<knock knock> HELLLOOO? Anyone here?
Yeah, so clearly I’ve gotten lax on the ol’ blogging front. Can’t even blame it on the cancer, as thankfully I’ve been cancer-free for over a year. Rather, I’ve suffered a lack of motivation on the running front, which has lasted far longer than I anticipated.
Eager to have a goal race to look forward to after having to bail out of the IMTUF 100, Waldo 100K and White River 50, I signed up for the Umstead 100, held in Raleigh, NC at the end of March. I heard great things about the race, and since it was very close to my sister in Chapel Hill, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.
With the lumpectomy and radiation therapy, my mileage was pretty low July-September, but I figured I’d amp it up come October. I did increase it somewhat, but my motivation was still at an all-time low. Ditto for November, and December, and… well let’s just say by the time I toed the line at the end of March I was just hoping to finish within the 30-hour cutoff. The result? I PRd by over an hour, finishing in 25:54. WHUT? Buoyed by this I entered the Lumberjack 100 two weeks later. It was rough, but I squeaked in under cutoff. This was the confidence boost I needed for my next big adventure: the Bigfoot 200.
I knew I’d have to step things up considerably for Bigfoot, a 200-mile jaunt around Mt. St. Helens, but my performance at Umstead left me cocky. “I just have to maintain a fast hike,” I told myself. While I got out on several long runs around Mt. Rainier, my weekly mileage averaged only 35-45 miles in May, June and July. When I toed the line at that race start I was scared shitless — for good reason. Within the first few miles it was clear this would be FAR harder than I anticipated, as I gingerly made my way through a mile-long boulder field. I actually thought I’d get cut at the first aid station at mile 12! Fortunately I made it with time to spare, but I was fighting cutoffs for the rest of the way. (I was joined by the sweepers starting at mile 75). I eventually made it to mile 110, where I had hoped to pick up a friend to pace me, as well as get some much-needed sleep. However, the volunteers said that the cutoff at the next aid station — 19 miles away — was in 8 hours. Normally this wouldn’t faze me, but the section had the steepest and longest climb of the race. I just didn’t think I’d make it without sleep or a pacer. Defeated, I chose to DNF.
After licking my DNF wounds and having my pity party, I set my sights on the Rio del Lago 100 in November. My darling and two of my friends were also running it, and I was looking forward to the party. However, it wasn’t enough to get my butt out the door to train; my average weekly mileage was a dismal 25 miles in September and October. Once again I hoped my endurance base would get me to the finish line, but it wasn’t meant to be. Between taking a couple of hard falls and having to huff it to make a few cutoffs, my body and spirit were broken. I actually was grateful to not make the mile 84 cutoff, as it meant I could stop running (although by then I could only muster up a fast hobble).
In the three weeks after RDL I only ran once a week. I felt my joy for running had disappeared; I was far happier with my other hobby: sewing. However, since that doesn’t do much to keep my weight at bay, I knew I’d have to come up with a plan to kickstart my running.
Enter REDFAM — Run Every Day for a Month.
Mind you, I’m not the streaker type; I scratch my head at those who have maintained years-long and even decades-long streaks, running through sickness and injury. But hey — it’s only for a month; easy peasy, right?
I had no specific weekly mileage goals, rather, I had to run at least two miles a day. I also gave myself the option of running just 1 mile twice during the month. Almost half of my runs for the month ended up being in the 2- to 3-mile range, with another third in the 3- to 4-mile range. But I was having fun! There were several times I wanted to bail, especially when it was dark and rainy, but I knew I’d only have to be out there for less than half an hour. In most cases I literally ran my errands, as my bank, post office and grocery store are within a couple of miles round trip. I used up my first 1-miler on Dec. 12, a particularly nasty day of wind and rain. But I also ran a marathon, along with a couple of 6- to 7-mile runs.
My second 1-miler came on the 22nd. I felt guilty, but I decided I’d up my minimum daily run to three miles from then on. I almost broke my streak on Christmas Day; Santa had given me a terrible hangover, so I thought I’d give myself a present by allowing myself to rest. Fortunately my darling convinced me a run would be just the thing to kick my hangover, and he was right. I finished the month out with 120 miles, thrilled I had reached my daily goal.
So, would I do it again? As part of a training plan, no; I need my rest days. But given December tends to be a month where I have the running “fuckits,” I think I’ll make it an annual tradition. I was able to get in my exercise and still enjoy the holiday festivities. It got me out of my rut and even helped me get a bit faster. I wish I could say it kept the holiday weight gain to a minimum, but there was some major over-indulgence. Perhaps my next challenge should be NoBoFAM. (No booze for a month).