But the trails have been good for my heart and my head. Running in the summer in Hotlanta is defeating. I typically do all of my running after work and paces in 90°+ are ugly. I try hard not to compare too much to winter paces, but I am human. Sometimes, I get on the treadmill just so that I can run in 75° and nail some faster times.
I have felt especially tired in the last 2 weeks, but I think that is probably the point of ultra-training? A few times I have started a run and it has been so hard to not just throw in the towel in the first half mile. Taking it to the next level by adding a 6th day and hitting 60+ miles each week has taught me a lot about myself. Mostly that I am hungry all the time. But a little bit about gritting it out when the mind and the body are totally against me.
Truth be told, I feel my running has been subpar lately. I am going into these last few weeks feeling like it's been more of an exception for me to have a good day. Part of me wants to believe it is because I have been putting my legs through the ringer - 600+ miles in the last 2 months and nearly 30,000 feet of ascent.
This is the last big(ger) week. I am ready to start winding down and see if a little freshness makes me feel better. Last year, I had the goal of hitting 100 miles in 24 hours. I really didn't have any idea what to expect. I had never run beyond 12 hours and my peak distance was 68 miles. Honestly, I don't have that much more perspective this year other than the knowledge that I am capable of running 100 miles in 24 hours - 109.866 miles if you want to get technical about it and yes, I do, thankyouverymuch.
When I learned about the 24 hours US National Team qualifying distance (125 miles) earlier in the year, this seemed like an outlying goal to aim for. Another 15ish miles is only .62 more miles each hour. Seems reasonable in theory, pretty tough in reality. I found out a couple of weeks ago that they raised the bar to 130 miles for women. Those 5 miles are big. This is a whole new kind of runner math.
So I'm sticking with my original goals in ascending order because it is far easier to tick up, than tick down (mental trick #45082348): 1) finish upright 2) 100K 3) 100 miles 4) PR 109.866 5) Course Record 114.6 6) 125 7) Seriously?
The thing about having a plan for one of these races is that there needs to be not much structure to said plan. You cannot just plug numbers into a spreadsheet or calculator and expect it to happen despite all the history and training. The human element is far too great, especially in longer distances and there is no telling what sort of shit will hit the fan. I cannot control the heat or the rain, the nausea in my stomach, the soreness in my legs, the chafing everywhere, or anything else causing me physical anguish. But I can control how I react to it.
And much as in life, there is very little I can even begin to feel sorry for myself about. To get to do what I get to do, I'm one of the lucky ones.