Here are three things that I’m really terrible at when it comes to running.
- Structured training
- Realizing my potential
Here are three things that I’m really terrible at when it comes to running.
Last year, my first race back after injury was at the Indian Creek Fifties 15 miler [officially declared to be 14.25 miles, but we all know better]. It was a beautiful, runnable, rolling course with bomb-able downhills and sweeping views along the Colorado Trail. It was the beginning of an incredible year. I’ve had my eye on one more ultra this year, but didn’t officially register in order to allow space for recovery after Mt Hood. I was pretty set on running the 55k since it is three months post-50-miler. But I’m not ready.
It’s been a short and wild summer. I spent the majority of my weekends in the high country, which means regularly getting up at 3-4am on non-workdays. I have loved every single adventure and was even getting used to the early morning wake up calls, though I can definitely feel the accumulation of sleep deprivation. I climbed a few 14ers, a few 13ers, ran a couple of iconic loops and segments, ran my first hard af 50k, ran my first extremely runnable 50 miler, had a lot of ups, a few downs and feel like I took advantage of the summer to the best of my capacity.
Last weekend, I acknowledged the coming of the fall, and it’s coming fast, with the second annual Skyline Traverse Season Kickoff Run. This Boulder classic is 17-20 miles, depending on your preferred method of descending Sanitas, with vertical gains of just over 6000′. I ran nine of them last season – September to May – as the winter weather was very accommodating. This run hits the five major peaks along the Boulder skyline – if you run it in my preferred direction, South to North, you’ll hit South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green, Flagstaff and Sanitas. I hadn’t done it since just before my first race in May and I’m looking forward to many more of these over the coming months.
If comparison is the thief of joy, why is it so thrilling to get a PR? If comparison is the thief of joy, why does finishing 3rd or 10th or 156th feel so good? You and I know that this classic phrase is true, but it’s more nuanced than it appears at first glance. Like stress, a certain level of comparison is healthy, but go a hair beyond that and it quickly turns toxic. Comparison used as a tool to assign value is the real culprit. In this context, comparison is not a mere pickpocket. No, it straight up kicks down the door, snatches your joy and then proceeds to flip your furniture, drown your electronics and smash the contents of your fridge on the floor just for fun, leaving a dangerous mess in its wake.
I thought all my ultra-inspired lessons would come in one neat package on the trail, that they would fit snugly between the start and finish lines and I’d come out the other side a different person than when I started. That’s the thing with lessons – you invite them into your life and expect them to enter through the front door like gentlemen, but instead, they sneak in through the window while you’re sleeping and put your hand into a bowl of warm water. Continue reading That time I ran 50 miles
That feeling of reaching a summit, when those last few hundred feet of vertical struggle is over, there is a feeling of relief, humility, awe, gratitude, achievement – but it is brief, and after a few minutes, it’s time to turn around and go back the way you came. It’s not that the view gets old or that you don’t want to savor the moment, but the goal has been achieved and no matter where you sit, some pointy rock edge is jamming you in the ass – it gets cold and windy and chances are a storm will roll in before too long. Before the journey down the mountain is even over, you find yourself already craving another and reminiscing about the journey up, almost wishing you were still headed in that direction.
One of the main drivers behind my desire to run ultras is curiosity. Come to think of it, the main driver behind most everything I do is curiosity…
After reading Born to Run about 7 years ago, the book that introduced me to the concept of both trail running and ultra running, I became fascinated with the topic. I was living in Atlanta and ran mostly road, topping out at about 5 miles. I had no idea that I would move to Boulder or run ultras. By the time I decided to move out to Colorado, I was completely captivated by trail running and trail runners – I had visions of bumping into Scott Jurek every time I went for coffee and becoming BFFs. Well, I have run into him several times, but I’m pretty sure he just thinks I’m a creep… Turns out he’s not the only trail runner in this town and I’ve made a good few trail friends here, most of whom can confirm that I’m not a creep…
The other night I went to the Trails in Motion film festival, leading up to the Golden Gate Dirty 30 race that I’m running tomorrow. Featured in these films were a couple of local legends – Courtney Dauwalter and Clare Gallagher. More importantly, several films showcased athletes who may never podium, but who demonstrate an inspiring amount of heart, grit and perseverance, who put themselves in unique positions to experience both suffering and joy.
Quad Rock has a reputation for being either hot as balls or near blizzard conditions year to year. Spring in Colorado is unpredictable and despite 70+ degree days surrounding race day, this year it was in the 50s with rain and mud. Oh, so much mud. And every kind of mud. There was the kind of mud that tries to steal your shoes, the kind of predator mud that stands by while its prey exhausts itself trying to stay upright, the splashy diarrhea mud, and the pottery-slip mud. And in the final stretch was the kind of mud that turns your Salomons into Herman Munster shoes.
Hi stranger! How the shit are you?
I didn’t mean to ignore you, I’ve just had a lot going on, and it has occupied most of my waking hours and some of the sleepy ones too. The good news is that I stopped all the emotional flailing. I removed myself from an environment that was bringing out the worst in me. I let go of things I so crave but aren’t available to me. I’m feeling much more centered despite the whirlwind of the past few months. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
Currently, I’m staring down the race schedule that somehow snuck up on me in the midst of all this. I never did get on a specific training plan, but for the last couple of months I’ve averaged 160 mi // 35,000′ gainz, so I haven’t been grossly neglecting the miles or the vert – just the speed-work and hill repeats that are critical to a solid performance. smh
Right around mid-March, while I was traveling, there was a week where all I got in was a measly handful of shitty road miles. I had to make up dumb challenges to stay motivated as I dodged an unreasonable amount of shit smeared on the sidewalks. Whether human or dog, I can’t say. So when I got back to Boulder, I went balls out and put in a 53 mile week with 14,000′ vertical gain, followed up with a 46 mile week and another 8000′. I started to feel it in all the wrong ways. With a little help from Dr. Google, I self-diagnosed with ITBS, a typical beginner’s injury and got some advice from some other local trail runners that I admire and respect. Over the last month, I’ve been getting weekly acupuncture treatments, rolling and stretching. It’s made a HUGE difference and I’m looking forward to my first race next weekend.
I’m not exactly sure how to train in between since I have two A races that are very different. I’ve gotten some great advice, again, from local trail runners that I admire and respect. I’m going to take it all in, assimilate the information, listen to my body and go with it. I’d love to hear how you would train between these three races – tell me!