Sunday, I attempted to run Spring Creek Trail to it’s end at Dry Creek on Buffalo Pass. I left Benny at home and once I saw how muddy and puddle-ridden the woods were, I was glad that I had. The skies were grey all day long and it traded off between raining, snowing and cold windiness. The sun took the day off. I figured that I would have the trail pretty much to myself and I was right. The crappy weather was keeping most people at home. Much like Mad Creek, however, there was still a lot of snow covering the trail, especially on north facing aspects and above 9000’. I got lost for a little while and did some exploratory running for about 15 or 20 minutes but found a high line trail next to a canal and was able to bypass a lot of snow by running the trail higher and on the south side of the ridge. Eventually, I worked my way back onto the proper trail and found some nice, runnable sections through some aspen stands but I spent a while running in deep snow. After nearly an hour of self-imposed torture, I decided to bag the attempt to make the trail’s end and turned around. On the way back, I stayed on Spring Creek trail rather than going back to the high line and, much to my horror, found the entire lower trail to be in deep snow. The last (and first) couple miles of the trail, however, are in great condition and I finished with a great rhythm and had plenty of legs to go longer. Officially, 1:50 for my run time but it was essentially 2 hours, which felt amazing after yesterday’s 1:56 at Mad Creek.
Earlier in the year, I thought it might take me until April to get back to back two hour runs, so I am very happy that happened and that my low mileage running in February and March has built up the strength in my legs so that I’ve been able to add mileage weekly and stay injury-free. I’m actually behind where I wanted to be training-wise. I should have already done a 4 hour run in preparation for this race, but now my race this weekend has become that long run. I like the way it’s worked out more than what I planned anyway. My next goal will be to build more time-on-the-run and mileage until I am able to do back to back 4 hour runs on the weekend (or a solid 6-8 hours in one day) while still grinding out my 6 - 10 miles/day during the work week and not getting injured. Those really long runs will consist of ventures into the Zirkel Wilderness and weekend trips throughout the state and longer races, 50K and 50 Mile, throughout the rest of the year. If all that goes well, I should be in shape to make an attempt at my first 100-miler (Leadville, Tahoe, Moab or Bighorn) next year.
Monday’s run was the start of the pre-race taper in my training. The air was very cool and sky cloudy. I still felt amazing and started with what I felt would be my race pace for Saturday. Ran just shy of 5 miles along Hwy 40 on the way to Rabbit Ears Pass in :43.24 and figure my marathon pace (on the road) is about 8:36/mile. I turned around and picked up the pace to a comfortably fast 7:30/mile and ran that for about 4 miles because it just felt great. The sun beamed through the clouds on a couple occasions and shafts of light shot down on a select ranch in the valley. I slowed a little and ran home along the bike path, the run about 9.9 miles in 1:22.11.
Tuesday, I ran next to the road up Bear Drive and over to Ski Trail Lane, under the gondola. It’s a fun, hilly run that I’ve come to enjoy with the low to no traffic. Ran easily and comfortably, mentally checking my form and body sense, as usual. A fun 4.5 miles around the Mountain’s neighborhoods in :40 at 8:48/mile pace.
Wednseday, I just chilled. I have been strategizing a little for Saturday and set some concrete goals. First, run the whole race. I was thinking about taking it easy, walking some hills and just finishing but fuck that. If this were a 50 miler, I would expect to be doing some walking to save something for later in the day. I know I can finish a marathon distance race but not if I can RUN the whole distance on mountain trails. I owe it to my legs to punish the shit out of them, anyway. So, no matter how slowly, keep running. Next, I’m going to shoot for a sub-4 hour finish. I only need to maintain an overall 9:36/mile for the race to accomplish that, which is doable. I’ve worked out the following times that I need to arrive at each aid station based on that pace: Start - 0miles - 6:30a.m., A.S. #1 - 5.7miles - 7:20 a.m., A.S. #2 - 11.7miles - 8:20 a.m., A.S. #3 - 14.6miles - 8:40 a.m., A.S. #4 - 17.9miles - 9:20 a.m., A.S. #5 - 21.8miles - 9:55 a.m., Finish - 25miles - 10:30 a.m. I want to limit my aid station stays to under ten seconds, if I stay at all. I’m carrying a water bottle, a mini bottle of electrolyte and some gels, so I won’t really need to stop. Maybe for some food later in the race. Race conditions should be cool and cloudy, if not rain/snow (30%). The course should be tacky, if not full-on muddy in sections, with some new snow possible. No deep snow, though. The course is on dirt roads and single track trails and is supposed to be entirely runnable. Bring it.
Tonight, I‘m just enjoying feeling good. All my little training aches and pains have subsided and I am jazzed and ready to run on Saturday. Got Christian and a couple dogs coming down with me. Good support crew. I’m watching Avatar (again) tonight. It’s a good movie but the first time I watched it, I watched it with a runner’s mind and I thought it was amazing. The first thing Jake Sully does in his avatar body is run. When he joyously takes off barefoot running through a field, it gave me the goosebumps because I understand how he felt. People run, on a primal level, for two main reasons: out of fear and out of joy. The joy of running is something we all share, even if we don’t realize it. Later in the film, in a voiceover, Jake talks about being able to run farther everyday, feeling his energy, feeling his body getting stronger and learning to trust it, as a result of his training. Again, this is fundamental to a runner as the more you do it, the stronger you will get. Training is running increasingly harder, but listening to you body to avoid overdoing it. A runner needs to listen to his or her body . More importantly, a human needs to listen to their body. When you feel like shit, that is your body talking to you. Learn to listen. I’m learning to listen and my body says, “Eat well, sleep well, respect yourself and run far!”