While doing all this trail running, distance training, and other crazy stuff, sometimes we might forget simple pleasures. Like – why we choose trails, what they mean to us. Well, not quite forget, but not appreciate the sense of novelty (I don’t know, I think I am mumbling, because I never lose that sense…but bear with me for a moment, please).
Since the precious Sierra Nevada week, we are back in Austin, and I am using this week as my “sharp-n-go” only training week before the next 100. With much work and other obligations, as well as fitting weights workouts and intervals/hill repeats on roads, track or treadmill, my recovery runs were done on the roads during a week as well. Heck, I even had to run to work on Saturday as part of my weekend run! But on Saturday night it was about to flip a switch…
I work with this gal, Eman. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology, she is divorced and a single mom to a 7 year old boy, and – she is from Egypt. With the whole 9 yards of Muslim culture, religion and clothing. And she runs. She started running to help her deal with the divorce, then I joined the lab – and she finished a 5k, then got challenged to sign up for a 10k, which she did and finished as well. Now, she never saw a picture of my trail runs, although she heard a number of my blubbering of how wonderful mountains and trails are. So, she is planning to do a 10k on trails. And I promised to take her on a trail run for the introduction…but you know how it is. Life is always on the way.
Saturday night we met at the trailhead. I – in a sportsbra and a running skirt. She – wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirt (my SD100 one) and a head scarf. Off we went…and from the first step, to the very last one, she never stopped saying “wow”. It was all I needed to make my day, heck, my week memorable! This is why we do it! To share it with others! She may had some troubles climbing the “goat hill” on the rope and grabbing the roots, she may had to walk every hill and was slipping on the “snot rocks”, but she took on the challenge wading across 4 creeks, she skipped and danced over the rocks and roots, inhaled all the ridge views the loop had to offer, and just was so generously happy, I couldn’t stop smiling. Yep, these are my trails. Yep, this is WHY we do what we do. And boy, not only I am thrilled she liked it, I am certain she is a future trail runner! Expand your horizon. Your next running body may be closer than you think, and more different than you ever imagined.
Besides that 10k road race in April, she never ran more than 3.5M. The loop I took her to was 5.5M with 1,500 feet of gain. It was hot, although after 7:30pm the sun set down and it was rather pleasant by Texas standards. Her cheeks got red, she carried one water bottle (a gift from your truly), and she walked quite a bit after descending to “lower flats”. But she was still smiling. And hollering. I always wondered why in Austin runners don’t yell out like they did in Portland. She did. She was real. I wish I had my camera. My pacer’s instincts kicked in. I kept talking. “Run 50 yards, we’ll walk after the turn. 1.5M left. This quarter mile we should move, and then we hit a small incline on slick rock and walk. Hike with a purpose. You are doing it all by yourself”. I laughed when realized what I was doing. Guess I missed it, huh? Oh, may be, that’s why I am a good pacer? But we made it – in 1:20 all. Much faster than I anticipated. Exactly how long it takes a local Sunday group, or Tuesday group, or Wednesday group to make through 5 miles. She is a trooper. And a trail runner at heart…
Next week I will slow down on miles, but will throw in a couple on interval workouts – and a couple of weights/plyo sessions. But I want to “chill off” a bit more than before SD100. May be I need smarter recovery. Today’s longish outing was quite miserable. I accepted it as it was and just went with the flow. Some days are just like that. I had a solid week and nothing to complain about. I’ll take one not-so-stellar run.
I was thinking about Tahoe 100. This is a 100 miler above 8,000 feet. With my luck, this year it also added 3,700 feet of climb to the existing 19,300, to make it a round number of 23,000 feet of climb. I wasn’t aware of it when booked the ticket, and with my non-existent vacation at this job have a flight at 4pm Sunday night. What means I better finish before noon. What gives me 30 hrs (plus an hour to shower and such). I don’t know, man, it is not my “goal race”, and I am getting nervous. It’s a 2-looper, and I am hoping to get through first 50 in 13 hrs, and then have 16:30 for the second half. I am a bit stressing out right now…but trying to learn to get to a good head-space from all the WS100 blog-recaps, from folks who’s races might have not gone as planned, but they managed their mental energy and adjusted wisely. It’s going to be alright, right? I am banking on it!