Friday, February 24, 2012

Pacing at Rocky Road 100

Earlier in the year I pondered attempting to run the Rocky Road 100; it is relatively nearby where I live and I know the course well.  However, I (for once) listened to my own voice of reason and realized that I could not get ready for that distance in 5 weeks.  Instead, I asked a running friend if I could pace her; she did not have a crew or pacer and she was very happy for my offer.  My plan was to start pacing her at mile 45 and stay with her until my legs said no more, she got tired of me, or she finished; in other words, I prepared mentally for 55 miles of pacing.

I ramped up my distance and pushed myself on back-to-back runs and knew that I was ready to run.  However, I forgot the main thing that is different about 100 miler and shorter distances - walking or wogging is what your legs need to be prepared to do!  Nevertheless, I had a blast pacing Rachel for 30 miles; she struggled with foot issues and decided to call it after 75 miles.  She was such a bright spot during the dark night and I knew she was feeling horrible when her smile became more of a painful grimace; while I pushed her to finish the loop, prop up her legs and warm up, and then reevaluate, I realized around her mile 73 that there was no way I could convince her to attempt miles 75 - 100.

We completed mile 75 and then warmed up in the car, thinking our friends (her ride) were doing the same.  I know understand why I always see warnings not to sit by a warm fire at an aid station during a race; it's nearly impossible to get back out there after experiencing that comfort.  My legs probably wanted to thank her for not continuing as they ached from walking 30 miles (I walk very fast so her jog was my walk); I finally "got" what Billy meant when he paced me during SD 100; walking for that distance is harder than running, if your legs are trained to run! 

When I discovered that our friends had gone back out for the next loop, I decided to stay with Rachel until I knew she was feeling okay.  That led to having time to chat with her and consider my plan for hopefully earning a buckle or two over the next year.  Pacing and being out there seeing incredible athletes pushing themselves to go the distance made me yearn for attempting a 100 miler as soon as possible; May is looking like a potential 100 mile attempt.

Thinking ahead to next year, I was impressed with how much the race has grown since I paced and volunteered at it in 2010; since it is so close to home, it is on my radar for next year.  While it is very monotonous (7.5 miles out and back - repeat- repeat- etc) and the scenery gets boring quickly, seeing the other runners so frequently helps make it enjoyable.  Having aid stations every 2.5 miles helps with making the race an "aid station to aid station" race and breaks up the distance.  For me, running past where I will be getting married was very cool and I think that I would enjoy that next year.

With Rachel post-race

Friday, February 10, 2012

What was I thinking?

The past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster.  I made a tough work-related decision and felt that I made the right choice; however, it is looking as though I made a bad decision so I am very stressed. My stressed mind was not thinking properly today when I got talked into getting on the wait list for the PCT 50; the RD told me to train hard as he bets a spot will open. 

Um...what was I thinking?!  I am not ready for a 50 miler, especially one that covers technical terrain.  Oh boy...I have my work cut out for me over the next few months.  (palm to face)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HItting the hills

I quickly realized that my lofty notion of running a 100 miler in February was very unrealistic; I had neither the time nor the physical activity level to make that happen.  Instead, I offered to pace someone during the race and have worked on ramping up my mileage and endurance.  I have been doing my usual runs with baby hills but making more them go into Bommer Canyon, which adds some climbing.  I have also been working on back-to-back double digit runs so that I am accustomed to running on tired legs.  Last week my body screamed for rest and I obliged; Sunday I cut my planned run in half and cruised through Shady and Bommer Canyons.

Sunday - "rest day"
Monday I decided to take advantage of being off work and set out for a minimum of 16 miles; one big goal was to run through Bommer Canyon to Turtle Ridge, a newly opened trail.  Before Monday, I had ventured up the single track switchbacks of Turtle Ridge until I hit my turnaround mileage (about the time my legs and lungs said no more) but never saw where the trail ends.  For some insane reason, I decided to make my longest run in ages the toughest; the climb up Turtle Ridge felt never ending but the views were worth the climb and the ensuing return climb and long downhill back into Bommer.  I tacked on some mileage by seeing where West Fork links Bommer Canyon to Laguna Wilderness Park and El Moro Canyon.  

My legs were shot so I was happy to run home.  The back-to-back runs made me feel so strong and happy; I am pushing myself running up hills more than I have in years and it feels awesome.  I am not accustomed to running up hills as I used to power hike them; unfortunately, my right calf gets super knotted and painful and the run made that issue return.  I believe I run uphill on my toes so I need to learn how best to run uphills; any advice?!