Last weekend I decided to head over to the Traprock 50 to watch my friend and some top female trail runners compete. I also thought this would be a great way to get a long run done in a new area. Running 7 hours EVERY weekend has lead me to exhaust the excitement of exploring new trails. Don’t get me wrong, I still love running well known trails, but being in a training slump last weekend, I needed the excitement that new trails would bring.
So, after teaching my morning bootcamp, I set off to Bloomfield, CT (30 minutes away) getting there around 10am. I was just in time to see the top racers come through on Lap 1 of 3, including one of the females I was there to see, Kristina Folcik. I wanted to see her in action. I’ve followed her career through her blog, and how she has become one of New England’s top trail runners. She will also be doing the Cayuga 50, to defend her first place title. Needless to say, I would be stalking her every move. Her aid station visits. Handheld or Backpack? Walk the steep inclines or run them? Not because I think I can beat her at Cayuga (I’m not there yet) but just to see how the top runners work. It’s the details that separate the good from the great.
After I saw my friend come through, I set out on my run. I tried to stay off the course in the areas that had out and backs, as to not confuse females into thinking I was running the race. Otherwise, I ran in the opposite direction, cheering on runners as they passed, stepping off to the side on the single tracks. I loved the hilly terrain of the course, the technical sections, and more than anything, the amazing views!
Not only did I get to experience the amazing energy that a trail race provides, cheer on my friend, and see a top trail running female in action (she beat CR by 15 minutes with a 4:51 time), but I also was able to get my 4 hour (24ish mile) run in. And with that, I learned a very valuable lesson that has stayed with me since. That training run felt better than almost any I have done to this point. The terrain was tough, but the body is trained for that. What I haven’t done well enough yet is train the mind. I “suffer” the last 2 hours of my long runs because I think myself into that suffering. THIS day did not give my mind time to suffer. It was too busy producing smiles, “nice jobs” and feeding off the energy of the other runners. Take the mind out of the game, and your body is capable of so much more.
This is has lead me to some comfort in knowing that the Cayuga 50 is a double figure 8 loop. This means lots of smiles, encouragement, and hopes of keeping the “suffering” at bay!