Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Out of Retirement

To say that Hardrock was the toughest thing I’ve ever done means a lot. I’ve done Badwater peeing Brown, and I’ve ran for 40 hours straight down the Pacific Coast; Hardrock was tougher than both those events combined. When I was going into the race, I was having anxiety coping with the magnitude of the event, and I told myself I’d retire from ultra running after this race to assuage my fears.

To a degree, I did. I spent weekends doing easy runs instead of my typical 5+ hours runs. I still ran everyday, but sometimes it was just twenty minutes in the flats. Then the kidney stones hit and it really made me stop for a few days. That hard stop made me appreciate the big void in my day when I don’t run at all. I got back in the flow at Mt. Disappointment 50k, but felt so awkward running fast on the fire roads, and felt so awful in the high heat that I wondered what I really wanted to train for next. I had planned on a little less mountainous terrain than Hardrock (which is pretty much everything in the states), and I started to second guess if I even had any talent or desire left for that hard 6-8:00 pace running.

Then, this past Sunday I joined a dozen other Socal runners at Vivian Creek to head up 11,499 ft. San Gorgonio. The trail wasn’t as bad as Hardrock, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as jogging around the West Fork of the San Gabriel river the week before. I casually jogged with Balmore and would wait at the intersections when I got a bit ahead. My mind didn’t worry about what pace we were making for the 8.5mi/5,500ft climb, or any possible training goals, I just ran and enjoyed my company. When we neared the top, I had a little ½ mile race with Pedro over the last 300ft gradual climb to the top. The other hikers breathing heavily stared incredulously as I ran by like I was out for a brisk Sunday jog along Venice Beach. When I tagged the marker, I was even a bit surprised how comfortable I felt. The months of developing my high altitude abilities had actually left a mark on me.

Today I spent a few minutes searching for races. I stopped on the Run Rabbit Run page for a bit. I’m going to go back into normal training this week and see how I feel, but a large part of me wants to be in Steamboat in a month.

Weekly Recaps:
August 6-12
55 miles, 11,000ft
-33/7,000ft of that was at the Mt. Disappointment 50k. 5:11 for 2nd place, 11 minutes behind Jorge wasn’t too bad for me. I had to make 3 bathroom stops due to a bit too many beans the night before and I wasn’t very heat acclimated. I gave up some unnecessary time on the climb up to Shortcut that is very run-able when it isn’t over 100 degrees. Overall though, I had fun other than redlining in the heat at the bottom of Wilson. I definitely could run 20-30 minutes faster in cooler temps and faster training. The 50 miler next year is going to be tempting so close to AC.

August 13-19
51 miles, 12,500
-I enjoyed summiting Gorgonio. Definitely the most relaxed I’ve ever felt on that mountain. Could’ve ran up a bit faster, but had a good push down from High Camp to Halfway Camp with Pedro. Just a beautiful day in some uncharacteristically wet and lush Socal Mountains.

San Gorgonio peak looking northwest
Baldy from the Saddlebacks

Niki and The Dove - The Drummer