The last two weeks just flew by. Usually, I find that two week off is just right, but I have to admit that I could have stayed in Sedona one more week. Running in the red rocks just blew my mind. There was something primal about running the trails in the dry heat. The altitude, although not dramatic (4000 feet, except when I went to Flagstaff, which was 7000 ft) made the runs even more challenging.
My last run on Friday was supposed to be 23km, or about 14 miles. To make a long story short, I got a bit lost, got back on track using the navigation feature on my Garmin Forerunner 305 which added a couple of miles to the run. I didn't eat enough because I don't usually eat much on "short" runs; the problem was that on a rough trail, 23km takes almost as long as a frigging marathon. So I proceeded to bonk, hard, at about 12 miles (by that time I had been running almost 3 hours). I can feel my hydration pack, which contained water, getting lighter. I haven't been this tired since my first 50k race, where I crashed and burned at 25 miles. And this is just 12 miles in. I popped a few salt tablets and eat a bit but I never really recovered. I ran out of water about 2 miles from the house. The temperature by then was probably about 90 degrees, humidity was nill and the sun was HOT. When I got home, I made myself two huge glasses of Gatorade and tried not to drink them too fast.
Lessons learned regarding trail running:
- Carrying a GPS is a good idea. That "Take me home" function is just great.
- Bring more water than you think you need. Why didn't I just fill my hydration vest to the max? To save half a pound?
- Carry an LED light. In a previous run, I almost didn't make it before dark and I was kicking myself because I didn't have a light. If you get caught by darkness in trails, you are fucked and you WILL sleep in the bush. I'm now the proud owner of a small Petzl lamp and it's a permanent resident of one of my hydration vest's pocket.
- I still have a long way to go. Hilly trails just kick my ass every time and make me want to cry like a little girl. Despite what I would like to believe, I'm no trail runner.
Only 6 days until the big day. Sulphur Springs is only days away. 50 miles!!! I'm scared and excited. Of course, I have a hard time believing that I can do it. I just have a hard time imagining running another 20 miles after a 50km race. I know I've done the training, but I have no frame of reference.
I'm a bit worried about my right Achilles tendon. It's been giving me grief for a while now. I think it will be ok, but I will probably be walking funny for a few days afterward.
I'm now in the last days of my taper. I have lowered my mileage quite a bit for the last two weeks, even lower than my training program calls for but I didn't want to stress my tendon any more than I needed to. I've been maintaining and this week I will run even less. Basically a few short runs doing intervals to keep the legs alive.
I don't really have a time goal for this race. I ran the 25k last year in 2:17 (5:28/km). I will probably do the first two laps at 8:00/km and see what happens. That pace would give me a 10:40:00 finish, which might be ambitious. I have to think about this some more.
After this race, I have some decisions to make. Am I running a marathon this Fall? Am I going after longuer distance? Am I going shorter in the hopes of getting faster? I will think about all this over the next few months. A few triathlons should help me get some distance and make a smart decision.