Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jed Smith Ultra Goals

It's not so much that my goals are ultra-sized, just that the race is.
I'm heading into "Ultra Season," starting this weekend with the first of three planned ultras in the next three months, including a 50K, a 50-miler and a 100K.  *gulp*  Okay, I guess my goals are pretty ultra-sized, after all.
This Saturday is the Jed Smith Ultra Classic and I'm running the 50K.  I ran this exact race last year, and since I came across the Finish Line looking like this:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I really enjoyed this race.
I totally wish I had blogged about the race, though, because honestly, my memory of that day is that it sucked.  It was soooooooo much harder than I had anticipated.  You know how you go into your first 50K thinking, "Oh, it's just five more miles than a marathon, how hard can it be?" and then it's a bajillion times harder than a marathon?  Yes.
I remember being underfueled and utterly miserable on the final loop (the course is SUPER spectator-friendly:  six times around a nearly 5-mile loop, plus a little out-and-back at the start to get to the proper distance).  Yet, my finishing pace was a currently-unimaginable 10:05.  How the F did I run that fast only a year ago?  I have no idea.
Under my current training regime of "Run Slow to Run Slower," it's safe to say that this year is not going to be a PR effort, and I am surprisingly okay with that.  Here are my (mostly realistic) goals for Saturday:

  • Don't drown.  This always makes the list, particularly for races that are within, say, 20 miles of a body of water.  The Jed Smith crosses over the American River a whopping 12 times, so...yeah.  Don't drown.
  • Fuel and hydrate properly!  I don't think I need to clarify this, but I will.  I suck at drinking enough during races, so this year I'm employing my trusty GymBoss to remind me to eat and drink consistently.
  • Finish strong.  I think this is the goal I am most interested in meeting.  Last year's final loop felt like such a death march, so I'd really like to not feel that way this year.  Of course, that will depend on meeting both of the above goals.
  • Finish under 6 hours, or - if I'm having an amazing day - under 5:30.  Last year's time was 5:15, which isn't going to happen again in this lifetime, but I really think I can eke out a sub-six.  And if I've met all of the goals above, a five-and-a-half finish shouldn't be too far out of reach.  We'll see.
UltraIronHubs will be running the 30K, which starts an hour after my race, so I do have one little ancillary goal:  Don't get lapped by UIH.  Math is totally not my strong suit, so I'm honestly not sure if this is a goal I can meet.  Help me out here:  If a train (me) leaves the station, does a 1-ish mile out-and-back, then travels around a 4.86-mile loop travelling at a 10:30 pace, and another train (UIH) leaves the same station and hour later, does a 3-ish out-and-back, and then travels the 4.86-mile loop at a 7:30 pace, where will the two trains meet??
I feel certain that he'll come up behind me and leave me in his dust at SOME point, but I don't think he will actually lap me.  I hope.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Recovery Week

Ordinarily, I'm no great fan of recovery week.  In fact, I generally spend the week bitching and moaning about how much I hate recovery, how much it sucks to cut back on mileage, why it's lame to run an easy pace all week, wah, wah, wah-itty wah.  You know, missing the entire point of the mental side of recovery.  But not this week.  This week was freakin' glorious and I enjoyed every single recovery second of it.
Flashback to last Sunday morning, when I had 18 miles on the plan and I was lying prone on my living room floor, already dressed in running clothes and whining about how there was no way in the world I could possibly run 18 miles.  My legs were tired and my head was overwhelmed.  I was teetering on the brink of overtraining.  I pulled myself together long enough to force my body outside, bargaining in my head about how many miles I had to go before I could pull the plug.  I thought I could probably slog through ten miles.  I would stay close to home so I could walk it in any time I needed to.
The sky was as grey and foggy as my thoughts when I set out, but cleared into a beautiful sunny day within an hour or so.  I finished the whole 18 miles, but only because I spent most of the run planning and looking forward to my upcoming cutback week.
My plan was simple:  run no more than five miles each day and keep my pace as slow as I could bear to run.  You might be surprised at how easy this was to execute.  By Thursday, my legs felt free and loose.  My mind relaxed and I just sank into each run like a comfy pillow, not caring if I was running slow or really, really slow (those were pretty much my only speed choices).
I've been running a lot of miles lately, gearing up for a trio of ultras this spring and I'm realizing that embracing recovery week is going to be hugely important to my success.  I'm pushing my body pretty hard (not fast, of course, just hard), running six days a week and hitting double digits at least twice and sometimes three times a week.  I took my sweet-ass time building up to this volume, so I'm confident that my body had time to adapt to this running schedule, but my brain is definitely taking a little more time to catch up.
Good news, it only seems to be about a week behind:  This morning, getting ready to run ten miles, I felt giddy and excited about running.  The trails were calling my name and I was eager to go.  I felt - for the first time in what feels like a long time - refreshed.  I would have happily run twice as far, but I'll save that for next week.

How do you feel about recovery weeks - love 'em, hate 'em, can't live without 'em?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pull-Ups are Really Hard

And in other breaking news, scientists have recently discovered that water is wet.
I don't know why I thought it would be easy to learn how to do pull-ups.  The fact is, I've never done a single one in my entire life.  Last year, after UltraIronHubs gave me the indoor pull-up bar and assistance band for Christmas, I tried for a few weeks to work on it, but really wasn't very consistent.  I got a little better, but, you know... they were HARD.  So that petered out.  Every month or so I would hop up and do a few, maybe five or ten, but they were HARD.  Which is why it really, really shouldn't surprise me that I'm struggling with them again this year.  I don't know, I thought maybe all the weights I've lifted this year would have translated into some sort of pulling strength, but whaddya know?  In order to do a pull-up, apparently you have to actually practice pulling up.  (Seriously, this whole post is like a great big "DUH!")
So, here's my year of progress so far:
Day One - Inverted Rows on my outdoor parallel bars.  These were tough, but I managed a few of them.  Actually, I managed quite a few with my feet on the ground, but only a handful with my feet elevated like this.

Day two.  Yes, you can see on my face just how much I am enjoying these!
I had to REST on day three because my back muscles were screaming at me, but I did some jumping pull-ups on day four.  These were fun!

I hopped up on the assistance band for day five.  The band didn't offer me enough assistance to do more than about six of these bad boys.

And that brings us to today.  More inverted rows, more grimacing.
Just for your enjoyment, here's a video of me falling ass-over-teakettle while attempting a handstand outside:
Note to self:  don't do handstands outside.
Can you do a pull-up??  Have you even tried one as an adult??

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Start of Something New

I did not stay up until midnight last night.  In fact, I barely made it past 8 pm and that's already pretty late for me.  (I get up in the 3 am range most days and I love me my sleep, so I'm usually headed for bed when other people are still eating dinner.  Ha!)
It occurred to me this morning, while scrolling through everybody else's NYE posts on Instagram that I don't place a lot of importance on how I finish the old year.  I didn't count up miles logged or races run or pounds lost or what have you, but damn I am looking forward to the miles I'm gonna log in 2014 and races I'm going to run and the pounds I plan on helping my clients lose!  If you're interested, here are my goals for the coming year in no particular order:

  • Actually log miles run.  To be honest, I wanted to add up my 2013 mileage, but good ol' Windows 8.1 pretty much wiped my computer clean when it updated in October.  For the life of me, I can't imagine the person who thought it would be a good idea to fuck up all my programs and call it an "upgrade," but there you go.  My old Garmin files are still on the hard drive, but I can't figure out how to open them and add up all the miles.  So this year, I'm going to set up an Excel spreadsheet and log them manually.  Not quite the "old fashioned" way of pencil and paper, but not exactly as convenient as clicking the "My Activities" folder and looking at the total.
  • Finish what I start.  2013 was apparently the year of the DNF for me - two of them!  WTF?  So that won't happen in 2014.
  • Run more ultras.  I have three on the calendar already:  a 50K in February, a 50-miler in April and a 100K in May.  I'm so flipping excited about these races, you have no idea!  After this year's awful CIM (about which I did not blog, but see the above bullet point for how it went.  Boooo!), I realized that my heart really isn't in road racing anymore.  I just don't have the stomach - literally - for the hype and nerves that go along with big races, so I'm going to stick with my low-key trail races and just enjoy running this year without trying to beat a clock.
  • Get stronger - specifically, learn to do a pull-up, work on inversions and add weight to my squats.  I just finished an eye-opening 30 day challenge on IG where I got inverted every day in the month of December.  Generally speaking, I don't participate in those month-long challenges because I can already hold a plank for more than a minute and do 100 push-ups and 100 squats.  But holy moly, getting into a handstand or a headstand every day??  Scary!!  And yet awesome at the same time.  So I'm issuing my own challenge to myself this year, starting with the pull-up one.  I'm guessing it's going to take me more than a month to be able to get my chin over the bar unassisted.  We'll see.  As a little corollary goal, I intend to post about my progress here and on IG regularly.
  • The usual - drink more water, be nicer, etc.  Do I even need to write these down?  I'm pretty sure those have been on my goal list since 1998.
Happy New Year to us all!!  What are your goals this year??