Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Favorite Time Of Year

It seems as though Run Rabbit Run really did heal up a lot of the physical illness and weakness that I was feeling in the weeks leading up to it. I took 2 days off after the race and then when I went for a short run last Tuesday I felt better than I've felt in weeks. My legs felt fresh and my chest cold seemed to finally be more or less a thing of the past. In the week since this I've felt much better than I have since early August. Not great everyday, but who ever feels great everyday? I was even able to do a 6.5 hour run on Sunday and really enjoy being out for that long. Previous to this every long run I've done in the past several weeks felt pretty miserable by the end.

It feels good to be healthy and feeling mostly strong again. The altitude still feels hard sometimes but I feel much more comfortable with it now. I think living and training this high will change my perspective and my training a little bit, but I'm confident that with time I will find the ways to turn this into a positive change. Much like I needed to do when I moved to Juneau. My first several months in Juneau I felt like the steepness of all of the trails there was really going to hinder my training. The ironic thing about this is that I am now trying to adapt to being here without feeling like the gradual nature of the trails in this area doesn't hinder my training. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I feel like I mostly have already.

I like the timing of starting to feel strong again. Autumn was always my favorite time of year (before moving to Juneau where autumn is more or less miserable) and it feels nice to be living somewhere right now that has nice crisp autumn weather. I've got a lot of running related stuff that I'm really looking forward to in the next several weeks (and feeling stronger in my body definitely makes all of these things a lot more appealing):

I'd like to meet up somewhere north of here in Wyoming with Karl and run a day with him on The Pony Express Trail. This will depend on the timing of when he rolls through this area.

At the end of next week I'll be heading down to the Grand Canyon to do some hiking, camping, and most likely a Rim To Rim To Rim run. Probably just take it easy and do 9 or 10 hours, but maybe I'll end up feeling a bit more inspired to make a push for a fast R2R2R time.

The week after that I'm going to head out to Georgia to run The North Face 50 mile race in Pine Mountain. Should be a fun little run in the southern Appalachians.

Shortly after this I'm going to head up to Juneau for a short visit with friends and if I get any kind of break in the typically miserable October weather in Juneau I'll be running up and down as many mountains as I can in the few days that I'll be there.

And then beyond all of this I am certainly planning to run the San Francisco North Face 50 miler in December. I suspect the competition in Marin will be even hotter this year as it seems like every ultra runner I talk with has plans of running for a piece of the $10,000.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Managing Mediocrity - RRR Race Report

I had a really interesting run at the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler in Steamboat Springs this past weekend.

I really didn't have much confidence in my body going into this race and as it turned out I never felt very good on race day. Lucky for me though I never felt all that bad either. Just really mediocre for 7 hours. Luckily I've had three weeks of feeling mediocre (at best) so I was good and ready to just keep plugging along feeling this way.

I realized early on in this race that I was really going to need to focus on trying to do the best I could with what little I had on this day. My stomach wasn't wanting as much food and water as I needed so the entire run was a study in trying to get down enough, without taking down too much and upsetting my stomach.

It turned out that I timed it just right. I was on the edge of getting sick all day and then finally, just seconds after crossing the finish line everything I had in my stomach came up. It took a few hours after that to get my stomach back, but then by Sunday morning I felt almost like I hadn't raced the day before. I felt weak enough all day that I wasn't ever able to push myself hard enough to get sore muscles and once I was rehydrated and renourished (I think I ate 7 pieces of pizza at the post race dinner) I pretty much felt recovered.

And the best thing is that I even seem to have gotten rid of my chest cold. It bothered me quite a lot in the first half of the race but then somewhere around mile 30 my chest felt better and has felt mostly better since. I had also developed a really sore muscle in my back the day before the race that seems to have been healed during the run. I like to joke that the best way to get rid of injury, illness, or weakness is to run 50 or 100 miles, but I think I'm beginning to actually believe this.

In all it was a nice race to go run. It would have been nice to feel a lot better on race day, but it felt nice to do such a good job of getting the most out of a weak body. I feel like my body had a very similar day to The Miwok in '09 that I dropped out of, but this time I had the experience and the patience to manage my body much better and was able to manipulate it into running a pretty strong race despite not being very strong on that day. It feels good to know that I have at least learned that much.

Beyond this it was really nice to go to this race because this is one of the "good ones." I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a new 50 miler to run. Everything was run very well, and all of the people (organizers, volunteers, other runners) were very friendly, generous, and enjoyable to be around. This race does a perfect job of being totally organized, without being too organized. Many races just feel like a race, and the entire experience there boils down to the time that you are running the course. Run Rabbit Run is not one of these races. The course is very challenging and very enjoyable, but the entire event has a "soul" and a "spirit" to it that makes the 7 hours of running the course just one small part of a very nourishing weekend. Thanks to everyone who was a part of my weekend in Steamboat for this nourishment. Hope to see you all next year... and watch out cause I'm pretty sure on a good day I could run this one quite a bit faster.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

RRR 50

Heading out to Steamboat later today to race the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler this weekend. I'm still not feeling great, but I am feeling significantly better than I was a week ago. I've even had a couple runs this week which I would say I was feeling strong. We'll see how it all plays out. This is certainly the weakest I've felt going into a race in quite some time. A good strong run on Saturday could be just the thing to snap me out of this funk, but a really tough race could be hard on my mind and body. I think I am prepared for this though. I'm not expecting a lot and I have no intention of allowing this to be an outing which has a significant negative effect on me (physically or mentally). More or less I just see it as going out for a nice, scenic, and fun run in the mountains on Saturday morning. If I can keep this perspective I think it will be very easy to have a "successful" race, even if I don't feel as physically strong as I would like.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Still Looking For A Rhythm

I thought I was over this head/chest cold that I've had for almost a week now, but I learned yesterday that this certainly was not the case. I didn't feel great when I set out on a run into The Indian Peaks Wilderness, but usually I'm able to run for an hour or two and get warmed up and generally feel a lot better the longer I go. I had about 4 hours to run yesterday so I chose a route up over a 12,500 ft. pass and down the backside. I figured I'd go for 1:45, turn around, and be back to the trailhead comfortably under 4 hours. I felt OK climbing up to the pass at the start, and OK going down the backside (about 2,500 ft. up and 2,500 ft. down), but when I turned around to retrace my route I felt horrible right away. I had no energy and felt like I couldn't breathe. Probably a result of my sickness as well as the high altitude which I am still not fully adjusted to. When this run was all said and done I had done 18 miles with about 5,000ft. of climbing, a very typical training run for me, the type of run I have done dozens, if not hundreds, of times in the past couple years. But never has a run this short felt so long and hard to me. By the time I finished I was completely exhausted and depleted.

It doesn't feel good to feel so weak right now, but this past week has been a very humbling experience that I think I can learn a lot from. Running feels really hard to me right now. This isn't a great place to be, but after a 14 month stretch in which running has felt shockingly easy I suppose I was due for a rough patch. My intention now is to work to find ways to turn this "rough patch" into a positive experience, something that I really haven't had to do since my DNF at Miwok last year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Looking For A Rhythm

The past month has been a strange one for me in terms of running. I've run on some amazing trails all over the world: Alaska; The Yukon; Banff; Colorado; and France, to name a few. With all this travel though it's been very hard to get into any kind of consistent rhythm with my running. I don't think I've had any stretch in the past month in which I've run more than 6 days in a row and my total time and mileage has been way down due to all the days off. Add to this the fact that the one race that I was supposed to run in this time got cancelled 3 hours into the event and it's safe to say that it's been anything but a typical month of running for me. I've enjoyed this time for sure, but I am very ready now to get back into a more steady stretch of running. I got back here to Colorado 5 days ago thinking that I would jump right into this rhythm but I have been a bit sick this whole week so it's been necessary for me to take it slow because of that. Finally now I think I am feeling healthy and have no big travel plans anytime in the near future. I'm looking forward to getting back into hitting the mountain trails everyday and being out for 20+ hours and 100+ miles a week. I miss it a bit.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Only 361 Days...

... Until UTMB next year.