Monday, February 27, 2012

Peaks and Troughs

Running, training, living in general has its peaks and troughs. As some of you know I have tattoo forever engraved into my skin that is reminder of this fact. Not only are there ups and downs but our lives are but one small segment with a distinct beginning and end within the never-ending dimension of time. Running too, is much like this each run with its solitary beginning and finish within our own lives.

It's said that as the miles persist- aka the longer you run- the higher the highs, the lower the lows and the closer together they become. I certainly attest to this, and train by it. No matter how low you feel, if you can make it through, there's usually another high to take awake your self-doubt and fill the brain with gratification and fortitude as the run continues.

The last couple weeks I have been progressing to this week Feb. 27th- March 4th 2012... my peak week of training for my First 50 mile ultra run. My entire body is buzzing with anxiety both positive and negative mixing all around. I can't wait to run, but the fatigue and mild soreness is still present from last weeks efforts. The weight of making the wrong decision rides my mind. In the end though, I'll follow my heart, and run as long as I am pain free.

This week is the mental guidance for the rest of my training. Extra calories, extra sleep and higher focus will be utilized to manage my job, yoga teaching and my training. For this one week I will be utterly selfishly devoted to completing the task at hand. And if I fail, I fail, nothing more, the training will persist as planned and will continue to do my best... since thats all I've got ;).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Golden Gate Trail Run:50K

So about a week ago today I began to get nervous or neurotically petrified about this race. I'd just spent the last 2 days laid up in bed feeling like absolute garbage. The most movement I did was teaching my yoga class and that was strenuous. So I took the week easy, got my gentle runs in, swam my milage and practiced yoga and otherwise rested up and prayed for a miracle.

So, this was not only my first 50K but also the first legitimate training I've done since training for ING NYC marathon in 2010, and I've rarely truly tapered either. Although I did alright with Baltimore Marathon in 2011 I think I got a little more lucky than I had the results of proper rest and nutrition.

Anyway... Here we are, San Fran, stopping at Sports Basement for some race needs on my part and some other goodies for the other ppl who conveniently would be my race "crew" and support for the entire weekend (pretty awesome). Not really having a clue what 50K on the trail with true hills/ little mountains would be like I really had no idea how to prepare. 

Ultra-running on a trail is not like road running a marathon. The stresses are different the energy expenditure is different, the heart rate changes are extraordinarily different. So I picked up some extra Gels and a hand held 10oz water bottle and REcovery drink mix. Seemed sufficient.

Onward to race prep via exploring Tiburon. Gorgeous views, tall hills, shiny water and sunshine, warm perfect sunshine- Very California.

I'll skip the play day of tapering and eating all the right foods, eggs, toast, ice cream, coffee and a bit more coffee, and some other good things! After all, I didn't really think i needed to prep the same as an All out race. Ultra-running is different. I had semi-calmed myself by convincing myself over and ver that this was a long hike, just racing myself and enjoying the views. I was still shaking with anxiety and had organized all of my things about 5 times. 

Race Morning: up at 2,3:30, 4, 4:55- clearly a little nervous.... packed, dressed, and bageled with tahini...yum! and Coffee and 1.5 L water. Ready.

Start:8am... ready, a little chilly, but the vast hill lying directly in front of me would soon fix that.

 Up... up...up... plateau...up...up....stairs?....up...up....oh thank god, some down.... that didn't last long. Up... gravel, really and 12% grade.... walking/ hiking.... and then: down for a quite a ways.5K done... body temp- TOO high. Jacket comes off, handlful of trail mix and a couple cubes of clif blocks and moving again..

Up, and up some more another mile plus climb. The walking seemed much less embarrassing as we ALL were walking and pushing ourselves as hard as we could. At the peak the view was out of this world. And the following miles of cliff side rolling hills with views of the Pacific crashing up against the coast were worth all the effort. Passed the next check point only to across another hill of massive proportions. I mean wow! It'd be a tough hike for most ppl, or at least for me. But this was followed by a dip through the forest with the smell of trees and moist dirt so clean I was able to ride the high all the way to the next check point where I'd just learned I was 14 miles through and would hit the 30K marker much sooner than I had expected.

The next couple miles although coursing upwards demonstrated a view of the Golden Gate Bridge I wouldn't have ever expected to see- absolutely wonderful. "Pretty great right?" says a women I've been running with +/- since the start. "Don't worry, we do this loop again, and much slower the second time for time to take in the views." We both laugh together as we journey on. a little voice in my head going- 'we do this again...OMG'....

Checkpoint 30K... hurting, but moving and comfy mentally as ready as I can be to take on the first hill all over again... and the third hill again. By no I was praying for support and grateful my support crew had clearly assumed by estimated times to be true, placing me about 90min ahead of schedule. With a support... you don't quit... you instead find strength within to carry you up up and onward- always Just one more step. Doesn't matter how slow you move- just keep moving.

Somewhere in the middle of this repeat of the third massive hill and was losing it, mentally fatiguing. I couldn't manage to run the hill I'd conquered a little over an hour ago. And with 10 miles left, how would I make it. Where is anyone... anyone? No one...really.... My strength weakened as i felt my body ache from head to toe, heart pounding, sweat dripping and clock ticking. Finally that little spot in the woods... from here its all "downhill" so to speak except for the other 3 smaller peaks I'd clearly forgotten about from the first loop.

Final checkpoint. 28 miles~roughly.... home stretch...steady flow and carry yourself in.
Mile 30... a friendly face, God did I need that... being able to look down from the last descent and see the finish area and know you're just over a mile felt like torture... torture was happy to take on... whats one more mile of pain....I kept trying ti up the pace as I grew closer and closer to finish, Passing a couple marathoners.

Done. And Done. Final sprint took me in at 5:02 giving me a 9th place finish in the 50K, 2nd Female. I was happy, proud, and tired. Tears tightened in my throat and then happiness broke through instead, success and accomplishment. Well deserved.

Beer, rehydration bev, and some more snacks and I was ready to Go-- to bed :).

Take Home Points: Baltimore doesn't have hills like SF has hills.... need to increase hill training even more.
                             Running trails is so much more natural for me.... so much fun!
                             I have a LOT of work to do to make it to 50 by April21st.... But... I'll be ready.