Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Devil Inside

This week was a very sold training week, I was tired from our trip to AZ, but things went well:
Tues 6.4 miles with 5x1k
Wed: 3.6 easy
Thurs 13.1
Sat 3 easy, 4 mile race
Sun 3.25
I went into the week tired and was pretty much running tired all week, but ran everything as planned.

Last month, my ol' training pal Claudia (we've been running together since the late 90s and have done 2 Ironmans together) told me her and her GF would be in SF for a few days, they planned on doing the Diablo Trail Run. The race has several options: 4 miles, 10 miles, 12 miles, marathon, and 50k. They all have a significant elevation gain. Since I have my sights set on San Jose in a few weeks, I said I'd do the 4. They were doing the 10 and surprisingly, Loren said she'd do the 10 as well. That's a real role reversal, I usually run the longer stuff.
According to the race website:" The 4 mile course is relatively flat and fast within Mitchell Canyon" The key word there is RELATIVELY. The elevation gain for the 4 is 400', the elevation for the 10 is 2420', the half is 3420', and on from there. In other worse, none of it is flat or fast.
Here's the profile for the 4 miler

My plan for this race was run fast. I didn't really know what to expect, this being the 2 year of the event and me having never run on the course. I warmed up for .75 of a mile on the course. Ok, not bad, gradual uphill but I can handle it. Back down I noted where the half mile to go was so I had a good idea of when I should try and kick.
For the start, I wanted to be up front since I knew the 4 mile group wasn't too big (and oddly, mostly women. 44 out of 58 runners) and the folks running longer would not go out fast.
First mile and I felt a little off. It was harder than the warm up! And I noticed I was weezing. Dust. It is a trail after all. There are about 5 guys ahead of me and a few women passed me. I could tell by number who was running what race. I just tried to hold steady. I have done races before that go straight up then straight down. I have to say, they're a little odd.
The 2nd mile, I had gotten into a rhythm though I wasn't flying. Another woman caught me and we together for a bit.
Then I saw the turn around cone and was ready to blow down these 2 miles. This should be fun. From the looks of it, I averaged 8:47 going up. I figured if I ran 7:15s going down, I'd be happy.
As I turned around I looked over my should and there was a woman close behind me and I heard "hey!" Guess who? Flowy shorts! Small world! Ok, now I had to really move, I know Shorts has a kick and I didn't want her catching me.
Ah down hill. I was FLYING. At one point, I looked at my Garmin. It said I was running about 6:30 pace, yet my heart rate was 147, which is low (in fairness, it topped out over 180 for the day). I was running as fast as I could, my legs couldn't go any faster but my heart wasn't working hard at all. Weird!
After the turn around, I saw Loren, she told me I was 4th woman. My theme for the year and really for this race. Then I saw Claudia and Evelyn as well. Claudia is recovering from a broken elbow so she wasn't running hard.
I was coming up on the heels of woman #3. I didn't want to pass her too soon only to have her pass me back, so I let her pace me for a while. Well the point of passing her became moot because she took it into a gear I just didn't have and dropped me.
I got to the half mile to go point, which also had a nice little uphill. My legs were so confused: run hard up hill, run hard down hill, up, now down!
I didn't know where shorts was but I wasn't taking any chances, I pushed. I came in @ 31:30 for 8:05 pace (the official course distance is 3.9)
Wow. That was hard and fun! I then cooled down for 1.5 miles and waited for the girls to finish. Loren came in 2 woman (4th over all) and won her AG in 1:37:41. Today, she's sore. She said it feels like someone turned her upside down and hit the bottom of her feet with a hammer.
my stats:
4th woman out of 44 women , 4th AG (the 40-49s were FAST yesterday!) There's a real 4 theme here. I was 6th over all out of 58.
Mile 1 8:24
Mile 2 9:17
Mile 3 6:37 (!!!)
Mile 4 6:54

Me finishing:

Loren finishing (she says she looks like she doesn't know where her legs are going to land):

This run was put on by Costal Trail Runs. I gotta say, these guys do an awesome job. They have trail races all year and every event has different distance so there really is something for everyone. I'm looking forward to doing more of their events.

Loren and I capped our day with a party at Clif Family Winery and Farm (yup, the Clif Bar people). It was a great event on their farm/vineyard. Lots of food, of which we ate tons. Even though my race was short, it felt like an effort for something along the lines of a 10 miler. A really cool event. They have a garden that grows enough food for a small CSA and are starting to grow olives for oil as well as making wine. Man can not live on clif shot alone!! Ew, that would be gross.

2 weeks left until San Jose, I'm excited and feeling really ready.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In every moment there's a reason to carry on

After last week's less than great tempo run, I was hoping to have a better one. I did. 4 miles at 7:30 pace. Right on the money. I love how a good work out can make up for a bad one. I felt really good.

As I said last time, I knew my training for the week would be thrown off with a high pointing trip. At this point, I'm more willing to scrap long runs than speed sessions, which is more my weak point.

On Friday, Loren and I left for Arizona for what I like to now refer to as my Annual Mid-September Media Blackout™ (how could I possibly ever forget when I am constantly reminded?). We landed in Phoenix in the late morning and headed up to Flagstaff. Right out of Flagstaff, we got hit by a crazy ass storm. Off in the distance, we could see the very dark clouds and amazing bolts of lightning. Within about 15 minutes, it was right over us and raining hard. The big heavy drops quickly turned to quarter-sized hail and pinged and bounced off of everything, causing traffic to come to a literal stop. It was amazing and over within about 8 minutes or so. The emergency broadcast system broke into the radio station AFTER we had driven through the storm.
We made it to Flagstaff and hung out in the cute little town, got some food, checked the weather, and headed towards Arizona Snow Bowl, where Humphrey's Peak, the AZ high point, is located.
There was a chance of rain over night and a chance the next day. Thunderstorms gather very quickly up on this mountain and serious weather, like that hail and even snow, can blow in with little notice. On top of a 12,000' mountain is not where I want to be when there's hail and or lightning. We decided on a sunrise hike.
Can I just say the National Forest service is really cool? On the way up to the mountain there is a dispersed camping area, meaning there are camp site with no services, but nice spots for tents and fire pits and totally free. Awesome. Loren and I found a nice spot, pitched out tent, set an alarm for 5 AM and lights were out by 9.
We had planned to be on the trail by 6AM but due to a road closure for construction, we were slightly delayed. By 6:40, we were on the trail along with 4 other people. We went back and forth with them for most of the hike up. A few miles in, we were passed by a woman just FLYING up the trail. Granted Loren and I weren't going slow, but we're also not acclimated to the altitude (the trail starts at 9500'). While we were taking a water snack break, she passed us again headed back down. I was like like wow, you got up there fast! She said, no, I have limited time today so I set an alarm on my watch to turn around. I'd say she' got within a mile or so of the summit and did so very fast. I was impressed.
Around 9:30, we hit the top. The 4 people we left with got there right before us. We hung out, took some pictures, had a snack, and watched the clouds gather around.

This is #31 for me and #33 for Loren. Here's a lovely piece of trivia: I have worn that hat on most of my high points. It's a 1998 Yankees World Series hat. Loren has also worn her Blue Buffalo hat on most high points. It use to be dark blue and she almost lost it when it blew out the window of the car somewhere in OK last year.
I can't tell you how glad I am that we went up early. It was a parade of people headed up as we headed down. I'd say at least 50 others. This is a popular and accessible trail, I just haven't seen that many people headed to a high point in a while. We were down by about 12:30.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out in Flagstaff, eating. That night we headed toward Sedona where we rented a cute little cabin for 2 nights. While Sedona is beautiful, the landscape and all that, I could really do without the super tourist aspect of things. Luckily, it only takes hiking a mile or so to really get away from it.
The night of our hike, we had dinner at Elote which is a pretty hyped up place but I'd say it lives up to it. The food was really good.
The next day and a half we spent exploring some trails and hikes in Sedona, including a run on Soldier's trail which was pretty awesome. I'm posting this picture of Loren running because I love it.

People look at us like we're nuts when they come across us running on hiking trails. It's a great away to get a run in and see everything. Plus, when we got the trail head, it was closing in an hour so we didn't have a lot of time!
Monday morning we got up early again to get 1 last hike in before catching our flight. We headed to Cathedral Rock. It was nice to be there early before the heat and once again before most people. It's a short steep climb up to a really beautiful view. A great way to end the trip. It also reminded me how far I've come in the last few years in my hiking. Not long ago scurrying up rocks like this would have made me pretty nervous. Not that I'm not careful still, I just don't see it as big of a deal as I use to.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The grabbing hands grab all they can

With the summer racing series over, I've switched to my own speed workouts. This was an interesting week for that. Neither work out was awesome. To start, I did the first one wrong. Planned was 5x3 minutes @10k pace. I did 5x5 mins. Ooops. I had a feeling this wasn't right sometime into my 2nd one. I was like, oh well, I just do this. It ended up being 10 minutes of faster running than planned and it was a little slower than planned.
Next up was a tempo run. 4 miles. Now, hmmm, I started out with a few strikes:1. lady time. 2. Sore ass from doing some squats. Seriously, not a lot and with no weight, I was like WTF. Again, the milage was done, but the speed was off. It's frustrating. I'm not concerned really since I know from the Thurs. night races I can hit the paces. It was just 2 off workouts in a row.
All my other runs have been totally fine.
Today's speed session was 4x800. I haven't run on a track in ages. Generally when I have a workout like this, I just do them where every I happen to be running. Since I'm still figuring out where to run by my house that's not too hilly, I decided to take this one to the track. Plus Loren is off today so we did it together.
This workout made up for the 2 boob moves from last week. My intervals went like this: 3:34, 3:28, 3:29, 3:24. I felt really good. We followed it up with some strides and drills in the field barefoot.

This coming weekend, Loren and I are headed to AZ to hit the hight point. I need to shuffle some workouts around. The hike will be 9 miles and gain 3500' up to 12,633'. I think I will keep my speed workouts, I need to focus on that more than distance, and scrap the 13 miler my long run for the week. With the hike, it will be a similar effort.

I also signed up for a 4 mile trail race the following weekend, some East coast friends will be out for a tougher 10 mile race. I'm taking the easier route with the 4. Loren's going for the 10. This should be interesting....