Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tarawera Countdown: T Minus 3.5 Weeks (and a bonus story about peeing)

So, four weeks out from the Tarawera 100k, Joe and I finally decided to check out the course profile.

I wouldn't have thought of it myself, but Joe started asking questions like, "Do you think it's really hilly?" and when I realized I had no clue, I relented and opened the course website.  My web browser informed me that I had "Last visited" the race website on July 29 -- probably the day we bought our plane tickets, when we visited the page to check the date of the race.  Yeah, we are pretty bad at preparation.

It turns out the race has about 10,000 feet of elevation gain.  And I think I mentioned in my last post that it was all I could do to finish 50k at Bandera a couple weeks ago.  I took some comfort in the FAQ page of the Tarawera race website.

Here's an excerpt:
Q: I am not sure if I can do this ..
A: That’s the whole point. This is not designed to be an event that you know with certainly you can finish. It is designed to be an adventure that will push many of you to run further than you have before. If you have completed a marathon previously, you are well on track to finish any distance of the Tarawera Ultra. 

"Oh good!  I've completed a marathon!  I'm 'well on track,' Joe!"

If you have successfully completed an event like the Kepler Challenge, a half Ironman or Coast to Coast, the 102km ultra-distance is well within your grasp. You’ll still have to train diligently though.  

"Oh, wait.  They say I have to train diligently."

If you have a history of tramping in the hills and have strong legs and endurance, you should be able to complete any of the ultra distances, even with little running background.

"'Little running background!'  Maybe I can do this!"

My hopes and doubts about finishing keep roller-coastering just like that, even when I'm not reading the helpful race website.  Joe assures me I'll definitely be able to finish in under the 24-hour cutoff -- which brings on a whole new wave of fear.  Being out there for 24 hours?  That sounds terrible!  This is our vacation.  Death marches don't belong on vacations!  But then again, I think I could stand not having any more DNFs in this lifetime.  So there's that for motivation.

I'll leave you with a terrible story:

When we were car camping in the field at Bandera a couple weeks ago, Joe and I both had to pee before going to sleep, and we were both unwilling to walk all the way to the port-a-potties.  Joe decided to wait until it was dark enough outside and then pee outside.  I didn't feel like waiting, so naturally, I peed in a bag, and then put the bag outside the car where it wouldn't stink it up all night.

Of course, I was planning to throw it away the next day; I emptied it out the next morning before the race but hadn't gotten around to throwing it away . . . and then when I went to move the car later that day, to move it closer to the finish line so Joe wouldn't have to walk so far, I approached the car from the driver's side and so didn't see or think about the bag on the ground at the passenger side.  I realized the next day the horror of what I had done -- I littered Hill Country State Natural Area with a pee-bag -- and someone else had to throw away my pee bag!  I've been trying to restore karma ever since, by picking up any litter that I see.  And I'll obviously need to keep doing this until the end of time in order to atone for my misdeed.

To make matters even worse, I had said to Joe when I realized that I left it there, "I can never tell anyone this story, because the person I tell it to might be the very person who had to pick it up and throw it away!"  But then a week later, it dawned on me that the bag I used was the one Rob Goyen had given me, full of TROT swag . . . and he had written my name on the outside of the bag.  So, whoever had to pick up and throw away my pee-bag knew exactly whose pee-bag they were handling!  And that, my friends, is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Year - New Goals

Last month I reviewed my 2017 running goals and ruminated on my lack of success in achieving them.  My goals for 2018 are more process-oriented than performance-oriented, and are designed with my peace and happiness in mind, rather than my ultrasignup results:

1. Run with Joe at least once a week when able-bodied.  (Joe suggested I add those last 3 words as a qualifier, so I don't miss my goal if I have an injury, etc.  Very wise.)
2. Run on trails at least once a week.  2 mulligans.  (Again, Joe's suggestion, to make sure it's an achievable goal.)
3. Race a new distance/format. (e.g., 6-hour, 12-hour, last man standing)
4. Earn Cactus 500 jacket.  (For reals this time.)

I'm still considering the addition of a 5th goal:
5. Get back to running one ultra per month.

I go back and forth about this one.  When I ran one ultra per month (pretty much 2013-summer 2017, it ensured I had a good, long training run every month.  Now that I haven't been racing regularly, I haven't been doing *any* long runs.  This is bad for my conditioning, as my efforts at the Bandera 50k yesterday showed.  It was hard to realize that I couldn't conceive of doing another lap out there, when I used to run the Bandera 100k and feel good doing it.  I really want to get back in ultramarathon shape again.

On the flip side, it's easy to fall into the trap of racing too often, and losing consistency since every other week becomes either a taper week or a recovery week.  I guess the sweet spot would be doing races but not pushing so hard that I'm unable to continue running consistently the week after.  Maybe that's what I'll shoot for.  So a tentative goal #5.

Speaking of Bandera, Joe had an amazing race.  He earned 7th place overall in the USATF National Championship.  In the last stretch of the race, he passed a runner who turned out to be John Kelly -- the guy who finished Barkley last year!  We both talked to him after the race, and I had no idea who I was talking to.  Other highlights of the day included seeing Mario Mendoza breeze into the finish to clinch his hard-earned victory, getting to hang out with Travis, Paul, Rob, and so many of our friends, finishing my first race since late September (yikes!), and chatting with Myke Hermsmeyer, who took this awesome photo of Joe:
PC: Myke Hermsmeyer
Our next adventure together will be Tarawera 100k in February.  In the meantime, I'll be working on accomplishing those first couple goals.  I'm also thinking of doing the Trail Racing over Texas 54k in Tyler, TX (Run the Rose) in three weeks.  I need more long runs!