"Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further...past what your mind wants to let you. That's what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you've never known." - Rex Pace
Making yourself go for a run when you aren't feeling well is dedication. Or stupidity. I can't decide. I don't know why we are splitting hairs...it can be both. I blame Nike because they're all like, 'just do it', and I'm like, Nike, I'm sick.
My training as of lately has seemed to come unhinged from sickness and laziness. Training for the 50 miler has made me lazy. I can get my butt up to do my long run, but I have a huge struggle getting in my weekday runs (other than Wednesday when I force myself to go to Great Falls).
I took last week pretty easy...which probably wasn't the BEST idea I've had, since I think I deemed the week before that 'recovery week' and that I would buckle down after that. I did a weekday walk, but I did manage to get myself going for a long run. Just one though, not the back to back :/ It's incredible how guilty that makes me feel just typing it on here. Anyway, this is the way the weekend unfolded. I had Friday off of work, so I decided that since Helen's bachelorette party was that weekend as well, I would get up SUPER early, go run my 20 something miles, shower, pick up the girls, and drive to Norfolk for the festivities. The way it really unfolded is as follows:
Got to Sterling late Thursday night where a friend graciously let me crash so I would be 10 min away from the trail instead of over an hour away. Work up at 4am to take him to the airport, went to the trail to discover I still do not have a headlamp, and I don't know where I'm going on that part of the trail...so I had to wait it out til it got light outside. I did not eat enough Thursday night, OR Friday morning....this has SUCH A HUGE IMPACT on the run. At least this time out on the trail I was dressed appropriately for the weather. I had on my compression sleeves, tight shorts, a short sleeve shirt, arm warmers, a long sleeve shirt, ear warmers, and gloves. Sounds excessive but it was really cold in the morning, and windy after the cold wore off. Windy + Sweaty = Still cool outside. I also wore the new shoes to see how they would fair for a long run. Jury is still out. I really want to get behind these spiffy shoes, but the fact of the matter is, my feet hurt after 18 miles regardless of the 'extra' cushion they provide in comparison to my sportivas. I could also feel more of the rocks under my feet than the sportivas. They do have an awesome grip though... I'm resigned to the fact that no matter what shoes I wear on race day, my feet will hurt no matter what by the 30 mile mark. Just have to tough it out. I did notice that when I got really tired and my feet were hurting, if I walked a little and waited it out, the pain would subside for a bit...then come back, and kept doing that tango. That's semi good news. So I think the final mileage hovered around 23 miles. I cut it short because I thought I was running late.
Then on Saturday, my tummy was in a fit from the bachelorette night one, and it was going to rain, and I'm lazy...and I said no thanks to my ten miles.
I'm a jerk to myself.
To top it all off, I was pretty sick going into this past weekend, and I still haven't quite shaken it off. My throat is a little unhappy, but being sick does not keep me from my long runs. Just my short ones, haha.
I don't think I did much of anything this week. Tuesday I ran up and down the stairs in the apartment a crapton and then went for a little stroll outside. Wednesday, I went to the trail at Great Falls and (early) head out on my own for a bit (not sure how far) then did the chunk of CCT and Difficult Run for 6 miles. I'll attach photos later...when I put them on my computer. I gave myself the night off last night (are we surprised?) and picked up my bridesmaid dress from alterations, pretended to pack up more of my room for the big move at the end of the month, and packed my bag for this weekend.
WHICH FINALLY BRINGS ME TO WHAT'S HAPPENING TOMORROW: Today I am heading up to Bear Mountain, NY. It's by West Point, so I'm kinda excited to drive by there and see what I can of the area.
I'm going to have a moment of honesty on here. I've been feeling a little claustrophobic with the way things have been going lately. I've been doing my training, but I've also been so involved with things going on for other people, plus stressing over job things and moving things and finding jobs in Colorado etc etc etc, that I just felt like things were closing in on me. Needed an escape. I'm also due for a 31 miler this weekend per my training schedule, and lo and behold, Bear Mountain, part of the NFE series, is this weekend. The 50k still has about 200 spots open, and I was assured that if I show up on race day, I will have no problem securing a bib. I'm making the 5.5 hour drive up to a little hotel about 20 min from the race site, going to enjoy the small town charm of Nanuet and carb load tonight...get a good night's rest, get up bright and early, and get my ass kicked by a race that has the words MOUNTAIN and BEAR in the title. Allow me to use those words in a sentence, 'Man, that is one BEAR of a MOUNTAIN'.
Anyway, the elevation chart is super ridiculous and I have told myself not to look at it anymore because I'm getting kinda freaked out about the whole thing. Some people (read, most) don't understand why I would want to drive all the way to NY to run a race that has 5 out of 5 stars for difficulty, 5 out of 5 stars for being technical (rocky, unstable footing, hard to navigate, etc), a course that is probably 10 times more challenging than what I will face for my 50 miler here in DC...but in my opinion, it's the best kind of training run.
If I run my longest training distance on an insanely challenging course, won’t that make me better prepared? Yes, my quads and hams, and calves for that matter, will all be angry for a little while because of the steep up AND down on the route, but when I get to NFE DC I can say, 'THIS is nothing. You should see what I did last month!' Plus, while the back to back runs do a great job of simulating what running on tired legs will feel like for the last 15 miles of my 50 miler, so will this challenging 31 miler. As a fellow VHTRC member told me in an email (he is running the 50 miler), "Good luck to you as well--this'll be one hell of a training run for you. NF DC's going to be a walk in the park after this. (Maybe more of a run in the park? But I digress...)...'
I'm nervous, excited, a little scared...I will need to watch my footing very carefully. I will not PR this race (haha jk I WILL PR, but just because it will be my first completion of a 50k), the goal is to finish and not get hurt. It will be an extremely valuable lesson in mental toughness, and I hope I rise to the challenge. I also think I am making the climbs out to be way more steep than I hope they will be...I love overestimating things and then getting there and thinking, 'oh hey, this isn't as bad as I thought!' (but seriously, I hear the course is one of THE toughest on the east coast.....yikes.)
It's supposed to be extremely beautiful views when you get to the top, so I'll be sure to take some photos when I can (if the 50k goes to the top...not really sure). It's going to be an adventure to race a trail I've never been on before! SO EXCITING!
When I get back, I hope I can buckle down on my weekday runs and finish out this final month of training. I've learned a lot of what not to do and will be able to apply everything to the next 50 miler in September.
Sidebar about my packing, I got into my running drawer the other day...now I know what people mean when they say they have too many race shirts. They are just smarter to notice their accumulation as they go instead of my method of waiting until you need to pack your belongings then get shocked at how one could own so many running shirts...that they feel they need all of...
Anyway, Happy trails (or roads) to everyone I know racing this weekend! Enjoy yourselves, push yourselves, and celebrate your achievement when it's done!