Tapering for D3 – The Herren Project

 

I am in the midst of tapering for my first race of 2017 at Dawn to Dusk to Dawn on May 13th. It will be my first 24-hour race on a track. I trained exceptionally hard for this race as it represents a lot more than just a race to me this year. This is a comeback. Starting around summer of last year, I had developed a very dangerous addiction to benzodiazepines. I could sit here and say it was the result of the PTSD and anxiety I was diagnosed with, but there’s plenty of non-addicts who don’t go to the extremes I did to try to feel better and function.

I very well could have died from seizures with the addiction hole I had become drowned in. Out of the other addictions I have been through, though they were nasty and uncomfortable, to say the least, none of them had life-threatening consequences like this one did. It was scary. It really has taken me a long time to feel normal again in time to race this spring. Maybe in some ways I’m still recovering from the whole escapade. But there’s no time for that. It’s time to race again.

So much of my training just didn’t feel good, and I felt like I was fighting my body to get out and do the miles instead of thriving on it. A lot of it was emotional. I was mentally exhausted and yet relieved that the people I thought I would lose were still there by my side. But there was the physical aspect. Winter was very mild and with that, the trail I have to train on was mostly mud all winter instead of frozen. It was a real mental and physical battle in so many ways. But I wrote out a plan, followed it, and did the workouts, because this had to happen.

Since D3 is a track race, I knew I had to focus on speed this time. This was hard to do on my muddy trail, so most of my speedwork had to be done either on the treadmill or during my long runs on the local track or paved trails. But when I did get the chance to get out to hit solid ground, I pushed the pace. I also simulated a race environment by setting up a table and preparing supplies so my stops were as limited as possible. These long runs ranged from 40-60 miles, and I set 2 new personal records in the process.

Between the mud at home and the fast long runs, my legs were constantly drained, sore, and fatigued all six months of training. I was also doing a downhill session of 5-18 miles at -10 every 1-2 weeks which always produces at least mild DOMS. I maxed out my peak training week with 170 miles, breaking my 160-week record of last year. But this was only two weeks after hitting a 152-mile week. This was a whole new level of training for me, combining a high level of intensity with high mileage. I kept thinking, if my legs ever feel better, I might see what this can do!

So now, I’m tapering. I’ve been waiting for that sign or signal from my body and my legs that we are going to peak right on time. I do believe peaking is highly mental, but there is definitely a physical component that must join the party to at least trigger the mental aspect. Today, I felt it. I just knew everything was perfectly executed. I felt the rebound effect from healing up finally and the mental focus was unwavering. The speed, power, and mental fortitude are ready to go. It is time.

I put my heart and soul into every race I run. The races ARE me. They define me. I am who I am because of them, so I must be everything I can be to go out there and set foot on the course and give it everything I got and nothing less. Do or die. It sounds ridiculous to some, but I know I have to go big or there’s nothing else out there for me.  (At least until my husband and I retire to go bluewater sailing!)

 

In 9 days I will attempt an epic comeback from an addiction only last year. I will run for The Herren Project, because this is something I need to do. Every mile is representative of those suffering from addiction. There’s such a horrible stigma involved with addiction, and we need to change this! It prevents people from getting the treatment they need.  Please, consider donating to my year-long campaign 24 Hours for Recovery so we can not only spread awareness, but THP also brings a valuable message to schools, provides monetary assistance to those in recovery so they can advance their lives, and provides families with help and assistance so they are not alone in dealing with a loved one with an addiction all on their own.

Learning About Life From the Track

I’ve been banking massive miles on the track in the last few months… well, all my long runs. I miss the trails in so many ways, but I have learned so much from training like this on the track. I find myself in a trance-like state after a couple hours until I break free and think, “What the hell. This sucks. Don’t you have to pee or do anything yet?”

I am racing my first track race in May, a 24 hour. After last year’s very surreal fallout, I made major alterations to all my running goals. They are wilder and crazier than ever before, and so much so that only a few people really know what I’m up to. I wonder if they all think I’ve reached ultimate insanity. But that’s how I roll.

I always write my own training plans. The one I wrote for Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn is  unlike anything I’ve ever considered attempting before. I have never done so much intense training combined with advancing mileage. Honestly, so far, I am drained and exhausted. I know part of this is due to the muddy trails here at home that is where most of my miles come from. (Plus spending long hours at night working on B100M website which is getting close to launch and rising early to work again!). But I’m seeing incredible improvements in my ability to comfortably hold higher paces at long distances on my long track runs. I keep wondering, Where is the limit?

My long runs in the last two weeks: Weekend 1 – I did a single 50-mile run done at 30 seconds per mile above easy pace, rest Sunday. Weekend 2 – I did 55 miles split as 30 Saturday (a modified tempo run) and 25 Sunday (easy with progression and fast-finish). Sunday was really hard. I was frozen with sweat and the wind was brutal. I was horribly miserable! The wind has been insane to try to work with this season. But there’s always something to whine about. No time for that shit.

Last 2 Weeks Long Runs

Running long on the track has actually been very psychologically soothing for me. I can enter a state of deep inner thought and forget about the world around me entirely, and it seems like I can understand, grasp, and reason with a clarity that I’ve never found before. This is an amazing thing that I never would have imagined I would find on these extremely monotonous and mentally taxing long runs.  Instead of being burdened with how tired my legs are or how cold, bored, or fatigued I feel, I can mentally distill. I go somewhere else and shroud my mind in this place of hope, will, and light in the darkness. I’m intrigued by this new element which offers potent implications to racing that I have only begun to tap into.

Thoughts of Last Year

If you’ve been following my blog, you know about my major fallout last year. What I didn’t specifically allude to was how I had allowed the addictive beast inside of me to awaken. It’s a battle I have had to fight most of my life until I found the magic of running in 2011. I let my guard down, succumbing to excuses. It’s been hard to admit just how bad it got, but when you have an addictive personality, anything that makes the moment feel better clings to your next thought like a wet blanket. It’s a horrible trait, disease, or whatever you want to call it.

I thought I was so far away from addiction that it wouldn’t happen again. I was wrong. But now, I am ready with a sword and shield to never let addiction touch my life and or others around me again. I realize the battle never ends, and I must be alert and ready to fight. Besides, I’m worn the hell out from this cycle.

Running Forward

As the fog cleared in my mind, I decided I had to become someone else, someone tougher and stronger with more fierce goals than ever before – no matter the cost. The ashes turned into fire.

Many of my friends know my long-term goal has been to make the USA 24-hour team. While I did meet the qualifications for the 24-hour team in 2016, I was last on the list of qualifiers with 126 miles (Outrun 24). I would have had to run at least 141 miles to make the 2017 team. BUT next year is a new year, and I did accomplish my goal last year of at least qualifying!

The 24-hour team isn’t big enough now. Okay, fine, yah, I haven’t even achieved getting on the team yet, but it doesn’t matter, because I have PASSION! When I deeply desired to run ultras not long after I started running, I dreamed about podium finishes. I thought my goal was crazy as hell, but I still believed it was possible way before I ran my first ultra.

Why? Passion. Starting with my second ultra, WV Trilogy 50, I knew I was capable of achieving the dreams I had laughed off.Why stop dreaming, driving, hoping, and pushing to be the best I can be?

One day, this will all be over. One day, I will look at the resume of the pinnacle of my life. I want to shed tears at the passion that I had in chasing my goals whether it resulted in victories or not. I want to see the fierceness, pain, glory, and grit that sculpted Tara. I cannot leave the world without this.

I am now working harder to try to go even further than than my original goal. No matter how long it takes or how hard the training is, no matter how tough the competition is, the sleep I will lose, and the sacrifices I will have to make over the impending years to come, I will force myself every step of the way to meet my ultimate goal. What is the ultimate goal? Well, that comes later 😉

Work hard. Go down late; rise early. Devour yourself in passion. Today IS THE day.