What A Week...

It wasn't really a special week in any way.  Just another week of training.  Or was it?  I had the same plan as always, but not the same plan.  I needed to put myself in position to hit a major milestone.  This was to be my first 50 mile training week ever.  Many of friends might see this as a small amount compared to their training miles, but when you've never done it before it is a big deal.  Considering what I did last fall, I should have hit this mileage a long time ago, but I wasn't training like I should have last year.  This year's different; I'm running with my friends and I'm trying to train properly.  That includes building up my miles.

It started simple enough; just like all weeks with the way I've laid out my training.  I've been pretty well wearing myself out with two long runs each weekend, so come Monday I don't even want to run.  Nope, you'll have little luck trying to drag me out for a run on a Monday right now.  Not gonna happen.  Usually by Tuesday I start to feel a little better.  My joints and muscles start to loosen back up, my brain starts to recover from the mental effort of the weekend and I start to remind myself of my goals.  I still take Tuesday off from running, but I start to think about it again.  I start to feel like I could run or I could not run; no burning desire either way.  This week was a little different.  First, I really was itching to get to my goal of a 50 mile week.  I had a good plan to get it done, but I was ready to get started running toward that goal.  Then my itch to get started got amplified by a friend.

Tuesday evening my friends Ron & Bobbie Ruhs started talking about Free State 100k on April 21st.  Ron was going to need a pacer for the last 20 mile loop.  The bells started going off in my head immediately.  I love the course, I run that trail most Saturdays.  Team Ruhs were the original inspirations behind me wanting to run Ultras in the first pace, so running with him in a 100k would be awesome.  Well, there is a small problem; I'm already registered for the Garmin Marathon that same morning.  So I started working through the logistics.  I'd have to take it easy during the marathon to conserve energy to pace Ron.  The marathon starts at 7am, so if I do a fairly easy 5:30 I'd be done around 12:30; go home, get some lunch and a shower, etc giving me plenty of time to get out to Clinton Lake in time to loosen up before jumping on the trail with Ron.  It's a solid plan and I think it would be awesome.  Ron's also talking a couple other folks about possibly pacing him so it isn't set in stone yet, but I'm excited even having the possibility out there.  We'll see where this goes, but I would love to be out in the dark on the trail with a good friend for 20 miles.

By Wednesday I was definitely feeling better and all day long I was itching to get back to running.  Wednesday is my evening to run with the Olathe Running Club.  I had 6 miles on the plan and most everyone does 4 those nights so I showed up early to do a couple miles before the club run.  The super-speedy Chris showed up early as well so he decided to slow down and run my warm up miles with me.  It was a warm day, but windy.  We had some nice chatting while running two miles.  Then for the club run I hooked up with my buddy Mark and my normal Wed night partner Janee'.  We had a nice run; not too fast, but steady and it helped loosen me up. I struggled a little with my asthma in the wind, but fought through.  Kelli caught up with us with about a mile or so to go; I finished off with a total of 6.62 miles.

Thursday nights Sherrie (my Ultra mentor), Jay and Mark decided to join me at the B.A.R. run.  That would be the Trail Nerds Beer Appreciation Run.  Sherrie & I both got there early for an extra loop before the group run.  It was a wonderful evening for a run and we did the normal 5 mile B.A.R. run loop at WyCo park.  We went fairly quickly, but had some nice tome to chat as we went.  Normally when I do these extra miles before the run I have to do them solo, so it was great to have Sherrie along with me this time.  After we got back to the shelter the other Trail Nerds started to show up.  For the group run we ended up running with me, Sherrie, Mark, Jay and Deb; my normal Thursday partner Jen wasn't able to make it this week.  Again we did the 5 mile loop and again we held a pretty steady pace.  We all had fun, except Jay who is fighting a bit of a knee issue.  After the run we had some good brownies that Heather made and good fun talking and joking around as usual.  This is really a fun crew to run with.  I ended up with a total of 10.1 miles for the night (16.72 for the week).

Friday was another day off before two long runs during the weekend so it was relatively uneventful.  Saturday's plan was to go out to the Clinton Lake North Shore Trails for the Trail Hawks long run.  As Sherrie put it, we were going for "at least" 20 miles.  This would be my longest run ever on a technical trail and my longest run since the Louisiana Marathon in mid-January.  We met up with mostly the normal Hawk group; me, Sherrie, Carl, Geeno. Chris and we were also joined by Chris Thomas.  It was a fun group.  Chris T. has been fighting a bit of an ankle issue and he brought his dog Paco so we decided to do two loops of the 10 mile route rather than the full 20 mile loop so that Chris and Paco would have the chance to drop if need be.  They went one full loop and a couple miles of the second loop before turning around.  The run was fun and mostly good.  Around 8 or 9 miles I got caught not paying attention and whacked my head on a tree.  Then around 16 miles I started getting a sore throat because I had a sinus infection forcing me to mouth-breathe the whole time.  Drinking more Powerade Zero made it feel better but started causing some sloshing in my stomach since I was over drinking.  I took a couple long walk break and Chris stayed back with me.  We ran most of the way and Chris & I finished about 4 minutes or so after the rest of the crew.  It was a nice, solid run finishing up at 20.15 miles (36.87 for the week so far).

Sundays plan was to do another 15 miles with Sherrie and Chris Thomas out at Shawnee Mission Park to finish the week off.  13.13 miles to go to hit the 50 mile mark; just over a half marathon.  Seemed perfectly reasonable.  As I was getting ready for bed Saturday night I saw that Sunday's forecast called for 100% chance of rain in the morning.  I love running in the rain, so in itself that wasn't a problem.  My concern was that the Shawnee Mission Park trails are primarily mountain bike trails so when they are too wet they get closed pretty quickly to prevent damage.  We decided to meet there anyway and if the trails were closed we'd run on the paved Millcreek trail.  When I got there Sherrie & Chris were just finishing their first loop and said the trail wasn't in too bad of shape and were still open so we decided to do the 7 mile loop and, if possible, another 7 mile loop.  The trail became significantly muddier and slicker during this loop.  We burned a ton of extra energy trying to run on the sticky ground and carry all the mud on our shoes.  At the end of the loop we all wanted to call it quits and go home.  Chris did go home, but Sherrie & I decided it would be worth fighting through 7 miles on the paved trail to get to my 50 mile mark.  Neither of us wanted to; we were both out of energy and hurting a little, but we knew we could do it together.  We discussed many topics on our long, slow shuffle along the trail, but we made it.  We were both pretty happy when we made it to the end.  I ended the day with 14.06 miles (50.93 for the week).

I was tired and ready for some relaxation after all of that.  It was a hard earned 50 miles, but I got there.  As proud as I am of this, it is just one step along the journey.  I still have a lot of work to do to master this beast we call the Ultra marathon.  I have good people to train with and I know they will continue to encourage me and help me reach my goals.  I'm very proud of 50 miles, but I'm more proud to have so many amazing and encouraging friends and a supportive wife.  It's now Monday again; the day after.  I'm tired and a little sore, but happy.  I feel much better than I expected I would.  This week the plan is a solid 55 miles; 4 Wed, 5 Thurs, a marathon Sat and 20 Sun.

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