Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Hellgate experiment

     I might be on a roll with another blog so soon after my last one. Don't get used to it though! I just have some time, since I'm tapering for my marathon. Do people actually taper for marathons? I feel sort of silly actually, since the race is "short" for me. On the flip side, I don't want all those horrible track workouts, tempo runs and painful long runs to be for nought. I want to be fresh, and have a positive first marathon race experience. I guess I'll find out in a few days. I'm actually excited! It will be done quickly relatively-speaking (oh, please let it be over quickly), and I can still be home at a reasonable time. I'm hoping to run smart, negative split, and complete the Strava challenge for a free pair of shoes. Good motivation if nothing else. I'll just be glad when this taper week is over. It's probably been the worst and most stressful taper week I've ever had, culminating in either dislocating or breaking my pinky toe last night...two days before the race...Sigh! At least now I'm much less worried about the little niggles and leg fatigue that always spring up at the last minute. If I can just walk without pain come race day, I'll be happy!

     This isn't about the marathon though. That is more about just getting me out of my comfort zone, and hopefully making me a little faster. After my last post, my husband and I talked a lot about training and racing, particularly ultra racing. It just isn't realistic right now for me to go train in the mountains every weekend for hours. The closest mountains to me are about and hour and fifteen minutes one way. Adding the extra 3-4 hours just for driving makes for some early mornings, and too much time away from home. So what are my options? 1.) Don't run trail ultras anymore 2.) Run them without training and suffer big time, or 3.) Get creative and train with what I have. Since I've done #2 before, which was incredibly painful and not even remotely fun at Masochist 2010, I think, I choose option #3.

     So, what is the best way to try this fun experiment? Why not sign up for a brutally hard 100K in about a month?! Enter the Hellgate 100K. For those of you not familiar with this race, it's a trail 100K that starts at midnight, over technical hills covered in leaves with long climbs and descents that will slowly make you wish you were anywhere else. Here is just about the best write-up you will ever find on the race written by Aaron Schwartzbard . It's a badge of honor for anyone who finishes this beast; and it's a race that I love to hate. There isn't really enough time to get my mountain legs back after my race on Saturday, but I'll have about 3 weeks of training before I need to taper again. I know I can cover the 100K distance, but my climbing and descending legs need some help. I haven't run in the mountains since July, and I don't want to experience the death shuffle from destroyed quads. Since I won't be going out to the mountains to train, I'm getting creative. I bought a weighted vest last week to use for my treadmill hikes and backwards treadmill walking (thanks for the idea, Maggie Guterl!). Hopefully that will add some stress to the workout. I'll also add in some hill repeats here in town. We have one hill that is maybe a third of a mile long. Not necessarily Hellgate hills, but I'm going to run the ups hard and the downs hard, and repeat about a million times. I'll also do some stadium workouts, plyometrics, and anything else I can think of to "cram" my body into whatever kind of shape I can in 3-4 weeks.

     I would not necessarily recommend that anyone "cram" training in for a race; however, I've been running ultras now for almost 17 years. I have about 3,000 miles on my legs this year alone. I know when to back off and rest (not that I always follow my own advice). I'm going to hope that muscle memory and my road legs will get me through a lot of it, and the few weeks of climbing will help me survive the rest. At the end of the day, I am looking forward to spending an entire day (and night) to enjoy God's creation with my friends. I'm grateful that my body can still do this crazy sport. It won't be a PR, but I'm ok with that. I am giddy at the thought of being on my beloved trails again. Hellgate, here I come!

     And finally, I've had the chance to try a new bar that I am excited to test out at Hellgate. The company was gracious enough to send me some samples to try. So far, I like them a lot, and I will give them a go during the race. I love that they only use real ingredients, all of which are actual food items, with nothing that I can't pronounce or understand. Check them out if you are looking for something new to try.