When we first started this blog, I talked about our big goal race: our first 50K. We’re less than a week out from the race we’d registered for. But we won’t be there for the 50K.
Time to Refocus
This summer brought injuries for both Gene (hip impingement) and myself (shin splints). I had a month with no running. Starting back was slow going, staying on trails, no back-to-back run days. I’ve gotten to 25+ miles for the last 2 weeks, not counting a couple of hikes.
Some weeks ago I’d already come to the decision that the 50K was almost certainly off the list. I knew that we have the personalities to grit through a long, hard thing, though the time limit was a concern before the injuries. Rather I had to come back to one of the goals I set for my running a few years ago: sustainability.
Running is something that I want to be doing for the rest of my life (or at least a major part of it). It’s easy to get caught up in going farther or getting faster. Competing with our past selves isn’t inherently a bad thing of course. But if we get too fixated on the past, or some imaginary vision of the future, we can push so hard we begin to break down.
We might be able to gut our way through 31 miles on Sunday, though we’d likely miss the a cutoff time. We’d be amazed by the accomplishment. Our friends would be impressed. But I might also be disappointed. And hurting. I have no illusions of being pain free after a 50K, but I also know that going into a new endurance distance underprepared means higher likelihood of physical injury and mental/emotional exhaustion. I want to go into my first 50K focused on the race, in the moment, not obsessing over how much training I missed.
Time to Stretch
That said it’s hard to just walk away from a race registration. We DNS the Beat the Blerch marathon a few weeks back, since we were just building back. Around that time, I took a look at the Cougar Mountain 50K info and saw there were 2 other distances the same day—a 7.6 mi and a 19.5 mi race.
The conservative spirit said 7.6 miles is great. You’re doing that mileage now.
Even when striving for sustainability though, the competitive, adventurous spirit remains. Which said, Yeah, you’ve done 7.6 miles already. Race day is for a challenge—where’s the challenge in that?
So we logged in and changed our registration from 50K to 19.5 miles (with 3700′ gain).
Time to Doubt?
I got a little nervous about 10 days ago. My weekly running mileage broke the 20 mile mark for the first time in 3 months. And in a couple of weeks, I was going to run almost that much in a day. What had I been thinking?
I didn’t panic though. I thought through it. The running mileage totals didn’t include the hikes we’d done, which included one that had been 15 miles and 9 hours on feet a few weeks back.
Then last weekend Gene and I ran loops around Carkeek Park. We did 3 loops together, getting Gene over 10 mi with 2150′ of gain in 2:25. I did a fourth, getting to 13.3 mi 2800′ gain in 3:15. The 19.5 mile race has a cutoff of 2.5 hours for the first 9.5 miles (with less gain), and this lended some confidence that we could make make it.
This weekend we did almost 14 mi with 3000′ gain in under 5 hours. The trail was more technical and steep than we expect to encounter next weekend. And the pace was still more than sufficient to make the cutoff for the back half of the course, which will have the “big” climbs for the day.
We’re certainly not abandoning the 50K goal, just rescheduling it. We’re split on when that will be. Continue building through from next weekend’s run and find a goal race in March? Or take some recovery time in November before starting training for a May/June 50K? We’ve decided to put that decision on hold until after the upcoming race. Either way, 2019 will be the year of the 50K.