This grey and lovely May afternoon I finished up an 18-mile training run.  There were a few May flowers poking up from the 2-10″ of snow that was on the ground, but at times I couldn’t see them because the ice pellets that were blowing sideways stung my eyeballs so bad I ran with my lids closed.

It was a good run.

Typical May Wyoming snowstorm (photo credit: Evan Reimondo)

I’m at the tail end of a three week training cycle of high mileage running getting ready for Bighorn 100.  This is definitely a goal race for me, and after so many hours of running in sunshine, snow, rain, wind, etc. I’ve been reflecting on all my hours of training.  Training for ultramarathons is kind of stupidly simple (you run a lot), but also really complex.  Structuring training around work schedules, family commitments, working the right energy systems, getting in the required miles, adjusting to the weather, terrain, nutrition, etc.  Getting ready for a big goal race is no small task.

A little rock hopping up Indian ridge (photo credit: Evan Reimondo)

This spring I’ve done something dramatically different with my training: I hired a running coach.  I picked Ty Draney, an all-around badass and good guy that’s placed in the top five at just about every major rocky mountain hundred miler.  He’s also a high school teacher in Wyoming, so I figured he’d be a safe choice.  I wanted a coach because I was losing too many hours of sleep wondering if I was doing enough, or doing too little, or even doing the right things.  I was tired of being a head case, and missing training with stupid little injuries.  A little guidance was in order, and I am very grateful.

Getting our feet wet (photo credit: Evan Reimondo)

Typically I do most of my training on my own; its my time to just think, enjoy the mountains, and have a little solitude after hanging around with high schoolers all day.  Plus, its just easier to not work around someone else’s schedule.  But, the last few weekends I have branched out and ran a little bit with the Lander Running Club again, as well as my compadres Evan and Mike.  Running with other people forces you to slow down to a talking pace, which leads to a more relaxed run.  Its been completely enjoyable to take my foot off of the gas a little bit and adventure with some other people.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m still running intervals in the dark and rain at 5:30 in the morning, or slogging up muddy trails after school, and dodging cranky rattle snakes on Sunday afternoon on my own.  But, its been refreshing to spend some Saturday’s adventuring with great people and I hope to do so more in the future.

Evening solo run in the mud: I basically waxed my legs getting the mud off.  It looks kind of nice.

The dudes on Fossil Hill
Motivation for running is rarely lacking for me.  I absolutely love spending time in the mountains, exercising, and I’ve always enjoyed preparing for competition.  The one thing that really gets me is being away from my family.  I usually do my high mileage running during the summer when I’ve got all the time in the world and I’m still around home a lot.  I’ve been training hard during the school year, which I knew would be a challenge.  On Tuesday this week I didn’t feel right: I was tired, low on energy, and after 45 miles in the last three days I felt like I was just missing out on too much.  I skipped my scheduled workout and Jenny and I ran to the park while Ella rode her bike.  Am I going to make my weekly mileage goal now? Nope.  Any regrets?  None.
She’s got the need for speed too

Someone probably much smarter than me once said “racing is the celebration of training”.  I think that’s probably true, and part of what makes competing so fun.  It takes a gross amount of hard work, total commitment, and what can only be described as love and support form all sorts of people to really train for an endurance event.  Sometimes things still don’t go to plan, but its about the journey, not the destination, right?   To all of you out there who are training, or have trained, for an event that is near and dear to your heart: Great work!  To all of you out there who have in some way loved, cared for, or supported someone who had some sort of ridiculous goal to test their own physical and mental limits: Thank you!

Jenny, 5-week Ella, and my Mom crewing for me at the Bighorn 50 in 2012.