Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 18 - May 28

Weekly Totals: Distance: 44.14 mi. Time: 05:47:08 Vertical: 6,747 ft.
Run Totals: Distance: 23.59 mi. Time: 04:18:12 Vertical: 6,292 ft.
Ride Totals: Distance: 20.55 mi. Time: 1:28:56 Vertical: 455 ft.

Okay, so this week's update includes a little longer time period than the normal seven days. Technically speaking, three extra days; however, don't get too excited because only one of those extra days includes a run.

Atlanta to San Diego to Seattle
If you haven't been keeping up with the blog, or you just recently stumbled up the blog, you may not have been privy in knowing that I recently packed up my Subaru Outback and moved from Lawrenceville, Georgia (40 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia) to Renton, Washington ( 15 miles east of Seattle, Washington). We took a bit of a detour and drove to San Diego to welcome home my little brother (Marine Corps) after his tour in Afghanistan. The drive ended somewhere right under 5000 miles -gas prices in California: awful-

I've been asked several times, "Why would you move to Seattle?" and usually before I can answer a series of, "Did/do you know..." statements tend to follow. 'Do you know how much it rains there?','Do you know how cold it is?'', and my favorite, 'Do you know how bad the Seattle Mariners are?' For starters, it rains 11 inches more a year in Lawrenceville than Seattle, and yes, the days of sunshine are less, but if it was that bad of a place the city wouldn't have a population of 608,660 people. It's definitely cooler in Seattle, about 7 degrees Fahrenheit; in fact, I don't even have an air-conditioner in my apartment. The advantage: having a more temperate environment means less acclimatizations through-out the year to 100 F temps and 25 F temps. Okay, the Mariners, right now, are under .500, but lets be honest about the Atlanta Braves: They can never close the deal, and if you don't win the World Series it doesn't matter how many times you made it to the playoffs because runner-up (2nd place) is the same as last place. So, why did I move to Seattle? Simply put, 'Why not?' Honestly, though and for starters, I'll let my future (starting this week) training logs, weekly updates, and pictures speak boisterously and answer truthfully with a completely bias opine position why I moved to the "Sunny Pacific Northwest."
Sunrise against Mount Rainier May 17, 2011

Lets talk about running, now.

One of the biggest changes to my training will be that I live in, well just outside of, a city designed for commuting (bicycle-type). Not only will this be a gas-saver, a little more eco-friendly, but inevitably I will have to take into account the added stress (physiologically speaking) that commuting will add to my legs. My focus is running, so I don't want to hamper any time I could be running unless it will make me stronger. In theory, the riding should help my running, so my plan is to commute to one of the many trailheads (between 5 and 10 miles depending on where I go) twice a week for two weeks and then slowly bump up the number of days until I'm commuting almost all of the runs. My long runs I may drive to anyway, but we'll see how things go. On the upside, I live 2.5 miles away from work so I can either walk or ride without a big impact on my running.
Red Town Trail
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

To say that I've moved to an area that feels more like home because of the amazing opportunities that lie within 10 miles may actually be a true understatement. Check out the mountain that's literally at my doorstep: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. I live right under the trail system key on the map. Pretty amazing, right? Well, follow these links to the remaining two mountains within 20 miles of my house:

To brag more, Cougar Mountain, alone, has thirty-six miles of trails to explore. And they are, technical (lots of sharp turns), steep, well-maintained, and the trees can reach heights of 100+ ft. With such diversity in trail vegetation every run feels new, and I guess, technically, it is new.  And just for fun, the county I live in, King County, has 180 parks, 175 miles of trails, and 25,000 acres of open space. My conclusion is that if I don't improve myself as a runner I've either found something more intriguing or I'm pretty damn injured. I'll be back on my weekly blog update schedule, now. Please enjoy, share, follow, and comment.

Tuesday, May 18Cougar Mountain~ Red Town Trail to Quarry Trail
Run -
Distance: 3.06 mi
Time: 00:29:46
Vertical: 700 ft.
Nice trail signs!

I'm blown away by the trail. Absolutely amazing. Why did I wait so long to move? My legs are pretty stiff, the 5000 mile driving journey has definitely taken a toll on my muscle tension. It may be a week or two before I really go out for a tough, high-intensity, run.

Wednesday, May 19 ~ Mount Rainier ~ Paradise to Panorama Point (hiking)
Hike -
Distance: 4.00 mi.
Time: 03:01:53
Vertical: 1,309 ft.

Did Atlanta move to Mount Rainier?
A great hike on my new playground. The snow was deep, but being from the south I was well prepared, running shoes, jeans, and an ice-axe. I have a lot to learn. Crazy thing, we meet a lot of people from Atlanta.

Sunday, May 22Cougar Mountain ~ Wilderness Creek Trail to Wilderness Cliffs Trail

One of the many bridges across creeks

Run -
Distance: 3.50 mi.
Time: 00:43:26

Vertical: 1,303 ft.

Bike -
Distance: 8.80 mi.
Time: 00:38:27

Vertical: 202 ft.

My first day of commuting to the trail and running. This place is incredibly bike-friendly. The road shoulders are wide enough in most places for two bikes, no one honks, and the debris is neatly cleared by the rain. Georgia, take note.

Monday, May 23 ~ Marymoore Park ~ Outdoor Rock-climbing wall
Rock Wall, outside?
Distance: n/a
Time: 1:00:00
Vertical: n/a

An unbelievable park. There's a free standing 35-foot bolted outdoor rock climbing wall, and all you pay is the parking fee, $1. Not too shabby. This park even has a velodrome. It may be time to invest in a track bike.

Tuesday, May 24Squak Mountain ~ May Valley Loop to Bulitt Trail
Run -
No mustache, but some wicked shades.
I'm too cool, move over LL Cool J.
Distance: 3.90 mi.
Time: 00:40:17
Vertical: 1,109 ft.

Ride -
Distance: 11.75 mi
Time: 00:50:29
Vertical: 253 ft.

There are a lot of slugs on the trails here. I've seen slugs that have the color scheme of a dairy cow, all black, and an eerie army green. I need to get a small camera to take on my runs to take a picture of these things. On a more running note, the trails here all start at the base of the mountains -awesome- but I'm not in my Blood Mountain running shape, yet and the downhills are giving my legs a beating.

Wednesday, May 25Cougar Mountain ~ Coal Creek Trail
Run -
Distance: 5.11 mi.
Time: 00:46:13
Vertical: 559 ft. (a break from the vertical...sort of)

I decided today to find a 'flat' trail, and comparatively I did, unless you're comparing to my Georgia runs. In that case, I've definitely added some ups. What a great life.
At least in was down hill first, right. Wrong.

Thursday, May 26 ~ Cougar Mountain ~ Wilderness Creek Trail - Doughty Falls
Run -
Distance: 4.70 mi.
Time: 00:57:12
Vertical: 1,414 ft.

This trail section, Wilderness Creek Trailhead on Cougar Mountain, is becoming my favorite trail, so far. The initial run in, is winding and all uphill. Which, if you take note of the blog title, I prefer. An original association, I know. There are a lot of water falls to run by on the trails, here. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, because I haven't run on a dry trail yet. Shoe choice is actually a big part of the run equation, now.
I'm glad yesterday was 'flat'.

Friday, May 27 ~ off day ~

As much as I didn't want to take off, it's always helpful in staving off over-training injuries. My legs will appreciate this weekend on a longer run on Sunday.

Saturday, May 28 ~ Cougar Mountain ~ Wilderness Cliffs to Wilderness Creek
I love the mountains. I'm even getting better at downhill running.
Run -
Distance: 3.32 mi.
Time: 00:41:18
Vertical: 1,207 ft.

Want to know how I know I'm improving and that rest days pay off? Ran up the entire mountain today with no walk breaks. Yes, I take some walk breaks. It allows me to run large vertical runs but keep it an 'easy day'. Today, however, I stayed in my appropriate intensity zone and ran the entire time. I'm itching to run fast uphill, but all  in good time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 01 - May 08

May 01 - May 08

Weekly Totals: Distance ~ 24.93 mi. Time: 03:27:55 Vertical: 1236 ft.
Run ~ Distance: 19.84 mi. Time: 0:2:56:51 Vertical: 967 ft.
Ride ~ Distance: 5.09 mi. Time: 0:31:04 Vertical: 269 ft.

This week was my last week in Georgia for quite some time. Not sure when I'll make it back to the hot, humid, and hilly Peach State, but I do know that over that past 15 years of my running 'career' -lifestyle choice may be more apropos- I've grown up on trails, road routes, and races that have shaped, and essentially, defined my understanding and relationship with running. I've won races, lost races, and started some races I probably shouldn't have. I've gone on runs that have hurt every step of the way causing me to finish cursing boisterously what I love the most only to return the next day, at the same course, and try the run again with not much better success. It's those runs, the difficult runs, the runs you don't brag about that keep a primitive desire to conquer, explore, and cover more terrain that I've grown up on. -Writing this feels like a motivational break-up letter, but it's not- So, when this week came around I wanted to make sure I ran with some of my closest running buddies, the friends that don't let you win easily and then you give a couple of humbling remarks on why they just kindly kicked your ass.

So all this amounted to a great low-key, low intensity (except Wednesday) week of running, a great bike ride with my dad, two days of climbing at Adrenaline, and a bittersweet final trail run at Collins Hill Park with Josh and Robert. Unfortunately, no pics. My bad.

Monday ~ Alexander Park
Distance: 4.01 mi.
Time: 00:31:50
Vertical: 134 ft.

An easy base-paced (sub-8:00 min/mi.) run today around a flat mile loop. Windy.

Tuesday ~ Tuesday Night Run
Distance: 4.73 mi.
Time: 00:42:15
Vertical: 129 ft.

My first group run, ever. Strange I know, but until tonight I had only 'coached' group runs. Everything was completely different and it was oddly satisfying to have told someone, "I'm sorry, I don't work here anymore." I meant it positively even though that may seem staunchly rude.

Wednesday ~ Peachtree Ridge Wednesday Night Track Workout w/Kermitt
Distance: 5.10 mi.
Time: 00:42:46
Vertical: 204 ft.

Running is about adapting to the terrain, environment, and how you feel. Tonight we had planned a great 800 meter repeat workout at the Peachtree Ridge track, and unfortunately Peachtree Ridge planned an unscheduled lacrosse match at the same time, so the track was off limits. But what do good runners do? Find a 400 meter loop and run the same workout. We took our cars to the upper parking lot and ran the workout. It felt great. I ran 4 X 800m repeats, and averaged a 5:30 min./mi. pace, and wound up with a great right foot blister. Sharp asphalt turns will do it to you every time.

Thursday ~ n/a

Friday ~ n/a

Saturday ~ Father-Son Bike Ride
Distance: 5.09 mi.
Time: 0:31:04
Vertical: 269 ft.

What a great day to ride a bike. Even better because it was like commuting. We rode to the bank, to Waffle House, and back home. The ride was enjoyable and at a talk-able pace. Couldn't have asked for a better final Georgia ride.

Sunday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 6.00 mi.
Time: 1:00:00
Vertical: 500 ft.

Josh and Robert got up extra early to drive over to the one place that I can actually remember feeling like I was a runner for the first time, Collins Hill Park. It was a fantastic morning. The air was cool, the trail was soft, and the company was top-notch. I'll miss this place, but I'm sure there will be some amazing trails in Washington.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April 25 - May 01

Weekly Totals:
Distance: 06.75 mi. (50.67 mi.) Time: 0:49:25 (03:27:00) Vertical: (1,827 ft.)
*(Includes bike ride on Saturday)

Ice Bath - Best enjoyed with coffee,
40 Degree water, and a beanie
I began the week with an easy goal of 12 to 15 miles total, and while I only ran 7 miles this week I did add in a good number of cross-training miles on the bike…probably too many miles. I can barely sit down today because of how sore my sit-between is from the 44 mile bike ride on Saturday. Honestly, what was I thinking? –Okay, I enjoyed the ride to the fullest because it’s my last week in Georgia for quite some time, and the ride gave me a chance to spend some time with some great people that I’m going to miss very much – From a pure training standpoint, however, the ride was way too long, way too soon. I haven’t ridden a bike on the road since July 18, 2010, with Josh, up Unicoi Gap and that was only a 20.5 mile ride. The longest that I’ve ridden, excluding Saturday, in two years is 34.60 miles, at an average of 18.4 mph (not too shabby), on July 21, 2009. Not to mention, the Sweetwater 50k was only two weeks ago. –Hence the focus on recovery, by the way- If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past six months, conservative (smart) training pays off. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be risks in training, because let’s be honest running up the ‘mountains’ of North Georgia isn’t the most popular training options, nor the most highly recommended, and although it was risky, but I’d say it paid off. 

Mount Yonah, one of the many
mountains to run in North Georgia.
The training week was great, though, even if, hindsight (there’s a pun) being 20/20, I needed to cut the ride at 20 or 25 miles so I could run the next day. In short, it’s imperative to choose appropriate training types, distances, and intensities to help fu

rther your training goals. Riding a bike for 44 miles with such inexperience (relatively speaking) under my belt is not smart training, even if I did have a great time with great people. My focus for this upcoming week is going to be prioritizing my training for my next 50k.

On a side note, each week I’m going to focus on improving my running form. This week I focused on maintaining a higher running cadence. This means more steps per minute, a shorter stride length, and a stiffer running stride. To quote Matt Fitzgerald, “The type of stiffness I am referring to is the type that physicists talk about in relation to springs. The human body does in fact function as a sort of spring during running, and just as a spring with adequate stiffness will bounce more efficiently that a spring that’s too loose, a runner who exhibits sufficient muscular stiffness when his or her foot strikes the ground will run more efficiently than a runner whose muscles are too loose on impact.” A perfect place to practice form: a track.

Weekly Training Log:

Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.
Rested all day. Took about 15 minutes to stretch after a warm-shower this morning.

I love rock-climbing.
Monday: Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

A great day in the gym, tonight. I hit up some great boulder problems and did some fun 5.10s and 5.11s

Tuesday: Tuesday Night Run
Distance: 3.25 mi.
Time: 0:21:30
Vertical: 30 ft. (maybe)
Tonight was my final night working at the running shop and the final night of leading the Tuesday Night Run group. So, I ran from the back to the front (past 133 people, in total) and pushed the pace (06:30 min/mi) just for fun. My legs felt strong, but definitely still tired. I hope the fatigue will ease up next week. Here’s a great article written about my final night: End-of-an-Era Tribute, thanks Tim.

Wednesday: Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.
Wow, my legs are feeling the faster run last night. Even the climbing was limited tonight. My spirits are up for the upcoming training.

Thursday: Berkmar High School Track
Distance: 3.5 mi.
Time: 0:28:00
Vertical: 0 ft.
I love the track. –And I don’t mean that facetiously- The beauty and symmetry of running lap after lap after lap has an alluring appeal to me. I really can’t explain it. But on the track I lose reality with every bead of sweat. One thing that I do now, run have the distance of the workout, which today was just an easy run, in the opposite direction. This helps prevent too much stress on the inside leg. 

Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.
I really wanted to go running today, but I’m worried it may be too much because I’ve decided to add in some cycling tomorrow.

Saturday: Six Cap Bike Ride
Distance: 43.92 mi.
Time: 02:44:04
Vertical: 1,827 ft.
A spectacular ride, but much too far for my liking. However, I had such a good time riding with friends and drinking merrily afterwards. I need to start implementing more cycling in my training to help build some quad strength. I need to keep it consistent as well because my rear-end is not happy with sitting on a racing saddle for so long.

Six Cap Ride Route