Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Gorge - Good to be back!

This is the end of a recovery week but I did get to go out to the Columbia River Gorge for the first time this year! It was a dreary day weather wise but the group was not anywhere near dreary. Micheal, Jim and I did a loop starting at the Angels Rest area, it was a short 2.5 hour loop but what a blast it was to be back out there. It's funny because by the end of the year I am ready to stay closer to town and run the urban trails. Not like our urban trails aren't nice and should be ignored during the summer but the Gorge and other wilderness areas offer such challenging terrain it's hard to not take every opportunity to be training in them! During the late fall and early winter it's sort of like you miss the urban trails and then when spring comes your chomping at the bit to be back in the rugged Gorge.

So, today marked our first run out in the Gorge, yeah!!!!! When we arrived at the trail head we were laughing about how nasty the weather was. My car thermometer said 51 degrees so it was plenty warm but the rain was coming down hard enough for me to find the "high" speed on my windshield wipers. In the parking lot there was a group of hikers with full packs and full rain gear meeting before they started their climb. We got some interesting looks when we piled out of the car wearing shorts and no jackets. We did decide to take jackets but quickly peeled them off after 10 minutes of running. It's that time of year again, the time when your adjusting to warmer temperatures but aren't used to being without a coat when the sun is not shining. We will get over that very soon, it's gets annoying carrying all that unused gear.
Since this is a recovery week we didn't do any hill repeats or push threshold (95% of max.) on any of the hills we were just steady. We weren't trying break any speed records but in the end were surprised at how fast we did the run. We climbed a little over 3000 feet today and it wasn't hard! I have done this loop many times and this was my second fastest so far and my fastest time included a 20 threshold climb whereas today had none. I really didn't feel like we hammered the downs either, we are saving ourselves for next weekends double thrashing.....Can't wait!
I have just entered the "competition" or "specificity" part of my training, I just finished the "base building" phase. This is where it starts to get really fun and challenging. This phase will last all of April and half of May. This is time when big back to backs, hill repeats, doubles and tempos are are thrown together. In the past I have not been this strong heading into this part of my training. I am super excited at this benchmark in my fitness and I am optimistic it will laaaaaaassssssssssstttttttttt all the way to end.

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