The Gambler

I got home from Lake Tahoe last Sunday early enough to get a decent long run in.  You might remember from my last post that I was determined to get back on the base building horse and knock out a couple of 25+ mile weeks in a row.  I had set myself up very well during the week, running 17 miles between Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I even hiked 4 tough miles at Lake Tahoe on Saturday – something like 2000′ elevation on slick ice/snow/slush, in high altitude, no less.  It was a serious workout!  But the views were worth it.

California drought conditions meant that we got to access Eagle Falls Trail in wintertime.

California drought conditions meant that we got to access Eagle Falls Trail in wintertime.

Before the weekend, I thought that it would be great if I could come home on Sunday and knock out 8-10 easy miles.  As the weekend progressed, I decided that 6-8 miles would be plenty.  Pulling up to our house on Sunday, I thought: any miles at this point would be a victory.  I was exhausted; two nights of restless sleep on a moderately comfortable but small air mattress in the common area of a small cabin with 14 other people will do that to you. (Or at least, it did that to me.)

The one lesson that I keep having to learn over and over again is that I need a lot of sleep.  Some people can get by with 5-6 hours.  For a long time, I thought 7 was plenty.  Then I moved on to 8… and now I prefer to get between 8.5-9 hours a night.  In Tahoe, I was in bed for 7 hours a night, but I was probably only sleeping for ~4 hours.  Plus, there was the time change, which screwed me up even more.

So, back to Sunday afternoon: I decided that before any run could happen, I needed to take a nap.  At that point, I should’ve known that a run was unlikely.  But still, I was optimistic…until I woke up, groggy, 1.5 hours later.  Also, I remembered that I also needed to clean the house because we were supposed to have company over, and I could not – physically or mentally – handle both cleaning AND running.

To clear my conscious, I discussed my quandry with the Gypsy Runner, who gave me a pass.  “One missed run isn’t going to negatively affect your fitness.  I don’t know why you always think that.”  Well, yes, that’s part of it, but what I’m really afraid of is the slippery slope of “Oh, I’ll skip this one run because of [insert an actual, legitimate reason]” to skipping a bunch of runs just because I don’t feel like it.

I knew that I did have a legitimate reason for skipping the run that day, and that was exhaustion.  I doubted the extra miles would improve my fitness; if anything, it would make me more tired — and possibly increase my susceptibility to catching the nasty cold going around at work.  Moreover, any miles would be done with sloppy form, which might then lead to injury.  It was at this point that lyrics of The Gambler popped into my head:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away, know when to run.”
That Kenny Rogers, he speaks the truth.

So I ended the week of March 2nd with 21 measly miles.  The good news is that for the following week, I ran 30.8 miles, my highest weekly mileage this year and possibly since Big Sur last April.  It included my first ever 400 m track session, during which I learned that 400 m intervals are hard and sucky. (Yes, that’s the technical word for them: sucky.) They’re definitely a different beast compared to longer intervals.  I also ran 10 hot and hilly trail miles on Saturday at Redwood Regional (1300′ elevation gain/loss), but I was fortunate enough to have the company of JT and KP to help me pass the time.  I started to question whether I wanted to do the Canyon Meadows trail marathon as part of my 50K training, as it would take place on many of the same tough trails as I ran/hiked on Saturday.  However, I decided that “tough” is the best kind of training – both mentally and physically.  If I can make it through Canyon Meadows, then I can handle Big Basin.

Frolicking in the Redwoods. (Photo credit: JT)

Frolicking in the Redwoods. (Photo credit: JT)

As for the 30-day plank challenge, I’m up to 2 minutes! Well, 2 minutes with a huge asterisk, in that I have to alternate between elbows and straight arms, and also change up my leg position.  I have no idea how I’ll make it to 5 minutes.  We shall see!

To conclude: base building is tough, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.  I still haven’t gotten my legs to think that 30 miles per week is par for the course, but hopefully that will happen soon.  I have 3 more weeks of base building before official 50K training starts.  This coming week is another challenging one, with the Oakland Marathon Relay on Sunday.  I’m planning on front-loading my week — aiming for 20 miles between Tues pm/Wed pm/Thurs am, then doing a 3 mile shakeout on Saturday, followed by a short warm-up and 6.5 miles of fast running at the relay.  Hopefully it won’t get too warm, and my legs won’t be too tired.

I’ll leave y’all with this very, uh, interesting music video:

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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7 comments on “The Gambler
  1. Hillary says:

    Oh, man. I can’t think of The Gambler without thinking of the one time me and probably 4-5 other people shoved ourselves in a cab when this came on the radio. All of us proceeded to yell-sing basically just the chorus because who knows the other parts? The cab driver probably got back to the office and quit on the spot.

    • Jen says:

      I’ve never been a cab driver, but I’m pretty sure a rowdy group of people singing loudly to The Gambler isn’t the worst that driver has experienced. Someone throwing up in the cab, for example, sounds *much* worse.

  2. bt says:

    Good ole KR.

  3. Grace says:

    Ha. Would you believe that’s the first time I’ve actually seen the video for this song? It was…interesting. Oh, and 30 miles is a totally respectable base. (How is it nearly Thursday already?) Have fun at the relay!

    • Jen says:

      It was the first time I’ve seen this video, too! Kenny seemed pretty stiff at first, and then he surprised me by getting into it by acting out the words. I think I might’ve LOL’d when he threw the coins behind him.

  4. Angela says:

    I’m the same way — I have to get enough sleep or I just cannot function. A couple years back I was reading about how sleep is when your body goes into overdrive with the healing hormones, which is why not sleeping enough hurts your performance so badly. So these days, I don’t even feel guilty about napping instead of running when I know I’m sleep deprived. Who cares about the numbers if your training ends up suffering as a result???

    Hope you’re feeling better & good luck with the relay!!

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