Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Dream It All Up Again"

...It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky
The universe exploded 'cause of one man's lie
Look, I gotta go, yeah I'm running outta change
There's a lot of things, if I could I'd rearrange...

 Tumult: 1. Confusion or disorder. 2. Disorderly agitation or milling about.  

For as enjoyable as 2011 has been, tumult has been the theme since April. Tumult brought drama, and - in a pre-WS build up - brought elements of excitement sprinkled into a mound of gut-wrenching stress (think: corn kernals in a pile of poop).  

Post-WS was the first time a great while I felt content. And relaxedSatiated.  Gazing upon that sterling silver - and knowing that my "pants won't sag" - has been a tremendous source of joy; not because running 100.2 miles is particularly tremendous feat (I'd say doing 100.2, then another 100M + 33K' gain/loss at 11K' elevation, three weeks later, would fit that classification); rather, that buckle is a physical representation of that day: that I was able to take part in such an incredible adventure, multiplied several-fold by forming a collective experience amongst my best friends and family. For that, I'll be forever grateful and cherish 6-25-11 as one of the best days ever.  

But the world doesn't stop spinning; and those trails won't run themselves (or, as I've found out - won't clear trees or fill root holes).  Before my CPK dipped below 10K, Waldo 100K was looming on the horizon.  I registered in March.  Not only because it's a great race in one of my favorite places in Oregon, but that's it's a Montrail Cup race in my backyard.  

My own hubris (albeit shrinking by the day) told me that this would be my best, and most reasonable bet for entry into the '12 WS.  That said...no rest for the weary!  Despite numerous aches and pains - the right ankle, then the left achilles - I pushed onward, once again hitting the trails in hopes of once again "cram-preparing" for a major ultra run. 

The worst of times in PT school were finals weeks that first year: in the fall term we had ten exams in a little over a week.  You'd cram for 2-3 days for each test, but as you went along, you had less and less time to prepare for each successive test.  Melt down.  

During a nice trail work weekend in the Waldo area, I stuffed in two "modest" trail runs: 10 miles (3K' elevation), then 20 miles (5K').  Felt great to be on the trail again (and mostly healthy), but also out of shape, tired.  Two days later: the dreaded left knee pain returned. 

Less panic, more dread.  

Enough is enough.  It's time to re-tool.  

I've learned a great deal in this first year of 26.2+ running, but some of the best lessons were reminders; Jake wrote a post about his rookie year and lessons learned, most notably the importance of consistency.  

Everything about my running this spring and summer has been wildly inconsistent: mechanics, training, performance, health.  I'm tired of it.  I need to step back and re-generate.

I'm a huge U2 fan; studying the history of band is fascinating: they began in high school in the 70s as a "[Christian] punk rock" band, then into more conventional rock, with tinges of R&B and soul.  As the 80s ceded into 1990, the band felt a same level of stagnation - and need to re-tool.  Said Paul Hewson:
"I was explaining to people the other night, but I might've got it a bit wrong – this is just the end of something for U2. And that's what we're playing these concerts – and we're throwing a party for ourselves and you. It's no big deal, it's just – we have to go away and ... and dream it all up again."

So they went away.  They came back a year and a half later with one of greatest, most formative albums in rock history.  And in doing so, not only returned with newfound energy enthusiasm, but with a degree of relevance to the shifting scene of music of the early 90s -- not only did they simply "fit in", they became a driving force in music for the decade.

I'm not the U2 of ultra running.  :p  But that message resonates with me: time to step back and "Dream it up again" - to get back to the fundamentals of running first, develop that consistency, so that I can not only "do awesome stuff", but to maybe to "do awesome stuff, awesomely". 

Simply put: I wanna see how good I can be.  And cram-training and un-prepared racing, then "burning CPK" for a month is not the way to get there.  It's frustrating, embarassing, and downright silly.  Nick and Ian can race a ton because that's their consistency.  I want to get there - not simply their performance level, but that "frequency of awesome acts".

Therefore: no more ultras until October.  The focus will be on the following (in order of importance)

1. Mechanical excellence, namely foot strike, trunk alignment, and turnover
2. Consistent training: 6.5 days a week running - replete with core work, weights and cycling cross-training.
3. Speed and strength: weekly tempo- and interval sessions.
4. Trail running mechanics: namely hills and technical footing.
5. Good health: no "lost-time" injuries (which should be the result of executing 1-4).

Here's the fun stuff on the horizon:

1. August: Fun bike rides/trips (e.g Crater, Cascade Lakes, etc.)
2.September: get into the mosquito-free mountains for camping and trail running (Waldo Lake circumnavigation); Squaw Valley-to-MB with Jake at the end of Sept.
3. October: Autumn Leaves 50K - back to where it all began.
4. December: CIM 26.2.

So, here's to a great late summer and fall of racing to my cohorts -- namely the fellas at Waldo and UTMB.  Until then...I gotta go, yeah I'm running outta change / There's a lot of things, if I could I'd rearrange...

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