Okay peeps, this one could be a bit long so I will apologize in advance if it is. You always have the option of moving your mouse to the red X in the upper right hand corner of the screen and moving on to bigger and better things! LOL
Here we are with 16 days and a “wake up” away from the day I’ve been planning for the last SIX month! We ran our last “long” training run of 20 miles yesterday – around a 1.25 mile concrete track. I thought this would be great preparation for the fortitude we will need to push through the miles that may be hard, boring, painful etc., when the big day arrives on December 13. Today as I sat here drinking my first cup of coffee I thought this would be a good day to talk about the journey up to this point. I am going to skip over the points that are more personal in nature and attempt to stick to the material that is training relevant. 🙂
The journey truly began back in May when I saw an ad on FaceBook about this race. It claimed to be the flattest, fastest ultra in Texas. This appealed to me immediately! As a relative newbie to ultra’s and trail running as a whole with only 20 months on the trails at that point and several ultra distance races where I was moderately successful, I felt somehow COMPELLED to run this race. I asked several of my running friends who have finished 100’s themselves whether they thought it was possible for me to FINISH a flat 100 with 6 months of training. The response was all positive! My friend A.B who is a beast on the trail said that my base was solid and I would be ready in six months.
I thought about it for a couple weeks, trying to figure out how to break the news to my husband and wondering how I could possibly come up with the entry fee. One thing lead to another and guess what?! I realized that I was MEANT to run this race when my entry fee was comped. That’s right! When pieces fall together almost effortlessly in my world, that means that whatever it is I am contemplating is meant to be. I bit the bullet so to speak and went ahead and registered to run 100 MILES! Then the FREAK OUT came! Oh. My. Gosh! What was I thinking? What am I going to do now? I said I would do it….now there has to be a plan. One cannot simply jump willy nilly into something like this without some idea of how they will progress!
The planning began and the base building, strengthening began in June. Since it was early summer there was quite a bit of bicycling going on as cross training. This is when we began testing out running in zone 2. Why zone 2? Well, after doing a lot of research and reading I came to the conclusion that in order for me to go further than 26.2 miles it would be necessary to keep the heart beating slower while still running er…jogging. This was a process in itself let me tell you!
From mid-June through the first week of September there were days when I thought we would not get to the point where we could JOG for more than 100 yards without having to walk and our pace per mile would drop under a 15 minute mile. The sense of frustration was immense! I am a performance/goal oriented person so when things do not go the way I expect them to it really gets to me emotionally. This was yet another lesson to be learned! During this same period I played with running while depleted. Have you done this?! Essentially, you run your training miles without eating anything prior. It was tough at first I have to say. Eventually, it was possible to run 12 miles without eating breakfast beforehand.
12 miles is really my limit though. It is shortly after this point that I crash….HARD. Have you ever allowed your blood sugar to drop down to the point where you simply feel shaky, sweaty and as if you cannot move? It’s not pleasant by any means! Even with drinking tailwind (a FAB electrolyte with some calories drink mix!) I was unable to get beyond the 12 miles while depleted. Once our long weekend runs exceeded 12 miles on regular basis, I stopped running depleted at all except for our short mid-week runs that didn’t go over 10 miles. Crashing physically takes me an entire day to bounce back from!
August was a tough month! This is the first summer that I have ran any distance over about 10 miles. I do NOT like running in the summer. It is just so HOT!! There were a couple runs where the saving grace was the fact that the trail we run on regularly is next to the lake. My training partner and battle buddy at this point, suggested we take a dip in the lake at the tail end of a particularly grueling 26 miles. We had about 4 miles remaining and I was fading FAST. My feet hurt, stomach was cramping and I just felt like….garbage to put it nicely. So, we walked about 50 feet down to the sorry looking lake (we’ve not recovered from a serious drought) that appeared as an oasis. Shoes,socks, garmin and vest were ditched….and we entered the blissful surrender of the water. WOW! I’d say we spent about 15-20 minutes there just soaking our over-heated bodies (It was around 96 degrees by noon that day as we were finishing up!)
September was a month of epicness – on both sides of the coin. There were lessons learned like: running 28 miles on one Sunday means my body will NOT be ready for another long distance run over 20 miles the following Sunday; over-training happens and when it does one MUST simply take some time off and re-evaluate priorities and finally….it’s all going to be OKAY. I told you that I am a planner and someone who takes goals to heart. This is all well and good except, one has to know how to let go and lower expectations. I don’t do well with this and training for 100 miles has helped me (a bit) with this. Nobody is perfect. No plan ever goes exactly as planned – ever. That doesn’t mean one should not plan! It means that we need to build contingencies INTO our plans. Have a backup plan and a secondary backup plan! 🙂
November arrived without much drama and the long awaited Fat Ass 50 mile run we’d bee planning since September was upon us! The PLAN (oops there we go again with the PLAN!) was we’d begin at 6 pm and end the night at 6 am or 50 miles whichever came first. Ironically, this also happened to be the night daylight savings time ended! The night started off great! We did a couple loops, then J.S one of my good friends and often a running partner said he had to bail because his wife was sick. We were disappointed as was he, but priorities are what they are, so when we got back to the turnaround point he took off. Loop 3 really was where the separation between the few of us running became more evident. I knew by the time we finished that loop that I was in trouble physically. My left ankle was painful and didn’t want to bend correctly. Not good!
The 2 young men who were remaining said they’d had enough before we began the 4th loop and that left myself and my battle buddy N.D to finish up. At that point I knew I had to suck it up and deal with the pain, try to work through it and keep on pushing. The alternative was to quit. That’s NOT an acceptable alternative! I tried my best. Stretched my foot on the run, accentuated my foot strike by consciously bending my ankle…we made it about 4 miles in and I broke the news to N.D that I didn’t think I’d make another 5 miles never mind another 18 to complete the 50 we were aiming for. We wound up walking the last 2 miles back to the trucks. I was upset with myself but knew that if I kept on pushing it was just going to make whatever was going on even worse…
Here we are at the end of November and it’s Thanksgiving. I am thankful for so much! Thankful for the friends I have who have stuck by me through good and bad training days and the various moods we find ourselves enveloped in. The 100 is WEEKS away…and many lessons have been learned. Now it’s time for rest and to allow the body to HEAL while trying to keep the madness away. 100 miles is not that far!! This is simply one more test of my internal fortitude and a goal to be accomplished. As one of my Lieutenants used to say….CAN and WILL!!
I hope you enjoyed taking this little walk with me!
Until next time…..PEACE