It is officially Leadville taper time. Where does time go? Just 10 weeks ago, Geof and I sat on the floor of our gate at the Tampa Bay airport, mapping out our training schedules...well, Geof did the mapping and I just made suggestions and watched him tap away on the spreadsheet :) The very next day we set out on day one of official training. Seems like it was just yesterday. It was a 16 week plan, but since we only had 12 weeks until race day, we had to make do.
I think it's turned out pretty well. I mean, I have actually trained this time! I put in the time and the miles (well, many of the miles) and feel pretty good going into the taper. I put in 408.7 miles in the last two and a half months specifically towards this race, and, since January 1, it's been almost 868 miles put in with this race in mind. Wow. I likey.
Just under two weeks to go until race day. Everything that can be done is done. I'm as ready as I'm going to be. There is nothing I can do in the next two weeks, in terms of running, to add to my fitness, other than to relax and recharge. We are rounding the corner and heading into the final straightaway; the finish line in sight. That finish line, of course, being the starting line of Leadville. Gives me chills just thinking about it!! But it's the good kind of chills :)
I can feel the difference going into this race, compared with my last two hundred milers. I went into Vermont severely under trained, but managed to pull through and have a great race. Rocky Raccoon involved one month of focused training, and only three 20 mile long runs. Suffice it to say, I was yet again severely under trained, yet somehow I got a PR by almost 45 minutes. This time, we both decided some actual training would be necessary. You can't cram for Leadville, and you certainly can't fudge your way through a race like that. I feel infinitely stronger going into this one. My legs almost don't look like my own; there are muscles showing that I only knew existed because of my anatomy classes ;) I feel more upright, with a stronger back and shoulders, more stable core, hips that finally do their share of the work, glutes that actually recruit. It's pretty cool.
Of course, with consistent training there comes various other things to tolerate. Like fatigue, aches and pains, soreness, an insatiable appetite, blisters, blahs. My adductor (inner thigh) muscles have decided they really like the company of my hamstrings and are attached at their fascia (the casing around your muscles), literally. So that's kinda painful. Thank goodness for Dr. Heddles at Active Body Chiropractic; his mad A.R.T. skills keep me on the trail. It hurts something wicked, but it was so nice to finally have an "ache-free legs" long run yesterday, and to be able to run the ups.
Speaking of that, I have no more long runs in this training cycle!! They are my favorite thing to do, but boy am I ready to just relax and let my legs repair these next two weeks. Yesterday's long run was a lesson in pain management, and a reminder that mindful running and problem solving are a HUGE part of the hundred mile experience. Rather than zoning out during my run, I remained present the entire time, which can make time sort of creep by during road runs, but yesterday I really needed to be in the moment, continually evaluating things.
I had 19.2 on the schedule, and ended up finishing with 19.5, so that was good. Heading out at 11:00 put me in the heat of the day, which wasn't bad (81) since the humidity was at a recent record low (52% I believe). I decided to test out my back-up fluid nutrition for Leadville to make sure I could tolerate it, so I left the Perpetuem at home, but not without a little hesitance. I used to drink nothing by Nuun (lemon-lime), and then one day I stopped. Now I remember why. It has a lot of electrolytes in it, but it's deceiving because it's not an instant shot of them (like from a salt tablet); you only get all of the electrolytes if you down the entire 16-20 ounces of water it's mixed into immediately. I was drinking each bottle of it over the course of an hour. So, I ended up waaaaay behind on my electrolytes and as a result my abdomen was a big twisted knot of cramping. Ouch! This was good though, it reminded me about problem solving. I kept on moving, making sure not to alter my gait at all, watching my heart rate, letting my mind run and sort out the problem. At first, I didn't get it, and it was really irking me. "What have I done wrong?" I was taking in three shot bloks each hour and I was drinking plenty. Everything else felt good, stomach was fine, head was fine, legs were fine. It was just my torso, and my HR was pretty high. About 12ish miles in, it dawned on me. DUH! I'm glad I decided to bring a small baggie of S!Caps for "just in case". I took one, and within another 30 minutes, I took another one. Things slowly started to look up. I had some energy back. I dumped my bottle of Nuun and replaced it with plain water. With just 4 or 5 miles to go, I took a caffeinated gel instead of shot bloks. Whoa, that felt great and my HR finally dropped to a normal level within a few minutes! So there you go. I'm glad I tested that out, otherwise I'd have been in a world of hurt come race day. I will now go back to my tried and true back-up drink of Gatorade (the Frost kind). Yummy.
Speaking of trying new things, I also took the latest addition to my running wardrobe out for its first official run. RecoFit Sports is hands down the best in compression sleeves, and I recently acquired a pair of their Armcooler Compression Sleeves to test out. Yesterday's weather was perfect for these. I've only ever worn arm sleeves for warmth, so the arm "coolers" were something different for me. And they live up to their name! I wore them the entire run, which was fully exposed to the sun for all but maybe .5 miles. The built in 50+ SPF allowed me to forgo the sunscreen on my arms (with complete success) and the Icefil cooling technology in the fabric (which dissipates heat) gives a slight cooling sensation. It's not exactly a "brrrr" sensation, but it was just enough to make me feel comfortable. However, once I started sweating and the wind blew on my arms, it felt downright icy!! These will definitely be accompanying me to Leadville. If you haven't checked out their sleeves yet, and are a compression junkie like me, check out RecoFit's stuff. Wilderness Running Company sells them here. Now, if only there existed full body cooling compression wear for hot runs! :)
It was so nice to finally sleep in today. The first Sunday in awhile that we've a) been home, and b) not had a long run to get done. It's the little luxuries :) But, this means I now have time to do the things I've been putting off...like finalizing my crew plan/instructions for our rock star Leadville crew. Yippee!