Thirty days - that's all that separates me from being pushed out of a van on the side of the road in Sandy, Ore., and being told to run the race of my life.
OK, so maybe my #nuunhtc teammates won't be so violent and anxious when dropping me off for my first leg of Hood to Cost but the reality that the race is nearing is very real.
When I first found out that I had made the team and received Mark's definitive "Go for it," I began to research how to prepare for such a race. How does one train to run 17 miles, some hilly, over the course of 30 hours (or less)? What can you do to prepare your body (and mind) for the toll of running three times in such a short period with little to no sleep? How do you fuel for the race so strangers don't have to see you poop under a bridge?
Well, if my Googling was accurate, you do nothing. It might be a fine approach for some of my teammates who are gifted athletes and run laps around me during a warmup. I truly feel like I need to ready myself and I was disappointed that I found very few tips on how to do so. There were a couple articles that said to split a long run into two shorter runs or to run an evening run and then log miles the next morning. Later, I found a plan via Ragnar but it was long, not very intense and only good if you were training solely for Ragnar, which I'm not. Other stories advised against running doubles unless you were maxed out on mileage and needed to run twice in a day to hit a certain weekly goal.
Frustrated, I did what any sensible runner would do. I said, "Eff this crap. I'll do what I do."
And that is ...
Double down. I am not sure if I've pointed it out specifically but I've been running two-a-days for the better part of the summer. The first run of the day is always the longest and is usually a "quality" run. Before Veterans training commenced, it was a speed-play run but it's now hills. I've also increased the distance of that first run from 4 miles to 6 miles and I'll hit 7 before I fly into SEATAC. As my first leg is 6.32 miles, it's key to me that I have that midweek-long run at or beyond that mileage.
Hills. I feel like I should have been doing these for awhile now but it requires some planning in my relatively flat neighborhood. In theory, I could get up a half-hour earlier and drive a bit to a hillier area but I'm not just there mentally. Rather, I find the hilliest places and try to incorporate them on hill day and into my long run.
Consecutive days. This point is more thanks to Hal Higdon but I feel good knowing that I'm running hard on Saturday and long on Sunday. I've heard from other runners that it builds endurance, which is what I'm going to need.
Sucking it up. Take today, for example. I got a terrible night's sleep - my heart was racing, I couldn't get comfortable, I had to pee 300 times. The last thing I wanted to do was get up at 5 a.m. and run 6 miles. I briefly considered turning off the alarm at 3:30 but an appearance of Jillian Michaels in a dream and the awareness that I am going to have to run VERY tired during HTC pushed me out of bed. I just considered an extra bit of training.
Recognize! The women who are making up the two blogger teams for Nuun are insanely talented. Intimidatingly so. One of the runners in my van just completed a half Ironman and another is training for one and yet another ran a 1:40 RnR Chicago half in crazy heat. I look at them sometimes and feel like I will have to work 10 times harder to get through the race. Stupid, right? I'm trying to keep myself in check and be mindful that pace doesn't always equal strength, endurance and heart. I was picked for the runner I am, right now, and not the runner I wished I could be.
Of course, after I get myself a game plan, Runner's World just had to publish its own tips in the latest issue of the magazine.