-4 hours.
Months 3 & 4: Race a 50K and a 50 miler. Easy on a 100K.
Month 2: Peaking, 6-7 hour long runs & back to back’s.
Month 1: Taper and heat/altitude acclimatization.

So long as I stay injury-free, it should work out.

A reminder on Training Zones (more in previous posts):

For my 160-165 Lactate-Threshold Heart Rate, my other Heart-Rate Zones are:
Zone 2: 130/145 –- Easy Base
Zone 3A: 145/155 -- Base
Zone 3B: 155/165 -- Tempo at 160/165
Zone 4A: 165/170 -- Strides
Zone 4B: 170/175 -- Long Intervals (880’s)
Zone 5: 175+ -- Short Intervals (400’s)

Figure out your zones & run smart.