Monday, June 29, 2015

Running on Faith: An Ultrarunning Update


I can’t wait until a better time to begin prep for my first 50k.  My strategy has been to drop thirty pounds before November and then do the Rough Trail 50k in my beloved Red River Gorge.  Since I’ve been shut out of the Rugged Red I had to find some replacement event to distract me from the negativity I want to let run rampant in that arena.
I’m sort of on track for losing the weight.  “Dry” I have hit my weekly 191 target weight.  But that was after a hot, hot ten mile trail run.  Later that day after a meal and fluid replenishment I was up to 194.  That’s still better than the 197 I was the day before and the 199 the night before that.  Up and down.  Sigh…
I was going to hold off on trailrunning very much.  I’d not been cycling at all (not true) and I figured I had time as long as I slowly ramped up my road miles.  Face it, it’s summer and I can’t put myself out on the hot asphalt for very long.  To get miles I need the shade of trees.  I need more motivation to get out.  And if being the subject of a deer fly smorgasbord isn’t just the ticket then I don’t know what is.
I also had signed up to “Trail Check” two five mile section of the Sheltowee Trace in the Red River Gorge for the STA.  Oops, I forgot! Was supposed to have in by the beginning of June.  It’s almost July.
The KY 15 to Red River section I could probably do from memory except for downed trees, but the Bison Way to Corner Ridge section is a bit fuzzier in my mind.  I ran the singletrack section early last year and I haven’t been on the Corner Ridge section in probably twenty years.
But stepping back a week or so…I was up in Flemingsburg for a meeting the week before last so I swung over to the Northern Terminus of the Sheltowee for my lunch time distraction.  I have to say, standing at the Northern Terminus for the first time reawakened possibilities, dreams, schemes, and maybe even a little fear.  I was standing at the beginning of a 300+ mile line across the earth.  Oh, to have the luxury…
Looking south on the Sheltowee Trace
 
I ran out and back only five miles.  It was hot that day.  And true to the rumors I’ve heard over the years the trail faded into overgrowth at one point.  I opted there to turn back.  It was a good moderate climb up to a long rolling ridge.  Just the right tonic for a weary soul.
Of course I fantasized about being on a thru-run—a FKT, a self-supported adventure—all the while I was running that day.  Soon.  Before I’m too beat up.
But anyway, I had a late meeting one night so I went early while it was fortuitously cool to avoid the worst of the heat and deer flies.  I parked at Bison Way Trailhead and struck out north with full confidence of running out five miles and having no choice but to retrace my steps back to the car.  There was no room for error.  No option but to keep going.  I like those situations.  It increases my focus.  It hones my bones.
Truth be told, something scares me about running more than a half marathon in the woods.  Can I pull it off?  I watch Al’s Strava and am amazed that a guy ten years older than me can run 20+ miles through the Gorge…and so fast. I look at other ultra-trailrunners and know that mentally I can accomplish what they do, but I haven’t so far been able to make my body go the distance.  Pain, weakness, fatigue…something always shuts me down.
I took a leap of faith the other day on the Sheltowee.   A few months ago I was comfortable going out and running 8-10 miles without much forethought.  In 2015 I’ve struggled to maintain a regular schedule of running even 4 miles every few days.  In the past few weeks I’ve focused more on cycling too, but since the weather has warmed I’ve not even settled into the regiment I thought I would have by now.
Ten miles went down fairly well.  At mile eight I started to wane.  I wasn’t hurt; I was just tired.  Of course I left the house with an apple and a couple of handfuls of sunflower seeds in my belly.  I only carried two gels with me on the run.  Likely my performance failure was in fueling and not fitness.  I’m trying to drop some flab.  Cut me some slack!
 
The rest of the day I hobbled, but I wasn’t wrecked.  The next day I felt pretty good but still took a needed rest.  I’m not back to September 2014 running levels, but I’m not as far of as I thought I was.  I think I can strike back out to a half-marathon distance in short order.  If I keep it slow and steady…
I need to run some good base miles close to home (maybe in Dawn Patrol mode) to keep the pounds sliding off.  I really need to be ramping up my running miles and time in the gym.  I just can’t motivate myself to get into the gym, and I want to run the trails even when it’s not most efficient. 
What I would like to do is unhinge my mind to run distance with no thought for speed.  I know I push too hard at all the wrong times.  I let visions of Strava glory burn up all of my matches when I could go out for a long glide into the wide world.
Anyway, I still find the notion of taking off on some long journey on foot alluring in ways that nothing else is.  I’m not in shape but I have plans…big plans.

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