Friday, May 23, 2014

Back on Track

It has been eight months since I ran with my speedy track group. Last summer I started up with a club that does track work every Wednesday. Lots of intervals with 20-30 other fast people (mostly faster than me). It was great, but I think I overdid it, and when PF sidelined me I blamed the track work (at least partly) and stayed away as I recovered.

Well I have been running well for over 3 months now, and the PF is mostly gone, so it was time to get back there. I told myself I would be good and not do the full workout. My goals this year are mainly to get ready for marathons, not break 5K PRs. But speed work is still good for me. And fun.

The club leader, or coach, has us warmup and then tells us what to do, one interval at a time, so we don't know what else is coming. But it always adds up to about 8 miles, including warmup and cool downs. I felt good on warm up. I was hoping for some mile repeats. Nope. First up, 400 at 5K pace.

Off we go, and I run 1:37, or 6:30 pace. A little fast, but it felt good. Quick 100 meter jog, and we do another 400 at 5K pace. I push a little harder and run 1:32, 6:08 pace. Oops! Fun though. Short cool down, and now another 400 at MILE pace. So I push pretty hard. Boom! 1:24. 5:36 pace. And then another one. I'm feeling a bit fatigued now and run 1:27. 5:48 pace. 1 lap jog.

Well, that was fun! I guess I still have some speed despite the long layoff. Next up, 4 laps at 5K pace. Gulp. OK, just a solid mile repeat. I figure to shoot for sub-7. I find I am running with and competing with the same people I ran with last year. Good solid run and I finish strong with a 6:36!

Wow, OK! Pretty tired now and my hip is tight and the feet hurt a little. I do some stretching, and think about quitting. But I jog up for the next one. He says another 1600 at 5K pace, with the 2nd half faster than the first. Hmm, OK, I'll start out slower and just take it easy... Yeah, right. After a slowish first 200, my competitive urges kick in and I am back up to sub-7 pace. And I pick it up even more for the last 800 and finish with 6:40.

OK, that's enough. I do some jogging and stretching and skip the rest, which turned out to be 2 more 400s and an 800. One really fast guy led the group. He was doing 400s in 61 and miles in 4:40! I got lapped on both my miles.

Feet hurt a lot right after, but today they are fine, so that's good. Feeling pretty positive! Looking forward to a 14 miler Sunday, where I will be joined by ShaunP45 who will be in town for the weekend. Mini-Loopmeet!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Hill

That was the name of this week's Goat run. Now we run hills every week. It's a mountain goat trail group after all. But this week would be special. A hill that put the others to shame. A hill to break your spirit, swallow your soul, break your body and have you ending up like this guy.

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"Please! Make it stop!"

For sadistic fun, the group leader told us all to time the hill so it could be recorded for future reference and seeding. So it was a race! No slacking!

OK, fine, how hard could it be? It was another trail near the other trails we run every week. Well, here's how it looked on my Garmin. It's that first hill in mile 1...

the hill
The next 6 miles were just for kicks and giggles. THE HILL was 0.59 miles, and 793 feet of elevation.

I did some math...0.59 x 5,280 feet = 3,115 feet.  793/3,115 = 25.5% grade. 25.5%! Average! (Some parts were steeper than others, despite the straight line on the chart)

For perspective I checked the "killer" hill from last week's Flying Pig. About 250' over 1.7 miles. Less than 3% grade!

Anyway, after a 1/4 mile warmup, up we went! I ran for about 15 seconds. And then the walking started. It was all walking after that. And hands on knees hiking. And stopping. Fricking brutal it was. Hills are not my strength anyway and I got passed by people who normally never pass me. My calves were screaming on the steepest bits as each step took supreme effort to keep going. I would have killed for a walking stick for some leverage. My lower back was aching. Plus I was on the lookout for the critters that left scat all over the trail, and it wasn't dog.

It took me 15:40 for 0.59 miles. A lovely 26+ minute per mile pace! And I was going as hard as I could because it was a race after all! Anyway, I survived without wallowing in the dirt or falling backward and tumbling to my death. After a little break all was well and I was able to go on and enjoy the rest of the run. Just 2,200 total elevation gain over 7.2 miles. Lots of fun.

Since I "only" did 7 on Saturday I doubled up with 9 easy flat miles on Sunday. A nice topless run on a hot day, finishing up at the beach with some hard sand running. Fun. Legs are tired, but that BQ isn't going to be handed to me.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flying Pig Loopfest and The Duel RR

Loopfest time again! I was still so excited to see everybody. Even though I have been to a lot of these, it still feels like Christmas every time. With all the anticipation and happiness and smiles. And the Flying Pig weekend did not disappoint!

Friday was low-key. Other than the expo where I saw a handful of loopsters briefly, I had some family obligations most of the day. Friday night there was lobby drinking and chit chat.

Saturday I missed all the daytime activities, but we were able to pull together dinner for everyone at my in-law's house after a last minute offer to host. God bless 'em, because it was a perfect location and we didn't really have a good plan before that. So nearly everyone came over and we hung out on the deck on a sunny warm evening and did Loopfest stuff.

The Running Brotha brought some soul. TwentySixPoint2 brought the crazy.
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 Zamgirl and her sis

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 Quadracool and Lawrenceaa

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Jenster kept things lively.
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but first...
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Ron Swanson's 'stache! Yes, that's him. Before his first marathon...
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Dean showed up and the women swarmed. Mainly because he brought them gifts.
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The wonderful Blevinses arrive! Most supportive loopsters ever.
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 So, the meetups were amazing of course. It was so great to see all my old buddies. And to meet a few new ones - I got to know BriU, KeepRunningGirl and the 'Stache a little bit. But there was a little race to take care of. And I know you all want to hear about it.

We arrived before dawn for the 6:30 start. Parked in Kentucky and walked across the bridge to Cincinnati.

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 It was a good mile walk. My BIL let us use his group's tent to stash our stuff and use their private indoor plumbing. Hooray! By the time we got to the corral, they were playing the national anthem! We had cut it close without really realizing it. No time for warmup jogs. Just hopped up and down a few times and within minutes we were off and running!

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So, unless you're just joining us, you know that Peg and I were running together, had similar goals, and both have a certain affinity for trash talk. We both planned to run as hard as we could, run our own race, go for our goals, and oh, by the way, kick the other's butt. There would be no hand-holding across the finish line. Other than that, we might run together for a while.

Plan was 7:45 pace through 6, survive the hill as well as possible, and then haul donkey for the last downhill miles. I wanted to run under 1:42, with an A goal of sub 1:40. And hopefully that would be enough to beat the young upstart.

Here is the course. For future reference.


So we get started. It's a little fast, so I try to relax. The lack of warmup bothered me. It felt like I was already breathing hard after a half mile. There was a little rise and Peg got ahead and I just had to let her go because I was hurting! After half a mile! What the hell. But a little down slope helped me get my wind and I felt better and caught back up. Mile 1 was 7:37. (Note: Garmin was running consistently short. I ended with 13.27 miles, so splits are a little faster than they actually were)

But then, bridge #1. From Ohio to Kentucky. I tried to maintain my effort and Peg pulled away again. This would become the dominant theme of this race. I knew hills are not my strength. But I didn't expect every little rise to suck so bad! It felt like 10K pace and I was ALREADY feeling defeated. Peg was 20 yards ahead on the first bridge. Seriously, I thought I would lose her soon and never see her again until she mocked me at the end.

But, then the downhill, and life got more rosy. I could breathe. I was catching back up. Maybe I could hang for a while.

Miles 2 and 3 were 7:30 and 7:43. I caught Peg on the flat. Then a 2nd bridge and she was gone again. I would catch back up. Then a 3rd bridge. A big one. I settled in to conservative pace, because I had no choice, and off she went. She had a good 50 yards on me after that one. But then there was a long downhill...

DW had set up on the bridge for photos, and when Peg saw her...I think she lost her mind. Apparently she wanted to get a picture with both of us in it. So she stopped. Cold.

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See me back there catching up? Crazy woman.

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The dear wife had a nice spot and caught lots of loopsters going by.

The brotha! pig 132
KEK, twentysixpoint2 and Quadracool!
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Zamgirl and sis way over there!
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Gingersnap, Jenster and CLynn!
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VBlevins and RunningPlaces (and AlliKate behind them - invisible, sorry)
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Anyway, I caught Peg again off the bridge and we actually ran together for a mile or so. Miles 4, 5 and 6 were 7:24, 7:50 and 7:20. So we were basically right on goal pace at the real mile marks. But I wasn't feeling good. I felt dead, barely hanging on with heavy legs. Not a happy camper. And the big hill was coming up.

Still flying though.

This was mile 6.


Saw my favorite sign of the day: "You're Not Even Close". Yeah that's what it felt like. But I was still functional and pace was good. So I just needed to get over that hill, and survive the rest and maybe I could have a decent time after all. And if I could stay close enough to Peg on the hill, I felt pretty confident that I could catch her on the downhill, and dig deeper into the pain cave at the end.

Up we went. Peg pulled away slowly, and I settled into my survival hill mode. It was hard, but I was maintaining, and soon enough there was a little respite before the next big one. And Peg stopped to walk through the water stops several times which allowed me to make up lots of ground (rookie). She never got out of sight. Miles 7 and 8 were 8:36 and 8:12.

We crested the worst hill and I was still close, maybe 20 yards behind. But it was still gradual uphill for most of the way to mile 10 and I couldn't catch her. I was just hanging on. 9 and 10 were 7:41 and 8:00. About here I thought of a blog title possibility. Since California Chrome had just won the Kentucky Derby, I thought I could use California Silver if I lost or California Gold if I won. But I got blank stares from two people I tried it on, so never mind.

At mile 10 the descent began. THANK GOD! I was hurting bad, like ready to quit and walk bad. Fatigue was affecting my form. Just hating life for miles. But having Peg out in front certainly helped motivate me the whole way. Thanks, Shalane!, er, Peg! Without you setting the pace, I'm pretty sure I would have settled into a little slower pace. Competition is good.

I had a power gel during mile 10 and it seemed to wake me up. Or maybe it was the downhill. But the idea of 3 downhill miles didn't sound too bad. At 10.4 I caught Peg just before one REALLY steep block that you can see on the chart. I took off the brakes and flew down that hill, pinwheeling my arms and nearly taking flight. It was awesome.

After about 1/4 mile I turned back to look and Peg was nowhere near. The next mile was steep and fast and I was flying. Mile 11: 6:51. Several times I leaned forward 'from the ankles' and it really seemed to push me forward. Short steps, fast turnover, no brakes, and I was passing lots of people. Still hurt. A lot. But I could breathe. And I had momentum. And adrenaline. Wheeeee!!!!!

Mile 12 flattened a bit for an out and back section. I was in my 'hang on because the end is near' mode at this point, and kept pushing into the anaerobic zone. I saw Peg was well back on the turnaround, gave her a wave, and kept pushing to get the best time I could. I knew I had sub 1:42 and a shot at sub 1:41.

More downhill made it easier to maintain the suicide pace. Miles 12 and 13 were both 7:10 and then I had .27 at 6:49 pace into the finish.

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Who hurt more?

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OK, that wasn't too fair. I know she was hurting plenty.

So I finished in 1:40:54. And I am very happy with that, considering the hills and how I felt. That is 7:42 pace. Peg was 1:01 back with a fantastic time for her, tying her PR! Now if I can just get her to run through water stops and ignore paparazzi...

We celebrated together. Still friends.
and posed for blog photos....
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 We spent the next 4 hours hanging out in the park as Loopsters filed in - mostly from the full marathon. The sun had come out. Bummer for those still running, but great for us! Beer, food, race stories. Good times. I went back to the finish to see some Loopsters come in. Lots of impressive stories out there. People who hurt for much, much longer than I did.

Later, after a solid 2 hour nap by me, we all hooked back up for dinner and drinks. It was a relatively mild night compared to other fests (ahem, Rehoboth!). But still filled with warmth, loop love and lots of laughs. And some tequila.

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Pikermi #33 in the books! Ready to keep working and keep improving. I have a big summer and Fall coming up!

Life is good.