If you are one of the four people who read my training recaps, you might have noticed that I didn’t do a weekly post during my taper. To be honest, I got lazy. But also, for the past few weeks, there has been a pit in my stomach and a feeling of dread surrounding this race. I hate to admit that because I think racing should be fun and a celebration of the hard work you’ve done, but I was straight up terrified of this race and how my body would handle it.
So, before I go on to write about race day, I want to recap my training as a whole. I think it will also help me process why I felt the way I did and how I can avoid that in the future.
On April 9th I raced a half marathon that I had been training for specifically. It didn’t go as well as I hoped and as soon as I crossed the line, I flipped the switch to 50k training. So, if you start counting from there, I had just under eight weeks to prepare for Dirty 30. If you take out two weeks for taper, that would be six weeks of training. I thought this would be tight but doable considering I would be going into that block with solid fitness from half marathon training. Though, looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t as fit as I could have been going into that half. And while I had some speed that I hadn’t seen in awhile, I hadn’t been doing much climbing at all which would be necessary for Dirty 30.
Here is how those 8 weeks shook out in numbers:
|April 10 – April 16||46.9||6,138|
|April 17- April 23||48.3||5,669|
|April 24 – April 30||51.2||5,259|
|May 1 – May 7 (Wings for Life)||44.5||1,946|
|May 8 – May 14 (recovery from WFL)||10.7||1,896|
|May 15 – May 21||50.1||7,444|
|May 22 – May 28||40.2||6,660|
|May 29 – June 2 (race week)||12||371|
If you compare this to my training for ECSCA 50k, I averaged 5 miles and 800 feet of climbing less per week. The biggest difference, though, is that when training for ECSCA, I nailed some really long runs and managed to do a few weekends with back-to-back solid efforts. My “biggest” week of training for ECSCA was 57.5 miles with 8,146 feet of climbing compared to 50.1 miles with 7,444 feet of climbing a few weeks before this race. My longest run, in miles, during this training block was 22.5 miles at Wings for Life, but that only was 2:51 on the clock. The longest time I spent on my feet was on April 24th when I did 21 miles on North Table in 3:32. Considering that I was preparing for a race that I knew would take me over 6 hours, this is definitely not enough. And that run nearly took me out. I ended up with severe lower back pain later that week, likely from getting overly fatigued during this run. Almost every one of these weeks I had planned to run more mileage and/or vert but didn’t for one reason or another: my back hurt, it snowed, I felt a little foot pain, etc.
After running Wings for Life and having an amazing race that exceeded all my expectations, I was like, ‘well maybe I just accidentally ran my goal race for the season and I’m done now.’ I ended up needing almost an entire rest week after that race. And even after taking that time, I never really felt back to 100% in the continuation of my training. I had little niggles that I normally don’t and I still had (and have) some lower back issues, namely lack of flexibility and some nerve pain when I flex my feet. Also, in the weeks leading up to Dirty 30, in my negative headspace, I convinced myself that WFL was a fluke and that I wasn’t in shape.
Since I’m already unpacking all the insecurities I felt, I’ll also share that one of my biggest worries about the race actually had nothing to do with how my back or legs felt. I’ve been experiencing some acid reflux lately. I don’t know why it started, but I know it’s triggered by two of my favorite things: coffee and beer. Generally, my symptoms (burning feeling, trouble swallowing, etc) have all been in my throat. This doesn’t necessarily affect my running, but it has made me uncomfortable and makes eating unappealing. And sometimes, something I eat has an effect on my stomach, causing me to be worried about bathroom trips during a run. Though I’ve seen a doctor and have tried to manage the reflux in different ways, it has caused me anxiety, which I’m sure just exacerbates the symptoms.
All that times a million was the tornado of negative thoughts in my head the two weeks before Dirty 30. I felt less than 100% physically, mentally, and emotionally going into the hardest race of my life. Multiple times, I thought about just dropping out and then I’d remind myself that I’m capable or Dan/Robyn would say something that pumped me up or I’d remember that Pace and Troy were doing this as their first ultra and if they’re brave enough for that, I could do it in less than ideal conditions for myself. Up until five minutes before the race started, this ping pong match was going on in my head: you can’t do it, you’ll hurt yourself, you’re not prepared vs. just do it, who cares how long it takes, it’s what you enjoy doing.
I’m embarrassed to admit all of this because, well, I’m not this dramatic normally. I’m usually pretty chill about running. I run because I love it and I know how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love with people I love. I am fairly competitive but I’ve never not wanted to run a race because I didn’t think I would do well against other runners. Even after writing all this now that the race is over and (spoiler!) it went well, I still feel a little uneasy. I’m looking forward to taking a break now, mentally and physically, to give myself a reset before a summer of fun trail running with my crew.
Next up: the actual race report!