Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hagg Lake, Napa and Life on the Road

Krissy and I taking a dip in the cold lake after a great race
Hagg Lake 50k

I admit it. I haven't been bloggerific lately. And yet, I probably have the most to say right now than any other time, just not the time to say it. I have officially hit the road for some races and some work and trying to keep everything balanced when you are living out of your car and a suitcase can get interesting. That said, I am finally healthy, though not necessarily back up to speed. It is good to be running again and I am infinitely thankful that I am able to do what I do.

Hagg Lake 50k
I hit Portland on the first stop of my first travel bender of the season to take part in the Hagg Lake 50k. I wanted to run a race pre-Napa and get some distance back in my legs and also to gauge if Napa was even realistic. With mounting pressure about me being the return favorite, Napa as a "training race" was looking like it was going to not allow me to gracefully slip into the mid-pack. As much as I like to think that I don't care what others think or say about me, Napa is a race I would like to be fit enough to defend at, even if it is part of a 34 mile day (as was the plan). Hagg was the first race of the Oregon Ultra series and I was excited to meet alot of the Oregon runners whom I know via blogs and in passing but haven't really spent much time around. It sounded like a fun mudfest, so I figured I'd give it a go. Krissy was coming down from Seattle to run it, so it was a great opportunity to see her before I continued south for Napa, work, and Way Too Cool 50k. In brief the race was awesome. Well put together, beautiful course (double loop around the lake with a out and back at the start) and the sunny clear crisp day helped produce smashing fast times. Krissy and I went out together and decided to run as much as we could together since this was her longest run of the year and I wanted to just have a good race but not burn too much before Napa. We clipped along in 2nd/3rd place behind Joelle from Boise, who won Orcas 50k a few weeks ago. I was resolved to let her go as Hagg was more run than race in my mind. I have become better at being able to let things like that go. It is better for the bigger picture. Krissy was feeling good and I wanted to see if she could use that and go after Joelle, so I "stopped to tie my shoes" and told her to get going. We stayed together through about 24 miles and then I stopped for a minute or two at the aid station at the dam to re-up on my salt since I had forgotten to put my Nuun in my bottle and was super low on salt. I dumped straight salt down my throat and off I went. It took me about 2 miles to stop feeling like I was going to throw up, but I managed. It was a great day and in the end, it was Joelle, Krissy and then I and all three of us broke the previous course record, which shows you just what an ideal day it was! I was glad to get in a good fast pace but not too taxing effort and my legs felt great after a dip in the icy lake and a delicious Buffalo burger enjoyed with Krissy and Dagan after the race!

Napa Nada
It had looked like I was going to have to do another "temporary indefinite" stint in Atlanta for a minute there. We got a big project for work which we need to hit quickly and get out the door. I don't have to go forever, but I do have to go from this Friday until March 12th to help with the load. For that reason and also because of my injury, even though I am recovered/ing, Napa just doesn't fit into my schedule in the same way. I was looking forward to the race, but I was also looking forward to being in 2:45 as a training pace shape. I am not there anymore, I am working my way back and trying to keep my eye on the bigger goals of Boston and WC100k in Belgium. Napa will be there in the future and I look forward to doing it again at a different time.

Small Things
My runs this week haven't felt great. I have felt slow, heavy and tired. I don't like that feeling. I have had the pleasure of running some of my favorite trails while down here in SF but part of me would enjoy it so much more if I felt "runnerly". I just haven't had the spring in my step I did pre-injury. I was feeling fit and strong then. It takes time to come back, even though it was just a two week layoff. I think part of me still hesitates in pushing myself because I fear getting hurt again. I am still doing the mileage, but cautiously. After an ok run on my favorite 50/50 run (50% trail, 50% road) this morning and narrowly escaping a really bad accident when a nail went through my shoe and into my foot, I was feeling kind of downtrodden (and very thankful I wasn't going to have to sluff through Napa on Sunday). I decided to eat a hearty snack of gluten free cereal and take a nap before going out and trying a second run. I woke up feeling a bit better, but not expecting much from my run. But as I took my first few strides, I could tell I was just feeling it. I floated, I zoomed, I was effortless. I smashed down along the water through Sausalito and to the out and back in Mill Valley. As the sun set at my back, I knocked out 5.3 miles at a 5:50 average pace and arrived barely even breathless at the turn around point. I eased up for the recovery back home, but still average 6:40 for the run. I couldn't help but feel even if just for a fleeting moment that this was just a glimmer of what is to come if I just keep on hammering, being smart and keeping my eye on the prize. If nothing else, the injury gave me a renewed perspective, a reconnection to the deeper nature of why I run and how much I appreciate everything beautiful and passion-filled that comes into my life.

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