Some sessions are stars and some are stones, but in the end they are all rocks and we build upon them.”
— Chrissie Wellington
After living in the Flint Hills for about 18 months, I finally got to run the Konza Prairie this past Saturday.
It. Was. Brutal.
I was totally unprepared for the intensity of the terrain.
It was already in the 70s at 6 in the morning. And the sun was higher than I wanted when I got to the trail at 6:45. I saw the sign said the trail opened at 5:20. I should have been here at 5:20. According to my training plan, I was supposed to run for 90 minutes with alternating easy/hard miles. The big loop is about 6 miles. I knew I would come back to my starting point so I left my water in the car and just planned on a 6ish mile pit stop. This turned out to be just fine. I felt hydrated during the run despite the heat.
I had made my first trip to the prairie the week prior when my mom was visiting (the Konza pictures are from the week prior). I knew about “The Hill” but I completely overestimated my current strength and stamina. I didn’t want to have to run down the steepest hill and risk slipping in the gravel. So instead, I ran this steepest section in the first mile. I don’t know if this was an actual mistake or if the run would have gone better in the other direction, but I completely toasted my quads from the start. The rest of the run was a continual mental struggle.
Alternating easy mile then hard mile then easy, meant that I never settled into a smooth pace. It also meant I was constantly looking at my watch so I felt every mile. Plus, this was a new running location, I didn’t know what to expect around each bend. More hills? Gravel? A grassy path? The run was beautiful and I would have loved it if I was just out for a normal run. I stopped at a couple of points to check the map posted trail-side. I ended up running my easy miles at 10:30-11 minute pace and my hard miles at 9-9:30 minute pace. I was so slow, but I didn’t have any more to give.
After one full loop, I made it back to the car for some water. I would have quit, but my workout said 90 minutes and it had only been an hour. I was worn out, but I didn’t want to give up, but I also didn’t know if I could run up the hill again. I got some water and used some of it to rinse the sweat off my face and arms. When I felt ready (it was probably a 5-10 minute break), I relocked the car and set out for the last 30 minutes. I stayed on the flatter section so I could actually finish the workout. I did it. I ran the 30 minutes and came back to the car a second time drenched in sweat. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
So left the run feeling half discouraged and half motivated. Discouraged because it was so hard and I didn’t finish strong. I crippled back to my car. But at the same time, I still have the whole summer to train and that’s what I’m going to do. This is why the race is called Konquer the Konza. Because it is going to be really tough. I still think it is a reasonable goal. I just need to be more dedicated to my training than I have been – which means giving it my all in each training session, paying attention to water intake throughout the day, and staying on top of my nutrition.
With this new motivation, I set out to really push myself during my Monday morning track workout. I was supposed to do a one mile warm up, three miles worth of quarter repeats + burpees, squats, plank taps, and lunges, and a one mile cool down. It was a challenging workout, but this time I was happy with how I performed. I hope I can keep up the intensity the rest of the week, but the weather looks awful for running.
Anyway, stay tuned as I keep pushing towards my September goal.
PS. What do you think of the updated logo and signature? 🙂