Sunday, July 19, 2015

Our Running Lives are Composed of More Than Race Finishes

So ever since my race last weekend, I've been struggling with feeling really run down. I did two midweek runs, one on trails, but this weekend, the bed and relaxing baths have been my friend. My left hip was still tender yesterday, then I napped Saturday afternoon, and then I overslept big time for my run this morning, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep.

I can't understand why I'm so tired and worn out when I've only run 3 ultras this year, and only 1 in the last two months. It's funny the measuring stick used to decide if we've accomplished something. We so often judge it by race finishes and not the various experiences and the efforts surrounding races and experiences!

So a friend told me to sit down and write all the things I've done this year so I can understand why I feel like I do. He sees all the pieces and wanted me to appreciate them as well. Newsflash - this year alone I've traveled 7 times for running and ran in 2 states for the first time (Utah and Idaho)!! So here's my list...

  • January - after directing New Years Double, double ear infection and strep infection with a bad cold knocked me out most of that month. Blergh!
  • February - Paced 22 miles from 8 pm to 2:30 am at Run LOViT 100 Miler in Arkansas after crewing the whole day
  • March - Traveled to Oakland, California to run the Canyon Meadow 50K. 3800 feet of elevation gain/loss

  • April - Traveled to and ran the Hells Hills 50K, just two weeks after the previous 50K. 
Then, I directed the Fairview Half Marathon. My first time camping was also later that month!

  • May - Flew to Denver, drove 9 hours each way with a bunch of fellow ultrarunner crazies, camped 2 nights in Bryce Canyon National Park where it was snowing and 28 degrees. Ran 22 miles through Bryce Canyon. Altitiude to deal with the whole weekend as we were between 7500 and 9500 feet the whole time. Elevation gain of about 4500', loss of about 5500'.

  • June - June 1st I started sleeping in the altitude tent some but wouldn't use it fulltime until a couple weeks later. Mid-June, I traveled to Denver for a family vacation weekend. Drove an extra 1 1/2 hours each way to run the South Park Trail Half Marathon. 16 miles, all between 9900 feet altitude and 10800 feet altitude. The course was 8 miles going up 1750', then turnaround and come back down the same way. 
2 weeks later, I went to Western States Endurance Run and had all the activities surrounding that race, especially because I'm a sponsor (The Active Joe).
After my runner had to drop 30 miles in, I ended up doing a big driving trip and running trails in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco. 6 miles with 1400 feet of elevation gain and loss!

  • July - Jeremy and I flew to Salt Lake City then drove 5.5 hours to Salmon, Idaho. The next day, I ran the Beaverhead Endurance Runs 55K. At 8000-10,000 feet altitude the whole time, and 5900' of elevation gain and 8900' of elevation loss, I spent 15 hours, 52 minutes on what ended up being mostly very technical terrain, including scree fields.

I've been preparing for my first ever fastpacking trip to Colorado. Not a run, not backpacking. It will be a 20 lb pack that includes my camping gear and over two days I'll be doing 27 miles in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness Area outside Aspen on the Four Pass Loop trails. It's 4 mountain passes up above 12,000 feet altitude (I've never been above 10,800 ft), and it will total 8000' of elevation gain and loss. I'll be camping in the backcountry for the first time, and I'll be camping alone. I feel like I have a lot of anxiety about all the new things of this trip. And there's been a lot of work to get prepared, including buying an ultralight tent, buying a Spottracker so my husband knows I'm safe out there, getting a new pack geared towards fastpacking, and just wrapping my head around all the challenges of the trip.

As of today, I've been sleeping in an altitude tent for the past 7 weeks to take the edge off in high altitude races/running. I sleep at 9000 feet elevation, which results in my oxygen saturation in my blood to sit around 90-94% (depending on other variables). And to some amount your body is constantly having to adapt again after being at sea level during the day. The drawback of what can be referred to by some as "legal blood doping" of growing more red blood cells is that it's really hard work on the body. It's exhausting.

After the Colorado fastpacking trip, the altitude tent will be put away for the year. That tent has been invaluable. This has been my 3rd year using it. But I am definitely looking forward to restful nights of sleep!

1 comment:

  1. What a busy year! Lots of fun, but lots of... lots. Hope you get to enjoy some downtime soon.