The Fourmile Canyon Labor Day forest fire
from the corner of our street
Training Days: 5 (To Date: 63)
Rest Days: 2 (To Date: 63)
Body Weight: 150 (Net Gain/Loss: -10)
Running Days: 5 (To Date: 49)
Running Miles Logged: 53.4 (To Date: 524.4)
Average: 10.7 (Short = 3, Long = 29)
What a week #18 was. On Monday morning, Labor Day, as we were preparing to head out for the day, we saw an unmistakeable huge, dark plume of smoke coming from the mountains just to our northwest. A forest fire. (It would eventually grow to roughly 6,500 acres and destroy nearly 170 homes, making it the most destructive wildfire – in terms of property loss – in Colorado history.)
Tuesday morning I had planned to do a 12 mile or so trail run in the mountains directly west of our house. The fire was staying north of Boulder Canyon, and I was planning on running to the south. But as I stepped out the front door, I immediately smelled the smoke, which had blown downwind to us. It was so thick I couldn’t even see the rock formations on the mountain I was running toward. Less than a mile into my run, I bumped into my neighbor, Greg, who was out walking his dog. Greg had scrapped plans for his own run out of concern for the air quality and his lungs. Not 400 meters later, I bumped into another neighbor walking his dog…while holding a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. By the time I hit the 1.5 mile mark on my run, I could taste soot on my tongue. Enough was enough. I cancelled plans for the run and returned home after 3 miles, not wanting to damage my body by foolishly running in the smoke. (Turns out that was the right thing to do… later that day I learned about air quality and health advisories that recommended people stay indoors, citing lung problems from the smoke…)
As Wednesday and Thursday came and went, I squeezed in two more runs, each a moderate distance. (Thankfully, the smoke from Tuesday had lifted and blown north.) Friday was a rest day.
Then came Saturday. My last very long training run before the race. The loop I had in my head circumnavigated three mountains, and climbed at least 6,000 vertical feet. It was roughly 30 miles or so, I knew. For this run, I focused on running “within myself;” on not pushing too hard too early. This meant that I power hiked some of the steeper uphill sections (much like the way you’d downshift if you were on a mountain bike). The remarkable thing was, power hiking certain sections didn’t affect my pace at all. The energy I saved not wasting effort trying to run a steep uphill allowed me to maintain a faster cadence on the flats and downhill. Very cool.
By the time I was circling back around to Boulder, I’d been out for 5 hours, and was faced with a literal fork in the trail. The left fork, I knew, was a more direct route home. The right fork would have added about 5 extra miles. I was already looking at a 6 hour total time, and wasn’t keen on making it 7. So I took the left fork. I made it back to the house in almost exactly 6 hours. I knew the route was approximately 30 miles. Based on my mental accounting of the trail segments, I thought it might be slightly longer. But based on my running time, I was worried it might be slightly shorter. When I mapped it out, the result was in…29 miles. Grrr! I really would have loved to have crossed the 30-mile mark on that run, and I even considered going back out for another mile or two just to do it (but wisely reconsidered). It had still been an awesome run, which I completed right on my target race pace. And, I can’t tell you how good it feels to know my last long run is behind me, and that I have only a few shorter runs and the race itself left!
Finally, on Sunday morning I went out for a very modest 4.7 mile run. The point wasn’t the mileage, but rather to make my legs work again less than 24 hours after I’d completed the 30-miler. My quads certainly felt the uphill, but I was amazed with my lack of soreness, and how I was able to run a 7:43 per mile pace after having just cranked out 29 hard miles the day before. Good stuff.
Now, I’m entering the taper phase of my training. The race is just 12 days away. I’m only planning to do maybe 3 or so training runs between now and then. Mostly to keep my leg muscles “awake.” For the most part, I want my legs to fully recover and be 100% fresh for the big race.
On the fundraising front, I’m delighted to report I’ve crossed the $2,000 threshold in support of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Huge thanks go out to Marilyn M., Nancy M., Carol S., Risa H., and Sandra P. for your generous donations! Thank you! If you haven’t made a donation, please visit my fundraising page and consider making one today. Today – September 13, 2010 – is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. What better day to step up and support a great organization with a great cause near and dear to all of our hearts. I can put in the miles training and racing, but I can’t do the fundraising alone. I need your help! Thanks again.