Salem Lake (before the leaves fell)... my weekend trail scene
It's been four weeks since the Mountain Masochist and I feel like I'm still somewhat in recovery/re-charging mode. I took 9 of the first 11 days off from running post MMTR and even a couple of days last week. I haven't seemed to recover as quickly as I did from my first 50 mile effort over the summer (of course that trail race wasn't called "Masochist".) My legs have just generally felt tired over the last few weeks. Not really stiff or sore but just tired. So I guess I needed this break. I've had a dull ache in my left hamstring/buttocks which was a lingering injury I had prior to transitioning from marathons to ultras... so that's a concern and I'm in no huge hurry to get into serious training once again. I think I've only done a few double digit runs. Did a nice paced 17 miler a week ago with my friend Chuck who is running the Kiawah Island Marathon this weekend, and a 14 mile run with him this past weekend at 7:59/mi. Also even threw in a 6:40 mile during one of my runs to just be sure I could still run fast. It's been a LONG time since I've run anything fast.
To back track a little, when I returned home from the Masochist my wife mentioned to me that I wasn't as excited as she thought I would be after finishing a mountainous ultra. And she was right.... it was a great experience, loved the race, the course, the friends, the atmosphere BUT I really felt like I should have/could have run faster (although this slow recovery makes me wonder if I ran better on race day then I'm admitting.) I realize that I'm still learning how to train for and race ultras (particularly mountain races)and I hope to soon get it figured out and RACE to my full potential. I think it all hit home when I read one of the many race reports in the blog world. I was reading one of the reports from a guy that finished in 8th place. I was reading his blog thinking 'wow, this guy finished 8th, he's a really good runner', well he finished in 8:02, damn good time. It was when I got to his last paragraph and he said I've had a really good year, finished top ten in several ultras, and set my PR in the marathon this year at Boston, 3:04. And his goal next year is to take 5 minutes off his marathon time to get under 3 hours. WHAT? My last marathon was at Boston and I ran a 2:59..... soooo I can beat him by 5 minutes in a marathon(on the same course) and he whipped me by 1 hour 54 minutes at MMTR? Whoa..... from the time I was a kid, the longer the race, the better I did. So I mean no disrespect to anyone but something seems odd about this. Now.... for a time I got really down about it but after some time to reflect I've begun to think if I ever get this thing figured out maybe I can be pretty good at this.
To back track even further.... I began running when I was a young teen in the early 70's. It was evident early on that the longer the race the better I performed. I remember after my first cross country season the xc team ran in one of the first road races in the area (it was so long ago that we all wondered why they would have a race that was 6.2 miles long.... haha no one had ever heard of a 10k before) and I began passing all the high school kids that beat me in cross country races. The pattern of the longer I race the better I do has continued up until my MMTR results. Now I do have to admit that after running long races, including marathons as a teenager.... I also had a break of 24 years with no running at all and just began running again in December of '07. So... I've come a long way in just 3 years of running in my "second running life." Hard to believe I'm talking about racing 50's and not just talking about finishing them.
I look forward to getting back to some serious training after my extended break and prepare for the Umstead 100 in April. I will likely do some 50k's early in the year. Probably won't make it to the Frozen Sasquatch but instead will run the Frosty 50, a 50k on the same date at Salem Lake (my home course).... I guess I rambled on a bit with my frustrations, but I know I will get this figured out and perform like I know I capable of. Stay tuned....