Most of you know that currently my head is wrapped around my first ultra - Rocky Raccoon 50-miler. I am determined to go into this race prepared. I am crossing my t's and dotting my i's the best way I know how. When I first started training, the plans varied greatly between what I thought was too little and plans that made me nauseous even thinking about them. I made my own plan that was somewhere down the middle of the road... enough miles to know my legs can carry me and that my mind is ready, but not so much that my body hits overload and breakdown.
My coach, Adam, is pretty much awesomesauce, and when I come up with a hair-brained idea, he's usually all behind it (or else he tells me I'm insane, but knows that I'll do it anyway). I'm pretty stubborn, and I like to convince him that my ideas were his ideas all along. Seriously, he couldn't charge enough to have to deal with me.
So my big training run was the New Years Double. Conservative pace, back-to-back half marathon with full marathon. Perfect 50-miler training - which involves a lot of back-to-back long runs. The week after that I used for "recovery"... which in Lesley-world is a little different... but we pulled the miles significantly back from my 71 mile week to a 43 mile week - which ended with an 8-14 as my back-to-back long runs. I have been feeling exceptionally good and this week had been planned as another peak mileage week with long runs of 14-22. Buuuuuuuut, I felt so great on New Years, that I was really craving the mental boost that a super long run would give me... more so than back-to-backs.
I did discuss my plan with Adam. He knew better than to say no when I have a plan for epicness. Mind you, he knows I care about this race too much to blow it by being stupid. He knows that I'm aware of my body and if I feel something alarmingly off, I'll stop before I screw something up... but I presented my idea to him. 14+22 = 36 miles... so how about I only run 6 on Friday and go for 30 on Saturday? This was it... this was what I would need to just give me that extra mental edge.
I won't lie, I was a little scared of the thought. I knew if I had a horrid 30-miler, I would be destroyed mentally for Rocky Raccoon... but I knew that if I could just pull out a good day, somehow, some way, I would have a great advantage on race day.
I planned the day, and my friends did not disappoint offering to pace me on my various loops. The plan was 3 loops - 12 miles, 9 miles, and 9 miles. The plan was to also imitate race day as much as possible - hydration pack on, PB&J and coke at the end of each loop like that ultra aid-stations, GU in-between, NUUN in the pack, clothing changes just in case. We even started in the dark, and I got to try out my Knuckle Lights (review coming - I loved them). I had picked a comfortably easy pace so that I kept everything in check and could pull the whole run off.
Loop 1 - 12 miles - Christina, Samantha, and Robin D joined me. This was the longest of the loops and things were feeling nice and easy. The 30 degree temps actually felt nice - like having my hips and knees iced while we ran. We stayed right on pace. At the end of the loop, I took a quick break at the car for food and to change to a lighter top.
Loop 2 - 9 miles - Robin D stayed with me. Woman is a rock of support. I run way slower than her, but she has run by my side many times when I needed someone. The temps were warming to about the mid 40s and things felt nice, BUT a race was starting right as we started this loop... so you know we got caught up in that, and I pushed a few miles at a pace a bit faster than planned, but things were still fine. We took a few walk breaks this loop, much like I will in the ultra - particularly on wobbly bridges and any hills.
Loop 3 - 9 miles - Elaine joined me after busting butt teaching class at the gym. So we were both in the stage of jello legs, but my mental game was ON. I felt great, I was still smiling, and I was pumped to conquer this. She surprised me with Race Bibs that she made for us... the CSI 30-miler!
She was worried that I might not wear it, but no way, it went right on! (She also brought me a peppermint GU which was yum!) Believe it or not, I felt pretty good and happy the whole loop. We walked the hills and bridges... and I did have to take one slightly longer walk when my hip felt a bit off... but all was well, and we even ended the loop with a sprint to our cars!
30 miles DONE in a little over 6 hours... right on planned pace. I feel good... really good... surprisingly good. I was fine mentally. I was glad to be done, but honestly, could've gone further if I had to. I am sore, but nothing major... just minor post-long-run stuff - a little in the left hip and really minor in the knees.
I'm really glad that I decided to take the leap and do this run... I feel confident and ready. I'm coming for you Rocky Raccoon!!!