Monday, December 6, 2010

Recovery, Rest and (Staying Positive?)

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....


  1. hey rob,

    I just think it take a little while to figure everything out as far was running in the mountains, your fueling needs for a 50 miler etc. that being said, MMTR is a TOUGH, TOUGH race. It's not that technical ( only a couple sections of single track) but I just think the race as a whole.. all the climbing all the steep downhill sections etc.. it makes for a tough day. not much level ground at all it seems!
    There is no doubt in my mind once you figure it out what works best for you, you WILL BE RACING 50's. :o) yay!!

    You'll be wide open at frosty 50k because it's very much like annette's 50k ( new river 50k) so it's flat and fast! I see a 50k pr in your future! :o)

  2. Thanks Jenn. I knew my ultra friends in VA and TN would help get me back on track. I spoke on the phone with Rick on his way to the Bent Creek Gobbler and just venting a bit about MMTR got me feeling better. Thanks for your input. I think I have a sub 4 hour 50k in me but might be a stretch by early January. (my PR is 3:58 in 1978! HAH)

  3. We have many similarities in our running life. We are about the same age and I started running in 1972, but for the most part, I have been running that whole time. My competitive days are over other than running hard for myself and paying attention to those people I normally run around. I have been at this ultra/trail thing for nearly nine years and have no desire to go back to my road days where everything is based upon a finishing time. My goals have changed into enjoying my running, but at the same time running many ultras each year and doing my best in them. You will have ultras that you felt you raced and there will be others where you just were happy to talk with other runners and enjoy the run. That is ok. I have found that there is a big difference between a 50k and a 50 miler. Marathoners can do well in a 50k, but the learning curve of stepping up to the 50 mile is great. If it is your desire to really race a 50 miler, then you will learn what you need to do. Masochist is a tricky course. It is deceiving. It eats you up and spits you out. It destroys your quads so that you can't run down a hill and walking is tough. I wish you well at Salem Lake, but I will miss you at Sasquatch. Salem Lake is a fast course. My 50k PR is there so go take a stab at breaking that four hour mark! It is within your reach.

  4. Thanks for your comments Rick. It's hard for me to believe I was away from running for 2+ decades. BUT I had an injury that I just couldn't solve and after years of doctors and frustrations I walked away from it. Ended up playing in a blues band in Baton Rouge for a bit and replaced my passion for running to music. SO glad I walked out my door on 12/1/07 and decided I was going to run again. You know the story.... running a little more every day, hmmm I'll do a loop at Salem Lake, hmmm maybe I can run a marathon again, hmmm maybe qualify for Boston, hmmmm run an ultra, hmmm now on to a 100 mi adventure. Keep me posted on races and training runs. I'll make the drive to run with friends in beautiful places.

  5. I think you were just holding back because you were unsure of what covering that distance would be like and it does seem to take more out of you than you realize. I did a 9 mile run the saturday after masochist then rick and I did a 25 mile run the next weekend which was fine. I was still a bit tired and muscles were tight then we went to the gobbler and it did not go as well as I had hoped at all so I haven't done anything since then hoping less is more. its hard to figure these things out and like jenny said it just takes a while to figure it all out. heck even when we think we have it figured out we don't know what to do :) some days you feel awesome and everything comes together and then others its just a struggle to cross the finish line. the bad days really make you appreciate the good ones. frosty 50 is a fast one, if you are feeling good that day you will be pleased with your time. it is my fastest 50k by far, but look at the course compaired to most that we run and you can see why. don't worry about the fast times, they will come naturally. just get out there and run and enjoy!

  6. after time to reflect, i do think i held back too much. it was just hard for me to gasp running "fast/hard" during the portions that you can do that. masochist lessons! and thanks Beth for the reminder that i'm in this to enjoy...

    Best of luck to you at Hellgate. Maybe this super cold weather will have passed by 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.