Last weeks "down" week was anything but that. The relaxation, refreshment, and flexibility of the trip were key factors in leaving me with an elated feeling coming home. The change in pace, literally, rejuvinated my body and soul. I did exert much energy out in the wilderness in the form of hiking and running, but the positive energy was returned ten-fold -- combined with the more than sufficient amount of rest I received -- and turned out to be the perfect formula.
Physically, I realized the benefits of backing off on demanding so much from my body for a week came to fruition while assisting with WJU's practice last Saturday. As I ran from Robie Point to the bottom of Stagecoach to catch all the guys who had a head start, my legs felt an apparent freshness about them and an increase in strength. I undoubtedly ran my fastest clip of that section, yet with minimal fatigue.
I was hungry for a crack at stagecoach, but believed I wouldn't be afforded the opportunity that day due to my coaching duties. However, when two of our female runners appeared to be lost on the trails, Joe suggested somebody run up stagecoach to see if they were possibly coming down. Needless to say, I jumped at the idea (out of a desire to find these girls and the more selfish motive, to test my legs).
After passing the bench in :08, I knew a potential pr was unfolding. The last mile was when my new level of strength and fitness began to kick in and although I was suffering, my leg-strength would not yield to my labored breathing. I maintained a steady pace and as I rounded the last turn in 14-flat, not only was pr-ing on my mind, but my first sub-15 on stagecoach thrusted my efforts forward for the final push (I know most of us are familiar with stagecoach, but for those not up to par, stagecoach is a 2-mile long hill which averages 7.5% gradient and ascends roughly 800-850'. Not quite as bad as K2, which is nine-tenths of a mile long and ascends about 915', which equates to 19% average gradient, with some portions well over 25%).
I say all that because for one, it strokes my ego, and two, I am progressing with baby steps toward gaining confidence as the double-marathon approaches in less than one month.
Tomorrow is a pretty important day in placing what may be the capstone to this season's training in preparation for Sierra Nevada. A 33.6-ish mile run from Cavitt to Cool, and back down to the American River Confluence. No telling what my body will do, what state of condition my mind will be in, or to what degree of fortitude my spirit will behold. But two things are for sure, I am looking forward to a fun time and finishing; with style or not.