I've had a few days off lately to take stock after the first few races of this summer have passed and I await the "serious" part of the racing season to begin. It's got me thinking about the pros and cons of my racing schedule. First, I'll start with the downside: overuse/abuse injuries. I've been taking these few days off because, frankly, I've hammered the hell out of my feet in the last couple weeks. Left foot: aggravated plantar fasciitis. Right foot: Achilles tendon soreness and soreness in ligament or muscle on the top of the foot from the big toe back to about mid-foot. Not good but not the end of the world. I've been swimming and running in the pool with Katy the last few days and light hike/running in VFFs and expect to be running again in a day or so. Still, it's an eye opener and education in the fine art of training vs. racing and pushing the body to new limits.
In the early season, I did a great job of staying injury free and got a good base of mileage (However, I will say that I wasn't as consistent with my running schedule as I could have been.). My first race this year, Collegiate Peaks 25, I used as a training run, so I didn't run hard, just maintained through the race and kicked at the very end. In my last two races, I turned up the effort quite a bit (with great results time/place-wise) and it has cost me the foot pain that I'm now trying to recover from. Particularly at Spring Creek, because it was a short race, I finally got some race pace running in and pushed myself into the low 5 min/mile range, something that my body is just not used to. It's been a long 15 years since the last time I ran that hard and I shouldn't be surprised that my feet are reacting. Also, I've been training for and running at ultra-distance pace: that's about 10-12 minutes/mile. Way slower and way easier on the body. The fast running was a shock to the system.
I suspect that a pair of my trail running shoes might also be to blame. I recently started wearing Inov8 shoes, which I LOVE. I have two pair, Roclite 295s, for training runs and X-Talon 240s, for racing. They are lightweight and slipper-like fitting with great traction. And they wear out fast (at least, the 240s. After two training runs and two races, they've almost worn through on the outer edge of the toebox. Damn!) But they are minimal running shoes with very little underfoot support. Lately, when I've laced them up, I can feel the pain in the top of my right foot return. When I wear my Salomon SpeedCrosses, which are more built up underfoot, no pain. This is also true for my Nike Free 5.0 road running shoes, which also have alot of underfoot support (even though Nike markets them as minimal shoes). I don't have a problem returning to the SpeedCrosses but it would really suck if my Inov8s caused my foot pain because they are SO comfortable. I don't know why they would cause any pain. Then again, maybe it's just because I ran my ass off in Tahoe and at Spring Creek.
Aside from that, racing this summer has been become a really incredible time in my life. I truly enjoy being out on the trails, for any length of time. My diet is the best it's ever been. I'm eating nuts, berries and other fruit, on a daily basis as well as tons of vegetables and occasional seafood and meat for protein. I still indulge occasionally, but wanting to be fit in order to run some more usually keeps that in check. The training and races have got me doing a little more travelling this year, which has been great. It's kept me busy, although sometimes this feels like a negative because you don't feel like there's enough time for everything. Then you remember: There never is. Oh well, at least I'm devoting much of my time to what I love doing.
Now, I'm gonna geek out and talk about the runs I have coming up. First, next Saturday, I'm doing the Mt. Werner Classic. This is a 12 mile, 3400' climb from the base of the ski area to the top of Mt. Werner and back down to the Gondola. This race is, quite literally, in my backyard and is going to be super fun. I'm hoping to finish in sub-2:15, without pushing too hard. I would love to run faster but with the Leadville 100 only a few weeks away, it is imperative that I stay healthy. In fact, right after the race Katy and I are going to Leadville to do some last training runs on the course.
Which brings us to the Leadville Trail 100. Holy shit. One of the most celebrated races in American mountain ultrarunning. What an experience that is going to be! I have to say, I'm glad it's Katy going for it all and I get to run as a pacer. Sure, I want to do a 100 miler but I'm not ready yet. I think Katy is though. She's been going to Leadville for the past couple months and running parts of the course with great success. I've run with her enough to know that she will absolutely finish. She might even get a buckle (finish under 25 hours). I'm actually a little worried that I won't be able to keep pace with her in the late miles when she gets her second or third wind and I start fading. If she's pushing for that time because she's close and I can't keep pace, I'm going to feel like a real jerk! (I keep thinking that I should've elected to pace her for 40 or fewer miles but I wanted the full 50 miles on the course. Smart!) So, I've put some pressure on myself to run well at Leadville and it will be an EXCELLENT long run for me before my biggest race of the year: Run Rabbit Run.
Even though I'm new to sport of moutain ultrarunning, I already know that the Steamboat 50 will be a defining race for me. I fell in love with trail running on these same trails. It's where I started connecting with my girlfriend. It's where I run with my dog and where I've camped with my friends. It's the mountain I snowboard on in the winter. It's the place I love to call Home. And as such, it's the race I always want to bring my "A" game to. I've learned that there is already a small but strong contingent of talented ultra runners in the Steamboat area. On top of this, the race just became part of the Montrail UltraCup Series, meaning it will attract some of the best runners in the sport. Geoff Roes, who just won this year's Western States 100 and has never been beaten at 100 miles, is registered to run this year. Only in it's fourth year, the race is gaining stature and it makes me all the more proud to be a part of it. September 18th. Mark it on your calender.
Beyond that, I'm still thinking about going to San Francisco in December to run the North Face 50 again. Ultimately, that will depend on whether or not I can AFFORD to go but the runner in me want's a piece of that tough-ass course again. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. All day long. A monster. (Geoff Roes ran that course in 7 hours. I did it in almost 12.) Again, whether I can afford to.
So, just a little mindless blathering from a pool-running trail runner. You can probably tell I'm antsy from not running by how long winded this blog entry is! Hope you enjoyed it. C'mon feet! Feel better!