Thursday, September 8, 2011

Running and Camping, what a mix!

It's been a while!  

After I finished my last blog, I started working on finishing my book and, well, suffice to say that editing is no where near as fun as writing the damn thing so I have been at a bit of a standstill with my writing.  Plus, I haven't had any races this summer and I have done a lot of training in groups, which is fun but does not inspire a whole lot of exciting prose from this brain!

That changed last weekend - I decided to do a training weekend at the marathon course I will be running on 10/9/11.  I have run this course "The Mystery Mountain Marathon" 3 times, the first time as the 12 mile option and 2 more times as the full marathon.  All 3 times have inspired chapters in my book, mostly because of the difficulty and beauty of this course and what finishing this thing brings out of my physically, emotionally and spiritually!   The RD (Race Director or, as she likes to be called: MFO: "Most Wonderful One") set up a training weekend where you basically did the "easy" first 12 miles on Saturday, camped out and then did the "not so easy" 16 miles Sunday (I know, this adds up to more than 26.2 miles but that is the way us Ultra people roll).  

I headed up Saturday around lunchtime as the run started at 2pm.  Yes, 2pm in August and we would be running about 3 hours.  Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this - luckily we were blessed as Hurricane Irene brought in some cooler temps and lower humidity so even though it was 92degrees, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.  We really took it easy and it still beat me down pretty badly, I am just NOT a heat runner.  We finished in just under 3 hours which may sound really slow, well, it was really slow, however, this course has 15,000 feet of elevation change over 26 (28?) miles - basically we go up and down a 2600 foot mountain 6 times!  Not for the faint of heart, especially the downhills!  

After we were done we set up camp, had an "adult beverage" or 2 and headed into the local town for Mexican food (I know, what kind of camping trip is this?) - it was really fun and great to break bread with 15 others who completely understand why I do this stuff - I think the coolest part of the evening was my buddy that I brought with me noting that he had "never seen such a happy group of people, you are all high on endorphins 24/7" .....which is so true.

After dinner we had a nice fire, made "smores", had a few more "adult beverages" and hit the sack around 10pm.  I did not sleep well at all, not sure why, and ended up waking up at 6am after about 2 hours sleep wondering how the heck I was going to complete 4 hours of running on the hardest section of the course!  Also, this section has a 3.5-4mile uphill section (that falls from mile 18-22 in the marathon) that has kicked my butt in previous years so I really wanted to "show it who was boss" this day, mostly to build confidence for the race.

Long story short, somehow I had one of the best runs I have had in months.  I felt strong all day, finished 16 miles in 3:45 and could have kept running!  I am convinced it had to do with the awesome high fat meal I had the night before:  chicken, avocado, onions and something called "Mexican Sausage" - I know, this was a risk but call me a wild man, I like to live on the edge! Met some great people, learned how to rely on others for directions, learned that ultra runners make great after race treats (one guy brought homemade cannoli's, are you kidding me?), learned (once again) that I enjoy training with others but I really LOVE the solitude of training on my own and having my own schedule, agenda, pacing, etc.  Next year I will go up Friday night and camp out solo - do the run early Saturday AM and really relax on Saturday instead of rushing around like we did this time.

To end on a scary and then good note, when we were heading back to camp to break down our site, a family that camped with us was heading out and said they had just chased a baby bear OUT OF THEIR TENT!  Could have been a bad scene if momma was around but all ended well.  

Ate about 2000 calories on the way home and my quads were sore for a week, can't wait to do it again!

Till next time, 

God Bless you all,