50 by 50: Running after sickness — and a tribute to Caballo Blanco
As I said in my last column, in order to run longer, I must simply run longer. Lately that has been a lot easier said than done. For a few weeks now I have struggled with a cold and a lot of chest congestion, making the thought of running very unattractive. As a result, I started to fall behind on my training schedule as my last distance increase was way back on Feb. 26 when I ran 14.20 miles.
So Tuesday night after work I set my mind to get in a long, easy run regardless of not feeling 100% healthy. The run started at Daza Drive, down Dartolo to Watt Road, over to Gunn Stage, to the top and back down to San Vicente, over to Ramona Oaks, to the top, back down and to the top of Ramona Oaks again, and finally back to Daza. Total run was 17.58 miles, and took 2 hours, 59 minutes.
As I stated before, I am going to try to convey what I learn along the way during my training. First, there’s no such thing as a long easy run coming off a few weeks of sickness and very little training. Long and slow — absolutely, but certainly not easy. I felt like I was nearly hacking up a lung for a great majority of the run.
Secondly, that was a darned hilly course as it turns out. My GPS watch told me that the total ascent was 1,320 feet, which is similar to the climb from sea level to Ramona.
My quads started to cramp at about mile 16, which can mean a couple of things — not enough water, not enough electrolytes, or too many hills after too long of a layoff. Still, I got the run in, and two days later felt recovered enough to do a maintenance run.
All of this crazy, ultrarunning goal stuff I blame on my youngest sister Erin, who gave me a book titled “Born to Run” (by Christopher McDougall, 2009) two years ago as a Christmas gift. I finally picked it up to read last summer.
The book starts with the author’s search for an answer to why his foot hurts, and takes him on an epic journey to find and learn the secrets of the world’s greatest distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians, a reclusive tribe living in Mexico’s Copper Canyons.
The story weaves in many of the great ultrarunners of our time like Scott Jurek and Ann Trason, and recants many of the world’s most incredible races, such as the Western States 100, Leadville Trail 100, and Badwater Ultra 135.
But most of the story centers on a mysterious loner, Caballo Blanco, who lives and runs among the Tarahumaras. The book is a great read for runners and non-runners alike. A word of warning — by the time I finished the book, I was thoroughly convinced that I, too, was born to run, and felt compelled to find out.
Caballo Blanco’s real name is Micah True. About a week ago, True’s body was discovered in a remote part of southern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, after days of searching when he failed to return from a 12-mile run. He was found near a stream, his legs still in the water and his water bottle next to him. Cause of death at this time is unknown.
For anyone who has read “Born to Run,” the inspirational Caballo was so likeable and durable, I imagine that the news of his death comes equally as sad and surprising.
Now get out and run… but be careful.
- 50 by 50: The value in taking walk breaks
- 50 by 50: A beginner’s guide to training for an Ultra-Marathon
- 50 by 50: Long, Easy Runs Build Endurance
- 50 by 50
- Girls cross country team improves running times
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