Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend Warrior...

 There was an old beer slogan that said, "The weekend was made for Michelob", and similarly I had a few people ask me today if I was drunk when they found out how many miles I ran this weekend and what I was doing it for.  I have to admit, I am fairly well acclimated to the looks I get when people catch me in a spot where I have to admit that I am hobbling because of what I decided to choose to do over the weekend, and then, of course, the questions of why, and the amazed reply that they don't even like to drive that far in their car.  The fact is, I wouldn't do it, if I didn't love it, or have a really good reason to be doing it.
Follow the feet!

Fortunately, I got to spend the weekend enjoying my insane pursuit of finishing a 50 miler with ultra-marathoners, and fellow members of The Ultra Gang, Wild Bill and Breakheart Dan.

Upon a last minute email on Friday, I was able to recruit both Dan and Bill to help me along on what was to be about three hours on the trails at ultra marathon pace.  We met in Ipswich and headed out for some miles in Willowdale State Forest, choosing to run the Bay Circuit Trail out toward the Hood Pond section of Willowdale and Cleveland Farm State Forest.

Even camels will take a drink or two!
It became quite apparent that the pleasantly warm temps would be nothing compared to the increasing humidity.  It was certainly not a hot day, but the humidity was up enough that sips from hydration packs and water bottles was mandatory.  In fact, Dan ran out of fluid about two hours in, and I thought I was over-doing it with 85 ounces in my hydration pack, but sucked it dry just about the time we were finishing the run.  Dan and I were both convinced that Bill must be part camel, as he only had about 60 ounces of fluid with him, and as we stretched out afterward Bill found he barely drank half of his supply!

Dan doing his best to smile amid the conditions.
Humidity aside, it was great to spend the morning on the trails with a couple great friends.  Lots of laughs, and I totally appreciated some of the training nuggets that both Dan and Bill were willing to share.  In total we covered about 15 miles in a little over three hours, and it was exactly the pace I was hoping to do for my long run this weekend.  The only downside was that the humidity left me feeling wiped out for the rest of the day and didn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in the big picture of my training and racing goals.  All things considered, next weekend I get to spend more time on feet on the trails with Dan, Bill, and many others from T.U.G. at the TARC 12 Hour Ultra, and should have plenty of opportunities to learn more from my experienced ultra friends.

Sunday rolled around with lots of rain and more humidity, and I was happily thinking about how much I was going to enjoy my rest day.  Then something happened.

I had been reading some advice on 50 miler training in Ultra Running Magazine, and part of the article explained that it was important to learn how to run on tired and taxed legs.  The original idea was to do a couple hours of running and walking on the roads, and then I resolved that I was training for a TRAIL race, and should make the mileage happen on trails.  Unfortunately for my tired legs the closest trails are at the Prospect Hill section of the Bay Circuit trail, which features a hill about a fifth of a mile long, which provides about 150 ft. of elevation gain per ascent.  Not much compared to other locations, but all of the above, plus lots of rocks and roots is enough to destroy lots of muscle groups.

No, I am not having fun, yet.
I used a 4 min. run / 2 min. walk strategy getting over to the hill, and then spent the better part of 75 minutes going up and down the hill.

I am not sure exact what the grade is on this hill, but it seems damn steep.  Plus the bottom section is fairly runnable, but the middle and later two-thirds of the hill show how lightly traveled this section of the Bay Circuit Trail really is.  I actually stopped my watch and did some impromptu trail maintenance on a couple of sections where the grass was nearly knee high.  I figured it would be helpful when descending the tricky terrain.

For the second straight day the air was saturated with juice, and the vast greenery between the trees in this section of woods was laced with mist, and the quiet trail was a little spooky in an Arnold - Predator - kind of way.  I was on the look out for red dots, and no exaggeration, once down the hill I slipped and fell on my backside, and a squirrel in an adjacent tree fell from a limb to the forest floor and scattered back up the tree.

I got up and went along my merry way, because just like Jessie Ventura, "I ain't got time to bleed".

In total, I got about 2,000 feet of elevation gain on this run, and added a few miles after the hills to get a nice even 10 miles in about 2 hours, and 15 minutes.

All things considered, I was happy to have accumulated 25 miles and about 5 1/2 hours of time on feet over the course of the weekend.  It was all at a relaxed pace, but I did get the added challenge of some hill climbing on tired legs.  It hurts today, and was probably not a great idea the week before a race, but I am sure after a few days of recovery I'll be ready to roll this weekend at TARC Summer.

Hokas are coming this week, and I hope to log a few miles in them before trying them out over the long haul at TARC.

Happy Trails! 

1 comment:

Dan said...

You're sick dude. I remember that hill from the BCT run. It's STEEP!