After one week of rest post Ironman, I began training for Pinhoti. It all started pretty simply, training was lower than 136 beats per minute the first week, then 149 beats per minute the second week. By the third week I was back do doing 35 mile training runs and greater than 75 mile weeks. I felt incredible after a few low intensity weeks. Even during my long runs I was redlining on climbs over 160 beats per minute, and doing threshold runs just shy of an hour at 8.5 or 9 miles per hour. This all began on September 6, which as stated, was one week after Ironman. The mileage was manageable, and I felt stronger every week.
Last Friday was October 8, which neared the closing of my 5th week of training for Pinhoti. I had 4 days off from work, and I wasn't sure what to do...Usually if I have 4 days off, I want to mutilate the mileage and crush every day to truly reap the rewards of long days, however I knew it was time to step back and recover from the hard weeks prior. I decided some cross training at a lower intensity would behoove me more than strong training. In lieu of trail running, I decided to go backpacking in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which would provide 9 hour days, but at only approximately 110 beats per minute.
My mileage for the last few weeks were as follows;
Week Begining- Miles Run/ Hours Run Total Hours (including Mountain Biking/RockClimbing)
9/6- 51mi/9h 12h
9/13- 53mi/9h15m 12h30m
9/20- 45mi/9h 12h
9/27- 77mi/14h35m 15h50m
10/4- 65mi/21h 21h
10/11- 25mi/6h 8h RECOVERY WEEK
As of today, The Pinhoti 100 is exactly 3 weeks away.
My weight for Ironman,(end of August), was 153.5. After the long, low intensity runs of early September, my weight is now lower than ever @147-148 pounds, as is my body fat percentage- 5.0%. Percentage of body water has been near all time highs which indicates the weight loss is true fat loss. Generally over the past two years I have been at 65% H20, and this month I have hovered between 67%-68% which is an all time high. Muscle weight has however, remained constant, which is not surprising considering I have quit weight lifting and swimming, and focused on dedicated ultrarunning training for the next six months.
I am not treating Backpacking 10/08-10/11 as recovery. The days were 20 miles over rocky terrain with 3000 foot climbs abounding. Sure it was at low intensity, but the hours were abnormally high so I treated the following week as my body dictated. In the past I probably would have missed this crux opportunity for recovery and overtrained. However, I felt like resting this week and I did. The only goal at this point is to recover and I am. Pinhoti is 21 days away. It is Saturday and I have only run/hiked 6 hours this week, a miniscule 25 miles. On Thursday I did a 5 fingers run, and it felt good. During the 5 fingers run I felt as though I could have done a decent threshold run had I been wearing adequate footwear. It was a good feeling because over the last two weeks I haven't felt fully recovered. I am near certain that with adequate nutrition and even MORE rest today and tomorrow that on Monday I will be near 100% again. Somehow over the summer I would have stressed that I didn't get in a 40 mile run over the weekend, and I would have pushed through the week, pounding out more fruitless miles in place of recovery and getting stronger. Looking back at my weeks though, the past two weeks warrant this recovery and were placed well. The 77 mile week was high intensity, and the 65 mile week was high duration. Just because I wasn't doing the typical training runs, duration must still be revered. On Wednesday this week I opted to not run more than the 10 miles I headlamped in the early AM, yet another smart decision. I went home, slept, and ate well.
So anyways, the point is, last week I decided to do some backpacking instead of trail running. Here is a quick report of that trip.
I have wanted to do the Iron Mountain Trail out of Damascus, VA for quite some time now. It is the original route of the Appalachian Trail, which now runs through the much more scenic Mt Rogers highlands. A loop can be made out of the two trails for a beautiful 65 mile circuit hike.
I left Louisville Friday morning at 9am and was in Damascus, Virginia by 3pm. Damascus is a very special town to all who have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail as it is the first town in Virginia and it is a huge milestone. After asking around at the outfitters about parking locations for the trailhead, I managed to hit the trail by 4:00, which was fine by me, since I thought it would be hard to get out of town considering the huge to sight see and hang out. The Iron Mountain Trail was rocky, sandy and chewed up from horses and motorcycles for the first few miles. I was managing 3 miles per hour which was good for the terrain and the huge climb out of Damascus. Once the trail hit the ridgeline, the gnarly double-track turned to classic Virginia single-track, a little rocky but well maintained, and conducive to 3 mph backpacking pace. Another interesting thing happened once I reached the ridgeline. I saw signage which indicated I had miscalculated the mileage of my three day circuit hike by ten miles. So I huffed it in to my shelter site for the night, and made it just after dark.
The trail for next day was mostly singletrack, along the Iron Mountain ridgeline. Occasionally it would pass into a logging road for several moments, or onto a logging road. Saturday I was supposed to do 26 miles. Half way through my day, I had already reached my third shelter. Shelters are supposed to be a day’s hike apart, but I hadn’t done 12.5 miles. I realized I should find a shortcut trail to get to my Appalachian Trail connector. Fortunately, there was a connector trail which knocked off a few miles. I dropped quickly off the Iron Mountain ridge and was at the base of Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak. The dicey scenario was that it to do this, it meant I would forced to camp atop Mt Rogers on a Saturday night, near Thomas Knob shelter. Thomas Knob could be one of the busiest and most widely used shelters on the AT, and it was a holiday weekend. I might be in for it regarding peace and quiet. The summit near Mt Rogers is mostly this wonderful grassy bald, which is described as the highlands. I figured if the shelter was full I could just cowboy on the summit since the weather was flawless.
Sunday was another perfect day, more grassy balds at nearly 6000’. I expected to have the shelter to myself on Sunday night, but when I arrived after another 20+ mile day, I was greeted by two old hikers. One of which had just come from a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike attempt. Needless to say, we chatted about the PCT for hours.
My hike out Monday was only 10 miles, and I had perfect terrain and trail too. I grabbed a quick breakfast in town and headed back to Louisville. Monday was the perfect entry into my recovery week.