Friday, September 5, 2014

A glutton for punishment!

A quick post as I'm about to head out of town for the weekend. I believe that the infamous "Climb to the Castle" Roller ski race is tomorrow.... although I've heard rumors that it might not be re-paved in time? (I also hear many people may secretly be celebrating!)  One of these days I'd love to head to Placid and race the hill climb and I suppose that means I'm a true Glutton for punishment. However, tomorrow I have my own painful plans. Months ago I decided that I'd sign up for the second annual Kesugi Ridge Race. Kesugi is a gorgeous ridge paralleling the Alaska Highway. In good weather and clear visibility Denali and the entire Alaska Range is in full view. It's downright gorgeous. It's also 30 miles of undulating, difficult mountain terrain.  

 Katie on Kesugi - Panoramic! 

The race was limited to the first 60 registrants and this year it sold in the blink of an eye.  At the time I thought this would be a great goal - a good push to really get my running legs underneath me and a great transition to long distance training and racing; the theme of the upcoming winter. However, life happens and I have not gotten the mountain running miles that I need to tackle an obstacle like this. While I'd love to just put my head down and charge the race anyways I've learned my lesson a couple of times this spring/summer about racing. That is, if you're not properly prepared and race anyways you'll pay consequences by means of needing long periods of recovery. Or worse, you'll injury yourself and be paying the consequences (yet again) for months to come. 

Fresh off the plane from Europe and my Olympic racing season I decided it would be fun to race the 50k Oosik classic in Talkeetna. Even though I didn't "race" I skied it fast with Rob and friends. My elbows started bugging me 15k into the race but sometimes when I put a bib on my brain fails to think intelligently. I kept going. At the end of the race I couldn't undress myself as I couldn't lift my arms without searing pain. This injury did stem from a chronic injury but even so, it was dumb. 

The second example is Mt. Marathon. I had a hamstring injury going into the race and was unable to run flats 6 weeks ahead of time. Thus, I suffered big-time on the road and pushed myself deep, deep into the pain cave. Due to the lack of specific training and the heat it took me over a month to fully recover from that race effort. I'd like to think it was worth it since I was narrowly able to hold onto the win but even so - costly as far as ski training in concerned. 

I say all of this because here it is - a public statement for everyone to see. Help hold me accountable!  Even though I will be wearing a bib tomorrow I REFUSE TO RACE!  Yep, this is going to be a great Over Distance workout, nothing more, nothing less. It helps that many of my friends that I convinced to do the race are in the same boat. So, I'm hoping there will be some good training partners out there. 

As if I needed further proof to not push myself into race pace here are a few words from the race website regarding the effort needed and the potential conditions: 

"This is not a course for beginning trail runners. There are significant climbs and difficult terrain. If you have never traveled the course before, we strongly encourage you to do so BEFORE considering signing up. If you are signing up because you just want to see the trail, please go do it on your own time.  The trail will not be marked, so familiarity with it will be very important. Please do not over-estimate your abilities! The most common, recurring theme regarding weather descriptions reads "lousy weather, cold winds and poor visibility are common". The effort level for running this race is equivalent to running two marathons. If you have only run road marathons, but never tackled trail running, please do not sign up.  If you cannot run for 9 hours without stopping, you probably shouldn't sign up for this race. This course is not meant to be jog/walked. Power hiking the hills is probably the only walking you will be doing in order to make the time cut-offs. The time cut-offs are very strict and difficult to achieve. Running the Crow Pass Crossing in under the time limit or 50mile/50k trail race would be  good personal pre-requisites."

Earlier this summer Katie Ronsse Libby and I went to Kesugi and ran the second half of the course. Our first adventure included a hunter shooting a black bear a couple hundred feet from the trail. When we encountered him on the trail he was waiting for the bear to "bleed out" before going into the alder to retrieve his kill. That did NOT make me feel safe because if he had injured rather than killed the bear it could have come straight at us! (Yikes!) Alaska problems.... 

Here are a few photos from our trip: 

 In between Ermine Hill and Byer's Lake. 

 Bridge approaching Byer's Lake 

Running through the "Toadstools" 

RED red salmon. Can't believe how far from the ocean these guys are to spawn. Downright amazing creatures! 

So, hold me to it. I have big race goals for this upcoming winter and can't afford a super long recovery from this one. That said, tomorrow should be fun!  Have fun on your own adventures for the weekend, whatever they may be :) 

Race website with more photos: