Friday, July 7, 2017

Update and a Return to Racing

We just reached the six-month anniversary of our move to Salida, and life is good. We’ve settled into the community, we’re doing well professionally, and we’re enjoying the small-town vibe. The more time we spend here, the more I realize I wasn’t cut out to live in the city. The small town life suits me.

The move has definitely had a positive impact on my running. A year ago this time, I was averaging 20-30 miles a week mostly trotting around Wash Park, with an average of 4-5 hours of total running a week. Right now I’m almost through with a three-week training block with an average of over 60 miles a week, with more than 10 hours a week of running, and an average of about 8,000 ft. a week of elevation gain.

Easily more than double what I was doing a year ago.

There are just so many great places to run around here in summer, it’s made me giddy. Forgive me if this is obnoxious, but within 30 minutes of my house, there’s the Bear Creek trail, Pass Creek trail, Green Creek trail, Browns Creek trail, Fooses Creek trail, Monarch Crest Trail, Turret Trail, Boss Lake, Hunt Lake, Waterdog Lake, Stout Lake, the Methodist Mountain Trail System, the Arkansas Hill Trail System, thirty miles of the Rainbow Trail, fifty miles of the Colorado Trail, and twenty miles of the Continental Divide Trail.

It’s trail-running heaven. I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Anyway, I’m running a lot more than I was before. And with all that running, I figured I’d sign up for a few races this summer: The Grin and Bear It 9 mile out in Crested Butte next Saturday, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon in August, and Imogene Pass in September. There’s an off chance I might also do the Creede Mountain Run on Labor Day weekend, but I’m playing that one by ear, as it's the week before Imogene. They all seem like fun, relatively inexpensive sub-ultra trail races within a couple of hours of where I live. That’s what appeals to me in races now.

I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since Leadville 2012. It's all relative, of course. I joined the Chaffee County Running Club for a July 4th run on the Continental Divide, and three college kids, including local phenom Taylor Stack, dropped me in the first 200 yards. Oh well, at least I was able to keep up with Taylor's mom (not as easy it sounds). Either way, I’ve managed to ramp up the mileage and intensity without serious injury. (Knock on wood—I’ve got a little tendonitis in my left Achilles but I think it’s manageable).

But thinking you’re fit and showing it on race day are two separate things.
I know this because I ran Salida Run Through Time Marathon in March and I stunk up the joint, running more than a half an hour slower than I had hoped. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say I probably should have run the half marathon that day. I wasn’t in trail marathon shape, and it showed in my performance. 

I’m certain I’m more fit now than I was then. But there's a chance my own estimation of my fitness is still higher than my actual fitness. But I guess that’s the point of racing in the first place. To put yourself out there and test it for all to see.

I turn 40 this fall, and so this is a bit of prelude to what I see as a ramp up of fitness going into soon-to-be masters racing. The last time I was anything resembling a competitive runner was as a teenager. There’s some appeal to seeing if I might be able to pull off something similar on the other end of the age spectrum. There’s a satisfaction knowing that I was once very fit, that I lost fitness completely, and that now I’m starting to get some of it back. Exactly how much of that youthful vigor I can recover is yet to be seen. This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed lofty ambitions of getting fast on this blog—every previous time I was pissing in the wind.

All that’s to say it’s easier said than done. But I’m excited about the challenge and to have something to push for.

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