Monday, April 22, 2013

A Productive Winter

I haven't used this blog much, but I've been considering writing a bit more about my running other than race reports.  So I thought I'd recap on how running has gone for me this past winter.

Early in the winter, I made the decision to sign up for another 50 mile race.  I ran my first at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge last spring, and didn't enjoy it all that much.  But the course is boring, and I'd run it before.  Fall went well for me, and I knocked nearly 20 minutes off of my 2011 time at Bimblers Bluff, despite running a couple of bonus miles.  So I decided to give the distance another shot.

This time, though, I'd pick a more interesting course.

In December, I registered for the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain, which is now two weeks away.   I really don't have a prayer of finishing, unfortunately.  The cutoff sounded liberal, at 14 hours for a 50 miler.  However, I looked at the names of people I knew that had finished, and they are all faster than me.  Of the people that have just missed the cutoff, most of them are faster than me as well, but not by much.

I couldn't talk myself out of registering, though.  Why?  Because my husband and I used to hike there all the time when we were young.  I looked at the course map, and couldn't shake the intense desire to run ALL those trails in one day.  Even if they yank me at 40 miles, it's still going to be a good day.
2002.  I was young once.  Bear Mountain is across the River
2006.  I made my babies climb Bear Mountain.  
Training has been difficult this winter.  Apparently, in 2013, Worcester was declared the "snowiest city in the US".  There was a lot of it, that's for sure!

Also, I fell in February, and injured my knee.  The ER doc thinks I likely tore my meniscus.  The good news is, after two days off, I was able to start back running.  It currently doesn't hurt to run at all.  However, it's been two months, and I can't kneel on it, not even on the bed, without wanting to cry.  Although there's no swelling anymore, there's something gooey sticking out of it.  I'm torn about whether or not to get it looked at by an orthopedist.  The gooey part sticking out is visible to the naked eye, but it doesn't hurt to run, and that's what's most important to me.

That said, a lot went well.  Since the beginning of the year, I have seven runs over 20 miles in the bag, and most of them were back-to-backs with a run of over 10 miles.  They were never all that difficult.

I've been working on getting faster as well.  Previously, I considered "going uphill" to be a break, and I'd slow down.  Starting in January, I convinced myself that every hill was a new opportunity, and challenged myself to reach the top panting and nauseous.  Oddly, I've come to enjoy running this way.  And, over the past week, I've set speed "PRs" on two of my very hilly ~11 ish mile runs.

Another bit of excitement was finding a 20 mile loop of trails that I can access from my house.  For years, I've been running up to the Worcester Airport, because the hill is awesome and they have flush toilets and a water fountain.  Score!

 I'd seen this sign for a long time, and never though it was worth checking out.  I'd always assumed it would be ~200 yards of trail that ended at a bird blind full of empty beer cans.

But this fall I did. And I couldn't have been more wrong about what was back there.  The trails were wonderful, as good as anything else I've seen in central Mass.

Here's some pics.
Behind the Worcester airport, y'all!
Good fences make good neighbors
It got even better a few weeks later when I found this:
20 mile loop with connections to other trails?  What the what now?
Suffice to say, I will be purchasing a trail pass next year.  But not harassing the snowmobilers.  Mainly running when there's only 50% coverage or less.

I can't even begin to start on how excited I am to find more than 20 miles of trails only 2 miles from my house!

There's even a Walmart at the midpoint.  Although that sounds like a minus, I went into Walmart to use the toilet, buy chips, and unfreeze my water.  I hate when my water freezes and I can't drink!

While I won't miss my water freezing, I will miss this:
Against all odds, I'm heading into Bear Mountain healthy and excited about running.  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!