This was a breakthrough week for me. I overcame some mental barriers to reconnect with the simplicity of running. A solid week of running is in the books, and I established a fair benchmark for my current fitness and how I need to progress over the next 11 weeks ahead of Tussey Mountainback 50-miler.
Plain and simple. 13.5 miles of run commuting back and forth over the Mesa.
Ditto. I’m suddenly intimidated by my training plan. That is ok. I take the easy days easy and make the most of the weekly opportunities to work hard. Though, I’m already getting lost in the “final time” expectations for the upcoming Wash Park Marathon on Saturday.
I had a tough go at the counterclockwise loop of White Ranch Park. I’ve always opted for the clockwise loop (Strava CR holder) because it’s more familiar and psychologically it’s an easier loop with a more agreeable distribution of climbing, however there comes a time in every man’s life when demons needs to faced.
I started the day on tired legs and despite pre-alarm clock dreams of cancelling on White Ranch and opting for an easier, flatter road run, I sucked it up and went for it. Ain’t it funny how Strava has me brainwashed into thinking that if I can’t throw down a 100% effort on a TRAINING run, then it’s not worth it at all. I’ll tell you Strava, you’re in my head, but you don’t control my life.
So the run itself ended up being wildflowers and baby deer. Well, that’s what I saw along the way, but my body felt much differently. Wait a minute, actually, my body felt fine, I’m just excusing myself for walking the early climbs. Truthfully, my energy levels were low from the start, which resulted in a few more walking breaks than I choose to admit. But hell that is TRAINING. I finished the loop and returned home for breakfast:
I’m happy with the progression of mileage thus far this week. Three days in and I’ve logged 41 trail miles and 5,800 feet of climbing. On paper that is fantastic, and I’m proud to be able to log such stats without exerting much mental energy (i.e. 27-miles of run commuting, and today from a trail head 10-minutes from home).
Bottom line is, I’m starting to accept my identity as a trail runner again! Over the winter training for the Wings For Life World Run, I ran almost exclusively on roads. Yes, I had harder workouts and long runs sprinkled into my training load, but I felt safe and comfortable with my ability to sustain the training exertion. Running trails is a whole different story.
One wrong step on a trail can cause foot pain, ankle pain, calf pain, knee pain… all encompassing pain. Escaping pain is not how I enjoy running. In the past, pain is what running trails have caused for me. I blame my size 13 feet for most of my ailments. Scientifically speaking, the large surface area of my feet creates an inordinate number of pressure points over rocky terrain. That said, I’m feeling much better after a few weeks of consistent trail training. Sure, I’ve toned it back a bit via South Table Mesa traverses, which are less technical than most Colorado trails, but I can feel the strength accumulating in my legs.
Will that translate to speed at the Wash Park Marathon on Saturday? We shall find out…
PlayGldn Gang: 8-ish miles on Dino Ridge, with a focus on fast, downhill running. I felt smooth, with noticeable speed gains while deliberately pumping my arms and letting gravity do its job.
I’ve been going through a bit of a running regression over the last few weeks, in that I’m seeking external validation in my running, and it’s screwing with my head. It’s been a month and a half since my last race, and I have yet to return to “racing” weekend efforts, which is exactly why I planned the Wash Park Marathon for Saturday. I believe I’m lacking that distinctive show of progress that I crave dearly. Be patient, they say. Because of this funk, I found myself seeking external validation in sponsorship or brand ambassadorship. I hoped this move would magically elevate my status and validate the work that I put in on a daily basis.
Since the Wings For Life World Run, I’ve been thinking a lot about sponsorship. Am I worthy of representing a brand? What would I seek in return from a partnership? My base thoughts were as follows:
- All I really want from a sponsor is discounted race entries and travel. As a competitor, I love to race and push my limits, though the costs of travel, food, gear, and race entry add up quickly and limit the number of opportunities to “prove your worth” in this sport.
- I would want to utilize any sponsorship opportunity as a platform for promoting a sustainability lifestyle. Yeah, energy efficiency and reduced ecological footprint are my jam. I’d be honored to run, compete, and preach in the name of expanding the reach of my sustainability lifestyle: run to work, reusable mug, reusable bags, composting. Simple, frugal, & aware.
I pursued a company that I hold in high regard by their influence on the running community and their mission towards a global cause. After carefully crafting an email to the co-founder expressing my interest, I received a response and setup a call to discuss what I was seeking. I was excited for the opportunity, and eager to express my passion for sustainability with an underlying of my running success.
I had a great chat with the co-founder, and we discussed the various athlete-ambassador arrangements that are typical in the industry. I left the call feeling proud and relieved, and eager to tell Julia, as I’d been purposely withholding the developments from her. It took Julia 10-seconds to identify a Red Flag and immediately reversed my perspective towards ambassadorship.
What I had totally overlooked was the fact that I’ve never actually purchased anything from this company. The wise sage that Julia is, simply asked me why I have never purchased anything from them. The honest truth is that I really only buy clothing from the sale rack at Marshall’s. I’ve always chosen quality and construction over brand name, and have rarely ever paid full price for any running items. My sustainability lifestyle was backfiring!!
I am a poor consumer. I don’t buy with seasons or trends. I don’t urge people to buy things for the heck of it. While I’m certain the company I was courting has a myriad of reasons that their products and their mission make the sticker price worth it, I have never convinced myself towards a purchase. How can I hold myself accountable as a brand ambassador, influencing others to purchase and consume just because they support me?
I can not.
I know that sponsorship opportunities are few and far between for ultra runners, and I felt the need to establish myself and start to climb up the sponsorship ladder, as the runners who I admire have done. However, my life right now is so good, so balanced, so fulfilling. Why the impulse to add in distractions and commitments? Why the desire to add stress, uncertainty, and doubt to my running goals? More important than any running success or promotional opportunities, it is imperative that I remain grounded, honest, and true to the simple act of running and the joy that it brings.
I love running. I love the people I’ve met through running. I love the places I’ve seen through running. I love being creative, unique, thoughtful, & entrepreneurial. How all of these elements of my being blend together to impact the world can be whittled down to my desire to strive.
After yesterday’s reawakening of running joy, I felt uplifted and invigorated at NP5280. We ran and speed-dated at Governor’s Park. Then on our work campus, I saw a mama deer with her two babys. Nature moves you.
Just a few laps in to the Wash Park Marathon, I renamed the day to the Washing Machine Marathon. Both because of the spin cycle nature (11 laps) and the precise execution of pacing (machine-like). I’d been nervous about this TRAINING run all week. Was I setting myself up for failure? Were my expectations too high? Yes and Yes.
Thankfully I pressed play on a podcast yesterday while returning from work, that totally validated my WFL training block. Again, I was nervous about this training run because of what I was trying to PROVE, not by the peace of mind that I was trying to gain. I wanted to prove (to you? to me? to Strava?) that I still had speed.
The podcast reiterated the benefits of consistent training and reminded me that my pacing is what led me to win WFL, not my speed. In ultra endurance events, max speed is insignificant when compared with ones ability to run efficiently. Economy of motion is what separates fast runners from ultra runners.
I met Tyler at 6:30AM at Wash Park, with a new perspective on what I wanted to acheive from this training run (I’ve stopped capitalizing ‘training’ due to this renewed perspective). I wanted to run on feel:
Wash Park is a 2.47 mile loop, so I planned for 10+ laps to cover 26.2 miles.
- 4 laps comfortable effort
- 3 laps quicker effort
- 3+ laps ‘final stretch’ effort
My new perspective meant no clock watching. I glanced at my watch once after the first mile (6:31 pace), to clarify my effort level, and a second time after 10 laps to see how much further I’d have to run. That second glance came at mile 24.7, when I decided to run a full 11th lap.
Things in my head while running: “I’ve become so numb” by Linkin Park. The awesomeness of starting the run with Tyler, then seeing Julia (my paparazzi), and my dudes out logging miles too: Major, Drew, and Troy.
Oh I almost forgot, I was aggressively stung by a super aggressive bee during the final lap. As I approached this cluster of people getting out of their car causing a jam on the path, this sharp needle of pain struck my right calf. I saw a white something zip away to the right. I never believed a bee in mid-flight could manage the coordination for an attacking sting of an on-the-move target, but this thing was a pro. I still had a mile and a half to go, so I ran through the pain. The sting subsided after a mile, but still left me in shock.
And we brunch:
It was a great week.
Endurance Changes Time,