Monday, August 1, 2016

222 miles in July 2016

For the past two Julys, I've hit new mileage highs.  And for the past two Augusts, I've been injured.  Go figure.

History has repeated itself this year, at least in terms of the July mileage high.  I am hoping to avoid injury in August though. (What do they call it, when you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?)  We'll see.

I started off the month with a 20-mile run at Lory and Horsetooth.  In many ways, this run was great.  I'd been planning on keeping things relatively smooth and easy, but then I made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision to divert onto Mill Creek trail (which I'd never taken before). Mill Creek was rocky, technical, and a steep uphill in the direction I was going. It wasn't easy, but it was oh-so-beautiful. I had to walk a lot.  In spite of my expression in the photo below, I was happy.

A mountain biker bombing the downhill saw me and shouted back to his buddies: "WALKER UP!" Come on. It's like he didn't even see my crop top and backwards trucker hat.

Keeping on with the theme of impulsive decisions, I also jaunted down Spring Creek trail when I came to that intersection.  I had not revisited this trail since last August, when I skidded on a sandy rock while I was descending and had one of the worst trail falls of my life. On this particular instance, however, everything was fine. The trail didn't even seem that hard. I couldn't believe it.

Achievement unlocked: Descending Spring Creek Trail without falling so hard I thought I might have fractured my tailbone.  I guess the Altra Lone Peak 2.5's make all the difference.

Oh, in other news, I couldn't stand my hair anymore, so I got a pixie cut.

Thanks to Lisa at Great Clips.

Sometimes it is quite challenging for both Rob and me to work in the time for our runs (what with childcare, etc), so we have to get creative.  In order to free up time for the family over the weekend, I got this great idea to go for my long run on Friday after Rob got done with work. I had decided I wanted to run around Horsetooth Reservoir, which would end up being about 23 miles and involve some lite trail running in the dark (good practice for things to come).  I was kind of scared of this run, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  Unfortunately the weather had other plans.

If Colorado were writing a memoir about this summer, it would be called Thunder and Lightning with Only Five Drops of Rain.

It was bright and sunny around 5pm when I left, but the thunderheads rolled in about 6 miles into my run.  I could see lightning flashing over Lory State Park, where I was headed.  I wasn't exactly sure what to do.  Would this blow over by the time I got there? Or was this the kind of lightning that could kill you?

I bided my time by trying out some new fuel. It was delicious, but tasted kind of like frosting, and I liked it even though I normally do not like sweet things when I run.

Suddenly, there was this flash of light that seemed like it was in a bubble all around me. Was that some weird type of lighting? Was it one of those flashing-light migraines I sometimes get?  I didn't know, but I decided I needed to get the hell out of there.  It wasn't even raining.  There was just the thunder and lightning.  But off to the east, it was still sunny.  I thought, Horsetooth Reservoir will still be there some other day.  I should run in the direction that is away from the electrical storm.

The sky cleared up in about 20 minutes, and I felt bad, like I had wimped out on a run that scared me.  But wimp or not, it turned out to be a good decision.  One of those lightning flashes I had seen over Lory State Park struck a tree and caused a fire near Howards Trail and Arthur's Rock.

Running on safer trails and not feeling good about it until I read the news about the fire late that night.

I also did some heat training this month.

Time to run! (That 90% humidity in the midwest is going to crush me when we go back next month for Howl)

Rob and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary (we don't actually celebrate these things, but we did make note of it).
This heart-shaped brick thing somebody gave us for our wedding.  I added a partial snake skeleton I found while weeding the landscaping in the front yard. The head was there (but not the tail), you could see the fangs. It was cool.

The majority of July, however, was taken up by an epic trip through Colorado and New Mexico and ended up with Rob pacing his friend at Hardrock 100 for like 10 hours. I wrote extensively about this, starting here.

But some Melissa Running Highlights from that trip include running at the Great Sand Dunes:

Running up (and down) Mosca Pass in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness:

Funny side note: Rob pointed out that I actually took the women's Strava course record for running up Mosca Pass.  I should note that only 3 women have run this (at least, using Strava). And I should also note that I am in last place for the descent.

Running, and getting lost, in the Jemez Mountains:

Smiling here because it is early in the run and I still know where I am.
 Running in the desert at high noon outside Chaco Canyon:
Photo by Rob.
Smiling because what else can you do when you are running and it is like 110 degrees.

Running at 10,500 feet elevation in Telluride, while wearing cargo shorts because I had not been planning to run:

We'd only been home a matter of days before it was time to meet up with Angela and go run the 12-hour overnight relay Chase the Moon (which I wrote about here).

Dream team! Thanks Angela and Rob for making this happen! 

For me, this race was not a "race," but instead just a chance to practice running in the dark on trails. Which I will have to do about 12 hours of at Javelina 100.  Angela and Rob graciously allowed me to have a good chunk of running that started a little before midnight, and ended a little after 4am.

It was trial by fire, I suppose, for nighttime trail running.  I hated it.

I'll always remember
vomiting off the side
of the Karen Maria.
The trail was tortuously sinuous and winding, so much that there was rarely a time when I could see more than 5 feet in front of my face, the hills were tiny but constant (which ended up resulting in a not insignificant beating of your legs, at least after 21 miles of it), and yes, there were rocks.  I think these factors, combined with the bobbing bubble of the headlamp, made me feel like that time I threw up in Lake Nicaragua during the windy season.

Seriously.  I didn't stop seeing flashing lights for days after the event was over, and although I managed not to throw up, the nausea and throbbing pain behind my left eye persisted for just as long.  

21 miles in the dark, done.  I may be smiling in this picture, but I feel like I am about to have some sort of seizure.
I am definitely worried about how I will manage Javelina 100.  I have the best headlamp there is-- a Petzl light designed specifically so it won't bob around and make you motion sick.  And yet, it made me motion sick.  I've run in the dark before with it and been okay, just not for that long.  And Javelina 100 will be for even longer.  Has anybody out there ever run a 100 miler who suffers from severe (and I'm talking severe) motion sickness? What did you do?

I can only hope that it was the super twisty turny course that was bothering me, and the wave like undulation of the 5-feet up, 5-feet down hills.  The Javelina 100 course isn't like that. Well, I think it is a little undulating, but it is nowhere near as twisty turny. That will save me, right?
In the morning light. I didn't choose ultra life, ultra life chose me. I will find a way.
On the Thursday after Chase the Moon, Will and I went with Rob to the Towers trail run.  Will and I hiked while the rest of the group ran, and then when that was over, I ran the almost 11 miles home.  I started around 7:45pm, so it got dark a little more than an hour into my run.

I tried using Rob's waist lamp (a suggestion someone had offered to deal with headlamp nausea), but it worse, much worse.  I gave up on that and just switched to the Petzl headlamp, which was fine for the short time I was using it.  At any rate, I had not been feeling well all day, but it was really nice to see the sunset at Horsetooth Reservoir.

That weekend I decided to finish out the reservoir run I had cut short earlier in the month, due to lightning.

For most of the run, I felt terrible, except for a 6 mile section along the valley trails when I intermittently hallucinated myself back in Nicaragua.

I figure it is okay to semi-hallucinate myself back in Nicaragua, just so long as I don't see howler monkeys in the trees.

Stout was the name of the town they flooded in 1949, to build the reservoir.

And I did it. 23 miles. Reservoir run complete.

By tacking on another run the next day, I ended up with just over 71 miles for the week.  I've run this kind of mileage before, but it has generally taken quite a toll on me. This time, I feel remarkably good.  Well, my legs are okay.  My mind is just trying to hang on, and my stomach doesn't know what to do.  It is such a fine line between nausea and hunger anyway.

So when I totaled everything up, I finished July with 222 miles (and 1101.1 year to date).  I'm feeling pretty good about this, in particular, about the 71 mile week.  I think this puts me in about as good of shape I can be, going into Howl, and I think it is also a decent place to be for Javelina 100 at this point.

The trick, moving forward, is going to be keeping this up, while staying injury free.  Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures !!CEPT FOR THE SNAKE EWWWWWW!!!! You amaze me and scare the bajeebies outta me!! between worrying about the WILDLIFE you meet on the trail runs! plus THE FRIGHTENING dangerous storms!! HOLEY MOLEY!!! May you recover from the upcoming HOWL race in the MIDWEST BRUTAL temps and HUMIDITY with no injuries or flashing lights !! YIKES!!! Take it easy and LISTEN to your body!!! you are soon to be another year older😳 Hugs and luv 😘Mama

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add I LOVE YOUR NEW LOOK !!! KEEP THE PIXIE GOING!🙆🏼💁🏼💇🏼luv , your " fav "hairdresser😘

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