Monday, April 28, 2008

Trail running or Road Running...that is the question!!!

I am at a serious crossroads in my running career. I am trying to decide what my real goals are as a runner. I have been running road races for a good long time, and have recently branched out into trail running and ultras. I just don't feel as excited about running road marathons, or other races since I have tried trail running.

There is something exciting about being out on the trail, immersed in the mountains, or the trees, running on dirt, and jumping over roots, rocks, and snowdrifts. Recently, while in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I ran a trail that led 8,500 feet into the mountains that surrounded Santa Fe. Once I got to the top of the trail, I could see Santa Fe, and way beyond. The feeling left me breathless, and that was just a training run.

I have also recently experienced running my first ultra. I ran a 50k, and really felt the same excitement. It enhanced my training, and kept my running life exciting and challenging. On one hand, I felt at ease to just take off and real time lurking out there, or a certain pace, just the freedom of running. On the other hand, I knew my training had to be on another level, or I would never be able to finish the race, and I didn't want to DNF.

Just thinking about running my next trail fills me with youthful enthusiasm, and I have given much thought to running the Sunmart 50 mile race in December. The challenge of training for a 50 mile race is exciting, and it fills me with a new purpose, a whole new level of training beyond where I have ever been.

I have been weighing this decision against running the Dallas White Rock Marathon this year, but the more I think about it, the less exciting the road marathon seems to be.

Am I crazy, or does it seem like I am really leaning toward running the sunmart 50 mile race?

After I return from Africa, I will only have 4 months left to train for the 50 miler. That's a little less time than I would have liked, but it should be sufficient. If I can keep my mileage up in Africa, I think I could use the next four months to get ready for a 50 mile race.

Meanwhile, I am training for a 10k race in Dublin...and I don't think I would leave road racing behind forever, but right now.......?



KcandyP said...

Hey Jerry,

I think running evolves. Sometimes it gets boring so the appeal of something different is what takes us down that path. I think it's great that you seem to be headed to trail running. Too bad we don't have more trails in Abilene on which to train! I bet that you will do that for a long while and then some day go back to the road, or at least mix it together. Isn't it great that you have the option to do both? I did the Pike's Peak Ascent one THAT was an experience (and not a good one) but I did finish in time to get finishers medal. Some day when you see me ask me about it. I think you might like it and given that you are doing ultras I bet you could do the Pike's marathon (up and down). I think my training lacked a lot, but the thing that gets you is the altitude. Let's talk about it some time. Susan

Jerry Hollingsworth said...

I have had a couple of people ask me about running that Pikes Peak Marathon. It does sound challenging. And...I think you are right, running evolves, and doing something out of the ordinary, or different has its appeal. I think I will always do the road racing, but just fewer of them, maybe, at least for awhile.

I have trained at altitude (14,000 ft) and it was a nightmare for me. My chest felt like it was going to cave in. I even came down with a serious case of altitude sickness in the Andes Mountains one time in Peru, and a little Quechua Indian lady nursed my back to health with Coca Tea. It was quite an experience.

KcandyP said...

Well I have to tell you, I didn't do enough training for Pikes. I threw up 9 times on the way up, and 3 on the way down in the van (only threw up outside). Many people were in my shoes. The 8000 foot gain is killer, but it is thrilling when you finally get up there and you've done it. My office is in Colorado Springs so next time I decide to do it I am going to go up there for a month and train. I would love to go to the Andes, just to see it. Some day maybe. I doubt you would get as sick at Pikes, you are not up there long. It's not like a normal race where people stick around, they ship you back down very quickly because even if you don't get sick going up once you are up there you get sick so they take you down fast. If you do the marathon you start going down right away so once you hit that point where you can breathe again you are good to go. Well I mjsut get back to work. Have a great day.