Sunday, March 10, 2013

Endorphin Overdose

Marathon training involves an almost constant testing of your boundaries. Every week seems to bring a new longest run, or highest weekly total. And since I spread my marathons out, I always have to regain that endurance.

Well, this year I am stretching out to my first ultra, and doing more trails, and more hills. So this beach runner is pushing his boundaries a little more. This week's test was to move my long run from 17 up to over 18, and I would do it on a ridiculously hilly trail run. My trail group selected a fun little hill climb for this week. It was a big loop of 9.35 miles, so I figured I would just do it twice.

So I get there and find there is no water on the trail, so I would have to make do with my two belt bottles. But I could refill after 1 lap, so I figured that would be enough. Temps were about 50 or lower when we started at 7:30, but with bright sunshine promising a warming up later.

The first mile or so was really nice single track up a creek bed (dry) with many creek crossings, rocks and trees. Very fun.

Then it really started to climb as we got out in the sun. And the walking began...

Yes, we are going over that hill. Parts became quite "technical".

Or worse...

I was gasping as I hiked up this section. Had a healthy sweat going, lactic acid building, joints complaining. But I had faith it would get better. Long, long way to go. I was running with my buddy for the first lap, and we hooked up with a few others from the group as well. Misery does indeed love company, so that made it bearable.

Eventually we made it to a fire road. But the climbing did not ease up!

At least we got some decent views.

I jogged when I could, hiked when I had to, and eventually got to enjoy some leveling. And then the downhill began. It was fun at first. But then it got just steep enough to be annoying and painful on the quads and knees. But at least I could breathe. And it looked like this.

(We're the goats) I chatted with another guy as we finished the loop, about how tough it was but how beautiful, and I said it was such a great trail that I decided to do it again. He laughed, and then said "You're serious?" Yes. Yes I was. I got to feel like quite the bad ass. I took a minute to drink a lot and refill my bottles while the rest of the group celebrated being done, and then I was off to do it all over again.

Second lap I was on my own, but I still felt good and attacked the hills knowing what to expect, which made it easier. I stopped to take some pics, walked as needed; just enjoyed the day. Yet I still did the second lap in almost the exact same time as the first lap. By the final downhill, my legs were QUITE unhappy with me, and I was very glad to be done. But I loved it.

Here is my Garmin link. Over 3,500 feet in elevation gain over 18.7 miles.

After a short rest, I drove the 40 minutes home. I think I had an endorphin overdose, because my emotions were getting out of control.  I went by Malibu Beach where the sun was sparkling off of the water and many surfers were riding the waves. It felt like the perfect California morning, and I was giddy with happiness. I got choked up just thinking about how awesome it was to be there at that moment, having just rocked a killer trail run in the mountains. Then I was really enjoying the music. Like way too much. Songs would get me to choke up. The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again came on, and I started thinking how amazing it was, with the guitar riffs and the synthesizer going hard in the background, and the driving bass, and Roger Daltrey's vocals all just rocking hard at the same time, and Keith Moon's INSANE drumming on top of it, and how it all tied together, and my eyes filled with tears. It was ridiculous. Had to be the endorphins. And then We Are Young came on, and THAT got me choked up. Good thing I didn't put Les Miserables in the CD player.

Anyway, I was enjoying life way too much. But the high lasted all afternoon. Through the ice bath, the hot shower, the HUGE Fatburger that was sooooo good! And then the nap of the Gods. It feels so good to lie down when your body aches, huh?

Well, it was a great day. Then I followed that up with 7 more miles on Sunday, just to show that I could. And it wasn't too bad! I'm a little sore, but I am building that endurance! Next week, 20!


  1. Brad, I don't know if you remember me, Troy Bentz, a not too impressive guy from your high school track and cross country teams. You are your brother are two of the smartest and hardest working guys I have ever met in my life. It appears you have both done marvelous things. We knew you would. May the Lord Jesus bless you both. You are a couple of amazing guys. Troy

  2. Thanks Troy, such a nice surprise compliment! All the best to you too.