Monday, September 16, 2013

Fake cops and Floods

Pain can be a good sign and pain can be a bad sign. As you increase your mileage, your body goes through a variety of aches that usually mean that you are improving and building. But as you begin to reach your limit you start experiencing the bad kind of pain. It's hard to explain how to tell the difference, but I think that your body gets to a point towards the end of a season where it just tells you that you are done. Of course, you can continue to push it, but it won't be fun.

Well I guess I'm in that place right now. It's been a downward progression since the 50k in August where every training run feels like work. Mentally and physcially I just feel like it's time to be done for 2013. Even during the half marathon my body just felt tired. I guess I'm just trying to maintain my fitness without getting hurt. I'm trying oh-so-hard to stretch it out until the beginning of October for my last race of the season, the Blue Sky Marathon.

Since I last wrote we've had a few adventures. Two weekends ago we went to Leadville so that Cory could put in some training miles with the guy who's going to pace him for UROC. We wanted to see what the hardest part of the 100-mile course was like so we planned to do Twin Lakes to Winfield and back. From Twin Lakes you ascend 3,500 feet over Hope Pass in about 5 miles. Then you descend about 2,500 in 2 miles and have a few more miles out to the turn-around. Then you get to come back.

Happy puppy on the way to Leadville

The world's most photographed cops...

Cory and Jonah were planning to do the whole 20 miles and I was planning to do 16-18. When we planned for the day, we didn't exactly know that we were going to be doing so much climbing. It was kind of a last minute thing. So that morning we left Mayla in the car (she's the one cattle dog in the world that hates running) and it was supposed to be a fairly cool day with temps starting in the low 40s and getting up to about 60. Maybe we are bad dog owners but we thought that would be fine. Plus I thought I would be back in 5 hours tops.

Well, the run started off with getting lost. When we hit the river/creek we got confused and thought that we had gone the wrong way, so we backtracked to the road and ran some pavement before hitting a nearby trailhead that Jonah knew of. Then we did a few extra miles of trail before finally hitting the section of the course that ascends Hope. I was already feeling pretty tired... bad sign. And I was super hungry and had a burger craving, which was weird since we were running at 10,500 feet at 8am. I usually have no appetite at all.

The guys went ahead and Kristen and I stuck together. By the time we reached to top I had chowed through most of my food and I knew that if I went much farther I was going to run out. Plus it had taken us much longer than expected and it felt like it was getting much hotter than 60 degrees so I started to worry about Mayla. About this time I also admitted to Kristen something that had been scaring me all week. My metatarsal pain from March was acting up again and I felt like I was walking that fine line of not getting a stress fracture. All week I thought that if I ignored it, it would go away.

Kristen was planning to turn around at the top anyway and I didn't really want to run alone, so we both headed back down. I was a little frustrated with myself, but I knew my body was trying to tell me to take it easy.  As we got back to the car I envisioned swarms of people around it trying to get PETA on the phone, but instead there was just a happy and mildly hot pup. We splashed around in the creek and waited for the guys who were experiencing there own suffering. Cory felt good, but Jonah had blown his quads on the descent to Winfield so coming back took them a lot longer than expected.
A great view and Cory reflecting the power of the sun (at least he's not going to get skin cancer)

After filling up at Mountain High Pies, I decided that I was going to take a few days off of running. This plan worked out well since the rain started on Wednesday. By Thursday the Front Range was in full-on flood mode and one of my favorite parks (Apex) was shut down until further notice because the trails were so flooded and washed out. By Friday I couldn't take it anymore. I had to run. So I ran 20 miles. Seemed reasonable. Really I wanted to see what the flood carnage was really like in my area. I had seen enough sensationalist media.

I ran from my house over Green Mountain and by the time I got to the top I was soaked. The trails were like tiny creeks so I just splashed my way through them. Quite refreshing actually. Coming down Box o Rox was the most adventurous with a few washed out sections. Then I crossed 470 and ran up and over Dinosaur Ridge and the descent on the other side was pretty wet and silty. I had bricks caked to my shoes. When I got to the creek crossing in Matthews/Winters there were 4 people lingering by the bridge getting in my way. I asked them if the trail was closed and then they sized me up and told me I would be the last person allowed to cross the bridge and that it might be barricaded when I got back.

All in all M/W wasn't in too bad of shape. The creeks were a little swollen but it was nothing like the flooding that I've seen pictures of elsewhere. On the way back the sun came out for a bit, only to hide again for the rest of the weekend. Now I'm sure that I never want to live in the Pacific NW.

On Sunday I did another 10 miles around Green Mountain in the pouring rain. It felt like I had been transported to the Scottish Highlands. I was eerily surrounded by fog the entire time. Now I know what it's like to run inside a cloud.

So this is Scotland but this is what running in the Front Range has been like the past few days.

Well, despite taking four days off, my foot still really hurts. I'm going to Wisconsin in a few days where nothing is going to get in the way of me running the Ice Age Trail. Then Cory has UROC and I have my marathon. And then sweet rest!

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