Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Training: Week 6

A lesson in what happens when I don’t take a cutback week in time.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.7 mi, road, 138 bpm
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 9.4 mi, road, 135 bpm
Friday: 7.1 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk starting @ Brighton Beach), 142 bpm
Saturday: 14.1 mi, trail (SHT starting at Highland/Getchell), 149 bpm
Sunday: 4.6 mi, road, 133 bpm
Total: 40.8 mi

Wow, I just did not care about running this past week. Both Monday and Wednesday, I took a rest day just because I couldn’t bring myself to run. I simply didn’t care. I hated myself for signing up for the race, I doubted my ability to finish it, and I just wanted to sit around and do nothing. I’m tired and my runs all feel like sleepwalks. I don’t think I had a run all week that I enjoyed.

Well, no, that’s not entirely true. I did enjoy Saturday’s run. I enjoyed having a long run that wasn’t six hours long. I learned a few things on that run, too:

  1. Long runs are much easier when not begun during the heat of the day. I have been starting my long runs at, like, 1:00. That means I’m starting out in the heat, and by the time it cools off, I’m already sapped from the heat. I am doing it on purpose, to try to acclimate, so this isn’t a total surprise. But I started my long run this past week at about 3:45 pm. I had a lot more energy and I was able to run the second half a minute faster than the first half, including a potty break during the second half. This gave me a bit of confidence for the race. It starts at 6 a.m., so I will be covering a lot of ground before the sun gets too high. Of course, some people will be finishing before that point, but I will at least have a few hours of better weather to make some progress. I’ve been torturing myself with these warm long runs without putting them in context with the bigger picture, and I finally took a step back and pieced it all together. It’s good to remember the purpose of tough workouts, and if there isn’t one, I’d better find one or find a new workout.
  2. I can run faster than I do. Ok, these are training runs, so the point isn’t to go fast, especially on long runs. But I am definitely holding back. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I mean, yes, conventional wisdom is not to race one’s training, but am I going too easy? I realize that I am not practicing running faster on trails enough. I’m always afraid I’ll blow up, get sick from the heat, get hurt, fall, etc. And then of course there are the times I think I’m moving at a decent clip, look down at my watch, and see I’m running at a 21:xx pace. Why do I have such a bad sense of pace? Or is my watch just that unreliable? I don’t know. However, in pushing the pace to try to have even “splits” for the run, I ran the final mile, which was entirely uphill, faster than I ran the first mile, which was of course entirely downhill (since I did an out and back). I’m capable of more than I think.

Those are some good lessons, ones that I needed to learn as I struggle with my confidence. I’m less than 2 weeks out from race day, ready to start cutting back (I’ll be doing 2 rest days this week and next, and my “long run” this coming weekend will not require a hydration pack), and ready to do some much-needed mental work.

My biggest fear is the weather, that it will be 90 degrees the day of the race and in the days leading up to it (I don’t have air conditioning so 90 degree days = sleepless nights because my house takes so long to cool off) and I will suffer and get sick. I can’t control the weather, so I need to focus on my cooling strategies.

My other fear is not knowing the course. I don’t really feel like the maps and written course descriptions are very detailed or clear (I’m not sure how far “a bit” is), and since the course doesn’t follow a specific trail like the SHT, it worries me. I worry about getting off course. I shouldn’t worry; this isn’t a new race, not their first rodeo, etc. I’m more concerned about my own abilities to spot course markers and make good decisions. This concern is minor relative to my worry about the weather; I’ve already run two races without knowing the courses at all, and have not had issues. If I knew without a doubt it was going to be 75 and cloudy but not rainy for the entire race, I would be confident about my ability to finish strong.

I have a tiny fear of being swept, but there isn’t an advertised hard cut-off at any of the aid stations, and I do see some official finishes that are over 10 hours, but who knows if I just haven’t read the right part of the website and there really is a cut-off, or if those last finishers had to run without aid stations, or something. I’m not super concerned about this, but it does creep into my mind occasionally.

Now here I’ve gone and worked myself into a small frenzy over a simple weekly training log post. Good thinking!

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