Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pre-race - Burning River 100

It's funny how one can feel great after 35 miles and be completely destroyed at 50. That's what I remember from Mohican. Going from feeling ok, maybe even felling good, to feeling like I couldn't go on within the span of what felt like a few miles.  I don't remember feeling in-between at any point. Good, then horrible.

No need to tell you that I feel a bit gun-shy about Burning River this coming weekend. I used to feel invicible. I used to think that (barring an injury) I could just push on no matter what.  I knew that the temptation to quit is always strong, I've felt its siren song many times before, but I thought I could always overcome it.  I guess that's one reason we run ultras. We want to find out what it takes to break our will. Mohican bitch-slapped me. I didn't see it coming. My ears are still ringing.

One of the biggest challenge at BR will be the heat. As hot as Mohican was, the course was almost entirely in the shade whereas BR has a lot more road and tow path where we will be running in the sun. The forecasts are for pretty warm weather, but then again, we're running in Ohio on July 30th. It's not like it's unexpected. I'm going to go with a 25 minutes run/5 minutes walk schedule, same as Susitna. My thoughts are that heat is even more debilitating than cold, so I need to recovery time. I will take the time to take care of myself, eat, take my salt and drink. The key will be to keep a good walking pace.  When it's all said and done, in the second half of the race, a solid walking pace is not much slower than running, where the term "running" only loosely describe what I'm doing.

For the first time, I plan on not using my Crosslites, at least for the first 20 miles. The first 10 miles are on road, so I want to save my legs a bit and the Crosslites are a bit lacking on the cushioning side. I will wear my Mizuno Wave Ascend 5 trail shoes and plan A is to run the whole race in them. I've never run very long in the Mizunos so I'm not sure how my feet will react. They have a bit of a road shoe feel to them, similar to my old Wave Riders 11. I'll have a pair of Crosslites in both my 19 mile and my 50 mile drop bags.  I'll put my old Wave Riders in my 75 mile drop bag just in case but I probably won't use them. I'm still hesitating about the hydration system. Probably start with two hand-held so I get a good start on the calorie intake, switch to the Nathan vest at 50 mile. Something like that.

Still, I'm excited about this race. Nothing else would have satisfied my need for redemption. God forbid I had to wait until September or later to try again.  When I was in my teen, I had a car accident and I wrecked my car. I was fine physically but mentally shaken. The next day, my mother told me to take her car and drive for a while. The longer you wait, she said, the worse it's going to be.  That's how I feel now. I need to give it another try now. Not just to the distance, but rather the distance, the humidity AND the heat. BR is just what the doctor ordered. My only reservation is the amount of road/tow path, around 25% or basically a full marathon. Personally, I prefer trails, where you don't have that long strip of asphalt/gravel ahead of you. I guess it could mean a fast time, but I don't really care about time for time sake. What does a 24h hundred miler means out of context? It's all about the course, right?  It's a little bit like life, you don't want to see too far ahead. You need to be able to imagine some surprises are waiting around the corner or else things can get a little boring.

Like they say, it's all about the journey.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Morning Running, My Nemesis

I hate running in the morning. When I drive my daughter to school and we see morning runners, I always point to the offending runner and say "I hate you". I hate morning runners the same way non-runners hate runners: I wish I could do what they do. Since I can't, there must be something wrong with THEM.

When I got into my rental car in Phoenix a few weeks ago, I started driving and I noticed that the clock was wrong, it said 1:17 and it was sometime around noon. Then, I figured out that I wasn't looking at the clock. I was looking at the thermometer and it was 117F, or 47C. In the shade. Holy fuck. We actually had to turn around and go back to switch from a Dodge Neon to a Malibu because the Neon's AC just couldn't cope.

By the time we got to Sedona at around 3PM, it was a balmy 104F. How am I supposed to run in that?  Well, I have two choices. One, I wait until 6 or preferably 7PM, when the temperature goes down to the low 90's but than I only have an hour of daylight left. It's nice though. But this isn't a good choice when you're vacationing with a non-runner, which is the case for my wife.

The other choice, the only choice, is to run in the morning. Early in the morning. At 5:30AM, the temperature up here is usually around 65F. By 10:00AM it's usually in the mid-80's and there ain't much shade, this being the desert and all. There are trees, but they're short and don't project much shade. So there you have it, I've been getting up at the crack of dawn, I eat breakfast and then drive to the trail head and squeeze a decent run.

I hate it. Not the running, the morning thing. Even if you've been up for an hour, the first few steps of a morning run are jarring. Every step resonates deep into my skull. I'm immediately winded. My legs hurt. My stride is way off and I feel like my legs have forgotten how to run. Things do eventually get better and I end up having a great time anyway, but I ain't a morning running convert. If I wasn't scared shitless by Burning River, I'm not sure how many times I would have run. As it is, I'm not sure I ran as much as I should have, but I probably ran enough to maintain what I had and have a good shot at finishing. Hopefully.

My vacation is now almost over, I have only one or two runs left. I'm probably going to rest tomorrow and try to get up REALLY early on Saturday and do an epic climb. I did that run last Xmas when it was nice and cool and it was hard so I have to be up there before the heat. Coming down should not be an issue even if it's a bit warm.

Now on a completely different topic. I've always been amazed that one can actually run in trails without face-planting every 2 minutes. I believe my trail running is slowly improving. When I first started running in trails, I remember being very indecisive. I always looked for a better line than the one I was taking, therefore not paying enough attention to MY line and tripping frequently. Tripping (or stubbing your toe) can be frustrating, painful and down right scary if you're going down hill. I've noticed a sudden and dramatic decrease in the frequency of such tripping incidents. Somehow, my brain seems to have decided that it doesn't matter which line I pick, as long as I pick one. I also think that my focus has moved a little further ahead but somehow, my feel still seem to end up at the right place. Mostly. Anyway, I find it interesting because this is not something I've been consciously trying to change, other than NOT falling on my face, obviously.

Obviously, I'm totally scared of Burning River. I told Russell (the runner I paced at Sulphur Spring) that I preferred to run alone and wouldn't need him as a pacer. Maybe it's a mistake. I just feel I need some alone time out there. Mohican was confusing to me and I need some clarity and I believe running BR by myself will do that.

That's it for now.