Friday, July 18, 2014

Catching up (again)

Well, here I am again, trying to get caught up on three months' worth of goings-ons.  Honestly, everything about my training has been less structured this year and more "take it as it comes".  Consequently, I haven't been religiously posting here either.  Something about registering for Leadville last year put the fear of God into me.  I was genuinely scared of that race and knew that if I didn't train my ass off, I'd have no hope of finishing.  Funny thing is, I don't have that same fear of Cascade Crest, even though in reality Cascade is probably a tougher course overall (but at much lower elevation).  About a month ago, I was looking back at my running log from last year and was almost astounded by the workouts I was putting in in preparation for Leadville.  Like, shocked that I could even complete some of the weekends I did.  It's been MUCH more laid back this time around, and that is partially by design.  Running is supposed to be a hobby, not a way of life, and this more laid back training regime is my way of proving to myself that I don't have to be a slave to running.  Still, I have been putting in some decent miles lately as Cascade draws closer.  Oddly, finally buying the plane ticket to fly to Seattle for the race lit more of a fire under my ass than registering for the race itself.  Whether or not it'll be enough remains to be seen.  My goal for Cascade is to run a sub-24.  That seems foolish on several levels but, hey, aim high, right?

In any case, a couple of highlights from the last few months.  First off, my first ever pacing gig at Bighorn in June.  I've run all four distances (30K, 50K, 50M and 100M) at Bighorn over the past 5 years (one 50M DNF in there), so this year I had to decide which distance I would run again.  I ultimately signed up for the 50K because, well, I don't know why.  Just because.  Then, a couple weeks later, I found out my friend Mike had registered for the Bighorn 100.  I immediately offered to pace him, as this seemed much more interesting and exciting than running the race I had registered for.  I'd never paced before, although I've wanted to for a few years now, and I actually know the Bighorn course fairly well, so I hoped maybe I could be of some legitimate assistance.  As long as I could keep up, that is.  Mike is a fair bit faster than me under normal conditions.  At the pre-race meeting just a couple hours before Mike started, the race director's one tidbit of information for pacers was to stay with their runner.  As she put it, "If you can't keep up with your runner, you shouldn't be pacing them".  Mike immediately said "don't worry", but, truth be told, I was kinda worried.  My only hope was that he'd be slowed down to something more my pace by the time I started pacing at mile 48.  As it turns out, that was the case, and we ended up running an enjoyable 34 miles together through the night.  Mike was ahead of his anticipated splits the entire way and didn't really slow all that much the entire stretch that I was with him.  Just a steady diet of running the downs and flats and hiking the ups.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  He ended up running strong all the way to the finish and coming in easily under his 24 hour goal.  Welcome to the Rusty Spurs Club, Mike!

A week later was the 4th running of the Black Hills 100.  As usual, the directing of a 100 mile race was much more exhausting than the actual running of one, but all in all things went smoothly, despite Mother Nature's best efforts.  Once again, she had an ace up her sleeve, this time in the form of scattered heavy rains Saturday morning and into the afternoon.  The course was a mud pit early on, but eventually dried up a bit when the rain finally stopped for good.  Mud be damned, Ryan Burch laid down an impressive course record run in the 100M, becoming the first person to ever break 19 hours.  The bar has been raised (or lowered....whatever).

That's really about it, I guess.  Honestly, don't expect to hear from me again until after Cascade Crest. I've got some training to do...