Two weeks after my first ultra, I find myself wrapping up my traditional block of down time after a big race. This has been marked by lots of eating (and eating, and eating, and eating....), sleeping a bunch, and only a little bit of running. When I do run, it isn't for more than about an hour, and has been almost entirely on trails so that the legs can continue to recover well from the experience of over seven hours of running and power hiking. Oh, and I've been able to say "a drink out with the girls? Sure! I don't have to run tomorrow!" when I'd normally pick and choose around my running schedule. I do usually swing up 5-7 pounds during this time, and it's no exception now. As easy as it would be to obsess about this, and not being near race weight a month before Boston, I think it's actually the healthy place to be at the moment with plenty of time to trim it back off in the coming weeks.
The other activity that almost always occurs during this down time? Signing up for more races, of course. It's one of those things that really allows me to enjoy this down time-knowing that I will refocus on quality training and working hard again once I'm fully recovered. Despite the fact that I reached the end of 34 miles thinking "man, I don't know how people go longer than this," I've been bitten by the ultra bug and am scaling up to my first 50-miler this fall. Last week, I registered for a race called Run Rabbit Run. Part of me says "What the hell did I just do?", especially when I read passage like this on the race website:
"Runners Beware. Word of warning: This is not a beginner's run. You might find the uphills and downhills fairly steep. You will spend a lot of time at an altitude of nearly two miles. There may be snow. There may be rain. It may be wet, or windy, or then again, it may be hot. There may be wild animals out there, some of them a lot bigger and scarier than a rabbit."
I do remember feeling this way about the RedHot as well when I signed up, though. I survived that-heck, I didn't just survive, I really enjoyed it. I have no fantasies or delusions of this being a cake walk I can just will my way through, and know this is a tougher event with more extreme terrain (oh, and that extra 16 miles), but I also know I'm the only one limiting my success if I doom myself to fail at it before I even begin training. My thought is that with six months until the race, I have time to log the long, slow miles that will allow me to get through 50 miles.
This race is kind of special in that the late Jenna Gruben (my friends and I met this talented ultrarunner, and her friends from Steamboat the day she passed in a car accident on her return trip from the 2010 RedHot) was closely involved as a volunteer and winner of this event. I love the idea of running to keep her memory alive, and celebrate being out there to run because I can. My friend Jen, who also ran the 2010 RedHot, will be running as well so it will be fun to plan and plot as the event gets closer.
I've also registered for the Steamworks Half Marathon, a June race in Durango I've run twice before. (See race reports here and here.) The course is very rolly with an uphill finish, but there's a great pool party with local microwbrews and real food (not just bananas) awaiting runners at the finish who choose to take on this race.
I'll stay with my regional race roommate Ilana again, and am sort of hoping I can pull together a small group of Grand Junction runners to come down for this race. We have a lot of local people who travel all over the state for races, and I'm surprised this one isn't quite on the radar yet. The registration fee is a relative bargain if they gave you nothing, but the small field (300 runners), pretty yet challenging course and post-race extras make it a no-brainer for me.
Finally, I signed up for my fourth running of The Other Half Marathon in October. I have a special love for this race-it was my very first "long" race in 2007 as an adult onset runner and noob to the racing thing. Last year, it was my breakthrough race during which everything came together for me, nailing a challenging goal time on a beautiful day, and getting to share it with running friends who knew what a big deal that was for me. I don't know if I'll have another magic pixie dust day again like that, but this course definitely inspires and brings out the best in me.
So, the wallet's a lot lighter now. (Thank goodness that my local running club's events tend to be just a few dollars for members!) Nothing left to do but get out there and resume regular training in another week or two. The rest of my spring racing schedule awaits, with two trips to Moab this month, and some little road race in Massachusetts that they've been throwing for, oh, 115 years now. For now, though, it's been fun to kick back, relax, and enjoy the afterglow for a bit.