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The Summer Heat Takes a Toll

Posted July 5th, 2012 at 01:33 PM by Black Spurs

The first couple of months of this training phase has gone pretty well compared to other races for which I have trained. Mileage is a little below the planned mileage, but I always use mileage goals as rough estimates of what I want to do. They are usually high anyway. If I feel the need to back off, I just back off. If I feel like going further, I just go further.

Last week, with the wife and kids out, I decided to take the 63 miles planned for the week and expand it to 100 miles. Monday and Tuesday went pretty well with 17 miles each day in 100 mile heat. Both days were run mostly along the Amite River. A good portion of it was in soft sand along the river. It had been quite some time since any rain had fallen, so my feet were sinking almost to my ankles in the sand. It was hard going. By the time I got back to the creek crossing and solid ground, my lungs were burning, and my heart was pounding more than they should have been. The last mile and a half I continued to push the pace along the gravel road back towards the house. I made it there and was absolutely trashed.

The second day of 17’s found me on the same course, but this time, I had run a little over 6 miles before daylight and about 1.75 miles on the treadmill prior to hitting the 8.5ish mile loop along the river. Again, we start out with temps approaching 100 degrees with high humidity. This second series of running in these conditions had me wanting to quit at the halfway point in the run. The conditions were horrendous. I ended up walking the back section of sand and jumping in the river. My brother and I had both run out of water with about 2 miles to go. We pushed extremely hard through the heat back up the long incline back to the house. At the end, I was hunched over with my hands on my knees, sucking wind.

On the way home, it was apparent that I would need to take at least one rest day in order to be ready to push out a long run on Saturday. I could not keep up the pace to run 100 miles for the week with all the heat. So, I went back to plan A and 63 miles. I ended up with around 65 miles total after a couple of shorter, faster runs on the road and track, and about 21 miles on Saturday on trails, no sand.

This week is set up to continue to recover from last week and hit a 32 miler on Saturday evening. This will be my first night run on trails since Rocky Raccoon in February. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity yesterday to head up to Percy Quinn State Park, near Fernwood, MS to run along the lake. I knew there were four miles of “nature trail”, which I figured would be a pretty tame. As soon as we rolled up to the gate, the lady told me that the trail was cut short because one of the foot bridges was out of commission until it could be repaired. Deep within myself, I scoffed at the notion that I would need a bridge. I would soon regret that thought.

I stepped off in the Hoka One One’s just to get a few more miles on them. I cruised through the thick air along the edge of the lake on a paved bike path. The weather was hot; the air was still and sticky. I went up small hills and down small hills until I reached the tennis courts and the trailhead. I stopped to take a leak at the bathrooms, which are now closed. I stepped behind the building.

The first part of the trail was a steep downhill section that was more like a four-wheeler trail. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Then, I got to the bottom of the hill. The trail looked to spread out into three different directions. One looked to peter out pretty quickly. The other didn’t appeal to me for a reason that I have not yet determined. I took a right turn and onto a very tight little single track trail. When I talk about single track trail, my mouth often waters. But single track trail can take on different meanings for different people. To me, it should be barely wider than a shoe to be really good. This was really good. The trail had several foot bridges that crossed water or swampy areas that seem somewhat dry but would generally hold water. These bridges had a layer of slime on them that made footing treacherous. Back on the trail, it seemed like there was a sharp turn behind every few trees along the way, which kept you focused on the trail. The roots were unreal. It was like trying to run those agility drills with the tires at football practice. I jumped logs, hopped over roots, ducked branches, and made corners just like I was running a race to win it. I stepped on something that I thought was a root until I stepped on it. I never looked back to see for sure, but I did not feel fangs go into my leg. I just ran faster for another half mile. Finally, I came to the spot where the bridge was out. It was an impenetrable gauntlet of briars, blown down trees, and grown up vegetation. I turned around and made the trip back. By the time I made it back to the cabin, I was soaking wet with sweat and worn out pretty good. I did roll my ankle in the Hoka’s on some of the roots on the way out. I have worked very hard to strengthen my ankles over the last couple of years, and I do consider that one strength I have as a runner. But I don’t know if those Hoka’s make me a little off balance on rough stuff or not. I like them a lot, but I doubt they will be a big part of my Pinhoti 100 plan. I really need to feel the ground a little more.

I wouldn’t say it is worth driving very far to run the Percy Quinn trails because they are not long enough for that, especially with the bridge out. But if you happen to be up there anyway, they are well worth the effort. I have had a really good block of training after 7 or 8 weeks at it, and even though this heat is taking a toll on me, I hope it will pay off come fall/winter. Thanks for reading.
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  1. Old Comment
    Meche's Avatar
    man, i have to give it to you and to the others that can run like that! i ran alot in high school when i played football, but after that there was a few times where i wanted to start back up again but it would only last 2-3 weeks! i just can't stay motivated! i'm 34 now and its been a week that i quit smoking! i would like to get into some sort of exercise routine but don't really know where to start! most of the time i don't get off of work till 7:00 at night and don't feel like doing that stuff when i get home! maybe i'll come up with something later!!!
    Posted July 15th, 2012 at 10:20 AM by Meche Meche is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Black Spurs's Avatar
    Meche: Thanks. The great thing about trail running, especially the longer stuff, is that the whole "race" community is very welcoming and everything is laid back. You don't have to be fast to be successful, which is good for me. It is normal to do some walking; you get to eat real food along the way. It is just fun. Good luck with quitting smoking. I know that is a struggle. Just don't quit quitting. If you slip up, try again and so on...
    Posted July 18th, 2012 at 08:33 AM by Black Spurs Black Spurs is offline

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