Practicing our ninja skills. Photo by Brett Rivers
After Hardrock pacing, I was quite tired. Staying up for two days will do that to you and running for 17 hours definitely will. Thus, last week, I slept in most days (until 7:30-8am, yeah I know....not really sleeping in) and got in 9-11 hours a sleep a night. I ran minimally as my coach had prescribed a cut back week before we started to hammer drop the training for the WC 100k in September. I followed the schedule but was still contemplating big for the weekend: Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler. I figured a rest week and a taper week look pretty similar, so I wasn't losing anything in training if I gave myself a break and decided late in the week if I wanted to race or not.
Sometime back in June, amidst all the pacing I was doing for others and all of the training I was doing with Nathan on Hardrock specific type long runs (as much as one can do those types of runs out here in California), I decided that I should honor the great trail/mountain fitness I was gaining through my trail training and altitude training and do a trail ultra. I hadn't raced since early May, so I was definitely hankering to get on the trail and have a good race. I realized that this year was quickly becoming the year of the road and with the exception of my insane 6-ish weeks in March/April, I really hadn't raced much. So I decided to run a trail race in July. I knew it had to be in July, as August needed to be devoted to training for the WC100k. I knew that it had to be non-conflicting with Hardrock, so the easiest solution was TRT 50 mile which also happened to be my very first trail 50 miler. I also knew that I had no idea how I would feel one week after pacing at Hardrock. I figured I could play it by ear and decide afterwards.
As I said, last week, I was just plain tired. I contemplated every day whether or not I had 50 miles in me and if I should race or not. I knew what my coach would say- ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I couldn't let go of the desire to show my stuff on the trails. I definitely wanted to use the opportunity I had to balance out the road racing with a strong performance on the trails. And I love the TRT course and was looking forward to chasing down friend Thomas Reiss' men's course record of 7:52, or at the very least chasing him down during the race as he was doing the 100 miler which starts an hour earlier. I definitely felt fit enough to challenge that. I definitely did not feel rested enough to.
All week long, I went back and forth and back and forth. I wondered if it was just pre-race nerves (as in my head I was gearing up like I was running) or if it was my rational sane mind telling me that I was making a bad decision. If TRT existed in isolation, meaning I was not running the WC100k in 7-ish weeks, then it would have been an easy decision. I would not have to weigh the cost of recovery and time away from training. I could get my fix so to speak and not be contemplating the next thing. That would have made for an easy decision. Being fit and running a race, even a bit tired, would have been very challenging and satisfying. Over the course of the week, I convinced myself that I would be able to recover quickly and that I should indulge myself in the desire to run the race.
Stopping for a picture, enroute to victory. TRT 50 mile 2007. Photo by Scott Dunlap
On Friday, I headed up to Tahoe with Brett, Larissa (pacing and crewing Thomas in the 100 mile) and Georgia (running the 50 mile). It was great to get out of the city and away from the fog and cold. However, as we were driving, the doubts about my decision to run intensified more and more. Didn't I commit myself to the goal of racing the WC100k? Isn't that why I ran Mad City undertrained 3 weeks after my OT qualifying marathon? Why am I choosing to race when there is potential to set back that goal? By the time we arrived in Tahoe, I was leaning strongly away from running. My mom offered good advice:
Thomas echoed the sentiment and I realized that running TRT was about instant gratification, short-term satisfaction. I have been pacing in amazingly beautiful trail races and running all sorts of great trails and I developed some trail envy which I was going to mediate by running an ill advised race. Running TRT really served no long term goal. I just wanted to indulge myself and perhaps, "prove" something to myself. As I said, all of that poor reasoning would have been fine if there were no larger context, no long term goals. But the fact of the matter is, the WC100k is my focus race and despite what short term satisfaction I want to indulge, I will be much more satisfied if I follow through on that. There will always be the next race and the next race and the next race that I want to do. I have already filled up my schedule for next year with all sorts of fun and challenging trail races (after the Olympic Trials of course) and I look forward to going after those goals just as hard as I am pursuing the WC100k.
Hiking up Diamond Peak. Photo by Brett Rivers
I am glad that I decided not to run. Instead, Nathan and I had fun hiking around on the course, scaling Diamond Peak, cheering for friends, and enjoying the sunshine. It was nice to let my body rest and prepare itself for the big training my coach and I have planned leading up the WC100k on September 10th. I am very satisfied that I made a smart decision and shied away from simple instant gratification. Yes, I COULD have run 50 miles, recovered just fine and done well at WC100k, but there was a gamble involved and the risks were too great to take the chance. I don't want to leave anything up to chance as I pursue (what could possibly be my last for a while) WC100k. On that day, I will remember all of the sacrifices I made to make it possible and all of the work that I put in to make it a success. No matter the outcome, knowing I put it all on the line and did everything I could in intelligent pursuit of that goal is the ultimate satisfaction.