Saturday, September 21, 2013

Racing the workout

All over the place, you see people blogging and tweeting about not over-running workouts. ...about how you should keep your eyes on the prize (goal race) and not finish your speedwork lying on the grass in exhaustion. Before any of my fitness blogger/professional friends jump all over me, I will say I agree to some extent.

If you are training for a specific race, and that specific race is coming up in the next 1-2 mos OR if you're in the midst of racing season and have aspirations of victory or qualifying for something or financial gain, you are probably right. You don't want to blow your proverbial (you know - the lesser known dirty proverbs) wad on a workout. But you already knew that.

I will also concede that you should probably reevaluate your training if you are over running your workouts EVERY WEEK. At some point that will bite you in the ass in the form of injury or overtraining. Moderation and training cycles are very important in maintaining a healthy running life (nod to fitness/health professional friends).

The point of this ranty post, though, is I won't concede that it's never okay to spontaneously run the bejeezus out of a workout because you feel good. Wait. What? I feel like there were too many negatives there.  Let me rephrase that. IT'S OKAY TO SPONTANEOUSLY RUN THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF A WORKOUT BECAUSE YOU FEEL GOOD. There. I have given you (and myself) permission.

thanks to for
this highly appropriate image
For those of us with no hope of Olympic qualifiers and whose careers are not really tied to our running prowess, running is supposed to bring us joy. And fitness. And health. And a host of other fantastic benefits. But you could get those benefits with any number of fitness programs. We choose running because we ENJOY it. We enjoy going outside and communing with nature. We enjoy the fact that in running, you get to go further and potentially see more than you would on a similarly timed walk/hike. We enjoy going fast. Given those things, why on Earth should we say to ourselves "hey - I know it's a beautiful day and you're feeling light and fast and amazing and the birds are chirping and the trees are singing to you, but the training calendar you downloaded says this is supposed to be at half marathon pace, so rein it in"? Actually, if the trees are singing to you, you should probably slow down - you're clearly suffering from some sort of hypoxia-induced hallucination. Up to that point, though, I firmly believe you should go ahead and FLY. Why would you deprive yourself of that feeling of being the fastest person on the planet and a part of some cosmic symphony of bliss? For the sake of a race 4 mos down the road that might take place in a blizzard when you have the flu and an entire squad of elite Kenyans in your age group shows up? I think perhaps not.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for a little discomfort for the sake of future rewards. ...and anyone who says winning's not fun is pretty much lying. That's why I haul myself out the door at at the crack of dawn all summer when the temperature is in the mid 70s with 99% humidity to train for a fall race (not that I'll win, but maybe an age group award or a PR or something...) I'll do the dreaded 20x400 workout because I know that as much I'd rather stab myself in the eyeball at the time, it will make me faster and stronger in the end. But all that crapitude is also why I think that I should get to extract as much pleasure as possible from that day when the stars align and the 12x(100m on, 100m off) workout feels awesome. When the 'on' segments are more like 5k pace (or faster) and the 'off' segments are still somewhere around marathon pace. When even the warmup and cooldown are probably faster than my current half marathon pace.

In case you hadn't guessed, that exact thing happened to me this week. ...and it was AWESOME. I rode that high ALL DAY. ...and you know what? No matter what happens at that race next month, I had an awesome run last week. ...and I'm not sorry.

Okay- full disclosure - this was from a race, but
the race involved an obstacle called the 'poo volcano',
so we'll count it as a training run.
...and it was also AWESOME
End endorphin-fuelled rant.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Musings on 100 miles

I started this post around a month ago, but I have to admit I wasn't sure what to say.  I have at the same time everything and nothing to say about this run.  How do you condense 100 miles of running (well "running") into a post that someone will want to read?  I wrote something up for my track club where I split it into laps, but it was still super boring.  I mean really - nothing interesting happened.  I started running at 6AM, and after 2 laps, I felt pretty good, so I launched into my 'sub 22:30' plan, which involved starting at 10:30/mile and slowing down 1 min/mile each lap.  Which I did.  Basically, everything went according to plan, and I surpassed even my stretch goal of 22:30 (I considered 'realistic' to be something around 24:00) by finishing in 22:08:37.  I'm definitely happy.  But here's where things get weird and philosophical.

I know I could have gone faster.  I was intentionally very conservative because goal #1 was to finish.  ...and goal #1 was VERY important.  I can't overstate that.  After Vermont last year, I needed to finish. So I'm happy I stuck with the plan and finished.  ...but I was also less than an hour out of 2nd place.  And while one of the people ahead of me was still kicking ass and taking names (cheers to you, 62-year-old Maria Shields - you are awesome!), the other two were definitely not.  One was a good friend of mine, and according to all reports, was definitely maxed out by the end.  The other had been in second up to about lap 6 and had started a precipitous backward slide in the standings after that.  So some little part of me wonders where I would have finished if I had been a wee bit more aggressive, as I was completely lucid and conversational the whole time, and could walk like a normal person by about Wednesday of that week.  This is not to say I regret anything, nor do I have any ill will toward those nice ladies ahead of me - just a bit wondery about the whole thing.  What's funny, though, is how resolute I still feel about NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.

It wasn't at all a bad experience.  I mean sure - there were parts that I enjoyed less than others.  ...and I was reminded a couple weeks ago that I told my lap 7 pacer that "this (was) stupid" and "not fun at all", and that there was "no reason for anyone to be doing this".  But really, nothing was ever terrible.  Also, training went really well.  I got all my loooong runs in, and still managed to keep my pace up on my speedwork.  Aside from a couple naggy parts of my body, training actually felt great, and I was in at least the second best shape of my life going in to the race.  So that was awesome.  But here's the thing - I missed NOT running on the weekend.  I had to skip a number of events I would have loved to attend because I 'had to run 35 (or whatever) miles that day'.  Training for a normal race, you can just get up early or shuffle your days around if you have something you want to do that day.  Not so much for a 40-mile run.  Even starting at 5AM, you're not off trail till at least 1, which seems like you could get to something, but let's be real: if you get up at 4 to start a run at 5AM, then rush home and shower by say 2 or 2:30, you are not going to be a whole lot of fun at a 3PM event.  ...and that's a best-case scenario.  Training through the winter for an April race is infinitely better than training through the early summer for a late July race, but it still wasn't what I'd call fun.  For me to want to do that again, I'd either have to become independently wealthy or work part time so I could get my longass runs in during the week, or there'd have to be some promise that I could drop many multiple hours off my time.  I don't think that even getting into the 20 hour ballpark would be enticing enough.  Also, while I'm totally convinced I could drop significant time, I'm not convinced I could drop 2 hours.  So that's that.  I wonder how much better I could do, but not enough to actually do it again.  Is that weird?

Anyway, sorry for the weirdness on this one - I felt like I should write something about this big ol' life milestone, but I didn't know what to say as it's at once momentous and a non-event, and I'm at the same time ecstatic and wondering what could have been. I don't want to leave you on a low note, though, so here's a fun picture from the race:

This was actually on lap 3 or 4,
but it's similar to how I looked at the finish

I also need to thank the amazing race directors and volunteers out there - the amount of time and energy spent to help a lucky few of us achieve our bucket list goals, is amazing, and I hope they (you) know how much we appreciate it <3

OOH! As an addendum, I also give you my favorite epiphany from the day: being a girl is AWESOME because when you pee, YOU GET TO SIT DOWN for a minute.  I have never been so excited to hydrate in my life.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Neusiok Trail Race

Only one week late! *High Five*

So sometime last fall Ronnie started talking about something called the Neusiok Trail Race. I mostly ignored it because really? Like I really wanted to spend ANOTHER weekend traveling over the holidays? But he persisted and eventually I figured that if it was so important to him, I would survive another weekend of travel. Also, I needed a long run that weekend anyway, so why not do one with aid stations?

SO with the stars thus aligned, I signed up for the 21.5-mile and Ronnie, in a fit of I-don't-know-what decided that the 43-miler would be fun. Let's recap that conversation:

Me: You know you're doing a 40 a month later, right?
Him: Yup! This will be a good warmup!
Me: Um. Exactly what training plan suggests that?
Him: The one in my head.
Me: Okey doke - suit yourself, crazy! (I know which battles to pick)

And so it went.

A quick look at the entry list suggested that Ronnie would be spending a lot of time alone out there (only 11 people in his race) and the trail would be super crowded for mine (~70 in mine). No big deal, though - it was a training run. In fact, I planned to run an extra 6+ at the end to a) pass the time while I waited for Ronnie, and b) get me a little closer to the 30 I was supposed to run that day. Take that race!

So the race began. Whoever said the ocean moderates temperature (so it isn't as cold on the coast) forgot about lovely ocean breezes. When it's below freezing, that lovely breeze is called a wind chill and it is brutal. The universal sentiment at the start was that racing was kind of out the window for a bit and we would all be running to warm up for the foreseeable future. This was facilitated by the handful of beach running segments in the first couple of miles. Kind of unexpected, but I don't know why. I was glad I had decided to wear my awesome gaiters here as the sand content of my shoes remained at 0 the whole time. Woohoo!

Also during this time, we heard periodic activity from the firing range at Cherry Point. The guys in front of me said something about it maybe being duck hunters, and I tried to be funny, saying "I think the ducks are returning fire." I thought it was funny, but nobody laughed. I'm hoping maybe some of you will find it amusing...

Around that time, the girl behind me decided she didn't want to be behind me anymore and dodged around. She pulled a bit ahead and kept looking back, which I thought was a little odd 4 miles into a 21.5 mile race, but didn't worry too much about it. Also around that time, we started catching and passing the 43-milers, which was kind of fun. I tried to be encouraging without seeming like a jerk as I trotted by in my little weenie short race. Somewhere in here, we were supposed to see unmanned aid station #1, but I never saw it. It wasn't a big deal, though, as I had plenty of water in my handheld and it's not like the temperature was rising particularly rapidly. The final exciting event of the first 6 miles was the first of many MANY skinny boardwalk-style bridges. Which were covered in moss. And frost. Having spent some quality time sliding on bridges at Uwharrie, I took these pretty carefully and while I slid a bit, nothing too exciting happened. Let's call this foreshadowing.

No.  Not First Aid Station.
First. Aid Station.  Silly!

The theme of section two was bridges. MORE BRIDGES. Someone at the start said that one of these was 1/2 mile long. I'm not sure if that was true, but it was pretty fricking long. There were also a few of these that had been moved around by hurricanes and were thus a little less than level when they were put back where they had started. I hit one of these a little faster than I should have and SURPRISE! I slid off. And tweaked an adductor muscle in the process. Luckily, I apparently don't use those much on long runs, so it wasn't a big deal (until the following week). That was the first of four bridges I slid off. One of them I didn't have a prayer. I was actually walking at the time, but the combination of whatever my soles are made of and the angle of the tilt was just too much to be hindered by friction. Luckily, I was pretty good at falling off bridges by that point, so I took it in stride (almost literally).

It was kind of like this.  But the puddles were bigger.
And I was wearing running clothes
As I came out of the second aid station, I saw a flash of pink about 200 yards up ahead and had to contend with a bit of a mental battle: did I rally the troops (by "troops" I mean Sam the fast twitch muscle and any of my slower muscles that he could coerce into working too hard) and reel her in, hoping I could hang on, but likely eliminating the chances I would be able to add on at the end, or did I stick to the plan? Stick to the plan was the answer. Always stick to the plan. (I'm actually really bad at sticking to the plan most of the time). I tried to stick to the plan, but I think I sped up a little because by the time we got to the woods again ~2 miles later, I had cut the lead to maybe 125 yards. Even worse for the plan, this section involved about 3 miles of trail-consuming, 20- to 40-yard long puddles ranging in depth from ankle deep to well over my knees. They were awesome! I had so much fun plowing in and discovering that some spots were deeper than others and generally splashing around. About halfway through this, I caught up to the pink lady, who looked like a deer in headlights and took off when I came around the corner. Unfortunately for her, she did not share my love of puddles, and at the next puddle I passed her as she picked her way through the bushes on the side of the trail. I yelled something encouraging, but again, not wanting to seem like a patronizing asshole, I kind of just got out of the way as quickly as possible.

At this point, I knew I was in first, and I also knew the nice lady I just passed wasn't very happy about it, so I had to throw the plan out the window and push the pace if I wanted to hold my position (I'm all for being nice, but come on - who doesn't want to win?). I made a deal with my plan that if I did manage to win, I would be okay with dropping the add-on miles and pushed on ahead, metering my energy such that I was pushing hard, but not so hard that I couldn't make it the final 3.5 miles. Which was unfortunate because as we got closer to the finish, the scenery was absolutely beautiful. I considered still adding on as I went through just so I could actually enjoy the view, but pressed on to the finish.

When I did finish, I discovered that not only did I win, but I was 5th overall, only 4 min behind 2nd overall! Wow! That was unexpected! After I picked up my finishers award (a neato handmade wooden bluebird house) and consumed a cup of my favorite long race food (ramen), I started getting cold and got up with the aim of heading back out for a couple miles. Unfortunately, while I was sitting my knee/IT band tightened up and I decided to bail on the scenic out-and-back. Instead, I opted to put on approximately 14 layers of clothing and huddled around the fire with a nice group of gentlemen from Fort Bragg while we cheered for finishers and waited for the (warm) van ride back to the start.

Pretend this is a finisher's picture.  Also, I think our
houses were slightly wider, but you get the idea

When we had enough people to mostly fill the van huddled around the fire, Race Director Brandon held an informal award ceremony where the winners received what he described as "a very large wood duck house" and second place finishers received screech owl houses, also hand made by members of the Carteret County Wildlife club. I was a little unsure about fitting my new giant award in my Elantra, but my new friends from Bragg at least helped me get it into the van back to the start. In the end, it did fit in my trunk, and, as Ronnie also won the 43, HIS giant wood duck house fit in the back seat. As an added bonus, because this was the first year the race ran these distances, Ronnie and I also hold the course records! I fully expect that to end next year, but it'll be awesome for the next 51 weeks :)

Watch out - some of these guys are a little tilty
and covered in frost

Overall, I really enjoyed this race. Brandon and his army of volunteers were all great, the trail really is quite lovely, and my fellow runners were all very friendly and encouraging (except the guys who didn't think my duck joke was funny - they are not my friends). I would very much recommend the race to anyone looking for a relatively flat winter trail race. It probably isn't great training for Uwharrie, but it was definitely a nice change of pace from the usual weekend venues.

Until next time, happy trails all!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

a random post

This blog has been super quiet for the past several months.  I've actually started a handful of posts on a variety of topics, ranging from my eternal love for my Lululemon Dart n' Dash shorts to musings about the injury prone-ness of a certain group of runners and how that might relate to their scores on the (scientifically validated) neuroticism scale.  I also started a post about my run at Shut-in and sent something out to my fellow BCTC friends, but I wasn't feeling terribly inspired to write a long, funny blog post, mostly because I was kind of ridiculously busy at work and having difficulty finding time to sleep, let alone write long, witty blog posts.

If you image search 'no time', this picture comes up - why??

Now, three weeks later, I'm still not inspired to write about Shut-in, as there's just not anything that was terribly inspiring (either positively or negatively) about that run.  It was a lovely day, but I had a cold, so I did a long slow run up a mountain, allowing me to enjoy the rest of my weekend in Asheville.  I wasn't super hyped up about the race going in, so not having a great day wasn't really that disappointing.  so meh.  But I feel compelled to write.  So here goes a post about the likely reason I'm not feeling particularly amped up about races.  It hearkens back to something I did (or, to be more accurate, did not do) in July.  I did not finish.  I'm not depressed about not finishing.  I'm not in some failure-induced malaise (at least, I don't think so...), but I do have this feeling of unfinished business.  When I bailed on Vermont, I thought I wouldn't.  I thought I would be okay with my body telling me I shouldn't do that.  ...but alas, my logical side was not strong enough to suppress my stubborn, I can do anything you can do side.  So one day in September, I rushed into work after my Saturday run (because work has gigabit hardwired ethernet and TWC in my not).  I spent 3 solid minutes hitting ctrl-F5 over and over again until the button appeared, and I clicked and crossed my fingers.  After a brief pause, the registration page for the Umstead 100 appeared, and I knew I had 20 min to fill in my info before my slot was returned to the pool.  After about 3 min of careful typing, I had my confirmation page.  I had been accepted into the Umstead 100.  I had also joined the community of people who had said things like "[there's no reason to run farther than a marathon.] Anything more and you're just being an asshole."  ...and "I would never sign up for the Uwharrie 40.  That's just stupid."  No, I'm not talking about the ultrarunning community (I entered that club of stupidity years ago), and I'm not talking about 100-milers (I tried that back in July, and I have not yet finished 100 miles, so that can't be it). No - instead I have become a certified member of the Eating One's Words club with my own failure to adhere to "I would never run the Umstead 100.  I know the trail too well and 8 laps around the park just sounds awful."

OOH!  My words taste like brownies!  Awesome!!
After the initial exhilaration about winning the race to enter the race wore off (which lasted about 10 seconds), that feeling of regret and remorse set in "what have I done?  Oh boy was that a bad life decision." I remembered how much I hated training for the last round.  How much I missed seeing my friends.  How much I missed everything in my life that was not working or running.  But on the upside, this go round I would not have to worry about travel.  I would not have to try and bribe people to fly somewhere with me so they could spend hours in a minivan waiting for the 2 min they would be able to see me before I dodged back into the forest again.  ...and unlike the last round, where I was the outsider listening to local runners chat with aid station volunteers while I friendlessly picked through the bowl of cantaloupe (emotions get a little ridiculous 45 miles in), this time *I* would the home team.  I reasoned this would be great because a) it might help keep me feeling a little happier in the later stages, and it also would add a little more pressure to keep going in the face of adversity (despite my Catholicism-induced guilt motivation, I also acquired a deep seated fear of shame at some point).  So logically, this was the correct answer.  However, I'm still battling that feeling that this was a bad bad choice. 

Regardless, the deed is done and here I am, back where I swore I wouldn't be - training up for another hundred.  This time, however, apprehension and excitement have been replaced with a sort of resigned determination.  Unless something is actually sticking out of me (and even then, if there's less than 20 miles to go...), I'm going to do my darndest to get my butt across that 100-mile line.  It won't be fun, and there will be crying and probably multiple temper tantrums (I seem to have 1-2 in a 50-miler, and I expect the curve to be exponential), but I *really* don't want to do this again, and I *really* don't want to end this endeavor with a big, fat DNF, as I'm not particularly good with the word "can't".  As a result, pretty much everything between now and April is a training run toward this goal.  Lots of repetitions of boring courses to get used to repetition and boring, and lots of loooong runs with checked egos (I'm supposed to run slow enough that feel like I could still run more at the end?  wha????)  It also means that I am absolutely not supposed to go all out at races between now and then, which is a little bittersweet (I mean - I was only 13 min from 8:30 at last year's Uwharrie, but on the flip side, I was THIRTEEN minutes from 8:30, so that takes a little pressure off...)  So here we are with a long winter of running ahead (how much fun is winter running anyway?  Don't answer that), but it will be worth it to be able to check this beast off the bucket list as the home team.  

I actually love running in the snow - it just adds such a lovely
bit of silliness to the mix

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I did not finish

I'm not sure where this post will take me, but as a week has now passed since the unfortunate premature end to my Vermont 100, I feel like I should write something more than the little snippet I sent to my friends with the Bull City Track Club.

I entered the race knowing the will was there, and I was pretty sure the muscles were trained, but as anyone who has run 100 miles will tell you, 100 miles is a long way, and there's no way of knowing what's going to happen on any particular day.  So I tried to keep my expectations realistic (read: tempered).  That being said, I was, let's say, about 75% sure I would finish going in to the race, even with the waves of apprehension that washed over me as race day drew nearer.  I knew going in that my body has historically not responded well to high mileage training, but reasoned it had always held together for the high mileage races, and had been impressed with how well I endured the increased mileage in training.  Spoiler alert (in case the title didn't grab you): I did not finish.

Heading back onto the trail at mile 40-ish.
Even as far as 40 miles into the race, things were feeling pretty good - the 'quad busting' downhills hadn't busted my quads, and I was receiving compliments on my awesome climbing abilities (I apparently walk uphill like a champ).  I was still flirting with the preposterous idea that I could perhaps slide in under 24 hrs even with the somewhat ridiculous number of rather steep hills (though rationally, that was stupid because factoring in Joe/Blake's 1.3x differential between the first half and the second half, I would have to set a PR for the first 50 miles).  Deep down, I figured 25 hrs was a more reasonable goal, but I was out there for a long time - I figured I should be allowed to dream a little, right?  Regardless, I still felt good at 40.  Except my feet hurt.  And I had this nagging shin-splint-y feeling on the front of my ankle/foot area that popped up around the time we trucked through a long pavement stretch that involved descending about 800 feet in roughly 1.5 miles... around mile 12.  I had kind of been ignoring it, though, because there had been other little silly problems that had come and gone with the downhill pounding, so I figured this would go away, too.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, and between 40 and 57.5 miles, the shin splinty feeling intensified until it felt like someone was kicking me with every step my right leg took.  I was still feeling pretty great on the uphills, but I was no longer able to run much by the time I pulled into the aid station at 57.5.  I had been thinking I would just pop some advil or tylenol and motor on out, but when we took off my shoe to look at it, we noticed a nice knot had formed, which was a little scary and changed things dramatically in my head.  Now we were looking at a potential actual injury that might extend my planned month off after the race to something more closely resembling the achilles tendon PT/rehab debacle of my late teens.  I still took some tylenol on the recommendation of someone who thought the kidney-failing potential of advil might be too much of a risk, and decided to walk the next section to see how things felt.  Unfortunately, after the lovely ascent, in which I actually passed a couple people, the long descent confirmed that we (the royal we) would not be running any more that day, so faced with the best case scenario of walking for 37.5 miles and sneaking in just under the cutoff (still disappointed) and worst case scenario of walking 33.5 miles, missing the cut at the last aid station, and making whatever was going on worse, I bailed in favor of a full night's sleep in a bed and salvaging the rest of a nice mini vacation.

A fuzzy picture of the ankle the day after.
I named my cankle Sam.

It was the logical decision.  I don't regret the decision.  I know I made the smart choice.  If we had been at mile 85, it probably would have been a different story, but with that far to go and visible focused swelling in the region of a tendon, there was no reasonable way to go on.

Largely unrelated, but I like this picture.

...but that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed.

...and perplexed.

It's odd, but I actually felt better at the time I dropped than I did after reading all the nice supportive things people said about 62.5 miles still being really impressive.  I don't want to sound ungrateful because I really do appreciate everyone's kind thoughts, but telling me 62.5 is really great and impressive just kind of makes me feel like a heel.  It's not that great or impressive.  I just ran 53.5 a month ago.  62.5 is not that much farther.  It is decidedly anticlimactic.  I didn't even make it 2/3 of the way through the race.  I can accept that my body fell apart and couldn't make it the full distance, but I can't accept that being counted as a successful outing.  I'm glad I made it that far, but it still was not successful.

So now I am left in a pit of confusion.  Do I try again, knowing that my body may decide (again) that 100 miles is just too much to bear structurally?  My heart leans that direction, as I'm not a big fan of failing to complete something, but my head remembers how much I hated training for this attempt.

When I stopped, I was resolute about not trying again.  My appendages sent me a message and I was going to listen.  Perhaps train for something a little more reasonable - something that I could do in ...say... a morning.  But the reverse psychology of my facebook page has me thinking maybe I should learn what I can from this one (long, steep downhills are not my thing) and try again with something a little more suited to my strengths (whatever those are - do they have 100-mile hikes uphill with no descent?) and be a little more low key about my approach.  We do have an awfully nice local 100, you know...

It's like a crazy beacon... calling to me...

Fortunately, I don't have to decide until September, but I'm just not sure how I'm going to decide.

Until then, I'm back to the trails.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing many friends that I haven't seen in a while because I had to do some outlandish, ridiculously slow run that day (all the days).  The swelling is gone and I was able to run/hike 6+ miles this morning with little more than a twinge in the traitorous tendon.  So the answer, I guess, is we'll get back to some sort of routine, and see where the coming weeks take us.

/catharsis.  Thanks for listening <3

Sunday, July 08, 2012

I ran 100 miles in one week*

I should post about the Bolder Boulder. I really should. I should back up my undying love for this race with an effusive post about how great this year was. About how the weather was perfect (it was), how the crowds were fantastic (they were), how the elite race was really interesting (it actually was), but alas, though the race was fantastic as always, I just don't have anything witty, amusing, or even interesting to say about it. I'll give the executive summary for those who are interested (bullet pointed to facilitate reading):

  • I have been training for a 100 (you know this), so I wasn't sure what 'speed' meant to my legs at this point
  • I ran faster than expected, logging my 2nd best time at the BB (hooray), feeling mostly pretty good the whole time
  • I skipped the slip n' slide (the horror!)
  • I got the massage (was awesome)
  • The expo was lovely as usual - we may or may not have made 3 trips to the free popsicle booth and there was an ample supply for everyone else to do the same
  • We got to meet up with our super awesome friend David to watch the elite race
  • It was too windy for the skydivers (massive bummer - the Memorial Day festivities are not nearly as cool without them)
Overall, a really nice day - definitely a nice iteration of my favorite holiday.

 It was, however, decidedly uninteresting compared to my feat 2 weeks later, which was to run 100 miles in one 7-day period.  Now THAT was epic.  Now, I mocked Ronnie when he did his 100 mile week last year, saying "Wow.  You ran 100 miles in a week.  You know you're going to have to do that in a day in Utah, right?"  But truth be told, jamming 100 miles of running into a week is kind of tricky.   
I can't really say if there was no gas that week,
but it would be awesome if it was true!

Now, I have to admit I kind of cheated because, due to my travel setup and my father’s work schedule, I did my weekend long run from the week before on Monday.  Thus, with a 42-miler on tap for the following Sunday, I really only needed 30 miles in the other 5 days to make it happen.  When I tell people this, they unfailingly point out that this doesn't matter - I ran 100 miles in 7 days.  That's a hundred mile week.  I still feel like it should get an asterisk, though.  Anyway, asterisk or not, it was still a big deal for me, so I feel compelled to share how it played out:

Monday – 27 miles in Denver.  Started at 6AM - ~60 degrees.  Finished at ~10:30AM - ~80 degrees.  Also, I forgot that the last 10 or so miles were going to be paved.  And have no shade.  Oops.  Regardless, I made it.

Tuesday – 0 miles.  Yes, I had an off day in my 100 mile week.

Wednesday – 6.5 miles at Fullsteam.  Got there late, had to sprint to catch up, short cutted (made up for it by parking way far away).  Got my 6.5 in, though, so all was well.  Also, my semi altitude-adjusted legs probably helped.

Thursday – 5 miles – usual run with Nancy – all was well.

Friday – Walked to work and back.  Had to take an outlandishly indirect route to get 8 miles in total.  Yes, I know that walking is different from running, but I sure will be doing both in Vermont, so I’m counting it in my weekly 'running' mileage.  Also, it's not like I ran all 42 miles of Sunday's run, so yeah.

See where those circles are?  Imagine someone
stabbing you right there over and over again.  That's what it felt like on Saturday.
Saturday – OHMYGOSH - apparently you use totally different muscles for walking and running.  My rear end was SO sore.  SO.  SORE.  Still did my 12 singletrack miles in Umstead as planned.  Felt pretty good when I cut out at 2 hrs, but definitely had a heavy sense of impending doom regarding Sunday (and was praying to any god that would listen that the shooting DOMS pain in my a$$ would go away (literally) overnight.

Sunday – 42 miles on the ‘triathlon of pain’ course.  Sadly, my prayers from the day before weren't entirely answered and lap 1 was decidedly uncomfortable.  Ronnie was a trooper in putting up with my whining, but I was feeling a bit apprehensive about laps 2 and 3, where the role of Ronnie would be played by Mandi, who I didn't know as well, and who was apparently showing up on a mission to get me through these two laps 'on pace'.  Oh dear lord.  The theme for lap 2 was heat.  Also, apparently horseflies like Mandi better than me.  Sometime toward the end of lap 2, my feet and quads told my butt muscles to quit their bitching, which was nice - things still hurt, but it was a nice change of pace.  Managed to manipulate myself a break halfway through the third lap by becoming enthralled by the insect ecosystem that had set itself up on a pile of horse doody.  It was super interesting to be sure, but really I just wanted to sit down.  Picked up Brandy about halfway through Turkey Creek and together, we all shuffled our way back around toward the cars, where I passed the 100-mile mark for the week.  Mentally self-fived myself because a physical self-five would take too much energy, braved a swarm of yellow jackets to refill my water bottle, and shuffled back to the car to celebrate with some nice watermelon.  Whew.

So ended the epic 102-mile week.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nuggets of wisdom from today's longass run

Today I did my longest ever training run. To simulate the mental beatdown that 100 miles might be, I made it a 3 loop course. To simulate as much as possible the terrain that I might find at Vermont, I made that course include Turkey Creek at Umstead. Here are today's lessons learned/weirdo epiphanies:

  • If you're going to be running 42 miles, and some sizeable chunk of it solo, it would be best to expose yourself to a variety of musical options in the week preceding the run.  While I do like Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," 28 or so miles of the chorus was a bit much.

  • Now you, too, can sing this for 42 miles!

    ...or this may have a more lasting effect

  • Fresh socks make you feel like a new person.  For a while, anyway.

  • I thought I was really clever when I came up with the idea that I was doing a triathlon, complete with transition zones, except all the events were 'run'.  I'm still mildly amused by it (enough to include it here), but it is not 'really clever'.

  • The promise of cantaloupe is very motivational.

  • doesn't this make you want to take on the world??

  • I forgot to put body glide somewhere.  Much sadness.

  • Vespa is still awesome.

  • Shannon is also awesome.

I'm sure there were other things, but I have probably blocked them out with the memory of the pain (okay - it wasn't really that bad, but I think repeated loops caused me to save over some memories from previous loops).

Thanks for indulging this silliness!