This past weekend was difficult. I had a minor epiphany on Sunday, and that may prove to be the thing that saves me.
Saturday called for a 22-mile run. The Nomad Trail Runners were heading out to run Candy and scout the way to Red, so I gathered with them at 7:30 that morning. Much of the snow is gone, and the new trail is certainly an easier way to the summit. There are several spots where the new trail is covered in snow. I hiked the way to the top instead of trying to run it. It took me about 32:00 to make it to the top. That’s slow, but given that it’s just the second mile of this run, I wasn’t in a hurry. My first crossing of the top of Candy was fog-free, so here’s the picture to prove I was there.
And then down we go…. The backside of Candy is crazy steep. Stretches of -20%+ grade; the steepest Strava shows is a -45% grade. That was slow going. My new Altra Lone Peaks were awesome, though. My previous pair was slightly too big, and descents killed my toes. The new ones keep my feet where they belong; no toenails will be sacrificed to too-steep descents. The fog was rolling in, and I managed to snap this picture just before it enveloped Rattlesnake and Red Mountains.
I made my way to where Hwy 224 crosses the route of the Badger Mountain Challenge. There are a bunch of roads through the area between Keene and 224, and I meandered around because I had no idea which was the “trail.” I figured I couldn’t really get lost. Eventually, I’d find a road; if I didn’t, I always had the option of doubling back over my route.
I went back up & over Candy and headed to Badger. I was debating the best route. I intended to go up Skyline to the Trailhead Loop trail, up Canyon (the steepest trail), then back to the Langdon trail. Canyon trail was going to hurt, no matter which direction I ran it. Going up is lot of work, and it would have been a struggle to power hike it. Going down is like doing a thousand squats. As it turned out, I did neither. I came around a bend on the west side of Badger while on the Skyline trail and saw a field of snow. At that point, I gave up. I’d already done a bit of post-holing and sliding about, and this winter has given me entirely too much running on snow.
I ended up with just fourteen miles on Saturday, with 2569′ of elevation gain. I did a fair job of refueling and stretching, but I forgot to massage my quads. Oh, those poor tender quadriceps muscles….
Sunday morning, my legs were really tired; I’d go so far as to say they were more tired than sore. I brought a lacrosse ball with me to church to work on knots while I was sitting. It helped, but my legs haven’t been this sore in quite some time. At the communion rail, I tried to kneel, as is my usual custom. Nope nope nope.
I was supposed to run twelve miles on Sunday. My original plan was to head back to Badger or Candy and try running it with poles. (I’m hopeful poles may make climbing a little easier, and I want to practice with them prior to the race.) I also thought of running on the flats and trying to force a good 9:00-13:00/mile while running. (I run four minutes then walk a minute, with a target pace during the walk of 15:00-18:00/mile.) Unfortunately, I was incredibly unmotivated. All I wanted to do was curl up under a blanket and rest. I dragged my feet so much I left myself with waning daylight; running from home won the contest.
Even while walking that first mile, I had doubts I’d be able to do anything today. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to my legs a chance to warm up. I gave up on the idea of trying to force any kind of pace as it was all I could to do to keep running. In this case, “running” is a euphemism as my fastest pace was 14:27/mile. True to form, I started to feel better during the third mile, but my pace never picked up.
Since I missed an opportunity last week to take a picture of the gummi bears I’d dropped, I couldn’t pass this one up. This is not a cookie I dropped; it was lying on the ground along my route. I posted it on the Ultrarunner’s page on Facebook with the notation that “this is the kind of thing that makes an ultrarunner cry.” The vote was almost unanimous – if it didn’t land in poop, pick it up, brush it off, and eat it!
(Fear not, friends. I have enough knowledge of microbes to understand that the five-second rule is nonsense, and there’s no way I’d eat a cookie I’d dropped on the ground. The only exception would be if I was in the midst of a bonk, but because I generally carry plenty of food during runs, I shouldn’t bonk.)
This was a difficult run, but it brought the epiphany: I cannot make up for lost time. I know not to try to make up missed workouts, but I was trying to make the mileage for these long runs despite missing a few runs that would have helped me build up to the distance. Last Saturday’s twenty-two miles was my longest run on the training calendar. This is a much-needed recovery week, and my longest run between now and race day is eighteen miles.
I also saw a cedar waxwing during this run. I haven’t seen one of those in years, so it was quite a treat. Sunday was also my first run with my new OrangeMud Hydration pack. It’s going to take some tweaking before I get dialed in just right; I’m going to wait until I’ve had several runs to test the thing before writing a review of the product.
Yesterday was a rest day. I needed it, but it was depressing. Stepping down into the garage – one step! – hurt, but I needed to get the laundry done. Walking hurt. Beyond the sore quads, my left knee hurts (not the IT band – it’s the other side of the knee for a change) and occasionally my right hamstring hurt. I felt defeated. My RHR has crept up to 56. My sinuses were bothering me. I had a moment of “I’m doomed, I’m overtraining, I’m sick, I’ll never be able to do this race” boo-hoo-ness. To be honest, it was more than just a moment. It didn’t help that my weight is creeping up, too. I intend to take very good care of my body during this recovery week. I’m supposed to do an easy-pace three mile run today. I may go for a walk this evening, as I know keeping my legs moving will really help them.
It’s the low moments that test us. And given that my low moments have to do with training for an ultra – not worrying about having my home foreclosed on, or wondering if I’ll have the energy to get out of bed, or sitting at the bedside of a dying loved one – things are pretty good. I need to catch up on some sleep, but things are going well enough to remind me that I am truly blessed.