Monday, February 28, 2011

February 21 - February 27

Weekly Totals: Distance: 37.19 mi. (44.22 mi.) Time: 05:19:34 Vertical: 2,512 ft.
*(Includes last Sunday's Run)

Monday ~ Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Yesterday's poor showing on the run left me thoughts of, "maybe I didn't take enough rest after the Sweetwater Race," and, "Why am I not recovering?" I'm just, today, at a point of exhaustion and need to find a way to reset. Training isn't always about the miles, because we the training gets to that point the risk of over-training sky rockets. An easy climb night at the gym, hopefully I can get my legs back under me this week.

Tuesday ~ Collins Hill Park/Collins Hill Rd.
Distance: 10.01 mi.
Time: 01:20:52
Vertical: 860 ft.

I'm feeling so much better today, guess the light training day, yesterday and probably Sunday's scrubbed long run, really helped. Decided to rock the headlamp, again, tonight on the trail. I'm getting much more comfortable with judging the terrain, of course, I do run at Collins Hill Park a lot in the daytime, but everything looks different at night. Did an easy 4 miles on the trail in the New Balance Minimus, and airing on the side of caution (although, with the beautiful maintenance by the Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation department the mulch is soft enough I think I could have kept the last 6 miles of the run there) I slide on a test pair of NIKE LunarElites 2 and hit the road, to gather some feedback and gets some need leg cadence. So far, the NIKE's are definitely for someone that does not want to feel the road beneath. The foam disperses shock more than any shoes that I've run in. This is neither bad, nor good, just a personal preference for what you like to feel on the run. For me, I like a much firmer and more responsive shoe, but I told NIKE I'd log at least 100 miles in them and give 'em feedback. 94 to go.

Wednesday ~ Alexander Park; Tuesday Night Run Course; Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 8 mi. (Total)
Time: 01:07:29 (Total)
Vertical: 258 ft.

AM: Took in a much needed, flat, soft course, in the morning. I have a race this weekend, and instead of following the usual training pattern I've substituted the hard effort today for a recovery run, so I don't burn out quite as much as I did after the last half. Hindsight, I think the long run the day after the last half is what did it in for me. The run felt great, though. No shirt, light wind, and lots of sunshine.

PM: Ran with Andy, tonight. I was hesitant to hit the road, but having someone to run with made it not much of decision. The pace was easy, and just like in the morning, I ran negative splits and my legs felt great.

PM 2: Great day of climbing. I can always tell I'm recovering when my cross-training efforts aren't as tiring. I'm starting to look forward to the 'race' Saturday.

Thursday ~ n/a
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

I know I should run, but I just couldn't get up this morning and out the door and I don't want to run on the road at night. This week, I've really been trying to listen a little more to my body and anytime you mentally are struggling for almost two weeks now to get up and run it probably means you need some rest. Rest day's are just as important as run day's, so no use and fighting it.

Friday ~ n/a
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

With tomorrow a 20 mile run with a 13.1 mile tempo (race) in the middle, I'm feeling better but I decided to take cautions side, once again. Rest day #2, and I'm getting antsy to run.

Saturday ~ Thrill In The Hills Half Marathon
Distance: 19.50 mi. (Total)
Time: 02:36:38
Vertical: 1,394 ft.

Fully recovered, a planned 20 miler, and near perfect weather. I woke up this morning with a bit of hesitation, and a stomach ache. In the end, the hesitation was solved with a great tempo run (01:35:14) nestled between about 7 miles of easy running, and the stomach ache kept nagging. I'll post a race recap later this week, or maybe today.

Monthly Totals:
Distance: 167.68 mi. Time: 24:46:43 Vertical: 18,935 ft.

This month started out absolutely fabulous. My weekly miles peaked at 70+ miles, something I haven't done in forever. And the very same week I placed 2nd overall in the Sweetwater Sweetheart Half Marathon (Trail). Courtesy of that performance, I let my training take over my knowledge and it wound up leaving me humbled by the end of the month. My totals should have been about 40 miles more, and had I taken at least two rest days after the half, I believe they would have, but I didn't. In the end, I caught the mistake and only gave up 40 miles of running (less than a week of running), so I can't complain about the expericence because I learned a little more where my limits are, as of now, in my training. March should bring up some great times, miles, and vertical. Upcoming race: Publix Georgia Marathon, however, it'll be a training run just like the last two races have been, but I hope to produce a decent time. Making these first couple of race, "B" and "C" races will ensure a proper preparation for the Sweetwater 50k, which will be the first actual race of the season. That means the culmination of 28 weeks of training, with a nice peak and a hard as hell effort in April should warrant a great time. But, I've got 7 weeks to maintain and squeeze out as much fitness gain as possible. Usually, and rightfully, this will mean I have to be patient and not over-do the efforts, especially in the upcoming marathon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 14 - February 20

Weekly Totals: Distance: 27.43 mi.(41.34 mi.) Time: 005:02:29 Vertical: 5,621 ft.
*(Includes the long run Sunday)

Monday ~ N/A
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Was I even awake, today? I'm definitely exhausted from this weekend. I don't think running Sunday, or at least as much as I did, was a good plan. Too much will end in overtraining and an injury.

Tuesday ~  Mount Yonah
Distance:  6.56 mi.
Time:  01:22:38
Vertical: 2,349 ft.

So much for staying conservative on the 'rest week.' Yonah is the perfect place for easy laps with a long climb. Ran past some US Army Rangers. I was glad to be in just a shirt and running shorts, because the 60+ lbs. on their backs didn't look fun. Good vertical, today. I'm a bit hesitant to train tough this week, vertically speaking.

Wednesday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 6.48 mi.
Time: 01:01:30
Vertical: 699 ft.

1k Repeats on the trail...all uphill repeats...and at night. I managed to finally get a headlamp, and against the recommendation of trying it out on an easy run, I went straight for the kill. The times were slower and adjusting to the headlamp is definitely going to take some time. Some issues: Adjust the light to far ahead of you and you can see what you're about to run over. Too close to your feet and you can't see where the trail meanders through the trees, nor can you see when there's a fallen tree on the ground (that was almost disastrous). I didn't have a lot of confidence in the footing, even though I've run, literally, thousands of miles here, so I took my time and tried to get a little faster each repeat. Courtesy exhaustion the negative splits didn't happen. Here are the paces for each split: 1) 8:06, 2) 8:10, 3) 8:12, 4) I said courtesy the exhaustion...well you get the point.

Thursday ~ Buford Dam, Laurel Ridge Trail
Distance: 7.01 mi.
Time: 01:08:58
Vertical: 1,342 ft.

With last nights run so...slow...maybe I'm being too harsh, relaxed-ish...anyway, I decided to run 6 - 8 miles on hills, but I wanted to make sure I got some good vertical. Instead of running the usual 3.3 mi. loop I settled in for laps up and down the dam side hill, which felt very similar to the powerline section of the Sweetwater Half, but not as steep. I'll make a note of this, because with only 8 weeks left until the 50k I need to make sure I'm running as close to course specifics as possible. On a side note, I'm really feeling tired and I may not stick to schedule for the rest of the week.
I do tend to take pride that my "Recovery Run" profiles are looking very undulated. Undulation, however, could be the reason I'm so tired and don't feel like I'm recovering thoroughly this week.

Friday: ~ N/A
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Too tired. I need to recover this week to avoid overtraining.

Distance: 1.3 mi.
Time: 0:15:00ish
Vertical: 80 ft.
Just an easy jaunt with a group of new trail runners. A run/walk and a lot of talk. Conveniently, I've been fortunate enough to snag a pre-release New Balance Minimus, and I've got to admit, I like it. But with a lack of a rock plate in the forefoot I'm hesitant to use it for the 50k. Course terrain should always dictate shoe choice, that being said, Collins Hill Park is perfect to test a pair of these out: 
Distance: 7.03 mi.
Time: 01:04:17
Vertical: 1,051 ft.

I planned for a total of 10 miles, today. 2 mile Warm-up, a 10k Time-Trial, and a 2 mile Cool-Down. What did I do today, 7 miles and nothing more. I'm just exhausted. I have 8 weeks left, but I need to recover. Of course, 7 miles at Kennesaw Mountain is nothing to fret over. I went up and over from the Visitor center and then around the mountain and back to the car. So, I have to admit that the 'warm-up miles' were a bit of a shock to the system.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweetwater Sweetheart Half-Marathon Race Review

Going into the Sweetwater Sweetheart ½ Marathon (SS, from now on) I had some doubt, some nerves, an itch to stretch my legs and race. And the course is on the same course as the Sweetwater 50k which I’ll be racing at the end of April. My January mileage was right on target, and my stubbornness to run in the nasty weather and on any terrain has left me feeling more and more confident each week. But one thing to remember about first of the year races: there’s no peak, they need to be considered a training day, and PR’s a likely out of the question.

With 14 consistent weeks of training behind my legs, and on about 50 miles of running since Sunday, I knew that the fatigue would show itself on the hills, but it would give me a good peak into how much I’ve improved and what I can expect during the 50k (terrain). Overall, I came into the race eyeing the course record of 1:48, and with the goal of learning to race on trails, again. Course record or not, the terrain wasn’t going to allow a ½ marathon PR, at least not for me.

Off to the race.

Having only a half-marathon in front of me, that shouldn’t take over 2:30:00 to finish nutrition (gels, water, electrolytes, etc.) isn’t a concern. In fact, there’s no true need for it as long as I’ve properly eaten the night before and the morning of. What this theory transpires into, A healthy veggie burrito, packed with black beans, rice, lettuce, and grilled peppers on a whole grain tortilla with at least two glasses of water, and a serving (2 scoops) of Endurox for dinner, a morning wake-up of 4:30 AM, and a breakfast made up of, three packets of oatmeal, 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, a tablespoon of honey, 12+ oz of black coffee, and 12 oz of water.

After arriving about an hour and a half early (I hate being crunched for time on race day) I picked up my packet, shirt, and race number. Got back into the roomy Subaru Outback and slid into my sleeping back for a thirty minute nap. Of course, after about 15 minutes I was too restless and ready to race for sleep so I just set in the car and did some pre-run visualization. One thing I’ve always found to be sufficiently helpful is too fully engulf my thoughts into the upcoming race. For about 15 minutes I sat motionless in my car, with my my eyes closed, and mentally went through the repetitive motions of running, one foot in front of the other. I placed myself on flat ground, steep ground, and through winding single-track trail. I had run at Sweetwater Creek State Park in December, so I had an idea of what to expect.

Visualization complete, the pre-race ritual of multiple bathroom breaks began. Luckily, the repeat trips didn’t add up, too much. I’ve worked, over the years, on calming myself after I pin my number so as to not let the bathroom become my only warm-up and sometimes I’m successful, and others times, well, enough said. A couple of brief chats with some other runners and I toed the starting line at 8:00 AM, in what would turn out to be a great day of trail racing.

The temperature was a little cooler than forecasted (27° F) and the wind was going to be annoying (11 mph, steady) and gear choice is crucial in races and the last thing I want to be doing is shedding clothes after 4 miles. Of course, with the wind being so high I also don’t want to turn into a headwind, catching the wind-chilled temp of (17° F), in short sleeves and force my body to work overtime while trying to heat me up while I’m racing. End of the race hindsight, perfect choices. Here’s how the gear turned out (from head to toe):
By the miles.

Miles 1 – 4 (Mile splits: 0:06:51; 0:06:45; 0:07:35; 0:07:30): I like to call these the ‘too ambitious runner’ miles. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a race, and we’ve all done it, but within the first miles of the race the times are fast regardless of the terrain, and as soon as inexperienced runners redline they tend to stop or slow to an abrupt stride altering pace. In single-track courses it’s especially important for anyone, including myself, looking to compete for a top spot at the finish to make sure to not get stuck behind the pack of ‘too ambitious runners’ because, unlike road races, there’s not a lot of room to pass. So, I headed out a little faster and made sure to only let about 10 people in front of me during the ¼ mile of road that leads to the trail. Right before Mile was a small uphill and I snuck pass of few runners and put myself in 5th place.

Miles 5 – 6 (Mile splits: 0:09:54; 0:09:12): One of the selling points of this race is an area labeled, ‘power lines’ and it’s literally under the power lines. Original title, I suppose. The elevation gain in these two miles alone is a quick jump from 747 ft. (Above Sea Level, ASL) to 1,134 ft. (ASL). The terrain is very undulating, but although canted significantly up. I managed to put some space in-between myself and 2 of the top 5 runners moving conveniently into 3rd place and I closed the gap on the 2nd place runner. About ½ mile from the top of the climb I caught up with 2nd place runner and courtesy the 50 miles on my legs from the week’s training I could tell I was not at the top of my game so catching number one was going to be tough. The 2nd place guy asked me what kind of time I was shooting for and I just politely replied, “This is just a fast training run for me, so I didn’t really set out a goal.” I asked him and he said, “1:30:00 or under.” I smirked in my head, looked down at my watch, and put some space in between us.

Miles 7 – 10 (Mile splits: 0:07:01; 0:07:46; 0:08:30; 0:07:27): The climb left me fatigued, but courtesy a u-turn I caught site of the guy in first and was about 3 minutes behind. But within my mind is a caution sign that seems to show on a steep downhill and with every uphill is a downhill, and here they were. I have to think I lost about a minute on the downhill to the lead guy and even the third place runner was catching up. As soon as the descent was over and I was headed back to the start line, now the finish line, I dug in deep and tried to make up as much ground as possible and leave any doubt about at least a 2nd place finish by the river.

Miles 11 – 13 & 13.5 (Mile splits: 0:06:25; 0:07:21; 0:06:59; 0:03:46)
By this point I had one focus: make it hurt. Mile 12 was technical and Mile 13 to the finish I was beat and had sufficiently separated myself from the field and just held on by focusing on form.

Overall, I’m impressed with my current fitness, took home 2nd place overall (not bad for the first race of the season) and sweet coffee mug, and my ability to dig deep and back into a race mindset. Seeing the course for the 50k has eased some unknown and I’ll definitely be reintroducing hill repeats back into the training because I have to run this twice plus 2 river crossings and an extra 5 miles.

Elevation Profile:

February 7 - February 13

Weekly Totals: Distance: 55.02 mi. (71.02 mi.) Time: 08:01:13 Vertical: 5,708 ft.
*(includes the long run last Sunday)

Monday ~ Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:30:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

A tired day of climbing, and my left calf is tender. Some icing should help.

Tuesday ~ Mount Yonah
Distance: 9.00 mi.
Time: 01:44:50
Vertical: 2,872 ft.

What started out as a planned trip turned into a great hill repeat run at base pace. I started out with an idea of what I was getting into, but it became pretty clear after the first repeat there were a couple of sections I had forgotten about. Good run and a nice day of vertical. I'll definitely be running here more often.

Wednesday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 8.58 mi.
Time: 01:12:18
Vertical: 656 ft.

A round of 1k repeats at the park and all of the mulch is out. This is good because it's super soft and bad because it's super soft (that's not a typo). I felt great and the repeats were really consistent. This week is going to be long, but I really feel good. Here's the paces of the repeats: 1) 7:46; 2) 7:29; 3) 7:26; 4) 7:46; 5) 7:29 6) 6:42

Thursday ~ US 29
Distance: 10.00 mi.
Time: 01:27:33
Vertical: 388 ft.

I hate the damn road. I really need to get up early and get on the trails. Or at least get a headlamp (common theme). I laced up and hit the road/shoulder for a nice and easy 10 mile out-n-back and I felt relaxed, but the car fumes definitely got to me. Overall, this was just a good consistently paced run and I focused on arm movement. Each run I find it helpful to set out a different aspect of form and concentrate on the selected aspect 100% of the time.

Distance: 0.00
Time: 0:00:0
Vertical: 0 ft.

I iced my calf and my right foot all day and because I didn't make it to a trail I decided the best option is for me to skip a scheduled 10 mile recovery run on the road and prepare for tomorrows race/tempo run.

Saturday ~ Sweetwater Sweetheart Half-Marathon
Distance: 13.53
Time: 1:42:XX
Vertical: 1,035 ft.

Just a well put on race, check out the recap above. Or click here.

Sunday ~ Lynn and Kevin's Farm
Distance: 13.90 mi.
Time: 1:52:82
Vertical: 767 ft.

A great run with some great friends. I didn't eat enough pre-run and definitely felt it at about 9 miles. Not to mention yesterday's race took a little more out of me than planned and combined with the pounding of the asphalt just wasn't the best run of the week. However, all that being said, having the run finish with a cook-out, perfect weather (got plenty of Vitamin D), beer, and bonfire. The low ranking run didn't seem to matter too much.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

January 31 - February 06

Weekly Totals:Distance: 49.34 mi. Time: 7:02:59 Vertical: 3,613 ft.

Monday: Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:30:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Just an easy day of rock climbing. Nothing intense. Yesterday's 16 miles on the Appalachian Trial left me tired, but surprisingly not sore. Soreness, for me, doesn't usually set in until about two days after a hard workout.

Tuesday: ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 9.00 mi.
Time: 01:14:09
Vertical: 889 ft.

My legs feel like they are finally starting to return. Last week I seemed to struggle with some lingering leg fatigue and a lack of leg turn-over ability, but the run today just felt different. The wood chips that are being set out along the trail are almost complete, so hopefully I'll won't have to run this European style cross-country course much longer.

Wednesday: ~ Peachtree Ridge High School TrackAdrenaline Climbing
Distance: 5.38 mi.
Time: 0:56:02
Vertical: 0 ft.

I know I said that I wanted to stick to the trails from here on out, but there was a special opportunity for me to visit with some friends on the track. I had planned to run 5 X 1k repeats, but part of showing up to a group run is running with a group and, in this case, that meant scratching my workout and running something different. Kermit Bowen, a well-seasoned a very smart runner, leads the Wednesday night group a set out 8 X 400m with 200m Rest (walk). Here are the paces for my 400m splits: (1) 5:41 min/mi; (2) 5:29 min/mi; (3) 5:27 min/mi; (4) 5:26 min/mi; (5) 5:11 min/mi; (6) 5:15 min/mi; (7) 5:02 min/mi; (8) 4:48 min/mi. Ok, the last split was way too fast, but I just felt like stretching out the legs.

PM: Rock climbing post run.

Thursday: ~ Fleet Feet Sports, Tuesday Night Run Course
Distance: 10.00 mi.
Time: 01:20:00
Vertical:  261 ft.

AM Run: 5 miles during a lunch break. Weather wasn't too bad, but it stinks I'm back out on the asphalt. I've got to start getting up earlier. My body feels absolutely recovered, but calves are slightly tight from the 400m repeats last night.

PM Run: 5 miles after work. Weather is cold, more so, windy. Oddly, my legs are a lot more tired than I expected. I slogged through the miles, but I just feel like I'm on a treadmill when I'm forced on the roads. I've got to get a headlamp to get on the trails at night.

Friday: ~ Buford Dam, Laurel Ridge Trail
Distance: 6.96 mi.
Time: 01:04:22
Vertical: 856 ft.

Today was absolutely the worst weather to run in. I tried and tried to convince myself to not run my tempo run, but by mid-afternoon I was out on the trail. Temp: 36 F, Weather: Pouring Rain. Conclusion: an awful trail and a slow pace. The run started with me trying to avoid a 5 ft long puddle and I did, unfortunately I ran straight into a thorn bush. So now, a quarter mile into a 7.5 mi. run I soaking wet and my legs are cut up and bleeding. I knew I should have stayed inside. The tempo portion of the run equaled about 9 min/mi pace and sketchy downhills. I cut the run short .5 mi. because I was just too cold and not properly dressed.

Saturday: ~

I worked all day and didn't manage to get in a run. Not a big deal on the recovery day, but it'll cut my goal mileage this week from 60 to 50. It's amazing how much one day drops mileage. Oh well, one thing I need to avoid is getting caught up in numbers

Sunday: ~ Stone Mountain Park

Distance: 18.00 mi.
Time: 0:2:28:26
Vertical: 1,607 ft.

Robert, Brady, and I took the long run this week to the streets and around a giant piece of granite. Overall the run felt great and we finished it off with an ascent to the top after 15 miles. I'm please with the pacing, but could definitely tell the asphalt was wore out my legs muscularly more than I'd like. The course was undulating, but the profile cracks me up: Flat, flat, flat, boom. I did run a faster ascent than descent, so I'll take that as a good thing.