Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recovery and Inspiration

As the air cools and days shorten here in the Sierra, it’s the perfect season for trail running. The leaves are just starting to turn, some clouds dot the sky for the first time in months creating patterns of light and shadow across the landscape, and the crowds have all gone back to San Francisco for the season. Ah, yes. Perfect for running.

Unfortunately, I’m still not running. Not really, anyway.

I had many a philosophical discussion with fellow runners regarding post-race depression after my 100. I understand it. It’s not so much physical recovery that I needed as mental recovery. (Still need maybe.) It's still a little depressing though. And at this point, we can also add into the mix the fact that I am just plain out of shape. I did a ten miler last week, and it was brutal!
For the last five weeks I kept thinking I would be inspired to start running again. My plan had been to take some time off after TRT and then start running in August to train for the HK50 in November.
I certainly had no shortage of sources for inspiration. Donald ran his first 100 miler. Claire did her first Ironman. Peter Lubbers ran the entire 168 mile Tahoe rim Trail. I even got to pace Peter for 20 miles, which is still the only long run I’ve done since the 100. I think having first hand knowledge of what running 100 miles was like, made Peter’s run that much more impressive to me. When I joined him at 7 am on Sunday morning, he had already spent his second night without sleep, and was moving along well at mile 110. I was more than inspired; I was in awe. (Especially when, after topping out on Relay Peak at mile 126, Peter took the downhill at a pace I had to push myself to match!)

Rory, Peter and me

Peter moves at a steady pace through the Mt. Rose Wilderness

Peter at the summit of Relay peak, the highest point on the TRT

Further inspiration could be found with the events of the Beijing Olympics, but with no TV, I witnessed exactly zero track and field events. More recently, Truckee local Betsy Nye won the Wasatch Front 100.

Clearly it’s not inspiration I am lacking. Just motivation.

On the other hand, I have had more time for other things in my life. I visited family in southern California, where I withered in the warm coastal humidity, went to a baseball game (Go Angles!) and enjoyed some play time with my nephews. Andrew and I spent a weekend in Pt. Reyes surfing, kayaking, playing with the dogs on the beach, and stuffing ourselves with oysters. I even found time for a little climbing on Donner Summit, which was one of the reasons we moved to Truckee in the first place.

Swimming at the Yuba River

Dorky baseball fans

Andrew sucks down oysters from Tomales Bay

Heidi's oyster bar at The Marshall Store

I downgraded my racing schedule from the Lake Tahoe Marathon and the HK50, to the Kokanee Half Marathon and the Fall Colors Trail Half Marathon. I figured these would be some fun, but not-too-hard fall events, and they would also complete the Trail Half-Marathon Series, that I had begun in the spring. When I realized that I would be in San Francisco for a music festival on the same weekend as the Kokanee race, I again lost motivation.

In the end, it seems it actually is the change in the weather that has me itching to hit the trails again. Of course, I haven’t actually done it yet. Perhaps, like that first cold of the season, the urge will just be a lingering annoyance before it eventually passes.


Last night however, I did run into a colorful local runner at a bar on Donner Summit. Stay tuned next week for my exclusive interview with Reno renegade Lynyrd Skynrod. (It may not be motivational, but it will certainly inspire something!)


  1. Hi Gretchen.
    Nice pictures! Thanks again for pacing me over Relay Peak. That was great!
    Hope to see you somewhere around the lake again next week (I'm coming back for my 3rd Super Triple)
    Looking forward to the interview--Is Lynard running the Triple again this year?

  2. Hey, you're allowed to take off a couple months, especially after your first hundred.

    ....but since I think it's two months almost to the day, it's good you're starting to feel the urge....

  3. I hear you about needing the mental break. That's an even bigger aspect of recovery for me than the physical side. I typically find that rushing things doesn't help - you'll know when you're ready to train hard again.

    Glad you had a nice trip to SoCal.

  4. Hello there fellow TRT100 finisher! So this totally sounds normal to me. I've seen this play out many times with my triathlete friends. Back in 2006, a big group of them were training for IM Canada, most were first timers. They were doing the super long bike rides on Saturdays, join us for the trail runs on Sundays and be there on track workouts on Tuesday and I'd see them again for Spin on Thursdays. This was one motivated group. After the IM they all took their break but for most of them none of them raced long again for 07. They trained a little, maybe even did short races but just took a really big break. My friend Angela just didn't have the motivation, just hung out and took it easy and focused on the other things in her life; knitting, sewing and cooking. Most of them are back on now for this year.

    No need to force it I think. Seems like running has been a big part of your life and I don't think it's gonna go anywhere. You had this super goal and you reached for it with everything you had, you almost didn't make it like a lot of folks that day but you held on and got it. Seems perfectly normal that you are having an extended break and what's awesome is that you got to do all these other fun things. I've biked past Tomales bay a few times and I've always wanted to get off the bike and eat oysters. I just know there's no biking back once that happens though.

    Nice info on Betsy Nye. She's so nice, on the quite side but nice. She came down to run the Quad Dipsea a couple of years ago and got to talk to her for a little bit.

  5. You have no idea how much my heart aches for California when I read your posts, even when you're just sitting on the couch and not running!

    That post-race depression is the WORST! It makes me never want to have another A race for as long as I live. You're inspired, but just not MOTIVATED to get out there and it makes you sick of yourself. Or that's what it's like for me anyway.

    You'll get back out there. Hey, if you believe that old adage that you have to take 1 day off for every mile raced, you have over 3 months of blahs before you'll be obligated to get your fat ass up again. You'll be back, I'm sure. Don't push it.

  6. Those were some great pictures! I was seriously considering the Fall Colors half- maybe I'll see you there! I'm sure there will some awesome* hills on that course... :)

    *Read: killer. Ha ha!