Friday, April 27, 2012

Gettin Lazy

Well, not so much with training, as with keeping up with this blog.  If memory serves, it's been a couple of weeks since I've written anything.

A lot has happened in the world of ultra running since my last post.  The Marathon Des Sables was run earlier in the month and last week the world championship 100K was won with an average pace of 6:10 which simply blows me away.  The Masssanutten 100 is two weeks from tomorrow, and 2 guys from WV Mountain Trail Runners club are participating.  Adam Casseday and Dan Lehman will be among the field.  Dan broke a few ribs early in the month, and he's still going to run it.  What an inspiration?  I'm looking for Adam to be a top finisher, if not the top guy.  Dan and Adam have both been incredibly helpful to me in my training for Highlands Sky.  The running community is really an amazing group of people.

My training has been going pretty well.  I did a 23/8 back to back two weeks ago and 23/10 last weekend.  I have a 24/10 tomorrow.  I don't know what it is, but I continually fret before my long weekend runs.  I think I'm just getting burned out on Otter Creek, but it's the most convenient venue for long trails for me.  I guess I'll just keep chugging along.  A few weeks ago, I wrote of the washed out section of trail with the downed tree.  It seems to get more difficult to negotiate each time I pass it.  I just keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't get too muddy.  I can see myself getting down one side of the tree and not being able to get back up the other side.

I feel like I'm getting stronger, but am still filled with self doubt.  Adam suggested I start doing some hard climbs, and I've worked those into my mid week program.  I did my first repeat on the climb last evening and felt pretty good.  1.5 miles of fairly steep uphill, then down the back side and 1.5 back up on the repeat.  Next week is a cycle down week for me.  I'm probably ready for it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Was Ready to Hang It Up.

Following the Highlands Sky trainer, I was feeling pretty good physically.  I did an easy 8 miles on Sunday following the trainer and last week was a "cycle down" week.  I've not heard that term before, but the Santa Clarita Runners use it in their training schedule.  It was a recovery week, and came at a perfect time.  I could definitely tell a difference in the way I felt with the lighter schedule that week.  Now we're ramped back up again.  Back to that in a moment.

So last Saturday night I was hanging out, reading and just generally relaxing.  For some reason, the funk came rolling back in.  I don't know why I get that way, but I was ready to hang it up.  I felt the same way Sunday morning, when I was scheduled for 8 with nice weather.  I was actually ready to call the race director (Dan Lehman) and tell him to give my slot to someone on the "wait list."  Thankfully I didn't go that far.  I ate, got dressed and headed to the trail head.  After 200 yards on the trail, all of the gloom went away.  I just don't get it.  The emotional ups and downs are making me nuts.  It turned out to be a great run.  Moderate temps and mostly sunny skies.  Much of the mud had dried up which was very nice.  In stead of sucking my shoes off, the dried mud mad for a soft foot fall, almost like running on a high end track. 

I did have one negative experience Sunday.  I passed a couple of backpackers who had 3 unleashed dogs with them.  I'm not a canine phobe, and in more than 35 years of running, I have only had one semi bad experience with a dog, and it wasn't really that bad.  In fact, I kind of fancy myself the "dog whisperer."  Anyway, I stopped running and this little ankle grabber approached me.  I put my hand down so Fido could sniff me, and the little mutt nailed me.  Actually he just tore my running glove and didn't break the skin.  The embarrassed owner said the shots were current.  No harm, no foul, so I headed on down the trail.  The funk is still in remission and I've felt good this week.

My friend, Adam Casseday (Adam is running the Massanutten 100 in Virginia next month), suggested I start working some climbing runs into my weekly schedule, in preparation for the first half of Highlands Sky.  He suggested a couple of routes "in my back yard," one of which I had previously ridden on my mountain bike.  I didn't even think of it, but it really fit the bill.  A mile and a half of continuous uphill, most of it fairly steep.  I ran it Wednesday evening for the first time and felt pretty good.  Ran the entire thing which was a major goal.  I'm going to run one more single on it next week and then begin some repeats.  I know it will pay off. 

I'm feeling stronger and know my training is paying off.  I just have to keep warding off these seemingly spontaneous funks.  Thanks to everyone, runners and non-runners alike who continue to give me support and positive feedback.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Well, that was humbling!

So Saturday was the first of two trainers for Highlands Sky.  The second one is in May and I was going to run it too, until I figured out that is the date of Hillary's graduation from law school, and I'm sure not going to miss that.  Speaking of Hill, she's coming home this weekend and I am super psyched.  First time I will have seen her since Christmas break.  I cannot believe she is graduating in another month.  "Seems like only yesterday...."  Time really does fly.

The trainer really was a good experience.  For one, it gave me the opportunity to see the first half of the course.  I have hiked some of that, but the first 10 or 12 miles or so were new to me and there are places where it would be easy to take a wrong turn.  I still may, but at least I remember the major intersections, I think.  The elevation gain/loss/gain was impressive.  2,000 feet at a 2% grade on the first climb.  Everyone told me to plan on speed walking it, but nah, I'm the tough guy.  I'll run it.  NOT!!!  I am now a confirmed believer in walking when it's called for.  It was called for!

Met some good folks.  I finally got to meet Dan Lehman, the director of Highlands Sky.  Dan couldn't run on Saturday because he busted a couple of ribs in a motorcycle encounter.  I emailed him the other night and shared my experience with the deer and my Harley.  I told Dan I really did feel his pain.  I ran 14 through 18 with a guy from Annapolis.  I don't think he'd done much hill work.  Said he had run the C&O Canal Trail some.  He did pretty well, but I think we were both hurting.  I waited for him at the South Prong Trailhead so he wouldn't go the wrong way, and then didn't see him again after he hit the road.

I'm beginning to stress over cutoff times.  I have no doubt I can finish 40, but the cuts for the aid stations have me fretting.  I guess we'll see what we'll see.  I can't stand the thought of DNF.  Which begs the philosophical question, "Is it better to not try and avoid a DNF than it is to give it all you've got and see what happens"?  I guess we all know the answer to that one. 

Back at the Lanesville cabin, a small group was sitting around de-compressing; eating noodles, drinking beer, talking about the next challenge.  Casseday was still there and he offered me some sage advice, which I of course ignored.  He told me not to be anal about my scheduled Sunday run and if I needed that as a recovery day to take it off.  He said as we get older, it takes longer to recover, which of course I already knew.  Even though I'm 65, I just don't think of myself as older, even though I clearly am.  Anyway, I was pretty beat Saturday night, but felt almost human on Sunday morning, so I hustled through my pre-run routine of Kashi Harvest Wheat cereal with Buckwheat Honey and strawberries; a banana and lots of water.  I threw some cookies in my pack and out the door I went.  After the first half mile, I questioned the wisdom of my decision to run that day.  I was scheduled for 10 (thank you Santa Clarita Runners), but I quickly decided to bail on the final 2.  I ran at a pretty slow (slower than normal) pace, hit the 4 mile turn around and started back for the trail head.  I thumbed my nose at the trail junction where I normally break off and add 2 or 2 1/2 extra miles and kept heading for my car.  As fatigued as I was, I managed all 8 miles with no falls.  That is cause to celebrate.  This turns out to be a down week on my training schedule and it really comes at a good time.  Recovery coupled with shorter weekend runs will allow me more time with Hillary.  I'm really greatful for that.

                           Yellowstone NP with upper Lamar Valley in the distance