15 November 2013

B2Bs, Brains and Blessings

“I often lose motivation, but it's something I accept as normal.” - Bill Rodgers
Palmer Park
I’m recovering from my first 5 hour training run in over three months. The plan to run with my friend Samantha yesterday fell through when my eldest got sick, so I was on my own today. As with most of my runs here at the end of the season, I didn't have the desire to run solo, especially for that long. I went to Mt. Herman and got it done and I'm resting up for tomorrow's B2B.

Sheila saw a cougar at Mt Herman two days ago. I've never seen kitties or bears there, but they are known to roam around. I put some bells on my pack just in case. Some snaps from today's run:
Climbing up the southern slope
Dropping in to the Limbaugh Canyon
In the Canyon
Sweet single track on the eastern slope
Red is my favorite color
I'm glad that my next two long runs will be with other people. I'll have the fine company of Meghan Hicks in the Canyonlands next week and the first Boulder Fat Ass Run of the season the week after. Hallelujah.

I really miss having a coach. I liked being told what to do each week for training and now I have to go back to figuring it out myself. It gets trickier when I have a 5 week training cycle.  I find myself doubting my training plans for the first time all year. With such a short time to prepare for TNF 50 after tapering, recovering or resting for the past two months between races, I’m not as decisive as I’d like to be. 
Pikes Peak from Barr Trail
Case in point: Last weekend, I did my first B2B long runs of this brief training cycle. I stupidly did my hilly run/hike on day 1 and on day 2 did a more runnable course. Experienced ultrarunners would put their palm to forehead, knowing that I had it backwards. By running up the Barr Trail (3,600 ft of vert in 6 miles) and then back down, I basically trashed my legs. My run the following day over the beautiful, rolling 13 mile Rampart Reservoir course was pretty much a sufferfest after mile 5. It took 2 days to recover. Sheesh.
Rampart Reservoir
My fitness is not where it should be and I don’t have much time to bring it up to snuff. I fear that TNF 50 will be another sufferfest to ensure I clear the cutoffs in time. I can't wait to be fast enough to not to have to worry about those anymore.

In addition to building mileage on my B2B runs, I’m focusing on speed work. With kids sick two weeks in a row on my medium long run day, I ended up with an additional track session to squeeze something in at night. I can’t remember the last time I was on a track, but with my tunes blaring in my ears, I’ve enjoyed every lap. In the past, I’ve primarily done 4-6 mile tempo runs, but will be mixing in some short intervals & progression runs for something different.

You can see what I'm dreaming up for 2014 over on the right sidebar. I've got my goal race of the Bryce 100 and all the training runs/races lined up to get me there. Did you see that I'm going to run an ultra in Kansas? I like running in new and different places, so why not? Sheila's in as well so should be a fun trip.

So while I'm dreaming up my 2014 race schedule, job hunting and spending time with family & friends, I’m also trying to get back in to reading again. During the training season, I was reading a bit of non-fiction that related to running/training/nutrition each night before bed. When the season wound down, I wanted to get back to some good fiction and I set my sights on ingesting The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. When I pulled out my copy and started reading Fellowship of the Ring, I discovered that I’m not able to sit still and read for longer than a few minutes anymore. This was very troubling to me. As an ISTJ (albeit a lazy, spontaneous, goofy one), my brain and personality are designed for sitting still and focusing for hours on a task. Somehow, my media usage over the past few years has rewired my brain in such a way that I can’t do this anymore.

After listening to a very enlightening podcast by The White Horse Inn and picking up a book by Nicholas Carr on how our internet usage can reroute neural pathways, I decided to make some changes. First, I’m going to retrain myself to read for more than 15 min at a time. The encouraging word from neuroscientists is that even the adult brain has plasticity, it just takes training (hmmm… to an athlete, that sounds familiar!). Second, I’m going to set aside certain times (morning & evening) for checking email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs rather than availing myself to it all day long via my computer, tablet or smartphone. This will be challenging as I find myself constantly looking for the distraction and wanting to interact with others through these means. However, I want to be more mature and responsible with how I manage my time and attention so as I train my body physically, I’m training my mind as well.

The other thing I'm doing this month is writing down one thing that I'm thankful for every day. I'm posting them daily on Facebook and will repost all of them here after Thankgiving. It has been a good exercise in remembering how blessed I am each day.

In tribute to composer John Tavener, who passed away earlier this week, I'll share his most famous piece -- Song for Athene -- played at the funeral of Princess Di. Hauntingly beautiful. You're welcome.

Happy Trails,



  1. Shelby....nice post. Good to see you're considering going back to the Bear, go get it done!
    As for training, remember that your speed should never be more than 20% of your week's total mileage and possibly even only 10%, so let the rest of your runs be slow, easy aerobic building runs. If your legs are feeling tired going into TNF50, better to drop all speed (other than maybe short, 10-20 sec striders) and go into it uber rested. The rest days are where the building happens, not the hard days...
    Best of luck!

  2. Thanks, Steve. I am keeping it on the easy side this month; so far I haven't felt the effects on my longer runs...only that I haven't been doing many of those in the past few months! Striders are great, I've been doing those and really how they give me that extra something without leaving me feeling wiped out.