Friday, July 01, 2011

Into July

I wrapped up a good training block of trail-running on Wednesday with my standard eight-mile loop around Rancho. I think the run was an encouraging indicator of thestate of my endurance. Why? Because the first two miles were awful. Honestly. I felt like warmed-over road kill. I could barely crawl up the first steep climb and involuntarily had to cut back to a walk on the next. But at mile three, my endurance burner finally kicked on and I found increasingly stronger surges of power. By mile four, I was flying* (*relative to my usual pace) up the remaining hills and pounding the downhills, logging sub-nine and even sub-eight-minute miles. (I know. But for me, on a trail run, this is fast.) I finished up the loop ten minutes faster than usual and felt like I could easily go for eight more. In the past, when I've worked to build up cycling endurance, I usually have to push through several miles of sluggishness before I reach cruise control. Feeling like crap for the first twenty minutes to an hour is just part of being a slow burner. It takes a while to get the pilot light going, but once it's on, it's on for the long haul.

Beat and I indulged in a "rest day" Thursday with our favorite evening sojourn — taking Fatty Fatback and Singlespeed Kim for a jaunt up and over Black Mountain. Given how many bicycles Beat and I have at home, it's pretty humorous that we regularly grab our most difficult and admittedly ridiculous bikes for a ride that features a steep, mostly paved, 2,800-foot climb and a long rolling descent on singletrack, loose-gravel doubletrack and more pavement. Even though rusty ol' Singlespeed Kim is getting up there in terms of miles (she was my Divide bike), Beat seems to like the physical challenge and simplicity of singlespeeding. I like the Fatback because, come on, how can anyone not love riding a fat bike? I challenge any cyclist of any persuasion to power those big wheels up a monster hill and not arrive at the top with a huge grin on their face.

Sitting high on Fatty Fatback makes me feel like I'm riding a horse, and always draws comments from the roadies who pass me on the climb. Today I went back to paved part of the climb for a quick 80-minute ride on my road bike (I can do the same 2,600-foot climb to the gate a full 20 minutes faster on the skinny tires.) I actually passed a couple of guys who I'm pretty sure passed me yesterday when I was on Fatty Fatback. I thought I recognized them, and they both did a quick doubletake and gave me a bit of a surprised look as I smiled, nodded and motored on by.

I have one more weekend to do a couple more longish trail runs, and then it's all taper until the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 on July 16. I'm feeling pretty apprehensive about the TRT100 right now. I think I may be even more nervous about it than I was about the Susitna 100 two weeks out. It's strange, because given that the Su100 is considerably more remote, in Alaska, in the winter, on snow, dragging a sled — it would seem the Su should be the scarier race. But before I ran it, the Susitna 100 was more of a known challenge. I mean, I had already completed the course twice on a bike. And I figured, I've already pushed a fat bike long distances through snow. How much harder could dragging a sled be? (As it turns out, it's significantly harder. But it was easy to delude myself before the race.)

TRT, however, is much newer territory. I've never attempted to travel 100 miles over rocks and dirt, in the heat and the overnight chill, up and down steep mountains, at elevations significantly higher than the one I live at. I'm afraid of hurty-foot and epic blisters and the sensation of a thousand needles tearing at my quads. I mean, I've seen these ultrarunners after 100-milers. Their feet look like ground beef and they walk as though they lost use of most of their major joints. These people are crazy. What made me think I could join them? Yesterday, a woman who is a much faster mountain biker than me commented that she'd like to try trail running but she "resembles a dying moose when I try to move at any faster than a dawdle." I thought "Yes! Yes! Me too!"

But can I take the dying moose 100 miles? In my own uniquely convoluted sense of the term, I think it will be kind of fun to try.

On a quick note, I wanted to thank everyone who purchased my book in June. Despite my late/rolling release, I sold 323 eBooks and 127 paperbacks during the month, which at 450 books is close to my stretch goal for the first month. So thanks to all. I am awaiting a new shipment of paperbacks on Tuesday, so you can still purchase signed copies at this link.


  1. Go, Jill! I'm the same way, always feel like crap the first 3 miles of almost any run until my groove kicks in. By mile 5, I feel as if I could go forever, though admittedly I don't run as far as you do.
    Great pic, and good luck with your race and book.
    Cheers and happy running,

  2. Yes, the old adage is that the better your endurance, the longer it takes you to warm up. Ever go out with people with mediocre endurance who take off like a bat out of hell, finish up after a brisk hour, and you're not even warmed up yet but they're convinced you're just slow. Sounds like you're right where you need to be....

  3. Every trail next to the mountains where I run goes straight up right during the period I really need to be warming up. Ugh.

    My solution is to go by heart rate and just take it super easy for the first 15-20 minutes. It's awesome, and makes the run so much better! No more gasping -- until later when you're warmed up and you want to bomb it :)

    I was wondering if you still had your winter tires on. heh. Those must be great on bumps.

  4. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who needs to slog a couple of miles before finding my groove. :) Just put a purchase in for the new book...anxious to read it!

  5. Phew - I was thinking it was just me, as a newbie runner, that dies for the first 20 - 30 mins - mind you, after an hour or so I'm ready to pack up anyway - but at least that 30 - 40 mins in the middle feels good :o)

  6. You will do great at TRT!!! I wish I could be there. I'll be attempting to run as far as I can at the Devil's Backbone...

  7. Hey Jill,
    Just finished the new book....great read!! I really enjoyed it!

  8. "Feeling like crap for the first twenty minutes to an hour is just part of being a slow burner. It takes a while to get the pilot light going, but once it's on, it's on for the long haul."

    Hey Jill, I really appreciate this advice.


Feedback is always appreciated!