Sunday, July 24, 2011

overcoming insecurities ~ true endurance

view of the Salt Lake valley from Big Mountain
it's been seven weeks since i started training with my coach.  i've gotta say, i feel a lot stronger with my consistent training this year compared with last year.  last week i emailed my coach about my apprehension that i was turning in weeks in the 40-mile range, whereas last year i was getting some 50- and 60-mile weeks.  he set my mind at ease, pointing out that i have been much more consistent with my training this year.  i've felt a lot stronger this year when i do get out on those long runs, and i've done a 20-miler nearly weekly for the last several weeks.

wildflowers flanking the first big climb
last week, my fast-finish 20-miler in Millcreek and Big Cottonwood canyon had me feeling pretty achy for most of this week.  my myofascial therapist marveled at my ability to tolerate the pain of treatment, as my hip and lower back muscles had reverted back to their stubborn ways.  but i am determined to continue healing and getting stronger, so i grit my teeth through the session.  two steps forward... one step back... and i will make it to my goal.

delayed onset muscle soreness (doms) was the theme of the week for my quads, and for my left Achilles and calf.  so when it came down to Friday night before the PieNBeer trail marathon, i found myself wondering what i had once again gotten myself into, and that maybe i should just run a 20-miler on my own somewhere, away from the competitiveness of a bunch of other runners.

view of the Wasatch Crest from near Swallow Rocks
but then i switched my mindset.  this didn't have to be a race if i didn't want it to be.  this could be a warm-up training session on the way to the big dance in September.  take all the elements of the PieNBeer event:  waking up at 4:30, dealing with the energy of my own nerves and insecurity, paired with the energy of thirty-some odd other folks, wondering if my minor aches and pains would manifest as major injuries in the upcoming miles, wondering if my stomach would tolerate the food and the heat of the day, wondering if my quads would blow up on the 5-mile descent from Lookout Peak...  aspects of all of those things are bound to happen in a real race.  this would be a test to see that i could deal with all of those things in a single session.

so when the event organizer said "go" and everyone took off like a rocket, my stomach did another lurch.  the words of my coach echoed in my head, "start out easy and end this one strong... " and i vowed not to run 7-minute miles on the dirt road for the first 4 miles, but instead would settle into a nice 8:30-9 min-mile pace and see where the day would take me.

as it turns out, the day took me past a dozen other runners.  those people who had started out fast found themselves not able to hang on once the big climbs started at mile 8 1/2.  and i found myself chugging up the hill, not even feeling out of breath, easily overtaking a group of three.  my legs continued to feel strong after 15 miles, along the off-camber, brushy, overgrown traverse of Lookout Peak, and i found myself easily jogging along and asking three more if they would mind stepping aside to let me through.

Swallow Rocks section
the descent from Lookout Peak proved to be likewise as fruitful, as my quads, which earlier in the week felt quite fried and maxed out, held strong and allowed me to charge downhill past another handful of runners and i got through what was later named the "ankle-twister section" without so much as a missed step.

re-tanking with a bottle of Ultragen at the aid station at mile 20 (i carried a ziplock of powder with me), i remained optimistic about the next downhill section which proved to be hot on the East Canyon Road.  before i knew it, i had passed three more people.  (heat is typically a nemesis of mine ~ just ask my friends about how quickly my attitude can change when i hit the heat-box section of any given outing.)

looking back at Big Mountain from below Lookout Peak
my misgivings about my capacity to endure were rewarded by my ability to overcome my insecurities from the night before.  when it was all said and done, i ran 24.6 miles, with 3600 ft of elevation gain and 4300 ft of loss:  without so much as a thought of nausea, shrugging off little aches and pains and telling myself they would not manifest into true injuries, through heat and adverse trail conditions, and translating inner negative thoughts of my own into real, positive mental and physical outcomes.

and to top it off, i got to eat pie and drink beer at the finish tent with my friends.  we congratulated each other on a successful day and i thought to myself how fortunate i am to be a part of such a wonderful group of people.  silly me for thinking i should run alone.  never underestimate the power of such an event with like-minded people.

link to the run is found here:


  1. Keep up the good work! Love ya, S.

  2. Good job! It is so awesome when good things come from good training!