Monday, March 21, 2011

Yup, Spring

I guess if it lasts for a week plus, it's safe to say that spring is here. Of course, there's still a significant chance that we'll get snow, and lots of it in a short amount of time, sometime in the next couple of months, but at least the weather has taken a distinct turn for the better. As a result, I was able to get out and hit some trails last week, which is something I desperately need to prepare for Collegiate Peaks and Bighorn.

Monday - 6.2 AM, 5 PM. First one was on roads, second one was on the Lookout Mtn. trails. Got to try out my new trail shoes, the Saucony Peregrine, for the first time. Felt good. Much more nimble than the Brooks Cascadias I've been wearing (and will continue to wear occasionally...they've still got a lot of miles in em). The trails were pretty muddy, but mostly free of snow and ice.

Tuesday - 8 AM, 5 PM. Same as yesterday basically. Still a lot of mud on Lookout, but it had dried some.

Wednesday - 10.1 with 8x800m intervals. I haven't done a true speed workout on the track since sometime last spring, probably in May. As such, I wasn't expecting much out of this one, so I was actually kind of surprised by how well it went. I was tired as hell by the end of the 8th interval, but I averaged somewhere around 3:10 for each one, which isn't much slower than what I ran these in when I was training specifically for marathons.

Thursday - 5 AM, 4 PM. Whoa. My legs were not happy about that track workout. Had no energy whatsoever in the morning. Felt a little better in the afternoon, but still had dead legs. Kept to the roads to keep the effort as easy as possible.

Friday - 6.5. Just an easy recovery run in the morning.

Saturday - 15. Didn't get out the door until after lunch and, even though I didn't really eat lunch but instead just had a light snack, it wasn't sitting all that well, so I had to deal with a side stitch for awhile. Eventually worked through it and started feeling better. Overall didn't go too bad, although I got pretty hot a few times when I had the wind at my back. This is actually pretty pathetic because it was all of 60 degrees and I was bitching about the heat. I would never make it at Badwater. And, come August, I'll be praying for 60.

Sunday - 19.7. Met Ryan in Sturgis and we ran an out and back (kind of) on the Centennial. We had planned on going somewhere between 20 and 25, but we hit knee deep snow after about 10.7 miles. It was the kind of snow that was almost solid enough to walk on, and in fact would support you for a couple of steps, but then you broke through to your knee (and scraped the hell outta your shin in the process). So, we turned back and then on the return leg decided to explore a different trail we hadn't been on before. It was actually a pretty good trail but it ended up cutting a couple of miles off of the run. I wasn't really complaining at the time (nor am I now) since my legs were feeling the effects of an afternoon 15 the day before combined with an early morning 19+. Still felt okay, just tired (which is kind of the point). Good day on the trails overall.

Total - 84.5. Like I said last week, almost identical mileage-wise, but I did get more trail miles in.

Back to back weeks in the mid-80s, which is pretty much exactly where I wanted to be. I'll be down into the 70s this week before a bigger cutback next week and then I'll start the whole cycle over again. Hopefully, this near perfect running weather holds on for the next, oh.....forever. One can dream...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring? For real?

A week that started out very winter-like ended in a spring-like fashion with the forecast for more mild temps ahead. Is spring really here? Probably too early to make that declaration quite yet seeing as how we often get hammered with a March or April (or even May) blizzard, but for now things are looking pretty good. The snow is pretty much gone from the lower elevations (aside from the huge piles that accumulated over a winter's worth of snow removal) and some of the lower trails are clearing up and becoming runnable. Hopefully, the trend continues.

Monday - 6 miles AM, 4 PM. Negative windchills in the morning sent me to the indoor track, something I despise normally but even more so once March arrives. It "warmed" up to 20 or so during they day, so I at least got outside for the afternoon run.

Tuesday - 8.2 AM, 4 PM. Still fairly cold, but better than the day before, so both runs were outside.

Wednesday - 10.1 with 6 at marathon pace. A little windy, but definitely warmer. Ran a hilly loop, so the first few miles of MP were a little rough, but I finished strong running (mostly) downhill with the wind at my back. For some reason, my quads took a real beating on this run. Not sure why...I've run this loop at MP (or faster) several times before.

Thursday - 6.6 AM, 4 PM. The temp continues to trend upward.

Friday - 6 miles. It was fairly warm in the afternoon, 40s and 50s, but the wind was also blowing 30 mph+. I got the run done early in the morning before the wind got too bad.

Saturday - 25.1 miles. Longest run since Lean Horse. With less than two months before Collegiate Peaks, it was high time I got in some miles. As I did last year while I was training for Lean Horse, I did a run/walk of 10 minutes/2 minutes. This isn't so much because I'm unable to run straight through for 25 miles, but more to give my body practice in incorporating walk breaks and walking at a fast pace, plus it gives me a good opportunity to eat and drink on a regular basis (if I'm just running, I tend to forget and consequently get dehydrated and low on calories). In any case, the run went great....seemed like I got stronger the further I went. Even with the walk breaks I still averaged 9:32 miles, so it's not like I was totally sandbagging it.

Sunday - 10.2 miles. My legs felt surprisingly fresh after the long run on Saturday. I didn't push the pace on this one, but I didn't really purposefully hold back either...I just took what came, which ended up being 8:17 pace overall. I noticed last year during Lean Horse training that my legs tend to feel pretty damn good the day after a really long fact I ran a 10.4 mile race last year at sub-7:00 pace the day after a very hard 30 miler. One of those weird things you discover about your body when you start ultra training.

Total - 84.2 miles - first time over 80 in a very long time

This next week will look very similar mileage-wise, although I'm hoping to get in many more trail miles (of course, it's not hard to exceed the zero from last week). With the snow receding, I'll be hitting the trails as much as possible, hopefully including the longer run this weekend. Running long on roads is great and all, but nothing really prepares you for running long in the mountains except actually running long in the mountains. Crazy how that works...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The most exciting thing that happened last week really had nothing at all to do with running. After 142,000+ miles, I traded in my 96 Ford Taurus for a newer, more dependable ride. That Taurus had been in the family for its entire existence. I still remember the day my mom bought it back in September of 1995. I was a senior in high school at the time and it was the day before our first home football game of the season. I had no clue she was considering buying a new car until I got home from football practice and saw it sitting in the driveway. It was passed down to me about a year and a half ago as my mom began driving less and less and then the transmission went out on my 1992 F-150, leading me to junk it rather than pay far more than its value to have it repaired. The Taurus was a good car for a long time, but a series of relatively minor problems and subsequent repairs prompted me to start shopping for something newer and I finally found it last weekend: a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe. I was looking for something a little bigger than a car but still with somewhat decent gas mileage (especially with prices rising every damn day), and the Santa Fe fit that description pretty well. Plus, it's maroon and dark grey, which are basically the University of Montana's colors (maroon and silver, officially, but the football team starting using dark silver last year). First time I've ever owned a foreign vehicle. Very happy with it so far, but I was kind of tripped out when I opened the fuse box and everything was in Korean and English.

Anyway, back to the running thing. Last week was a cutback week. It ended up being a little bit more of cutback than what I intended, but maybe that's a good thing.

Monday - Rest. First rest day in a few weeks. My plan is to take one day off completely every four week cycle.

Tuesday - 7 miles. For the life of me, I can't remember a single thing about this run.

Wednesday - 8 miles. My hope every winter is that my last indoor track run will take place in February. That hope was crushed this year as negative windchill sent me scurrying inside.

Thursday - 10 miles. I had an appointment in Rapid City after lunch so took my running gear with and ran on the bike path after the appointment. A decent enough run, but I didn't allow enough time after lunch to do it, so if felt like I had a bag of rocks in my gut. It was also warm....after running the previous day on the indoor track, I ran this one outside in shorts and a t-shirt. Such is spring in South Dakota.

Friday - 6 miles. Again, don't remember much about this one. Just a recovery run.

Saturday - 7.1 miles. Hoped to get in 10+ but it was a crazy day with trading the car in and getting the new one and driving home and grocery shopping etc., etc. Plus, once again, it was cold outside and while I did run outside, it wasn't all that comfortable.

Sunday - 11.9 miles. Met with Jerry and Ryan in Spearfish. Jerry tagged along for a couple of miles and then Ryan and I continued on a loop around Lookout Mtn. (not on trails, just on the roads that circle the base of the mountain). Pretty cold again, but it's more bearable when you're running with someone. Legs felt pretty good overall.

Total - 50 miles

Needless to say, I'm pretty damn sick of winter by now. It's March damn it, and I'm ready for the snow to go away. The Collegiate Peaks 50 is only two months away now, and I've got a lot of work to do if I'm gonna survive 50 miles in the mountains at elevation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The weather rollercoaster

Eventually, spring will grab hold and maintain its grip, but until then the weather is just going to be difficult. The craziest thing about the weather these last couple of weeks is the extremes we've been alternating between. It goes from 40s and 50s (warm for this time of year) to below zero (cold for this time of year) with very little in between (i.e, there is no "normal"). This past week was a good example.

Monday - 12.7 miles. Met up with Paul, Nathan and Ryan to run the Centennial Trail. The four of us are all running the Collegiate Peaks 50 in May and Paul and Nathan are both running the Black Hills 100 (the 100k for Paul, the 100 mile for Nathan). It was pretty cold out (teens with some wind making it feel closer to 0) and there was some fresh snow (6+ inches in some areas). Honestly, if I hadn't made plans to run with other people, there's probably no way in hell I would've opted for a trail run in those conditions. But, not wanting to wuss out, I manned up, made myself some screw shoes to prevent a repeat of the previous Saturday's hard fall on the Centennial, and headed out. I had planned on going 10, Nathan and Ryan were going for more like 15 and Paul I think was going for 10ish too. After a few miles, we got spread out on the trail with Ryan and Nathan ahead together, myself in the middle and Paul not far behind. About seven miles in, while running across an open area exposed to the wind, I started getting pretty damn cold so decided to turn back (I had planned on running until I met Ryan and Nathan on their way back). I met back up with Paul shortly after but then we split apart again as he decided to follow the trail back up over a big hill and I opted for a faster dirt road route to try and get out of the wind sooner. I ended up with 12.7 miles and by the time I was done my calves were trashed. Running through the fresh snow, which was over ankle deep in most areas and even deeper in some, caused me to run up on my toes, putting more strain on my calves. But, on the bright side, I didn't fall or even slip a single time, so I guess the screw shoes worked.

Tuesday - 6.8 miles. My calves were more sore than they have been in a long time...felt like I'd run a marathon the day before. But, interestingly, when I headed out for my run (on relatively flat roads and bikepath), they felt perfectly fine. Just goes to show how different my stride is under different conditions. Apparently I don't work my calves much at all during a "normal" run.

Wednesday - 10.2 miles w/ 6 tempo. Again, my calves were still sore but felt fine once I started running. I ran a fairly hilly loop (for a road run) so the pace on the tempo miles varied quite a bit, but I felt good overall. Temp was near 40 for this one.

Thursday - 6 miles AM, 4 PM. After relatively balmy weather on Wednesday, the bottom fell out on Thursday and both runs ended up being on indoor tracks (2 different ones) because of negative windchills.

Friday - 6 miles. Again, frigid cold. Again, indoor track.

Saturday - 5.1 miles. It was 6 degrees out and sunny when I ran and it felt friggin tropical compared to the last two days. The screw shoes worked great on the snowpacked city streets.

Sunday - 20.2 miles. Again, wore the screw shoes although the streets were slightly more clear (it was all the way into the 20s by the time I got done), so running on bare pavement with them was kinda awkward. Never felt great during the run, but felt okay for the first half. For some reason, I hit a little wall after 10 miles, but still didn't really feel bad. Just okay.

Total - 71 miles