Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July 2015 Mileage: Run faster

July began with the same calf injury that persisted through all of May and June, but there simply wasn't time to mess around anymore.  With Howl at the Moon looming on August 8, I needed big miles, and I needed to train in the heat.

I KT-taped the hell out of my leg and feasted on the scraps leftover from Rob's intensive training schedule for the Never Summer 100K.  I got my first solid long run in (since the Bear Lake Marathon) on the 4th of July.  We went to the parade in Old Town at 10am, and when it was over I took off from there to run to Lory State Park, around the trails a bit, and then back home again.

Pre-run parade

It was hot alright. My calf mostly held up, but I was fairly miserable due to exhaustion.  I managed 23 miles, and as ugly as it was, I knew I needed this kind of run to condition me for Howl.  

Boat party at Horsetooth Rez on the 4th.

The following weekend, I ran back out to Lory.  They were having their 40th anniversary festival, and I met up with the family to accompany Will on a 1-mile kid's race.  He cried and complained a lot and stopped and surged.  He gave up for a while when he thought he was in last place, but then he rallied when he realized there was a 2-year old still behind him who he could beat if he just kept moving.  We finished in something around 13 minutes.

Kids Run

I also got my once-annual chance to run with Rob while his parents were visiting and hence, could watch Will.  We saw a snake, not a rattler.

Oh, it was on our anniversary too.

This guy.

Rob commented about how I "put the hammer down" during our run together.  He said when we started out, my gate was a little crazy (toe-striking with my left foot, heel striking with my [injured] right), but once we really started moving, everything evened out.  While we were running, it felt like I was going a lot faster than normal, and when we saw the snake, that's when things really picked up.  I ran my fastest two trail miles ever.  When we got home, I looked at my time and saw we'd run a full two minutes per mile faster than I typically do on my own.  And the weird thing was: my calf felt fine.  It felt better than it had before we started our run. It only started bothering me again the next day, when I tried to run my normal pace.

But I couldn't stop for pain.   I iced, stretched, foam rolled, and cobbled myself together with KT tape because I needed to get in at least one week of more than 50 miles if I wanted to attempt Howl.  It was now or never.  By the skin of my teeth, I managed 56.5 miles the week before Rob's Never Summer 100K.

I was very busy during the lead up to Rob's race, doing things like baking a vegan good-luck cake:

And figuring out how on earth I was going to find him on the course:

The logistics involved in planning the #NS100K were utterly mind-boggling. Will ended up going to spend the night with a friend for the first time in his life, while I headed out into the wilderness surrounding Gould with absolutely no way for them to contact me if anything went wrong.

I missed out on most of the race but was able to get there by the time Rob arrived at the mile 55 aid station.  Then--the coolest thing ever-- I drove to the finish line and ran back to the Ranger Lakes aid station, where I could meet Rob again at mile 62ish.  

Hi, Angie from Omaha.  It was great meeting you and running those ~3 miles in the setting sun.
Talk about throwing the hammer down.  Until the moment I took off running with Rob, it hadn't occurred to me that he would still be able to run faster than me after he had already covered 62 miles of ridiculously technical terrain.  And yet he did.  Run sub-7 minute pace.  In the dark.

It was all I could do to keep up, especially considering that he had my good headlamp and I was using a handheld flashlight (and growing nauseated from the bouncing).  After I switched to a better light and the trail widened a bit, I was relieved to find that I could run that pace after all.  And my calf didn't hurt--my calf felt fine.  

After I got home the next day and had collected Will from his slumber party, a thought occurred.  As long as I was running fast, my calf didn't hurt.  It was during my typical, slogging, exhausted runs that I experienced pain.  But if I could keep the pace around 8:30 or under, everything was fine.

This explained why my calf never hurt during any of the times when I ran in Gould: there, I was running scared (alone in bear country, without a good trail map) and fast.  This explained why my calf never hurt when I was racing: the Bear Lake Marathon, I ran like I lost my mind.  And it explained why it hadn't hurt when I ran with Rob: throwing down the hammer.

I proposed my hypothesis to Rob as he recovered from the #NS100K, and he agreed that it might make sense.  People tend to have better form when they are running fast.  And he'd noticed how my form changed from the start of our run (when we'd been going slowly) to when we got on our pace (much faster).  Maybe my calf pain had to do with poor form, and the solution was now staring us in the face: run it fast.

And so that's how I ran the taper.  Fast.  All these months of pain and trying to deal with it by taking it easy and running ever and ever slower had just been making the problem worse.  I ran fast and everything was great.  No KT tape.  No calf sleeves.  No ice or ibuprofin.  No pain.

208.05 miles in July.  That's the highest mileage month of my life.  I'm at 922.44 year to date, which 109 miles up from where I was in 2014.  I am cautiously on pace to make my mileage goal for 2015.  I am running it fast and for the first time since early May, I have no calf pain at all.  I am trained, tapered, and ready to #Howl.

Thanks for reading.

This was the moment during my run that I reached my highest ever mileage for a single month.

It turns out that my finishing time at the Bear Lake Marathon was good enough for first place in the older ladies division.  Keep in mind that almost all the other particpants ran 3 marathons that weekend, whereas I just ran the one.  Thanks to the RD for mailing this to me all the way from Utah.

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