When it all comes together

After about a weeks worth of not sleeping, back and forthing across the country, pacing Glen Redpath at MMT100 last weekend (report to follow in a separate blog), driving through the night back to Seattle and being so exhausted I could barely stand up yesterday without nearly passing out, I was frankly a bit concerned for todays planned 40 mile run through the city. It is my biggest run leading up to Belgium/WC100k on June 19 and I wanted it to be good, fast, strong and indicative to what I was going to be able to pull off in a months time. Feeling as I have been this week, I just was not looking forward to it. I had initially scheduled the run for Tuesday, as my coach Howard had schedule the distance for last Saturday which I couldn't do because I was running the hardest 27 miles of my life through the night at MMT. Tuesday rolled around and I made it about 5.5 miles into the run before aborting the mission and heading home for a total of 11. I was dead on my feet and there was no way I was going to pull it off, nor would it be worth it just to slog through the miles. I was not concerned however since I was listening to my body and responding to the signals. Being smart overrides our prideful "suck it up" nature. I decided to just hold true to my schedule for the rest of the workouts for the week and do my 5hrs today.

I got in good training this week but by Thursday, I was just feeling exhausted, sore and still not good. I would bounce back and forth from extreme hunger to extreme lack of appetite coupled with nausea. Not fun. My sister and I drove up from SF to Seattle overnight on Thursday night, so I spent the majority of Friday just laying there, wondering if I should admit myself to the hospital for extreme exhaustion. I felt like death and that does not instill confidence, at all. After a great lunch with Linda and a short 9 mile run in the afternoon sun, I spent the evening at home, eating a good sized pre-run meal of baked potato with marinara and turkey sausage and then going to bed early. I mean 8pm and I was out in 5 minutes early. I stretched before bed, hoping and praying that all the various aches, pains and kinks would work themselves out. As much as I can mentally hype (or calm/zen out) myself, you can't fake a 40 miler. You can't phone it in.

I woke up this morning at 5:30, ate my gluten free waffles and banana, drank my coffee, took my Vespa and gathered up my gear for the run. I wanted to average 8mph for 5 hrs. I figured that was a good indicator for a sub-8hr race and I would (hopefully) not be too worked afterwards. I waited until exactly 7am to leave the house, as I had planned with Jonathan to meet him at his house at around mile 22 and have him run the remaining 18 miles with me, so I had to try and time it to arrive when I had told him. He had been up pretty much all night running on Tiger with a crew of people and had gone to bed at 3:30am after the 15 mile climb-fest. I strapped on my Nathan waist pack and filled up my handheld with Nuun and was out the door. I go straight uphill from my house and was happy to not feel dead in the first 30 seconds like I did yesterday. I had mapped out a run that took me from Northgate, down through the U-Dist to the Burke Gilman, across Montlake Bridge to the Arboretum, down to the lake front and all the way down to Seward park, around Seward Park, then back north, over to Beacon Hill, then down along SU to Jonathan place just off Pike on Capitol Hill. That first section, which turned out to be 23.3 miles went by really smoothly. I was clipping along comfortably, pleased that my legs didn't hurt and were not feeling tired at all. I was passing people left and right and was ahead of my 8mph pace from the beginning. And I wasn't slowing down. In fact, I sped up. I downed some Sharkies after coming off the Seward Park loop and had been really good about taking my SaltStick tablets every hour as it was decently warm (and beautiful and sunny!).

By this point I was in the zone and despite the headwind on the return north along the lake and heading into the 20 mile range, I felt great. I ran by a Buddhist monk who was meditating on a rock and I said a quiet prayer of thanks for the ability to be out doing what I was doing. Running is my church, my meditation, my spirituality and I am so blessed to be able to do it. The day just kept getting better and better. I didn't feel tired, not even a hint of the previous day (or weeks) exhaustion lingered. I just motored. I hit mile 20 in 2:23 and stopped to text Jonathan that I was a few miles away. He was up and ready to go and I was super excited to have the company. I hadn't seen him since Miwok so there was lots of catching up to do.

(Cont. below)

I was pushing a good pace, keeping my heart rate going and not letting myself settle. I zoomed up to Jonathan's, we did a quick refill of my bottle (with new Banana Nuun, yum!!). The rest of the run's plan was to head down to the Sound, hit Myrtle Edwards park, run north along the water, cross over to Magnolia, head up the hill, do 1 loop at Discovery, back down the Locks, cross into Ballard, head up towards the zoo, around the east side of Greenlake, then north home to Northgate. The first few miles JB and I spent chattering away excitedly and I told him the amazing story of the epic finish at MMT100. We kept a good clip going, not hammering yet, as I wanted Jonathan to have an opportunity to get warm again. I was feeling good though. The miles just ticked away and I occasionally would have to smile to myself and think about how cool it is when a run comes together like that. We headed up the long slow grind of a hill in Magnolia towards Discovery but then opted to not do the Discovery loop. I was ahead on mileage from where I had mapped out, and wasn't too keen on the loop anyways. We figured we could make up anything we were shorted later, even if it meant running around the block a few times.

We headed down through the locks, through Ballard and on to Fremont. We were cruising right well at this point (I had made it through the marathon distance at 3:08/3:09ish) and we started talking about everything we had learned about pacing people. Pacing Glen at MMT was an education. I learned what it means to push someone to the brink and be the "x factor" at the end of the race. Jonathan paced Sam Thompson last weekend to a CR at Watershed 12hr and learned similar lessons. He and I are both new to the 100 milers and we are both sponges for information and experience on how to improve and excel. We headed out of Ballard (I went through the 50k marker sub 3:40) and it was clear to me that Jonathan was feeling good (he had been nervous that he was spent from the night run and wouldn't be able to keep up, as if!!!) and he carried the pace. He was pacing me out at a good clip and my legs felt as good at mile 30+ as they did at the start. Sometimes things just come together, sometimes they don't- good or bad, who is to say. When the good times come, you celebrate and when they go, you accept it. Things change and that is just life. But on this run, nothing would change, at least not for the worse.

We hit Peet's coffee in Fremont as our aid station and filled up our bottles. We decided that running up Fremont Ave (a one mile not pedestrian climb), then taking a left at the zoo and a right onto Phinney/Greenwood would be just the ticket to get the mileage. We ran up the hill better than I do alot of times on much shorter runs. We didn't have to stop and walk and it felt good. Not bad considering at that point in the run I was breaking 100 miles for the week).

We just ran and ran hard. Turned right down 80th, still chatting away feeling good. We came to the north end of Greenlake and I realized that if we just turned north and ran home I would be short, so we decided to run part way around the lake to where Gregs Greenlake Cycle is, hit Road Runner Sports for some cold water and then run uphill on 5th back to 95th. At mile 37 my average pace was a 7:15/mile and my stride was still strong and my energy good. We did a quick in and out at Road Runner, saying hi to everyone (as JB knows everyone from his years working at RR) and off we went. Jonathan was carrying the pace, pushing it up the hill and I simply hitched my wagon to his train and followed. I had it in me to push, I was not spent and yet, I definitely was relying on him dictating the pace to get to that pace. What pace? Like 6:30 pace, up a freaking hill. As we crested the hill, he said, "this is where it counts" and it is so true. If you can drop the hammer in your training at mile 38 like that, then you are on point for your target race. This year has been strange, I have raced less and frankly don't feel like any effort I have put forth was "A race" status. Nothing has been worthy of that really. It had been worrying me though since I had no indicator of where my fitness is. I have been training hard and was hopeful that my fitness was where I wanted it to be. This run today proved that I am ready. We zoomed along 5th Ave and had to bypass the turn down my mom's street as we were about .5 miles from mile 40 and my mom's house is less than .25 down the hill. We dropped down the other side to the next street and did a big loop around a very big block. We pushed and pushed. I crossed the 40 mile mark a long block away from home and we flew up the hill towards my mom's. The last push we were really moving, it just made me giddy to feel that good and be moving like that. My final average pace was 7:12. So in the last 3 miles, we ran fast enough to drop my AVERAGE by 3 seconds. Sick!!! 4:47 for just over 40 miles. Not a bad days work!

It was a truly epic day and I am hopeful and excited about how WC100k is shaping up! A very special thanks for JB for coming out and running with me. He really made a huge difference and is so much fun to run with!!! The post-run eating was fun too (check out the picture below)

Jonathan and I after an epic day for both of us!

40 miles like it was nothing. All smiles for being done!

Burrito as big as my head from Whole Foods.
Followed by gluten free vegan cake at Flying Apron. Ahhh food.