Sunday, May 20, 2007

Revved up and gettin ready!

Learning the value of a recovery week has taken almost 2 years but I finally understand it. In the past I never planned my weeks with regards to intensity, mileage or specific workouts and never took a "recovery" week. Generally suffering from the "more is better" mind set with pretty much everything I every do, running was no different and I paid for that attitude time and time again. I would get sick, nurse minor injuries, feel sluggish and tired but once in a while would have a run that really went well. Now it's all different because I have learned and experienced the value of recovery both physically and mentally. After Miwok I had a soothing recovery week and I soaked it up running pretty easy on all "easy" workouts, resting when I could and eating the proper foods. I came into this week ready to go! With Bill being out of town for a week which overlapped the weekend I had to shift all my workouts by one day meaning my long runs would be Friday and Saturday. I had a great babysitter lined up for Saturday and thought why not run McDonald Forest 50K after my hill repeats on Friday?????? Sounds like a good idea and a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have a few people join me on Friday at Herman Creek for 2X50min. repeats and all of them were also running McDonald so we all could feel the love :).

I dropped Alex off at school and made it out to Herman by 8:45 where Stacey, Steve, Beast and Anna all joined and we headed for our workout. I knew this would have an impact on my race but McDonald was not supposed to be a race but more like a solid training effort as I knew my body would be fatigued. BTW: This was free dress day because it was Friday, Saturday we dawned all black for the occasion to honor our friends Jim, Micheal, Susan and Rick who were running Black Saturday :). The day was gorgeous and the mountains were out for viewing at the top of the PCT. My repeats went well, reaching the first clearing in 41 minutes was a bit faster than previous times but just meant I had to keep going further than expected :). I did my 50 minutes at threshold and slammed back down for another one. Steve was right behind me followed by Beast and Anna. Stacey was doing 40 minutes so just power hiked for another 10 minutes. I got down quickly refueled and headed out for number 2. I know I am getting in better shape because I usually dread repeat number 2 but now I am not apprehensive and even a bit anxious to see how I feel. Strong and steady I ran my second one and had good power the whole way. Beast hung out around the top and took pictures of all of us as we crested the clearing. I decided this would be a good time to work on my tan but just as I was getting comfortable here comes Steve and Anna! We headed back down and then went straight back to the car. It was an awesome day....thanks everyone for coming out on a Friday and running repeats before your race.

A quick drive home, pick up Alex at school, get him to baseball practice, feed us and then prepare for McDonald. My preparation was pretty minimal....just a couple of Organic Food Bars, 12 Gels, a Red Bull and some recovery food. I was getting up at 5 a.m. to pick up Stacey to head down to race. We get going with directions in hand and of course get lost. The funny thing and us is we never get worked up about being lost, I don't know why but we just keep talking and talking and eventually we ask someone which way to go. The best parts about getting lost yesterday were.....1. We had directions......2. I have a navigation system built in my car and forgot as the roaming map is staring us in the face.....and 3. we just laughed at all of our stupidness and made jokes like, "hey I got an idea", "what"? "Let's use the navigation system next time". "Wow, that's a genius idea"!

We arrived with plenty of time to see everyone and chat. It was so wonderful to be there and enjoy the ultra energy and the great people. We haven't been to the Mac for 3 years but it was like we were never absent. I got in the back with no real running plans but to work hard and not kill myself. I had no residual fatigue from the repeats that I could readily identify so the bell was rung and we headed up the road. I settled into a comfortable pace and made sure I wasn't getting caught up in the speed fest that generally goes on in the beginning of a race. Soon we hit the single track and up we went. I ran most of this but took a few walk breaks on the steep parts. I was feeling pretty good but wanted to be conservative in the first half. My training plan for my second day runs call for a faster second half. We switchbacked up and hopped on the gravel road that offers a slight uphill grade. This is the kind of grade that requires you to get into a groove and run vs. walk. I settled in nicely and arrived at the aid station 5 minutes ahead of my schedule with meant I was doing a sub 10 minute pace...hmmmmmm.....too fast but I felt good. I didn't need anything from the aid station and ran right through. We continued on the road for a bit then hit the side trail that heads straight downhill. I roared down the hill because I should not have to worry about my quad strength at this point in my training so I let-r-rip! I felt on fire and had to check in with myself many times to be sure I was not over doing or setting myself up for a bonk but I could tell it was going to be a good (photo by Corvallis Gazette Times) day. I arrived at the second aid station and saw Amy and Sandy (Beast's daughter and wife) and that was treat. They cheered me on and told how great I looked :). Quickly got some water and headed off for the steep climb and the technical traverse. I did pretty good on the climb, holding my own and maintaining myself. No one is moving really fast in this section as the trail climbs steeply and once it levels off you traverse a very technical trail that does not allow you to open up much. During this section I used my time wisely by working on my gait and my efficiency. Not allowing myself to over stride and maintaining good posture so I wouldn't use unnecessary energy. This is a fun game to play when you have to move slowly. Once out the this we head downhill to the aid station. I soared downhill again, quads still able to hold and I could propel! This is mile 18.4 and I have drop bag with my Red Bull and more gels. I shared my RB because I saw peoples faces light up when I cracked the can. This is where the race starts! More than halfway through the event it's time to turn up engine and see what I can do. I was pumped! I haven't felt this powerful in a long time. With plenty of leg power and energy I left and began to push. Fueling on the half hour and monitoring my water intake really works in keeping the engine going. I put on my music and qued up the Bee Gee's.......yes I know, but they have a great beat. The poor young guy who couldn't shake me had to hear me sing, "what's ya doing on your back, you should be dancin yeahhhhhhh" I finally decided to pass him so I could spare him the bad singing, but I just couldn't help myself! Now is time we catch up with the early starters which was a blast. I got to see Beast, Liz and Kam, Marilyn, Steve and bunch of others. At this point I am about 20 minutes ahead of my 6 hour prediction so I feel really good about that. My fastest time at the Mac was 5:56 three years ago and I tapered and trained for that time. Mile 22.4 aid station came up and I needed nothing so I ran through but heard Meagan say I was 5th! I thought about it but came to the conclusion I didn't hear her right but just in case I did I better get going! At this point we do more climbing as we switchback up to another high point. I ran a good portion of this and again used my time to stay focused on my stride and efficiency, not letting myself take on bad form because I was getting fatigued or bored. I could see people climbing the switchbacks so knew it was going to take awhile to reach the top. I started thinking about the upcoming finish which takes you on 3+ miles of gravel road to reach the saddle then a nice single track trail into the finish. My goal was to run every step of that section and I felt like I could. Once at the top of the switchbacks you pop onto another gravel road which takes you into the last aid station and only 4.8 miles to finish. I needed just a bit of water, grabbed a coke and took off with a new goal of 5:30. I had a pretty good shot at this but would have to work for it. I got the tunes going and settled into a nice groove running up the road. I played with doing some stride outs just to see how the legs responded and they had plenty of power so that meant I should play the "stride game" all the way up the hill so I did. I was getting 9:30 per minute miles up this road and that was really keeping me fired up. Once we got to the top and took the hard right onto the trail I knew we had about 1.5 mile to go and most of it was downhill. I had 14 minutes to do this and make it under 5:30. I ran really hard and had a ton of adrenaline flowing as I crossed the finish line 5:27:22. I think I was 5th woman and 43th overall but am not sure yet. I won a mug for 3rd masters which is pictured above.
(photo by Amy Lynes)

Just an absolute blast....those are the only words that keep coming to mind when I think about the weekend and all that transpired. Solid workouts, lots of friends, tons of laughter and a good performance to top it off. Today I feel really good! I am just thrilled with my fitness this close to WS. I don't think I have ever been in better shape. My recovery has been speedy and with that I am seeming to rebound stronger. I think I am heading into a peak which is just what I am looking for. I have been doing a lot reading and research on just what "peaking" feels like and how one knows they are heading for a "peak" performance. I will write about it when I get all my thoughts around the subject. Surprisingly "peaking" is not well defined and not easily described. If any of you have ideas please share them!

This upcoming week might be my highest mileage week ever. A bunch of us are heading to the Rogue River for a 40 mile run on Saturday and another 40 on Sunday. I have do hill repeats on Thursday and a tempo run on Tuesday. I do get 2 recovery runs as well so I am estimating this to be about 120-130 mile week.......hmmmmmmm. I am ready though!


olga said...

WOW, Ronda! Such an awesome time after hill repeats, and even without!!! You are definitely getting not only so strong, but super-fast, i am eager to see what will happen at WS!!! Seriosuly, this is a heck of a shape you are in, and I am hopeful that now I have a couple of years to get somewhere too:) Thanks for your hard training and "see results" style!

caroline said...

Ronda, you looked so strong out there and were SO inspiring! It is going to be one GRAND SLAM this summer and I look forward to reading all about it. :-)

Rooster said...

Thanks Ladies! I am feeling more ready each day so I anxious to see what happens at WS this year but I am not taking that race never know what kind of curve ball WS can throw at you so I am practicing my best ducking technique:)

GotLegs! said...

Ronda, very interesting thought process ... I totally understand not knowing how to do recovery and how that plays into racing. I'm trying to learn that as well. And you weren't supposed to race - so why did you pick it up when you found out your were in 5th? I know, I know, I do the same thing. My only saving grace is I don't wear a watch that often, so I wouldn't really know if I were going to break some magical time barrier - you know what I mean.

Anyway, you bring up so much that I've been thinking about. I don't have an experiential understanding of peaking but know that I had a peak year in 2005 and didn't realize it until "after" CCC. It probably has to do with my not doing recover enough and not recognizing the signs.

NOw what's taboo about the Bee-Gees? You should hear me singing the Bee-Gees - or Michael Jackson - or NOT! Doh!

Something else ironic, at our aid station this weekend, I drank what I thought was some orange sparkling soda just to get some flavor since I just drink water on the trail. I finally asked, "what is this stuff." It was Red Bull - I'd never tried an energy drink before. I don't think I could drink that stuff normally but it sure was GOOD after 50 miles of chugging on the course.

Also interesting, then I'll shut up - is focusing on your stride/form. When I run with friends, I tell them to focus on their form in training so it comes natural during their race. It's something I learned in high school from my first cross-country coach. I am ever so grateful that he taught us that - no telling how efficient it's made me and how much time it's saved me over the years. I might say it's saved me from getting injured too over the years but that might be "STRETCHING" it (pun intended).

Ready for States - scared about States - ready for States!!!


KendraBo said...

Great job, Ronda. Keep on truckin'!