Anytime I finish a big race, I’ve already got something else on the docket. However, running a 50-mile ultra-marathon is no joke. It’s common running advice to take some time off after a marathon. Some experts even recommend 1-day off per mile raced. While that seems like great exercise theory in the science lab, the truth is most runners can’t make it 1 day off per mile raced even with cross training. For example, anyone running to help deal with mental health issues will have a hard time skipping their runs. While running is definitely a habit, it’s also how I process stress, anxiety, loss and negative emotions. Just ask my family, I am a big fat jerk if I haven’t had my run. Thankfully, I working on improving that bad habit. 😊
Usually, I take a couple weeks off post marathon and then ease back into running. This time post-race I could definitely tell I put 50 miles on my body. After Squaw Peak, my body felt seriously fatigued. I did some easy hiking for a week or two and after what I thought was adequate rest time; I went out on my first “easy” run and my heart rate told a different story. Running a comfortable slow recovery pace took a lot more out of me and my heart rate was way too high for the pace I was running. Whoops… I know better than that.
After consulting Coach Paul, I took even more time off and dropped my mileage to 17 miles a week!! 17 miles a week might seem like a lot to some, but consider how I was running 80 miles per week in preparation for my Ultra. I also hadn’t taken a serious running break since Boston Marathon training began January 1st so I shifted my focus to recovery for the remainder of June.
As July approached, I know I’d be starting a marathon training cycle again. Instead of the 18-weeks scheduled for Boston, I opted for a shorter 14, and continued to add some training runs that are actually “races” to my calendar in order to spice things up a bit. For me, summer is glorious in Utah. I can find a road race of nearly any distance, any weekend all summer long. After dealing with consistent wet and cold weather from October through May, (yes, we were STILL having cold and snow in May ☹) I couldn’t wait to have sunshine and warmer summer temperatures.
When my family opted to camp-out for the 4th of July Freedom Festival Parade in Provo, Utah; I opted to run the 10k. I’ve run this race before and enjoy running down the parade route in middle of busy Provo roads I normally only drive on. Okay, maybe this is an odd secret about me, but when I run a road race, I like to run smack down the middle of the road. Why? So often when I run, I’m relegated to the shoulder. The road isn’t ideal over there, so I take great personal satisfaction running straight down the double yellow lines. Odd, but true. I do the same thing when I run early in the morning and no cars are out. 😊
July 4th was surprisingly warm as my hubby dropped me off near the start and headed over to the kiddos who’d secured our spot at 3:30 that morning. I saw a couple of running friends I knew, used the bathroom and was off.
I wasn’t scheduled to race the 10k, and actually started the race mid-way back in the pack at a nice comfortable pace.
Somewhere around mile 1.5, my racing extinct kicked in and I shifted up a gear. Okay, maybe if I’m being completely honest, I saw a couple of ladies that are my age and live in the area. I haven’t ever really talked to them, but I know who they are and I know they know my face because we’re at a lot of the same races. Why don’t I just go up and talk to them? Well…. they’re decent athletes, so instead I do this weird, “I’m your rival-even though you don’t know it” kind of thing and decide that as long as I run faster than them, I would have a good race regardless of my time. (face palm) Okay, in full disclosure, I actually do this type of thing regularly. One time I swear I’ll actually go up and introduce myself to these women.
I had a decent race, and even got to suck a little wind, running up the steady incline at the end of the course. I ended up placing for my age group, but I spaced the awards ceremony and am still waiting on the race organization to mail me my additional medal. I’ve never age group placed at this race before so that was a fun surprise.
Independence Day was on a Thursday and I needed a 14-mile long run for the weekend, so I opted to run a Saturday half-marathon I’d always wanted too, but was usually out of town for. A training run in a new location with aide stations and porta-potties along the route is a win for me. The race was staged in an odd area, someone’s very nice dirt road/driveway, so I opted to do my warm up mile before the race so I could just end at the finish line.
The race was billed as a down hill course, but it was actually more of the “rolling hills” variety in Spanish Fork Canyon. Personally, I prefer a rolling course over a straight down-hill or flat course. I believe it’s better cross-training and a great mental workout in how you choose to approach each incline. It was nice to maintain a fairly even pace and for about 3 miles as all was going well. I was a little tired (getting up at 2:45am to catch a race bus does that to you) but was cruising along nicely to my audio book.
Runners were passing me, which was totally fine because I was doing a training run, not a race. Somewhere after mile 3, I heard the sound of female chatter close by. I looked over my left shoulder to find the exact same ladies from the Provo Freedom Festival 10k coming up close from behind, maintaining a very similar pace. I tried ignoring them at first, but their chatter was louder than my book and I was promptly annoyed for no real good reason. I opted to practice a little “racing strategy” and sped up for the next half mile, leaving them behind.
When a runner wants to “race” another individual for time or placement, the process is very simple. You simply match speeds and see who wants to make a move first. One runner speeds up and then the other runner matches. This back and forth cat-and-mouse game can go on for a while until the faster athlete makes a push that can not be matched. When one runner chooses to speed up, if the athletes are truly “racing,” the runner coming from behind must put forth even more speed and effort to catch the advancing runner, while the individual that made their move, simply needs to maintain their current speed. If you let a rival move too far ahead and do not make your matching move soon enough, they will be too far ahead to catch; especially if you’re not comfortable at the established pace.
These ladies had no idea what I was doing. Once again, I decided that if I could just finish ahead of these ladies, I had a good training run. While I was pushing, I wasn’t killing my pace and was amused that I’d actually end my run with a negative split. The rolling hills didn’t bother me, because after running an ultra-marathon, 13 miles doesn’t feel that long. I ended up placing 5th for my age group and finished a head of those lovely ladies. Next year I just might come back and race this course, we’ll see. I also think I’ll log it again later this marathon training cycle.