The calm before the storm. Race day is just one week away. Which race, you say? The Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile ultra endurance run, I say. I’m amped for race day. I’m poised, I’m prepared, I’m patient. Julia is my teammate, has taken care of all our travel logistics, scheduled the weekend in a Google Doc, and she is hyped to encourage and cheer for me on race day. While my confidence in my abilities has fluctuated over the last few weeks, there is no doubt in my mind that when the gun goes off, I’m going to bring every ounce of my preparation to those 50 miles.
Monday (still on VACATION!!):
Today was our first full play day on our vacation… no travelling, no unpacking, no commitments. Our hosts in Cape Cod, my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin provided some great suggestions on where we should run, drink coffee, explore, and eat seafood. We started the day parking at Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans, a few steps away from the Cape Cod Rail Trail. We’d hoped to run for 3-hours, but right from the start our bodies felt the fatigue of the prior days of travelling. Nonetheless, we kept moving up the trail, laughing at it’s 1/10 of a mile markings – a cruel indicator of our “progress”.
After four miles or so, we arrived at Coast Guard Beach. The morning was socked in a heavy fog, air seemingly packed with suspended drops of water. The scene from the beach was mystical and outer-worldly. This was Julia’s first trip to Cape Cod, so it was fun to see her bask in the majesty of the ocean waves. Who am I kidding, I’d never seen anything like it before and reveled in the paleness:
Next, we headed up the road a mile or two to Nauset Light Beach, where we tagged a lighthouse and doubled back. The sky was clearing now and we were treated to completely different scenery on the route home, as the fog burned off. We didn’t run as far as we would have liked, but it’s vacation, and now it’s time for coffee.
After a nice respite with coffee, a blueberry muffin, and Instagramming, we drove half an hour up to Wellfleet. We walked along the beach in Wellfleet and got our first plate of fried seafood at Moby Dick’s.
We had a great time on the boards, on our little stretch of private beach, and bathed in the amazing weather.
We began the day at Nirvana Coffee in Barnstable. Usually it’s run first, then coffee. Today’s plan was coffee-run-coffee. Fine with me! We drove to Hyannis and went on a scenic run tour of the downtown , piers, and beach side mansions. We were pretty casual, no expectations, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the town. My first marathon was the Hyannis Marathon, so I was reminiscing about the ups and downs of that day in February 2012.
Next up was coffee #2 and scrumptious pastries from Pain D’Avignon. Back in the car, we headed towards the mainland, but first spun through my parents old neighborhood in Sandwich, MA. We walked on Town Neck beach and were unable to resist the serenity of the day so we hopped into the water.
Heading up towards Somerville, we stopped at Legal Seafood in Braintree for an overflowing lobster roll, tender calamari, and Shipyard Oktoberfest beers. Then we were back in the car for a slowwwww drive up I-93. Ughh, I do not miss Boston traffic. It’s on another level on the scale of brutally exhausting, seriously. After a shower at the Karakoy-casa, we drove (even more slowly) to return the rental car in Copley Square. I rejoiced as I retired from my driving duties for the trip. This city was ours for the walking!
We walked through Back Bay, across the Mass Ave Bridge, and through Central Square. A delectable stop for dinner came at the Dumpling House in Cambridge. Julia and I gorged on hot tea, hot and sour soup, dumplings, noodles w/peanut sauce, broccoli, and rice. It was oh so bountiful and healthy, we highly recommend it. After dinner we walked to Harvard Square and met up with Paul for a tasty ice cream treat at JP Licks. Paul gave us the rundown on his race at the Vermont 50. Sounds like a beautifully challenging course, perfect addition to my racing wish list 🙂 Before we knew it, it was time for us to walk 2-miles back to the Somerville to get some shut eye.
#NovemberProjectBostonHarvardStadiumPRDay!! Julia and I were up an at ’em eager for the OG November Project experience. We ran 3-miles to Harvard Stadium, picking up Josef along the way in Harvard Square. Hi Bojan, hi Dylan, hi Harvard Football squad, hi DJ music player! After an electric bounce, I went to the newbie meeting with Emsauce. Did you know you should run on the left and pass on the right in the stadium? Learn it, live it, love it.
Being the good taper-er that I am, I deferred the opportunity to run the stadium. Instead, I breathed it in. The collective energy, the beauty in strength, the music reverberating through my chest. I bottled it up. I will use it during Tussey50.
Julia loved/hated the stairs and was grateful for the challenge. Paul was honored with the Positivity Award!! We were so glad to witness Paul get his well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
After a coffee date with Paul and Carly in Harvard Square, we shuffled back to Somerville, showered and headed right back out for breakfast in Union Square. We took an Uber to Logan airport around 11AM, and were ready to chill on the flight home to Denver.
I listened to a few running podcasts during the flight, and captured from notes on running, racing, and life:
- Always be a champion.
- Defensive running: be a “pusher” – let others wear themselves out with undulating paces. Be steady like the Energizer bunny(?). Run oblivious to those around you like wearing horse blinders.
- Race visualization: I’m visualizing what I will look like out on the course. What I will write on my arms for splits and motivation. What I will carry for fuel and hydration. How I will utilize the aid stations. These visual cues give me intermediate checks and balances, allowing me to adjust early and often on race day.
- The value in a subdued taper: I’m calm, emotions are steady. I’m excited, yet contained and managed, confidently prepared.
- Racing to my strengths: ultra distance, lock in pace, monotony, hills. Not everyone is cut out to run the Boston Marathon, yet this seems to be the primary objective of most new to the sport. I’ve built myself up as a distance runner based on what challenges and motivates me.
I got a queue from Matt Fitzgerald and how NAZ Elite training yields effectiveness in multi-intensity workouts. I was intrigued and immediately wanted to incorporate multi-intensity to our PG workout. The idea is to do intervals, but instead of one pace throughout each interval, you have a pace shift. I envisioned finishing off a 1m30sec sprint at 10k pace with 15-30 seconds at 5k pace. Unfortunately, the rainfall over night led to slick roads that would have put us at risk of injury, so we did a modified hill workout instead.
Meg and Kev joined me for shorter sprints from the midway point to the hilltop. It felt good to do harder shorter sprints, and should be effective fine-tuning for our respective races next week (Xterra CO Marathon for the G’s).
Now that I’m back at work, I’m making a concerted effort to do the little things to ensure my health on race day. Thanks to the frequency goal on my pedometer, I tend to leave my desk every hour and a half throughout the workday for a brief walk around campus. For the remaining work days leading up to Tussey, I’ll be going into the exercise room during these walks to swing my legs – 2 sets of forward and lateral leg swings, 10 reps per leg – increasing mobility in my hips and abdomen.
Easy run to work. Throughout the morning, I was combing through the Tussey race website. Simultaneously, Julia was putting together the trip itinerary in a Google Spreadsheet. My Angel! As I mentioned earlier, Julia and I are a team when it comes to our racing, preparation, & traveling. Having the unequivocal support of your spouse in your endeavors is simply uplifting.
With Julia away for #UltraGirlsNight, I spent my evening at home and watched the National Geographic documentary about Nike’s Breaking2 project. I’ve always been drawn to the everyday lives of elite athletes, gleaning insight from their personalities, work ethic, and balance of family life. This video humanized the three racers selected to the Breaking2 attempt. It’s hard not to root for the humble and reserved confidence of Eliud Kipchoge.
I thought about running 13-miles in Waterton Canyon, but I just didn’t feel like driving. I felt fine physically, but having been away from home for the last week, I wanted to utilize my free time at home. Instead, I gathered my race day gear and set out around Golden for 5-miles of race simulation. I ran with the gear, clothing, and shoes that’d I’ll be wearing on race day, just 8 days away!
I finished the run at the Golden Rec Center, where I spent the next two hours soaking in the hot tub, stretching, and rolling out my butt, hips, and abs. I don’t get to listen to music all that much, so I felt pretty cool bopping to the beats of Macklemore, pulsing through each stretch!
Julia returned from Silverthorne, and I whisked her away to a company picnic. We ate BBQ, ice cream, and had fun on the air pistol shooting range.
When we got home, I insisted that Julia watch Breaking2. We watched the 55-minute documentary together, and yet again I was mesmerized by Kipchoge’s demeanor and presence. I will channel his spirit at Tussey. He never showed any sign of strain, stress, or fatigue. His preparation and mental stamina allow him to succeed on race day.
Later in the evening, I flipped through a digital version of Competitor Magazine and enjoyed an excerpt from the drummer of Fritz and the Tantrums:
I’m an introvert. I think that’s the key in ultras. You have to be comfortable in your own head for a really long time.
People always ask me what I think about while running long distances, expressing how bored & uncomfortable they’d be. I thrive on the focus and disconnect that I build upon through long distance runs, perhaps it’s a benefit of being an introvert.
After a hip-hop beat inspired dance party with Julia in the morning, we went to Pangea for a coffee/burrito date. Afterwards, she went off for a run around Golden, and I went to the Rec Center for another round of soak & stretch.
Julia and I are both ready for next weekend. While I’m racing, Julia will be running, cycling, and driving around the course to see me at different spots. She’s been feeding me well, making sure I’m tapering smartly and sleeping late. Our collective energy for success on race day is brimming. I’ll have one more post on Friday or Saturday, then it’s GO TIME!
Endurance Changes Time,