Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leadville Training Part 7: Getting Down to Crunch Time

In some ways, it seems like I've been training for Leadville for a long-ass time, but yet it's also flown by.  After months and months of thinking "well, it's a long ways off yet", I'm now looking at the calendar and realizing "holy shit, I'm going to be tapering here in a few weeks!".  So, inevitably, it's that time in training where you start to question everything you did and everything you wish you would've done and everything that you want to try and do in the remaining few weeks of "real" training.

The week of the Black Hills 100 was a planned cutback week since I knew full well I wasn't going to get any long runs done during the race (or any short runs either, for that matter).  But I was back at it last week, logging just over 90 miles.  Of course, the highlights of any ultra training week almost inevitably come on the weekend and last week was no different.  Like any good, self-respecting government employee, I took Friday off of work (because who in their right mind takes a holiday on a Thursday and then passes up the opportunity for a four day weekend by actually working on Friday??).  

With the entire day available and a house full of daycare kids, I escaped for a good portion of the day to run Crow Peak.  The plan was to get in at least a triple, which is about 20 miles (once I tack on a meaningless road mile just to be anal about it) and 4800 feet of gain.  I thought that I might go for a fourth summit if I felt good, but it was clear fairly early on that that wasn't in the cards.  Whether it was residual fatigue from the previous, mostly sleepless, weekend or from a track workout on Wednesday morning, my legs just didn't feel as strong as they have on recent outings on Crow.  On the second summit I felt like I was actually on the third and the third felt like a fourth so the third became the last, if that makes sense.  Still, a good long run with some good vertical.

Rather than do back to back long runs as is "normal" during ultra training, I actually ran an easy 7.5 instead. Well, easy is a relative term I guess.  It was on relatively flat roads and it was short distance, but since I didn't get out the door until late in the morning, it was also warm and humid, two of my least favorite weather conditions.  The second half of the weekend long runs actually came on Sunday when I met up with Ryan to run a section of the Centennial trail, from Dalton Lake to Elk Creek and back.  This is, arguably, the toughest section of the Black Hills 100 course, with a couple of pretty decent climbs and some shorter rolling stuff that is just harder to run than it seems like it should be.  In fact, never before have I ever run this entire section of trail going one direction, much less during an out and back section.  It took a few miles for my legs to warm up, but once they did I fell into a comfortable groove and was able to hammer out the entire 24 miles at a running pace (that pace was just barely what you would classify as "running" on the longest uphill heading back toward Dalton Lake, but it was something slightly faster than a walk).

This coming weekend I'll be doubling up on races.  Saturday is the Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, a downhill road race on pavement.  Technically, this will be the first half marathon I've run since 2009, and only the 4th ever.  To make it more of an ultra-worthy training run, I actually plan on doing my best Dean Karnazes impression and starting from the bottom of the canyon early in the morning and getting in a good 13-17 mile warmup by running up to the start line.  Once there, I'll meet up with Shannon and pace her back down to (hopefully) a half marathon PR for her.  That'll give me somewhere between 26-30 miles for the day.  It will be, by far, the furthest we have ever run together and the first time I've paced her during a race.  This will either be a beautiful bonding experience for us or we'll be visiting a divorce lawyer on Monday.  Hard to say for sure which is more likely.  Sunday is the 34th annual Mystic Mountain Run, which makes it the oldest trail race in South Dakota.  Even though I've lived here for 7 years now, I've never run Mystic.  My first year here, I still hadn't delved into trail running and then I've run the Missoula Marathon that same weekend every year since.  Because we're traveling to Minnesota for a wedding later next week, I decided not to go to Missoula this year.  Bummer that I'll miss that marathon for the first time since its inception, but the silver lining is that I now get to run Mystic for the first time.  The race itself is about 8 miles and, yes, I'm thinking of running a couple of loops to get in 16.  Just because.

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