How else to say it? The Cleveland Marathon (May 17), while not a key event for me, didn't leave a whole lot of strength and energy in my legs.
On the heels of my 2:59 at Cleveland, I took Monday--the day after the race--off to rest and recover, and then was mostly back in action on Tuesday. For a few days I battled that awful feeling of stiff, achy and somewhat weak legs, also known as "trashed legs." The worst of the problem was in my quads. The after-effects of a race are always ever-present in my quads. After my first Boston Marathon in 2006, I could barely walk for a few days. That is the God's-honest truth.
Despite trashed legs, I managed 77.4 miles, including a tough hill-repeat workout on Thursday and a pretty high-mileage three-day weekend. The weekend saw 18 uncomfortable miles on the trails of South Chagrin Reservation on Saturday, 19 road miles on Sunday that included a relaxed showing at the 5.25-mile Blossom Time Run as part of the annual Blossom Time Festival in beautiful Chagrin Falls (more on that below), and 13.1 road and trail miles on Memorial Day (which "count" for next week, not this week).
When we went to sleep on Saturday night, my plan for Sunday's run was to get in 20 solo miles on the roads around where we live (I elected to skip the Solon run because I figured most everyone from the running club would be at the Blossom Time race). Still feeling trashy in the legs, I wanted to avoid the Blossom Time Run because I felt that if I couldn't race it there was no use showing up. I am, after all, pretty competitive. But then when I woke up on Sunday I realized that if I can't participate in a race for the sake of fun and supporting a good cause, have I not lost the joy of running? You can't race every race! So I ran to registration and signed up, logging 10 pre-race miles, ran my 33:31 and then ran home for a total of 19 miles.
My 33:31 at the Blossom Time Run, which got me third in my age group, was a full 2 minutes slower than last year's time. But this time last year I hadn't logged two 50Ks and a marathon, as I have this spring.
Later on Sunday night we walked down to the Blossom Time Festival, where we joined with a group of friends from the Southeast Running Club to watch Chagrin Falls' very own Carley Tanchon sing at Triangle Park. A very talented artist, Carley sang many songs from her most-excellent new album, "Peridot." Afterward, Carley's folks had Anne, Noah and me and a bunch of others over to their place for a cook-out. Tons of fun!
A few words on hill repeats. While I run hills all the time (Chagrin Falls has many hills), hill repeats are new to my training and I'm still trying to figure them out. I'm quite sure they're very beneficial to 100-mile trail training, and I've been told they improve form. I run my hill repeats on Chagrin Boulevard, which is a long stretch going from the Chagrin River valley up to the Chagrin Falls village. Currently, the boulevard is closed for construction, making it a perfect place for hill repeats as I don't have to worry about traffic. I lightly run down the hill, and then go hard up it--usually at a 6:30/mile pace. The stretch is about 1/3 mile long--I need to measure it to be sure. But in the end I know I've done something right because my legs, while tired, are turning over fast. Ideally, I want to be ready to negotiate the hills at Mohican late in the race.
Total miles for week: 77.4
Total miles for month: 227.52
Total miles for year: 1,573.71
With the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run (June 20) now fast-approaching, I've devised a final-stage training and tapering strategy for the next four weeks. This strategy was hatched mostly from my 2007 Burning River 100 taper plan, which I think worked very well (I'd rather forget about what I did going into last year's Mohican 100 since that race, despite my 19:22 and 4th-place finish, was a disaster). Without giving away too many "secrets," my plan for the coming four weeks is:
4 Weeks Out: maximum high mileage
3 Weeks Out: maximum high mileage
2 Weeks Out: reduce mileage by 40-50 percent
Race Week: one day of running; the rest are walking and/or off days with no workout over 35 minutes. Special dieting to ensure optimal protein and carbohydrate intake.
I've also begun gathering race supplies and thinking through the specifics--what I'll need and when I'll need it.
I am very fortunate to have an outstanding crew at Mohican. Joining me will be Kenny M., an aspiring 50-states marathoner who has paced me at both of my 100s and is as supportive, reliable and trustworthy as they come, and Dan C., an ultrarunner who comes highly recommended by Kenny. I am grateful that Kenny and Dan will be at Mohican supporting and looking out for me.
Right now I'm reading a new book called Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen, by journalist Christopher McDougall. I will write a full review of the book when I'm done with it but I have to say that so far this is a great read. McDougall highlights the extraordinary world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons. The Tarahumara are legendary long-distance runners living in a very dangerous part of the world. Stay tuned for a review.
I also finally ordered the DVD "Yiannis Kouros: Forever Running" from Zombie Runner and watched it over the weekend. This 60-minute documentary with English subtitles focuses on the life of the great Kouros, who owns more than 150 ultrarunning world records. Yiannis is a very serious, thoughtful man and one can learn so much from listening to and watching him. One day I'd like to meet him. I love listening to him talk about his out-of-body experiences during his events. And I agree with him that one doesn't become an ultrarunner until he or she has gone so far that their body fails on them and all they have left to keep going is their mind. Watch this video and you'll get to know Yiannis Kouros and learn more about the sport of ultrarunning.
Onward and upward!