Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 1 of back to backs

Now that I am officially done with my road season, I have got to concentrate on getting ready for the Twisted Branch 100k. Which means the great return to back to back long runs. I eventually plan on doing 3 long run's back to  back, but for now I am starting with two. The purpose of the back to back long runs is to accustom the legs to being able to run when they are tired. I have found this method (which is the common way to ultra train) really helps me strengthen as a runner, not only physically but mentally. It is not easy to go out and run when you are tired and sore. So this was Week 1 of them.

Saturday Am: Heading out to Ohiopyle to run the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, do the section dubbed "Gate to 8" by the locals. It is a well known section for it's beautiful views and brutal climbs.

I am headed out with two friends. Stacey is training for the LHHT 50k and has already been out to this section 3 time in her season. Jeramy has never trail ran before, so me being the good friend I am... I drag him to a tough course as his cherry popper. :-) We meet up at the bottom, packs on, shoes checked, introductions made, and off we go.

We head out. We have beautiful weather, it is upper 40's and raining lightly. Just enough to cool you off, and not so much it is drenching.

We start in on the climbs. We talk about the importance of changing your running gate on the ups and downs, and I thoroughly enjoy flying down the hills once we have finished a big climb. We chat about a myriad of topics as we go, you never know what subject will come up on the trails. Mile 6 and we start the big climb up THE BEAST! This is a 2 mile climb that just never seems to stop. Jeramy runs about half of it, and Stacey and I happily hike most of it with an occasional run. I admit my goal by the end of summer is to be able to run most of it, but I am not there yet. We get to the top and have a small celebration then keep going. Stacey and Jeramy pull a bit ahead of me. Just as I suspected, Jeramy is a natural on the trails. So he takes off like a friggin billy goat, or maybe a kid who just found a cool new toy and he is ahead. Stacey and I stick together for awhile, talking about the stuff that girls talk about and we keep a decent pace as we go. Then we get to go back down the hill. I love the downhills, I can go down at a pretty decent pace, they are my strong suit on the trails for sure. So I pay attention and fly down the 2 mile stretch. My quads were ON FIRE ( I 100% just sang that.. think Alicia Keys). I get to the bottom where of course you start climbing again.

Turns out Stacey and Jeramy are both amazing on the uphills. Whereas they are definitely my weak point! They are my goal for improvement this summer. I end up about a half mile behind them from mile 11 to mile 15. During this 4 miles I go through a whole set of emotions. Ranging from happy to be out on the trails, to doubt about my trip this summer. I mean what kind of dumbass plans to spend 5 1/2 weeks crossing the country, running strange trails by herself this day in age. What if I am out on a trail and fall and get knocked unconscious or I break a leg or something. This is dumb. Why can't I keep up with them, fuck, this sucks. Another hill, Oyvey. Okay. Lets go. Aww, downhill. I like downhills, happy downhill. Why I am training for 100K again? Should I not do it? No, I am just feeling sorry for myself, knock it off. Then I see Jeramy and Stacy, we are close to the end and they have stopped to wait for me. We finish up the last mile together. I am definitely tired, I have some work to do! I am seriously out of trail shape. We did the whole run in about 3.5 hours. That is a pretty decent time for that section and my first trip out. We get 4200 feet of elevation gain for the day. Not too shabby. And now that we are done, I am out of my funk am very glad that we came up today to run the trail. These two are great running partners. I look forward to doing more runs with them. They will push me to be better on hills too, which will be great!

After we hit the shower house where we are pleasantly surprised that the pulley showers have hot water, which felt soooooo good, we grab a much deserved lunch at the pub. Black Bean and Tofu burrito, chips and salsa, and loaded french fries for me. Yummy! Say our goodbye's and head back to the city.

I am stiff and need to roll, and definitely am looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Sunday morning I wake up, enjoy some coffee and cereal, load up Waylon and drive to North Park. North Park is a nice easy trail system, minimal technical spots and only 1300 ft of elevation gain on the loop I am planning for the day. And this 10 mile is a great example of why I say back to back really increase your mental strength, because it went as follows:
Mile 1: "OMG this sucks, my legs are sooo heavy".
Mile 1.5 "Well hell, its only mile 1.5".
Mile 2: "Finally."  Stop give W his 2 mile treat and off we go again.
Mile 3: "I could have sworn I did 5 already. This is going to be a long run"
Mile 4: Okay this is getting better, kind of. We pass a girl on the trail, so even though it is a slow run we aren't toooo slow.
Mile 5: "This really is getting better. Picking it up a little bit, half way there. How's W? He's hanging in and still stepping on my feet occasionally so he's good."
Mile 6: "It is the end of the red blue trail. Legs are finally loosening up. Okay, 4 miles left. Lets go."
Mile 6.5, "Forgot about his hill. On a normal run I can run it, not today. Legs are still not feeling ready for that. Just get to the damn top, then it's mostly down."
Mile 7, Yeah baby, only 3 miles left, but man I am HUNGRY!. "
Mile 8: "HOLY MUD BATMAN!" Okay: Confession time: I. Hate. Mud. I have no issue with blood, guts, vomit, etc. I love running technical trails, no issues with rocks, roots, hills, creek crossings, etc, but when I hit a really muddy spot my princess hands come out, I get a disgusted look on my face and "ewewewew" comes out of mouth. I can't help it. And of course, the red trail is always sloppy when it's been raining.  For the next 1.5 miles I am dealing with mud and trying hard to suppress princess tendencies. Waylon of course is LOVING it. He has purposefully ran through every single mud puddle and mud bog the entire 10 miles.
I am a little short of the 10 miles I want so I run around the parking lot, down to the creek that connects to the dam where Waylon enjoys a nice swim while the fishermen 150 yds away give us dirty looks (get over it dude, we are near the falls, we aren't touching your damn fish), cross the creek and wrap back into the trails to finish the last half mile.

The last 3 miles my stomach was growling, I was sooo hungry so I was looking forward to the granola bar I had in my car. Until it wasn't there. I was very sad. So I jump in the car and head home to eat. Waylon is passed out cold after that run. And I am happily laying on my couch looking at my roller and resistance band knowing I need to put in a good 30 min stretch session before bed. It will help, my head knows this, but my lazy ass will put it off a bit longer.

I forgot the how hard the second run can be after a good first run. But I will continue to build, grow, and get stronger as the summer goes on.

And I got to introduce one of my favorite things to a friend which always makes me happy! A new trail runner is on the scene and I am willing to bet he will being killing 50k's in no time!

I am still having some self doubt about training for another 100k and about my trip this summer. But I have a few weeks to work through it. We shall see.

Happy Running

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