Monday, November 24, 2008

Dog Laps!

This weekend was amazing. Not only did the weather hold and the sun shone but the workouts were nothing short of perfect. It was one of those weekends when training plans and partners come together and share not only the trails but laughs, stories, camaraderie and challenges. It was everything I love plus extra. If fact, this last week of training both on the trails and in the gym felt like a mild up tick meaning I had strength in my body and my mind.

Since this was to be my last peak week of training before the Muir Beach 50K I planned to hit it hard. Especially with the holiday weekend around the corner and not much time for any kind of training I planned to make the most of this peak week. After the 10K last weekend I felt great. I was happy to not be sore or tight after the effort which gave me no excuses. I had a lot of awesome gym workouts but one stands out so much I have to share it. After it was over in 9 minutes and 47 seconds I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was one of Mark's "Get Hammered" workouts and though it was short it was probably the hardest 9 minutes and 47 seconds my body has done that I can currently remember. Here's how it went. First, no rest between sets. Second, the bar I had to jump up and catch is 8 inches above my hand with a fully extended arm. Here's the workout: Very Crossfit like....
15 burpees and on the jump catch the bar and do a pullup.
15 overhead presses with a 45 pound bar.
15 burpees and on the jump catch the bar and do a pullup.
15 overhead presses with a 45 pound bar.
10 burpees and on the jump catch the bar and do a pullup.
10 overhead presses with a 45 pound bar.
10 burpees and on the jump catch the bar and do a pullup.
10 overhead preses with a 45 pound bar.

That's it! That's 50 fricken pull-ups! Towards the end I had to do a kipling pull-up to get myself up and on a few it took a double kipling to get my chin above the bar. The leap to the bar was hard and I was so incredibly worked my legs were shaking, my breath was uncontrollable and I coughed for 30 minutes afterwards due to what seemed like cardiac arrest. The only regret I had is I didn't wear my heart rate monitor. This was and incredible rush for me. Alex has been coming to "Get Hammered" one day a week after Basketball and he is one strong boy. He absolutely loves to show his stuff and show me up. I am really enjoying his enthusiasm and drive. He brought a friend last Thursday and the both rocked the workout. Mark is simply amazing with everyone but he is awesome with kids.

6 weeks of boot camp was over on Friday and we had our final PT test. I was happy to see improvements in all areas. I wondered if I might go backwards since I was NOT rested like I was when we did the first measurement. The test included push ups, sit up (the full ones), hang test (like in school) and a 2 mile run. Boot camp 2 starts after Thanksgiving and I am curious.
My results:
Hang: 1 minute 30 seconds
Sit ups: 66 in 2 minutes
Push ups: 65 in 2 minutes
2 mile run: 7:12 pace

This week of running was the best! Tuesday was track clinic with 3X200 meters, 3X400 meters and 1X200 meter. Darin came out to join and gave some really valuable feedback. I was strong and my times were a bit faster. Thursday Trisha and I did a 13.8 mile run in Forest Park. The night before was a raging storm with tons of wind and sideways rain. When I woke up it looked like the storm was sticking around for a bit. I admit it was hard to think about such a long run in the cold, wet and windy weather. When I arrived at 53rd ave. I had to use my legs to open my car door against the wind. I glanced over to Trisha and yelled, "coffee instead". NO WAY, she was ready. It was one of those days where it was so nice to have a running buddy who has a mission. We bundled up and headed down the trail and within about 5 minutes all the rain and wind ceased. We had found a window of calm weather and it stayed that way until the very last 5 minutes when it returned with a vengeance. That made me think about my weekend plans....hmmmm do I really want to do it.

The bad weather seems to be hanging around now so it's time to embrace the change and pull out the hand warmers. I wanted to do a serious back to back on the weekend to end my second peak week and cycle number 2. I dug through my running archives in search of a good challenges on trails that will soon be covered with snow. Back in the day.....we used to do runs on Dog Mountain in the gorge. We would do "dog laps" which was our funny way of disguising the difficulty of this trail. Dog Mountain is a wonderful place and is a favorite hiking spot for many especially while the wildflowers are in bloom. The mountain has two trails that lead to the summit. The less steep side at 3.7 miles to the summit and the very steep side at 3.2 miles. The trails connect at the top and make for a lovely but grueling 6.9 mile loop. The climb is 2,920 per side! I have stats for doubles, triples, quads and one 24 hour run where we did 8 laps. I sent my times to Micheal for doubles and wondered if we could beat my best at 3:38 and 5,840 feet of climb and descent. Dr. T, Micheal, Steve and I all headed out for the quad busting run. When we all arrived at the parking lot Steve says, "Do you think we can summit in less than an hour"? My record is 56 minutes for a steep side summit. We were planning on doing the less steep side first then we would race to the top on steep side for number 2. We weren't planning on having a easy trip up on number 1 either. Immediately we hit it hard. The summit of Dog is open and exposed and I swear it has it's own weather system up there. We were equipped with hats, gloves and coats for whatever went on up there. Expecting horrible weather we were treated to only dense fog and mild winds on the open ridge. We busted up in good time, snapped a couple of pictures then headed down the steep side for a good quad killer. Micheal lead the charge with Drake and Steve close behind. I brought up the rear as I had to re-learn how to navigate the steep technical terrain. Once I got my groove I overtook Steve and tried to chase the boys but they kept just far enough in front. At the bottom the adrenaline was flowing and we were all excited for the race up the steep side. Waisting no time Steve took off with purpose tailed closely by Micheal and Drake. I again brought up the rear but pushed hard. I was racing the clock and tried to run as much as I could but the steep side is steep and I found myself pushing my quads with my hands in areas. As I made the last switchback turn I knew I was not going to make it. The .4 miles to the top sign appeared and my watch read 58 minutes. I couldn't see any of my racing buddies but the fog was thick. I arrived at the summit 1:03:29....arggg. The only one that made it up in an hour was Micheal but Steve swears Micheal drafted off him then dropped him like a rock. :) We blasted down the less steep side to finish our two loops in 3:25! That's a new record for me and I know I can do better. My climbing was not nearly as good as it will be. Once I got my feet under me I ran the descents well. Double dogs, 5,840 feet of climb and descent..what fun! My quads held up well but I knew I would be paying the piper later but just one more day!

Sunday we planned a 20+ loop starting at Herman creek up the Gorton Creek trail to Green Point Mountain and back down the Herman Creek. Green Point tops out at around 4,800 feet and the run would yield over 5,000 feet of climb. Steve was sure we would run into snow and did we ever. The day started out speedy because the Beast came along and he is a terror on the hills. The only hope you have to to get in front and slow the mighty engine down. My legs could feel the Dogs but I knew they would hold up. It was an amazingly clear day but bitterly cold. The east winds were intense at times bringing the temps down below freezing. If it were raining we would have been permanent ice sculptures but the exceptionally dry air made for a great run. We hunkered down and made our way to the top. We hit snow in small amounts which looked like a dusting but on top we were in a winter wonderland. It was so neat. We rarely have dry snow and this snow was both fresh and dry and the sun was shining bright. The temperatures were getting very low and I had to pull out my hand warmers, hat and coat. I was worried about Ultra with her thin coat and delicate pads but she kept warm by running back and forth. One of her pads did start to bleed and I was freaked. I took a look and it was just chaffing from the snow and not bad. There was nothing I could do but get her out of the snow as fast as possible. We didn't do any standing around except for the summit for some quick pictures because it was to cold. At the top the views were awesome with Mt. Adams at one angle, Hood at another and a high mountain lake below. The trees made me think of Christmas. Plunging down the back side through the fresh snow finding the trail by following deer tracks and using Ultra's keen sense was fun. Fresh unbroken snow just deep enough to hear the crunch felt like a special treat and it was. Once out of the snow and making our way down the long steady downhill was fast but technical in sections. The footing wasn't so great with all the blowdown and loose rocks. My hammered quads had to find their groove to stay steady but with 2 miles left I was pooped and my legs were mush! Ultra's foot stopped bleeding and she seemed to not even notice the rubbed pad. I think she may have been on a running high too...I know we were. I was sore when we were done. All of us were but what a great weekend of training and team work.

I woke up this morning and tentatively got out of bed wondering if my legs were going to buckle. They are sore but not as bad as I thought they would be. Maybe tomorrow the real pain will set in but since I ate about 2 pounds of fish last night my muscles might have gotten all they needed. At least I know my omegas were on the high side! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Confusing Surprise!

I got a 10K PR yesterday! 44:17 or 7:09 pace. I got my stats wrong on my last entry. I confused the Autumn Leaves 10K with the Champoeg 10K. Both races are run in the same place but AL10K is part of a bigger event, the 50M and 50K races in Nov.. The Champoeg 10K is part of another event held in February. I had a PR there last year just before the Orange Curtain 100K. I ran a 7:16 pace last year and that was PR for this distance but not anymore!

With such low expectations and therefore no preconceived ideas of how I would do at that this race I wondered how that mentality impacted my performance? For me, I doubt it had any effect good or bad. The 10K distance is an all out effort from the start with some restraint in the beginning but all in all you run for life. The mental aspect of racing really doesn't seem to play a role for me at these shorter races. I know they're going to hurt, be over fast and what you get is pretty much preset by your fitness. Sure there are other factors like how rested you are when you line up, how tight you might be and if you did a solid warm up but really not much mental noise.
I got there early to see friends and get good and warmed up. It was a perfect fall day and the folks that were running the 50K and 50M distance were well into their race by the time the 10K started at 10 a.m.. It was nice visiting with everyone. Micheal was gracious enough to come out and pace me. He doesn't like this road stuff but maybe the 1.5 miles of trail on this course fooled him. :) We did a good 20 minute warm up. I popped a gel before the start and when I tossed it in the garbage can the other full gel I had in my hand went in right in the dumpster with my garbage. Sh_t! I opened the dumpster and could see my nice clean shiny gel but it was way down deep in the garbage. I needed Bill or Alex with their very long arms but they were home so I was left with no no choice but to do a bit of dumpster diving. It really wasn't that bad and got a lot of good laughs but some were concerned. :0

The race start was simple....GO...we are at an ultra so no big send off. I got into a comfortable groove for the 1.2 miles out and back. Micheal trotted effortless in front of me....sometimes appearing to be jogging in place. :0 After the 1.2 mile out and back my pace was 7:10....very fast but it seemed slow. Don't get me wrong I was breathing pretty darn hard and had a tiny bit of wheezing probably because of the colder weather. After the out and back we get on the 5 mile race course with the 50K and 50M runners. It's pretty darn flat. There are some tiny rollers but nothing to talk about. The course travels on the bike path at Champoeg to a turn. I was the 4th girl at this point but Micheal and I closed in on the 3rd place girl just as we neared the first aid station. Mile 3 pace was 7:17. I was working hard but felt good and relaxed in my stride. My calf was not an issue during the run. I had some tightness in my hips from a killer leg workout on Thursday but other than that I was on fire. Mile 4 pace was 6:31....yowzaa! As I tap my lap counter to record the mile split and I glanced down to see 6:31 I thought for sure the marker was wrong but still I was cookin. At this point with just 2 miles to go I pop the dumpster gel and Micheal takes my gloves. I knew I could hold a good pace. We round the corner for about a quarter of mile then hit the cross country portion of the race. The 5 mile course has at least 1.5 miles of cross county and trail. This is where Micheal went nuts with the pace, prodding and urging me to push. We gaped the 4th place girl nicely here and the 2nd place girl was within sight but still had a good lead. The trail would be slower but by how much I wasn't sure. I never let up but mile 5 posted 7:57, yikes! Digging deep and closing the gap on the 2nd place girl during the rolling trail trail section with less than 1 mile to the finish I pushed into another gear. My wheezing was really cranking now. Just before the finish with about a quarter mile to go we jump off the cross country stuff and back onto road. With the 2nd place girl within reach I pushed but so did she. The little hill before the finish wouldn't give me enough to catch her but my last mile split was 6:45!
I was pretty stoked about how strong I felt. I had no idea it was a PR until I got home to log the day. I had figured we had done faster than a 7:44 pace which is what I did last year but I had no idea we did a 7:09 pace. I am pumped! Micheal was a great pacer as usual. Beast snapped pictures as usual capturing every grunting moment.....thanks Beast. We hung around and cheered the other runners on then Micheal says, "Let's go for another loop".! But after a brief thought I said, "We're going to go slow right"? He nods with agreement so off went. Man I was stiff but after about 2 miles of good slow jogging I felt much better. I think the after run helped to stretch things back out and move all the lactic acid around. I feel great today.

I am not sure how I could run so fast. I am honestly perplexed. I have had little tempo training so far and this is faster than any of my tempo running in a couple of years. I was certainly NOT rested. I need to think about this. The only thing that is definitely different is my weight. I know Darin has talked about pounds vs. pace before and maybe the lighter Ronda can run faster....I don't know. The one thing I know for sure is now I have a VDOT and it's 46 according to Daniels. That means my track workouts, my M-Pace and T-Pace are going to be rough! My M-Pace is 7:48 and T-Pace is that is going to hurt.
Next week is a whopper! Hitting the trails hard with training before turkey day vacation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Appetite for destruction...

No, it's not Guns n' Roses but I sort of feel like I was in a mosh pit. I can't get enough of all the great workout options that seem to be available right now. Running is going well but I definitely over did it my first month back in my shoes. This last weekend was the topper with track, tempo then hill repeats followed by a great run in the gorge. At boot camp last Friday we did some what seemed at the time to be harmless sprints. Mark had us barefoot on the mats that travel the length of his gym. We were to sprint on our toes then do a strength move that he chose in between. At the time this was no big deal but during my second hill repeats on Saturday my soleus muscle started screaming big time. I stopped and loosened up my shoe but the pain just continued but so did I. That night I iced, massaged, rolled and poked at my calf which helped a tiny bit. Walking was not fun and my calf had absolutely no definition due to swelling. But, did I call off my Sunday run....NO! Am I smart....not so much!

We lucked out with a window of great weather on Saturday morning. I got talked into hill repeats by the gang so I hold no responsibility for my's their fault. :) When we all arrived on Saturday morning it was hilarious to see everyone in Black Saturday attire without any reminders. We all headed for the warm up in the balmy weather. Dr. T. came out for the fun and he too was dressed in all black. The hill repeats were mild ones...sort of beginner strength, perfect for me. Micheal wanted big boy repeats but I just couldn't do it, at least I showed some level of restraint! Of course I brought up the rear on both repeats but I managed to make both hills in almost the exact time. They were slow but I was able to run steadily every step despite the peg leg I brought with me. Just as we were finishing it started to pour! Serious rain was falling but that didn't stop Steve from insisting we do 25 push ups in the mud. He is so excited about Christmas Camp and it's only November! Being the suckers we are every single one of us dove into the muddy road to do our part. A good day of running.

Sunday we chose a solid 16 mile route in the gorge that yielded over 4,300 feet of climb and descent. My leg was a mess and just before the last climb I begged for Advil. Popping 3 Advil to dull the pain in my inflamed calf gave me hope I could make it back to the car in one piece. I have been pretty fortunate with injuries during my running life but I know when something is on the edge of being bad and that's how I felt about my calf. It was definitely not torn but I was on the edge of a bad strain. The run was awesome and again we dodged a weather bullet. I was certainly beat from the weeks workouts.

As we drove home I was hoping I hadn't gotten myself into a pickle as I watched my calf grow in size. The rest of the day it was the normal routine of icing and massaging. It was swollen and sore but I felt if I took a day off and was careful it would be okay. I am leading a track clinic on Tuesday mornings and I wasn't sure how that was going to go, yikes. Monday was definitely an off day for running and my calf started to show some definition and the soreness became more localized than just the entire calf. By Tuesday morning I was able to walk pretty well and proceeded with the track clinic. We did a good warm up, the 3X200 meters, 2X400 meters and 1X200 meters so it wasn't a killer track workout but I could feel it. I actually think it helped move the fluid out of my muscle but I am keeping a eye on it. Maybe I am over paranoid from ignoring the early signs with my knee and am being overly cautious.

I have done a relatively good job of reining myself in with running. The gym is another story. I have been doing doubles with weights pretty much everyday except Friday, Sat, and Sun. To top it off Mark has created "Get Hammered" which is his version of Crossfit. I was like a kid in a candy store and couldn't get my punch card fast enough. I was pretty excited about this kind of workout but with no Crossfit gyms anywhere near my house it was easy to forget it. But, when Mark got this going I knew I would be doing it. To top it off his times fit perfectly into my life. He does it every weekday at noon but also on T & Th at 6:30 pm....perfect. Last night Bill, Alex and I all went and it was brutal. Short and sweet but tough. Alex was a machine and I couldn't believe how strong and motivated he was, it was cool. At some point I am going to have to make some choices with my gym routine but right now I just can't! I have a workout problem and I may need an intervention!

This weekend I will get my VDOT at the Autumn Leaves 10K. I ran this last year in very good condition getting a PR. This year is going to be another story.....slow....but it's a starting point and I am thrilled to be getting some good data.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some cool running!

I have done some good runs lately but my hubby and my friends have really been doing some fun stuff. First off, Bill, Jim and Scott ran the Marine Core Marathon. Scott was pretty trained up since he just ran Portland a couple of weeks prior but Bill and Jim......hmmmm not so much. Jim finally getting back from the middle east still sporting his full beard and Bill....well training using his standard plan.....go minimal and suffer the rest had a slow but good time. They all had rave reviews of the race and all that it was. Suffice to say all three had a fun and Bill is not complaining about being very sore.

I had to miss a trip around Mt. St. Helens with Steve and Micheal. I am just not ready for a long hairy run like that. They picked an awesome fall day where the sun shone and the wind was only bad in one area of the mountain. With St. Helens recent years of volcanic activity the once awesome trail around the mountain has not been maintained and the usage has been to minimal to keep it up. On top of that the winter we had last year left some of the washouts which were once gentle traverse drops now full on cliffs. The trail would simply disappear and they would be left searching for the least death drop. Micheal said he there were a couple of times where he was pretty nervous while Steve maintained his's all just fine attitude. They saw awesome fall colors and a few elk sighting. All in all I missed out on a great day. I sure hope some day they will rebuild some of the trail as this mountain run is very unique and a must do.

I have got myself in a good routine now feeling good on my runs and beginning to incorporate some of my traditional speed workouts into my weeks. Last week was the end of my first 3 week cycle and I got just over 65 miles in. That is actually a pretty high number for me this time of year. Besides my 3 recovery runs I did a solid track workout consisting of 200 meters and some 400 meters. It was a pretty good workout. On Thursday I did my first real tempo run. Since I am VDOT less meaning I have no good numbers to use for my speed work I used heart rate. I kept my heart rate between 165 and 171 for the tempo portion of the run. My mile spits were interesting...not horrible but not great either. One good thing is I felt super strong and in control. I wasn't dragging myself by my ear. :) My tempo splits went like this: 7:57, 7:34, 7:49. I have a bit of a consistency problem......

Saturday Micheal drug me for 14 mile run in Forest Park. After a good two mile warm up I let him take the lead and that's when the dragging started. We did this same run the prior weekend and with Micheal driving we knocked of 12 whole minutes! It was so much fun being pushed but not killed. Afterwards I was sweating like a pig but felt like I good a good workout. The downhills are coming back. Surprisingly I am stronger on the uphill climbs and wonder if that is due to all the incline walking and a stronger glute/hamstring tie in. I can't wait for hill repeats to test it out for real!

Sunday was a trip up Table Mountain. Since the weather has turned meaning no more sunny crisp clear fall days and the rains have moved in it might be the last time we are able to do this run before late spring. I haven't been up to the top of Table Mountain for years. I have run the PCT leading to the trail head many times but they closed the center most trail leading up the top so they could rebuild it. I was excited to see the new steep trail. Steve, Micheal and I headed out in drizzle for the 6.5 mile run to the trail head via the PCT. Steve is just so excited about running right now he continually quizzed me about the schedule....when do Black Saturday's start....when do you start the serious back to about this about that run. He is excited for winter training but both him and Micheal are so far ahead of me it's not even funny. As we continued, Steve finally says, "Are you going to be in shape enough to do C2M"? When I just kept my mouth shut simply because everything he said sounded so fun he proceeded to tell me that if not it will right back into that bikini! I gotta love brother Steve! The ideas for winter training are coming together nicely. When we arrived at the Table Mountain trail head we began the steep 1.1 mile climb to the top. This is about a 2000+ foot climb in 1.1 miles so it's good and vertical. Although I have been on this before it was quickly apparent it was a new trail. If it wasn't for Steve, Micheal and I would have needed to turn back because when we hit the boulder field I would have had no idea if we were still on the route up. It is completely re-routed from the old center trail. We got to the top and decided to take the other trail down. It's a bit longer but no less steep. It would be good training ground for the dive and and plunge at Wasatch. We slipped and skidded out way back down to the PCT then raced back to the car arriving just as a down pour started. It was a great training day with over 4,500 feet of climb in 16 miles.

Funny how fast the running comes back. Especially the endurance part. That is comforting and good to know. My quads are only a bit sore which is surprising but maybe they will be sorer tomorrow. Boot camp is still a killer on Mon, Wed, and Fri. morning but I am becoming addicted. Alex came one morning since Bill was gone and proceeded to take pictures of us suffering! Not only did he find this to be good sport he also thought he should give us pointers on how to better do the excersise to get maximum suffering. He will make a great boss someday! He is growing up so fast! Now 5"7" tall at 12 years old....I just can't believe it. I love to see all the changes as he grows into a young man but sometimes I just want to turn back the clock.