Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Longest Training Run Ever

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Right? Boy, I must be getting stronger then, because today's run was freaking brutal.

OK, let me set this up for you. I committed to a 50K a long time ago, and it is coming up in 2 weeks. I don't really have enough miles under my belt for this. But I did just run a decent marathon, well the first 20 miles anyway, so I guess I'm not too far off. So I took a few weeks off after the marathon, ran a decent double last weekend, and thought I'd do one more long run before the taper.

I've had this idea in my head for a few years to do this run around Palos Verdes. PV is the local big hill. There is a Palos Verdes Drive which goes all the way around the mountain, and it is 21 miles long. It also includes a lot of hills, including one really big one that goes up about 800 feet in 2 miles. The run is gorgeous, with half of it hugging the rugged coastline with amazing views.

It's been on my bucket list for a while, so I figured this was a good time to do it. My plan was to take it easy, walk as needed on the hills, not worry about time, and just get it done. Treat it like an ultra and just get used to running while tired.

Today was supposed to be a little warm, but it was still cloudy as I left home and drove 4 miles to the start. But by mile 1 the sun was out, the clouds burned off, and it got warmer. I didn't get started until 8:20. Should have left at least an hour earlier. Oh well. I carried two water bottles on my belt and brought two GUs. I knew of a few places to get water, but none in the last ten miles, so I was a little concerned.

The first few miles were fine. I started taking Galloway walk breaks in mile 1! Yes, I was serious about not worrying about time. I walked about 20-30 seconds almost every mile. It helped because otherwise I was going too fast. By mile 7 I was already feeling pretty tired. The hills were tough, and I was looking forward to walk breaks. And it was getting hot. But the views were awesome! Went by a few golf courses along the coast, one owned by Donald Trump.

Just before ten miles I made a turn and started up the brutal two mile hill. It was mostly switchbacks. I was still running about half the time, and then walking. It was an endurance test at this point. By the time I hit the top at mile 12 I was done. Put a fork in me. Plus I was almost out of water and didn't know of any more water stops ahead. And nine miles to go! Worrisome!

Here is the Elevation Profile, and the Garmin link if you're interested.

But I knew there was downhill ahead. I managed to run a whole mile down hill without stopping, but took a break once it leveled off. Just as I was really getting worried about water, a gas station appeared, and I got to refill my bottles from the sink. Phew! Took a little break and felt better. But as soon as I started up I had a little more uphill and had to walk most of it. I was just dead, and with 8 miles to go, was thinking about calling for a pickup (if I found someone with a phone). But then I thought, this is a bucket list thing. Just do it, one way or the other. The idea of walking all or most of the last 8 miles didn't sound too bad.

But then was more downhill and I was able to run for a few miles. However, I noticed one of my bottles was gone! It must have fallen off soon after I refilled it, and no way was I going back. So I only had one bottle for the last 7 miles. I rationed it.

Mile 16 I hit the bottom of the hill and had 5 to go. Had to walk. A lot. I was hot and it felt like mile 24 of a marathon. I alternated in some trotting when I could. I saw a bus stop bench, and stopped and had a seat. It was too tempting. But only for 30 seconds or so. Then I saw a Little League field and decided to go off course to get more water. No fountains, so I just went up to some parents and begged for water. They were more than happy to refill my bottle. And then fill it again after I drank the whole thing. Now I felt like I could finish the last 4 with one full bottle.

The next two were a little uphill and I had to walk a lot, but the last two were almost all down, and I managed to run most of it. Made it back to my car in 3 and a half hours. Average of 10 minute pace. About 20-30 minutes more than I predicted. Felt like I just ran a marathon. But I did it! So there was some pride there. I weighed myself before and after, and lost 5 pounds! And this was after a CLIF bar and lots of water.

Signs that you're in for a tough day:
  • You keep seeing roads like Crest Drive, and Alta Vista Ave, and Mountaintop Lane, and What the Eff drive (OK, maybe I hallucinated the last one)
  • You see more reptiles than mammals next to the road
  • You pass a road bike going up a hill, briefly
  • You lose half your water supply
  • You tell someone you're running 21 miles, and they say "Today?" (referring to the heat)
  • A 2% grade uphill is enough to crush your soul
  • You have to take a walk break on a long downhill
  • You see more birds below you than above you
I was pretty downbeat during miles 12-20. Ready to throw in the towel for the 50K. Considered the run a failure. But now after 6 hours of recovery, I don't feel nearly so bad! I guess I will get through the 50K one way or the other. Should make for a good story anyway. At least I will be with friends.

Splits: 9:09, 8:46, 8:19, 8:33, 8:21, 8:27, 8:25, 9:05, 10:02, 9:48
          11:08, 11:22, 8:03, 12:56, 8:35, 8:03, 15:25, 9:05, 14:42, 10:54, 9:36

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's the Summer of (Trail) Love

Feels like Summer anyway, what with 90+ degree temps last week.

Previous summers I have focused on triathlons, or speedy short races like 5Ks. This year is the year I focus on the trails. Because one is never to old to learn new things.

My first trail race was 2 1/2 years ago - a nasty hilly 10K turkey trot with lots of climbing that reduced me to walking. Since then, I've done a ridiculously hard 30K at Bulldog that nearly killed me, and then enjoyed the heck out of the Double Dipsea last year. But in all that time I never really trained much on trails. Just a little on some local trails which are pretty tame.

Then a few months ago I jumped in with both feet and joined a club, the Santa Monica Mountain Goats, and they have weekly trail runs in the mountains that are basically all brutally hilly, but really fun. So most Saturdays I now get up at 6 and make the 30 minute drive to meet up with 20-40 other crazy types and run some hills. I love it.

So my race schedule this summer has a lot of dirt on it. Once I got past Boston (or as Kynan calls it, a nice pre-ultra tempo run, which it basically was; 20 mile tempo at 7:59 pace, followed by 6.2 miles of ultra training at 10:43 pace) I shifted to ultra training. No speed work planned until June. Just long slow miles.

I have my first ultra coming up in 3 weeks, a 50K trail run in Portland. I was seduced by the chance to run for 5 or 6 hours with loop luminaries Mild Sauce, the Flying Matzes, and Lady Runs A Lot, and we convinced a few others to join in too, AnnieRunsforFun and JuanitaGF. Not all are doing the 50K, but there are shorter races too, so it will be a loop party! And there's a beer garden and free food. Nice way to spend Memorial Day.
Once I recover from that nonsense, I have 5 weeks to be ready for my second running of the Double Dipsea! Yes I am coming back to do it again, because it is just such a great race. Plus the Sauce and the Matzes will be there, along with John Wayne and Mr. Bacon! Can't wait for that one.

A month after that I am returning to the Central CA Loop mansion to run with Medievalist again, and hang with other loopsters. this year we are doing the Santa Cruz Wharf to Wharf 10K which is a road race, but a very crowded party-like race that should be lots of fun.

Finally I am capping the summer off on Labor Day with another Loopy trail run - the Climb to the Top of Mt Baldy, which is only 10K, but it is straight up from 6,000 to 10,000 feet! More of a hike I think...But I get to hang with Atom Buddy and Alice. Life is good.

Holy cr@p!

So, running update. After Boston I rested a week, then got sick for a week and another week to get over the cough. So not a whole lot of running. But this last week was good. 7 on Tuesday, 5 on Thursday, and then 10.2 on Saturday with the Mountain Goats on a really nice single track trail. We climbed 1,600 feet in the first 2.5 miles before cruising along the crest and then coming back down. Lots of fun, and I'm starting to get better at doing these technical trails.

Here I am Sat AM heading up the hill.

I followed that up with 13 flat miles on Sunday to practice running on tired legs. Felt surprisingly good and got up to 8:15 pace for a while. But then I turned and hit a nasty headwind for the last 5 miles which really took it out of me. I switched to ultra mode, took a few walk breaks and trotted along closer to 9 minute pace. Still, felt pretty decent for a 23 mile weekend. Next weekend I am going to do my longest training run ever, close to 22 miles. I am going to do a run around Palos Verdes, which has been on my bucket list for a while. I'll let you know how that goes.