This past weekend was a final little "hooray" in Leadville Training Land. A back-to-back long run weekend. Were my legs ready for it? One would hope!
Saturday was our free-est day :) so Geof and I decided to do our longest long runs that day. After some hmmming and hawing we decided to head out to Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL for our day's adventures. Since Leadville will be somewhat lacking in the department of technical single track, we decided the wide rolling graveled paths at WG would more closely mimic conditions. Bam.
Geof was going for 30 miles and I had 18 on my calendar so after topping off our bottles from our delightful new water cooler, officially named the CHUG Jug, we set out running the 9.5 mile loop in the clockwise direction. We noticed we were the only peeps running/moving in this direction. It was a humid and pretty dreary day, so the trails weren't too packed, but plenty of others were still out enjoying the day. Within the first couple miles we noticed a guy stashing a Gatorade in the trees alongside the trail, then heading in our direction. As he stood up, we passed, then he moved along with us. Tom, as we would find out, asked what we were running and after saying so he simply asked, "oh, well what ultra are you guys training for?" Hmm. And so it went. Tom was on his second of three loops for the day, using this run as a final decision maker for whether or not he should run Leanhorse 100. Tom was cool. He stuck with it and ran two loops with us. We learned a lot about this random stranger on the trail and it was fun to hear his stories of races and adventures' past.
I was feeling great, especially considering we had run a tough 50-miler just 7 days prior. It was as if my legs forgot about that minor detail. Still on our first loop together, a couple approached us that had previously passed us in the other direction. They were curious about Geof's Badwater shirt. Beth and Rob ended up joining our little impromptu group run and ran 4-5 miles with us before turning back to head for their car. They were cool, too :) Both are marathon runners and were verrrry curious about our ultra world. Perhaps we'll see them at a CHUG event soon! Loop 1 ended and we all refilled bottles, pottied, grabbed more gels and then headed out together again. This time we ran the loop counter-clockwise. My legs felt even better than they had at the start of the first loop. I can dig that! I was drinking from a bottle of plain water, and a second bottle of Clip2. I wanted to change things up a bit, and didn't want to futz around with salt caps. It doesn't taste very good, but at least the bad taste is very dull. The drink worked well, though, as my stomach felt marvelous the whole run and I never had any puffiness in my hands. I can dig that, too.
Before too long, we shut down loop 2. Tom peaced out and gave Geof his e-mail so that we could keep in touch, I cleaned up at the water pump in the parking lot, pulled on my RecoFIT leg sleeves and propped my feet up on the dashboard to begin the recovery process. Geof refilled the bottles and headed out for one final loop on his own. I got in 19 miles and felt no worse for the wear. In fact, I felt awesome! What a fun, and totally random, day on the trail!
Oh, and it turns out Tom did in fact end up signing up for Leanhorse. We'd like to believe we had a little something to do with that :)
Enter: Sunday. I haven't really done a truly back-to-back long run weekend before, so this was sort of a first as both runs were over 10 miles. I had 12 miles scheduled for the day, and after struggling to get up for a bit, we finally headed out the door. We ran the first six miles together on the Lakefront Path, then I turned around and headed home while Geof kept on going in order to get in his 20 miles for the day. (How does he do it?! 50 non-race miles in two days...blows my mind and I love it.)
At first things felt a little tight, but by the first mile, my legs decided to join the running party and relaxed into a good pace. Now, I felt good again :) It was warm and getting warmer. The path was swarming with runners, cyclists, tourists, swimmers, lollygaggers and the like. It was a beautiful day for a run. My heart rate was low and the effort minimal. Always a good thing. Then I noted as much to myself and almost immediately my HR spiked to its normal rate during a faster long run. Oh well, at least the effort still felt minimal :) I decided that this was how I wanted to feel at Leadville, and the pace I wanted to maintain for the initial 30 miles. So, I began to visualize. I imagined kicking butt and passing everyone in the first 5 miles to gain the front spot on the single track, leading the pack into May Queen in a blazing fast time. Hey, a girl can dream :)
I was in awe of how good things felt. And, before I knew it I was done. I could have kept going and going and going. But there was a smoothie at home calling my name! So, 31 miles in total for the weekend, a decent amount for me.
Who am I kidding, that's huge!
I was pleasantly surprised by my legs and how well they held up. This is the kind of thing I need to know going into a race like Leadville...that my training hasn't all been in vain. That's a good feeling.
Another good feeling? Green olives stuffed with gorgonzola cheese. Whoever invented such a pairing should be given the Nobel Prize.
Tapering has techinically officially begun. Just one final long run this Saturday and then it's coasting into the starting line from there!