While Lee was gallivanting in the Smokies, Beth had her own, somewhat eventful, training weekend. Here's what she had to say about it.
A Weekend of Highs and Lows
Last week, the realness of Pinhoti began to set in, and I decided that I might, perhaps, need to start doing some runs in the 20 mile(+) range. Aside from scouting and marking Dark Sky 50 back in the Spring, it had been well over a year since these old legs had seen 20 miles on them. Knowing that the RunWILD group was headed to the Walls of Jericho on Saturday, I decided to do my long run Friday afternoon. I gave myself the audacious goal of 4 progressive red loops (with a couple of extra miles to even it up to 20). I’ve bonked each and every long run I've done since training started. Figuring this was the perfect opportunity to work on nutrition and hydration, I loaded up on an assortment of gels and Gu Roctane drink mix, along with my brand spanking new Salomon pack from Nashville Running Company. Nothing like new gear to get you motivated and out on the trail!
My strategy was to fill one flask with the Roctane mix and one with water, sipping on the Roctane every 10 minutes and eating a gel every 40. I took it really easy on the first loop and was surprised when I had completed it, plus extra on the road, in under an hour. The next loop, I picked up the pace only slightly and finished in 55 minutes. For my third loop, I wanted to go around 50 minutes without blowing my legs out for the fourth. The next 4.5 miles were some of the greatest of my life. I felt so good, especially on the flats, and was pretty (and happily) surprised when I checked out my pace. I tried slowing myself down but said screw it, run how you feel. It felt amazing to “unleash” the legs a little bit. It was a feeling I haven’t had in a long while. That feeling you wish you could bottle and bust out when runs are the freaking pits. I kept thinking “I can’t wait to see my Strava for this!”* I came in on the third right around 47 minutes. I thought the fourth one might really suck the big one after that, but I felt just as good as I had on the one before. Maybe Lee had been right when he told me I just needed to eat on all of those runs where I bonked. I finished out the 4 loops and 20 miles in under 3:30. I felt damn good. For once in my life, I followed something to a T . . . and by golly, it worked! Perfection.
*My data file was corrupted between the Suunto app and Strava, and this glorious run of mine will never be able to be shared with the world. Womp, womp.
On Saturday, the RunWILD crew traveled down to the State of Champions and ran the Walls of Jericho in Alabama. Right off the bat, we started a three-mile descent which would take us to the shining star of the Walls of Jericho, the waterfall. Three miles of toe-catching rocks and gnarly roots on some pretty steep downhills and switchbacks quickly woke us up. We all anxiously ran towards the freaking stud of a waterfall . . . except the waterfall was nowhere to be found. The majesty that had rained down on us only a couple of months earlier was now bone dry. Luckily, there were still some pools of water around so Phil could get his swim on. After frolicking in the water and rocks, we headed a mile or so back to the 3rd Saturday in October split in the trail. One way leads to glory (Alabama); the other leads to defeat (Tennessee). Some of us took the steep but less technical climb towards the Tennessee trailhead of the park. There was a lot more hiking than running on those four miles, and by the time we made it up to the trail head, I was spent. I took the wuss way out and headed back on the road towards the Bama state line. At 10ish miles for the day, eating gummy bears in the sun was a more enjoyable decision. . . though I’ll probably regret that come November 4.
Here's the video from winter semester of RunWILD:
My legs were pretty dead on Sunday so I decided to stick to the roads. I lazed around all morning long, and it was lunch time by the time I got out the door. I have a normal 10 mile loop that I do, but this time I decided to reverse it. After the first mile, I was surprised at how good I felt. Just as I was thinking about how many miles this would give me for the week, I stepped off a curb wrong, my right ankle turned, and I fell Superman-style in front of Rosepepper and its lunch crowd. I jumped up, brushed the asphalt from my torso, and gathered my pride from the street. I tried to flee the scene as quickly as possible, but my ankle was angry and wanted me to simmer in my humiliation a little while longer. I hobbled the rest of the way home, my ego, spirit, and ankle all in pain. Worst part – I didn’t get a free margarita or a shoutout on Rosepepper’s sign.
It was definitely a weekend of highs and lows, the best run I’ve had in a long time, Strava stabbing me in the back, a great run with RunWILD, an invisible waterfall, and a (briefly) sidelining injury. Highs and lows – the epitome of ultrarunning. And the great part of ultrarunning is it's a microcosm of life. Highs and low, good and bad, darkness and light, beauty and pain. All we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.