Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Training

It's finally spring here in Virginia. This past week saw cloudless days and temps in the 60s, and dry dirt trails where there was once two feet of snow. YAY! I am celebrating the beautiful weather and LIFE in the pic above!

My harbinger of spring is the annual pilgrimmage to the mountains west of the Roanoke area, where a group of trail-loving friends meet to run and re-connect with a 35+ mile kickass training run. This was my very first "mountain adventure run" back in 2004 and finishing it ranks right up there with my first 100 finish in terms of thrill and emotion. Back then, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of training, nutrition, gear...all I knew was that I had loved my first 50K (Holiday Lake in 2002) and wanted more of the same. It was also during this weekend in 2004 that I first met many of my good VHTRC friends and we have come together each year since to celebrate the arrival of spring and one another's company.

This year I brought along my gal pal Hallie, who has caught the ultra bug and was totally game for this adventure. We have been training all winter for the Terrapin Mountain 50K in a few weeks, but Hallie was more concerned about our little valley run (and, dare I say it, she should have been!). We took it easy and ran as much as the conditions would allow---the trails were generally clear and dry but we had 8+ inches of the white stuff in the higher places-- but the day was glorious and we had a wonderful time. After nine hours, 26+ miles and about 7,000 feet of climb, we called it a day and headed back with the other "losers" to the post-run and a cold beverage. Hallie was bummed she didn't finish the entire 35, but she hung right in there with some fast runners and she will be just fine at Terrapin!

One of the joys of this run--and ultras in general-- is cheering for others as they come into the finish and and sharing in their pain and joy. This run attracts a very tough group of runners. This year we had a two-time Badwater finisher, a Grand Slammer, multiple MMT and WS finishers, a Hellgate 100K winner, a Grindstone 100 winner, and a former AT and PTC record holder. Yikes! On paper that would totally intimidate me if I was a newbie. In addition, four of the runners were training for WS--including my buddy Bill Potts--a few others for MMT, and this was the first "real" training run of the spring for all of us since Snowmageddon descended in December. As a result, we were all toasted at the end given the snow and lack of training. But as always it was a great spring training boot camp and test of fitness!

This past week was my spring break, so after a day off on Monday, I took advantage of some extra free time to train and was able to put in a 60+ mile week. Despite the snow and ice, I have been able to stay in the 60+ mpw range for the month of February by running long runs with the spring marathon training group on the dirt roads west of town, running long hill repeats up O-Hill with Bill, and cranking out a few suffer-fest ladders on the track. A few more weeks of quality and then it's time to taper for Terrapin and our girl's road trip. I am looking forward to my first race since Hellgate and seeing Clark and all my ultra buddies, and hopefully by race day all the snow will be gone up on the ridge!

Happy Spring and happy spring training!


Rick Gray said...

What a week off from school you have had. To begin the week with such a group of great friends. I can relate to your 2002 memories that you shared. Memories and the anicipation of new experiences make this running part of our lives so very special. I have not had the snow that you have had, but I am so ready to run on nothing but dirt and rocks. Everytime I head to the mountains, I run in snow and it is not just a dusting. I am heading this weekend to Damascus to run Beth's annual St. Patty's Day run for around 24 miles. Last weekend, we slogged through a portion of this loop which was covered in 7 or 8 inches of the white stuff. I am hoping this warm week will melt it all. I am looking forward to Terrapin also. See you in a couple of weeks.

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