The time between races during a strong season can be impacted by so many factors. It has to be adaptable to life, because we cannot plan for everything. For me, a high strong individual with way too much going on most of the time, it’s really easy to think I can do things, recover for things, like I see other people doing, but I can’t always. Things aren’t simple. My toddler doesn’t always sleep through the night, an argument with my spouse, house problems, dog problems, family stuff… they happen, and you do what you can to avoid them and for me, not to stress out about them but they take your energy, they have an impact on your sleep, your hormones, your wellness.
So between Chattanooga Stage Race and Cacapon 12 hr, I had 3 weeks, one to recover, one to train easy and one to taper.
My biggest concern was my overall leg strength and running form was not 100%, maybe more like 75%. I’ve run a few big races, as an ultrarunner, the most destructive races to my overall recovery and ability are road marathons. I end up running so hard, for that significant distance, and wipes my legs and cardiovascular system in a way that running any distance of ultra marathon, trail runs never do. I never go into a trail run with dreams of holding a steady 7:15 pace. I don’t honestly train correctly to do such a thing.
I train to adapt. I train in the early am, the mid afternoon and/ or the late night. I run in hot, mildly cold (I’m a wimp in the actual cold) and I train to run rolling hills, steep ups and downs, flats, mud, water crossings, technical roots and long burning nutrition. So the concept of a mostly flat road marathon at one steady pounding pace taking in quick sugars, well, I’m never really ready. Part of me wishes I would want to be and join the league of the amazing sub 3hr runners… but every time I run a road marathon it confirms my love for the trail.
My legs were tired and my cardiovascular system felt like crud after Lincoln Marathon in early May. I tried to recovery and I jumped into my only couple weeks to train for my stage race and just a couple little life factors came along to add themselves on and my gait was poor. My Milestone pod data was letting me know it, my leg swing was mid, instead of my usual mostly high, ground contact time increasing, cadence decreasing, and the worst signs: My HR was increasing, my respiration rate was increasing, I was fatigued, sleeping very well- which is odd for me (but luckily a good sign I was not overtrained and my resting HR was steady at an average of 53 bpm- no changes recently). My muscles just felt bad. I also started PT for some chronic issues and as stated in my previous write up I just felt unbalanced.
After Chattannooga Stage Race, the plan was to recovery, run a bit, and taper yet again. I’ve been recovering and tapering for what feels like months! So it has been frustrating, but necessary. I went back and forth about doing the 12 hr run. I wanted to, because it was good timing for the distance/time on feet leading up to my September 100 miler. It’s also a timed loop race, so it’s great mental strength training, heat training, nutrition practice and the course had some technical areas and good climbs. It was perfect.
On the other hand, if I pushed my body into overtraining, then I could forget about reaching the rest of 2017 goals… a fine line. I was nervous about it, but overall, I felt if I took it easy and really just listened to my body and really focused on doing my nutrition and hydration well, then I would be ok. I made sure I was prepared- something I never really do. I always “wing it”, I guess because it’s exciting but also probably as an excuse so that if things go badly, I can say I didn’t really care that much about this one, I wasn’t really ready for it (Even though in reality it means everything to me). At one point, say, 2012, that’d be acceptable, I was a newbie and naive and I loved that. But now… Now, I study my courses, I train for my courses, I read every blog available to piece together what I can of the unseeable conditions of race day. I plan my “dream” paces and my “I’ve blown up” paces, I know when and what I’m supposed to eat and drink…. So that I will succeed. The piece I miss on Race day- nutrition, I don’t follow my own plan… I go back to my trusty ole’ “I’ll just wing it” and then I struggle. It almost cost me Bull Run Run 50 and it almost cost me at Chattanooga Stage Race too, luckily day 1 was a wake up call, to follow my plans, to take the time and EAT/ Drink and absorb nutrition.
With the looming fear of overtraining, yet again, in my short ultra running career I knew to not play “cool”. I knew I had the chance to run smart, and do well. The CR was not out of reach for me. I really believed I could run 100k on the Cacapon course and that’s what I planned to do presuming I felt well and my body wasn’t crashing.
So, the week of the race arrived and felt ok, not great but well enough. I was going to run my race and was going to be smart about it.