Sunday, April 29, 2007
Building Confidence and Quads!
I will rate this weekends training as an 8. It was one of those weekends where the training calls for runs that make you excited but nervous at the same time. About this time in the cycle I can sometimes feel tired and unsure of how the weekend runs will go. It's been 2 weeks since my last big push which included back to back 90M weeks ending with AR50. This last Thursday was the first run I had where I felt like I was coming back from a tired sluggish state and just in time for this weekends Black Saturday and Red Hot Sunday.
The Saturday hill sessions are getting longer and I am heading into very familiar territory. With 2 years of these kinds of workouts under my belt I definitely know what to expect and when I am out there lots of memories from past workouts come roaring through my mind as I begin this one. This Saturday called for 2X45-50 hill repeats with a short cool down afterwards. The gang of sufferers is getting bigger which is a change from years before. Normally when we do repeats of more than 30 minutes we lose gangsters but this year more folks seem to be hungry for the burn. That makes it more interesting and challenging. Rick, Stacey, Micheal, Cian, Jim and Tom were all out on the PCT this last Saturday in April and everyone was in Black. During the 30 minute warm up I knew I had the potential to have a solid, confidence building day. A day when it all clicks and you accomplish what you set out to do and that is a great day in my world. Since this is such familiar territory I knew I would be getting to the second clearing (3.3 miles and about 2300 feet) in 50 minutes so I chose that as my marker for today's repeats. The faster guys would get all the way to Tea Kettle Springs (3.5 miles). In past years I have reached the second clearing in over 51 minutes but I was pretty sure I could do it in 50 and even if I didn't I would continue on and just throttle way back on my pace. We ditched our extra gear and the fast guys, Cian and Micheal headed off, then me, then Stacey and Rick. Jim and Tom were already on the mountain. Cian and Micheal were out of my sight after about 20 minutes of the first repeat and they were really moving up the hill. I held my pace and settled into my Threshold heart rate after about 5 minutes. My goal was to remain steady and maintain Threshold the entire 50 minutes. I reached the wilderness sign in under 26 minutes which was a wonderful surprise as I did my 30 minutes repeats to that marker about 4 weeks ago. Already I was pleased and hadn't even seen the first clearing yet. I have consistently reached the first clearing in 44 minutes but today I knew I would beat this. The first clearing came in 42:36 and the second in 48:32! Progress! Now I know that 3 minutes is nothing to scream about in most cases but when your at Threshold pace and make any progress that's it's worth getting excited about. Not that you run races....except marathons at threshold but it's what it does for your lower zones that makes all the difference in an ultra. Micheal and Cian were ahead at Tea Kettle so I just turned around and buzzed down the hill. On my way down I got myself psyched for repeat number 2....always tough. As I was heading down I run into Stacey and Rick who were doing shorter repeats and they were well into repeat number 2. I quickly refueled and headed up for number 2 just as Micheal and Cian came blazing in from Tea Kettle. If I can maintain my threshold on repeat number 2 I go home a happy camper because this is hard to do with an already tired body. I felt like today was going to be the day that I could get into a groove that would sustain my Threshold all the way up. My legs were beginning to feel heavy after about 30 minutes when thankfully I run into Tom who was out on the Benson Plateau looking for snow. He tucked in behind me and made sure I was working hard. My arms were fatigued from carrying my bottle so I shoved it in Tom's pack which is big enough to carry the kitchen sink:). Relief from my bottle seemed to give me a bit more spring in my step and with that extra help I made it to the second clearing in 48:43! Only 10 seconds slower than number 1, I was pumped as this is the ultimate goal.....both repeats at threshold and consistent in time. Micheal passed us as we sat at the second clearing taking in the view, he was almost to his marker and we waited for him to come back so we could all run down together. Cian was just hitting the clearing as we were heading down, he was working hard but steady as we passed. We waited for everyone at the bottom, re-grouped and headed out for the short cool down.
Sitting around the parking lot it was obvious that everyone had a good day on the trail, accomplishing what they wanted and laughing about how absurd it all is. I dug out my happy skull shirt for just such an occasion.
Now since I do have a life outside of running it was rush home, shower, eat and get to Alex's baseball game. I packed my food up and ran out the door just as Bill was having to leave the field to pick up friends and drive to Eugene for packet pickup. Alex's baseball game lasted for 2.5 hours! It was a great game, they won and Alex hit his first home run with bases loaded. This was awesome since Alex doesn't make contact with the ball much so it really got him going, he was beaming from ear to ear. After the baseball game it was off to Susan's house for dinner and Alex was spending the night with her son Evan who was born just 2 days before Alex. They have been buddies since birth. Since Rich (Susan's husband) was running the marathon along with Bill, Jim, Darin, Scott and Dave she offered to watch Alex while I went on my Sunday run.
Red Hot Sunday was going to be a 5 hour quad busting session! Stacey, Micheal and I showed up ready to roll in our ugly amazing red outfits. When you see these outfits in pictures it just magnifies how bad they are :). In honor of all our friends and my loved one who were pounding the pavement today we decided we would run at least a marathon too. It felt like the right thing to do since our WS100 training partner (Jim) did Black Saturday! For our special quad busting session we wanted to some long downhill repeats of 5+ miles so we went up the road, came down it fast then ended our run coming down that same road. Surprising fresh after yesterday's workout we moved really well and stayed very focused. We had a ton of laughs and made fun of ourselves quite regularly which made the day awesome. The route we chose had about 6000 feet of climbing and ended up being 27 miles long. We accomplished this in 4:52:54. It's fun to actually RUN in the Gorge. It's great to hike as well but there is something about being able to run the steep inclines and tear down the descents that makes you feel powerful. There are definitely day's when I don't feel powerful at all and if those day's fall on Sunday and I feel like a wilted lettuce leaf it's embarrassing to be wearing these obnoxious outfits. But, on a day when you feel strong you can pull it off ;). We each brought a Red Bull with us so we shared one three times.....the commercial for Red Bull says, "Red Bull gives you wings!". I am still waiting for my wings but they do get you revved up. At AC100 last year Stacey drank a bunch of Red Bulls and we had to cut her off at mile 64 because she was flying around like a crazy woman.....as her crew we should have been monitoring but it all happened so fast :).
We were really motoring around when we realized we had to add some distance to ensure would have at least 26.2 miles for the day. Once we were sure we headed to the back road for our final descent to the car. I was looking forward to seeing how my quads would hold up on this second journey down "quad buster hill" and though I was pretty fatigued I made it in my usual time. Stacey commented that it felt similar to a 100M race when you tired and even though the terrain is down hill it's still a matter of getting your legs to turn and I think she is right. That describes it perfectly!
This is the kind of weekend that leaves me feeling very satisfied and ready to take on the next challenge. Tomorrow is an off day but I think I will take the dogs for a walk to make sure I get my quads moving. I am kind of anxious to see if they are sore from this workout :).
BTW: Jim had a PR at Eugene! 3:27 after Black Saturday. Bill ran his second fastest time, Rich had a PR, Darin ran in the top 100, Dave and Scott had a great day as well. Sounds like they all had fun and Bill is walking around just fine :).