Wow, has it already been 2 1/2 months since my last post? Let's see if we can't get you up to speed rather quickly here on what's been happening.
After completing Boston, I had a quick trip to the west coast and ran Big Sur Marathon with 3 friends that also ran Boston. Ron, Amy, James and I all ran together for the full 26.2 miles. Nothing fast, but absolutely scenic. Incredible views for most of the course. And I got my monies worth out of the entry fee, a whole 1:01 longer on the course than the previous Monday.
While both races were awesome and special in their own way, they were taxing on me. Both physically and mentally. The training, the injury and stress of not knowing if I would fully heal before Boston or if I would even be able to run the B2BS Challenge. Upon returning home I decided to take two weeks off, start back slowly and then focus on the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10. This would be were I would break the 2:45 barrier. Stay healthy and my chances were pretty decent I thought.
Well, here's where things take a turn. I started going back to some websites that I had visited before my first Boston qualifier in '09. Ultra marathons, trail races, remote races. Before I know it I am becoming delusional with visions of 50 and 100 mile races in my future. What an accomplishment, what an experience? People all over the country are doing it every weekend. I think this might be the time to jump in. I had previously told my wife that I would run a 100 mile race before I was 45 after all so I'd better get started.
Well, skipping a lot of stuff between then and now, I have made a huge change in my training and goals. All the thoughts of sub 17:00 5ks, 2:45 marathon, sub 1:00 10 miler have left the building. They may never come back. I have got enough of a taste of trail running in the last couple of months to know that this is my new pursuit. What is it? What has caused this sudden turn about? Evolution is the thought that keeps coming to me.
In a really nice 20 mile run tonight with a new running buddy, Joe, the only guy I know in this area that has run multiple trail ultras, I was explaining my lack of desire to pursue road racing right now, but instead going long on the trails. His response was that it was my evolution as a runner. There you have it.
To back up just a bit, I had a a few actual trail runs at a state park near Dallas, but they had all been alone. A mutual friend hooked me up with Joe and we meet last week for a run. 25 miles in sloppy, wet and very muddy alleys throughout old Midland. Sounds odd, but he suggested it and said it would be a good simulation run as far as the surface that I might be racing on. It was actually pretty cool.
Tonight we met up at 7:00 and I had suggested we run a few miles over to a golf course and then try to get the bulk of our run in on a golf course. Hopefully it would be empty. Well, we got there after about 3 miles and there was not a soul there. After further review, the course was flooded from all of the recent rain so it must have been closed. Awesome! We had the run of the place and just headed up and down holes, mainly in the rough and over as many of the mounds as we could hit. Because of the week long rain, there was one section of the course that was actually under water. As we approached it I questioned whether we wanted to go around or go through it. Joe's response, as I have quickly figured he responds to all such questions, "whatever, it doesn't matter". We just hit it. Before I knew it we were waist deep and then quickly to the other side. To me that was a great training experience because sooner or later it's going to happen in a race and it's not going to be an issue that I stress over. By the end of the run, we had crossed that same section 4 times going one way or the other. Soaking wet shorts and shoes, but not bad at all. running gear has evolved so much that the shoes drained well and the shorts were not even an issue. Wet socks aren't great, but nothing I couldn't live with.
Tonight's run was also my first with a hydration pack, the CamelBak Octane XCT. Not really necessary in town when doing loops, but I wanted to try it out now rather than find out on a training run in the mountains that I didn't like it. I have been carrying two Nathan QuickDraw handheld bottles and they are awesome. The CamelBak was much better than I expected. Held 70ozs of a water/Gatorade mix as well as pockets for energy gels and a bar. It was a little work to get the liquid out of the spout, but other than that no complaints. I don't have any intentions of using it in a race, but for a training run it worked nice. If I ever get some remote runs as I plan, I can start off carrying 110ozs of fluids when I carry two handheld bottle.
That gets us to the present day. I've run from 62 - 72 miles a week for the last 4 weeks and averaged about 55 over the past 24 with the exception of my 2 weeks off. A 20 mile or longer run in each of the last 5 weeks and I'm now two weeks away from my first ultra marathon. A 60k trail run at Inks Lake State Park. In addition to the race being about 11 miles longer than any of my previous races, it also starts at 7:00 p.m., about 12 hours later than most marathons. That means that I will be running about 23-25 miles in the dark by headlamp and hopefully finish sometime between 1:00 - 2:00 a.m.. hey, what's one more factor to throw in? Might as well get 'em all in now.
For the night running, I have been getting in quite a few runs after sunset to get some experience with the headlamp. The Petzl Tikka XP 2 is my current headlamp of choice. It shines up to about 60 meters, but one thing that I've figured out is that when running at night, you don't need to see more than about 10-20 feet ahead of you, especially on trails. If you start looking ahead to far you'll end up on your face, day or night.
So what do I expect from the Lakes as this race is called? No idea other than I want to finish on two feet. Well, finish respectably that is. This is the first of 3 races in a series so whatever I do wrong I will get the opportunity to rectify 3 weeks later or 3 weeks after that. I'm really looking forward to this next phase in my running life. And while I have decided to forgo Chicago, I still plan on doing Boston next April and every April after that. It just means that I will have to re qualify there each year. Yikes!