Monday, May 24, 2010

Swim upstream or drown!

(a very beat up Ronda)
Two more weeks of training and they are 2 of the hardest. This week and next my miles will climb in the 90's and maybe closer to 100. That's a lot for me. With 4 quality workouts a week and high miles I am feeling tired. It's like a deja vu and I am certainly aware of this feeling but riding the line between over training and appropriate fatigue is hard for me. The teeter totter has the potential to swing either way if I am not attentive. Bighorn will be number 20 something for me. I have to go back and outline the 100M races I have done and funny that I am not sure on the number. I should have it imprinted in my brain but I don't. Seems like yesterday I was lining up at Angeles Crest 100M for my first experience of traveling through the mountains on foot for 100 miles. Since I have run enough of these you would think I have this all figured out but I don't. I think that's why I keep coming back for more. There is always some new lesson or discovery with each and every training regimen. It's like free therapy and rapid growth both physically and mentally.

This will be the only 100M race I have trained for in which I have stuck with 4 week cycles. Generally I have jumped down to 3 week cycles during the Peak Phase. There have been two reasons for that. First, due to the timing of a training race I've had to make adjustments. Second, I need more rest when it gets this intense. This year neither issue came up and here I am on my last 4 week cycle with this week being Build 2. I have to admit, I am feeling tired. The challenge is determining where or why. How much is physical and how much is mental. How can I fool my body with mind tricks? It's much harder is trick my mind, it's smart. I know I am asking a lot out of my body right now. There is no doubt about that. The question is: Is it too much? I am still on the fence and not willing to make that call yet. All my workouts have been measurably positive. What I mean by that is my heart rate and pace coincide. When they start to slip I know it's too much. My mind might be tired. My brain might simply be sluggish when it comes to preparing for my day. I have other people who count on me to be more than a runner. In order to achieve my goals I am extremely organized and routine. Not only do I love that but it's paramount in allowing me to get the workouts I have chosen to do in. Seems like life is busy right now. Lot's of school requirements for Alex and lots of planning for what he needs and wants as he gets ready for High School. Yes, seems a bit early but they start stuff now and their not even done with the 8th grade. Crazy but that's the way it rolls. In order for me to run 4 quality sessions and miles ranging in 80-100 I have to be on my toes. I might be tired of being on my toes. Does any of this matter? Not one damb bit!

It's time to suck it up and get over myself. Time to stop thinking about why I am tired and just continue to use data to guide my last 2 weeks effort. The mind is powerful instrument in either propelling us or detouring us. I have been detoured and hate it so I refuse to succumb to the emotional piece of difficulty and fatigue. Giving in or giving up, however you choose to think about it is not an option. That doesn't mean I am not going to have a pity party or two. I honestly believe the body has it's own cycles and I need to be aware of what it's telling me. Lord knows I have spent enough quality time with it. I should be fully aware of every signal it sends. Are you doing to much? Are you being weak? Hard to to say. Since I am choosing to get over myself it's time to buckle down and do my final preparations. To continue to work on the goals I outlined in the beginning. Find my mantra and man up so to speak.

Last week was capped with Friday hill repeats with 6,800 feet of ascent of which I ran every single step. My legs were burning from the inside out. My glutes were screaming by the end. Saturday I did 30 miles on the Wildwood trail. Not much climb but lots of running on rolling terrain. The mud was crazy leaving dirt clods in my shoes. Perfect training for Bighorn. :) I topped of the weekend with a road 10K. Lululemon put on it's first race. I haven't laced up a pair of road shoes since February and managed to drag myself at a 7:35 pace. I lined up with minimal expectations. Not much beyond participating and supporting the event. Surprisingly I found some legs and was able to run a great pace not breaking 160 beats per minute. Alex and Kari (Micheal and Lisa's) daughter ran the 5K and seemed to really have fun. This week will be a solid bunch of Gorge training. Since Bill has decided to go around Rainier with some friends he might even join the fun.

So besides my general fatigue all is well for Bighorn. Looking forward to pushing myself through this funk and seeing what emerges.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

MacDonald Forest 50K

Capping my peak with the Mac was perfect. MacDonald Forest is one of the oldest true trail runs in Oregon. It offers over 6,500 feet of ascent and winds around the hills just outside of Corvallis. For many it's a tradition with some folks participating for over 15 years. It has the feel of a family reunion. Lots of familiar faces, lots of veterans and many new ultra runners mingle the arboretum before the race. An hour can pass before you know it catching up with everyone who seems to be in the best of moods.

This was my 9th time running the Mac. For many years the course would change depending on what new tortuous trail the RD's would build. It's was always a different distance but always near a 50K. My best year at MacDonald Forest was 5:27 but the course was only slightly over 30 miles. That was the only short year I ran so I can't count that as a PR. For the last 3 years the course has been nearly the same so comparing times is easy. The course is 31.6 miles. My best was 2 years ago when I ran 5:35:49. This year I ran 5:35:56. Close but not cigar. :) However, I felt amazing. To put it in perspective of course I needed to analyze my training and compare both years. My fastest year was 2008 and I had to run hill repeats the day before. Though that was a tough challenge I was only on 3 weeks cycles and my total mileage for the week was only 72. This year I am on 4 week cycles meaning my last rest week was over 3 weeks ago. Since I had to juggle my runs the prior weeks to a Sunday/Monday schedule I had zero days off since last Saturday. With Monday of this same week being my long run I topped this week at 90 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing at an average pace of just over a 10 minute mile. For me that is a whopper week. First my miles are high for what I generally run which is around 80 during the peak phase for a 100M race and my quality is obviously high if I am pushing just over a 10 minute mile for over 16,000 feet of ascent

Skip through the numbers I am simply on cloud nine on how I felt yesterday. I was in complete control of my race. That means I fueled perfectly and I could adjust my gears accordingly. If I needed to bump up the pace I had it. I could climb super well. My uphill strength is probably the best it's been. My downhill running still needs improving but I suspect with the next 4 weeks of training and focusing on that I will see results. I have learned so much about recovery in the last year. How to eat, what to add as supplements and most importantly I feel a strong connection to my body. Listening to my body and reacting according is huge for me. I am a driver so I will push and push. Most times pushing too far only to find myself really tired and not recovery fast enough. Today I feel great. Some would say I should have ran harder. I ran as fast as this body could move but more importantly what this tells me as I have more in me. I am almost ready for the 100M race.

Yesterday was not just a gauge for fitness it was a blast with friends. Micheal, Carrie and I carpooled to the start only to get lost. How do you get lost going to Corvallis? I don't know but thankfully Carrie had her IPhone came in handy and it navigated us through the back country arriving at the start with plenty of time to spare. We chatted and got ourselves prepared for a glorious day full of sunshine which has been a rare but certainly welcome sight. With a field of over 270 it was going to be a busy day on the trails which made it even more fun running with friends. I spent most of my day trying to keep Cheri from passing me. I was successful but it's only a matter of time before she catches me. Now a well earned recovery week. I am ready for it. I know the final three weeks of training before Bighorn are going to be big. I am already planning the perfect runs to top off my training.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In the groove!

Smack in the middle of the peak phase for Bighorn and I feel great. I don't know if my body just knows it's time to recover rapidly and stay motivated or if my love of the hard push is the driver. Whatever it is I am going with it! MacDonald Forest 50K is this weekend and it will be my final run of the a peak week. No cut back week for me. Miles are stacking up near 90 now with over 20K in climbing per week. My average mile pace for the that load is the best it's been.

Hill repeats are like a welcome friend and so far I have had 2 sessions. Still not beating my time of 42:38 to the first clearing but getting very close. The good news is I feel super strong on all the ascents. I am reaching the clearing with just seconds difference between the repeats so I am giving myself an A+. The first week I only had 2 repeats but last week we started triples. I am slated for triples now for all three weeks of the next cycle. This week will be the end of a 4 week cycle with 1 recovery week. After that it's Build 1, Build 2, Peak, Taper, Taper/Race. That's seems so fast and I am excited.

Following repeats it's been a 5-6 hour run. Those will now increase with the quality going up near the end of each run. So far I have had really nice second day runs. Some of the best I can remember. Maybe it's the exceptional company (thanks for the support friends). Going to add VO2 max stuff for the final cycle. Those workouts will be part of the weekday stuff. The weather could be a bit warmer and less wet but I am not complaining. I might complain when I see that second beating sun at Bighorn. :)

My goal for the next 4 weeks is to stay focused, have fun, stay healthy and make the most of each workout. I want to bring in those second day back to back efforts and make them work. Additionally, I want to continue to keep my mind clear and positive. Continue surrounding myself with awesome motivated people who like to share the fun and the workload. No negative yuk exists and I plan to keep it that way.