November 10, 2014

100K Training Update

I am officially running the Gorge Waterfalls 100K on March 28th, 2015! Wooooooooooooooooo!

Husband is entered into the Gorge Waterfalls 50K lottery and we find out on the 12th if he will be running! I'm so excited! And scared. For him. And me. Mostly for me. Okay probably 98% scared for me, 1% for him, and 1% for our dogs.

I'll explain.

I'm scared for the dogs because they don't even realize what's happening; why mom will be hobbling most weekends, unable to keep throwing the toys around. Staying out all day on a Saturday instead of lounging around with them. Sleeping in later the day after a Saturday long run. Listening to me moan and groan about various things. BUT, they do get a giant salt slab when I get home from the long run!

Scared for the husband because he has to listen to me OBSESS about every tiny little thing I possible can for the next five months remotely pertaining to running. And the fact that if he gets into the race, he has to go through these long runs and all that comes with a 50K. And it was pretty much my idea that he enter the lottery...so if he hates it, that's just a lot of responsibility on me. If he doesn't get in, he won't understand to the same extent my moans and groans and will have to listen anyway instead of chiming in with me. Also, he might have to pace me at the race...and that could be dangerous territory given my mood swings while running :)

Lastly, scared for me because HOLY SHIT. Why did I sign up for a race that is 12 miles longer than my two failed attempts, and has 12,000 ft of elevation gain?!?!?!

That 12,000' gain is really starting to sink in now that I've been doing all trail runs. I justified it away when I wanted to sign up for the race by saying 'PSH, 12,000' of gain isn't really THAT much when you spread it over 62 miles.'

I don't see ANY logic in that statement at all. Oh the craziness that comes out of my mouth.

So now lets talk about my runs. I went for a three mile run around work. It was a glorious overcast and slightly cool day and I got the run done, sans walking and a pretty consistent run pace - finishing in 33 minutes.

Then I did an awful treadmill run. It was boring and I remembered why I enjoy running outside...but nevertheless, completed 3 miles.

Eventually, my first 'long run' had arrived. A seven miler that would make or break my attitude towards this whole training season. I decided to go out to Chautauqua Trailhead in Boulder. So did the rest of the state of Colorado. There was a Buffs game, and it was the most gorgeous Saturday, so the crowds were out tenfold. I could not find parking anywhere. I decided to head to Eldorado Canyon (because my memory failed me on how difficult it was last time I was there...) and barely found a parking spot. By the time I finally got to the trailhead, it was hot as balls. I only brought my handheld...thinking I wouldn't need my pack for a seven mile run. Well...the altitude and the elevation gain zapped my legs and lungs really fast. I could have gotten really grouchy, but instead I reminded myself why I was out there. Reminded myself to enjoy the smell of the pine trees, and yes, that bee sure has been following you up this mountain this whole time, but you're going to enjoy yourself DAMNIT! And then I ran out of water and decided it was smarter to head back down for a refill after only 2.55 miles. I thought I would just head over to one of the other trailheads I saw on my way to Eldorado and finish up my mileage for the day, no problemo. I finally found parking at Marshall Mesa and set out to finish this damn thing during the hottest part of the day now. It was a slog, man. I tell you, rough. My legs were shot and the smallest incline at the beginning of the run felt like Everest. But, I managed to finish the run without bailing out and I'm stronger for it.

In the week after that, amidst a full blown breakdown, I drove around the area and happened upon a trail not too far from work. All my problems were solved. At least that's what it felt like. It was like that glorious moment when you see the bright light and angels are singing and everything just clicks.

My first lunchtime trail run out there was a bit rocky. I enjoyed the hell out of every single minute, running with a heart full of happy. I had to stop many times to catch my breath, not being used to the elevation, but I was thoroughly enjoying myself. God, I missed this. I can't believe I ran for so long in that dark place of no enjoyment.  I ran three pretty slow miles that day, but haven't enjoyed three miles that much in such a long time, so I didn't mind one bit.

I returned again the very next day for another three miles. Tried a different route, whooped my ass even more with the elevation change. Really enjoyed myself and returned to work feeling tired and renewed.

I found my way to hit the reset button on bad days.

The problem? The days that I wanted to run but had too many meetings that I couldn't slip away left me grouchy and longing to go back out to the trail, biding time until my weekend long run.

I planned my nine mile long run to be at Staunton on my Friday off, and woke up at the crack of dawn to get out there. Turns out, gates don't open til 8am. By the time the gates opened, I had talked myself out of running at that crazy altitude. The run would top out at over 9,000 and it was just too much to wrap my head around, reasoning that I had a tough enough time doing my 3 mile runs at 6,100 feet. I decided on Meyer Ranch Park, and I wasn't disappointed. I loved almost every part of that day, though it proved to be a difficult 2.5 hours. The altitude varied between 8,000 and 8,600 and the overall gain for the run was 1,400 feet. I was tapped out by the end, but I loved the scenery. The trails are surrounded by trees and you feel like you're in a different place. It can't go without saying that I battled some demons on that run though. I had to fight to keep a positive outlook while I couldn't breathe for most of the run. I fought hard to get those 9 miles when my body was begging to stop much sooner. I wasn't going to let myself down. Not this time. Not this race. This will all benefit me in the long run.

The following week was a rough and busy one and I was only afforded one lunchtime trail run. I decided I would go for a trail run after work one of the days and logged 5 miles that really helped beef up my confidence. I didn't mind the slightly longer drive home that night because I was proud of myself. I had a happy heart full of clean trail air, and I had successfully worn myself out.

This past Saturday I went out to Highlands Ranch for the Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon...a race I wasn't sure I wanted to do that day. My legs were still tired, my ankle a little wonky from tripping the weekend before, my knees a little sore from the altering terrain. Time to suck it up, Princess. This was the first run I've done since the first three mile road run where I needed my tunes to occupy my mind. I wasn't in a good place when the race started, and I needed something to simply help me survive the 13 miles. What a tough day... Around mile three I was pretty sure I wanted to quit at the 4.5 mile aid station. By the time I got to it, I had already told myself that quitting was not an option, and the volunteers lifted my spirits enough to help me forget about how tired I felt. By the 7.5 mile aid station, I had settled that it would just be a long day and I needed to suffer through the 3 hours and be done with it. By mile 8, I was whooping and hollering down this perfect, muddy section of trail, thankful to finally be in a more trail like setting instead of running on packed dirt in the wide open. By mile 9.5, I was regretting hauling ass through that muddy section because I was now in the middle of a 2 mile climb back up to mile 11, where the 7.5 aid station was. The cool thing about the day was that though I was exhausted and it was tough to breathe, I did not stop once to catch my breath (outside of refilling my handheld at the aids). That was a first for these runs at altitude.

Instead of following the routine of lunch time trail runs or after work runs, I am saving my legs until Tuesday for a 15 miler. I won't be in town this weekend, and I figured I would take advantage of having a day off before leaving. I'm praying my legs recover enough to make the 15 miles enjoyable, because the 20 degree temps and snow will not. It will be a great way to boost my mental game! Plus, hard to complain about my long run on Veterans Day when you think about the grand scheme of things.

It's been all about perspective, and being grateful for my opportunities.

So far so good over here!

Happy early Veteran's Day to all of you out there! Thanks for your service and sacrifice!

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