Training began back in January for my first 100-miler. The month was a slow build-up of mileage, and then in February, I began running 20+ milers along with a muddy 50K. Towards the end of the month, consecutive snowfall for 48+ hours resulted in over two feet of snow across Central Oregon, and four missed school days for the region. Two and a half weeks later, it's just now beginning to melt. While we aren't the only state getting a hard dose of winter when spring flowers should be in bloom, it's still been a rough road to navigate. Treadmills became lifesavers when just walking outside required a snow shovel to get to the end of the driveway. Not ideal conditions when it's time to start ramping up the miles.
Four months. I feel so fortunate to be where I am at this very moment - healthy, injury-free, strong and happy. While I can't climb in the mountains just yet, I've found temporary sanity at my favorite butte just a couple miles away where the packed snow trails make for some ideal practice. After climbing this particular butte dozens of times, it still never gets old. I feel like a kid pushing myself just a little bit further every day as the snow recedes from the asphalt. Sidewalks and trails are still covered, which means post-holing if it's not plowed. Berms are still a few feet high, too. But the forecast is flirting with the 50s for the upcoming week, which means we're on our way back to running in the dirt.
I've started thinking about training with the right gear, which has led me to purchase a new hydration pack and shoes. I can't wait on this stuff like I have in the past. Heck, before I went to run Miwok 100K last year, I almost used a new hydration product that hadn't even touched my lips prior to race day. Fortunately I was talked out of it. Unfortunately, the race didn't happen for me due to circumstances beyond my control. That won't happen this time, though. Methods, products and gear will be well-tested prior to race day.
Coming up, I've got a 40-mile trail race in early April, and then a 100K on the Western States Trail later that month. Both will be optimal times to not only get in mileage, but also practice - gear, hydration, and fueling. Right now, my goal is just to continue to build and stay healthy. I'm keeping my head down and just cruise - there is no reason to get overly excited or push harder than need-be. I noticed something while running in the cold and snow, and that is patience. Every time I tried to pick up my pace, the cold would hold me back. It just wasn't possible. Patience is so important.
I feel fortunate to have been able to run a 50K (Hagg Mud) in mid-February, as the trip was a nice break and the race was amazing. Such a fun course with great people. The opportunity to get away and do that has kept me sane over the past couple of weeks. For now, it's easy does it until the snow melts and building miles where good footing allows.