Saturday, February 12, 2011

The 100s Game

“This is what I want you to do next,” my coach said. “Run 100 miles in the next 10 days.”
“No problem!” I exclaimed.
“But wait, there’s more,” he replied.
“Any five of those 10 days have to total at least 100 miles.”
“Okay, I can do that.”
“And one last thing: two of the five days must be consecutive.”

I was excited! I immediately began looking at this as a game, dubbing it “The 100s Game.” I couldn’t wait to get home and start strategizing! (Is that a word?) Upon arriving home, I made a photocopy of the February page of the calendar. I highlighted the ten days I was given (Monday the 7th through Wednesday the 16th) and began writing my strategy on each day.

Since I was going to run a 20-mile race on Sunday the 6th (it wouldn’t count toward the game since the game began on the 7th), I gave myself an easy day on the 7th to recover and would start my 100s Game in earnest on the 8th. I wanted to get my back-to-back days done right away, so I slated those for the 8th and 9th. After that, I gave myself a rest day (I’ve never tried to do back-to-back 20+ milers and didn’t know how it would affect me), followed by another 20-miler on the 11th. That would give me three of five 20-milers done in five days, leaving me another five days to complete the last two. If needed, I could intersperse rest days between my last runs.

Another strategy I decided to adopt was to go over 20-miles on each of my runs. Nearing the end of the game, if I was really sore and tired, I could do fewer miles the last day and still total more than 100 miles. 

Prelude, Sunday Feb. 6th
20-mile race

Day 1, Monday the 7th
5.88 miles easy treadmill to shake things out after yesterday’s race.

Day 2, Tuesday the 8th
26.34 miles
Today the “game” started for me in earnest. I planned my basic run route in my head the night before. I used to plan out my long runs on the USATF website ahead of time so I’d know exactly how far my run was going to be. I no longer need the comfort of knowing exact mileage, so I just plan the basic route in my head and from there do whatever sounds appealing. I leave the house prepared to be self-sufficient for 4–5 hours. This day I did a large combination road/trail loop from my house in the NE of town, around the north side of Awbrey Butte on the Deschutes River Trail, then made my way west to and through Shevlin Park, down a forest road, swung by to check on some old Indian rock art I know about (yep, it’s still there!), cut over to Phil’s trailhead, took Cascade Highlands trail back in to town and incorporated a trip up OverTurf Butte before dropping down for a quick stop at Fleet Feet Bend followed by the last five miles home.

This was one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time. The day was cloudy and cool– just above freezing— and snow periodically spit down on me. I also had a positive outlook all day. Not a single negative thought went through my mind. I took my time and stayed present in the moment. I even experienced a couple of small victories.

The northern end of the Deschutes River Trail around Awbrey Butte drops you off near Awbrey Glen Golf Course for an uphill slog on Putnam Drive. It’s only just over a 1/2 mile long, but begins to quickly wear on you. And just when you think you can’t take any more, Putnam steepens to its terminus at Mt. Washington Drive. I’ve run up Putnam before, but have always taken a walk break after reaching Mt. Washington. Not this time— I kept on running. One little victory!

That was not my only victory of the day. I have never run up the bottom of the Mrazek Trail that leads out of the south end of Shevlin Park. I have always hiked it. The dirt trail is a bit steep and rocky. I always assumed that I couldn’t run it. This time, as the Raconteurs’ “Steady As She Goes” played in my ears, I decided today was the day to run it slow and steady-as-she-goes. I did, all the way up to where the trail crosses road 4606. Another little victory!

I was surprised that a few of my later miles were also some of my fastest. Sure, they were flat or slightly downhill, but does that really matter? What mattered is that though I was beginning to fatigue, I still felt good and wasn’t slowing down. What was really painful however, was having to stop at several stoplights the last few miles home. Stopping hurt more than just keeping running. So I paced back and forth at lights. I stretched my calves and my hips. I didn’t care if people looked at me funny. It’s what I needed to do.

I slept all night in my compression socks. Though I slept well, the words “20 more” showed up over and over in my dreams. My brain was already mulling over the 20 miles I was planning the next day.

Setting out on my 2nd 20-mile day in a row
Day 3, Wednesday the 9th
21.17 miles
I woke up feeling amazing this morning and was pleased to walk down the stairs normally without pain (any runner knows what I’m talking about)! It was also a beautiful blue-sky day and breezy. Another good run, but I allowed a couple of negative thoughts to slip in. Decided to take some photos on the run today. I did the same loop as my first-ever 20-mile run, which was on my 40th birthday in 2009. (It was the best birthday present ever, by the way!) I was super-happy to now have my back-to-back long run days out of the way! After I got home, I had plenty of energy left to dance around the kitchen singing at the top of my lungs, causing Doug to pause the TV show he was watching on the DVR.
Irrigation canal near our house was flowing today.

Broken Top and the Three Sisters in the distance
Deschutes River at Archie Briggs Road
Deschutes River
Mt. Bachelor and Tumalo Mtn from the trail that parallels Skyliner Rd
Fancy-dancy house along the Cascade Highlands Trail
This one apparently needed a guest-house too (in construction on the right)
The bliss of being done with back-to-back 20-milers!

Day 4, Thursday the 10th
Rest day. I didn’t sleep well last night. This was a bad “mental” day and I wasted a lot of time and energy questioning myself and why I do this. In addition, the lateral head of my left gastrocnemius was sore, which worried me because I wanted to run long again the following day.

Day 5, Friday the 11th
23.35 miles
I woke up with a new attitude to a beautiful new day and my sore calf felt just fine. I was relieved and ready to go! When I started, there was still a chill in the air, so I went with capris, a light hat, arm warmers, gloves, and a windproof vest. I quickly ditched the hat. Over the next couple of hours I also shed my gloves and arm warmers. By mile 18 I wished I had worn shorts and could ditch the vest!

I once again ran around Awbrey Butte on the River Trail, but took a different route from my house to access it. I even changed my route slightly on the run, making it a couple miles longer. I was feeling good! Around mile 13 I noticed my left calf that had been sore the day before. Instead of freaking out, I told myself to relax and breathe, and sent my calf relaxing thoughts and told it that I’d be able to give it some quality time (stretching and using The Stick) later in the day. It didn’t bother me again.

Also around the same time I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I’ve run 20+ miles four out of six days this week.” While attempting to do the rudimentary math in my head (which is not easy while all your energy is going to running!) a realization hit me like a brick: I was going to break 100-miles this week for the first time! I laughed. I cried. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I had hoped to have a 100-mile week maybe sometime this summer. I had no idea it would happen so soon or that I could do it this soon. In fact, I was so focused on having fun doing this “game” that I didn’t realize what I was doing until I nearly had it done. Had my coach told me I was going to run 100 miles this week, I would have thought him nuts. Instead he placed the focus elsewhere and made it fun. Fucking brilliant! (I never said this would be a Rated-G blog. Consider this your notice that my blogs will be PG-13.)

After I got home, I got out a calculator and did the math. I only needed 3.26 more miles to hit 100 for the week. I could be super-sore and feel like crap and still get that done tomorrow. So I planned to do 8 miles on day 6 to get me to 105 miles.

Day 6, Saturday the 12th 
8.41 miles
Slept good last night and my left calf, though still a little achy, was much better. Went out for lunch with Doug, took a nap, then decided at 3:15 I’d best get my run on. I ran what I call my “long gym loop,” which goes right by the gym I go to (Snap Fitness on Butler Market and 4th). If the gym is not my destination, it is handy for a pit stop. The temperature was about 60 degrees, so I wore shorts and a short-sleeved top along with compression socks for extra support of those aching calves. It was nice not to have to wear a hat or gloves. Near the beginning of my run I had to remove and hold my visor because it was so breezy it kept almost blowing off! I yelled into the wind, “Hooo-ey, is that all you’ve got? Bring it on!” From the outset I felt strong, fluid, and efficient, which really surprised me being that it was the last few miles of a 105 mile week.

As I was running by my gym I noticed I had just gone over 100 miles, so I stopped for a few minutes to celebrate alone with a Mint Chocolate GU energy gel and a flush toilet. The remaining 5 miles was icing on the cake!

Crunching the the numbers, (I’m a total numbers person!) in 3 runs this week I did 70.86 miles. Which technically means I would only need one more 20-miler and another run of 10 miles in the next 5 days to meet the goal set before me. But I don’t do the minimum. I always go for extra credit. In school, even when I already had an A in a class, I did the extra credit assignments anyway. And that’s still the way I roll. My goal remains to do two more 20+ mile runs in the next four days.

Happiness at the end of a 105-mile week!
From here on out I’m going to take it day by day, since this is new territory for me. If I feel great tomorrow, I’ll run long. If I don’t, I’ll either do that 10-miler should I need it, or take a cross-training day. For me it’s all a big game (the more I think about it, the more options I have), and I’m learning a lot about myself in the process. I’m learning that I’m a lot stronger and can do more than I think I can. I’m beginning to get my recovery routine down— it starts the minute I walk through the front door. My mindset is changing. My running form has changed over the last few weeks and felt more solidified this week— could it be my new lighter Asics DS Trainers, recent added mileage, both, or something else? I am learning to appreciate effort and pain (it takes a lot of work to hurt, so revel in it for a moment, then move past it!), to not fight the run, but relax into it, especially when the going is tough. It is oh, so gratifying.

Look for Part 2 of “The 100s Game” detailing days 7–10 late next week!

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see the blog is online! You are really amazing -- thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us!!