So a lot has happened in the last two weeks. First, I’ve taken a coaching position with Rogue Running’s Spectrum Trail Racing Division. I have a good friend to thank for this as it nearly laid in my lap. While a part time endeavor, it gives me a chance to apply what I’ve learned in the last five years from Ultra Running in the eyes of a trainer. In addition, I’ve taken their offer to race under the Spectrum name. This is the first time I’ll be on a trail running team. Considering I haven’t run an Ultra since October of 2014, I couldn’t think of better encouragement to get me to Hell’s Hills 2016.That being said, I have a lot to offer from my experience. Even the things I learned from my down time.
That being said, after some hard miles with Anthony at Bull Creek, I’m more or less injured again.After a hard 13 mile bout at Bull Creek, a new sharp pain awakened from the middle of my inner right leg extending into my ankle and toe. After a day off, the pain was manageable and I thought an easy excursion through the lightly technical Walnut Creek would be a perfect run. Still some pain, but nothing too bad. After a restless night of insomnia, I decided another easy run through tha Nut wouldn’t hurt. It turns out the pace went to an 8:45/min mile (not slow for me) and wasn’t easy on me at all. It’s completely staggering how anguish can transform into furious energy. Lo and behold, I was hurting even more. Luckily, I had an invitation to Athletic Outcome’s recovery lounge (a perk for racing with Spectrum). They threw me into an ice bath straight out of high school track for 10 minutes and then threw me into some fancy automated compression boots known as Recovery Pump’s. I had seen these suckers in magazines before and brushed them off as solely a luxurious experience. I was wrong. Not only are they a luxurious experience, but there was a noticeable recuperating effect from the device. We live in the future, folks. So I could only expect a miracle from a session of this. A day later that same pain would return on a tuesday night test run on tha Nut. And when I thought I hadn’t learned enough, I decided to do the Spectrum coaching speed work out that following morning (the work out I’ll take over in march). This time, I didn’t mess around. The body hated the speed focused downhill work out and it was time to pull E-brake half way through. I was glad I was no longer twenty-seven and trying to persevere through it. I used this opportunity to chat with Jonathan and listen to a sample of his coaching wisdom. I really like his chill approach to the program. He’s very good at holding the group’s attention considering how relaxed he is. Being used to some real characters as coaches, I definitely think he has a Zen thing going on. I’m learning.
Fast forward to today, Wednesday 2/17/16. After another sleepless night and worry whether or not I would or should participate in the 2 mile time trial, I took the plunge despite a painfully tight right calf this morning(it’s always different shit!). Folks would ask what kind of goal I was attempting and I replied, “To run this as healthy as possible”. We showed up to Austin High School on a crisp 50 degree morning when it was still dark. It looked like Gilbert’s Gazelle’s would be joining us for some company. We began some track drills on the grass that brought back memories of the speed work outs I did with Al’s Ship of Fool’s. I did a few of my own body squats and decided I was about as warmed up as I could get out there. I was ready to get this shit over and done with which is maybe why I lined myself up at the front. We took off, and two gentlemen named Allen and Erick shot out at at the front of the pack. I accelerated myself to a pace slightly less than theirs. I felt better than I previously thought while remaining cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t so much chasing them as much as I was trying to calibrate my body to a work out I hadn’t done in years. After the first two laps, things started feeling familiar and my legs hit a stride I had been out of touch with for far too long. I definitely felt the fatigue, but I would ease the discomfort by zoning my gaze at the Mopac bridge up above. I watch the day’s first cars travel to their day jobs as the sun peaked above the earth. The experience was rather surreal. More and more, my stride and heavy breathing reminded me of my time in high school track. I finished the first mile in about six minutes and it felt so good to have it behind me. I was starting to strategize the remaining run. This happens usually when I become less survival and more competitive. Eric was in front of Allen, but I couldn’t exactly pick him out amongst the darkness and other runners. Allen was in plain site by lap two of my second mile. I decided that I was healthy enough to chase him. Lap three of the second mile as always is usually the second toughest lap of them all. You are trying to remain consistent on tired legs but also keeping in mind that you want energy in the bank to speed burst through that final lap. A “secret weapon” of mine. I brushed as much discomfort away as possible through the mind techniques I’d learned from meditation. By the end of lap three I had caught up to Allen and dropped the hammer. In a moment of disorientation, I shouted, “Last one, right????!!?”. Allen confirmed this and I shot off with legs heavily consumed in lactic acid. I began to lap some of my fellow group mates. Whether or it not it sounds bad, lapping other runners is always a mental boost that pushes you past your pain threshold. In the final lap, I got that feeling of weak bowels in the moment of significant fatigue. It always happens when I put it more than quality work. I pushed through the last one hundred meters by resurrecting the sights and sounds of my former track meets. Heavy applause, deafening cheer and energy surged from the crowds as my legs melted into the rubber track. Mom was there screaming, “Give it all you got, Brandon!”. You always cheered me through all eight laps, mom. Thank you.