Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Sharpened Focus on the Goal

So what on earth do you...or I fill my head with for 50 miles? When running with friends, that's an easy answer. Great conversations happen out there on the trails. Friendships are born, life stories are told, problems are discussed, training opinions/wisdom are shared or absorbed and those are all awesome things. But the times alone is equally great and allow for really good quiet time to mentally slip away. The past two days have really been good. I worked a full 9hr day on Friday and met up with Mindy W. and Melissa C. at Happy Days at 6pm. Torrential downpours were the recipe of the day and it was still going. Initial doubts of running were quicky snuffed out by recalling what happened at the Kettle Moraine 100 miler last year with the downpours, tornado warnings, and lightning. (see one of my posts from last week for the video of the downpour at mile 62.4) This is perfect training weather! I also took the opportunity to try out that North Face jacket Marjie got me a few days ago. I warned Mindy earlier in the day that we were going at "100 miler training pace" other words, no speedy Mindy! All went well and when the sun went down around 8:30pm, the rain also stopped and out came the headlamps. I wore my new Princeton Tec and lit up the woods but was sure not to look in the 3 watt beam this time. It is blinding...just ask Mindy or Melissa! (sorry!) We wrapped up our run just after 10pm and 20 great miles. I downed a Starbucks DoubleShot in order to not drive off the road on the way home (remember that from a few weeks ago?), and by midnight, I was in the sack. 4 1/2 hours later, the alarm sounded and after some breakfast, some espresso, and getting my boiled potatoes finished up, I head back down to the park for a 7am start at Pine Lane. Saturday's goal was another 30 miles at the same pace. Patty, Don, and Kurt "O-Pod" showed up and we were off. Mud, mud, mud! Those rains left their mark, for sure. I snapped some good pictures from the run and also shot a 30sec video of the raging Brandywine Falls below. (the rest of my pics are here including some cool pics from some beavers' handy-work besides the Cuyahoga River) Enjoy!

Here were my goals for the 2-days and 50 miles on the trails:

1. Step one at 6pm at Happy Days on Thursday would be the same as the last step at Mile 50 on Saturday. Running gait, stride, pace...all the same. If I could manage my pace properly, I could extend my endurance...that was the idea.
2. Eat and drink like race day. I boiled lots of potatoes and they were once again the miracle energy food. I also introduced Hammer's Perpetuem finally. It has everything that my normal Heed electrolyte has but introduces protein to fight the muscle canibalization. I actually really liked it and will use it more often. I also took a Clif Shot Blok every 4 miles.
3. Not get injured, do anything stupid, and to start recovery the second I finished running. That recovery included immediate fruit, water, and Hammer's Recoverite. It also meant to keep moving to keep the blood flowing and get the garbage washed out of my weary legs.

Well, EVERYTHING was accomplished...every single thing. Step one DID equal the last step. Expectedly, I was super exhausted and I felt like a Mack truck had hit me by the time 8pm rolled around last night. But, I focused on proper recovery and kept moving.

I also wanted to learn during the run. Mentally, I wanted to see if I could "trick" myself into forging forward and keep on top of my game. Here's a bit of what I learned:

1. Self-talk is incredibly important. With the proper training/nutrition/etc., your body can keep going, going and going. However, as time passes and thousands of calories are burned, your brain starts saying: "I quit".."No more!"..."You're really not feeling good so you should so walk/slow down/stop." First off, accept that yes, you'll be tired. However, every time (especially in the last 10 miles yesterday in the blazing sun...another sunburn, thank you!) negative thoughts creeped in, I said to myself "You're feeling good. Get your tail moving!" That sounds simplistic but I'm telling you, it worked. That was a huge lesson to learn. I'm really going to need that on June 6th.
2. I also learned that Perpetuem isn't as nasty as I had thought. When it mixes, it reminds me of mixing cement...all chunky and nasty. However, 5 minutes of running and it's mixed up really good and it's taste really isn't too bad. I will use it more often.
3. I can increase/sustain endurance by three things: a) proper nutrition leading up to and during the run, b) proper and disciplined pacing throughout from the very beginning and 3) mental attitude.

So here we are. 55 days (~8 weeks) from June 6th and the Kettle Moraine 100. My plan between now and then was to do two more of these types of weekends. However, I question how much more value I can get out of it. I feel like I got everything I could have wanted out of this past weekend. My lingering questions were answered and obstacles dismantled. Since I am of the mindset and more is not necessarily better, I am going to make one major change to the final 8 weeks. I will only do one more weekend like this past one and it will be on the first weekend in May. (that's also the Flying Pig and Pittsburgh Marathon weekend) So my last big, big weekend will be 5 weeks before the event. I'll still go long at the 3-week-out point but I won't do a big back-to-back. I really do feel like I am at a peak right now with regards to endurance, fitness, and health. I just need to maintain it now and not do anything that would risk injury.

So when 50 miles just isn't enough, my family is still out of town, what better thing to do but to go run some more trails! I'll be heading down to the Boston Store tonight at 6pm for a "casual" 9 miler on the trails then some dinner at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula. The skies couldn't be a more gorgeous blue than what they are today and temps are in the upper 40s...together a perfect recipe for some more trails!

Happy Trails, everyone!

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