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Off Seasoning

There are some people who LOVE the off season. I am not one of those people.

After both of my 100s, I’ve discovered that my stoke level is SKY HIGH and the last thing I want to do is not run. I want to sign up for Cascade Crest 2016 and get the next training party started!

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Unfortunately, they tell me that’s not the brightest idea. So I’m not doing that.

Despite the fact that I don’t get to throw a training rager over here in Eugene, off season hasn’t been ALL bad. I’ve managed to find a few fun things to do that don’t involve copious amounts of dirt and Hokas:

First, I took a whole entire week off from my running shoes. (Please note the very intentional choice of words to make it seem like a week was a lot instead of the bare minimum that one should abstain from miles after a similar race effort.)

Last year, I took 10 days off after Pine to Palm. This year, I found myself feeling much fresher and ready to jog around much sooner. As evidenced by my daily laps around the office floor while screaming “SEE! I can run! Rest is silly!” A week was all I could make my legs stay away from my hokas.

And then started running again. But only when I want to, for however long I feel like, without tracking any of it.

My first run back was a whopping 3.2 miles. On very flat terrain. (I even drove the .5 miles from my front door to the trailhead so I could avoid running up a very small and very gentle hill.) Since then, I’ve slowly upped the length/frequency/challenge of my runs based entirely on what I feel like running each day and whether I feel like ditching run plans to go drink a beer with friends.

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy it’s felt to get back into running. Much easier than last year. Honestly, the hardest part about running post-Cascade Crest has been NOT running as much as I want to, since I feel really good but know my legs need a break and blah blah blah.

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But after reverse tapering my way out of the 100 miler, I’m now back to running a relatively normal amount, with some of my miles in the uphill direction, doing the occasional double, and logging a 12-16ish mile long run on the weekends. 

I started riding my bike again.

But only to places that manufacture beer or wine.

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Which technically includes commuting to work, but it’s the weekend rides that’ve really motivated me to reignite my relationship with Big Red.

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When I moved across the country, the one thing that couldn’t fit into the back of my car was my bike. So I brought it to a bike shop and shipped it across the country. Unfortunately, the label fell off and it ended up getting as lost as this sweaty girl during a trail outing. Fortunately, I’d left my IMLP sticker on it like a total tool and a very nice guy at a bike shop in Arizona looked up my bib number, tracked me down on facebook, and returned Big Red to me after it enjoyed an extended vacation in the desert.

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After massively burning out on biking thanks to 8 hour rides through the suburbs while training for an ironman in DC, I didn’t really miss my bike during the two years we were apart. Until I found out that Eugene has some beautiful country roads to ride

…to the wineries and breweries outside of town.

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With the help of these breweries and wineries, I’ve logged a couple of 45-50 mile rides on my bike, which have been lovely.

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For everything but my ass.

I went to another 100 miler, but left the Hokas in the trunk of my car.

Gordo, our stranger-from-the-volcano turned Cascade-Crest-cabinmate turned bff-FOREVER, recovered 5,628 times faster than I did and decided to run another 100 miler this past weekend. Because he knew my weekends are currently full of nothing but sweatpants and beer, he asked me (and Sarah) to crew his race. He even said we could bring along the sweats and beer.

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He absolutely destroyed the race and finished in 18 hours and change. Crewing him was lots of fun (because, party in the woods!), but also a little stressful. When your runner is moving FAST, you need to move FAST and you get worried that you’re not giving them gus and water bottles and lube FAST enough.

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Enter: the most efficient attire possible. With the added benefit of being insanely comfortable.

I also ended up spontaneously pacing another friend while sporting an especially cozy pair of pajamas. He was running crew/pacerless, not eating a ton of food, and trying to pull the old “I’ll shove this down my throat when I leave the aid station” (but secretly toss it into the woods as soon as you can’t see me, you food-pushing b*tch) maneuver. So I escorted him out of the aid station, carrying a buffet of cheesy/carby treats. As we walked, he made it clear that he didn’t hate listening to me ramble and before I knew it, I’d hijacked pacing duties and accompanied him for a few hours of trail time around a pretty big lake. Word of advice: if you’re going to pull a similar stunt, make sure you’re wearing your running shoes and not 17 layers of fleece, a down jacket, wool socks, and a pom-pommed beanie. Otherwise, you might overheat like whoa, end up with feet that are in worse shape after 11 miles than 100, and earn a reputation as “the girl in hot pink pajamas” from everyone who spots you on the trail.

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Wardrobe malfunctions aside, I had a blast. It’s tough to decide which is more fun: running 100 miles or not running 100 miles.

I invited the running-curious and running-reluctant to join me for a run. At one of Eugene’s finest running hubs.

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TrackTown USA rolled out an incredibly cool program a couple of weeks ago, with the goal of getting the community to embrace our history and identity as TrackTown and to become the healthiest city in the nation. The group is totally free, meets at Hayward (how many fun runs can boast that?) and is coached by Vin Lananna, who was introduced as “coaching two teams right now. The US Olympic Track & Field team for Rio ‘16. And you guys.”

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Photo.

My friend Ian is helping Vin coach the group and encouraged me to invite some coworkers…and not take no for an answer.

Our initial email exchange went a little like this:

“Emily! We’re launching a great program for all levels of walkers and runners, can you recruit some people from the brewery?”

“Sounds awesome! I can’t promise I’ll get dozens of people but I’ll try my best!”

“Are you kidding? That’s not good enough! Don’t you dare just passively forward my email. You go personally invite them to join, tell them how special running is to you, and encourage them to come find out why so many people share that relationship with the sport. And tell them you’ll go with them, dammit!”

So I did. At 8am on a Sunday morning.

I have to admit I was a tiny bit skeptical that they’d bring the fun and capture the interest of people who haven’t consumed the running koolaid. But they totally did.

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Photo.

I was so proud of my friends. Who went from “I don’t want to go, I don’t want other people watching me try to move” to agreeing to go, to starting off walking, to deciding they could run the straightaways within half a lap, to proclaiming “THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN” by the end of our 20 minutes on the track.

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Everyone had a blast, wants to go back every Sunday, and agreed to sign up for the Eugene half marathon over post-Hayward bloodies (before a sip of alcohol was even taken! My race enabling skills are peaking!). And they have all excitedly done their homework to get out and walk or run three times a week.

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While I kind of begrudgingly went the first week, I’ll totally keep going back every Sunday I’m in town to soak up more of the energy and enthusiasm at the Hayward party. Watching other people fall in love with running is fun!

I introduced the blonde friend to one of my favorite trails.

The nice thing about where Sarah lives in Oregon and where I live in Oregon, is there are hundreds of miles of beautiful trails smack dab in the middle. (I think that’s actually a factual statement for halfway between most places in Oregon, but I’m glad Bend and Eugene are on that list.)

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Instead of one of us driving 2+ hours to hang out, we can each travel an hour to a trailhead between the two towns, spend a few hours playing around on some truly awesome dirt, have a beer in the parking lot and still get home in time for afternoon chores. (And by “chores”, I clearly mean more beer.)

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Last weekend, we met at Waldo Lake and ran most of the loop around it.

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While I’ve been up in the Waldo ‘hood plenty this summer, it’d been a while since I’d hung out on that particular trail and it was fun to spend the afternoon reminding my legs why we love it so much.

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The outing was made even more fun by our post-run stop at Manley’s: where people arrive by horse and you get the side-eye for trying to order craft beer or anything that’s not fried.

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I ditched my alarm clock.

Since starting to taper for the 100, I think I’ve set my alarm once. Okay, twice if you count race morning. After several years of abusing my body with insufficient amounts of pillow time, I’ve finally come to appreciate just how vital it is to grab adequate ZZZs. I’ve been going to bed early and staying there as late as possible (which, for me is usually not all that late, but I’ve made a very valiant effort.) When I have to start actually using my alarm clock again, it’s going to be a very rude awakening (pun intended.)

I didn’t let the competitive spirit take an off season.

I’m slowly identifying all of the people in my life who are also closet 80 year olds and love the game of cribbage and then challenging them to a game.

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If you’re also one of these people, feel free to stop by Eugene for a round of cards and a round of beer.

I baked something without setting my kitchen on fire.

Technically, I also baked something and set my kitchen on fire, but we’re focusing on highlights right now so let’s not dwell on that.

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After an unsuccessful evening of bacon baking, I had a very successful night making bacon covered chocolate peanut butter brownies (plus, a vegetarian batch) for all of the boys and girls running 100 miles through the woods. Which no one ate. Probably because they follow me on twitter.

I started plotting what’s next.

I haven’t technically signed up for anything yet, but I’m close. I want to run something else this year. Just for fun and all that jazz.

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A very likely just-for-fun race will probably be a 50k on the Oregon coast in October. Our Cascade Crest cabin had SO MUCH FUN in Washington that we decided to throw another cabin party so we can all hang out again. We planned it to coincide with a race weekend so we can also use it as an excuse to explore 31 miles of new trails before hosting a Taylor Swift dance party on the beach.

And that pretty much takes care of what’s been taking up my time in the last month. If these four weeks have been the worst of off seasoning, I’ll take it. 

13 Responses to Off Seasoning

  1. I wanna see your pink jammies! :P

  2. You seem 10000000000times happier on the west coast. Maybe it is the best coast after all!

  3. Love cribbage. My boyfriend refuses to play with me because he’s intimidated by what counting hands sounds like (15-2, 15-4, 15-6, 7, 8, 9, and a pair for 11). So I have to settle with playing his stepdad whenever we have dinner with his family.

    • COME TO EUGENE! I won’t let your counting scare me away.

      • I would LOVE to visit the area again. I spent a lot of time in western Oregon and almost moved there long-term. I’ve been wanting to do some long bike rides up and down the coast because I’m convinced nothing is more gorgeous than the Oregon Coast.

  4. Good ol’ Manleys! Home of the original “broasted” chicken!

    • I love that you know Manleys! I confess I’ve never tried the broasted chicken, but the jojo nachos are quite lovely.

  5. […] the woods ate my debit card while I was crewing Gordo’s 100 miler, and left me stranded with an empty tank of gas and no method of payment two hours from home. […]

  6. I dunno, I just love this all. You do offseason right, even if you don’t love it. :)

  7. […] Do you take an off-season? Can you do it both physically and emotionally? […]

  8. […] ALL OF THE STOKE that had me riding a high for weeks after Cascade Crest? Yeah, that went away. And as it abruptly […]

  9. Nice post dear . I like your post thanks for sharing .

  10. […] Must Read: Off Seasoning […]