Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons in Perseverance

My training has been a bit off the past couple of weeks.  Either one or both vehicles have been in the shop and I've had to resort to riding my bike back and forth to work.  Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I end up riding to the train station from my house, take the train, ride to work.  Then I ride the entire distance home (19 miles).  So I end up riding close to 25 miles a day.  Because of the time involved adn lack of transportation, I haven't been able to get the running in that I think I need for Wasatch.  It's kind of bugging me.
So, last Sunday I had the opportunity to get a 35 mile "run" in with a couple of lovely young ladies, Missy and Emily.  Both were looking for a really long run on the Wasatch course and wanted a tour guide of sorts.  Neither had run Wasatch in a couple of years, and were a bit unsure of the route in places.  The perfect opportunity to reset my training and see where I was.
We started our adventure at the Fernwood picnic area.  This is about 3.5 miles from the start of the Wasatch course.  It's also where runners start the single biggest climb of the race.
The day started cool, but we all knew that it would be a warm one, even at 9000'.
The first 20 miles went great.  We were having fun just trotting along and chatting.  We even managed to bag a couple of peaks, Thurston, and Francis, with short side trips.
My troubles started when we began the climb towards the Bountiful B aid station location.  Our last source of water was a stream that we crossed just before that.  We all tanked up on water knowing that we wouldn't have any more for the next 17+ miles.  I've never been a fan of the climb to Bountiful, but it didn't seem too bad.  I was slowing down some, but wasn't concerned.
We made it up to bountiful, then started our trek down the dirt roads to the Sessions Liftoff aid station location.  Even though it was Sunday, we encountered all sorts of 4x4, ATV, and motorcycle traffic.  Just the hazard of running down this road.
By the time we had gone 20 miles, I wanted out.  I was bonking, not hard, but just slowing down and having an attitude shift.  Trouble is, there's no easy way to get off the mountains.  You don't realize just how remote you are until you want to leave.  Even though we could look down and see civilization close by, it would have been a 5-10 mile minimum trek to make it down to that civilization.  Then I would have had to call my wife to come pick me up, then drive to Big Mountain to pick up my car.  Since we only had 10-15 miles left and I wasn't hurt or other wise dying, I kept going.  For about the next 5-7 miles I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, complaining to Missy.  Emily had gone on ahead a ways (probably so she wouldn't have to listen to me). 
Finally, I think Missy had enough of my complaining and gave me half of a 5-hour energy and that seemed to boost me some.  I realized that 1) I was physically fine, no injuries or illness, 2) I was doing something that I loved, running and hiking in the mountains, 3) It was a gorgeous day, even if it was warm, 4) I was actually moving at a pretty good pace, just not as fast as I wanted, 5) I was doing more physically and in better shape than the vast majority of people my age (55), and 6) I had cold beer in a cooler in my car.
So, what lessons did I learn out there?  First, take more calories.  I think that's why I bonked.  I did eat about 600-700 calories that I had with me, but I should have taken more along.  I did fine with water, I rationed it and finished the last of it about 1/4 mile from Big Mountain.  Second, I was reminded that I do have a gift of being able to go these kinds of distances.  Third, I'm not fast, but I can persevere when forced to.  Fourth, I was never really bad off, I just had a bad attitude.  Having a bad attitude is way, way different than actually being in any sort of danger, and I was never in any sort of danger. 
And last, I hope that when I do run Wasatch in September, I'll remember that it's just a low point I'm at and to persevere, because I will have a low point during the race.
Sorry, no pics.  I have enough pics of the Wasatch.
Here's the link to my route: