The next event I have signed up for is the JFK 50 Mile Challenge in Sneem next Saturday. The challenge for me will be to refrain from running as it is a "walking only" event on roads between Sneem and Molls Gap - so a bit of up and down ( and great scenery) to break the monotony. Why did I sign up for it you might ask. I dunno really - maybe the word "Challenge" intrigued me. How difficult can it be to walk 50 miles. The challenge is to complete it within a 20-hour cutoff time - that's a long time to be on your feet. Although I have 12 hours at the back of my mind. 15 minute miles or 4 miles per hour would get me to mile 48 in 12 hours - maybe 13 then, allowing for a few short breaks at the 4 water/aid stations). The JFK connection stems from the walking craze generated in the US in 1963 when John F Kennedy challenged the nation to march 50 miles in a day. If I wanted to run a JFK 50 miler I'd have to go stateside.
As I have no walking under my training belt I was a little concerned that my running ability might not be enough to get me through the challenge. Surely there is a difference between the physiological requirements for endurance walking and endurance running. Although I won't be taking the challenge that seriously and race-walking like Rob Heffernan I would like to give a good account of myself and use it to improve my endurance base. I was not prepared to deviate too much from my running schedule (what schedule?) so I decided to introduce some walking into an extra long run today and get some experience of walking on tired legs. My plan was to head out for 5 hours, starting each hour with a 5 mile run and walking for the rest of the hour before repeating it all over again. At the back of my mind was 40 minutes running (8 minute pace) and sub-15 minute pace for the walking section - which should get me over 10k for each hour (6.22 miles) or 50k over 5 hours. I was interested to see how the walking breaks would affect my running - would I be able to run more comfortably for longer? Would I find it difficult to run after walking?
As I will be taking a backpack with me next weekend I took one today, using it to carry water (750ml), a spare top, shorts and a pair of shoes, fuel (a few gels, an apple and a small bag of almonds and raisins), a laminated map of the rural by-roads to the west of the City (new route) and an emergency €10. Another challenge - I'm not used to running with a back pack and it's not a running specific one either.
I headed out shortly after 6 into the morning haze. The first 5 miles up over the hill at Currabeg was uneventful.
|Mile 4 - Morning Mist|
The walking break went well, managing to keep the average pace under 15:00, despite a steep uphill section.
|Mile 6 -Uphill Walk|
|Mile 15 - Which Way?|
|Mile 20 - Dual Carriageway |
|Mile 25 - Heading into my last 5 mile run|