I guess it’s time to fast forward ahead from my last posting, which was a run down from my performance at the Rocky Raccoon 100 and a look towards the road ahead to Western States. Unfortunately, a calf strain in my right calf from Rocky Raccoon caused me to take a couple weeks off from running. Since then, it’s been a string of 4 weeks where I averaged about 50 miles per week. I’ve only had one run over 17 miles, and that was a 22 miler a few weeks ago.
Going into the Lake Sonoma 50, I was less than adequately prepared for an excellent race, although I went into it with the expectation that considering my most recent string of excellent races I might be able to pull one more out of the bag. The bigger goal was to get my body back in the game as far as long runs are concerned so that I can let it rip at Miwok on May 1st. Originally, I had been signed up for the Old Goats 50 Mile Run in San Juan Capistrano. However, when a spot off the waiting list opened up for me at Lake Sonoma, I took it. It was closer to home, had some good climbing (mostly rolling), and had gotten some great reviews from other runners.
Not knowing quite how to pace myself come back slowly from injury, I took splits from the previous year for a 7:55 finish. However, I came into the race knowing that I would not sacrifice the complete healing of my calf in order to hit the major climbs harder.
Needless to say, the end result seemed to fit with my current training. I got through mile 20 with no major issues, although the major climbing over the next 10 miles forced me not to push it before my lack of training kicked me in the butt over the final 20 miles. It wasn’t a bad day, finishing in 8:31 in 11th place, but it also wasn’t a great day. I felt like I was bonking over the final 20 miles, unable to really kick it into that next gear. It was a fatigue and “worn down” feeling that came over me.
I did see a few silver linings in my performance. While I did fade from 8th to 11th overall over the final 28 miles, in the past I would’ve allowed myself to slip further. When Devon Crosby-Helms, the first woman, passed me with 10 miles to go on a long 7.4 mile stretch and took that final top 10 position, I was at first anticipating a flood of others waiting to pass me. When that didn’t happen while continuing to walk significant portions of the uphills, the mental uplift seemed to invigorate my running on the flatter, downhill portions. While I couldn’t quite close the 2+ minute gap that had built between Devon and I at the last aid station, I did bring it together to finish stronger than I anticipated and run a number of those final uphills.
On a day without the injury hindering preparation, I felt like a top 5 finish was definitely a very real possibility, but that will have to wait until next year. I really enjoyed being out there and thought the course was just a really good, fair challenge. It demands a fair level of consistent effort to keep going over those rolling hills over and over again. The key is to not push too hard on the ups or go too lightly on the downs; consistent effort yields consistent results. While you can’t simply compare one section on the way out exactly with the same section on the way back,
I prefer to look forward from here with the Skyline To The Sea 50k and Miwok 100k coming up. A preliminary goal for Skyline, with it’s net downhill course, will probably be to try and break 4 hours. I may re-evaluate this goal with Miwok 2 weeks later, but going hard at Skyline will lead me right into my tapering period.
A larger goal over the next 3 weeks is to hit 3 consecutive 100 mile weeks with long runs of 30+ miles. This will prepare me much better for Miwok and beyond. This next 3 weeks, including Skyline, is crucial to my overall training. Although I’ve been under the weather the past week with work also bogging me down, I did a 32ish mile run on Saturday from Tennessee Valley towards Bolinas Ridge and back using the same segments that the Miwok course used. I treated certain segments like a tempo run and will do the same next weekend as I attempt to further measure myself against a few previous participants’ splits and hopefully give myself a good approximation of what I can do on race day. Based on what I did during those timed segments on Saturday, I am continuing to focus in on formulating a goal time somewhere around 9 hours. One really encouraging thing to come out of this run was that my calf seemed to respond fairly well, particular when going up Deer Park Fire Road towards Pantoll Ranger Station for that 3 mile stretch.
Other than that, life is good and Easter was good. Good Friday and Easter are two of the most important holidays on the calendar for me, so being able to spend it with family was good. It continues to remind me that running always has its place, which will never be #1.