Going the distance on trails

The 2011 TNT Ultra Marathon team with Coach "Mama Lisa" (first row, far right).

Born out of long-time Coach “Mama Lisa” Felder’s personal experience with and passion for long-distance running, this small but mighty Team In Training (TNT) subgroup has seen a recent surge in participation. More than twenty individuals have signed on to train for the Mt. Tamalpa Ultra Marathon, a 50k (31-mile) trail run on August 25, 2012. Together, they will raise more than $50,000 for blood cancer research and patient services.

A  TNT coach since 1998 and an incredible athlete in her own right (with more than 110 Ultra Marathons under her belt), Coach Mama Lisa launched TNT’s Ultra Team in 2010 with great success. Designed for the experienced runner looking for the next challenge, the Ultra Marathon training program involves six months of training with three phases: base building, endurance building and distance.

For most of us, the response to the idea of running thirty-one miles is “why?” or possibly “how?” For a select few, the challenge is intriguing. For TNT alum, Brian Ladrillono it was more of a question of “why not?”

“My previous TNT experiences taught me that I am capable of doing more than I ever thought possible,” he says. “So why limit yourself?”

For Brian’s wife, May, it was bit more of a leap of faith. “Running has never been part of my routine, so jumping from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon to an Ultra Marathon was a very big decision to make,” she says. “My first concern when Brian joined was that family time would be scarce if nonexistent. But rather than have him miss out on a new, exciting challenge, I decided to join him and take it on myself.”

So going back to the how – how do you ultimately prepare your body to take on a 31-mile trail run? The magic happens over a six month training period that builds up your endurance; the regimen involves short runs, track and cross fit training during the week, long runs on Saturday, followed with a “run on tired” legs Sunday run.

“It’s not necessarily how fast or how far you go, but really the time you spend on your feet that prepares you for event day,” says Coach Mama Lisa.

As with Team In Training’s core program, Ultra training takes team members to some of the most scenic locations the Bay Area has to offer including Marin’s Tennessee Valley, Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park and Berkeley’s Inspiration Point.

“You learn to fall in love with your surroundings,” says May. “Ultra is hills, rocks, roots, mud and streams, so you learn to run dirty with nature and pay attention to where you are and where you are going.”

Sunny Grosso, a TNT alum who participated in the inaugural Ultra Team in 2010 views the long trail runs as quality “me” time.

“You spend a lot of time surrounded by beauty, getting lost in your mind,” she says. “I feel as relaxed and renewed after a long trail run as I do returning from vacation,. But it takes a fraction of the time away and lasts much longer.”

And race day, what is that like? It’s a roller coaster of emotions. As Sunny puts it, “You start off nervous and giddy. Light legs become heavy with the endless miles of trail running and doubt creeps in. But just as you are feeling defeated, a foreign strength, one that you never knew you had, rises up and carries you through. It’s incredible.”

“And then as you cross the finish line, you wonder if there’s any real food left,” says Brian.

Intrigued? It’s not too late to join the Ultra Team! Get a taste of Ultra training at tomorrow’s preview run at Redwood Regional Park – Canyon Meadow Staging Area. For details and directions, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/242326172504997.

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About Megan Kilkenny

LLS Sr. Director, Marketing Communication Team In Training Alum Three-time Nike Women's Half Marathon finisher
This entry was posted in Team In Training, Things to do and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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