Friday, May 5, 2017

The conditioning has begun

It's official. It has been for a month or so and I have sorta laid low about it--but I am going to Cloudsplitter this October. For those who have followed my blog for a few years (all two of you), this is the second time I have been signed up to go. I jumped right into the list of registrants in its inaugural year, and then goofed my right knee up and could not go. A DNS. I really almost went anyway, but would have probably been the first runner to drop, what with 2000 feet of climb in the first 5 miles. This race is reported to have 25,893 feet of ascent. Average that out over 100 miles and it's a mere 259 feet per mile. But when you consider that it's an out and back and whatever you climb you also descend, I'd say that the climb will seem like much more that 259' per--especially as the race wears on. I won't even post the elevation profile of Cloudsplitter. It looks like a package of assorted sewing needles. I know that elevation profiles lie. 100 miles spread across half a computer screen, and 2000 feet raises 2-3 inches--almost like the vertical ascent is proportional to the horizontal distance. Please--there HAS to be some flattish parts in there somewhere--I'm just SURE there is.

So how do I--a 57-year old (I'll be 58 by race day) think I have a chance of finishing this? Well, my friend Bryan Carpenter talked me into going. Actually, he begged and pleaded. I resisted, but secretly really wanted to go, and I started believing that I had a chance--a small chance of finishing. I have three 100 mile finishes in my last three attempts with almost no training at all. Two were at Urban Adventure, a hot hot hot run on paved city streets, and a Prairie Spirit redemption run where I got in a hole during the night but with the help of my able and inspiring pacer Travis Jennings, I came back to life and ran the last 20 miles at a brisker pace and finished respectably. I have proved to myself that I can do just enough to get to the finish line in an easy 100. I keep reminding myself that I know all the little tricks that keep you in the hunt for a finish. My knee still bothers me, but I am convinced that it's just aches and pains that come with age. I can run 50k, and am achy afterward, but a day or two later I'm fine.

So for this attempt, I am actually going to train. You know--I don't really like that word "train." It sounds something like an elite athlete does, and that's not me. I'll just say I'm building up my resistance to the awful voices in my head that say I should just quit. Tomorrow morning (and I should be in bed right now getting some sleep) I'm running with a new RunnersWorld ultra training group. It should be fun. They'll do some Saturday long runs, and I've also been getting in some trail miles with a few friends on Sundays. It seems like the back2back runs will fall into place. Sunday morning a gang of us will go to Pryor Creek to get in 10-15 miles Or maybe less depending on the trail conditions.

But next weekend, it gets real. My friend Tammy Cryer Facebooked asking if anyone knew of any 50Ks in May around here. I did a search, and the choices were few and far between. But I teasingly threw out the idea to do Cavanal Killer, a 5 mile all uphill race up Cavanal Hill in Poteau, OK. It's 5 miles up and they bus you back downhill to the starting line. Last year though, I ran down. The road was pretty steep in a few places and I wisely slowed to a jog on that, but flew down the rest of the way. It was no problem running a negative split. So I suggested to Tammy that we run up, run down, then run up and down again, and then do it all a third time. Presto-30 miles, and maybe more going back to our cars between laps for water and refueling.

This is a MapMyRun plotted route, and it plays out to 31.6 miles with a good parking place. The switchbacks on the course are the steepest sections. There's food at the top at the finish line, but not on the second and third trips. My Cloudsplitter buddies Bryan Carpenter and Jana Graham want to start our first out and back at 6:30 am, and then the second with the actual start of the race. We'd get home a lot earlier, but we'd have to leave from Tulsa at 4:00. I'm good either way. Bring on the strong coffee.

Here's the elevation profile for Cavanal Killer. 5425 feet of elevation gain over 31 miles. I suspect Cloudsplitter will rack up more that that in 31 miles, but this is a good start. A full race report is forthcoming. I'm stoked to be back in the hunt.

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