Wednesday, March 30, 2011

4 x .9 with 650'

A few weeks ago I discovered this single lane road/private drive that is .9 and 650' with a sign at the bottom pointing up to the Chateau on the Mountain Bed and Breakfast. I contacted the Bed and Breakfast to ask if I could use the road to do some training. After a nice convesation with some great people I was told I could use the road all I wanted as long as I didn't block the entrance and was nice to the woman who uses the road to train for her summer backpacking trips to the Alps. Perfect!
Today's plan was to do 5 trips up and down the road with the first one being a warm up and the next 4 being hard efforts on the ascent portions. With feeling some fatigue in my legs and an average grade of almost 14% I wasn't concerned about speed - especially since a 12:00 pace isn't going to make me fast anyway. I just wanted to run strong for all 4. After about a 12:30 first run up I thought it'd be reasonable to try for 10:30 for each of the next 4 uphill reps. I felt pretty comfortable going 10:25 on the first one and thought my 10:30 assesment was right on. That was until the wheels fell off halfway up the 2nd rep and I ended up with an 11:03. I was seriously wondering how I was going to be able to do 2 more of these at any effort. Then, about halfway down on the recovery the wheels where put back on and I felt better. I accepted that 11:00 would be reasonable. The 3rd and 4th reps were much better and had a strong feeling about them going 10:51 and 10:47. This was a good day for working on the PT, Pain Threshold.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DuPont 12k

It was a cold, wet morning - 40 degrees and heavy rain. I wanted to get a good warm up in so I headed out on some of the trails bundled up with some good rain gear. The single track was pretty sloppy and the dirt/gravel roads were the same, but there seemed to be a path to pick that wasn't too bad. I think I started liking this warm up run a little too much because after about 25 minutes I realised I was lost! I looked down at my watch and saw it was 17 minutes to race start so I immediately turned around and started retracing my steps and luckily found a short cut back. 40 minutes and about 500' of vert later I was at my car shedding my jacket and gloves. Made it to the start with a minute to spare. This was perfect because I was nice and warm and ready to go.

The course was great as it went in and out of single track and dirt/gravel roads the whole time and harder that I thought it was going to be with about 900' of up/down. The roads were mostly gentle grades keeping the pace quick while the single track allowed runners to display their strength - a perfect mix for a race. I think it was a good 2 miles into the race where people were finally settled in and not a whole lot of shuffling around was going on. There was alot of downhill in the first 2 miles and very little up, so once the climbing started people seperated into where they truly belonged. Here I was running alone with a group about 20-30 seconds ahead of me and 1-2 people about 10 seconds behind me. Then we took a sharp turn onto some steep single track and I was immediately onto the group ahead of me, but unable to pass. No sooner were we back out onto a flat road where I couldn't match the pace, was able to just hang onto the back of the pack. Then as we turned the corner the road went up at a nice 5%-6% grade (see above photo) and without a change in effort I started swallowing up the group. After passing the first person I decided to up the effort and see if I could get all of them on this climb - I got 3 out of the 4 and never was able to catch the 4th - I would stare at the back of this guy for the rest of the race. The next couple of miles went about the same as the previous few. I eventually caught another group of 4-5 guys and would be able to pass them on the uphills. Some of the single track was getting pretty steep and I would see some people up ahead walking so I'd step on the gas a little and be sure to get by them before the end of the climb. But there was still that one guy that I just could not catch no matter what. I swear he had eyes in the back of his head and would never let me get any closer. On the next downhill he really stepped on it and turned his 10 second lead into 20 very quickly. I knew there couldn't be much more than a 1/4 mile left when I looked at my altimeter and noticed that we had run about 200' more descent than ascent and then took another sharp turn onto the final stretch that was about a 15% climb. I went as hard as I could on this climb and was reeling this guy in very quickly. Then BOOM! I ran out of trail, he hit the finish 7 seconds ahead of me. This race went exactly how I wanted it to go - I ran hard and continued to get stronger as the race went on. With the cold, the rain and the 900' of vert I'm very happy with my time. Most importantly it was the climbs where I felt the best. I finished 53:38, 17th over-all and 2nd in the 40-44 group. Interestingly though, of the 16 people ahead of me, 8 were older than me! Turns out the guy I could never catch is 49. Results.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Week 12 - 13,380' (158,210')

78 - 2,000' up/down on Shut-In.
79 - 1,800' up/down on Shut-In and BRPW
80 - 1,100' up/down with a 7.5 mile hard effort. See this post.
81 - 2,100' up/down on Shut-In.
82 - 1,850' up/down on BRPW with 5x1 mile. See this post.
83 - 2,530' up only on treadmill.
84 - 2,000' up/down on Shut-In.

This was a pretty fun week getting in some good work on a few of the days. Put in a solid 10 hours of running. In the past I used the term "time on feet", but since I no longer need to hike some of the steep sections I feel good about moving on from the "time on feet" reference.
In the previous post I mentioned how I usually feel pretty good the day after a speed session, or 3 days after, but not so well 2 days after. This was pretty much confirmed again this week as I was holding back quite a bit on yesterdays treadmill run and today I could feel some fatigue on the steep climbs. The good news is on the moderate grades I was feeling the itch to get going a little, and if the pattern continues I should feel strong tomorrow. So the plan is to run the DuPont Forest 12k tomorrow. I'm not too worried about time, but I would be very happy to be around 52:30. I'm most concerned right now about running hard and feeling strong through the finish after a 10 hour week with 2 good speed sessions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 x 1 mile on BRPW

I know this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway won't be closed much longer so I wanted to get some good work done here because I think, minus the huge elevation difference, this part of the Parkway has a very similar uphill grade as the Mt. Evans road, about 300'/mile.
I discovered about a year ago that I do my best speedwork on back to back days or with 2 days between sessions, and my worst with 1 day between. That said, I was not expecting to feel my best today after the effort I put in on Monday. I felt better than I thought I would, but still went a good :15 seconds slower on each mile than what I think I'm capable of. After each mile I did a very slow recovery jog downhill for 4:00. My legs are feeling a little fried right now, but heatlthy.
Mile 1 - 8:18 with 318'
Mile 2 - 8:16 with 327'
Mile 3 - 8:41 with 312'
Mile 4 - 7:41 with 174'
Mile 5 - 8:02 with 293'

Monday, March 21, 2011

7.5 Tempo with 650'.

After my run yesterday I took my bike to some very gently rolling dirt roads and measured out a 7.5 mile route so I could work on some faster runs. Other than the 10k Tempo I did a few weeks ago and a little of the 1h/1e stuff I do my legs rarely see anything faster than a 9:00 pace and frequently see 12:00-18:00 paces daily.
I was hoping to go about 52:30(7:00) on this Tempo while concentrating on an even effort and finishing strong. Although 650' isn't much climbing in 7.5 miles there is not a flat spot on these dirt roads. It's always up or down which makes the even effort a challenge for me. The HR data I gathered did not necessarily show an even effort, but more of a controlled progression which I think may have been better training than what I had intended ;-) The first mile is all downhill and the final mile is all uphill. 141,147,148,151,152,154,157,161. I finished 53:30(7:08) and happy with feeling strong the last 1.5 miles.
There's a trail 12k this weekend and if my schedule allows for it I think I'll head over and get in another progression run.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week 11 - 15,650' (144,830')

71 - 900' - up/down on Shut-In.
72 - 4,200' - up/down on Shut-In with 5x440' at max. See this post.
73 - 900' - up/down on BRPW.
74 - 900' - up/down on BRPW.
75 - 3,900 - 1,900' up/down on Shut-In, then 2,000' up only on treadmill.
76 - 2,700 - up/down on Shut-In with a Double Tempo. See this post.
77 - 2,150 - up/down on final 2 mile section of Shut-In and the Mt. Pisgah Trail all done between 4,200'-5,700' of elevation. VERY EASY effort today.

This week I wanted to go a little easier on the easy days and a little bigger on the quality days. I'm gearing up for a good 10 week training block for Mt. Evans and I'm sure it will look more like this. So for the next 2-3 weeks I plan on going a little harder and a little easier.

Took a few shots of where I do most of my runs on the Shut-In trail the other day when it was all shut in.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Double Tempo

Back in Week 6 I ran a 27:00 Tempo on a section of Shut-In that is also part of my staple 1,400'/1,900' runs. During yesterday's 1,900' run I noticed that I had run this same section in 28:00 at an easy/moderate pace and sparked a little interest as to what kind of time a Tempo effort would get me 5 weeks later. So, I decided this morning that I'd make the most of this and do 2 Tempo runs up this section with a full recovery jog back down (~21:00). The first one I would run smart and hard - in that order. The second one would be done hard and smart - in that order - with the goal to beat my first one.

The first rep went about as well as I'm capable of running at Tempo. I ran very strong while staying controlled with an even effort throughout. This route starts with a 450' climb that takes about 7:00, then a rolling 150' up/down for about 9:00, then finishes with a 500' climb in about 8:00. I finished quite pleased in 23:57 with an average HR of 150.

The 21:00 recovery jog back down was more than enough so I was really itching to see what I had left for a second Tempo effort. I had made a mental note of a few landmarks to check splits for the second run and I had hit the first climb at 7:00, right on with the first run. I felt really strong during the 9:00 rolling section and even got ahead about 6-7 seconds here before I hit the final climb. I knew the final climb would be the real test and I could tell I was working harder right from the first minute, but was expecting this to be the case, so no worries. With about 2-3 minutes left I was really working hard and needed a very hard effort to keep the pace. I was pretty sure that I had gone under the 23:57 first run time, but when I stopped my watch I saw 23:58! (average HR 154).

No complaints, very happy to have gone about 24:00 twice on that section.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Altitude Training at 3,000'

There's no way to train at altitude living at 2,000' and training mostly between 2,000'-5,000'. But, since I know what it feels like to do the Zombie from A-Frame to Summit on Pikes Peak I know how to make myself feel like that Zombie even at 3,000'.
After 75 moderate minutes and 2,000' of vert I took Tima to the car and jogged the 1/2 mile to my favorite 440' hill to punish that thing like Oprah punishes her toilet on every last Friday in November (sorry, I'm writing under the influence of endorphines). The purpose of the 5 reps on this hill was to simulate what I will feel like in June when I'm suffering somewhere between 13,000'-14,000', nauseous and hardly able to move. The first 2 reps I went hard and felt strong. No holding back on these, I wanted to have nothing left for the 5th rep. About halfway through the 3rd rep I could feel myself morphing from Oprah to her toilet, this was getting ugly. By the end of the 4th rep I was Oprah's toilet. Mission accomplished! Now all I had to do was one more rep, I'd been averaging about 7:45 on the first 4 so I thought "what's another 8-9 minutes of feeling nauseous - I better get used to it." I started out hard, red-lining, then pulled back just enough to hold on for the next 6-7 minutes. As the nausea set in I just kept calling myself an idiot, asking "what the hell was I thinking?" The moment I hit the top of the climb I hit the ground. I laid on my back spinning and caughing for a minute or 2 before I got up and jogged back down. On the way back down I was grinning and wondering if what I just did was good training. But, I didn't care - I just loved that I knew I'd suffer and still went through with it. I may not have been anywhere near 13,000', but I sure felt like I was.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Week 10 - 15,330' (129,180')

64 - 1,250' up/down on Shut-In.
65 - 2,530' up only on treadmill.
66 - 1,400' up/down on Shut-In.
67 - 1,900' up/down Tempo - see this link.
68 - 2,150' up/down on Shut-In & BRPW with 15 x 30 seconds.
69 - 1,900' up/down on Shut-In.
70 - 4,200' up/down on Shut-In. *

I'm very happy with this week as I was able to get in the vertical that I wanted while putting in the quality as well.

* = A staple run of mine is pretty much an out/back on a section of the Shut-In Ridge Trail that has 1,200' of ascent and 200' of descent on the out portion for a total of 1,400' of vert for the out/back. Alot of times I'll do an extra up/down on the final 500'/.67 mile climb to get 1,900 for the day. Lately this staple has gotten pretty easy, even running some of the really steep stuff that I used to hike so I decided I'd go out/back x 3 today for a nice long run away from the treadmill. Enjoyed every minute of this, especially since I didn't have to carry anything - I can leave food/fluids at the trailhead and just get what I need at the turn-around.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10k Tempo with 950'.

Last weeks Tempo gave me alot of confidence and put out the signal that I can take it out a little harder than I have been. So today I did a nice warm up on a 10k loop with 950' of up/down. After getting a feel for the loop during the warmup I thought I'd shoot for a 7:00 pace for the Tempo. I felt strong on the Tempo and thought I did a much better job at keeping an even effort than I have in the past - average HR for the first 5k was 154, and 156 for the last 5k. I was a good minute slower than what I had hoped for, I went 44:31 (7:11), but would have to say this was solid for me, and true to where I'm at right now. I like having the 7:00 pace (sub 43:30) to shoot for in the next few weeks.
This Tempo today was 3 minutes longer than last weeks with an average HR of 9 bpm's higher, 146 vs 155. I might just have to go back to the trail I did the Tempo at last week and run it at today's effort so I can say I went sub :40:00 on it ;-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Week 9 - 13,800' (113,850')

57 - 2,000' up/down on Shut-In.
58 - 1,300' up/down on Shut-in/BRPW.
59 - 1,300' up/down on Mountains to Sea Trail. Tempo effort on the way back. *
60 - 2,000' up/down on Shut-in/BRPW.
61 - 1,350' up/down on BRPW with 1h/1e x 15. **
62 - 1,900' up/down on Shut-In.
63 - 3,950' up only Progression Run on treadmill. ***

A nice week for me with a little less vertical, but a solid 10 hours on my feet with some quality stuff thrown in. I'd like to see my weeks start to mold more into what I did this past week as I gear up for a mid-June Peak.

* = This is one of my favorite runs to do, especially when things go as well as they did on this day. A nice out/back using the out as a warm up and the back as a Tempo. 48:32/41:22 (128/146). There's not alot of climbing on this trail, but I still wouldn't consider it a fast trail. There's lots of tree roots and the trail twist and turns throughout the whole run, but it still works well for holding a solid effort. With all the turns and being close to trees I feel like I'm going really fast!

** = 1:00 hard/1:00 easy up a 6% grade road. Felt strong during this session. Took HR split data every minute and average HR for each minute was between 144 and 148. I'll take this as a sign that I was keeping a pretty even effort throughout the 30 minutes and I was recovering the same one each as well.

*** = Holy crap, I learned how a nice controlled progression run can turn quickly on me. This was a 12.5 mile run increasing the speed .1 mph every mile - 5.5 - 6.7 all at 6% grade. I would NOT call this a 12.5 mile progression run, it was more like a 6 mile warm up, and a 6.5 mile progression - 6.1-6.7. I pretty much got my ass handed to me the last 2.5 miles. Mile 11 things started getting a little tough, you could say I was wondering around looking for the right place. Mile 12 I picked up the shovel and started digging. Then the last .5 mile I just buried myself! Even with Janis in the room shouting at me to Try Just a Little Bit Harder, I couldn't keep it up.

I'd been sort of wanting/waiting for this to happen. I felt, in previous weeks, I had been challenging myself only to realise I could have done more on Friday's runs. I felt no need to rush anything, but knew a day like today would come sooner or later - so I'm happy it happened today and I'll be recovering with My Wheaties so I'm ready again tomorrow.

My Wheaties ;-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turnover benefits from downhill running?

Headed to a closed portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning for a little 1:00 hard / 1:00 easy for 30 minutes up a 5%-6% grade. My 1h/1e is actually 200 strides hard and 1 minute very easy for 30 minutes. I manage to do the 15 reps of 200 strides in :59-:61. I prefer this so that I'm sure to get in the turnover that I need in this type of work. I try for the 200 no matter what grade I'm doing the workout on. A favorite thing of mine is when a session like this is finished I feel like I can just float back down the hill at a very moderate effort, it's a great, relaxing cooldown. Today though I noticed that my turnover on the way down was very consistant at about 188 strides per minute. Although my HR was down in the 120's I realised that I was probably benefitting from the more rapid turnover on an actual cooldown. I'm not sure, but I think even though there's not a typical 188 stride turnover EFFORT going on, there must be a benefit to the muscle memory???? So I spent 15 minutes at a rate of 200 strides per minute, then another 22 minutes at about 188 on the way down. A perfect morning for the arm sleeves I won a few weeks ago, loads of sun, no wind and temps in the 40's.