Saturday, May 30, 2015

Burning River for Ben: Need to Back Off

Rampart Reservoir - The scenery can't be beat
20 miles into this morning’s run, my throbbing right foot made me question my decision to run a second lap. "Two 30 mile runs within a week plus hill repeats and tempo runs may be pushing it a bit". That was my thought as I continued a second lap around Rampart Reservoir this morning to complete a beautiful but relentlessly hilly 30 mile trail run. Training for “BurningRiver for Ben” has been going incredibly well; so well it’s scary, which in turn encouraged me to push the envelope maybe more than I should have. Last Saturday Jeff Mulder, also running Burning River, and I ran just over 29 miles on Santa Fe Trail at about a 9 ½ minute a mile pace. Santa Fe Trail is a scenic regional bike path that meanders north and south along Monument Creek through Colorado Springs and the US Air Force Academy. The trail’s rolling hills are gentle and running is relaxed. I felt awesome at the end of the run, so much so that I intended to run another hour; that is until we got deluged with hail the last half mile. Feeling awesome and confidence soring!

Confidence Soaring during an awesome 30 mile run!

Sunday the same thing; I started the morning with a 15 mile run that felt awesome from the very first step. Still having a lot of energy afterward I rode around town for two hours on my bike running errands. During the week I introduced high intensity hill repeats to my routine. I keep hearing about the short steep climbs at Burning River so from here on out I will prepare for them by running as many short steep hills as I possibly can. I just wish I could get an accurate course profile. I’ve read that the Burning River has anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 feet of climbing, primarily short steep hills that keep relentlessly punching you in the gut one after another. Whatever the true elevation profile is, I intend to be ready. Finally Thursday I ran another key workout, which has been a staple of my training for several months; tempo runs. 10 – 12 mile runs with 3 – 6 miles at about 7:30 a mile pace. Due to the hill repeats on Thursday, I was feeling a bit worn-out and even though the pace felt like 7:30 or faster I was disappointed when all I could muster was 7:45ish pace. The first sign that I’m starting to push a too hard and need to back off.

Sunday 15 Mile Run with Max in Cheyenne Canyon


Fast forward to today. Although I planned only a 16 mile run, I decided to push the envelope even more and run two 15 mile loops of technical, hilly single track around Rampart Reservoir. Rampart reservoir has all the features that I believe Burning River has; relentless never ending short steep climbs and descents, technical roots and rocky trail, mud bogs, and water crossings.  I didn’t feel that great from the start but the amazing scenery and running a trail I hadn’t run in a while was intoxicating. After a few miles muscle memory took over and I was cruising and feeling good. About ten miles into it I felt a dull ache on the top of my right foot. Thinking my shoes laces were too tight I stopped and loosened them but the ache didn’t go away. My truck was parked at the trail head so I could stop and re-supply with water and food after the first lap. At the end of the first lap I wasn’t feeling good but not bad either. I was just running. I thought about calling it at one lap but then got the stupid thought of “I’m training for 100 miles I need to keep going”. So I set out to do what I came out there to do and headed down the trail for a second lap.

The Scenery is Intoxicating!
Cruising on Lap 1
Cresting one of Many Hills
The dull pain continued to increase in intensity as the miles went by until the steady throbbing affected my speed. I significantly slowed down and began walking more and more. I ran through a mud bog and a quarter mile section of trail buried under what felt like an ice cold stream of water. This seemed to numb the pain a bit and for the last five miles I wasn’t feeling much pain and I even picked up the pace. Upon finishing I removed my shoes and found that the top of my foot is slightly swollen and red. It doesn’t hurt badly now that I’m not running. In fact I can walk with no pain at all. Is it injured? I don’t know. I think I am due for an easy week so this is the perfect time to back off. With exactly eight weeks left until Burning River I will be monitoring this foot closely. Ice, Advil, and rest for a couple days then we’ll see how it goes. Because I believe this trail simulates Burning River so well I want to go back in three weeks and run three laps for a total of 45 miles. Keeping my fingers crossed!