"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Monday, June 24, 2013

Running into Nature

With the hills just outside my back door now, it's pretty easy to run into nature. Which is great, because I've decided on a season of trail racing for the "summer" (northern hemisphere summer, that is). It's getting a bit harder for me to be competitive on the trails now, being well flung into my 40s. But trails were my first love and one never forgets their first!

Race plans for the season will have me over to Switzerland first for the Swissalpine 78k on 27 July. This is a race I did back in 2010. I'm not usually one to do a race again, but I was keen to have another crack because it's a very well run, gorgeous race with the alps and cowbells, and fits well with our summer plans. And although older, I am fitter and stronger than that runner from 2010. However, the course has changed I found out, so a direct comparison won't actually be possible! Oh well! The other reason I'm keen to go back is because I happen to be particularly fond of someone who's decided to run the 78k as well and that will be special to share...at the finish line, as we sip on our alkohol-frei beers!
Swissalpine simplicity. A running start and one big climb.

After my three planned recovery weeks post-World 24s, I started ramping up the base mileage. Two weeks ago I hit 110k with +4000 metres of gain for the week. Last week I totalled 150k with +4500 metres! This is a major coup for me, personally. I never used to be able to go over about 85k/week without injury setting in. Over time, that weekly number has steadily inched up. 

I did have a minor setback at Km 52 of my 67k Sunday run, though. A bit of a literal run into nature. I did not heed the blatant example set by one of my running mates earlier in the day...as she demonstrated the inherent dangers of looking back over one's shoulder whilst running single track (I hear her bruises are coalescing and she has about a metre of Fixomul holding her body together). So, at Km 52 I ran my right ankle very firmly into a small but dense log. And then fell over it with full body weight to add a little inversion torque to the Trail Running Lesson of the Day.

Smashed ankle, but it's still a gorgeous day in the bush
I didn't think it was sprained, as I could still weight bear. Over the next few km, I could feel swelling coming on, but chose not to look and focused on maintaining good form so I didn't develop a compensatory injury. Mostly, I noticed that I was losing dorsiflexion. That made braking a challenge on the drive home. For those who don't know their dorsi from their plantar, the dorsi is the "toes up" movement to move your right foot up onto the brake pedal - plantar presses the accelerator. I had go, but no stop!

Anyway, an extra day or two off at this point with ice, Compressport socks, and elevation is likely a good thing for my entire body and may have been Mother Nature's plan all along ;)

But back to the season's racing plans...some of you might be wondering if such crazy mileage is really so essential for a 78k trail race? Certainly, when I look back at 2010, my mileage peaked at 100k (though there was the 201k Sri Chinmoy 24hr 6 weeks before, which was the peak week!).

After chatting to the organisers of the Swissalpine, they invited me to race their quite new IronTrail 201. Now here's the reason for 150k weeks of trail running madness! Irontrail is 12 days after Swissalpine and is 201km of continuous racing with over 11,000 metres of gain up and down over 8 peaks in the Swiss alps at an average elevation over 2000 metres. I sense some Type 2.5 fun coming, with my old pals, Nearer and Further (the Leki poles, remember them??)
IronTrail ECG.

If the body doesn't mutiny after the August race, I'll be fronting up to where it all started back in 2007. The scene of my first ultra, the Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. In September 2007 I ran the 50k. Faster female trail mates of mine didn't. I won. It was a total shock and I vividly recall spending the night on the phone to my mum, drinking whiskey in my room, completely excited, whilst all my mates, exhausted from their own races, slept. Now, I'm thinking it's the perfect place for my first 100 miler. Back in the motherland with the mates who first showed me trail running.
Lost Soul terrain. Hot, dry, steep coulees.

It's now five weeks to race one. The key things that I think have been holding me together are offered for your interest:

avocados, ice baths, Udo's Oil, brutal massage, brutal strength training, Compressport socks, calf guards, full legs, and the new trail shorts (basically, anything compression!), the foam roller, hill running (somehow, more is making me stronger), good long nights of sleep, cinnamon, turmeric, my amazing running mates, healthy home cooked dinners, and sports chiro. And carrots. (Well, I don't know if they can be classified as a super food or anything, but I love my carrots!)


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  2. Nice photo of the Lost Soul terrain. That ECG graph looks interesting. All the best with getting the ankle right. I did something similiar to my ankle in the 2008 Melbourne Marathon. Sounds like you are still on the charge in a big way and the Gong trails are always awesome. Way to go!