After a handful of big weeks, peaking at 90 miles last week, I was feeling in need of a down week to recover. Conveniently, I have Nutcracker 6-hr coming up next week, so this week was perfectly timed for a down week/pseudo-taper.
Monday: 3.2 miles
Very slow and easy recovery miles after the 30-mi track run. Appendages all feeling fine, all things considered.
Tuesday: 8.4 miles
More easy miles, though I went out for just a few and felt good enough to start adding on. I’ve generally been thrilled with how well I am seeming to recover from longer efforts, despite that LR being my 2nd longest run ever.
Wednesday: 7.3 total miles – 4.1 am // 3.2 pm
All slow and crappy – I was starting to feel ill today, perhaps because work was getting busy and stressful. I decided to keep the mileage low and didn’t extend the afternoon double like I’d hoped to do, in favor of getting more rest.
Thursday: 10.4 total miles – 9.1 am // 1.3 pm
I’ve needed an oil change for approximately….2000 miles….so I finally got myself out the door early enough to drop my car off at Ingold Tire, which as an aside is staffed by the loveliest southern gentlemen around. I had expected they’d be done rather quickly, so I jogged around for 9 miles hoping to receive the ‘your car is done’ phone call, which never came. Around 3 pm, I got that call and jogged back to pick up the car. I’d intended to do more than 1 mile as a double, but the box of chocolate covered cherries sloshing around in my stomach said otherwise.
Friday: 7.1 miles
Mark miles! We jogged around Duke’s campus after a long day (…week) of work.
Saturday: 12.4 miles
Went out for 10, did 12 – this was a beautiful Saturday with perfect running conditions, and I just jogged around until I felt like stopping. An observation I’ve had after the 40-mi race and last weekend’s 30-mi run is that my legs will feel largely recovered but get very tired at around 10 miles within the week after that longer effort. This is probably unsurprising, but it’s been helpful for me to keep in mind when I forget how recently I did a longer run and wonder why my legs are dead after so few miles.
Sunday: 8.2 total miles – 1.1 mi warm-up // 5 mi Couch Mountain race! // 2 mi cool-down
Mini Race Report: Couch Mountain; Carolina Godiva Winter Series Race #3
Having won this race earlier this year (2019 happens to have two Couch Mountains, since the 2018 race was pushed back due to weather), I had high hopes to take a second win given my definitely improved fitness. The one thing working against me was overall fatigue from higher mileage, but for a 5-mi race, I figured I could push pretty hard and not tire out too much.
We had a great turnout for the race, and I enjoyed some pre-start conversation with fellow Godivans before we semi-unceremoniously lined up along the dirt road where the race begins. I lined up with Mark, and off we went right around 10 am. (Side note: I don’t care how many complaints I get, I LOVE 10 am start times for these races. Yessss, let me sleep in a bit before trying to run fast!)
The race starts with ~1 mile up Couch Mountain (not really a mountain, but a decent ~200 ft climb) – I felt strong running up, averaging 6:48/mile on the climb. I clocked a 7:22 first mile and was in 4th place overall before beginning the more technical trail descent out to the road. This mile is terrible because, particularly this time of year, leaves are entirely masking the trail. I couldn’t see any spots to land my feet and had to hope for the best. I’m not the strongest downhill trail runner, so I slowed despite the precipitous downhill, clocking a 7:32 2nd mile.
Kevin McCabe passed me early on in this segment, conveniently causing him to be the one to get lost rather than me. I caught up to him, and we both got back on the course and continued out to the road for the next couple miles. The full mile on the road was rather uneventful, though I did catch Kevin early on – mile 3: 7:17. Mile 4 is half on the road and half back in Duke Forest and is entirely uphill. I slowed quite a bit as I felt my legs tire and my lungs burn. I could taste blood for nearly this entire race – not my favorite. Mile 4: 7:43. For the last mile, I tried to run hard on the early hills, playing chicken with Leif, who was slowing on the uphills enough that I could catch him but then immediately bombing down the downhills faster than I could hope to keep up. I let him go, knowing I didn’t have the leg speed to catch him once we hit the hard downhill into the finish. I thought I was going to have to duck into the woods for a bathroom break but held it all together for a final 7:03 mile.
I finished 5th overall and 1st female in 36:18, just 3 minutes slower than my much flatter road 8K PR from Thanksgiving. Given that this course has ~600 ft of gain and some annoying trail footing, I was thrilled with the outcome. I ran over a minute faster than I did in the early 2019 edition of this race, also a considerable improvement. Mark also won for the 2nd time this year, so we continue our reign of terror as 2019’s King and Queen of Couch Mountain.
Mark and I did a quick 2-mi cool-down on a different section of Duke Forest trail, and we then enjoyed burgers and cookies with our fellow Godivans. These races are always a blast, and I’m so grateful to Godiva for putting them on!
That wraps up my recovery week prior to Nutcracker race week! I’m feeling pretty fit and ready for the longer effort I’ll be undertaking next week. I’m not quite sure what I’m capable of, but I’m feeling good about being able to go into Saturday and give it an honest effort to see what I can do.