The race coverage is exceptional. Journey Film has managed to run along with the leaders during key moments of the race and really deliver a sense of what the trail is like. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys ultra running. I have already watched it twice, and it has served as a great motivator to me. You can find information about the movie here.
The last week of running has been a perfect metaphor, especially for running an ultra. It had highs and lows and points where I stood in the woods, broken, defeated and said to myself, "I'm done." (Of course, I wasn't, but it sure felt that way at the time.)
If you have been reading this blog regularly, and come on, why wouldn't you? You'll remember that Tim and I ran the first annual Boxing Day Trail Marathon, also known as 26 on the 26th, last Monday. On Tuesday, I did a short run/walk on the treadmill for about 5 miles. I spent a fair amount of that workout with the incline set to 12% and the speed at 4mph. While this may be easy to some, it kicked my ass and I was huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm. On Wednesday I decided to take my rest day, since I had run on Monday. Thursday night was incredible. I got off of work late, picked up the kids from camp and headed home. My wife got home, and the plan was for me to head out for an 8 mile run around the neighborhood. I was tired and cranky and didn't want to go, but I knew I would feel better if I ran and would be upset with myself if I didn't so I changed clothes and headed out before I had too much time to think about it. I have a 4 mile loop mapped out from the house and started off nice and slow, with the plan to take it easy and just run comfortably for two laps. I finished the first lap in 31 minutes and felt great. I decided to see if I could run a negative split for the second lap. I got back to my mailbox in 29 minutes. Needless to say, I was very pleased with myself and all things began to seem possible.
I met Tim on Saturday morning with a plan to run about 24 miles. From the time I got up, I could tell there was something wrong with my right hip. It felt tight and ached. I decided I had just slept on it wrong and that it would loosen up. I was wrong. I didn't have one comfortable step during the run and when we hit the single track things got worse. After a couple of miles of the trail I came down on a rock and rolled my right ankle enough to make me stop. I was tired, hurt, disappointed and frustrated. I figured I'd just take the most direct route back to the car and call it a day. I told Tim I was shot and he should finish his run, that I was just going to head back. He refused to go on and walked with me back out to the bridle trail. Once we got out onto the main trail I was able to run again and ended up running about 16 miles for the day - quite a bit less than I had planned, but I was still on track for 65 miles for the week.
I got home and cleaned up and made a trip to Raleigh Running Outfitters and picked up a foam roller. This is a great shop that I have been fortunate enough to run for since 2007 or so. While most of the people who are on the team are super fast, I was able to convince Jim, who owns RRO, that if he sponsored me he would get lots of advertising bang for his buck, as I am generally on the race course for an extended period of time.
I spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor, working my hip, hamstrings and calf in an attempt to loosen things up. (My kids thought this was awesome and wanted to play with my new toy.) My wife and I had scheduled a 10 mile run on Sunday and I really didn't want to start off the new year by missing a run, especially not one with her. The smart thing to do would have been to take a rain check on the run and let the hip rest a bit. I'm not well known for common sense or moderation, so we ran anyway.
In keeping with the Buddhist tenant of impermanence, in an ultra marathon when things get bad, it is important to remember that they can't/won't stay bad forever. The same is true for training. Before we left I rolled the legs some more and hoped for the best. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures reaching the lower 60's by the end of the run. We stuck to the bike and bridle trail and covered 10 miles in a little less than 90 minutes. My hip didn't bother me at all during the run and was only a little sore later on during the day. We had an amazing time together and I felt better and more fresh at the end of the run than at the beginning. I'll take it as a good indicator of the year to come.
I ended up running 65 miles last week and 231 miles for December. With the exception of a race week, that was the most I have ever run in a week.
I'm taking it easy during this first week of January and will run the Frosty Fifty 50K in Winston Salem this Saturday with Tim and my neighbor, Rob. I ran this race with Tim in 2010 as my first ultra. Rob has run several 100 milers and I will be crewing for him at the Graveyard 100 in March. Check back this weekend for a full race report.