Monday, May 24, 2010

Off to the races

Almost as important as completing a 40 mile run last week was finding out how my body would respond this week. I knew I'd probably be a little sore and stiff early in the week, and I was, but I was hoping to bounce back and get a good long run in later in the week AND have some energy left for a strong trail race to close the week out. That seems like asking for a lot, but for the most part it actually worked out.

Monday - Rest. I did play basketball, which may or may not have been a good idea. A few minutes into it, I stopped suddenly to grab a loose ball and felt my left calf pop and big knot form. This happens quite often, almost always in my left calf. It didn't stop me from playing, but it was sore and did slow me down some.

Tuesday - 9 miles. I wasn't sure how this was going to go with the sore left calf from basketball and a lingering soreness/tightness in my right knee from the 40 miler on Sunday. But, it actually went fairly well considering. The soreness was there as background noise, but didn't really affect me. This was also my first run in my brand new Nike LunarFly shoes. They are nice. Real nice. Although, the only color left in my size was black with a red midsole, which makes them look like Air Jordans, but they feel good, so I guess I can live with that.

Wednesday - 6.1 miles in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. I ran my first double in a long time for a couple of reasons. First, I ended up having to drop my son off at school in the morning and my wife was also running in the morning, so I was pinched for time. Second, when I did start my morning run, I was noticeably more sore than I had been the day before, so I decided to take it easy and split the run up.

Thursday - 8.1 miles. Decided to get back in the habit of running on trails on Thursdays, so headed up to the Tinton trail just outside of Spearfish. Got about 1/4 mile up the trail and ran into some loggers cutting timber along the trail and was forced to turn back. Got back in the car, drove back into town and headed to the Lookout Mtn. trails instead and ended up running all the way up to the summit for the first time (I've hiked up there a couple of times, but never run to the top).

Friday - 26.2 miles. Yup, I ran a marathon. Not an official one, just my own personal marathon for the hell of it. I had planned on running 25 miles, so what's another 1.2? I headed back to Deadwood to run on the Mickelson trail, hoping that the snow was gone by now (a few weeks ago I got turned back by knee deep snow across the trail). Although the trail was wet from rain the night before, it was in good shape and the snow was gone. I started my run at the Deadwood trailhead, which is also the finish line for the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon that is coming up in a couple of weeks, and ran up to the half marathon start line and then back down. I say "up" to the start line because it is up, although fairly gradual, pretty much the entire way save for a mile or so stretch of downhill about halfway. Conversely, that means it was almost all downhill on the way back to Deadwood and, as a result, I ended up posting a 9 minute negative split even though I most definitely was not pushing hard....I maintained my run/walk ratio of 10 minutes to 2 minutes the entire way. The 9 minutes difference was purely due to gravity lending a hand.

Saturday - 6 miles. Felt pretty tired and sluggish most of the day and did not really feel like running at all, but I figured I needed to get the blood flowing after the marathon the day before, so I forced myself out the door and it turned out being a fairly good run, which oddly enough is often the case in that situation.

Sunday - 9.3 miles total including the 8 mile Alkali Creek trail race. For the 2nd year in a row, the Black Hills Trail Series kicked off on my birthday, although with a different race than last year. The Alkali Creek race is a new one to the series, but I was fairly familiar with the course after running it twice with the race director, Ryan, who is also my occasional Lean Horse training partner. It's an out and back course, 4 miles up the hill (about 1000 ft. elevation gain) and then back down. Based on those two runs, and the fact that I had just run 26.2 miles two days before, I was expecting to finish somewhere in the 1:15 range. As it turns out, my legs actually felt really good when I woke up and the lingering soreness in my calf and knee were magically gone. A birthday present from the running gods?? After a short warmup jog with another local runner, Luke, we lined up for the start and were off up the hill. I was immediately in 8th or 9th place as a group of faster guys took off ahead. Rains the night before had muddied the trail up some, especially in the lower section that didn't have any tree cover, but it wasn't horrible and the creek crossing about 1/2 mile into it allowed us to rinse the mud off. The first mile was a gentler uphill and I covered it at a decent trail pace for me. Miles 2-4 are where the uphill grind really begins as the trail switchbacks up the ridge. Steep, very slow pitches were alternated with more gradual and even flattish sections where I could open up some. My mission was to maintain a sensible pace that allowed me to run the entire way and push it at least a little on the less steep sections. During that uphill stretch I got passed a few times, but also passed a couple of other guys. By the time I reached the turnaround on the ridgeline, I was right behind a local runner, Joe, and had another guy breathing down my neck. As we headed downhill, both Joe and I opened it up and pushed the pace, leaving the other guy behind. I pushed the downhill as much as I dared but no matter what I did, it seemed like Joe was able to maintain the gap between us. I was fairly confident that if I could keep that gap small, I might be able to catch him when the trail flattened out some near the finish, but after a mile and a half or so of pounding the downhill, my legs threw in the white flag and I was forced to back off and watch Joe pull away. When we did hit that flatter section I was able to push the pace again and I think I closed the gap a little on him, but it was too little too late at that point. Final result was 11th overall and 5th in my division with a 1:07:25, a solid 7+ minutes faster than I thought I would run. So basically, I ran faster than I thought I would, but also finished lower in the standings than I expected. You take the good with the bad, I guess. Looks like I'll have my work cut out for me defending my division title from last year, especially with the bulk of my training focusing on endurance more so than speed (excuses, excuses...;) ).

Total - 68.7 miles

Monday, May 17, 2010

40 miles of fun

I'm pretty sure I did something this week that I've never done while training. Well, I know for sure I did one thing I've never done during training, which is to run 40 miles in a single run. But I also think this is the first time I've had a single long run exceed my mileage for the rest of the week (40 miles on Sunday vs. 38.8 for the six days prior). It probably happened when I ran the Lean Horse 50 last year, but that wasn't a training run, it was a goal race. Regardless, since I already killed the suspense and mentioned the 40 miler, here's how the rest of the week shook out.

Monday - Rest. Played basketball at lunchtime.

Tuesday - 9 miles. Nothing spectacular, but I did feel pretty good.

Wednesday - 8.6 miles with 8 hill intervals. It was snowing pretty hard, but it was warm enough that it wasn't sticking to the streets. The hill I ran was about 2/10 of a mile long and basically I sprinted up it and then jogged back down for recovery and repeated.

Thursday - 10.1 miles. It was overcast when I started and then about 4 miles in I felt a few rain drops and then it started sleeting.....hard. Sleet hurts. Especially in the eyes.

Friday - 6.1 miles. Recovery.

Saturday - 5 miles. More recovery. Didn't have time for my long run on Saturday (like I would prefer) because of soccer/rugby/grocery shopping. I know the "didn't have time" excuse is a classic when it comes to running, but when your planned run is going to last about 6.5 hours, then it becomes a valid excuse.

Sunday - 40 miles. My goal when I started training for the Lean Horse 100 was to get in at least three runs of 40 miles or more. This was the first of those and, with the Bighorn 50 just a month away, would also serve as my longest long run before that race. As with my other long runs, I implemented a run/walk ratio of 10 minutes to 2 minutes right from the start. I had my hydration pack with 70 oz. of water, a handheld bottle with 22 oz. of Perpetuem, a gel flask filled with Hammer Gel and some S-caps to prevent cramping. I started off with two big loops of just over 10 miles each and ended up back at home after 21 miles so I could refill the Perpetuem bottle and gel flask and top off my water pack. Then I headed out for an 18 mile loop that would bring me within spitting distance of 40 when I got back to town. As might be expected, things started getting a little rough during that last big loop. At around 32 miles, my stomach started expressing some dissatisfaction with the way things were going. Oddly enough, the slight nausea was only noticeable when I was walking. Once I started running again, my stomach felt fine, but of course by that point my legs were also bitching, especially when I was running so it was pretty much damned if I do, damned if I don't. Regardless, I made it back to town, ran an extra mile to get to 40 and was done, 6:26:21 (9:40 pace) after I started. If I had run 10 more miles at that pace, I would've broken my 50 mile PR by 90 minutes.

Two big positives from this run were that my pace was pretty steady throughout. Yeah, it drifted slightly toward the end, but my running pace didn't drift too much....early on I was running at about 9:00 pace and toward the end it was more like 9:10. I think my walking pace is actually where I started to slow down some as I was getting lazy toward the end and not pushing the walking pace as hard as I did early on. The other positive is that I didn't really feel that bad afterward. In fact, after sitting for awhile and watching a couple of periods of the Sharks-Blackhawks game, I got up and mowed the lawn and today my legs don't really feel any worse than they do after a 20 miler.

Total - 78.8 miles

All in all, a really good week. My legs felt great during the weekday runs and I was able to hammer out a solid long run. This is a week where I feel like I made some progress, which is good because a couple of weeks ago that wasn't the case.

Coming up this week is my first big race of the year, the Alkali Creek Trail Run on Sunday (which also happens to be my birthday). Alkali Cr. is the first race in the 2010 Black Hills Trail Series. I'm not really sure what to expect mostly because it's so hard to predict who will show up competition-wise. I could be anywhere from top 3 to barely top 10. One advantage is that I know the course since I've run it twice in the last month and a half. But, I'm still not sure I've got my trail legs going as well as they could be, especially since the winter-like weather kept me off the trails all of last week, so the entirely uphill first half might take its toll. I guess there's only one way to find out...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Better late than never

Holy crap. I'm a little behind here, I guess. Since I totally spaced posting last week, I guess you get a two for one deal this week. The problem with that is that I'll actually have to try and remember what in the hell went on two weeks ago. I've got the mileage written down, but any details about specific runs might be sketchy at best, so I guess I'll just have to make something up. Okay, here goes...

Monday (Apr 26) - Rest. Played some basketball.

Tuesday (Apr 27) - 7.2 miles. Met up with Ryan Hall for a short recovery run. He told me all the super secrets of elite marathoners. Or maybe I just ran around Belle alone in the dark. Can't really remember....

Wednesday (Apr 28) - 10 miles. This one I do remember because it blew chunks. I ran a progression run and while I was able to ratchet the speed up at least 15 seconds every mile, it felt like crap and I didn't go as fast as I normally do for such a run, but the effort felt much harder.

Thursday (Apr 29) - 8.5 miles. If I remember correctly, I headed up Lookout Mtn. and it went fairly well. Much better than the progression run the day before.

Friday (Apr 30) - 6.3 miles. Another run with Ryan Hall. Or by myself. You decide.

Saturday (May 1) - 20 miles. Another one I remember, not so much because I felt like crap (I didn't) but because the weather was crap. Shannon ran a 5K in the morning in Spearfish and I started running immediately afterward while she and the kids went to Walmart and then McDonald's. I ran a huge loop around Spearfish and Lookout Mtn. and for the first 10 miles or so managed to keep the wind at my back or my side. But, the crux of a loop is that eventually you have to go back the direction you came from and when I did the wind almost stopped me in my tracks. I finally made it into Spearfish Canyon, which is sheltered from the wind and finished up my run there.

Sunday (May 2) - 7.7 miles. Met up with my friends Jerry and Ryan and went for a run in the Canyon (the wind was howling yet again). Afterward, we talked some running business. I can't divulge that business just yet, but an announcement is coming in the near future and I'll be writing more about it then. You're on the edge of your seats now, aren't ya?

Total - 59.7 miles

The next week (which is now last week....try and keep up here) was a cutback week, hence the lower mileage (which actually ended up not much lower than the week before, which was supposed to be a moderate week, but whatever...this ain't rocket science).

Monday (May 3) - Rest. Basketball. The standard Monday routine.

Tuesday (May 4) - 8.15 miles with 6x800m intervals. Yet again, the wind was howling but I decided to throw caution to the wind (bad pun, haha!) and run on the outdoor track. It kind sucked running hard into the wind, but yet the intervals went well overall. This was also a day that will go down in history for local hockey fans as the Rapid City Rush defeated the Allen Americans 4-3 in double overtime to clinch the President's Cup in only their second year in the CHL. We were there and it made for a lllooonnnggg night, but well worth it.

Wednesday (May 5) - 8 miles. After the late night hockey on Tuesday, there was no way I was getting up early on Wednesday to go for a run, so I had to skip out on basketball and do it at lunchtime. And that's all I remember about it. Apparently I ran 8 miles.

Thursday (May 6) - 6.1 miles. Drawing a blank. Probably around Belle. Maybe not. But probably.

Friday (May 7) - 13.9 miles. This one I definitely remember. Jerry, Ryan and I met up again with the initial plan that Ryan and I would run approximately 24 miles of the Centennial Trail with Jerry serving as our crew. Again, I can't discuss the reason for this quite yet, you'll just have to wait until next month. However, Mother Nature intervened with wind, rain and snow. Concerned that one section of trail along our planned route is difficult to follow in good conditions, much less when it's under snow, we decided instead to run a simple out and back on a more familiar section. That out and back featured over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Fun. Fortunately, the trail running I have been doing seems to be paying off as my quads didn't feel like ground chuck afterwards.

Saturday (May 8) - 16 miles. Since I didn't get in a true long run the day before, I decided to do back to back kinda long runs and ran from Belle to Walmart. Not as much elevation gain as the day before (only 1,000 feet), but a good, hilly run nonetheless.

Sunday (May 9) - 5 miles. Just a recovery run around Belle before the Mother's Day festivities kicked off (which included Shannon running a 5K PR in Spearfish!).

Total - 57.2 miles

So, there you have it, the last two weeks of my life in a nutshell. For my sake, I'll have to try and remember to keep this weekly...trying to remember that far back hurts my head...