Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Runnin'

My Durham summer is winding down and I'm extremely ready to get back to Blacksburg. The summer has been great in terms of career development but definitely not ideal in terms of training for the Grindstone 100. Despite the fact that no climbs exist within two hours of Durham, I made the best of what I thought was impossible. Of course my vert hasn't been ideal, my time on trails and technical terrain hasn't been ideal, my recovery hasn't been ideal, but I've definitely gotten in the miles and quality workouts.

Adventuring on Old Rag mountain. Photo: Guy Love
I've been fortunate to travel four weekends to the Virginia mountains to get in the long long runs. One trip to Bedford running the Terrapin/Promise Land courses with Jordy Chang, one trip to Shenandoah to run a fun Virginia Happy Trails Running Club event, Sophie's Death March, one trip to Bburg to volunteer at a local 50k, and Bburg last weekend to do my first overdistance strictly training run. That run's numbers included 8000' gain, 35 miles, 8 hours. Extremely fun and very good 100 training. Training on trails every day definitely helps, but I think the majority of ultrarunners don't have that luxury (including me this summer); the biggest thing that matters are the long runs on trails with vert on the weekends and I've mostly been able to do that.

My recovery has been slower than usual. I attribute this to working around 45 hours a week. To accommodate the miles, I sometimes have to wake up super early, getting 7 hours of sleep instead of 8 or 9. That extra hour or two helps a TON. Also, I've done field work three weeks so far this summer which makes training very difficult on those weeks. I still get the miles in, but they're already on tired legs from sledgehammering all day long. 

Lately I've been incorporating a little biking into my routine, mainly because I still want to get outside but don't necessarily want to run. I LOVE biking in the summer. I think 2014 will look something like: one or two big ultras in the winter/spring, then scoring a fast focused marathon, then triathlon in the summer and fall. We'll see. I have no idea where I'll be this time next year. Exciting to think about...I've really enjoyed the biking (yes, it's very minimal, like 35 mins a piece at a VERY easy pace). 

Along with a tiny bit of biking I've been executing workouts, mostly 4-6 mile tempos. I typically run these workouts very well, nailing my goal times. Then most of my other runs are steady or easy. I feel pretty solid, yet my regular easy running has slowed about 45sec/mile than in previous seasons. I feel like I have nothing on the ups, even slight inclines my HR jumps a bit. That being said, my hiking has been steady and solid during the long efforts in the mountains and the flats and downhills feel very good. Interesting. I plan on more consistent vert when I get back to the Burg. 

Poiting out lines. Photo: Jordy Chang
This week has been a scheduled back week. Last week I hit 91 miles, one mile more than my all time high that I hit this past early April. That volume makes me happy, as I still have two months to build and be consistent with high mileage. This next three weeks will be very interesting. They'll hopefully encompass three 100+ mile weeks, with Martha Moats 50k fatass in there which I plan on as just another fun overdistance run. I have no intentions of racing anything before Grindstone. I feel like AJW and Western States, not caring about any race besides the big one. Even so, I don't care that much about Gstone in the competitive sense. I'm excited to see what I can do. It will be a personal race with new personal ground. Ideally I would have legs and be able to run the last 20 miles and catch loads of people there, but who knows, I'm not concerned. All I want is to do my best and feel good about myself.

As this week has been recovery, I've taken it liberally and put in less miles than planned. I think that's the first week I've ever done less miles than planned. I'm listening to my body and am in it for longevity. I'm off for a slow bike ride now :) 

On another note, Geoff Roes wrote an article on "running rhetoric". A responder remarked that "sufferfest" and "deathmarch" are horrible misnomers for what we ultrarunners do. He commented how it's no better to "slog" than to run happy; running happy is better than slogging. We volunteer to partake in these races and have the luxury to put ourselves through pain. What are we trying to prove? "Then I slogged for 10 hours; I deathmarched it in." He was saying, cool for you, but I don't care, stop trying to prove you're tougher than me...That comment really resonated with me; do what you do to push yourself and stop trying to outdo everybody else. Us naturally competitive individuals in the ultra community need to learn this lesson. We need to continue to be mutually supportive yet still competitive. We need to compete together, not against each other. Such actions only make everyone stronger. No bragging. That goes for me too.

...Yesterday I was running (read: gasping) with some Duke grad students who ran track as undergrads. One mentioned how pride is the bane of runners. I agree. I'm swallowing my past race results and am simply focused on what I can do at Gstone. 100 miles does not owe me anything. It is a long way that will hurt and take immense effort.

Keep plugging away. Loving it all.  Beauty. Photo: Jordy Chang

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