LOTS of rain this week. that meant no greenbelt for Pancake this weekend. She does not mix well with mud. Got some nice runs in none the less. One last big push this coming weekend at the Loop, before the marathon. Couple weeks of rest and then the St george training starts. I love this hobby!
I talked to my friend Liz tonight. She is signed up for the Grand Slam this year, which for those of you who don’t know, is 4 100 mile races in a single summer. I have a big admiration for Liz for doing this for a few reasons. Number 1: Her confidence. I learned running a 100 really does involve 50 miles of mental running and 50 miles of physical. she is confident. Believing you can do it is key. I am not quite there when it comes to doing another 100. Also…I admire her for going for it. I am very responsible: I work a lot, don’t spend a lot of extra money, and don’t take a lot of time off. I am changing employers soon, and I am getting paid for over 3 months of unused vacation. while I am very happy to get this extra money, I am very sad it never got used for anything more exciting than paying some bills. I wish I could throw caution to the wind more, and go for some of my dreams. It is hard though, to go against your instinctive nature, and mine is to be responsible. I try and get inspired by all my friends going for their dreams…and believe in myself that I can go for some of mine. I have a lot of friends racing lots of 100s this summer, so I should have plenty of inspiration.
In other news, I am soooooo happy that this is a 3 day weekend! It has been a long time since I had one, and I have a very full weekend planned. Lots of running, watching the CapTex triathlon, a mini spa day, and some time with friends. I can’t wait.
I was talking to Steve the other day about running being an addiction. Am I addicted? I hate to say, but I think so. If I am sick, tired, or unmotivated, I can turn down a long run, but I still tend to get out there and drag myself though 6 miles or so. I used to religiously run about 8 miles a day, 7 days a week, and took a day a off every couple of months. When I revved up to marathons, I had to back some of the runs to get in the long run. When I revved up to ultras, to avoid injury, I started taking off one day a week, and riding the bike trainer. Now, I don’t even do that. I take one day off and sleep as late as I can, and get some rest since most days I am up at 430-500. Is the the best method? Probably not. I am the first to admit I should probably take more off time. I tried bike riding, and it just didn’t do it for me like a run does. I really am not interested in swimming either. This is all fine, as long as I can avoid serious injury. I already know just from a few minor injuries that I’ve taken off a week or 2 for, that I go CRAZY. I try to tell myself that it is not the end of the world, and that I am lucky I don’t have a more serious problem, but let’s face it, not running is not fun. Don’t even get me started on tapering. So what is the solution? Is there a 12 step program for running?
What do all these pictures have in common? They were all taken at Town Lake, the site of many Saturday long runs. ever since I joined the M-F work force a couple years ago, saturday has been long run day. It kicks off the weekend, and gets the long run out of the way if there are chores or fun plans to do. I try to have a quiet friday night to get ready for Saturday’s run which can be anywhere from 12-30 miles (one time 40…..ouch). Doesn’t always happen though….it’s hard to say no to time with friends after a hectic work week just to sit home and live like a monk……so I’ll compromise. I’ll go out but only one drink and home by 1000-1100. I always pack my gels and supplies the night before. Saturday starts with the alarm going off at 430 or 500. I always immediately think ” why am I doing this to myself?” Once I am up it gets better. the drive down to town lake involves more second guessing….why I am out driving right now?!? once I get to town lake, I see my friends…sometimes there are 3 or 4 of us, sometimes just one other. A few mumbled greetings and we are off. The conversation starts to flow and the miles click by. I enjoy seeing all the other runners out, and watching the streets and trails slowly fill. We start with just a couple other folks on the trail at 530 and finish with a crowd. It amazes me how much of Austin gets covered in 20 miles. It seems like we can see it all. We’ll feed off each other’s energy and get zapped by each other’s fatigue, but eventually the end of the run comes. If it is a good day, there is a quick change of clothes, and a great breakfast immediately follows. Getting up after breakfast involves some pain….not the best idea to follow a long run with a long sitting session, but well worth it for breakfast tacos or pancakes. we’ll see each other off and go about our weekends. I look forward to this tradition all week. For a couple or more hours on Saturday morning, I forget about all the looming projects at work, and all the stress. It’s like going out for drinks without the hangover….we have great discussions and a good laugh all while trying to get some serious miles in. If the run is long enough, it can leave me a little depleted the rest of the day…but that is the perfect excuse to go out to dinner later. I love starting my Monday after a weekend of long running….some recovery during the week, and then I ready to start all over again on saturday.
Here is an old picture of Montana, but these mountain scenes remind me of adventure. I am super psyched about St George. Been looking at lots of photos of the area, especially Zion National Park. Southern Utah looks like a fantastic place to visit (aside from the fact I already know you cannot get good beer there). I am really looking forward to starting the St G training this summer. It has been incredible weather lately, so it is easy to be super motivated. I’ll see what I am saying come July and August. I am trying not to be too over zealous….as I am currently nursing a shin splint.
Racing has taken me so many places I wouldn’t have gone over the years. Boston, Vermont, San francisco, Lake Tahoe, and I could probably put Huntsville in there (why would you go to Huntsville…unless you want to run loops around a park?) travel is one of life’s great pleasures. I love being home, and my routines, but I cannot deny the power of seeing a beautiful place, to make the daily grind seem a little easier. I reflect on my travel memories often when I need some positive thoughts. I am looking forward to adding new memories.
Boy, have I slowed down over the years. I did the maze in 2:54 this year, and thought I was smokin’ fast. I looked back at the first year I did it (2004) and I ran 2:40, and I don’t really remember pushing myslef that hard. This has happened in my marathons too. I’ve watched them get slower and slower. I managed one Boston qualifier in Dec, but I had to work SOOOO hard for it. I used to qualify very easily with no real effort. So what has happened? No injuries (well, no serious ones). A couple years older, but come on, not that much! I blame it all on ultras. I think they have made me slow and fat. Ok…maybe not fat, but a little soft for sure. The much more relaxed pace of an ultra naturally takes away some of the competitive edge other races have. Also, when training for a marathon, I used to do a lot of shorter races to lead up. Now I just do a lot of long races. marathons are my short races. I also only raced a couple times a year. Now I do a race about once a month. With the need for fueling in an ultra, I think I eat a lot more during my run…hence the fat part. Plus, I trained for marathons with runners faster than me. I had to work really hard to keep up. Now, I still run with them, but they’ll finish and I’ll do another 10-20 miles on my own and S-L-O-W down once they leave. This past year I thought about returning to marathons and maybe only a 50K or 2…but the ultra bug got the better of me, and I did more long races than planned. so more slow running. part of me says, no big deal, I have moved to a new focus. Part of me says, ” No more runs that are really hikes….speed up!” So my way to deal with the slowing down, and the desire to still do the longer stuff is to do less races, and focus on a couple key races. This “season” is pretty much done. Just the alaska marathon left. Then a little down time, and training for St george starts (I got in!!). I plan to use the hot summer to try and regain a little speed. Then use the marathon base to focus on Sunmart or Bandera. I am doing a mid week “tempo” run (ok I used a runner’s word…yuck, I hate doing that). I still ablsolutely refuse to do track…high school truama can really linger. So, I will have to see if there is any hope for improvement. If not, I am still just damned happy I get to do this at all…
We had a great time today. Mike, Pancake and I rolled out of here at about 6am, and up to walnut Creek park. Because of all the recent rains, the park was beautiful. I saw lots of friends at the start, and I was pretty psyched to run. I wasn’t really nervous, but after my last run going badly, I was ready to have a good day. We started off at 700, and Mike and pancake headed out in search of caffine. First loop was a little crowded, but I quickly tried to find a spot and pushed for a sub 1 hour loop. My goal was to keep each loop at 1 hour. the course was in pretty good shape and the creek crossing were not too difficult. It is nice to run on a trail where you can just fly and not worry much about footing. I finished loop 1 in under an hour, so I was doing well. Poor Pancake was really ready to run, but she had to wait 1 more loop. Loop 2 went well also. I kept up my pace, and stayed alone for most of it. I love this trail, and know it so well, I always knew how far I was from the aid stations. finished loop 2 in under an hour and picked up Pancake. we just took off and she pushed me hard the final loop. We finished in 2:54 and I was thrilled, but later found out the top womens’ times were MUCH faster than that. Oh well…I was happy with my run, and that is what matters the most. I am thankful Mike was willing to come and be around runners for several hours, so Pancake could get her run in. We came home, showered, blew some money at the REI sale, and ate some leftover Homeslice artichoke pizza. What a good day…