Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How slow can we go?

I walked on the wild side at Vancouver Lake 1/2 last Sunday. I did all the things most people would tell you not to do. I bought new shoes the day before. I couldn't resist the beauty not to mention the awesome features the new Asics Sky Speed had to offer. I pulled those babies out the box and laced them up. I went all out on a flat 1/2 marathon when I haven't run anything over 6 miles on road since at least mid-summer. The absence of any speed work was just icing on the cake or more like pain in the ass. . Ultra running does have its perks. You can get away with a few stupid stunts. The weather was perfect, the company was superb and the punishment was earned. There's no way to get around running a 1/2 all out without suffering. It's the perfect distance to create pain and test grit. I was saying it's one of my favorite distances but I seem to say that all time. Maybe I just love running or Bill is right and I love pain and suffering. Fortunately I can easily combine these two desires.

I wasn't even nervous lining up. I knew it was going to be a "wait and see how bad it is" effort. After PRing on this course 2 years ago at a 7:09 pace I would be going home a winner if I broke 8 min. miles. Winner, winner chicken dinner I did it. 7:51 pace for 13.1 miles. I actually couldn't go back far enough to find one this slow and I have run a 1/2 every year for at least 9. It would have been a great 8-10 mile race for me. Somewhere around there my heart rate started dropping and there was not a thing I could do about it. If you have been a data runner long enough you know that speed and HR pretty much go hand in hand when you are highly efficient. After years of running you can't help but be highly efficient. I am willing to bet money that anyone who has been a consistent runner for 10 years will find that the speed/hr marriage exists. As it began to drop I did the usual stuff. Bring in the arms, swing faster, smaller faster steps but the problem was my legs wouldn't do it. It was sort of surreal. I am looking down at them in bewilderment. Trying to motivate them to spin. They weren't sore, I wasn't seizing up, I wasn't that winded but my legs were just stuck in that slow speed. It was actually pretty amusing. It was an the epitome of an ultra runner without any speed work. It was someone who can run really far but not very fast. My 8 fast twitch muscles are dormant. I don't mean that 7:51 isn't fast but it's not for me at that distance. It just goes to show that I have no real built in speed. What I can do is endure the fast enough torture for a long time. Once my heart rate

dropped below threshold and I couldn't jolt it back up it's just a hard Z3 run. I love it! I walked away unscathed which isn't surprising. Another benefit of being an ultra runner is if you can't push yourself hard enough you're not going to be sore. I got really inspired by the nuts and bolts of training. That training stuff really does work. Sometimes you begin to wonder if it really makes a difference. It does and it was nice to get a real measurable reminder that all that hard work means something. Speed work is an ultra runners friend!

I was in no way disappointed by my performance. I knew it was going to be slow. I know what I am doing and where I am at with my training. I am also so focused on what's in front of me and know that everything along the way is part of the process. The best part of the day was being with really fun positive people. I love to laugh and smile with friends. They all did great and few PR's were bagged. GOOD STUFF! What a great race. Russ always does such a good job and over the years nothing has changed. It's still a great event with a nice down home feel.

1 comment:

  1. Baby, I am about to figure out if I can handle 26 (or, in my case, 27) road miles this Sunday! Yeah, well, 7 years later:) BTW, your time (if I can still do math while being nervous) for half that you call slow was my PR from about, I don't know, 9 years ago? Yep, this ultrarunning stuff is fun, but it sure kills my 8 fast twitch fibers, lol!