Okay, so I've been a major slacker around here. I am still alive and I am still training for Lean Horse and, actually, it's going fairly well. Since Heart of the Hills, I've put together a couple of solid weeks. My mid-week mileage is pretty much identical from week to week, so I won't even bother discussing that. The weekend after Heart of the Hills, I decided to go for back to back 20 milers. Shannon was running the CASA Half Marathon in Spearfish on Saturday morning, so when she got done I laced em up and ran from Spearfish back to Belle Fourche. I've run the opposite direction several times, but for some reason had never run to Belle. This is particularly odd since it's a fairly big net downhill to Belle, which would make it seem like the easier direction. I didn't feel all that great, but I also didn't push all that hard knowing that I was running another 20 the next day. For that second 20, I met up with my friend Ryan in Deadwood and we ran on the Mickelson Trail. Ryan is significantly faster than I am so even though he was plodding along at an easy pace for him, I was going slightly faster than I might normally go for a 20 miler, especially when it was my 2nd 20 in as many days. But, I felt much better than I had the day before and we ended up running that 20 seven minutes faster than I had run the first. Although I felt good during the run, apparently the two of them combined took a toll because I ended up driving home and basically passing out on the recliner for the rest of the day....I was wiped out. Not like hurt or anything, just really, really tired.....could not keep my eyes open.
Last week was my debut as race director as I was responsible for organizing the fifth race in the Black Hills Trail Running Series, the Old Baldy trail race. Of course, I ended up scrambling around all week doing last minute things that I should've done weeks ago, but everything came together and the race went off without a hitch. I ended up running the 5.6 mile course twice, once the day before to put up signs and flagging and once after the race to take everything back down. I didn't get a lot of miles in on Saturday, the day of the race, but I wasn't too worried about it because I knew I had a big day in store on Sunday. Ryan and I had made plans to meet at the Alkali Cr. trailhead of the Centennial Trail and run the 23.6 miles to Dalton Lake. We had done this stretch once before about 4 weeks ago, but had done it in the opposite direction (the downhill direction) and it had totally wiped me out....the last several miles that day were a massive struggle. I wasn't even able to run very much of the final 4 miles, which were downhill. So, I was a little nervous about how things would go. Even though it was "only" 23.6 miles, I knew it was going to take a while and would be one helluva workout. We also had a local mountain biker, Jake, riding along with us to shoot video and mark the trail with GPS as part of our preparation for the Black Hills 100, which Ryan and I are co-directing with Jerry Dunn (of Deadwood-Mickelson and Lean Horse fame). In any case, we took off bright and early from Alkali Cr. and Ryan mentioned that it would be about 2 hours to the next trailhead, Elk Cr., about 11 miles away. I joked that 2.5 might be more reasonable, but sure enough, I ended up cruising into Elk Cr. feeling pretty good at exactly 2 hours. The next stretch from Elk Cr. to Dalton Lake was a little longer, a little over 12 miles, and included a llllloooonnnngggg climb, but I took it easy, did some extended power hiking on the climb and made it into Dalton Lake still feeling pretty good. Tired for sure, but I felt like I could've kept moving if I'd had too, unlike the last time we had run that same stretch in the "easier" direction. And, although it was the uphill direction, I somehow ran it faster than I had run the downhill direction last time. Bonus. If you're interested in a good butt whoopin, check out www.blackhills100.com and make plans to come see us next June.
So, that brings us to this week, which is, believe it or not, my last week before tapering for Lean Horse. I'll be running 15-16 miles (however far it is from Custer to Hill City) on the Mickelson tomorrow and then I'm hoping to get in one last 30 miler on Sunday before the taper truly begins. Damn, the summer went by fast. As usual, I can think of at least a thousand different things that I coulda, shoulda, woulda done differently for my training, but it's too damn late now. Taper madness is gonna be a doozy for this one...I don't envy my wife for the next three weeks. If nothing else, July ended up being my highest mileage month (320) since I started Lean Horse training in mid-March, so hopefully that will get me through. I can tell from my long training runs in the heat that hydration is going to be key (duh). If I can keep my fluids and electrolytes up, I'm confident I can cover the distance. If not, well, it will get ugly (notice the use of "will" instead of "might"...I know from experience). Well, it's gonna get ugly either way, but I'm hoping to prolong the onset of ugliness for as long as possible. Isn't that what ultra running is basically all about?