70 +

24 Aug

Some people don’t know, but Eric is a very talented runner, and in high school and college, he was seriously good.  When Eric and I talk about his “glory days,” at some point total mileage comes up.  “Back when I was running 70+ miles a week…” he’d say.  And I’d think, “What in the hell? 70+ in a week??? Clearly you must mean in a month????”

This week, I knew I was going to hit some big numbers mileage-wise.  That’s perfect–I am now just 26 days away from Virgil Crest Ultras.  This is a terrifying realization–I made a paper countdown chain and it has quickly dwindled and while it is exciting to see, it is also nerve-wrecking.  26 days is not much time.  But I also know that I have been putting in the work, and I am probably ready (or so I’m told).

But I’ve been getting in some amazing runs and hitting numbers I’ve never seen (and never even dreamed about seeing before).  Consistent 45 + mile weeks??? What the???

This week, I managed to get in almost 30 miles before the weekend.  Which is insane.  Before this training cycle, if I hit 30 miles in a WEEK, that was a good week for me.  But I’ve been gradually building and ramping up miles, and I hit 30 by Friday just like I’d planned.  I was tired and sore, which is the whole point of the ultra training plan–build up miles and wear your body down and then keep running so you know what it’s like come race day to keep moving through fatigue and muscle soreness.

Saturday’s long run was supposed to be a recon mission in Letchworth for a project Eric and I have been kicking around for a couple of years now.  I mapped out a route on the “busy park” side of the river that went from the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook all the way up to Upper Falls, using mostly the trails running along either side of the road (sadly there was a stretch of 3-5 miles–not sure exactly how long of road, but we were able to run on the grass for much of it, so it wasn’t terrible).  Luckily, for the first time this cycle, I had company for my long run–Jen!  Jeff joined for a few early miles, and Valone hung out with Eric and Picasso and aid stationed/crewed for us.  We had decided that after we ran, we’d hang in the park, hike a bit, then backpack out to the lean-to on the other side of the river, camp for the night, and be at Dam Good Trail Race today.  It was a perfect plan.

The weather was PERFECT Saturday morning–a little chilly, but the heat and humidity from the week was finally (mostly) gone!  We met at the park at 6:45ish and got started pretty much right away.  The miles started ticking off and before we knew it, we’d covered all of trail 20, 19a, and 19.  Jeff had to turn around to leave, so Jen and I soldiered on.

ready to get going!

It’s go time!

beautiful sunrise over the gorge!

beautiful sunrise over the gorge!

The miles kept ticking by, Jen and I talked about everything–funny, serious, running, life.  Thank goodness she was there with me to keep me company and entertain me. 🙂 Somehow we ended up getting through some awful trails (17, 15, 11)–super overgrown.  This is the second year we’ve done these trails, and both times they were disasters.  I will probably never try them again, but they got us some great elevation as we cut straight down toward the river and then got stuck in a jungle and had to climb back out and to the road.

Eric and Valone kept driving back and forth, yelling at us, cheering, refilling water bottles and leaving us surprises on the road–like a memorial to Rocky the Raccoon (“you’ve got about a mile to the dead raccoon…go get it!”)  They also hid in some bushes on Trail 11 and scared the bejesus out of me.  Their antics definitely made the day more entertaining, and as usual I am so glad that Eric (and this time Valone) were there to support me–I could NOT have done it alone!

run

RIP Rocky. Thanks, guys, for being so hilarious!

Somehow, we made it to mile 18 relatively quickly.  Jen and I started talking about how my Achilles was hurting and my legs were feeling pretty shitty, and she was like, “Tired and sore are fine, just keep moving” (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it was sound advice and we did).  The guys went to go get Pete (who had biked up from Rochester) and then tried to catch us at various spots along our route.  I couldn’t believe how well I was still moving–Jen is an amazing runner, so I knew she’d be fine, but my legs have been so tired and we were entering the part of the run where the uphills were starting to become more sustained–nothing too terrible, but just non-stop (heading toward the falls).  We rocked our way to Trail 1 and began working our way along the 7 miles of Trail 1 toward the Falls, seeing the guys a bunch along the way.  The park was PACKED, and seeing people was nice–so much of my running has been by myself on mostly deserted trails, so it was just good to have so much human contact.

mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

after they scared us, the guys ran a bit with us, too!

after they scared us, the guys ran a bit with us, too!

run3

crossing wolf creek!

crossing wolf creek!

Before I knew it, we were at upper falls, at the end of Trail 1.  We had done 23 miles, and I knew we had at least 5 to hike out to the lean-to for the night.  I considered calling it, but Jen and I decided (with a lot of heckling help from the guys) to take Trail 2/2A to go see Council Grounds and then come back to make it a full trail marathon.  We headed out, hiked a decent chunk, but ended up finishing running and smiling!  A trail marathon with over 4k of elevation gain on tired legs in 6:18ish (5:46 of that moving time)??? I’ll take it!

End of Trail 1!

End of Trail 1!

selfie at the falls!

selfie at the falls!

council grounds...what up, mary Jemison!

council grounds…what up, mary Jemison!

Valone’s wife, Lisa, showed up, and we decided to hike to Stone Bridge and do a short hike together, then headed to Brian’s USA Diner…we’d never been, but it’s where everyone goes after running in Letchworth–affordable meals and HUGE portions.  We left Picasso in the car with the air running and headed inside to eat.  It was lovely.  Then we said our goodbyes and went back to Letchworth, to the other side of the river, to start our backpacking excursion.

woman walking by: I can take that for you guys. Valone: OH no, this is the whole point. haha

woman walking by: I can take that for you guys.
Valone: OH no, this is the whole point. haha

Eric and I organized the car a bit and grabbed our packs and hiked about 5.5ish miles out to the lean-to.  I felt shockingly good, we made great time (especially considering carrying a heavy pack and the miles already done), and the pack didn’t bother me much, especially when I changed from my tank top to a tshirt (note-to-self: you can’t really wear a backpack with a tank top and expect your shoulders not to end up raw).

start of the trail

start of the trail

making our way into the woods

making our way into the woods

checking out the gorge!

checking out the gorge!

eating Pringles and drinking a warm Mike's...I deserved it!

eating Pringles and drinking a warm Mike’s…I deserved it!

It was a long, terrible night.  I could not sleep (which made no sense)–I kept thinking about farmers coming and shooting us, then coyotes attacking, then the Walking Dead.  It was stupid.  I kept building the fire up, and Eric almost killed me because he was trying to sleep and I kept getting up, turning on my head lamp, moving firewood and tossing and turning.  Around 4, I finally fell asleep and slept hard until Eric woke me at 7.  Sadly, something is wrong with Picasso’s foot–we are taking him in for xrays and a consult tomorrow.  He was a trooper and hiked out with us, but we were slowed down by his gimp, and I felt terrible forcing him to walk, but there was really no other option at that point…

Resting his leg, cheering on runners! Hopefully it's nothing serious and this guy is back on the trails with us soon!

Resting his leg, cheering on runners! Hopefully it’s nothing serious and this guy is back on the trails with us soon!

We packed up our gear and headed toward the race start line through SUPER thick fog.  We saw a pile of coyote poop not even a tenth of a mile from our lean-to, so the coyote fear last night was legit. Later that day, we’d learn that one of our friends who is a Park Police Officer had tried to pull someone over and the guy (who had a huge rap sheet already) ran away into the woods and he was trying to find him in the woods by us…so I guess my panic was legit? Ha.

We spectated the race on the trail as people came out, then hung out at the start/finish line for a while before I told Eric we had to go.  The shower today never felt so good, and cleaning things up always makes me feel accomplished.  I passed out on the couch around 4ish, and Eric woke me at 5 to tell me to get dressed, that we were going back out for another 5k…because I was that close to a 70 mile week!  So we hit up Seneca Park for some relatively flat, easy miles.  My stomach was a mess, so it was very slow.  But it felt really good to be out, running with Eric.  And knowing I hit 70 miles.  Wow.

I never EVER would have thought I’d be here with my running.  I didn’t know my body was capable of this–or maybe I did, because I know I can do pretty much whatever I WANT to do, but I never really thought about testing it to make sure or see what it was like.  What it’s like:

  1.  Tired a lot–naps are my friend right now.
  2. Starving all the time.  Last night, my stomach was rumbling and sleeping on the wooden floor of the lean-to, I swear it just reverberated through the whole thing, amplifying the sounds.
  3. Chafing in places you’ve never chafed–every long run, I discover a new place to Two Toms–I’m just going to start doing my whole body to prevent any of it.  This week’s chafe is along the lines of my pants on my stomach and back. Fun stuff.
  4. Feeling like a badass pretty much all the time.  70 miles?  Over 7k of elevation gain? Amazing!  I have one final week of big miles, then I can start to taper and get ready for the big day.  This weekend, though, was another huge confidence booster!
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One Response to “70 +”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2015 in review | shmeruns - December 31, 2015

    […] A trail marathon at Letchworth, followed by a backpacking adventure, followed by some cheerleader-ing.  I never would have thought I would rock out with consistent 45-70 mile weeks, but I did for a couple of months this summer. […]

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