Saturday, June 27, 2009

31 Humbling Miles

As I said earlier this week, today's familiarization run of the last 30+ miles of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run was two-fold. For one, I needed to see it again. Past mile 85, I was a bit fuzzy on the course and the many turns. Secondly, I wanted to get an idea where I'm at with regards to my recovery from the Kettle Moraine 100 three weeks ago. I certainly got answers...regardless of whether I like them or not.

At 7am this morning, Jim Chaney arranged for a 14 passenger van to shuttle us from the finish to the Happy Days parking lot off of Route 303. It was perfect as only 1 seat remained as we set out. (Thanks, JC!) A few others waited at the start and at 7:30am, we headed out 17 strong.

Right off the bat, I was thrilled. We got some folks from out of state and some other locals who I never get to run with but have e-mailed with or have heard of. For one, I finally got to run with Ron Ross (royal blue singlet) who I interviewed last month for the WRTR newsletter. He has a phenomenal running career that includes running his 14th Mohican 100 Miler a whoppin' SIX days ago...then he's here to run another 30+ miles. Geez... Then there was TJ Hawk (standing middle, white VR tech tee), someone who I had never met but also has an impressive ultra running resume as well. Feeling like I'm running with "celebrities," then I meet Marie. Marie (standing on the right in the long sleeve black tech tee in pic above) is not only a Western States 100 Miler finisher, but she's a finisher of the Badwater...the toughest ultra out there, happening in Death Valley each year with temps way over 100F and 135 miles in length. Enough? Well, as she turns 51 or 52 on August 2nd, she will have 150 marathons under her belt. Yes...150 marathons. She's at 149 right now but will get #150 either next week or the following week. When she was 50 years old, she ran her 100th marathon at the San Francisco Marathon and wore bib #100. Yea, only 2 years ago and 50 more marathons complete. She is a pace team leader with Clif Bar so that's what she does at each marathon. More? She's competing in an Ironman Triathlon 4 weeks after Burning River. Unreal. I felt like the newest of newbies out there today but I absolutely loved meeting new fellow runners and trying to garner their wisdom and experience. Good times, for sure.

I felt like a million bucks for the first 10+ miles, before it started heating up. Once we arrived at the Covered Bridge (Mile 11 for today and Mile 81 of the BR100), I could tell my "tank" was running low already. ALREADY!!! I headed on up Perkins Trail, a trail normally loaded up with mud really wasn't bad at all today. We've had a stretch of dry weather so what normally is a mess of a trail, wasn't so bad after all. Once back at the Covered Bridge (4mi later), I was feeling totally drained. I'd been drinking as planned, eating my red-skin boiled potatoes, and taking Shot Bloks. Still, I knew the final 15 miles were going to be tough, especially with hardly any clouds in the sky and the thermometer clearly on the rise. From here on to the end, this course has little cover or protection from the sun as much of it is run on the Towpath Trail. Pictured below is a group photo I snapped before leaving the Covered Bridge for the 2nd time.

The next stretch is in the full sun and runs beside the Hale Farm and Village and I resorted to a mixture of running and walking letting the lead pack of runners go in the distance. Fortunate for me, 3 others waited up for me and we hung together for the remainder of the run. Thanks Greg, Frank, and Jason! Eventually, energy returned and I did much better but Frank was having issues with his hamstring so we made to sure to keep us all together. As we entered the Merriman area which is around Mile 93 of the BR100, we took a quick pit stop at McDonald's and shockingly, I had already emptied out my entire 1.5 liters of water that I was carrying on my back. I refilled in the Mickey D's bathroom, and we got back on the course. From here on in, we just kept forward motion and kept everyone together and aimed for the shadows on the Towpath to dodge the direct sun. As we neared the final miles, we got to the Signal Tree on the Highbridge Trail and since Jason and Frank hadn't been there before (they're from out of town), we stopped to read the history of it and snap a quick pic.

Over the last few miles, I felt much better and I felt the life breathed back into me. I celebrated the run by getting soaked in ice cold water fountains at the finish line area at Falls River Square. Whatcha think about the new header on my blog?! I set the camera on a timer and snapped a bunch of pics and picked out the best. I thought it was time to change up the look at bit here at RTRSBM.

Take-Aways from today:

1. I need to rest more and give my body more time to recover from my first 100 miler. The first week, I certainly took it easy. The 2nd week, I practically returned to business as usual with a 20 miler and 42 miles for the week. That was a mistake. There was no need to log that many miles so soon after the KM100. The 3rd week (this week), I logged 55 miles including today's 31 miles. Too much...too soon. Like I've said before, this 8 weeks between 100 milers is totally new ground for me and it's certainly a work-in-progress.

2. Time to shut it down. I don't mean that I won't be running at all but I'm not doing any long runs (ie: 20 or more) for at least one to two weeks...maybe longer. If I don't back off, I can kiss a BR100 finish goodbye...and that's not an option.

3. My right knee (just below and to the outside) is acting up. Rest is the solution. It acted up after last week's asphalt pounding and I adjusted my stride during the week to redirect the pounding and that appeared to work. However, it came back today. With only 5 weeks to BR100, I've gotta get that under control.

4. I truly don't believe I need much training right now for Burning River. I think my #1 priority should be to stay healthy and injury free. Secondary to that is training. Flip-flopping these things, in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster.

If you want to view the 44 photos I took of the course today with most filled with the other runners, follow this link.

For the first time in a long time, you'll see a ton of question marks on my weekly schedule on the right. I'm just going to take it day by day and do what feels right and listen to my body. I suppose I should practice what I preach to so many others. In the end, I'm glad I did the run today. It was very good heat training which I've been lacking since the majority of my runs happen pre-dawn.

Happy Trails, everyone!


Anonymous said...

Nick, Hi, it's Jenny again, I'm enjoying tracking everyone's blogs since kettle :-)

Just a couple comments. First, it's not so bad to have a depleting run at this stage. Yes, you need rest, but I don't think one rough day will be an issue. You might try to put the same hours in that you would normally do for a long run, and hike instead -- just for the time on your feet without so much of a physical drain.

But you're right, at this point, it's keeping yourself happy and healthy (eat lots of good fats!), rather than needing training for BR.

We're planning to run BR at this point, although that could change, since we're also doing VT100.

Nick Billock said...

Thanks, Jenny!

First off: CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU! You win at the Kettle then win Mohican 2 weeks later?!?! Absolutely amazing. Your ears must have been burning lately because I've been telling everyone about you. You truly are an inspiration!

Thanks for your comments...I really do appreciate them, especially from you. I hope to see you at BR (at least for a little bit!) and please...just recover a little before Vermont! I don't know how you do it but I'm so happy for you that you can...and be so successful and injury-free at the same time.

Thanks, Jenny!