I’ve been reading my Paula Radcliffe book and another Masters one I have from a gal named Patricia Welch who was famous many years ago. Both talk about taking time off – and they are elites. One said she and her husband just relax for a whole month each year.

I’ve been feeling “blah” still this week, too. I said I was taking last week off – and I still did 22 miles and that was with 4 runs – one being a super tough mountain 14 miler. I haven’t had a zero on my weekly log since early March 2009 and I’m really wondering if that’s even healthy. I wonder if year-round runners are supposed to take scheduled weeks off here and there – like one week off every 6 months. I would imagine it would be a good thing – but it’s so hard to mentally “let go” and do it.

I’m very Type A and find it so hard not to think poorly of myself if I don’t run. I’m seeing this as a common trend on Daily Mile – the web site I also use to record my workouts. I see many runners choosing the frowny faced symbol to show how they felt on their recent workouts. I’m seeing a lot of burnout but very few who recognize it or choose to rest at all. Hmm.

I’m still 11 weeks from my marathon. I’m not worried about my endurance fading in one week or losing my speed in that time period either. Rest and recovery. Two very simple words but so hard to implement at at times. The masters book I have also mentioned how as we age, we need more recovery time than the younger runners. I’m 37 and I’ll be 38 in about 3 months. I’m a geezer.  Maybe I need more rest.

Honest and truthfully, I didn’t enjoy yesterday’s run at all.  It was miserable. The heat was fine since we started in the dark at 5 am (in the mountains!) You should hear the wildlife at that time in the morning! Eeek! It was a little spooky – but not the first time I’ve done this. In fact, I looked back over the last 8 Saturday’s and saw I’d woken up 7 out of 8 at 3 or 4 am to get ready for a long run or a race (usually not falling asleep until 1 am or later.) The one weekend I didn’t do an early Saturday run? I got up that early on Sunday instead to run with a friend.

So, my long runs for June and July looked like this:

18.5 (mountains – very challenging), 10.27, PR 10k race – 2nd place age group, 18.47 (mountains – very challenging), 2 mile PR race – 3rd place age group, half marathon PR – 6th place age group, 13.3, and 14.14 (mountains – very challenging).

The first 5k I want to do is August 7th – a week from this Saturday. This would probably be an ideal time to rest and then ease back in the week of the race. But, I feel weird taking time off. I wonder if I should? I wonder if it would help and actually improve my mojo again?

When I got home from yesterday’s run, I just moped around. I missed Bertha a ton on the run. The other two gals are really great people – but they’re not my closest buddy who was camping. The 50 year old – the super ultra runner – ran faster than I could handle for the first several miles – and they were all UP! Horribly, painfully UP! About 1000 elevation gain in 3 miles. Painful! In pitch black darkness so I couldn’t let her pull ahead since I’d forgotten my flashlight, so I had to stay close. Not even a warm up! My legs tend to love a gentle warmup. I usually walk .25 a mile before every workout and then ease up the first mile. It’s just how my legs work. This one started at a high intensity (which sounds funny since our average pace was about 15 min miles — but unless you’ve ever tried to run at a 15 % – 20% grade (which is twice what most treadmills will do at their max) you might not really understand – but it hurts!) The max grade my Garmin recorded was at mile 7 and it was a 31% grade. You huff and you puff, your buns and hamstrings and calves are BURNING and cramping – and you haven’t even gone the first mile yet! This is the type of workout most ultra runners consider their mainstay. It makes them stronger! Trail running with extreme hills is not for the weak of heart (or glutes). 

My friend, Jenny, the super buff 50 year old, explained to us that the toughest run she’d ever done was the Bear 100 miler last year. She said that the elevation gain in that race is 21,986. I can’t even imagine! And that — peaking at over 9,000 elevation so the air is really thin! Jenny made it to mile 88 before she DNF’d it. That’s how hard it is. She said the cutoff is 36 hours and she made it 33. 33 hours of running! I’ve never ran for more than 7 hours – and I’ve only done that twice!

Anyways… obviously doing this mountain trail stuff makes a body stronger – but it appears I have a plethora of years and miles to go before I could even attempt something like the Bear 100! Believe it or not, my buddy Emily – who just did her first 50 miler a few weeks ago is signed up for this year’s September race! I’m in awe that she’s even attempting it! These super ultra runners just knock my socks off! They seem kind of super human.

Anyways… so I was following one of those super humans who is almost old enough to be my Mom and is only 4 foot 11 and 103 lbs (she told us so on the run)  and she was kicking my butt bigtime! She trains on these trails all the time. She lives nearby and runs in them 3-4 times a week. Yesterday’s run was just an “easy, warmup” for her “real – long run today” on the toughest 50 miler course I’m aware of nearby. I think today she’s doing another 20 or 30 with at least double the amount of elevation gain – a.k.a. – climbing.

My buddy, Amber was dying along with me. But, mountain goat Jenny kept moving, so we kept trying to keep up. Man, I hope I’m that cool when I’m 50!!!!

Anyways.. I’m rambling. Yesterday’s “vibe” with the other gals was ok — but it wasn’t the same as when I run with my best pal. I missed her. I missed her alot. Sometimes it’s easier to run with someone who’s already asked all the sensitive questions like, “Why do you homeschool?” and, “Why don’t you go to church?” I hate answering those over and over for new people and honestly hate anything remotely like confrontation so I end up coming home drained emotionally and feeling bluesy. I cried on Wayne’s shoulder a bit when I got home and just said, “Maybe I should just run alone. It’s easier than navigating these sensitive topics all the time.” Being an oddball isn’t the route in life I’d intended for myself – but it turns out – it’s who I really am. I’m a black sheep. But, I’m a nice sheep.  I wish people were cool with just avoiding those other topics and letting the run be what it’s all about.

Sorry guys – I guess I’m just having an emotional “dumping” here today. I’m not sure yet if I’ll take the week off – but I’m going to consider it.

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