02/20/2017 – 02/26/2017
A big week (of over-eating BBQ) and a big weekend of races (state #11 – Texas and state #12 – Oklahoma), I powered through solo for the majority of it, avoiding injury and enjoyed running in new places on new trails with new people. It was long a long week full of big mileage and long drives and at the same time short with stops at multiple BBQ joints and never doing one thing for more than a few hours at a time. It was a good week and one that I’d do again, but maybe without that accident…
Questions to you:
• Have you ever run back to back races? How did you recover between races?
• Do you have any long term lifetime running goals?
• Do you like multiple looped, out and backs, or point to point courses the best?
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – Travel Day to Austin
An early morning flight to Texas via Long Beach, an immediate presentation after we landed, checking in at our hotel and starting my 5 day BBQ binge (starting with Black’s BBQ) left little time for any running.
Wednesday – Stuffing myself with BBQ
An all day career fair and student interviews was interrupted only to stuff myself with breakfast tacos at Keso’s Taco House and dinner at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden. Running is hard when you’re stuffed beyond full with smoked meat.
Thursday – Bull Creek Greenbelt
3m, 0:44, 150′
With work obligations completed and my coworkers on an early flight back to Seattle, I turned my focus towards prepping for my two upcoming weekend trail marathons…by eating more BBQ. But first, I had to pick up a rental from the airport, make a stop to check out the Austin Trail Running Company, check into my hotel, then at the suggestion of Rachel(?) go for a short run at the Bull Creek Greenbelt. The Texas rocky trail mostly all follows the banks of 10′-50′ wide Bull Creek with no real way to get across the creek to the other side than to go straight through the water. I ran at dusk, searched far and wide for far too long on ways to cross the creek without getting my feet wet (not possible), found multiple ways to get lost, even though it was mostly single track, and generally enjoyed just running on new trails I’d never been on, even if I was still uncomfortably full on BBQ from the day before. There’s no rest for the weary though, and after going back to the hotel and changing, I headed out for a slight change of pace, dinner at Chuy’s Tex-Mex. What wasn’t a change of pace though was the amount of food I ordered, which was more than one should eat in one sitting. A common theme for the week.
Friday – Austin Waterfront and Austin Bouldering Project
3m, 0:26, 100′ and 2:00 bouldering
After more breakfast tacos, this time at Torchy’s Tacos, I headed to the south waterfront of downtown Austin along the Colorado River for a late mid-morning shakeout run. The trail is flat, but on smooth crushed gravel, which was nice and different from the Seattle waterfront trail which is all paved. A quick figure eight loop crossing over the Colorado River on pedestrian only bridges, I made a pilgrimage to the Austin Bouldering Project which was started as a partnership with the founders of our own Seattle Bouldering Project. Most everything is not a complete carbon copy, but a very close match with everything from vibe, energy, branding, even the flavor of the routes and the way they rate their problems not with “exacting problem grades”, but using a fluid bouldering circuit rating system. The biggest difference is the Austin gym is bigger with more square feet of climbing walls, but I think Seattle may still hold the edge because it has a bar and food downstairs although I hear there may be something similar in the works at ABP. Finishing up my session in the early afternoon, I hopped in the car, stopped for (more) BBQ at Salt Lick BBQ and finally ended my day an hour north in Killeen, Texas, laying out my race gear for the next early morning.
Saturday – Saddle Blazer trail marathon – Killeen, Texas
26m, 2:16, 1800′
Spectrum Racing’s Saddle Blazer trail marathon takes place at Parrie Haynes Ranch which is really mostly equestrian trails, but for this day trail runners take over. The trail marathon was a cloverleaf course with four different loops run on mostly single track and doublewide service roads with moderate coverage opening up underneath periodic bouts of power lines. Somehow we got 1800′ of vert, which was really surprising to me because the whole course felt pretty flat; so flat in fact that I felt like I had no choice but to run the whole thing (I didn’t) (who does that anyway – run 26 miles continuously? That’s really far.) Besides the first half mile, I ran the entire race by myself only seeing a few people overtime I passed through an aid station and the occasional half marathon or 10k runner. It was weird, to be out there for so long and not really see anyone, even though the entire course was in what felt like a fairly compact amount of land. My whole plan for this “race” and the next day’s “race” wasn’t to “race”, but to treat it as a supported training long run. There was no time goal, just a goal to finish, uninjured. Check and check.
Finishing the race uninjured and in good spirits despite literally talking to no one the entire time (meeting and talking to people while at races is actually one of my favorite aspects of races) and running by myself for 4+ hours, I spent 30 minutes baby-wiping myself down, then hopped in the car to make the 8 hour drive north to Tulsa, Oklahoma. But being my last day in Texas and feeling a bit hungry, I had no other choice than to stop for one last amazing meal, this time at Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ.
Feeling satiated, I buckled down for the last 6 hours of driving, making my way north through Waco. All is great when traffic is running smoothly, everyone hitting their 70 mph, but when people slam on their brakes on interstates, bad things happen. Brake lights popped red very quickly at all lanes and cars lurched forward quickly to 40 mph and instinctively I looked into my rear view mirror hoping for the best. The Jeep behind me barreled alarmingly fast and I braced for the worse. It swerved, correcting itself and then *bam*, making the sickeningly crunching sound of bumper on bumper. 16 ounces of fresh coffee in my hand found itself on every surface of the side and front window and dash and we both pulled over to the side of the interstate. Thankfully no one was hurt, except for the bumper and trunk of my car and the bumper and hood of his car.
Serious disaster averted, police report filed, information exchanged, and photos taken, car still drivable, all insurance companies contacted, what else was there for me to do, than get back behind the wheel, coffee no longer needed with the fresh does of adrenaline still flowing through my veins 2 hours later. 7 hours, several Trailrunner Nation, Ultrarunner podcast, Nos Audietis, Radiolab, Death Sex and Money podcasts, a few phone calls, and 600 miles later I pulled into Tulsa, Oklahoma far later than I was hoping. I checked in, prepped all my gear then plopped into bed for 5 hours of sleep hoping for a bit of respite before another 26 miles.
Sunday – PostOak Lodge Challenge trail marathon – Tulsa, Oklahoma
26m, 4:52, 3100′
Not quite fully rested and honestly probably still a little stressed from the previous day I awoke and drove the 15 minutes northwest to the PostOak Lodge. This race is actually a 3 day series with options to tackle just one day or multiple days and both individual race standings and cumulative race standings, the longest being a “Tripler” which is a marathon on Friday, a 50k on Saturday, and ending with another marathon on Sunday.
The Sunday marathon was a four loop course tracking back through the start/finish line four times which meant I had plenty of chances to figure out when I “needed” to run and when I “needed” to walk. Turns out I needed to to walk far more than I needed to run and not because the terrain was hard (it wasn’t compared to what I’ve been training on in the Issaquah Alps) but because running back to to back marathons is a long way regardless, full stop.
There was the “Hill from Hell” which really wasn’t that bad which ended at “Heaven’s Gate” (if that’s what the gates of Heaven looks like, whoever makes it there is in for a disappointment) and there was the very energetic guy on the loudspeaker who would announce every runner coming through, what distance they were running, what lap they were on, and where they were from. There was the amazingly marked course and the amazing aid stations (one was St Paddy’s Day themed complete with green colored rice and lentils, waffles and bacon) (and one which had shots of 10 different kinds of liquor, because while you may not need that at 9am on lap 1 to power your way up the Hill from Hell, it certainly does help when you’re 4 hours in on the last lap running on fumes and it’s actually mile 50 for you in the last 24 hours.) The 750′ of vert per lap added up and maybe it was just because I was tired, but it actually felt like more vert than that.
In the end, I finished, not without both of my achilles starting to flare up and some heavy fatigue setting into my legs. Injuries averted, I collected my ridiculously big, heavy finisher’s medal and ended the weekend crossing off state 11 and 12 of my longer quest to run a marathon or longer in every state. At the current pace of two a year and 38 more states to go, I should be finished in 19 more years…
An hour and 20 baby wipe downs later I dropped the rental car off at the Tulsa airport and hopped on the plane back home to Seattle via Dallas/Fort Worth. Thinking my trip was pretty much complete (why should everything go as planned), I arrived in Seattle, caught the last train back into the city and then before it could make it all the way back downtown, for whatever reason it didn’t and instead kicked everyone out onto the street at the Beacon Hill station. 20 of us stood outside in the mid 30 degree temperature hauling suitcases and backpacks waiting for a bus to arrive at 12:30 am. One by one cabs, ubers, and lyfts arrived until it was just me and another couple still waiting for the bus. I was tired and finally hailed a cab and made my way back home, to my bed, where I could not have been more happy to call it a week – a good week. No, a great week.
Weekly running miles: 58.7
Weekly running time: 10:19
Weekly running vertical gain: 5,151′
• Saddle Blazer trail marathon: 0 week
• Postoak trail marathon: 0 week
• Yakima 50k: 8 weeks
• Tillamook Burn 50m: 9 weeks
• Bighorn 100m: 16 weeks