Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Humbled on the Rogue River Trail
Going into last week I knew it would be a bit of push but had no idea just how much it would test my fitness. It was one of the biggest mileage weeks I have ever had running over 115 miles and I felt it. On Tuesday I had a tempo run which was 13 miles with at least 4 at a sub 6:55 pace then on Thursday I got to run 2X40 min. hill repeats in the Gorge. All of this following the Mac run and no real recovery forced me to call on some special mental energy as my physical energy was bit low. I was able to achieve my goals for the tempo run but was really having to work hard whereas the last time I did that kind of workout I was on fire! The Thursday hill repeats were lonely, just me and Ultra. The first one went just fine but I had to dig deep in the motivational tool box to get the second one done. I haven't really had to dig that deep for motivation for a long time so I think it was a good exercise for me.
Friday we all (Bill, Alex, Stacey, Jim, Micheal, Beast, Steve and I) left for our back to back run along the Rogue River Trail. This trail is perfect simulation for the last 40 miles of WS100. It gets a bit eerie as you run along the cliffs because it is so similar in view and terrain to the WS100 trail. We were off for our 5 hour drive and all very excited. Our plan was to run from Graves Creek trail head on Saturday, Meet up with Bill, Alex, Susan, Rich, Evan and Lauren to spend the night at the Illahe Lodge and on Sunday we would run back to Graves Creek. A one way journey is approximately 39 miles of nice single track trail that rolls along the Rogue River. Some of us were hoping for warm weather so we could do some heat training while others were hoping for cool temperatures :). Team WS (me, Jim and Micheal) got our wish and on Saturday were treated with temperatures in the 80's.
When we arrived in Merlin we checked into our bunkhouse where we would all stay on Friday night. I think we were all in bed nodding off by 7:30 so we could be on the trail at 7 a.m. the next day. The plan was to start together and go at our own pace. Bill and Alex would take about 2 hours to drive to Illahe so they got a chance to check out a animal rescue park before they started driving over. We were all on the trail by 7 a.m. ready to go. Immediately Micheal took the lead and the rest of us followed behind but within 5 miles Micheal was out of sight. Stacey, Jim and I hung together for over 20 miles and all three of us realized we were getting very dehydrated very fast! All of us complained of aching leg muscles and each of us had no explanation except the heat. After 3 hours of running we had only drank about 40 oz of water which would be enough normally but it was warm and we were not used to it. All of us were sweating hard and began to really pound the water in an attempt to re-hydrate but once you get low it's so hard to come back. Our paces slowed but we remained focused. At mile 28 we had planned to stop at Paradise Lodge, refuel, get a coke and then continue on. There are a couple of places along the trail that have hoses you can use to get water and there are many creeks along the trail. I missed the side trail to Paradise Lodge and just continued on. This flub up caused a chain reaction of events. I was just cruising along thinking the lodge should come up any minute while Jim and Stacey began to worry about me. This trail is really easy and you can't get lost but I just missed side trail into the lodge. They waited and worried and then decided to back track to see if I was okay. Meanwhile I am just going along my merry way when I came to a creek and pulled out my map to discover I have gone 2 miles past the lodge. I got water at the stream and ate some food thinking Stacey and Jim would be there any minute. After several minutes I thought they might be ahead of me so I continued on and asked some hikers if runners had been by. When they said, "no" I knew they had waited at Paradise for me. They back tracked enough to run into Steve and Beast who knew I pulled an air head move and skirted the Lodge. Stacey and Jim turned around and began running and asked hikers if they had seen me and when they had confirmed I was juest ahead everyone was at ease. As the run progressed I just got more and more fatigued and my legs just got more achy. It didn't seem to matter how much water I drank or how many gels I ate I couldn't muster up a second wind. The trail winds along the river on high cliffs. There are sections you need pay close attention to your foot placement so you don't go flying off the edge while other parts of the trail run in and out wooded areas in a sea of poison oak. In other sections the trail is cut right into a field of high grass and almost all the sections had a view of the river below. I continued to fuel properly and just pushed through the fatigue but it wasn't easy. Since I was by myself I got to think a lot about how I felt and wanted to turn off the recording in my head. I talked to myself, sang to myself, scolded myself, laughed at myself....way to much time with "self". :) I reached the lodge in 8:15 of running time and pretty discouraged by that effort but I couldn't muster up any more speed! Susan and her family had arrived along with Bill and Alex. Micheal had finished in 7:10 and had a fabulous day. He too got a bit dehydrated but was able to come back strong. I quickly got my Tecnu and a hose and spent a good 20 minutes washing as we waited for Stacey, Jim, Steve and Beast. Soon after I was done with my Tecnu bath Stacey and Jim arrived even after adding on 4 bonus miles. Steve and Beast arrived in just over 10 hours. Everyone showered, refueled, chatted, nursed sore muscles, stretched, ate some more and off to bed by 9 p.m.
Sunday's plan was to have breakfast early and everyone be on the trail by 8:00 a.m. Everyone left a different times but Micheal, Jim, Stacey and I took up the rear. This time Micheal was only with us for about 10 minutes before he was out of sight. Jim, Stacey and I caught up with others after about 7 miles. All of us were tired but feeling good considering how bad we felt after the first day. Sunday was a bit cooler and we were hydrating like crazy! After about mile 16 we all got separated with Steve and Micheal in the front. Jim passed me when I was getting water and I never caught him again. Stacey, Susan and Beast were all behind me but all running independently. I made a game out of chasing down Steve and Jim. I had no hopes of getting Micheal but I thought I might be able to over take Steve and catch up with Jim. Jim had these great hummus burritos and I wanted to eat them so I was running for food :). He must have known I was in hot pursuit of his food because I didn't catch him! I really got the opportunity to work on running through muscle fatigue and I had deja vu's about WS. I felt pretty much like I do during the last 30 miles of a 100 so I used that imagery to my benefit. Every little roller felt like Mt. Everest and I could have easily walked them but I wouldn't let myself. What's surprising is forcing myself to run the rollers was really no worse then power hiking them, it is all mental at that point. I actually felt better physically and mentally playing this game and the by product of it was speed. I was getting faster and faster vs. slower and slower. Don't get me wrong......this hurt and was very uncomfortable but I could do it. I guess that was my lesson for this weekend. I can RUN on tired legs, I have been trained to run on tired legs, I can power through it instead of breaking stride and walking. After a long hard effort I finally caught Steve with 3 miles left and he let me know Jim was long gone so now all my carrots were gone!:). When I finally came around a bend and could see the bridge and Graves Creek parking area I knew I had about a half a mile to the finish. I was going to have negative splits for the day and the weekend! I finished in 7:47 and was really happy with the effort I gave. Micheal blitzed the 39 miles in under 7 hours (I can't remember exactly), Jim ran very well and felt good. Everyone arrived back at Graves Creek with smiles on their faces and plenty of stories. Susan had the best story about her conflict with a trail hogging rattlesnake.
I got a bit a of cold on Saturday night and after Sunday's long day I cemented it into my throat. I have been not feeling well since we got home but am hopeful this bug will be gone soon with some much needed rest. This week is a recovery week and then one more big push before the taper. It's hot in Portland so I will try to take advantage of it by running in the afternoon.