Week before last, I was coming out of my recovery week, following my most recent race. Typically, I like to kick the mileage down to the high 30’s or low 40’s, depending on how I’m feeling. My recovery week ended up being nearly 49 miles....so not the normal, but I was feeling great! Which is perhaps how I came down with the flu.
As I tripped into the week of the 11th, I went from feeling strong and ready to feeling weak and miserable. I took 3 days off in hopes of letting it pass and ran an easy 6 on the mill (read as dreadmill). Sadly, the idea of “burning” the sickness out by way of running hard was not as easy as I had hoped. Over the next 3 days, I did 11, then a double of 6 and 11, then finally another 11, to finish with 45 miles for the week. All this on a week that I felt should have been closer to 60. I get it, rest and recovery are critical, but when the brain pushes and the heart craves, the body relents, even when it screams stop.
The week of the 18th started with renewed hope. I got some intervals and stair work in, then a solid mid-tempo mill run, then a fairly crazy run in foot deep snow that required some crazy, high-knee work, but left me muddy all over. YESSSS!!
After a tough lunch run, which included some nasty 25 mph head winds and rain, I had hopes for a Saturday run on dirt. For those who haven’t had the joy of being buried by the snow this winter, let me just say that I have been aching to feel dirt under my feet for far too long. I took the advice of a fellow runner and friend and went east where I was told they had trails again. I showed up at the Barnes Butte (Prineville, OR) trail head just before 9am to meet my buddy. As we headed out, there was almost immediately the presence of ice and snow in the shadows of some nearby trees. But I had anticipated that and figured I would just get in 10-12 and be happy with whatever, expecting to traipse through a fair amount of snow. I had no idea how wrong I would be.
As we headed into the woods, it wasn’t long before we were climbing, which is kind of one my favorite things. I expected snow. There wasn’t any. We kept going up. There must be some at the top, I thought. I was wrong again. It wasn’t until we drifted off the north face of our climb before we found ourselves bounding through some 7-10” deep white stuff, but it didn’t last long. About a mile later we turned up another hill, heading south and east. There was a solid dirt trail the entire way. And soon, it was gone. We crested that hill and came upon glorious, sweet, beautiful, snow-free single track. My heart did a little jumping jack. My feet did a little dance. We moved on. For the next 6 miles we ran on nothing but dirt. Without snow. With no ice. Where rocks were visible. And it was amazing.
When we got back to the trail head, we both remarked how we had perhaps taken our trails for granted, ever since losing them to old man winter. This year, the snow came hard and fast, and covered everything with at least 2 feet of it, all within 24 hours. The treadmill became necessary and the flu became OK, because where was I going to run anyway?!
Saturday was the reset my heart and soul needed. It also provided me an opportunity to test new things, namely shoes and a neat new vest. I’ll post gear reviews soon for both, so stay tuned.
Tonight will be the cap to my week, finishing over 60 for the first time in a month. The flu seems to be mostly gone, although my voice is still suspect. The dirt is reappearing in most of my favorite haunts, and soon, all remnants of snow will be gone, for now.