All About Angela

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pigtails 100k

Heart thumping... Muscles aching.....Just nine more miles...You can do this.... You can win this..... 
Just nine more miles...  Everything hurts.... Cant stop now..... You can do this.... You can win this....
Pumping my arms rapidly, I push..... People are congratulating me.... But the race isn't over....
It's not over until I take that turn, head down that final dirt stretch....

Back it up!

The Pigtails 100k was intended to be my final long run for Bryce.... One last opportunity to dial in nutrition and put ultra miles on the legs. Pigtails is considered an "easy course".... However, easy is a relative term.... What one individual finds easy, another finds absolutely excruciating.  It's a gravel loop [9.4 miles] around a watershed. Not quite trail but definitely not road. There is enough elevation gain to keep things interesting [900' per loop]. Depending upon the race you're signed up for, you run this loop until you're done. Alternating direction every loop makes the process surprisingly less torturous for those of us that abhor these types of races.

This year, I haven't been fixated on race goals. I might have a tentative aspiration but I'd rather just focus upon enjoying the experience. Investing too much into a goal can ruin the spirit of a race....It's super deflating when things don't pan out. Let's be real, that happens more often than not. With Pigtails, I knew the course worked in my favor and that I could do well. I was hesitant to really think about much beyond that.

With limited fanfare, the race began in the drizzle expected of Western Washington. It was a small field and the hardcore beasts had already begun their lengthy adventures. From the beginning, I was the leading female....I was right behind the leading male. The pace felt super comfortable so I never felt stressed. We started with a six mile out-and-back. When I turned around, I was shocked that I didn't see a herd following close behind. I just figured that people were still warming up....I knew that I'd soon be passed by runner after runner....And that was OK - I was competing with MYSELF.

3 miles in

Spoiler alert - I was never passed. It's a bizarre feeling to lead a race when you're a middle-of-the-packer.... You just keep waiting for someone to speed on by, looking fresh and spunky.... Every hill you walk, you just wait.... Every time you linger at an aid station, you just wait.... Someone's going to zoom by any freaking minute now. If you're competitive, pick a race with alternating loops because it's the best way to gauge your position. I remained about 1.5 miles ahead of the third place runner the entire time; this really ignited a fire inside me. By the time that I was on the 5th loop [out of six], I was determined not to let anyone pass me.... I feel like such an asshole admitting that but yeah.... totally true.

I felt [still feel] terrible because I hardly socialized. Head down, music blasting....I wanted so badly to finish strong. I was running with individuals that had been moving for DAYS, working toward impressive 100, 150, 200 mile finishes..... I wish that I had taken more time to really express how awesome that I think they are, how much they inspire me. Honestly though....I could barely articulate sentences. Every time I tried to tell a runner, "Good Job" or even just "Hello".... it came out as a garbled, incoherent sound.

Jeff didn't have to crew for me this time around, allowing him to take our child to Seattle while I put my poor body through the wringer. I communicated with him around mile 30.... He was shocked at how fast I was moving [given the length of the race] and warned me to slow the F down. I didn't physically see him until I was finishing the 5th loop. Our exchange was limited to, "Loosen the shoes! Loosen the shoes! I got to go! I got to go! She's behind me!"

I departed for the final loop on a mission. I sprinted out of that aid station like an animal. I'd never run this long before and here I am, sprinting. Goes to show you how important the ol' mind is. That final loop was over in what felt like a snap of the fingers..... I am not even exaggerating. I must have just checked out. As I turned onto the final dirt stretch, I started crying.... ugly tears.... just crying.... It wasn't about being the lead female..... It wasn't about finishing this 100k..... I finally knew..... I'm ready..... I'm ready for Bryce. I have what it takes....My heart. My mind. My body.  I am fucking ready.

Pre-Run: A giant bowl of Coco Puffs with chocolate almond milk

Fuel: 800ish calories of Tailwind, countless cups of Mountain Dew, watermelon, pineapple + the occasional handful of whatever looked good in the moment.  I must have disgusted the individuals working in the aid station....Food was shoved in my mouth like I was an ill-mannered caveman. About 40% didn't even make it in the mouth. I heard a volunteer say, "You can really tell who is racing" Haha.

Gear: 17oz UD Handheld (Soft bottle)... This was my first experience with the soft bottle handheld. Verdict is that it's wonderful for those of us that have freakishly small baby hands. However, it can be difficult to fill up because it crumples down when empty. You have to put your fingers in the bottle to expand it..... That's kind of gross given the places ultra runner hands go... But eh, do what ya gotta do. I changed shoes after 34 miles from the Terra Kiger to Wildhorse [both Nike].... I feel that changing shoes + socks every 30 miles is a GREAT strategy beyond 50 miles. Keep those feet pampered.

*I think it's important to note that I do not feel this race is a sign that I'm headed toward the Olympics. A lot of things worked in my favor including the easy course and small field. Additionally, I just had an amazing running day - we all get blessed with one every now and then again. I'm proud of my performance.... I'm proud of how far I've come in one year, since I ran my first 50..... And I'm excited to see what the future holds.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spokane River Run 50k (2016 Edition)

April was a whirlwind of chaos.
Not much running.
Some biking.
One race.
An epic failure of a vacation.

Let's start with the race..... A couple weeks ago, I ran The Spokane River Run 50k....It's one of the few hometown ultras that we have here so it's kind of mandatory to participate. Last year, I set my official 50k PR here (which I have not come close to beating). Any time ambitions went out the window when I woke up with horrendous cramps from starting my period....The joys of being a female athlete! Just some background TMI for perspective here, I've been on a birth control shot for six years.... A welcomed side effect is the lack of monthly sad times....Because I'm forcing Jeff to get the ol' snip-snip, I didn't see the need to continue the quarterly process of getting stabbed in the butt. Running on my period is relatively new territory and I will not lie about the fact that I've been a total baby about the whole situation.

Honestly.... I don't have any thrilling tidbits to share about this race. Cramps really fucking suck.....And the problem with period cramps during a race? They feel similar to what you get before having explosive diarrhea which let's be real....can and does happen in an ultra. Thankfully, I had the distraction of sharing a few miles with friends - new and old - along the way. At one point, I literally laid down on the ground and allowed a hiker's dog to lick the sweat off my face. This was a great morale boost - who doesn't love puppy smoochies?!? And yes, I'm the type of person that will stop in the middle of the race to pet a dog.... Because duh.... dogs are awesome.

We're in the middle of a seasonal transition that is happening much quicker than I'd like.... 70 degrees after consistent 40 - 50 degree weather.... It feels like you're in the Sahara without a drop to drink.  No matter how hard I pushed, I felt like I was barely moving. The 50k consists of  (2) 25k loops.... They are not the same loop but you're routed through the start / finish area in order to begin the second loop.....You could see people finishing the 25k..... Individuals chilling out, sipping on cold ones..... Man, that sucked.

Shockingly, I came in 4th female and 1st in the 30 - 39 AG..... Admittedly, it was a relatively small field but still.... Always good to finish strong after a rough day....

My husband and son (13) did the 10k....I'm super proud of both of them. This was Dominic's first 10k....I was a bit nervous for him because he'd only previously run 4ish miles (last October). Like a typical teenager, he refused to express any emotion about the whole experience. I worried that he'd start out super fast and then completely fizzle out.

He finished just a few seconds over an hour and placed second in his respective age group. This kid constantly impresses me. When I asked him if he enjoyed the race, I received a grumble - moan - eyeroll.
I was 45 minutes slower this year BUT I nailed a couple really important things....
(1) I paced super consistently.... Granted, I wish the pace were a bit quicker but consistent pacing has always been a struggle so I call this a win!
(2)Calories, Calories, Calories..... I'm finally getting the hang of this whole dealio.... Having the Tailwind in the bottles up front helped a great deal in managing intake. Both bottles were filled with roughly 200 calories, I drank over three plus nibbled on random items from aid stations (side note - hot gummy bears are gross).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Returning to Badger

Last March, I ran my first trail 50k at the Badger Mountain can read about that here.  There was never any question that I'd return.... Initially, I planned to run the 50 miler. Somehow, I ended up registering for the 100.... An impulse decision - the cost difference was minimal and I was in excellent shape.... Why the hell not?!? I made a conscious decision not to broadcast that Badger was my first 100 attempt.... I didn't really want others to know...This was just for me.

Holy shit, the amount of prep required for a 100 miler..... And it's not cheap! Training is the easy part. Honestly, I felt that I had a solid game plan and was surprisingly chill at the start line.

Should probably learn how to pin a bib on shorts....doh!

Mile 1 - 10

Badger begins with a climb, making for an anti-climatic start.... Runners steadily congo their way up.

I'm alternating between easy running and hiking. The grade is runnable but I'm saving my legs. A sweet descent awaits.... A non-technical trail with quad-saving switchbacks.... I fly down, absolutely giddy.... This is MY day!

The first aid station comes quick. Not needing anything, I just charge on. Following a brief road section, we're planted onto some gnarly jeep trails.... definitely runnable BUT I'm constantly conscious of where I'm placing my feet.  Our second climb begins gradually but quickly turns STEEP.... Rocks shift constantly beneath you.... Slow and steady.... it's not just about conservation of energy but preservation of bone structure. Actually tapering has resulted in the desire to RUN.... I want to just blaze through the flat sections.... We spend a few miles on this glorious trail.... soft like sand with the type of rolling terrain that I love....I'm being conservative, though..... Fucking slow and steady.

Mile 10 - 20

Yeah... it looks just about like it was. No reminders about conservative pacing needed. See that second descent? That's where my race blew up.... I'm cautiously crawling down.... And then I falter, tripping over a rock.... I don't fall down but I can feel instantly that my ankle has twisted into a weird position.... Be positive.... No worries.... It will be OK..... And then almost immediately, I do the SAME THING on the SAME ANKLE..... Calm down.... Just get off this mountain.... It will be OK

An aid station lies at the bottom of the descent, a welcome distraction from my clumsy fumble down the mountain.... I grab a handful of pretzels, down a cup of Coke..... Four miles of asphalt stand between me and my dropbag. Ankle is tender but I've ran over 15 miles on REALLY rocky terrain so.... par for the course?

Mile 20 - 30

Hard asphalt did NOT help the ankle situation.... Each step sends shocks of pain up my leg.... I'm still not suuupppper worried.... I've dealt with ankle pain in trail races before.... Usually, it subsides or something else begins to hurt more. Either way, I'm immediately diggin' for the painkillers that I have stashed. Because I know a long climb is coming, I grab some candy bars for the stroll up the mountain....A handful of potato chips shoved into my face....Refill my water flasks.... Away I go! Still in really good spirits.

How I wish there were words to describe this climb. It just went on FOREVER. And the grade....oh the grade.... I had extreme jealousy for wise runners using poles....jealousy turned into hatred about halfway through the climb. Each step aggravated my ankle. I swear the summit was getting further and further away..... I've never been such a baby.  A man who'd previously run the 100 informed me that he had broke down during the second climb up, sitting down and crying like a baby.... I could envision a similar scene playing out that evening.

Why cannot pictures capture steepness? It's a conspiracy!

I didn't even notice someone taking pictures. This may be the most unflattering picture EVER.... you can see the struggle.... Am I freaking there yet?

My mood drastically improved upon reaching the summit.... Even more so after I was told that I would not have to descend the same way that I came up, which had created quite the internal panic. Next, we ran along the ridgeline of this mountain.... 4.5 miles of rough terrain out.... and then back! THE legendary Gunhild Swanson was volunteering at the turnaround....She's a huge inspiration of mine and just an incredibly awesome individual.... Seeing her provided a huge mental kick in the ass. Suddenly, I was FLYING....I was passing other runners... All smiles and rainbows! Knowing Jeff would be waiting at the next aid station helped tremendously. The descent down McBee was glorious - flowy, soft singletrack. Happy Happy!!! Joy Joy!!!

Mile 30 - 45

Per usual, I was stoked to see my bearded partner - he's just one swell fella. Our seven year old, Colton, came along....He lovingly pointed out that I was drenched in sweat but hugged me anyway. As I inhaled a turkey + avocado wrap, Jeff praised me for eating then nagged me to continue doing so.

I had begun to notice that my feet were swelling, leading to shoes that were becoming increasingly tight. I made a rookie mistake here..... I should have stopped and changed shoes..... I purposefully packed a roomier pair in my bag but I didn't want to take the time. I wouldn't have another chance for 20 miles. Jeff loosened my laces which initially felt amazing BUT.... within a few miles, I felt like my feet were being squished into shoes several sizes too small....this is unpleasant to say the least.

I was chuggin' along quite nicely for about ten miles.... Because I was alone, I took the opportunity to belt out my favorite jams.....You'd be surprised at how much singing "Rocket Man" at the top of your lungs can boost morale.

Around mile 43, we had to run a "long" stretch of highway [it was less than two miles but felt like twenty].... The painkillers that I'd taken earlier began to wear off and I was in pain again.... For the first time ever, I asked another runner for Ibuprofen. Each step made it increasingly clear that I wouldn't be finishing 100 miles today.

Mile 45 - 51

The first ascent / descent pictured here is the hardest due to the terrain. Rocky jeep trails with a bum ankle = OUCH.

We had a game plan - Jeff would be there at the end of the first loop (mile 50) .... I'd change EVERYTHING (including underwear) and eat a real meal. When I updated Jeff, I knew he was worried that I was really injured this time. I've flirted with injury numerous times but I've been incredibly lucky in that regard. You just never know when you'll get THE INJURY....The one that will sideline you for months.

When I got to the final ascent (Badger Mountain), I was experiencing a brief second wind / burst of confidence.... I flew up Badger, passing hikers and other runners.... Reality sunk in on the descent. Ankle still fucked up. Craptastic. Ultimately, I took the 50 mile finish rather than the 100 mile DNF.... I know that I could have hobbled further - another 10 miles, maybe even another 20.... 50? No way. I was worried that continuing to run on an unstable joint would make it much, much worse. I have so many races that I'm freaking stoked about....Did I want to risk an entire season of fun? Hell no. Could this have been all mental? My mind rationalizing quitting. I'm going to be brutally honest here. Maybe.

With all this behind me, I feel that I learned so much.... I've never started a race with 100 milers before.... I've never had an opportunity to really witness what they do. With Bryce 100 rapidly approaching, what am I going to do differently / the same? Here's the key things....

1.) Change shoes and socks every 30ish miles. Yeah, I can make 50 miles in one pair of shoes. But I did end up with blisters and the taping that I'd done on my feet came off. Additionally, the aforementioned swelling.... who knows? Maybe my tight shoes exacerbated the ankle issue. Taking care of your feet is worth the extra few minutes.  Shoes + socks + blister kit in EVERY bag.

2.) I failed AGAIN from a nutritional standpoint. I've been filling my hydration bladder (2L) with a Tailwind / Lemonade mix....I do about 400 calories / bag.... The intention is to finish one bag every four hours. I didn't even finish one bag in 12 hours. Being I consume most of my calories from liquid - BAD BAD BAD. I'm going to start carrying water in the bladder and filling the soft flasks up front with Tailwind mix (150 calories per bottle) - it will be much easier to ensure that I'm taking in what I need to. I did eat real food here and there.... something small from each aid station.... I want to continue doing this.

3.) Poles! Bryce has 18,000' + feet of solid gain.... I am not trying to reach a certain level of badass here.... I've decided that I'm going to order a nice set of poles and learn to use them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lord Hill 50k

Last week, I hit a major milestone....I ran NINETY MILES!!!! And you know what....I feel surprisingly OK.... The weekly total was capped off with a mudfest entitled the Lord Hill 50k... Last year, I signed up for the 50k but dropped down to the 20 miler.... Thus, I was hankering for sweet redemption. Because I hadn't tapered for the event and planned to run at least one loop with the big dog, I had not a single time goal.... I wanted to have fun and finish.

Loop 1

I started the race with Yoshimi. Those running with their canine companions have to start five minutes after the rest.... This allows the runners to flesh out prior to introducing hounds in the mix [You are given back the five minutes at the's NOT a penalty]. It's weird starting a race without the normal adrenalin that comes along with having other runners....There's only two of us running with our dogs... It's not like I'm attempting to hold the pace of anyone. Of course, Yoshi drops logs in the first quarter mile....This sets me even further back from the herd.

The beginning is a few gradual, runnable climbs leading up to LORD HILL. Last year, I  REALLY struggled with this beast. This year, I didn't understand why it's considered so difficult.... It's steep but not particularly long. Sure, the calves will complain but you can power up within a couple minutes if you remain focused. Granted, it was a wall of slippery mud this year with a stream running down the middle. But's a glimpse of what's to come....

Per usual, it takes about four miles to start falling into a groove. Finally, I'm starting to pass the back-of-the-packers and Yoshimi is surprisingly not stopping to sniff [and mark] every bush along the trail. We're flying through the gorgeous, green singletrack and I'm having a blast.


The whole course is MUDDY but I'd say that the second half of the loop is "worse". We're talking about ankle-deep, shoe-eating mud....Sections of the course are basically running streams with slick rock underneath.

I notice that Yoshi is starting to get tired around mile 7....He's starting to fall behind me rather than lead. Our place slows quite a bit. He's bumping into the back of my legs on the narrow trail, which is causing me to trip. I quickly realize that he's not going to make it through another loop...At least not at a speed conducive for making the final loop cut-off.  One thing that I know about my dog is that when he's done, he's done.... He will literally stop and lay down, refusing to move.... I cannot risk that happening in the middle of a race. At the end of the first loop, I get him situated in the car - food, water, bone and bedding.... We're about 2 hrs 42 min in.....

Loop 2

I'm eager to make up for lost time.....I just focus on moving as quick as I can through the climbs and mud. I bumped into Jeff (and Taco) around mile 14.

My Taco loves his Mama
I walk with them for a minute or two before charging forward. A couple miles later, I make the realization (thanks to some major cramping) that I have not been diligent enough about drinking my Tailwind mixture. I was so fixated upon Yoshi during the first loop, I barely drank anything.  I want to catch up but I cannot overload my stomach with calories....what a predicament! I start taking long sips every 1/2 mile...I'm hitting a mental and physical low.... I'm having some ankle pain when trespassing over the rockier sections.... Many runners are struggling around me, talking about dropping.... It's hard not to feed off that negative energy. And then the weather makes good on its promise of rain..... Thankfully, I love the rain but I'm covered in sweat.... I know I'll need to throw on another layer which means stopping by the car AGAIN....I'm feeling much better by the time that I hit the sweet road descent into the start / finish area where laps begin / end. I detour by the van, spending more time than I should comforting my dog. After I put on my sweater, I rush to the aid station... I'm burdened with the news that they have ran out of Coke. Oh well. I grab a brownie from my drop bag then continue onto my final loop [this was the only FOOD that I consumed throughout the race].
Loop Three 

A time comes in every ultra where mental faculties are diminished and you're running on auto-pilot.... You're placing one foot in front of another, struggling to stream together coherent thoughts beyond, "MUST GET DONE" "BEER" "FOOD".... One step. Another step. Repeat. With each climb or difficult section completed, I feel a little more relief.... That's the last time that I'll have to do that! The freaking hardest part about the final loop is that you're not FINISHED upon completion...You still have another short one mile loop....This will be the longest mile of your life....

I was ecstatic to be done. I was even more stoked at the idea of eating a feast of deep fried Chinese food. This race was a toughie.... it wasn't that I found the race particularly challenging.... I just couldn't seem to move forward with the speed that I know that I'm capable of.  Nutritionally, I FAILED.....Altogether, I MAYBE consumed 500 calories.... For seven hours of running, that is absolutely ridiculous. Only 26 people finished the 50k....Even though I had an ugly day, I accomplished what I came to do.

I want to note that I wore my Nike Terra Kigers..... I cannot tell you how many times that my feet were completely submerged in mud and/or water..... Not a single freaking blister.  I wore the same pair for Orcas....only ONE small blister.  A freaking miracle!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Orcas Island 50k

No time to fall into a groove.
Up. Up. Up.
A chorus of heavy breathing. 
Heart thumping in my ears, drowning out my tunes.
Immediate acceptance... it's going to be one long ass day.
Up. Up. Up.

Data Via Garmin

Mile 1 - 6

The Orcas Island 50k begins with a hillacious bang....three miles of road climbing up a mountain. The incline is runnable (for the most part) but there's a whole lotta race left.... It's a delight when we turn into the forest....Glorious singletrack awaits and we're finally chuggin' along....And even better, we start heading down, down, down.... As the terrain becomes more technical, I allow the much braver to pass. Cautiously, I descend into the first aid station an hour before cutoff. 

Mile 6 - 14

For about 3 miles, the course SEEMS flat.... I'm just having a blast .... Western Washington has incredible trails. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I'm finally doing this again. Time flies and I'm climbing again.... up, up, up ..... but then descending down, down, down .... I'm entangled in a game of leapfrog with several others. The climbs are steep enough that calves begin to rebel but I'm still feeling strong. I notice that others are beginning to struggle but I have to remain hyper-focused...I offer words of encouragement but continue pushing, never stopping. At the second aid station, I chug down a cup of soda and quickly march forward. Knowing that I'll be seeing my husband soon offers a huge morale boost.

Mile 14 - 20

I remember very little about this stretch. Constant up and down....calves and quads.... what muscle group will implode first?!? I began to run along with a couple which proved a nice distraction. Even being socially awkward, I feel instantly bonded with the strangers that I share race miles with.... We're on an amazing adventure together.... It's hard to understand, I'll admit.

Seeing my husband waiting at the aid station is wonderful....We don't have to say much or anything....It's just everything knowing he's there. I'm so grateful for his reminder that the BIG climb is coming [not].  He helps me refill the hydration pack and another cup o' soda goes down the hatch. I'm only ahead of the cutoff by 40 minutes, I have to get going.... A smooch later and I'm out....

Mile 20 - 25

What a ROUGH stretch! This race is known for a 2 mile, 2000' vertical climb entitled 'The Powerline'.... It's a calve killer..... And it comes at a point where your calves already hate you. I was hiking / cursing the universe  with five others. I'm REALLY grateful that I didn't have to trespass this section alone. I only had to stop for a couple breathers - more to mentally recharge than anything. An hour and a couple false summits later, I was overjoyed to be running again.... But not for long! Three miles later, the time came to conquer the final major climb.... One mile UP, UP, UP.  Bending slightly over, hands on knees....I charged forward.... UP, UP, UP.... I began passing people.... UP, UP, UP.... Don't stop, just move. At the final aid station, I wanted to take a couple moments before tackling the five mile downhill stretch to the finish. I emptied my pack of anything I didn't need and scarfed down some Doritos.  I could now relax knowing that I would finish ahead of the final cutoff, even if I had to walk the whole way.


Less than a mile into the final stretch, I came upon the race photographer - the famous Glenn Tachiyama.... Of course, he was perched atop a slight incline that I had been walking... I laughed and said, "OK, OK.... I'll pretend I am running!"

I was smiling the entire way to the finish.... The miles came relatively easy and I knew that beer was waiting. Nothing like the pull of a cold one! Unfortunately, I do not have a glorious shot of me finishing because Jeff was hunkered down in the car with a sick Colton (migraine).

After the race, we headed straight for the ferry terminal and began our journey home. I am so pleased with how this race went. There wasn't a single moment where I even thought about quitting. No stomach issues. No hideous lows.  Just 8 hours of immense gratitude and joy.

Fuel: A mixture of 2/3 Raspberry Tailwind and 1/3 Lemonade Powder (About 500 - 600 calories)
         Snickers PB Square (100 calories)
         (3) 6 ounce cups of Coke (Maybe 200 calories)

Pre-Race: 1/2 Chocolate Muffin, 1/2 Blueberry Muffin....Each side smothered in almond butter

Post-Race: Ham + Cheese Lunchable (not joking)....1/2 Peanut Thai Burrito (purchased at ferry terminal)... Chocolate Milk


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Season Opener

My season opener is this weekend.... Orcas Island 50k!

This promises to be one burly beast of a race. One major climb alone boasts over 2000' of torture occurring over two vertical miles. And takes place after you've got 20+ miles on the legs. Initially, I was super stoked for this adventure....but now.... I'm REALLY nervous. I was sidelined for almost a month with a severe upper respiratory infection. During a time where I should have been in peak training (for this race), the only thing I was running was a fever. I'm just now beginning to feel normal. I haven't ran anything notable since October. A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to run a primer 50k.... but yeah, when you can barely bang out three miles....My current level of fitness has left me with one goal for finish!
Last week was a rather tame training week.... 48 miles, 2.5 hours of yoga, 1 hour on the bike... I'm not doing a drastic taper for Orcas BUT I want to arrive relatively fresh with no lingering aches / pains. The highlight of the week was a snowy hike with my bearded better half.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bunched Panties

The recounting of how I structure heavier training days during the week was not well received within my local running group....

Immediately upon sharing my post, which was intended to merely provide insight into how one might utilize doubles in order to build a foundation for running ultras, I was accused of being too fixated on mileage and neglecting critical components of ultra training such as terrain + elevation.

I want to be clear. Train for the race that you'll be running. But in my opinion, you don't have to skip a run just because you cannot mimic goal race conditions... for instance, run on technical trails or conquer hill repeats. During the week, it's not feasible to hit the trails.... I just don't have large enough blocks of time or a trail close enough to my doorstep. And I'm sure many are in the same boat....and that's OK. I'm still going to bang out the twelve miles on my plan....And I whole-heartedly believe those miles count....I believe all miles count.....Walking, hiking, running, crawling.....You'll probably be doing a little bit of everything in an ultra.

I would not suggest jumping immediately into doubling 5x's / week..... Nor would I suggest that you should do something just because it works for someone else. There is A LOT of science to back-up how beneficial running doubles can be.

1.) Increases endurance.... I've noticed a HUGE increase in my own..... Running will become so routine that it will start feeling easier and easier. With that, I noticed that I became more efficient (faster pace) even without formal speedwork.

2.)Can be easier on the body.... Because you have a recovery period between runs, there's less wear on the body for the same amount of distance. What makes this even more awesome is the fact that it's been discovered the physiological benefit is the same....Meaning 5 miles twice = 10 miles once.... Your body reaps the same positive training adaptations. Score!

3.)Increased metabolism.....Your body continues to burn calories after your first run AND second run. You will be a lean, mean machine much faster..... Or you just have a larger treat allowance (YES).

4.) You'll be a mental beast..... Doubles can be tough.... It's not all daisies and unicorns. I've skipped second runs in lieu of happy hour more times than I can count. But all those times that I toughed out a run when I just wanted to dive into cheese fries and suck down cheap beer.... those are the runs that really count.... even if you scramble along at a pace that's laughable.... even if "seasoned runners" tell you that the miles are junk.... I'm telling you right now those runs that you hate but endure will help you get through the final miles of an ultra.

Listen, DO YOU. Do what works best for you.

For me, I utilize doubles in order to reach the mileage laid out in my training plan without sacrificing ridiculous amounts of personal time or having to wake up at an ungodly hour. Admittedly, it's rare to touch dirt throughout the week aside from a flat trail that exists 1/2 mile from my office. However, I'm notorious for seeking out brutal road routes with an abundance of hills. Generally, I alternate "higher" mileage days (10+) with lower (< 8).  On lower days, I will stick with one run versus two UNLESS I have a yoga class on tap. On the weekends, I am in the mountains every chance that I get. Even if I'm not running, I'm hiking with the family. Again, ALL MILES COUNT. Ideally, I am running one longer run + one recovery run on the weekend. Once Spring starts, races will replace long training runs. You don't have to run 100 miles / week but it's necessary to build a foundation that will enable one to FINISH an ultra..... Only an elite few can squeak out 20 mile / weeks and still run 100 milers. I'm hovering comfortably in the 50 - 60 mile range.... I imagine that will become 70 - 80 with peak training. I'm an advocate for cross-training.... I'm an avid cyclist in the summer so in the winter, I spend significant time on the bike trainer to keep in shape. Additionally, I've been practicing yoga 2 - 4 hours / week. I don't drive so I walk or bike EVERYWHERE.... Thankfully, I live in a rural town where nothing I need is further than a 1.5 mile jaunt away.

And there you have it.

Take what you want. Leave what you don't.

Now for the best piece of advice that I'll ever give you....

Don't forget to pack that cheap beer to celebrate your summits.