This past weekend, including Friday, I had the pleasure of getting some serious trail time in with Nathan and enjoying some of the best the Bay area has to offer in terms of trail running. These runs couldn't have been more different for me: one was pretty good, one was horrible and one was just right (aka awesome! aka a Devon Day!)
Friday trail tempo run with Nathan.
Nathan and I got up super early and headed up to Mountain Home Inn to do a nice 11 mile loop. Nathan wanted to run hard, so out of the gate I was killing myself to lead us at a good pace. The first 27 minutes we ran at a low 6 minute pace, I could handle it but it definitely didn't feel easy. We backed off a bit as we continued to climb up and around the top of Mt. Tam. Clearly my favorite part was popping out above the clouds at West Point Inn and then getting to dive bomb down Nora trail to Matt Davis. Once we were on Matt Davis, I got a bit possessed and started hammering away at a low 5 minute pace for a nice stretch of groomed double track. We covered 11 miles in 1:25 with 1660 feet of climbing. My glute/back felt good, my energy was decent. I was definitely enthused by the run. It helped diminish my trepidation about Saturday's run: The Rapture on Mt. Diablo.
Nathan ready to go with his new Black Diamond poles
Friday was decent, I felt pretty good the rest of the day and got busy on my one weekday non-cooking day. I was hoping Saturday would go well. We planned to run on Mt. Diablo and the last time I ran there, I was worthless. I was pretty good last week about listen to my body, fueling and recovering and generally giving myself a break after flying back from Australia (was that really just a week ago? I actually had to check my calendar!) and all of the craziness of the April and May. I have been feeling off and on worn out pretty constantly for two months and I am well aware that I need to be forgiving and take good care of myself after such a stretch, especially as I begin to think about actual training again. I told myself that I would just see what the run had in store for me on Diablo and respond accordingly and appropriately.
Sad face. But awesome new Rudy Project sunglasses.
The run definitely had something special in store for me but I can't say I handled it with grace or style. It was an absolutely beautiful day out, not to warm yet and Brett, Nathan and I headed up Burma Road to do a 20-ish mile loop Nathan had mapped out. From the car we immediately went up a super steep grade and my calves cramped up horribly and my achilles felt ouchie. And we were less than 1/4 mile into the run. I felt absolutely drained on top of that and as I continued to power hike, Brett and Nathan became smaller and smaller specks on the never ending climb to the top. I wanted to keep up, I wanted to feel good and I couldn't even make a feeble effort from the beginning. I got really down on myself, felt sorry for myself and started to mentally talk down to myself a lot. So much for forgiving and taking care of myself. As I continued to climb, my stomach started to act up and it felt like I had a bowling ball flopping around in there- uncomfortable to say the least. Brett and Nathan patiently waited for me at a turn and I apologized for holding them up. I contemplated what to do but was being stubborn and said I would continue on the planned route (despite not "needing" the miles). The route now took us downhill steeply, which inevitably would lead to another very stout climb up to Eagle Peak.
As I ran downhill, my energy left me, my stomach was flopping around and I couldn't even keep pace running downhill which is my specialty. Brett and Nathan were pulling away and I stopped, yelled, "I am turning around" and did an about face to go back up the hill. I was a big falling apart mess and not my proudest moment. I couldn't handle my emotions well for some reason and I really appreciated that Nathan was so comforting and Brett was so understanding. We all have bad runs, I just need to not fall apart when they happen. I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to keep up or run well when I am with others. Having a crap run by yourself is one thing, no one is effected by it, but when you are with others, its harder not to be hard on yourself. At least for me. I am working on it. This was a lesson that I am not quite there yet. I am not sure where along the line I picked up this response (it never happens in a race or when I run by myself) but I am certainly not enthused by it. But like I said, I am working on it.
After splitting up with the boys, I kept climbing up to the summit of Mt. Diablo, cashed in 3500 feet and then got to descend for what seemed like eternity. When I got back to the car I was completely wiped out. I drank a half serving of Ultragen with coconut water, changed my clothes and pretty much passed out in the back seat. Or at least I wished I was. When the guys got back, I was bonking pretty bad and spent the majority of the car ride back loopy to do much more than stare out the window. Yes, I pretty much had a very winning day all around. At least, the day passed and I was still alive (it was after all the rapture) and could try again in the morning.
I still had managed to cover 15+ miles with 3500 feet of climbing in what seemed to be a very long time. And I ran into lots and lots of snakes.
Happy face. And another sweet new pair of Rudy Projects.
I was a bit nervous for my run on Sunday but decided to be more resolute about accepting whatever I felt and whatever came up. I knew Nathan was going to do about 20 miles, so I aimed for a 15 mile loop out of Mountain Home Inn where we parked the car. It was a cool morning as we set off up Mt. Tam. I pretty much said, "see ya, have a good run" to Nathan before we left the parking lot, thinking he might want to take it out hard. Instead he said he'd like to run together for a while, so I figured I would just settle into whatever pace felt good and say goodbye whenever he was ready to take off. Since we had run counter-clockwise on Tam on Friday, we headed clockwise up Matt Davis which is very runnable and only a slight uphill.
I felt like a completely different person. I had energy, I had spring in my step, I had speed and no soreness. I glided along the trail and threw down a pretty fast start. We made it to the climb that goes 1 mile up to Rock Springs. Before we had started running, I had set a goal to run up this trail from bottom to top. I usually don't make it all the way up. But I did it. I got to the top and exclaimed, "yeah I made my goal". I was feeling good and Nathan suggested I continue on a bit farther with him instead of taking my turn onto Ben Stein. I figured I was feeling good and a few extra miles would be fun. I knew I would NOT be going the full distance with him since I had no desire to drop down cataract only to turn right around and do the steep climb back up to Northside. We jammed along and finally I took my turn up High Marsh trail which I had only been on once before and started flying along, really feeling good.
Goldilocks and the good view.
I really liked High Marsh trail and I managed to find my way back over to the Northside trail which is one of my absolute favorites on Mt. Tam. No mountainbikes are allowed and it is not near any parking or close trailhead, so it tends to be pretty empty. I zoomed along, rocking out to my music and picked up speed with the sun shining down on me. I had a geeky smile on my face I am sure. I hit popped onto the fireroads and flew back to the car, passing other runners and taking the time to make huge two foot leaping jumps into puddles along the way. It was refreshing. I just played and laughed and had fun. I let go of the previous day and remembered that this kind of moment was what I do what I do for. Its not about how fast or far its about how fun and beautiful. I definitely was having fun. I just kept picking up speed and came squealing in on two wheels back into the parking lot; 18.5 miles in 2:30 with 2,000 feet of ascent. It was awesome.
Speed on the High Marsh Trail
Since the craziness of races, work and sleeping at altitude began at the beginning of April, I have been doing my best to navigate all the things that have come up. Some days I am outrageously successful, some days there is much room for improvement. I am feeling, ultimately, that I have come out the other side in one piece and with the wheels still on. I am looking now towards the beginnings of training (transitioning back to real structured training-slowly!), a fun month of pacing gigs and many more great days out on the trails doing what I love to do.