Friday, May 10, 2013

Quad Rock 25 pre-race

Quad Rock!

This weekend is the Quad Rock 25/50 miler put on by Gnar Runners up in Fort Collins. Checking the weather is doing little to prepare for the race since it changes daily between a 40% chance of rain to a 0% chance of rain. I'm just really hoping I can wear shorts because I love the pockets in my shorts. I can fit a lot of gu in those pockets.

They've changed the course a bit because of the fire, but I anticipate the overall feel of the course will be pretty similar to last year; lots of climbing, lots of downhills, painful downhills at the end. When I ran the race last year I ended up running a good chunk of it with a girl from Fort Collins and it'd be nice to have some other friendly faces/running buddies again. It really kept me motivated during some of the wet/foggy/cold parts. I remember coming to one of the mid race aid stations and you could hear them cheering people on, but you couldn't see them because of the fog. It was a bit surreal, but it was neat to feel like disembodied voices cared about your running.

I tend to have moments of panic before a race and instead of focusing on all the good leading up to it. I remember the week I didn't get in enough runs, the times I didn't get on a trail and got on the road instead, and how my hamstring was tight all last week. It's not worth the worry now, I can't do much within the next 24 hours to change something from weeks ago. No that doesn't mean I'm not nervous for the race, but I am going to focus on what I can control - eating some good meals today, drinking lots of water, and trying to get to sleep tonight.

Going to sleep the night before a race is sort of like Christmas. Except in addition to the present of getting to run an awesome race, you're also a bit scared. I don't think I was ever scared about what my presents would be Christmas morning.

I'll work on a recap of the race next week but for now here are the facts/goals/details going into this race:

Training - Got in some good long trail runs (including a trail marathon and a good 23 mile run two weeks ago). I had a 150mile plus month last month so I feel good about the miles I've put in. Hills have really helped my strength so I'm looking to have some more energy going up those big hills.

Goals - Last year I ran it in about 6:30hrs so I'm trying to beat that time. My big goal would be to get close to 6hrs, but honestly in this race I'm just happy to finish in under 7! A micro goal is to run well on a section just after the aid station where all the drop bags are. There's a road you run up for a long time that switches to trail. I remember having a tough time once it got to the trail part so I'm going to shoot for some strong running in that section.

Weather - currently supposed to be mid 60's with a small chance of rain. Pretty ideal temps so I'm planning on running in shorts!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Running Makes you Do Crazy Things

I know a lot of people who would clarify that title and say that the running part is the crazy thing. So I ask that you agree with the premise that the running part is normal, but that the running part can sometimes take you into weirdness.

If you've gotten into the habit of running and signing up for races, you're probably already doing crazy things like going running in the snow, when it's -20 degrees, with 30 mph wind gusts. That stuff comes with the territory because you don't really get to take a lot of off days if you're trying to be consistent. You also do not get to pick what the race day forecast will be so it's helpful to be prepared and practiced for just about anything. The crazy things I'm taking about are things like the Beer Mile, or Running the Grand Canyon (rim to rim to rim), or running to your friends' bonfire instead of driving. The last of which I decided to do the other week.

As I've been progressing on my training I have been excited about the fact that I'm far enough in my training to have already run a marathon. I'm typically still building up to that distance by this time of the running season so I'm pumped that I've already crossed over that bridge (mountain?) already. Meaning I am already able to stretch my runs a bit longer during the week than I'm normally accustomed to. It is also great to have much more sunlight after work to run in. I've been able to put in some good 8ish mile runs during the week which is letting me ramp up my weekly mileages. A couple Thursday's ago my friend decided to have a bonfire at their house and I got this crazy idea that I would run there.

It's really not that crazy of an idea. It's actually really really smart. Jeremiah was going to be heading over early from his post work run so he was already going to be there and it's silly to have two cars there. I could run over, there would be food and beer waiting for me, and I could ride back home with Jeremiah. Perfect. I made the plan, double checked the mileage and gave my eta. Right now I can see you nodding your head in agreement that this plan was logical. All I had to do was run to my friend's house in Golden, 14 miles away. That is the sort of crazy part. Who runs to their friends' house 14 miles away, after work? I guess I do?

It only seems crazy if you haven't given much thought to using your feet as modes of transportation. I've always opted to walk over driving if at all possible. It's amazing how much ground you can cover, and you can cover even more if you are running. It can also be a tool to break up your training routine if you feel like you've gotten in to a rut. When Jeremiah and I trained for our first marathon we lived in Breckenridge. With the snow cover it made sense to do a lot of runs on the cleared walking/hiking paths through town. There was a path that went to Frisco (it actually goes all the way to Vail) which is about 9 miles away. One night we ran to Frisco and got dinner then took the bus back. We did our first "urban hiking" trip in Duluth, walking from my parents house to the Lakeshore and back (stopping a long the way for snacks and to dip our feet in the lake). Sure it takes longer, but you don't have to worry about parking and you see a lot of stuff you tend to miss in your car.

Running can really open up your world and all the money you save on gas can go to new running shoes and race entries.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thoughts on Boston

I wanted to comment on what happened in Boston as soon as it happened, but I wasn't really sure what I wanted to write.I still struggle with what thoughts come to my mind and I am sure we all will as the whole story continues to unfold.

What happened was horrible. As my friends and I watched the incoming news coverage, tweets, rumors, speculations all we could keep saying and thinking is why would it happen at a marathon. But I realized that's  me saying it because it's an area and an event that I'm all to familiar with. It's no less horrible for kids to be shoot at school, at a movie theater, on the corner of their street in Chicago. It's no less horrible for a bomb to go off at the Olympics, a building in Oklahoma City, or Damascus. Violence is horrible, where ever it takes place and there doesn't need to be a good answer to the "why" question for us to feel pain, frustration, and anger. It's easy to imagine events happening to other people for reasons unknown to you because we are taught that if we do good we can avoid the unimaginable.

I felt an uncomfortable closeness to what was happened. I had friends running in the race and another friend cheering runners on. Thankfully they were all away from the finish line when it happened, but the thought of someone being that close was chilling. I still get goosebumps thinking about my own goals of qualifying for Boston some day and the image of the first blast going off and the time on the race clock, 4:09 which is close to my typical marathon time of 4:06.

What really impacted me was how it made me feel about the experience at the end of the race. Anyone who has run a race, whether it is a 5k or an 100 miler knows the feeling you have when you are truly on the homestretch. All the training, hydration, gu shots choked down can only get you so far. It's the crowd that somehow manages to make your legs run just a little faster, your feet feel just a little lighter. The pain you feel in that last stretch, even if you've been feeling it for the last 10 miles, can melt away when you hear people shouting. That last stretch in a race is truly magical and to think that for so many runners that last stretch was ruined, or they did not get to make it to that last stretch, because of selfish bombers who chose an event and an location based on people and media coverage really makes me sad.

I know all of us have made commitments, whether in public or personally, that this will only make us continue. We will continue to sign up for races, we will continue to run hill repeats in the cold darkness of Green Mountain, we will continue to stick around after crossing the finish line to cheer on fellow runners, we will continue to man aid stations and fuel runners with cheers and recharge. If there is one thing I know about this community it is that we've never let much get in our way to make a race successful - whether it be running, cheering, volunteering, or all of the above. That is why I'm proud to call myself a runner and proud to be part of this community.