scared straight: trail running

23 Aug

 

Right after the Dirty German 50k, I was riding some crazy runner’s high and decided that the Mendon 50k was next on my list of things to conquer.  At the time, it sounded like a brilliant plan–I’d go right from the previous race’s training cycle, then train hard all summer/fall long and kick ass at Mendon.  I love that even though I’ve said this a thousand times before, and it’s never gone quite this way, I still actually believe these types of fairy tale stories…

 

Summer rolled around, and I realized I wasn’t feeling the long runs.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after years of running, it’s to listen to your body and your brain–when it says it’s time for a break, it’s time for a break.  Besides, I didn’t HAVE to start training until the beginning of August.  No problemo.

 

So I’ve been running, but nothing serious and nothing long.  We spent a lot of time in July hiking and camping, which meant not a lot of time for running.  Now, hiking the way we were is fabulous cross-training, and it’s not like I was just sitting around eating potato chips and watching smutty tv all day (although there was a fair amount of that, too).  But it was not running.  And all of a sudden, August 2nd rolled around, the “start” date of my next training cycle, and I realized that I had planned to be at least able to run 14 miles, and the furthest I’d run since the Dirty German was 7 or 8.  Oops.

 

2 weeks ago, Eric and Brian took me out to “view” the course.  We planned to do 2 loops, so 12ish miles.  No big deal.  I figured I’d have to walk a fair amount of the second loop…but I had no idea of the misery that was about to ensue.  We finished loop 1, and I just wanted to get in the car and go home.  The guys talked me into going back out, and I was ok until I hit the midway point, at which time I got really cranky (Eric turned to Brian at one point and whispered “This is where Shme is going to get really angry” and at another point asked me when the last time was that I’d eaten some Skittles).  I wanted to take the road back, but the guys convinced me to finish it up with them on the trails, which I reluctantly did.  Getting into the car after that run, I had the sobering realization that I had to do that loop…3 more times.  Yikes.  Scared Straight: Trail Running Edition.

 

I revisited the training plan, compared that to our calendar (which is already jam packed with Buffalo, #TrailsRoc clean-ups and races and other miscellaneous stuff), and picked out some dates to hit the trails at Mendon again.

plans2

Last weekend we were in Buffalo.  There’s always been a lot of stress there, so long runs have always been a challenge, but they’ve always been run in the past (might not be pretty, but it gets taken care of).  Sadly, right now there are more family issues from both sides of our families that are contributing to even greater stress.  I hadn’t been sleeping well at home because of it, and being in Buffalo did not help at all.  Eric and I got up Saturday morning to run at Chestnut Ridge and made it 1.5 miles before I was already done mentally.  I was mad at myself for giving up so quickly, but then I decided to be gentle with myself–we are kind of going through a lot of shit right now, so just getting out of bed to go run was admirable.  We managed to squeeze in a little over 5 before making our way back to the car.  We figured we could just do our long run the following day, but ended up helping out at home instead.  I was feeling pretty defeated and wondering at this point if I should contact Brian and see about dropping down to the 30k race instead…

 

This morning was the second Loopy Run at Mendon.  Because of the Dam Good race tomorrow, I wasn’t sure who would show up, but was pleasantly surprised to have Liz, Alison, Prem, Ryan and Dylan join me!  Yesterday’s mountain biking adventure (11.5 miles! which for all of my cyclist friends is nothing, but for me is a very big deal) left me with very sore knees this morning–I know people say running is bad for your knees (p.s. it’s not, check the studies), but holy hell were my knees feeling like crap this morning!  No matter, the run went really well, especially compared to the previous 2 weekends’ long runs.  We ran a relatively easy, relatively consistent pace.  I walked all the major hills, with the intention of doing 3 loops this morning.  Conserving energy was the name of the game.  We finished loop 1 and I found myself feeling good.  1:20:00 is a long(ish) time for 1 loop, but I still had plenty in the tank for another loop.  Alison, Prem and Dylan left and Liz and Ryan and I set out for round 2.  This loop went surprisingly well, too.  Towards the end, I started to get tired, but as I crested some smaller hills, I would feel better and just keep chugging along.  With about 2 miles left in the loop, I realized there was the possibility of a negative split and that also helped encourage me to run up some of the smaller hills.  We finished loop 2 in 1:13:00!  At this point, I knew I was tired and it was getting late.  It was also super humid–my clothes were SOAKING wet (it’s like I was Eric or something).  So we refilled water bottles at Stewart Lodge (I drank almost 80 ounces of water running this morning!) rather than going back to the temptation of our cars, then Liz and I set out for a shorter, flatter loop around the pond.  This loop felt pretty awful most of the way–I think it was a combination of fatigue and skittles–I’d just eaten a boatload of them while we refilled bottles and my stomach was not very happy with me.  But we finished, and it put the total mileage around 14.5 miles.

 

There was a point in time where I realized (very sadly) that I’m not actually sure that I will be able to better my 50k race time with Mendon.  To be fair, it’s a lot more hill climbing, which is absolutely NOT my strong suit.  I also did not particularly set myself up for racing success with the way my summer “running” went.  But then I realized that I don’t really care.  Comparing races isn’t fair anyway–courses are all so different–elevation profiles and types of trails and weather can change things completely.  Saying that I finished another 50k is enough for me.

 

I’m glad today went well.  There were a few moments of doubt for me, but for the most part, things felt good.  I didn’t leave today thinking, “Oh God. 3 more loops of that.” Instead, I left saying, “3 more loops of that.  Gotta put in the work, but I’m going to get there for sure.”  Looking forward to other loop runs with friends (and alone), more speedwork/hill repeats, and a bunch of easy Tuesday/Thursday group runs.  And really looking forward to saying I completed another 50k, one that a couple of years ago I had said I’d never do because it was too hard, too above me.

plans

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