I never really have time for myself. Being in Mammoth this year has been a lot different from years before; this year I have been truly able to find myself. Finding myself is lying in bed- or on the couch- and tearing through the pages of a good book, and of course running. I decided to take a break from blogging and resume as soon as I nerded through two books (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Eleanor & Park…both are must reads by the way!). I was joking with my coach the other day after surviving through two 10 milers in a span of three days and hitting a mini-track workout how this is my “hell week”. We then decided it was more fitting to call it my heaven week because it has been feeling great to actually get in nice, hard work.

I’m tired. Nothing could be truer than that, but it’s a good tired; a tired that means in a couple weeks I will be stronger and notice it. After meeting with my coach about my training for the next month, they raised concerns about my energy levels and decided not to let me get to the 50-mile goal this week and focus on finding a solution. Today I hit 47.7 total. Needless to say, it has been a big training week. I began taking Ferrous Sulfate (iron) to help my energy levels and also got around to getting a month pass at the mini-gym out down the road. Considering all the additions to my training this week I am proud of my progress even if it has been clouded by my fatigue.

After Inyo Craters, we went down to the Mammoth track on Wednesday and got in a nice 200m workout. Being extra confident and hoping to be an over-achiever, I decided to buddy up with one of our mid-distance girls. The first 5 were fast, I was proud that I was able to make it through the first two at her pace, but the next three I’d fall off with about 50 meters to go and the groups behind me would pass by. I remember thinking as we walked through the first 100m, another 5… I don’t know how I’ll make it through the next half. As soon as I thought that, our coach told me and our other 10k girl, Kelly, to buddy up. What a relief! Kelly and I joked about the near death experience and were able to go at a pace that suited us more, around 37/38 seconds. I was definitely burnt out by the end of the workout! That evening, I walked down to the gym and got in a nice weights session then a light 20-minute bike to shake the day out.

Everyone, to my relief, was exhausted on Thursday. We were all anticipating the Lactic Threshold (LT) workout awaiting us on Friday and took our run extremely, extremely, easy in hopes of recovering. I felt fresh this morning, a lot fresher than I expected. The workout given to us at the Green Church was a 4-mile tempo at 6:40 pace. At the moment, I didn’t even think about the fact that this would be my longest workout in a year as well as double my last LT. Because of this being my longest workout and an intense training week, I decided to do the workout in my Bondi 4 trainers. I’m a rhythmic runner, so I felt it was my obligation to get us out at the given pace and hope I would manage to stay with them. The first mile I felt strong, and my Garmin clocked in at 6:39. The group kept it going and I just couldn’t feel my body locking in. I managed to catch myself as I’d lose focus and noticed my next mile was relatively slower. My coach drove to the side of me and said some encouraging words as well as reminding me to keep my eyes on the girl in front of me. As I neared the third mile, I saw majority of the girls stop at our coach’s van. I feared if he noticed me he would make me stop, so as soon as he had his back to me I powered passed him.

Another thing about my running style is that I am a true long distance runner; as the distance gets longer, I get stronger. That final mile, I felt myself gaining strength and moving my legs faster. I heard my coach’s van approaching from behind and picked up the pace even more (as if I can outrun him) so he wouldn’t be able to tell me to stop. With a quarter mile left, I shifted my gears and powered to the end with a nice, strong finish. Though my final mile was 7:13 and my LT average came out to 7:14. I was proud- proud of what I accomplished, proud of getting through the week, but most of all proud that I felt as though I could have easily done another mile and most likely negative-splitted.

I strongly believe that was a great finish to my training week. Okay, I’m not finished yet, I still need to hit the gym later today for a weights session and shake-out on the bike-but never the less a great finish. As of now, I may not be one of the fastest girls on the team- due to my lack of training thus far- but I have a lot of confidence that over the next three weeks things will change and I will be right back where I belong. I’m feeling extremely healthy, aside from my nagging allergies and asthma up here, I haven’t felt this great in ages! Sunday, I will take on Big Smokey and plan to finish the entire 13.2-mile loop, which will potentially bring my mileage to the 50-mile goal.

I also wanted to address the kind words people have sent my way after I posted the blog of why I left my scholarship at SMU. I’m glad I have impacted so many people with my story and hope I continue to inspire many along this journey.

Just Keep Running XOXO

Ashlee Powers

(Feature Image Courtesy of: http://www.meriahnichols.com/california-hot-springs-the-mono-lake-area-testing-out-a-grandby-88-four-wheel-pop-up-camper/)