So I’ve been in a bit of a funk for a while. Well, not exactly a funk. More of a stay in doubtville for me.
After DW and I ran our first 50M in October, I sort of farted around running wise, only doing a few shakeout runs before my last marathon in December. It turned out to be a huge PR for me, but it did hurt more than I thought it should.
Since then running’s taken on a different identity. It’s not that I haven’t been enjoying it; it’s just that there hasn’t been the same rhythm to it. Every step has felt a bit awkward and riddled with the threat of injury. My IT bands especially have been problematic.
It’s been like taking a road trip in a broke@ss ’92 Honda: Yeah it’s still fun, it’s a road trip! The sun is shining and the wind is flowing! But it’s still a broke@ss ’92 Honda and the brakes are squealing, the tires are wobbly and one mirror’s hanging by a strip of duct tape.
I felt like a car that’s been sitting in a field for years. Rusty and stagnant, its hot rodding days are far behind it. The only thing that can bring it back to full fury is the right kind of restoration…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately of Scott Jurek’s 2005 running of Badwater.
70 miles into the race, which he didn’t properly train for, Scott Jurek was almost beaten by the heat. He started to shake, vomit, and, ultimately, collapsed on the +200 degree asphalt. For 10 minutes, Scott lay on the road unable to move. He grappled with idea of quitting. His friends and family had never seen him look so bad. As he laid on the ground, he reasoned that if he was going to continue that he would have to run the fastest 75 miles he had ever run to win the race.
He got up, pretended he was just beginning, and won the race.
Maybe sometimes a little bit o’ crazy is needed.
Last week some chimey sounds from my phone brought me the news that I’d been signed up for a Western States training run on the 18th. Thanks, DW! Another chime and I could hardly believe the message. DW had found a 50K in our local hills in two days and wanted to know if I wanted to do it!
I was pretty nervous and decided to go for a trial run that night. If it went ok, we’d do it.
It went OK!!!
I figured that if the race went really well, it would make for a great blog!
And if I totally crashed and burned… it would make for a great blog!
So what do you do when you’re going into a tough ultra undertrained and possibly injured? Try new things, too!
Things I decided to try for the first time:
Legs (I was hoping that simply running technical trails for many miles would fix me)
Shoes (Brooks Pure Grit, my winnings from my Super Bowl bet with DW)
GU’s (new flavors, peanut butter and vanilla. Well, new to me.)
Arm Warmers (just picked ‘em up at the Surf City expo)
Trail (much of the trail was uncharted territory)
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RACE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Man, I love trail races.
The starting area was a folding table, a line of chalk on the ground, a standing clock, and about 50 chatty runners. Quite a few of them were training for WS100 and it was nice to see some familiar faces.
DW and I stood near the back, planning to treat this as a “time-on-our-feet” run and get through it feeling good. As we trot into the first downhill, a hand slaps my back and I hear, “Hey Kynan! How’s it going!” It was M, a runner we’d met at a New Year’s trail run from a friend’s house. It’s amazing how sharing a few muddy miles and a few beers will make instant good friends!
The first 4 miles followed the Western States Trail down to No Hands Bridge. It was pretty nice to begin with this long downhill, and the runners spread out quite a bit. We were somewhere near the back, which was just fine. It was about enjoying the day, and it was great to not have people rushing up behind us.
The brakes were squeaking. Uh oh.
Miles 5-15 were very interesting for me. At first my IT’s were twinging all over the place and my lungs were burning at what I thought was a pretty pedestrian pace, but that slowly changed. In the span of about 4 miles everything in my legs loosened up! I felt like Forrest shedding his leg braces! Suddenly my long lost rhythm was back and ready to attack! The wheels had straightened out and it was smooth sailing.
My lungs stopped burning and I realized that I was running with my mouth closed. It felt like walking and nose-breathing was apparently sufficient. Whaaaaaaat?
Miles 15-28 were the most enjoyable for me, hands down. I was feeling lucky and grateful to be feeling strong and sharing this beautiful place with my better half. I was spouting nonsense, whatever funny movie quotes or songs popped into my head. I was pondering things to write about. I was marveling that DW was wearing gear from three different companies that matched perfectly, exuding fabulousness in the same shade of hot pink. To be honest, I was downright giddy!
The shoes were awesome. I tried to capture why here: the heel is rounded so I can maintain my forefoot strike and it feels exceedingly natural on the downhills!
When we got back to No Hands I knew the course was long. DW and I both had over 28 on our Garmins and it was another 4.2 back up to the finish. Oh well, more miles for our dollars! I scooped up a wad of peanut butter, sandwiched it between two Oreos, and stuffed my face. (I eat like a 4 yr old at grandma’s house during trail races: candy, cookies, soda, jelly beans, I’m always hungry!)
The next 4 miles were pretty tough. DW and I ran out of steam and although there was no cramping or nausea, we just felt depleted. I began to get this wrenching hunger pit in my stomach. I must need to work on intaking more calories earlier on, because I was soooo hungry!!!
The hunger got to the point where I contemplated gathering sustenance from the trail…
Then I remembered Mr. Bacon clearly demonstrating how one could chew bark off a tree, provided one has enough BA points in the bank. I hoped I had.
My legs felt really good though, and I was stoked on that! I felt like I could run forever!
The uphill took its toll, though, and by the end I was happy to stop. We crossed the line having run 33 miles in 8:29 and had a great time. The long time on our feet will help immensely with training for our next 50M in April, and I got to run some of the course for Way Too Cool 50K (3 wks).
All the new gear worked great! All my annoying leg pains went away! I had a fantastic time with DW! It’s an embarrassment of riches!!!
I’M BACK! I finally shook out all the rust from my system and I feel like I’m ready to roll!
ROCK ON, LOOPSTERS!!!