Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 20-26

Monday: 3 miles of walking to and from home, MARTA, and work. Total: 3 miles (walking)

Tuesday: Approach trail to Appalachian Trail with Jason Spruill. The run goes from the visitor’s center at the base of Amicalola Falls (1800’) to the top of Spring Mountain (3700’) and back for a total of 17 miles. Having never been up there, I was expecting it to take us about 2 hours to get there and a best case scenario of 3 ½ hours round-trip. The hardest part of the run is the very beginning. With no chance to warm-up, you are forced to slog up steep switchbacks and then trudge up a steep gravel road. The trail is never overly technical, and after the initial climb it becomes more runnable. While there is plenty of climbing, it is never relentless (except for the beginning). I let Jason lead us out there and he set a brisk pace. I had to be on my A-game to keep up with his power hiking, and he attacked the running portions as well. With a few miles to go I realized that we were making great time, so I took the lead and powered up the final climbs. I got to the top of Springer in 1:37:34, with Jason not too far behind. We took a few pictures and at some food, but it was windy at the top, so we didn’t dally too long. Going back was obviously easier, but there were more uphills going back than we had remembered downhills going out. I usually hit a low point between 2 and 3 hours, but I felt great the entire run. With a few miles to go, I realized I had a shot at finishing in under 3 hours, so I hammered the long downhill and finished in 2:58:42. On the drive home, we drove through a Chick-Fil-A that was selling 10 lb. bags of ice for $0.99, so I bought a bag for the ice bath that night. Total: 17

Wednesday: 4 miles of walking to and from home, MARTA, and work. Total: 4 (walking)

Thursday: Still sore from Tuesday’s run, I did an easy 6 miles in 51:10 (8:32 avg.) around Piedmont Park before work. Icebath after work. Total: 6

Friday: Since I’ve got a 5K coming up soon, I wanted to do a workout that would give me a sense of 5K pace and a reminder of 5K pain. I ran to the closest track (Clark Atlanta University) and did 6 x 800 with a 200 jog: 2:50, 2:49, 2:48, 2:48, 2:48, 2:41. Average 800 was 2:47 and average 200 was 1:13. The goal was to run 2:50 so I exceeded that slightly. This gives me confidence to run between 17 and 17:30. By the end of the year, I hope to be in the low 16’s. The total run was 7.5 miles in 54 min. (7:12 avg.). Total: 7.5

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 9.5 miles in 1:16:08 (8:01 avg.) at Atlanta Memorial Park. Total: 9.5

Weekly Totals: 40 miles running (7 miles walking) in 6 hours (9:00 avg.).

My IT band has been bothering me since the run on Tuesday. I need to get some massive hill training in preparation for the White River 50 Miler, but it seems like my body breaks down whenever I do runs with significant elevation changes. I really need to be more consistent with my core exercises. The 40 miles this week was intentional, as I am getting in some recovery before my two races this weekend: a 5K on Saturday and a 34 miler on Sunday. Time goals for the two races: run under 17:30 (and as close to 17 as possible) for the 5K; run under 5 hours with a controlled effort for the 34 miler.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 13-19

Monday: 3 miles of walking to and from home, MARTA, and work. Total: 3 (walking)

Tuesday: 12 miles in 1:29 (7:24 avg.) at Atlanta Memorial Park. 2 lap warm up (1 lap = 1.8+ miles), 3 x mile with 60 sec jog (6:17, 6:15, 6:17), 2+ lap warm down. Warm up and warm down were at 7:40ish per mile, so the whole work out was of good quality. Total: 12

Wednesday: 4 miles of walking to and from home, MARTA, and work. Total: 4 (walking)

Thursday: 14.7 miles in 2:15 (9:14 avg.) at Cochran Shoals/Sope Creek with Jason. Felt weak and hungry in beginning, pace gradually increased as I felt better, lots of ups and downs, final mile on the flats in 7:25. Total: 15

Friday: Rest and ice bath

Saturday: Granite Grinder ½ Marathon on trails at Conyers International Horse Park in 1:34:38. Garmin had 13.53 and I did go off course for 30 sec to a min. Garmin also had 7:00 avg. Don’t have time on warm-up or warm-down. I’m guessing 2:15 total time (7:30 avg.). Total: 18

Sunday: 5 miles in 42:00 (8:24 avg.). Total: 5

Weekly Totals: 50 miles running, 6:41:00, 8:01 avg. pace; 7 miles walking

At 152 miles (159 if I include the 7 miles of walking), this is my highest 3 week total ever. I think my body is adapting, as my leg issues are (I think and hope) gradually subsiding. I am stretching and foam rolling more consistently, and the ice baths also help. I will be doing the AT-approach trail with Jason on Tuesday and take Friday-Thursday as a recovery week. After the recovery week I hope to be able to up my mileage to 60ish on 5 days a week running.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 6-12

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: It was cold and windy and my Tuesday running partner (Jason Spruill) has daddy duties due to spring break, so I wimped out and headed to LA Fitness. I decided to try to climb 4000 feet in an hour on the treadmill. According to Dan Rose’s blog, 4.3 miles on a treadmill at an incline of 15 would get one 4000 feet. Apparently a 15 on the treadmills at LA Fitness is not as steep as Dan Rose’s treadmill (or calculates feet climbed differently, because I did 2.26 miles in 30:22 (between 4.4 and 4.5 mph avg.), and it told me I climbed 1780 feet. I then took a water break, jogged 0.5 miles, then did 1.59 miles in 22:11 (4.3 avg) on 15 and it said I climbed 1240 feet. I finished up with a little less than 4 miles going 6 mph (10 min. miles) for a total of 8 miles. I’ll admit I was cheating on the climbs and holding onto the top of the treadmill rather than pumping my arms. This workout really aggravated the tendonitis behind my knee. Note to self: use body glide or tape nipples before running on treadmill. Total: 8

Wednesday: 2 mile warm-up (17:20), then 5 miles (41:11) with Oakhurst Running Club. Ran in control and took it easy except on the uphills. We placed 2nd at trivia because we did not know the final question. Total: 7

Thursday: 15 miles at Atlanta Memorial Park in 2:10:12 (8:41 avg.). I did 8+ 1.8 mile loops—boring, but the slow pace and flat, forgiving surface (for the most part) kept my aches and pains from getting any worse. Total: 15

Friday: Rest and ice bath.

Saturday: Woke up with a really sore right shoulder/neck (from holding on to the treadmill on Tues.?), so decided not to run until PM. Kristi picked me up at work and we decided to go out and eat, so I got a second rest day, albeit an unplanned one.

Sunday: I got sucked into the Masters and didn’t leave the house until after 5pm (I recorded the final 2+ hours and watched it upon returning home). I decided to drive to Boundary Waters Park in Douglasville and check out their trails. I had planned to do 20-22, but since I was starting so late, the odds of getting that many miles in before dark wasn’t likely. The park closed at dusk and some regulars said that the rangers herded people out before dark, so I decided to run pretty hard. I got in around 17 in around 2:10. My Garmin crapped out again just before the 2 hour mark, and I think it was being a little stingy. I was definitely doing sub-8 minute miles, as the trails were pretty flat (except for one steep up-and-down section that I did just once) and I was pushing the pace. Ice bath upon returning home. Total: 17

Weekly total: 47 miles, 6:52:12, 8:46 min/mile avg.

Wanted to get to 60 this week, but Saturday and Sunday ended that quest. That treadmill workout really compromised the rest of the week because of how bad my knee and IT bands felt. I’m still really pleased with how my training and fitness are progressing. I have a real shot at getting to 200 miles for the month of April, which would be a first for me, my previous high being 183 in February 2007.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

March 30 - April 5

Monday: 1 mile warmup, 45 minute weight workout, ran home from Phidippides- 7 miles in 51:11 (7:19 avg.), last 3 miles in 19:37 (6:33 avg.), 1 mile warmdown. Total: 9

Tuesday: 12 miles at Sweetwater Creek State Park with Jason. 2 loops of Blue-White interspersed with 2 miles on the yellow (avoiding the uphill). Total: 12

Thursday: 4 miles easy + 20 minute weight workout. Total: 4

Saturday: Crowder's Mountain/Ridgeline "60K": 16+ in 2:17:10, 3 more in 25:30, 1 more in afternoon. Total: 20+

Sunday: Atlanta Memorial Park: 5 loops + 3 detours to water fountain; 9.6 in 1:23:12 (8:40 avg). Total: 9.6

Weekly total: 55 miles, 7:43:00, 8:25 min/mile avg.

This is my biggest week since I was home for Christmas (not counting week of 50 mile race). I'm still having some tendonitis issues behind my right knee, but I think it is slowly getting better. I just need to continue to do the little things (stretching, icing, strength training, IB relief) and not run too hard.

Crowder's Mountain 30K (or was it Ridgeline 26K?)

Since I had been planning on running 17-20 miles this past weekend, I figured that I would treat myself and take a road trip to North Carolina to run the Crowder’s Mountain 30K. I met up with Christian Griffith and Kim Fuller and we headed to NC Friday afternoon. I had seen Christian at a bunch of different races and followed his blog, but I had never spent much time with him (and had never met Kim). It’s always good to hear about other people’s perspectives on the sport and to find out what their goals are. The hotel we stayed at was nice, but we had a heck of a time finding Christian a good steak for dinner. Just as we were about to give up, we found an Outback Steakhouse. There’s a good story about our driving around greater Gastonia, but Christian can tell it better than I can (just ask him some time). (Pictured [from left]: Perry Sebastian, Vikena Gavalas Yutz, Matt Silva, Chrstian Griffith, Kim Fuller, Kim Pike[?])

None of us had any idea what to expect from the race, as there was no course description, map, profile, or anything of that nature on the website. All I knew was that some time during the race we would cross from one Carolina to the other. Although I was disappointed that only 16 people entered the two races total, it was nice to be able to register on race day and not have to sit by the computer to try to register for an ultra 7 months in advance. Upon registration I received race #290 from the Boiling Springs YMCA 5K Turkey Trot; each runner had a random race number from a different race! I also received a gray T-Shirt that was plain except for the left breast, which had “Ridgeline 30K/60K” and four crisscrossing lines (representing the ridgeline, no doubt). I appreciate a race tee that is free from ubiquitous sponsor’s logos, which clutter up a shirt and are ineffective in promoting one’s product/business.

I planned on running the race with a controlled effort but not racing it all out. I hoped to average around 9 minute-miles for the 18 or so miles I thought I would travel. Of the 16 of us, just 5 or so planned to do “only” 30K, so I was pretty sure I would finish in the top 5. The course was point-to-point for the 30Kers and an out and back for the 60Kers. The race director and the guy running the aid station at the finish/turnaround gave us 30Kers a ride back to the start. The race started off up a gravel road, and although I started off conservatively, not knowing how far up we would be going, I was soon all by myself out front. The road kept going up for about 1.5 miles, and near the top it got steep, so I started walking. As soon as I began to walk I saw red tape indicating that we were leaving gravel for some single-track. The first ¼ mile or so on the single-track consisted of hopping for rock to rock. I couldn’t get into any kind of a rhythm and couldn’t even really run so much as scramble, and was dreading having to do this for another 16 miles, but a footpath soon emerged. After about 2.5 miles, we crossed our first road; we would cross four and could expect aid at each one. I was running so fast (9:30/mile!) I got to the road crossing just as the volunteers were driving up. I had a bottle with me and was only doing 30K so I didn’t need much aid, certainly not this early on. At this point the course was rolling, with downhills generally before the road crossings and uphills after crossing the road.

Just after my Garmin 205 gave told me I was at 4 miles (38:42), I encountered the second serious uphill (the first being the gravel road), the climb to Crowder’s Mountain. I walked as fast as I could but it was slowgoing and my calves and quads were burning. After .6 miles we turned left at an intersection and flattened out as we were going away from the peak of Crowder’s Mountain. We had some nice flat and downhills for a few miles, and I was able to start running 8 minute miles pretty comfortably. After either the second or third road crossing (somewhere in mile 7), I encountered what would turn out to be the final serious climb (I was counting on at least one more). It was not too steep and very runnable, and I alternated running and walking. Had I known that this was the last real climb, I might have run the whole thing. From here to the end the course was very runnable, with some ups but more downs and flats. I was feeling great and enjoyed seeing my average pace continue to drop. Just before the two-hour mark (just short of 13 miles), my Garmin lost reception and I lost focus for a little bit, but soon thereafter, I turned and began following blue blazes (we began following red). I remembered the course director saying that when we hit the blue blazes we were 2 miles for the end, but based on what my Garmin had been telling be, I thought I had about 5 more to go. The course dropped until it met up with a river, and then turned right and followed the river upstream and consequently uphill. I focused on concentrating and maintaining a controlled effort but walked some of the uphills, since I was still unsure of how far I had to go. Soon thereafter, I arrived at what turned out to be the final aid station. I asked if I was done and they said that I was, so I stopped my watch, which read 2:17:10. Based on talking to other runners and seeing other Garmins that didn’t lose coverage, I would guess that the course is somewhere between 16 and 16.5 miles long. Let’s call it 16.15, which is 26K, making my average pace just under 8:30/mile.

I wanted to get in between 18 and 20, and since I thought I had only run 15 miles, I ran the last 1.5 miles out and back to get it another 3 miles. Later in the day I ran 1 more mile to make it 20 for the day. The race was a real confidence booster. I know that my fitness is improving, as I am getting slightly faster week by week. Now I need to continue to increase the volume so that I can keep this pace for 50 miles. I also need to start running some serious hills. I plan to head to the AT several times in the next few months and run Christian’s Meat Grinder, as well as getting on the treadmill and trying out Dan Rose’s Treadmil Death March.