Modifying Goals

50 miles. I entered a 50 mile trail race. I’ve been training for a 50 mile trail race. Well, as I completed these last 2 weeks/weekends of training, I’ve come to the gut-checking decision that I’m going to transfer my registration to the 50K distance instead. There has been a ping pong match going on inside my head about this for about the last month. As each week increased, the speed of the the little white ball as it crossed the net in my brain became faster and faster and I’m sure I have suffered some kind of delirium in the process.

50 miles. The distance I want to run and finish. The distance that has eluded me. The distance I don’t just want to finish, but finish “strong”, upright, smiling, exhausted, thrilled and spent. I’ve come to the reality-check conclusion that if I try to do the 50 miles on Dec 6th, I will not have this kind of experience. I believe I will suffer greatly in the last 15-20 miles, spend most of it shuffling along, exhausted, unable to lift my legs to run any sort of uphill, and generally, NOT have any fun. Let me say that I certainly don’t seek these races out to have fun….FUN, is sort of what incidentally happens…but it doesn’t happen when the goal is too far out of reach and suffering takes over the entire picture. I’ve been in that place before.

In addition to accumulating a lot of weekly mileage, my longest runs back to back have been:

NOV 1-2
15 miles
10 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,498

NOV 8-9
9.15 miles
17.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,231

And then last Saturday:

NOV 15
18.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 7,420

I think I can finish the 50 miles, but the experience will not be one I am after. If you would have asked me in July if I would take that experience of finishing, shuffling along, walking a lot in the later miles, I probably would have said “YES”, but my mind has shifted; my goal, I guess, has shifted. And, a lot of this has to do with being out on that course. I feel like I can offer these kind of pre-race assessments because I have spent hours out there on the stunning and heartbreaking trails. I know what they are asking of me. And now, I believe I know what I can try to answer.

Prior to 2 weeks ago, I kept thinking I don’t want to transfer to the 50k because I have already done that distance. And that’s still true. But, what I realized after these past 2 challenging weekends of training is that this 50k is a heck of a lot harder than the one I competed back in 2008! Hey, that was 6 years ago…that means I am 6 years older and I’m going for it again! How’s that for a rationalization plug!! Haha!

Seriously, here are the stats to support the difference on the level of difficulty. The Stumpjump 50k in Chattanooga has total elevation of 4,442. Well, as you can see, I have been already doing more than that in training. And believe me, my body is feeling it! The North Face 50k will have around 7,ooo elevation.

I have been encompassed by this race for about 4 months…each month getting more and more in the thick of it; learning more, putting my body thru more demands and then dealing with what happens as a result. Right now, I am trying to take care of some kind of left hamstring issue. It’s bizarre. I think I feel the pain mostly after switching from going long uphill to them sharp descents, especially on technical terrain. That’s when it bothers/hurts me the most…and then I’m just super aware of it the rest of the time. It is painful and I’m caring for it by the R.I.C.E. Method + massage. I’m aware of it, noticing some pain, even when not running so….
I probably need to have it checked out. I can’t quite figure exactly which muscle is the culprit: semitendinosous, popliteal, ??
It doesn’t really hurt throughout the run, just when I make the transitions and then it subsides. Overall, obviously, not good and I’m sure I need to truly REST but I feel confident about taking care of this after Race day.

Anyway, as I’ve been knee deep in all this preparation, I’ve been learning a lot :

1) how much it takes to prepare for this distance and do it well. I thought I was preparing correctly, but in reality, I haven’t. I should have been doing longer miles in the week and longer on weekends. (It’s tough to say this because I have trained more for this race than any other race!!) but, that’s part of the reality check.

2) still learning and getting much better at how to fuel; what to eat, when, etc…this is a  HUGE piece that I think probably doesn’t get enough attention for ultra running. You can be physically & mentally fit, but if you don’t have the nutrition thing down, there will be problems. All the willpower and determination won’t make you go faster if you are nutritionally depleted!

3) learning that I probably could have benefited from training with others sometimes. Just haven’t put in the effort to make is happen.
4) I should have had a better base going in to this training. Could have done a lot more strength work to help me more on the uphills.

So. There you have it. It sort of sounds like this is already a post-race report. Of course it’s not, I’m just in taper mode now and I can reflect and assess what has happened so far. I won’t get any faster in the next 2+ weeks. I certainly cannot go back in time and add in more weeks to add more miles. I’ve done what I could do so far and I believe the 50k is the distance I am best prepared for…I know how hard the 17 miler was, how hard the 18 miler was. 30 is going to push me. It’s gonna hurt. It will pull everything out of me and I will give it everything I can.

Time to take care of my nagging hamstring, get some massage, do easy running, and be as prepared as possible.

Oh yeah, regarding shoes; I’ve picked up The Hoka Stinson ATR shoes. These are a lot more specific to trail running than the other Hoka’s I’ve been using; the Huaka’s. The Stinson have better grip, but are also heavier. 9.3 oz compared to 7.8 oz on Huaka. I can really feel the difference in the weight and don’t necessarily like it, but…they are doing the job on the trails. The Huaka’s were getting pretty beat up (i need to see how many mile i have on those) and I really noticed the bottoms losing tread and i was sliding a lot on some of the trails that are simply loose rock. I like both these shoes, but man, they are not cheap! The picture below is of the Stinson…now much more appropriately dirty!  🙂

IMG_1719

 

The trails of Marin will humble you…that’s for damn sure. But, that’s what they are supposed to do. I sure as hell didn’t sign up for easy!

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2 Responses to “Modifying Goals”

  1. Amazing journey you are on. Tough decisions. Good luck and have fun out there

  2. I know it wasn’t an easy decision, but I think it was the smart one! Get through this super challenging 50k and then once the hamstrings all healed, find a good 50 miler to do!

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