Monday, June 15, 2009

Threepeats! Whose idea was that anyway?

Saturday I got give the threepeats a try and they did the trick. 4 of us ventured out onto the PCT Saturday. There is just something about going from almost sea level to bear grass in 50 minutes. It's incredibly rewarding and the high is enhanced by the numerous amount of endorphins pumping through our veins. Watching black dressed streaks against the lush green background is a good time. My quads were gently hammered when we were done. They had the feeling of a good solid ache but not trashed. Past Black Saturday's have been hard but this method definitely stepped it up a notch. The third 50 minute power hike was tough but once we were heading down I really felt the love. My workout yielded 7,500 feet, 24 miles, in 4:47:32. I was stoked about those numbers. My repeats were right on par to the second clearing on the PCT so no improvement there but my downhill was over 3 minutes faster per descent. I am not a great downhill runner so any improvement on that front is worth stuffing in my brain.

Speaking of brains.....I have decided I am either peaking or losing it. I prefer to think I am peaking. I have a lot of mental craziness in my head right now. It's sort of like being buzzed or glucose deprived. Some folks get cranky, some cry and some get happy when under the influence of a good glass of wine, a few beers or if they are deprived of food oooooooorrrr they just might be peaking for a race. I seem to find everything and everyone funny. I have entered the land of crazies and I feel right at home. However comfortable I feel in this state keeping all the voices in my head clear is a bit of challenge. There's a lot of daydreaming and visualizing going on throughout the day plus a ton of giggling.

After hill repeats it was necessary to take a serious ice bath. Usually Bill or Alex will come in and keep me company so I can ignore the frigid waters but they were gone. It was just me and my cat who likes to teeter on the edge and see how close he can get to me without falling in. He will stay there the whole time. When he starts dipping his paw and flicking the icy water on me that's when he is asked to leave! Since I am sort of nutty right now talking to my cat as if he is human doesn't seem abnormal.

Sunday was 7 hours of running. We chose the route from Bonneville Trailhead to 3 Corner Rock with an added bonus trail. The trip to 3 corner is a gradual uphill climb on the PCT. It's a great trail but narrow and rocky in places. We found areas to be super overgrown this time of year. My body was fatigued and my legs a bit tight and mildly sore. I was surprised at how well they worked and warmed up as we made our way to 3 Corner Rock. Steve started earlier and Beast took a shorter route so Micheal and I were to catch them. We found them just before the turn off to 3 Corner. We needed to do some threshold work in this run so when we hit 3 corner rock at mile 15 we headed down the 2 mile trail leading to the Washougal River on the backside. When we got to the bottom we turned and ran up the 1200 foot climb to get some time in the higher zone. I was able to run up the 2 miles but it was hard and I had to really focus my mind. There were absolutely no views at the top. The fog and clouds were thick which was a bit of a bummer.

Our trip home was going to be a sweet run to the barn. Mostly downhill and only gaining about 1200 feet for the 15 miles we are talking blazing fast single track! My plan was work hard to the high point then let it rip. I told both Micheal and Steve to run hard and not wait for me. One quick bathroom break and they were gone. That left me by myself with my crazy mental friends. As I reached the high point on the super rocky section I could feel myself checking out. My legs were mush and they were sore. I was separating myself from it. My mind was wondering off. I knew I better flip a new switch soon or my plan to rip it home in a decent clip would be over. Auto pilot it a good skill but when you want to crank things up you need to take control of the wheels. I was going to that special place in my mind.....checking out, feeling nothing and letting gravity guide the way. No way....I am thinking...oh no ya don't....get back in the game. I was hungry and had the feeling of low blood sugar, groggy and spacey. I had to get myself back in the present, feeling the pain, dealing with it and pushing through it. I grabbed a whole bag of GU Chomps and downed them like that last piece of chocolate cake. The one you were just about to throw away but instead stuffed in your mouth while no one was watching! I savored the orange flavor. When Chomps get treated like chocolate cake you know your in trouble. Right after the Chomps I downed 2 salt tabs, chased them with G2O and cranked up my music. I wanted to turn this boat around. Mostly I wanted to see if I could. My eyes were tired. They felt like like a basset hounds look. Droopy with heavy lids barely alive. I needed them to be sharp. When I get tired I tend to look down at the ground instead of 10 feet in front of me. The action is in front of me not under me. To run downhill fast you need to look at what's coming, take it in and let your feet process the data. Looking down at your feet gives your body no ques to obstacles. I tried to get my eyes to see the future, read trail instead of just letting the trail happen. It was hard and I don't think I ever found the real Zen Zone but my quest was hard fought. If nothing else I tried to pull myself out of my funk. I can use this at Hardrock.

Meandering alone on the PCT was just fine but I wanted to catch my Hardrock brothers. We have always said if Steve ever trained he would be dangerous. With 10 sub 3 hour marathons under his belt way before electrolytes and gels he has some natural speed. Well this year he has trained and is leaving me in his wake. About 5 miles from the car on the long switchbacks I looked down and saw both Micheal and Steve. I yelled down, "What are you guys doing here"? Feeling pretty good about myself since I thought I caught them I skipped down the hill to find Micheal tending to his bloody knee. Apparently during his reckless abandonment on the very fast downhill he launched himself from the upper switchback down to the lower one. It was about a 30 foot drop. Steve accused him of trying to cut the course....friends....ya gotta love em! Micheal said he was busting out to Bohemian Rhapsody, clipped a toe, flew over the edge, and rolled to the bottom. Grasping any and all limbs possible to stop him from landing in the rocky creek he managed to walk away fairly unscathed. Once we determined he was fine and cleaned up his yard sale we laughed our heads off during his instant replay.

Off we go for the last 5 miles and they were looooong. It seemed like we zig zagged in and out the woods forever. In the end we ran 34 miles and climbed 7,040 feet. This entire run was running. There is very little walking necessary on this trail. It's a good 2nd day effort on tired legs. When I got to the parking lot Micheal and Steve were waiting. Steve yells, "Can you walk any slower"! I replied, "As a matter of fact I can and if you were a real friend you would drive over here and pick me up". I was beat! As I am hunched over on the curb in the shade drinking my recovery drink Steve says, "Now Tuesday's track workout.....". I stopped him mid-sentence. I couldn't even think about the track and told him, "One work out at time"!


  1. Solid! Poor Micheal. I tripped on downhill on slippery angled rock on Saturday and busted my left shin, and my just-beginning-to-recover ankle. Then I banged my right knee into a tree trying to lift my leg. Oh, gee, I am really tired if I fall on training runs...and I am not even pretending to run any uphills! You're ready, so go crazy, girl, you deserve it!

  2. It's all becoming clearer....I'm able to relate with some of your stories!! Glucose deprived brain and a fog of thoughts. Being able to re-kick start your body with some yummy sugar and some really loud music! - works everytime! You'll do great at Hardrock.

  3. Let's assume you are peaking and not losing it! Amazing workouts! I thought about you and your 174 HR tempo runs yesterday on my little 6 mile <1000 climb run with the lazy HR that barely got above 150. And somehow that was my fastest time yet on that route (not saying much though).

    And what's with the ice baths? Not sure I could stand that. You are one tough cookie! Do you ever have easy workouts/recovery runs?

    Thanks for sharing!


  4. Um..."I'll have whatever she's having!" I need a case of those crazies! I kept in touch with you thanks to your detailed posts even while under blog radar. You don't realize the things you say that can inspire someone's day or workout for that day! I love "something about going from sea level to bear grass in 50 minutes." It's like going zero to sixty in a sportscar only ... kind of the opposite. Tee hee. Excellent work outs, R! Thanx for checking little old me out again. :)