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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Rest Month (Don't Try This at Home)

Prairie Mtn sunset with friends - the Leki poles in my pack, of course! ;)
After the Lost Soul Miler in early September, my plan was to keep running (or power slogging as need be) in the Canadian Rockies until leaving Canada. I thought the tendons and ligaments would be well due for a bit of repair time after the wonderful adventures of Swissalpine, Irontrail, and Lost Soul, but... I just HAD to squeeze out every last drop of alpine trail running goodness I could! Western Australia, I  love you, but your 200 metre pea gravel climbs just aren't the same as mountain running.

I took a few days off, then we ran/hiked up Prairie Mountain on Wednesday night (2210 metres). Saturday saw us on the spectacular Mt Bourgeau summit in Banff National Park at 2930 metres. It was only a week after the Miler, but I wasn't the only trail junkie with a problem - another girl in our group was just back from the Leadville Miler and with that had completed the Grand Slam. Then Monday we did a loop incorporating the North and South Buller Passes when a thunderstorm and hail came through - very exciting! And a good reminder why we need all that emergency gear in our packs! The rest of the week was rather tame, but then we were back out at the very famous Lake Louise, just west of Banff, for a tour of all the local trails, including some tea houses that date back to the early 1900s and Fairview Mountain (even with slightly foggy/snowy conditions, the views were still more than fair at 2744 metres).
On the way to Mt Bourgeau- the hangglider pilot looks for alt ways down

That left one day to recover and one more day to get out on the trails. Junction Mountain, a fire lookout at 2239 metres, was the final choice. Coincidentally, the only runner with a Tuesday off work I could talk into an outing was Dave Proctor, the bloke who won the men's division of the Lost Soul Miler. The two of us were a pair in recovery, that's for sure! I'm sure it was partly psychological, that my brain knew my legs were getting a break after that run, but I felt bagged! Yet it was still a glorious adventure, which started by fording the Sheep River (due to early season floods, the bridges were out in many areas of the backcountry). At the fire tower, we met the ranger woman, who had spent the season up there alone. The last person she'd seen had been a few weeks prior when she had a helicopter food drop - no one was coming in because the river was too high to ford. But we managed a late season attempt and though it was slightly intimidating for me (fast water to my thighs), a hand from Dave (much taller than I!) helped me get across before I was frozen numb! I have to take baby steps in swift and slippery conditions like that, so I don't lose my balance.
The Sheep River. More serious than it looks - at least at my size!

Back to merry old England, where autumn was in full swing. I pulled back the mileage, which wasn't hard, as I didn't feel like contending with the brambles and stinging nettles much, anyway. The sky was so low that I imagined it was like England tries to hug us with her skies, like a mother afraid we'll leave home! (As, in fact, many do leave that heavy, grey hug). The weekly mileage dropped to 48k, with just +1200m. 

And then another day of pseudo-altitude training on Emirates Air brought me back to Perth. My plan was to continue another three weeks of "relative" rest. In my head, I was thinking 50k/week was probably good. However, the reality was tougher to engineer! Just one run with mates on the weekend was giving me half my weekly distance. (Well, yes, you needn't point out that I should have been doing a shorter weekend run.) Add in a Wednesday night run and...well, that created a rather unbalanced "rest" of long runs combined with multiple days off. I do NOT recommend this! My body felt worse than ever. My back tightened up, my calves tightened up, and then I got a flu! My first flu ever. The flu wasn't bad, actually - it was kind of interesting. It was just an all-over muscle/joint ache, but my head was still clear. I learned that the muscle ache is theoretically caused by dehydration, brought about by fever. That made total sense, as when I woke up that day, my weight was down 800 grams from the morning before. I knew I hadn't calorie restricted by 3000 calories that day! So I gunned heaps of fluid all day and felt much better. The flu became a cold, but didn't stick around long. Not with my naps and cinnamon regime ;)
Don't be frightened, it's just a mulberry addiction. Anti-oxidants, you know.

And not long enough to make me miss out on WA's last rogaine of the season - the spring 12 hour. But how could I do a 12 hour event on a "rest" month? Hmmmm. Not easy, no, but I do like a challenge. So I paired up with a mate who had never run 12 hours straight before. I figured that would slow me down. And I picked the nastiest section of the mapped out area to start with, which I figured would be harder and keep the miles down. However, I didn't count on him being such a good navigator! Between us, we had pretty good luck finding the controls and managed to still net 54km + 850m with a lot of bush bashing.

And so, with that, I figured my ruse of a "rest month" was well and truly exposed and I might as well book my first brutal training session in 3.5 months. A few days ago I hit the gym for five rounds of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats with weight. The next day, I struggled to get out of bed and cursed Rolf when he made me laugh. Those abs have been tucked away nicely into a kilo of fat again and let me know they were none too pleased with the new agenda!

So what is the new agenda? Well, I think it starts off with the Narrabeen Allnighter. After a delicious season on the trails, I feel the siren call of some speedy road and track goals (well, speedy for an old lady like me!). With summer on its way (the flies blown in on the easterlies this week are portending - at least I think that's what it was when one went up my nose today on the trail!), it gets hard to find road and track races in Australia. It's not the season for speed - or exposure. It's the season to run trails, shaded in trees (you hope). Nonetheless, one of my current A goals is to run a sub 9hr 100km again. For anyone who is interested in the numbers, that's a Category B level with the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and current AUS "A" qualifier for team placement. My last official 100km was my 8hr52 CAN W40 record from Coburg in 2011. And the World 100k Championship is in Latvia next August. That's interesting :)
I wonder if Latvians use cobblestones. I don't like cobblestones.

Narrabeen Allnighter is an overnight 12hr event near Sydney NSW, where I could get a 100km split recorded. The million dollar question is: Do I go hardest for the 100k and stop (reality is, I learned, that if you go your hardest for that, there's nothing left to continue with the 12hr)...or go "hard enough" with the 100k but keep enough in reserve to nut out the best 12hr possible?? I've never done an official 12hr (my best 12hr distance is 122.649km as part of the World 24hr this year). So, the 12hr challenge sounds like the more interesting, doesn't it? How far could I go?

Time to ramp up the mileage and see if the body agrees there will be a party on 4 January. Assuming the weather fairies also agree to provide a nice, mild night conducive for 12 hour running parties.