Ran another early morning run with the Rockhoppers. For a change of pace, we were running on a paved trail, rather than a more forgiving dirt trial. We started by the Pearl Brewery. We ran south past the Blue Star arts complex and followed the river about 4 miles and then turned around and finished back at Blue Star. It was really great to see all the improvements the city was making along our route. I tried to capture some of the scenery on my iPhone, but had little success.
Total mileage: I think was about 11 miles. I stopped my watch at some point and forgot to restart it. This bummed me out because I threw in a nice sustained sprint, but won’t get to see the stats on it.
The restaurant wasn’t open yet, but they were more than happy to serve drinks. Blue Star brews their own beer, so everyone was pretty stoked to take in a well-earned pint. I had a coffee while everyone else had some wonderful sounding beers. Probably the most wonderful beer was Tom’s: the beer he was served had several lipstick prints on the glass! Gross!
I ordered the pork belly and eggs and potatoes. My stomach was grumbling, and when I finally got my food, I was slightly disappointed. The food was okay, but not great. The potatoes had a bit too much thyme for my taste. Worst of all, the portions were too small. I was still quite hungry after I cleared my plate. I should have ordered the burger and fries.
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This was the last long run before Nueces, where I will be running my very first 50 miler!I am looking forward to this taper because I feel plenty worn down. I’m definitely taking the next two days off, possibly three. And then just some easy runs on Thursday and Friday. My goal for the week is to get my nutrition squared away, which basically means eating a ton of carbohydrates all week. I thought I would try and keep a food diary for the week, but I’m feeling wishy-washy on making the effort. Maybe I’ll Instagram all my food! That would be way easier, and way hipper. Hmmm…
I didn’t see the email until late in the afternoon, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. There was going to be a speedwork run at 6. But I’d already run in the morning, and I didn’t want to overdo it. I was on the fence, leaning toward not going…
But then I thought to myself, “Uh dude? You can run twice in one day. It won’t kill you.”
Yeah, I know it’s possible and people do that. Other people. But what the hell. Go. Run. Hurry up, it’s almost time. So I drove out to Valero.
When it’s time to take off, there are 5 of us: Liza, Stefan, Elizabeth, and the guy who’s name I can’t recall. The pack is off with Liza and Stefan leading the way. I lag behind because I forgot to “acquire satellites.”
Once I get the beep, I catch up and chat with Elizabeth. She’s very friendly, but our conversation quickly evaporates. We pull up to the other guy. Thankfully, he starts up some chatter, and I leave the two of them to their conversation. Elizabeth runs at “her own pace”, and the guy is just recovering from the flu. I didn’t come here for an easy run, I came here for a speed workout! I hustle to catch up with Liza and Stefan.
I have a slight set back in that I have to ditch to perform a gastrointestinal transaction. I pop back onto the path only to see Elizabeth and the guy rolling up. I yell, “Spicy food – no bueno!” I’m not sure if they heard me or not, but I’m sure they knew what was up.
I push harder to make up the increased gap, and then I catch up…. because they turned around. We stop and wait for the other two to arrive to begin the actual speed work. The plan is one minute hard, one minute jog. Repeat 10 times. Sounds easy enough. Liza counts us down, and then we took off.
It felt awesome. I love running fast.
But I’m huffing and puffing to keep up with them. Meanwhile they are just chatting away, telling jokes! How can they still have a conversation at this intensity? They must not even be pushing! STOP!
Whew! Catch my breath. That was a really long minute. Which is weird because the following recovery minute is really shor- GO!
It’s rough going at first. My legs are trying to settle into the rhythm. It’s been awhile since I’ve run this hard. Last time I ran this hard was last week at the Alamo Ranch Meetup. I was sort of racing Christian. We pushed up the pace the last two or three miles. STOP!
He was pushing it well, but I outpaced him just slightly. I am overly competitive and want to be the fastest. Which really sucks because now- GO!
Because now I am not the fastest! But I am determined to keep up. I am determined to show that I am worthy to run with the group. I am determined to not get left behind. I try to relax. Feel my form. Remember, rapid turn over. STOP!
I relax. I feel good. I am having a great time, despite how hard this is. And after a few rounds, all I want to hear is “GO!”
We finish the speed work and head back. The “jog” back is pretty intense. It’s an effort for me to keep up so I’m trailing, listening to their conversation about their upcoming races. It amazes the races they’re doing – the big races, the “real” ultras. And this is only two people out of the group!
I think to myself how great it feels to run with strong, fast runners. I want to be fast like them; I want a 7:00 min pace to be cake, I want to run the same big races. I really admire these two runners and want to be like them. Then it occurs to me – they are role models!
Role models? Hmmm… Then it occurs to me: in my life as an artist, I’ve never had a role model. There was never someone, that I knew personally, that I looked up to. No one that I respected and admired. No one to teach me or to learn from. And after I left school, I didn’t even have any peers. It was just me, community of one. Talk about isolation! Furthermore, creating art never did anything for my competitive spirit.
But now, entering the ultra running world and joining the Rockhopper group looks to hold much more promise than my artistic life did. The people I’ve met so far are awesome runners. They run ultras on a regular basis. And they seem pretty casual about it, talking about 50 milers and 100 milers like they were 5K’s or 10K’s. And some of them are fast.
I started to think, as sad as it is, maybe I should give up trying to be an artist and just be a runner. This is a pretty radical thought for me since all my life I have identified myself as an “artist.” But, if I really wanted to be an artist, I would throw myself into it. But I haven’t. I’ve been struggling with it my whole life. I haven’t painted in… three months? I’ve been working on my art website for how long? I am however, throwing myself into this “running thing.” I run four times a week and I started this blog for crying out loud!
In the future, I will come back around to Art. But for now, I am going to focus on running. I have some new role models that I want to learn from, and there’s a lot of ground to cover.
I ran with a few of the Rockhoppers today at Government Canyon. Stefan, Cara, and Elizabeth. I talked to them about some of the races they’ve done. It seemed like they’d all done numerous “real” ultras, which made me feel a little out of my league running with them. I was envious of their accomplishments, but inspired to make my own.
“The Nueces 50K.” That’s what I told them I was training for. “My plan is to do a few 50K’s and get some experience under my belt. Then try and tackle a 50M.” Or that was the plan anyway.
About halfway through the run, Elizabeth had to turn around and head back. She was nursing a knee injury and had a half marathon the next day, so she wanted to take it easy. So the rest of the run was with Stefan and Cara. Stefan lead the whole way, with Cara following him and then me. He kept a brisk pace. There were times I couldn’t see him and I crossed my fingers I was following the same trail. I had no idea where I was so getting lost would have been super sucky.
Somewhere along the way, we ran into a runner who was kind of lost. He asked about directions and struck up a brief conversation about Bandera, Rocky, and Nueces. He said he’d just run Bandera and planned to do Nueces. We began to go in the opposite direction, and then Stefan said, “We’ll see you at Nueces!” a minute later, I heard Cara say, “You should do the 50 Miler.”
I was watching the ground, so I didn’t know who she was talking to. Was she talking to me? No, she was talking to Stefan. But then I started to think about that. What if she had been talking to me?
Stefan kept up the pace and if anything, got quicker. We were running well. The hills were cake, the rocks endless, and the temps perfect. I kept up just fine, but Cara started to slow down a bit, so she let me take over the second spot. I did my best to shadow Stefan, I wanted to show that I could run with the big kids. They noticed and gave me credit for keeping up.
We ran into Miguel from the R-U-N group. We stopped and (they) chatted. He asked how far along we were. Neither Stefan or Cara was wearing a GPS, and I’d been having trouble with mine -somehow the display had switched. Instead of showing the usual distance/ elapsed time/ pace, it was showing calories/ something else/ something else. I felt really dumb because I’m pretty sure Miguel noticed I was wearing a Garmin, I think the same as his, in fact, but he didn’t say anything. I put my arms behind my back. That was a lesson for the day: learn how to operate my watch.
We stopped at a crossroad. I asked Stefan how much harder it would be to do a 50M vs a 50K. He said, “If you’re even thinking about it, you should do it.” That was just the sort of crazy positive advice I wanted to hear. Despite the fact that he doesn’t know me or my capabilities (other than the run we were on), he suggested to just do it. I like this guy.
Later, I asked Cara the same question and I think I got pretty much the same response. So my brain started percolating crazy ideas… We eventually finished our run. My watch showed only 13.7 miles in 2:23 for a pace of 10.25. They guesstimated 15 or 16 miles. I had problems with the starting and stopping, so I know my data was short. Ugh! Nothing worse than being outsmarted by technology.
On the drive home, I thought to myself, I should do the 50 miler. Normally, I would take a more cautious approach. Like I said before, do few 50K’s and build up some confidence. But I already feel pretty confident about my ability to do 31 miles. What will doing another prove? Why not do a 50M? Are you afraid to fail? Maybe?
Well if I’m going to consider doing this, I need to commit myself to the idea of actually doing a 50 mile run. OK. And that’s when I decided, Fuck it! Why mess around with another 50K? I know I can do that. Nothing to it. Let’s bump it up and do what we came here to do. Let’s run the big stuff. Let’s start with a 50 miler!
I AM GOING TO DO THE 50 MILER.
I got goosebumps. Straight up gooses bumps, and not just once, it was a wave of them. Part of it was fear, part of it was excitement, but all of it was joy.
So that’s what happened today: I made a big decision. And it feels good. Now I need to sign up and start to figure out training…