Here we are about a month out from The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. So with that said, we are peaking with the training, especially on the long runs, and back to back weekend workouts.
On Friday evening I was invited to participate in a North Texas Trail Runners Association night run on the Erwin Park mountain bike trail. The run was to commence at a little after 7:00 PM and was to go as long as you wanted. Great, I will go for my long run of 6 plus hours and was hoping to get in about 32 miles. There would be hydration stations at 3 locations along the 8 mile loop and a nutrition station at the hilltop pavilion. I want to say that there was about 15 runners that joined up for an evening/night of running...so a good time was to be had by all.
The first 8 miles was very uneventful and the sun began to set. The head lamp was donned and the second loop was well underway. In the wooded part of the trail it was getting very dark and I was having trouble seeing the roots and stumps along the way. I realized that my batteries were low and at about the 3 mile marker left the trail to traverse back to my car for new batteries. I realized even with a good headlamp and handheld flashlight, this did not prevent some of the tree roots coming to life and actually grabbing one of my feet. More than once I was tripped up and stumbled along. One of these times actually resulted in a full force face plant into the trail. The going in the dark was going to have to be slower than I wanted…but so be it.
Although the temperatures were cooler than they were during the day, the humidity greatly increased as the night progressed. Around 1:30 AM I was crossing through the meadow and was told by a NTTR member that I was “The Last Warrior” on the trail. I was doing my share of suffering and told her I had another hour of insanity and angst before I was calling it a night. I finished at about 2:30AM and somewhere around 30 miles. After the 6 1/2 hour run I proceeded on the 30 minute trip back home. I grabbed some grub as I was hungry enough to eat the back end of a dead Rhino and then doused the body in a 3:00 AM ice bath. I crawled into bed at about 3:45 AM. Here’s the rub. If you have been following my training blog you know that I have had some hydration issues and have been very conscientious in taking water. I have solved that problem. … Up at 4:30 AM to go pee. Repeat at 5:15AM…Hey bladder just let me go to sleep.
At about 9:00AM I hear the kids…time to get up. Actually I did not feel that bad. Saturday I would be the primary caregiver to my wonderful 3 rug rats as my wife was going to see the musical “Jersey Boys” with her mother. Take care of 3 kids…go see the musical “Jersey Boys”…I won that deal. A great day was had by all as we goofed and played around. That evening my 7 year old son and I had a Cub Scout lock-in at the National Boy Scout Museum in Irving Texas. So the quality of sleep was going to be iffy for Saturday night as well. This was really a cool experience and we had a ball. Of course we didn’t get to bed till after midnight and it consisted of another night of poor sleeping. Here is where I have to get out of my Marine Corps mindset on not bringing an air mattress. A. I do not have to backpack it and B. I am not 18 years old and am to expected to be a bit softer. Sleeping directly on tile floor is not recommended.
Sunday morning Luke and I were up and at’em and traveled back to the homestead. By about 10:00 AM I was able to break away for a 10 mile run. The sun was high in the Texas Sky and so I knew this was going to be a tough run. To make it even tougher I decided to throw in a course with a multitude of hills. Sleep deprived, hot, dead legs and lots of hills….it is time to earn my keep.
I want to end on this note. I am currently reading and strongly recommend the book "Lone Survivor - The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" by Marcus Luttrell. Marcus is a native Texan and a decorated Navy Seal. In the book, he was recounting the brutality of the Navy Seal Training, especially during Hell Week. He tells of his instructors that tell him that they are there to train the mind, not the body. The body can handle the physical, it's the mind that needs the training. I concur. The 50 miler is going to be ran and completed between the ears.