Week 18 was a very productive week. I ran 42 miles last week; I’m confident that’s the most I’ve ever run. (The training schedule called for 47, but I still think 42 is pretty good.)Saturday was supposed to be a 20-mile run. I doubted my body’s readiness for a run that long, but I was hopeful never the less. I mapped out a 17-mile route, figuring it would be easy to add three miles at the end if I was up for it. The route was out Owens Road to Beck Road, then back. That gave me the option of running up Jump Off Joe if I wanted the three extra miles.
I turned around at the Owens Ranch, prior to Beck Road. That’s where the plowing ended. I’d hoped the snow had melted, and while a lot of it has, there’s still snow in places. In fact, a few places that are shaded from the afternoon sun are very slick.
Of course, melting snow brings mud – lots and lots of mud. I tried to avoid the mud, but in some places it was impossible. In the areas where it wasn’t muddy, the ground was frequently very soft because it’s saturated. In some places, the most stable ground was in tire tracks. I was hesitant to run in the middle of the road, though. This road is lightly used, but because of the wind it was difficult to hear vehicle traffic. (The wind largely abated by the afternoon, though.)
I hope this demonstrates how much I was sinking into the mud. And this is me standing still, not my foot hitting the mud with the impact of running. As I was nearing the end of the run, a driver passed me and chatted with me as he drove alongside. He told me my tracks looked like I was sinking a couple of inches into the mud. I believe it – but at least it was downhill!
It was a beautiful day. Taking landscape photos with my cell phone doesn’t do the scenery justice. Here’s a picture of, from left to right, Rattlesnake, Red, Candy, and Badger Mountains. While Rattlesnake is not open to the public, I look forward to running the rest of them soon!
The first part of the run gained about 1200′ in elevation over about 5 1/2 miles. This was my first aggressive hill climb since the Deception Pass 25K two months ago. It was slow going — I walked most of it — but the beautiful thing about going uphill is that it means I then get to go downhill.
The descent was fun. This is a nice, soft surface; I wasn’t fast, but it sure felt good. (I’m so tired of running on asphalt!)
Because the run was cut short by my inability to access Beck Road, I’d only run 8.3 miles when I reached the turn to Jump Off Joe. That would have given me a 12-mile run, I knew I both needed more miles and was capable of running more miles. So up Jump Off Joe we go…
…and I almost immediately regretted it.
This section gains about 600′ in 1.3 miles, and it was far sloppier than Owens Road. I didn’t even pretend I was going to run this. My feet started to complain. I was wearing a thicker pair of socks than I normally wear, and they were completely soaked – that’s a recipe for disaster. I had to stop frequently to wiggle my toes to alleviate the hotspot. There was no way I was going to try to remove my shoes & socks to adjust things. First, there’s no flat place to stand, nothing to hold onto for support, and surely no where to sit. And my hands would have been disgustingly filthy after such an exercise. My only liquid was Skratch hydration — lesson learned: always carry some plain water — and that would have made it worse. I needed my hands to be clean enough that I could eat with them. I’ve cut waaaaay back on my refined carbohydrates, but they’re totally okay as workout fuel. I carry sourdough bread with me during long runs. (Yes, it’s weird. But I’ve figured out that weirdness is pretty much the norm with ultrarunners.) I’d rather risk losing a toe than give up a chance to eat good bread. Don’t judge me.
I always want to quit when the trail gets steep, and this was no exception. I’d hoped to tack on a few miles to get the run to my originally-planned seventeen miles, but I settled on “just get to the top of this farking hill and be done with it.”
The view up here was pretty amazing. It’s high enough to see across the Columbia River into Oregon. I could also see Mount Adams and Mount Rainier – no point in trying to take that picture with my 5-year old BlackBerry.
Running down this section is where I was sinking in the most. I wasn’t able to run for very long. I started getting a suspicious pain in my left arch. It feels like a tearing sensation but it’s not very painful. Given my interest in having it stay at the “not very painful” level, I walked most of the way back to the truck. I knew I had a run coming up the next day, so I was hoping to be able to suss out if this was a sign I needed new shoes or a sign I needed a new hobby.
Sunday’s run was a ten-mile run. I opted for a flat run on asphalt – not my favorite, but these “ohmigawd I’m so tired I wanna die” runs are more about forcing my legs to run when they don’t want to than they are about enjoying the run. It also helps to pick a route that’ll make it easier to find me if I collapse in a heap on the side of the road. (That’s hyperbole, folks. I’m not in danger of having a heart attack on one of these runs. I promise.)
I got a late start and I knew I was butting up against sunset, so I chose a route from the house that would keep me off busy stretches of pavement. It was hard to get going. I had to keep reminding myself that the whole point is to make peevish legs run. And while this run lacked the stunning scenery of the previous day’s outing, I was treated to a nice sunset over Badger Mountain. And I got to eat a bagel.
I was expected the snow to be gone from the bike path. I was disappointed. I’m guessing the City didn’t attempt to plow it because the bike path on the north side of I-182 is in terrible condition and a plow blade would chew it up even worse. (Thanks for making the developer put in a bike path, but next time, maybe require that they put in one that won’t crumble apart in ten years.) I walked through some of the snowy sections because I am so sick of running on snow it made me want to scream. I’m also deathly afraid of slipping at this point – six weeks to race day! – and I wasn’t wearing YakTrax.
I’m happy to report the sorta-tearing feeling did not return, so my guess is that it’s the shoes. I get to buy new trail running shoes. I hate the thought of having to buy new dress shoes, but new running shoes?
Today is a rest day. THANK YOU GOD. I am tired. I didn’t sleep well last night — if you’re a writer looking for a topic for that dystopian-society novel you want to write, I have a great idea — and my body is very grateful for the break. Tomorrow is an easy-pace five mile run (too short for bread, though). There’s a note on that workout that reads, “Pay attention to the body. Tomorrow’s workout is hard; take these workouts as easily as needed.” Wednesday’s workout is a threshold workout. Those are intervals of wanting to die, with all-too-short recovery periods in between them. Yay. If that sounds fun, I’m clearly not doing a good job of describing it.
I’m hopeful for a good night’s sleep tonight — please, no more Twilight Zone episodes in my dreams — and I’m hopeful the easy run tomorrow will loosen up my legs.
I can’t believe I’m less than six weeks from the Badger Mountain Challenge 50K. I am still intimidated, but I’d rather go in undertrained and wary than overtrained and overly confident. This upcoming weekend’s runs are 22 and 12 miles, and I’m hopeful to be able to run some of those miles on Badger or Candy Mountains. And I’m even more hopeful I’ll run them in new trail shoes.