Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 12 - February 25

Feb. 12 - Feb. 18
Weekly Totals ~ Time: 3:29:03 Distance: 18.82 mi. Vertical: 6,408 ft.
(now, that's a good mi.-to-vert. ratio)
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 1:09:41 Distance: 6.27 mi. Vertical: 2,137 ft.
(Yep, I'm back in Washington)

Post Hilton Head Half (Race Review)I didn't run much until I arrived back in the home state (Washington). Although the numbers are pretty small, that's a three day total. Feb. 15, Feb. 16, and Feb. 18. 304 ft per mile. I missed the mountains so much. I'll slowly start picking up the total mileage, and the vertical will increase probably too quickly. Not sure on the next race. Definitely trail, and most likely 10 mile to half-marathon distance.

Feb. 19 - Feb. 25
Weekly Totals ~ Time: 7:10:07 Distance: 40.81 mi. Vertical: 9,728 ft.
Weekly Averages ~ Time: 1:11:41 Distance: 6.80 mi. Vertical: 1,621 ft.

Completely ecstatic about this week's running. Almost every evening my shoes were bedraggled and looked worn to a frazzle. If my bathroom mirror could speak it would describe my look pretty similarly. And the poor shower, thick globs of hitchhiking dirt, seemingly baked to my legs oozed its way into the drain. The dirt was quickly followed by soap like a chaser at the bar. -I couldn't help but revert back to those 'freshman' college years of under-aged shots of goldschlager. Yuck. I'm a scrooge when it comes to those Christmas-tasting elixirs.-

Wet weather, this week, has saturated the hills and has added some extra stress on descents. The sliding really has a tendency to 'activate' the lower back muscles and leave the ankles feeling more fatigued than the legs. I've enjoyed it, though. It keeps things interested and helps keep me focused. Losing focus on the trail will, without fail, result in falls, sprains, and time off. I've learned my lesson too many times. I do have a tendency to day-dream, and the pseduo-ankle twists that pop up out of nowhere force focus, but I'd rather not flirt with disaster too frequently.

The morning light is arriving sooner and the blanket of darkness is covering the land later and later. I hope that I can start getting up early and catching a few early ascents and finish the days off with non-headlamp ascents. All in good time. Next week should bring a fairly similar week of running. I'm stoked about the upcoming Tuesday night headlamp run I've planned around Squak Mtn. with a couple of runners training for Badger Mtn 100 miler.

Feb. 15 ~ Time: 1:03:07 Distance: 6.01 mi. Vertical: 2,178 ft.

Base Run. My first real day back in the mountains and things felt great! I've got a bit of catching up to do -adjusting is more apropos-, but a 27:40 ascent from SR 900 to Central Peak is about where I expected to be. Headed west and cruised over West Peak and then made a slippery descent back to the car.

I either need to get a new heart or a new heart rate monitor battery because apparently I had no heart rate for the first 30 minutes and then I averaged 185 bpm for the last 33 minutes; maxing out at 227 bpm...yeah, right. I manually adjusted the recorded average and max to what I estimate to be more accurate.

Feb. 16 ~ Time: 1:11:40 Distance: 6.13 mi. Vertical: 1,856 ft.

Base Run. Day #2 in the mountains and I was greeted with a cool fog and wet trails. It feels so good to turn-over the feet on mile+ inclines. Legs felt a bit heavier on the descents from yesterday's return to the mountains.

Feb. 18 ~ Time: 1:14:16 Distance: 6.68 mi. Vertical: 2,374 ft.

Base Run. Took to the mountains late, today. Ascended into a windy summit. Wind howled like a freight train through the trees on top of West Peak. Traversed to Central Peak into a thick fog and traced my footsteps back to the car. I get high cruising around single-track, lonely, wet, foggy trails just before sunset. Time to satiate the munchies with some grub and ease down the endorphin overload with a central nervous system depressant...a dark beer should do.

Feb. 19 ~ Time: 0:54:56 Distance: 6.11 mi. Vertical: 991 ft.
Base Run. 1,000' of Gain. Lost my keys, so I ran to the trailhead to meet some friends for a hike. Had some extra time so I hurried up about 3/4 mi. to get some vertical gain. Thought I'd have more time, but that was cut down to nothing while I searched for the keys. Good thing there are no keys to bipedal movement

Feb. 20 ~ Time: 0:55:45 Distance: 4.60 mi. Vertical: 1,547 ft.
Hill Repeats. 1,550' of Gain. Workout: 2.2 mile Warm-up; 3 - 30 sec. Hill Sprints (full recovery); 2.2 mile Cool-down. The catch, the 'warm-up' is up a 12% grade. The hill sprints are up a 24% grade. and the 'cool-down' is 2.2 miles fast down the mountain. To make matters more complicated it was muddy, windy, raining, and 36 degrees. I felt fantastic and almost did a couple more repeats, but maturity took over and I stopped at 3. Feeling great, I opened up the stride, relaxed the ankles and descended the soggy mountain with a ferocious ease.

Feb. 21 ~ Time: 0:35:25 Distance: 4.37 mi. Vertical: 141 ft.
Recovery Run. 140' of Gain. An easy run with Joe G. and Adam L, tonight. Can't beat hittin' the pavement with others. Solo, not for me. Group, not too shabby. It was windy, and cool. I showed up late, so the planned 6 miles got cut short on my end...oh well.

Feb. 22 ~ Time: 1:04:15 Distance: 6.01 mi. Vertical: 2,191 ft.
Short Interval Run. 2,200' of Gain. The sun broke through the clouds and I headed straight for Squak Mtn. 6 mile run with 2 X :30 sprints. First 2.27 miles (up gravel fire rd) is up a 14% grade, put in the 2 sprints at the steepest sections, 1st section, 26%; 2nd section 23%. Finished off the summit in 26:17. Traversed over to West Peak, down May Valley threw in an extra hill to round things up to 6 miles. Overall, great workout. Descent is very slick, and I think I did more sliding than running. The quick intervals are good pain tolerance training and I can't wait to add in more repeats. Slow builds, though, are more likely to last.

Feb. 23 ~ Time: 1:08:37 Distance: 6.13 mi. Vertical: 1,989 ft.
Base Run. 1,990' of Gain. Straight from work to the Squak Mtn. - Cougar Mtn. Corridor to tag the top of Cougar Mtn...twice. She keeps things interesting, invigorating, and honest. Barely needed the headlamp during the final 1/2 mile descent. A lot of things are fun in the dark...trail running descents down Cougar Mtn, not worth it. Also, I saw the largest owl I've ever seen land atop a 70 ft. tall Douglas Fir and send out a melody of high pitched screeches...worth it.

Feb. 24 ~ Time: 2:31:09 Distance: 13.59 mi. Vertical: 2,868 ft.
Base Run. 2,870' of Gain. Had to bail on the usual Friday Recovery Run with the ladies for a meeting. Conveniently the two-and-half hour meeting took place during a rainy trail run. I must be working at the right place, is all I have to say. I've never been one for suit-and-tie, and my combat uniform only lasted 4 years, but with the required dress code being muddy trail shoes, short shorts, gloves, and a light weight jacket I could go to meetings 7 days a week.

Feb. 25 ~ Time: Distance: Vertical:

Hilton Head Half-Marathon Review

Asphalt. Flat. Windy. Windy. Sunshine. 4th overall.

These words are all that need to be said about the Hilton Head Half-Marathon. Oh, yeah, and a 30+min. Porta-john line. Why didn't I just use the woods? Unlike the Pac-Northwest and it's perpetually moist ground, South Carolina has dry leaves that crumple like century old paper. Poor planing on my part to not snag some extra toilet paper from the hotel. Lesson learned.

The extended standing warranted a relieved digestive system, but only 3 minutes to put together a warm-up. Issues with short warm-ups: too high of a heart rate, labored breathing, and a shocked set of muscles. Mental anxiety, disappointment, and the annoying and unanticipated shot of the starting gun. -Okay, the first paragraphs make this race sound absolutely hideous. In truth, don't let the descriptions weigh too heavy on the mind. 4th overall isn't horribly bad, in fact, it's very good.-

I freaked out, basically. I sprinted off in search of comfort and fell uncharacteristically into the 'ouch, I think I started too fast' category. I hold myself to be a much smarter racer than this, yet it's tough to argue with such evidence. I was prepared for the race. My training wasn't the best it's ever been, but it was well structured and I understood completely that running uphill for miles on trail is not the ideal training grounds for a seemingly pancake flat race on old asphalt. I knew well enough that the increased pounding was going to show itself quite clearly to my legs, body, and mind at some point in the race and all I would be able to do was hold-on. I lacked the ability to predict where this demon would show itself, but my best guess was around mile 11.

The first three miles were fairly predictable, a group of five or six settling into a rhythmic pattern. The heavy breathing of the few in over their heads at the current pace began to resonate above the footsteps and slowly six turned into four. We passed the 5k mark just under 18 minutes. Perfect pacing...for a non-windy day.

Unfortunately, a constant, strong headwind plagued us like a parasite attached to its host. And lets be honest, distance runners don't really have enough to block the wind. I tucked in behind the eventual 2nd place runner in hopes of escaping the invisible wall to no avail.

As I rounded a 90-degree turn and headed up the steep bridge that crosses the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway I was greeted with a blinding sunshine, and the constant headwind turned into a 'right-side' wind. The wind gust forced a left-to-right swaying motion that resembled an intoxicated retreat from a bar at closing time. Seriously, I was running drunkenly while sober. Not as fun, I might add. As you can guess, after the turn around somewhere around mile 8 the wind became a 'left-side' wind...more drunk running while sober. Still not as fun.

Every footstep after this point is the same. I slowly began to feel more and more 'pain' and began to more and more cave-in. I crumpled at the thought of the flat asphalt, even if after mile 10 I'd have a great tailwind. I ran through mile 9 in between 54:00 and 55:00, still on pace. Unfortunately, my legs and mind had different ideas. My legs felt comfortable, my mind did not. A lack of 'pain tolerance' training was showing itself.

I'm hesitant to call the remaining 5k+ a bonk. sure it took about 20 minutes too long, but I was fine, I just wasn't able to handle the 'race' aspect of the pace. Mental race strength is something I'll be working on this season. It's important to have races expose weaknesses. I'm not at all disappointed in my performance. And I'm not just saying that because I didn't win, or run faster, or podium, or whatever else comes to fruition at the finish line. I didn't really race much at all last season and although I do come from a racing background, taking yourself out of the sport for 5+ years warrants some adjusting. Bottom line, I finished 4th, didn't race the first 9 miles as smart as I could have, and I caved when things got too far past my comfort zone. Sounds like a great race. It should never be handed to you on a silver platter, even if you do win.

Organizationally, the race gets a B. Increase the number of porta-johns. A 30 minute line is unacceptable. Move race day packet pick-up closer to the start line. And bring more beer to give away at the finish. Also, consider giving out coffee mugs, socks, hats...something usable instead of finisher medals and overall/age group medals. Aid stations were great. Even if the lady after the bridge pulled away the water cup I was reaching for. No harm, no foul. Sorry for screaming the F-word. It was not directed at you...not that you're reading this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

January 29 - February 11

Totals ~ Time: 10:06:41 Distance: 72.33 mi. Vertical: 8,478 ft.
Averages ~ Time: 0:35:41 Distance: 4.25 mi. Vertical: 499 ft.

This post is a bit of a catch-up. I cut-down on the mileage quite a bit, in part because I was getting home sick. Home being the trails. Sickness from the asphalt. I hate to admit weakness, but gees I've got to work on some mental strength. The trail is easy to love. The trees, rocks, roots, endless solitude, no car fumes, etc., keep the ADD in all of us at bay. The road, however, street signs, cars, houses, etc., is too monotonous...for me.
Some mushrooms growing on a log somewhere
on Squak Mountain. West Access Trail.
This is somewhat comical. Running itself, whether on the road or the trail, is monotonous; especially, to the observer. -Left foot, right foot, right arm, left arm. Repeat.- Running, on paper, is boring. It's tough to not acknowledge that to someone that doesn't run they may read my whining about the road and think, "It's the same thing on trail." But, it's true, there is a difference. Anyone that has run road for days, weeks, months, or years and finally takes the plunge into the soft surface struggle, finishes thinking a couple of things, "Damn, I'm out of shape.", "I ran for an hour? That felt like 15 minutes.", and "My shoes actually look better covered in mud."

Ok, I'm done whining about my extended (3 weeks, ha) struggle of attempting to adapt to the road. Race report for the Hilton Head Half-Marathon coming soon. Quick recap: It was windy, 4th overall, and it was windy.

Jan. 30 - Time: 0:44:43 Distance: 6.56 mi. Vertical: 435 ft.
Tempo Run. Lazy day equals an early evening run. Typical as of recent. Took 2 days off, one on purpose, and one b/c I didn't get up early enough. Not too worried. Started the run with a goal 5 in mind, slowly changed to 10 and settled for 6.5 at a 6:48 avg pace (negative split). Main reason I stopped, my legs weren't the only things about to be running...and I'm not talking about my nose. Picked up the pace and head straight for the bathroom when I got home. Good times. the pace felt relaxed tonight, and the pace dropped (got faster) substantially as I hit the uphill sections of the course. I really leaning toward wearing the Hattori's for the half-marathon.

Jan. 31 - Time: 0:18:08 Distance: 2.69 mi. Vertical: 48 ft.
Base Run. Beautiful day in Washington. Too beautiful to sit in a car, so I laced up the shoes and hit the sidewalk for a quick descent to The Landing. Legs felt great, and the outstanding high temps (46 F, ha) warranted a short sleeve t-shirt, shorts, and gloves.

Jan. 31 - Time: 0:20:10 Distance: 2.67 mi. Vertical: 396 ft.
Base Run. A sunny descent to work transformed into a misty ascent home. 1st mile felt slow, and was (8:30), but the 2nd mile and final .67 mi. felt comfortable (7:13; and 6:27 pace). I can't wait to get back in the mountains after this half-marathon.

Feb. 1 - Time: 1:01:09 Distance: 9.11 mi. Vertical: 733 ft.
Tempo Run. I knew I wanted to go a bit faster on the undulating loop, but a 61 min. lap time even surprised me. Especially because of the very muddy, slippery trail. Had it been dry I may have expected a 62 min./ 63 min. I'm feeling a lot more confident now that I set a new PR by 3:35 (done on a dry course). Hurting was a crucial motivator to keep the effort high, pacing was somewhat all over the place and had more to do with lack of footing than anything. I planned a 7:30 min./mi. avg. and ran away with a 6:43 min./mi. a 6:22 final mile felt very comfortable. I'm now excited for this upcoming half-marathon on a flat piece of asphalt in Hilton Head Island.

Splits: (6:49; 6:11; 6:36; 6:59; 6:46; 6:36; 6:50; 7:16; 6:22) Mile 2 - way too fast, needed to dial back the excitement. Mile 4 proved the over zealous pace. Mile 7 worst mile in terms of footing. Nothing solid. Lost a lot of energy with each step slipping. Mile 8, all uphill, started to mentally lapse and lose focus due to intensity. Final mile is flat and mimics the Hilton Head course (in theory) and felt very comfortable and easily could have gone sub-6.
Radio Towers on Squak Mountain Summit
Feb. 2 - Time: 0:39:33 Distance: 5.20 mi. Vertical: 355 ft.
Base Run. A much needed run with Joe G. Pace was relaxed, talkative, and the night was crisp, clear, and cool. Foot feels great as long as I'm running. Talked to a intelligent physiotherapist about it and worked out a plan for success. Not really an issue, just an annoyance is the verdict.

Feb. 3 - Time: 1:37:53 Distance: 10.30 mi. Vertical: 827 ft.
Recovery Run. Typically, Friday's are my recovery day that I run fully rested. Today, however, Wednesday's thrashing on the same loop showed itself as much higher heart rate average than usual. Today: 144 bpm avg., last week: 134 bpm avg, two weeks ago 129 bpm avg. Time wise, 1:40:38; and 1:38:11...obvious fatigue in the cardio and legs from Wednesday. Good know for next week's semi-peak for the road half-marathon. Sunny and clear skies, btw. Also, we ran a 8 AM...not the norm.

Feb. 6 - Time: 0:39:58 Distance: 3.16 mi. Vertical: 1,233 ft.
Base Run. Slow work day, so I skipped lunch and headed for the mountains for a quick jaunt up Wilderness. Decided to give it a PR shot, well, a fast attempt that I felt should give me a PR... From Wilderness TH to the split of Wilderness Creek/Peak I was 2 minutes faster than my previous PR.
Awesome, right? No. Way too ambitious. Courtesy the rough state of the trails (trees, branches, layers of evergreen brush) I did nothing but slow down and the 2 minutes of space between myself and PR whittled away like sunlight as the sun hides itself below the horizon. Finished the ascent worked over, and mentally let down. It was 'hot', I was tired, I ran too fast too soon and the steep pitches worked me over. "No PR" kept running through my mind. Taunting my immature start. However, the watch showed a 9 second PR! Awesome.
Is this what deer see when I run by them?
Feb. 7 - Time: 0:58:16 Distance: 5.11 mi. Vertical: 1,698 ft.
Base Run. 1,700' of Gain. I caved into temptation and the mountain side for an easy ascent. I used my camera as an external regulator to keep from running too hard. I took some great film and can't wait to mesh into a video short. It was a run, stop, set up camera, run out, run back, stop, pack up camera, repeat. I've definitely developed some better foot turnover with all of the flat training. First mile descent: 7:08 min./mi. avg. with a camera, plus tripod in my hand...nice. I hope I can hold on to the acquired leg turn-over for the rest of the season.

Feb. 8 Time: 0:28:08 Distance: 3.98 mi. Vertical: 350 ft.
First run back in Georgia. Started at 11 PM courtesy a late flight. Wow, I've never seen sidewalks so dry. Legs feel tight, and heavy. I'll blame the plane ride.

Feb. 9 Time: 0:31:04 Distance: 2.67 mi. Vertical: 316 ft.
George S. decided to join me for a jog around the park my running grew up in. I used to dread the hills of this park. Especially the first one, if you're running clockwise. It jumps a 'creek' ascends to a labyrinth of roots, ascends, and pops out behind t-ball fields. Ugh, the lung and leg burning that I remember sends lactate acid to my legs in prep. However, with the amount of hills and mountains I run the hills of Collins Hill Park didn't seem so big after all. It was great to run with George S.

Feb. 10 Time: xx:xx:xx Distance: 2.40 mi. Vertical: 0?
A quickie before sleep. The 5 hour+ drive from Georgia to Hilton Head was just another stake into my already sitting muscles. My legs were really tight. First mile was just a warm-up, second mile I dropped to race pace, last bit was a cool down.

Feb. 11 Time: 1:23:38 Distance: 13.10 mi. Vertical: one bridge, ha.
Race Review posted!

Feb. 11 Time: 0:19:57 Distance: 2.00 mi. Vertical: 0
Nice recovery run post-race.