Spring is coming. Due to my hamstring issue last week I took most of the week off. This left me with an abundance of energy on Saturday and I used it on prepping all the landscaping beds at the house and spreading two truck loads of mulch. I was pretty sore on Sunday morning from all of this shoveling and raking, but the end result was worth it. We also mowed for the first time this year.
I ran yesterday morning for an hour before church. Everything felt great except for the soreness from the work. The hamstring feeling normal again is a truly answered prayer from God. I know I will have to take it easy for a while and really limit the time I spend running fast. I may put more time and focus on running hill repeats and tempos on the hills. This will be easier on my body and give me the needed adaptations for Old Dominion.
I listened to a few installments of Endurance Planet Ask the Coaches and Ask the Ultra. I really enjoy listening to Lucho answer questions and give quality insight. Two things of note stuck out to me when it came to 100 mile training. 1) A good goal would be to have a 50 mile weekend or try for 30 mile back to backs. It is ok to push past your limits and comfort once in a while as you will surely be pushing past them in the race. It is good to see what that second day feels like and get that kind of soreness from so much up time. and 2). Back to backs are not necessary if you are running a lot of miles during the week. If you are not able to run much on weekdays throw them in, but not every week. Shoot for every other week. I feel this is really good advice and is very much aligned with my current thoughts. For me a 50 mile weekend is much better than a 40 mile day where I really beat myself down. There needs to be a balance and you must realize if you push too far past your current ability you will have a hard time recovering and continuing to train.
This really is one lesson I wish I would have know a year ago. In training for the C&O Canal 100 last spring I pushed too hard in general. I decided to jump into the race a little late. At the end of March I found my volume to be up 80% higher than any other recent month. The volume was manageable if I would have taken 2 months to build to it, but all at once was too much. Throw on the end of the month a 42 mile rail trail run where I pushed pretty hard at the end and I was doomed. After that month I never felt good about running again. My pace slowed for any given effort and ultimately my race really suffered. What should have been a flat and fast for me 100 (actually closer to 106) miles turned into a slog fest. Lesson learned, watch those miles and do not push too hard.
Last weekend I was at the Massanutten Ski Resort and managed some time to get a few solid runs in. I wanted to log 5+ hours running and hit it if you count my family hike on Sunday. Saturday morning started out at the overlook with a trail run. I asked on Strava where to hit the trails from the resort and got a quick reply from this guy, thanks for the intel. As soon as I left the car my headlamp was dead. It still worked on the emergency low level. The sun would not come up for 45 minutes. I found a flashlight in the car and headed off. I really was not sure where I was going until only 2 miles left in the run. It ended up being pretty off as I ran on the poorly marked Mountain Bike Trails and finally made it to the ridge and Kaylor’s Knob (after taking a wrong turn on the trail and my gut telling me to turn back). Overall a poor effort and not a good run in my mind.
On Saturdays run I turned my ankle and it was feeling a little of Sunday morning so I opted to stay on the roads and take advantage of the Mountains. I ran from my condo to the overlook and back. It was a 12 mile round trip and took ~67 minutes for me to get out and ~47 to get back. I pushed pretty hard coming back and started to feel a little twinge in my right hamstring, but nothing to worry about. In fact this niggle has been there for a few weeks since I started speed work.
Monday was rest, but Tuesday brought me to the treadmill to run a 1/4 cutdown run. I was taught this run by a former coach named Paul Dewitt. You start off on the treadmill flat and slow. Every 1/4 mile you move up .1 mph until you cannot go any further. Then you back off and run mary pace until a quick cooldown. This is not for the faint of heart. I had not run one for almost a year, but jumped right in. I hit a speed faster and a distance longer then I have ever done. I was a minute from jumping down to mary pace and then I felt just a little more of a twinge in that hamstring. As I cooled down and got off I knew something was up. By the time I got home from work it was in some pain. I was advised by a friend to take a few days off. I immediately taped it with Kinseo tape and it instantly took some of the pain away. I have no idea how that stuff works, but it does. I have also been treating it with heat and rolling it a few times a day. As of today it is feeling 95+%. Tomorrow I will test it out and see what happens. A few days off now is much better than being injured up until and during my race in June. I may have to stick with running base and up to LT on hills if it continues to bother me. I do not think this would make a huge difference in my overall performance, but who knows.
View of the local golf course I run by on my lunch time run.
Over the past few months I have been training pretty consistently for the Mountain Masochist 50+ mile race. Last year I started this race and DNFd at the midway point. I was very under-trained and went out way too fast. This years race will not be a repeat of that. Since I have been logging a lot of Hot and Humid summer miles I have seen a lot of wildlife. This includes the normal small game like squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, toads, birds, and small snakes. Nothing too out of the ordinary. On a few occasions I have seen some picture worthy wildlife and in one case have a good story to go along with it.
In early June I was out on a long run on the roads. There is an old road near my house that is closed to traffic and used as a running / bike path. I was on one of the seldom used and gated access roads. The days before had some very windy storms so there was a lot of blow down. I was wearing my subscription sun glasses, but they were steamed up so my vision was not perfect. As I ran along the road I got within 5 feet of the largest copperhead I have ever seen in the wild or captivity. I almost ran right over it due to the foggy glasses. Luckily I had my camera with me and snapped this picture. The average length is 2 to 3 feet according to multiple sources. This guy was at least 4 feet long. I wish I would have measured the leaf laying behind him for perspective. He did crawl away slowly once he saw / felt me.
A few weeks ago I was running on some dirt roads near my house and saw this copperhead from a distance. I had to stop and take a picture because he had just caught a rat. I would estimate he was a little over 3.5 feet long. A good size snake, but not nearly as big as the one above. I ran past him (or her) again 20 minutes later and the only part of the rat visible was its hind legs. I really wish I would have taken a second picture.
While we were on our summer vacation a bear mauled our wooden swing set. We have a large black bear population where we live, so I was surprised, but it was believable, especially after we saw the teeth marks and black hair on it. So I had bears on my mind a few days later when I was on a long run. The road i was on is closed to traffic (same road as above) and I was on a very isolated part of it. I saw a bear running through the field beside the road. On the other side of the road is a canal, which is the boundary of a swamp. As the bear hit the road it started to jog right at me. It was not running hard, but just casually jogging. I put down my camera when it got 50 yards away and started to blow the whistle on my running pack. The bear did not even look and just kept coming. I think started to do a bear dance, yelling and jumping up and down. I finally got its attention, but it kept coming. I upped the intensity of the bear dance and finally it looked again and decided to jump into the woods. I can only assume it swam the canal and was off into the swamp. The picture was zoomed in pretty far, as I put the camera away at one point to start getting the attention of the bear. I was up wind of it, so it did not smell me. Bears have poor eye sight, so my best bet was yelling at it. In the end that worked well. Below are some pics from the swing set.