Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week Summary (Sep 11) - Going Ultra

Chocolate Factory OB: 7.0 mi (+507 ft); 9:17 pace
Gold Canyon Short: 3.1 mi (+126 ft); 9:32 pace
Lake of the Sky (36): 35.6 mi (+5,639 ft); 13:29 pace

Weekly Totals: 45.7 mi (+6,272 ft); 9:34:36 on trail

Lake of the Sky: Ready
As I write this morning, my legs, still strong, are recalling the last few miles of the Lake of the Sky Trail Race. Thanks to my training regime and the advice of my team of coaches and heroes (Des, Darren, Footfeathers, iRunFar, Young Mountain Runners), I'm now an ultrarunner and feeling surprisingly good after yesterday's 36.  Although I don't have official results yet, I finished in 8:00:02, slightly under my splits target and three seconds over the slight magic of having a 7 leading that string of numbers.  But the best result of Lake of the Sky, I'm signing up for the Firetrails 50 in October.

Tapering into a race would seem like a respite from training and time to rest and focus on the challenge to come. And yet the addictive side of running appears in the form of aches, pains, and restlessness.  I had a great run on Tuesday, winding around my Chocolate Factory trails for seven miles. Footfeathers mentioned that I should add some brief speed or hill intervals within a 45 minute effort. My training log called for a 7-mile run, so I combined the two. This resulted in a nice pace across the workout as I approached each small hill with the goal of keeping pace though the climb. After Tuesday, however, I simply wanted to forget about my tight hamstring, and new but subtle backpain, and get to Saturday and hit the trail.

Wednesday was the first day in 14 weeks that I skipped a scheduled run. I typically do an easy five each mid-week evening. However, this week I broke with my discipline due to several factors. My training schedule, as mentioned in my Week 1 of Relentless Forward Progress, called for my usual 5-mile day. The schedule, based on Bryon Powell's book, Relentless Forward Progress, has been a wonderful motivator and successful training regime, and, most importantly, I'll keep to it. RFP Week 15 called for only a slight taper because this scheduled 50K race was presented as simply a longer training run though one with aid stations and other runners. And I kept that in mind throughout.  But other factors were also at play this week.  The long run and descent of Freel in RFP Week 14, combined with intensive cross-training (tossing and stacking three cords of firewood) and long bouts of deskchair confinement, had tightened up the hamstrings and lower back. The Chocolate run was great, I almost always feel better on the trail, but the pain seemed to get worse each day. Footfeathers kindly advised me to rest on Wednesday.  And then, getting motivated Tuesday night, after reading the ultra news at Inside TrailI stumbled on a short video at of Anton Krupicka in which he says to not get too caught up in your training regime and listen to your body. I guess this is a long way of saying (and practicing linking to blogs and sites!) I listened to these experienced friends and ultraheads and took an unscheduled day off; though it rather bugged me to finally skip a day.

On Thursday, I did a short shake-out in Gold Canyon.  Just a flat out-and-back of three miles. On Thursday night, Des began to work her magic with massage and ice. This we repeated on Friday night while watching Running the Sahara. Watching that would help in the last few miles of Lake of the Sky as I reconsidered how much pain I could run through.

At the start
Saturday morning we were up at 4:30 to hit the road for Tahoe City. A veil of wildfire smoke covered Virginia City and the Truckee Meadows, but we climbed out if it as we passed Mt. Rose and circled the north edge of Lake Tahoe. A little after 6:30 I picked up my race packet and Linda Mathis (co-RD) handed me my race number: #856.  I felt like Hurley from LOST, not that number! It was Darren's darkness-filled bib from Leadville. Redemption was at hand.

I'm planning a full race report for a subsequent post. Here, I jot down some highlights and lowlights from my first Ultra-marathon. The Lake of the Sky was fantastic. Des and Tephra are great crew, Marta is a top-notch fan and trail friend, and Darren is like George Lucas in Montrails (though his videos are all sideways!). My pre-race splits for each aid station and finish predicted an overall time of 8:02:00.

Mile 21

-Finishing in 8:00:02 (sorry Footfeathers, I'll slow-up on the climbs next time; didn't realize split cards were biblical; though maybe if I predicted 7:50 I would have done 7:48).
-Seeing my wonderful little crew at each station, ready though I never need much.
-Being almost 30 minutes ahead of Splits at AS2-inbound, Mile 28.
-Great trail, great day, nice approaching thunderstorms.
-Running into Darren at Mile 21, Mile 25, Mile 35...

Watson Lake Aid Station

-Not having to dig into my crew bag due to well-stocked aid stations.
-Generous and super-nice volunteers, except for one over-zealous dude at the very last aid station, who, after telling me how difficult it was to mark the trail, told me "these last 4 miles will feel like 10", they were more like 20, but I didn't need to hear it.

Climbing back to Watson Lake - Mile 22
-Crossing into Ultra territory (>26.2 miles or marathon distance) for the first time with a cool guy named Derek and Darren just behind us. Nice whoops from us all. (Derek finished at 7:45:00). 
-Helping a dazed chipmunk off the trail (damn there goes my sub-8 finish).
-Feeling fantastic most of the day.
-Never tired, just the IT pain.
-Making myself run when the ITs said stop.
-A small but exuberant and beautiful crew and cheers at the finish as the clock ticked twice past 8 hours.
-A burrito.
-Feeling very good Sunday morning.
-Being an Ultrarunner.

Mile 35 - Feeling great but for the downhills, it's all downhill now!

-Downhills after Mile 30. (How do I solve the IT issue that I haven't experienced during training??)
-Downhills after Mile 31...
-Downhills after Mile 31.2 ... (we'll fix this).
-Losing 30 minutes in the last 6 miles (Lost 3 spots to people I dropped on about every climb all day, and I was simply "walking" those climbs).

Fourteen weeks ago I could only imagine, with some trepidation, the possibility of success in an Ultra. The work and fun have paid off. The success feels great, and, best of all, it opens the possibilities of reaching higher peaks. Thanks to everyone, and let's keep going.


  1. Good of you to helped dazed chipmunks while racing! I 'll get the rest of the sideways videos burned to disk and to you to enjoy.

    On to Fire Trails 50!

  2. Hell, I woulda stopped for the squirrel too. Super run! Looking forward to us ultrarunners meeting up this weekend for a run.

  3. I'm sure the chipmunk will pay it forward somehow... Congrats, Awesome achievement!