Wait, What Happened to May?

It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating May Day and yet it is already the 1st of June. May was the first month this year that I didn’t race so instead of a race report, I decided to look back at the whole month of training and found I had a better milestone this month than any race PR: May was my most consistent month of training probably ever. I overcame a twisted ankle and a gnarly stomach virus to run 260 miles and 27,000 feet of climbing. Compared to the top elites this isn’t that impressive, but considering I did not run a single step last May, I am really excited about what this means for my summer and fall races. I usually use local races to tune up and keep the juices flowing, but I had a couple group trips planned for May and the schedule just didn’t allow for any racing. Instead I got to visit two of the smaller and more remote National Parks and focus on some big workouts. Here is the week by week breakdown.

Week 1

week 1

It’s kind of a bummer to start a new month by not running, but May 1st fell on a Monday and Mondays are almost always for rest. I rolled, I stretched, but I did not run. Tuesday was supposed to be a kick-ass hill workout with the SFRC crew but I rolled my ankle less than 2 miles into the warm-up and had to call it a day. Definitely not the start to May I had envisioned. The instant ice and compression seemed to help and while I took it easy the rest of the week, I still got in around 40 miles and feel confident I didn’t loose fitness. I also had an awesome trip to Channel Island National Park off the coast of Santa Barbara. We had crazy winds and some rough terrain, so the running was limited, but the landscape was beautiful and we saw some crazy displays of marine wildlife: humpack whales, hundreds of dolphins, seals and pelicans all feeding off a school of bait fish was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. See for yourself:

Exploring new landscapes with friends and seeing animals in their natural habitat is one of the most invigorating things for me so I headed into week 2 feeling rejuvenated and with a new conviction to crush it.

Week 2

Week 2

Week 2 of May was the first week in over a year that included 2 workouts and a long run. Did I mention that the long run was a double summit of Mount Diablo with over 7,000 feet of climbing? It was always going to be a tough week, but I was not anticipating it being made tougher by the bought of stomach flu / food poisoning I battled from Thursday to Monday the following week. After a tough Thursday morning Ninja with tempo miles thrown in, I started to feel terrible and while I never actually expelled anything from my body, I was only able to force down about 1000 calories a day. Friday’s run was a desperate attempt to get some sun after lying on the couch all day and Saturday’s SFRC was one of the toughest runs in recent memory due to zero energy and nausea. I went into Sunday’s epic long run cautiously optimistic but ready to pull the plug if I didn’t feel it after 30 minutes. I really really wanted to summit since this was my third time on Diablo and I had yet to summit. I couldn’t go 0-3. In the end, I got to within 400 feet and half a mile of the summit the second time up and chose not to add that mile just to touch the door a second time. I chose to not be greedy, and to be thankful for the fact that my body carried me up 7,000 feet and 25 miles after such a rough week and I have zero regrets. I proved to myself that I have learned when to push it and when to back off and I was rewarded with a solid effort that didn’t totally destroy me and the return of my appetite. More importantly, the Saturday and Sunday bubbles in my Strava training log actually touch 🙂

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I got this close to the second summit but chose not to go up

Week 3

Week 3

After such a big week last week, this was always going to be a bit of a recovery week. I decided kind of last minute to see if me and the hubby could get in some altitude training miles on the snow up in Tahoe. It only took one facebook post, about 30 minutes and the overwhelming generosity characteristic of the trail community to secure a free place to stay in Tahoma for Saturday night. The anticipation of a biog adventure weekend energized me and I crushed 2 workouts: Wednesday big hills and Friday flat and fast tempo. It felt great to start to experience the fitness gains from the past several weeks of hard work. On saturday, we woke up early and made it to Squaw Valley in under 3 hours to try to get on the Broken Arrow course. We quickly realized that unless we had long pointy sticks on our feet, we were not getting on that mountain and headed for Truckee to get some miles in on the Emigrant trail. We had a great and hot run, but did not get in any vert or snow miles which we desperately wanted. We went back to our lodging for the night, after an exciting visit to Alpenglow Sports and some ice bath time in the lake, to sort out a route for Sunday. We decided to go for a summit of Mount Tallac which is a 9 mile round trip, mostly on snow. In the end, we only made it about halfway up Tallac. The snow was very soft and unstable and the route was not totally clear and after we got above the treeline, we felt unsafe given the conditions. We probably would have been fine and I desperately wanted to see the views from the top, but we always choose safety and in this case, we were not confident in our experience on snow. We are heading back in August and I can’t wait to take it on again then. In the end, we got valuable experience with poles and microspikes and some always exciting practice at glicading.

Tallac

Week 4

Week 4

Week 4 was all about an adventure run that has been on the books for almost 10 months. My husband decided he wanted to bring some of our friends back to his home state of North Dakota to run in the Badlands to celebrate his birthday. He is turning 34 so we wanted to run 34 kilometers to mark the occasion. The point of this run was to experience a landscape completely foreign to most of us and to do it as a group. Ideally, we would come across some cool wildlife and take in the views so stops were always inevitable. Given the chill nature of this run, I squeezed 3 workouts into the week prior to hitting the trails in North Dakota on Sunday. The highlight of the week, and probably the month, was running through the Badlands on Sunday with 6 friends. We had great weather and saw herds of bison, a pack of wild horses, antelope, a giant prairie dog village and a bald eagle all in their natural habitat. The landscape was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. The completely flat prairie land with grasses blowing in the breeze as far as the eye can see might be more subtle than the dramatic cliffs of Northern California, but is equally as beautiful. I highly recommend Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

I did also have a pretty big milestone accomplishment this week which was earning the CR on the Ninja Loop re-routed segment on Strava. I run a lot of Ninjas as part of my training because I like to use the route as a benchmark. When I did (I won’t say ran because there was quite a bit of power hiking) my first Ninja about a year and a half ago, the thought of running it under 1:30 seemed impossible. Finishing in 1:27 last week with fuel left in the tank was an amazing breakthrough for me and evidence of the consistent training I’ve been able to log over the past 6 months. People have their opinions about Strava and CRs and while I am not out there CR sniping, this one meant a lot to me. Not because I am listed as number one – I know full well there are many women in the Bay Area alone who could destroy my current time – but because it shows progress. The achievement of the small milestone goals like this make training fun.

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Chillin’ with the herd of Bison

There were technically 2 days of week 5, but one was a rest day in which I ate probably the biggest steak of my life and the other was a lackluster workout after a weekend of indulgence, so we really don’t need to get into those.

Initially, I wanted to run a race in every month of 2017 as a way to commemorate my main goal for the year; run healthy for the entire year. Now I realize there is a lot more to the enjoyment of trail running than racing and the adventures and achievements I accomplished in May really drove that lesson home for me. I can’t wait for the adventures June will hold!

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