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That which does not kill you...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I was reading in Runner's World magazine about the virtues of hill workouts. The magazine says to find a hill that is 40 to 50 paces long. The magazine tells the reader to run up the hill. Walk down the hill to recover. Then run back up the hill. The magazine cautions to do this hill workout only once a week.

My driveway is a 50 pace hill! I do a hill workout to get to where I run hills. I actually don't run hills. I run mountains.

(FYI - I live at 8,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies. Any run I do is uphill both ways.)

My normal training runs are nasty. Strangely, I cannot get my heart rate over 110 BPM no matter how hard I run. A low heart rate is normal while running at high altitude. At high altitude, blood oxygen saturation is so low that the heart decides there is no reason beat faster since it does no good anyway!

I think I will start a SparkTeam called "High Altitude Runners". I am pretty sure I would be the only member. That would be OK. I find what I have to say to be fascinating. I could post long answers to questions that I have. Of course, it wouldn't take long before I start arguing with myself. I am sure the exchange would get very acrimonious. I would have to report me. I would likely get kicked off SparkPeople just because I can't get along with myself!

Yesterday I decided I was sick and tired of running where there is no air. I drove down to Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is at 6,000 feet. There is a labyrinth of running trails in Highlands Ranch. These trails are located on rolling hills. There is no way to escape hills in Colorado. At least there is more air at 6,000 feet.

I decided to run 10 miles or so. I warmed up and started running. I could breathe. I found myself running fast. I wanted to run the first 5K really quickly. I figured if I could keep my pace under 10 min/mile going uphill, and blaze downhill, I could maybe hit a new high-altitude hill-running PR.

Here are the specifics:

Total Ascent: 2,379ft
Total Descent: 1,338ft
Vertical climb in 5K: 2,379ft - 1,338ft = 1,041ft

5K time = 25:59

25:59 is a new high-altitude/hilly-terrain PR! I did not expect to be this fast while climbing 1,041 feet! My old high-altitude PR was a miserable 26:42! I set the old PR on relatively flat terrain. 25:59 is huge for me!

Ok, time to brag. (As if I haven't been bragging already!) The average sedan is about 4 feet from ground to roof. 1,041 feet is equal to 260 sedans stacked on top of each other! That is a big tower of cars to climb. (Kids, do not try this at home!)

After my 5K blast, I should have turned around and ran back to the car. Unfortunately, I just decided to keep running up the trail.

Then I got lost! The jumble of trails in Highlands Ranch is confusing. I suppose getting lost was inevitable. I only wanted to run 10 miles. By the time I found my way back to the car, I had put in 14.5 miles.

I suppose running a lot of miles is good for me. But I may have overdone it just a tad!

Here is my timer display. I am under 26 minutes for my hilly 5K by the smallest of margins. My Garmin keeps track of lots of stuff including altitude, grade, time, distance and pace. My fastest pace was 4.04 min/mile (downhill). My slowest pace was 9.58 (uphill).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IRONGRANNIE 4/19/2010 2:24AM

    I don't know how you do it! That sounds so hard. I have just started "hill" running. The biggest hill round here is probably about as steep as your drive, (but longer!) but I find it hard enough. Keep up the good work and try not to get lost.

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L3DESIGNS 4/18/2010 5:25PM

    Great job... I generally run at sea level -- but hills are part of it (though they are small compared to what you are running)

Keep on running!

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ELYMWX 4/18/2010 3:21PM

    Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I'm a Schizophrenic, and so am I!

In all seriousness, you are NUTS. In a good way. Honestly. Fer sure!

Good job on the 14.5!

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CAROLYN1213 4/18/2010 1:33PM

    Awesome job!!!! I cannot think of a valid excuse not to get a run in under 'adverse' conditions, now that I know you run uphill both ways! LOL!!

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S0122S 4/18/2010 12:15PM

    Very funny! Good for you doing 14.5 miles- even if it was unintentional.

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HARRINGTON5 4/18/2010 12:00PM

    You always crack me up. I especially like the part about the high altitude team with you being the only member. On my virtual tour I didn't go into Colorado, just cruised along the border. With all those mountains, I'm glad I was only on a "virtual tour". You are a pretty amazing guy. Those times are fantastic. I finally got my neighbor with asthma running for eight minutes. So, I am feeling quite proud (although she is jogging at 15 minutes per mile). Her goal is to run a 5K one day and I plan on getting her there. So, although we have very different times, I'm sure our feelings are close to being the same. You are really a wonderful inspiration and I just love your blogs. Cynthia

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Six month challenge with a SparkFriend

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My SparkFriend, ELYMWX, and I have a 6 month running challenge. We have yet to work out the details. I personally want this challenge to be base entirely on speed. I think the winner should be determined by official 5K race times.

Since my Canadian friend is significantly younger and lighter than me, I think I need at least a 2 minute head start! I also race at a much higher altitude so I may need another 1 minute head start! Vancouver (not Toronto) is at 7 feet. The lowest elevation I can find around here is about 6,000 feet.

In the interest of fair play, I decided to post my normal weekly workout.

Day 1: 3 to 5 mile easy run (9:30 to 10:00 min/mile)
Day 2: 40 to 60 minutes on elliptical
Day 3: Full body strength training
Day 4: 3 to 5 mile easy run + four 100M sprints and two 200M sprints , or AT run (12 to 15 mins)
Day 5: 30 minutes on elliptical + full body strength training
Day 6: 8 to 10 mile long run
Day 7: Rest

AT means “Anaerobic-Threshold”. For my AT workout I run flat-out for 12 to 15 minutes. On some days, I will do walk/run intervals if I am feeling tired. The time I spend on the elliptical helps me recover. My strength training includes three sets of 15 to 25 reps with relatively light weights.

My high altitude 5K PR is 26:45 (8,043ft). My low altitude PR is 23:12 set in Phoenix, Arizona (1,250ft). My pace drops precipitously at any distance over 5K. At 10K I am crawling and gasping for air. A ˝ Marathon would likely kill me.

I don't think the challenge should be based on improvement. I don't expect to get much faster. Heck, I might even get slower.

I know I don’t stand a chance. I just wanted my good friend ELYMWX to know what he is up against.

I have to run up and down hills. I have no choice. I think this is good for me. This is a photo of a normal hill along my route. Sometimes I go the the high school track so I can run on something flat.

Here is a good look at a steep hill. I really slow down on the really steep segments. I can only do a 13 to 14 min/mile pace on this hill.

This is a flatter segment. There really aren't any flat segments. The total vertical over my normal 5 mile run is about 1,000 feet.

I know ELYMWX is laughing right now because he knows he can take me. I will have to start training a lot harder. All I can say is good luck to my SparkFriend.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

C-MERRIE11 4/25/2010 10:52AM

  Wow! What a great idea! And I am super impressed by your running/training knowledge. You could write an article, or help young runners learn the ropes. That in itself is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

Comment edited on: 4/25/2010 10:57:10 AM

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GAZELK 4/13/2010 10:32PM

    Sounds tiresome. I'm not sure who I'll root for, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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TREEBW 4/12/2010 7:47PM

    Go kick some A$$ !!!

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JADERUNNING 4/12/2010 7:57AM

    Wow! you have such beautiful place to run! Man I can go distance but you have the speed on me! Great job!

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CAROLYN1213 4/12/2010 4:00AM

    I love this idea! A good friendship challenge can be great motivation and accountability.

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ELYMWX 4/11/2010 11:27PM

    Yeah, I'm laughing, all right.

I'm almost at sea level.

Vancouver, British Columbia, not Toronto, Ontario. Ya might want to check a map.

In the interest of fairness, I will also post my training routine... once I've got it figured out! You might have noticed that I'm seriously considering a round of Insanity to build up my endurance, and I have yet to figure out how that would fit in with running training.
emoticon emoticon
Gimme a week or so.

As for the judging criteria and handicapping, what I propose is this: let's let our wives figure it out.

Six months, you're going down, OLD MAN! emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 4/11/2010 11:29:15 PM

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L3DESIGNS 4/11/2010 11:25PM

    Great idea! BUT he won't be running in Toronto! He'll be running at sea level (or close to it).... We are far, far away on the Pacific Coast!

As for hills -- we know what they are emoticon

BTW, your 5k PR is much faster than my best at 29:59...

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Worried runner running slowly

Monday, April 05, 2010

On my last several training runs I found myself plodding along at a 9:30 min/mile pace. I started to get worried. I used have speed. I had been working on running at a steady slower pace. My efforts were rewarded – I was slow. Where did my speed go?

I am pretty sure I lack the gene that would make me a good long distance runner.


Even though I am a lousy long distance runner, I used to be pretty quick over short distances. Yesterday, Saturday, April 3rd, I decided to run at the high school track. I got tired of running up hills. In the mountains of Colorado everything is hilly. I guess that’s why mountains are called mountains!

After a bit of a warm-up, I started jogging along at a 9:25 min/mile pace. I ran a mile at this pace. The track is at 8, 047 feet elevation. I decided to walk and catch my breath. I walked a bit at a brisk 15 min/mile pace and took off running again. I glanced at my Garmin timer. I was cruising at 7:09 min/mile pace. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. I found my run/walk strategy, besides being fun, averaged an 8:36 min/mile pace!

After running about 2.5 miles I decided to blast out a few sprints. I ran three 100m sprints, and two 200m sprints. I hit a 4.04 min/mile pace in the 100s, and a 6:08 in the 200’s. I walked quite a bit between the sprints.

It felt kind of nice to run fast, even though it was over really short distances. Just call me Speedy!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KENDRASTIC 4/6/2010 7:17PM

    Wow! I want to run that fast. I think I might try to see how long it takes me to run a mile. Your workout was good inspiration-it sounded fun!


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HARRINGTON5 4/6/2010 6:08PM

    That is how I train too, but no where near your speed! I think you ARE speedy, that is a good name for you. Thank you for the tip about the speed of alligators. I did not know that. I see them almost every day now, but usually at a distance. I'm going to post a picture of that bad boy as soon as I can. I saw his full length and I think it is the eight-footer. I really do stick to the street most of the time.

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USFBULL 4/5/2010 10:41PM

    ok I might be wrong but does the term interval running work here. Way to go and keep up the good work, woohoo!! emoticon

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GAZELK 4/5/2010 10:35PM

    Sounds pretty fast to me, Speedy.

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TREEBW 4/5/2010 6:25PM

    Where in CO do you live? We lived there from when I was 6 until 12 (Denver, Dillon, Clark, Steamboat, and Stagecoach). I plan to go back someday, not sure where though. Not Clark again, I know that!

I need to go to a track also; not mountains here like CO, but my town is really hilly...I am ready for flat.

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    Have you ever checked out Jeff Galloway's website? It is a great resource on the benefits of run-walk training.

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JADERUNNING 4/5/2010 1:15PM

    Deal! You work on the speedwork and I will do the long slow distance! Next week schedule has me at 23 miles! Going to try to do some track work today. Good job picking up the pace!

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ELYMWX 4/5/2010 12:54PM

    Hmmm.... Trying to decide if I should feel sorry for you or not.

I know my 1-mile pace is currently around 8:20, but I also know that I can't keep it up for much more than a mile straight out. Combination run/walk, I'm around 11:50. You're blowing me away, man.

In that context, I'm still trying to decide if I should feel sorry for you or not.

I'm still thinking...

OK, I'll tell you this: in six months (I just set a calendar entry) I'll come back to this blog and tell you, based upon where we both are in our running training, whether I feel sorry for you or not.


Comment edited on: 4/5/2010 6:20:23 PM

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    Ok speedy....glad you found your fast self again. I'm with Princessnurse...you think 9:30 slow???!!! Ok, for you it is...for me...well, I'm thinking your 4:04 is the speed of light.

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CAROLYN1213 4/5/2010 9:54AM

    That is awesome!!! I love that you found your speedy runner again! I'm afraid my speedy runner does not exist. But, I am increasingly pleased to still have a pretty good 'kick' in the end of my 8 - 10 mile runs!

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IPA-RAY 4/5/2010 9:43AM

    Great to run fast occasionally, isn't it?

I always find that a little work on the track corrects my form and makes me a tad faster when I get back on the roads. Hope it works for you.

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    What I love about running is that everyone can find a way to make it work for his or her fitness needs. I really hate short distances at a fast pace. I love to run distance...I really don't care about my pace in the least. I could run alot faster than I do but I would feel awful doing it so what would the point of that be? For me running is about accomplishing things I never thought I was capable of---it is all about the journey...

ps: I find I am faster when I use run-walk than when I just run....also, if you think 9:30 is plodding you would think I am super slow-lol.

Comment edited on: 4/5/2010 9:50:24 AM

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ANGNDABOYZ 4/5/2010 2:25AM

    emoticon That's Awesome! I hear you on the slow running thing, you are obviously much farther ahead than I am with the running(I just recently started up again). The hills are a killer though aren't they? I have a track near my house that I use and it actually has hills built in, I use that and it is challenging, but I have often wondered if I would be faster if I used the flat treadmill or the highschool track.

Keep up the good work! Whatever you are doing it is working!

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Oh, that really hurt!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The temperature got up to 41 °F today, which is 9°F above freezing. Any temperature above freezing is a veritable heat wave. The ice and snow had melted off the roads. The roads were muddy but not slippery. With all this blazing heat, I could go running just wearing shorts.

I wanted to do some serious hill running! I had been slacking lately and the good weather had me jazzed! I had a healthy lunch including a greasy hot dog from the Loaf & Jug; some Salt & Pepper Potato chips; a can of Sprite; and Hostess Snowballs for dessert! In other words, I was ready run.

There is a monster hill nearby. The hill starts at 8,260 feet and tops out at 10,394 feet. The road up the hill is 5 miles long. Average grade is 16.2%. The steepest part of the hill has a 50% grade. A 50% grade translates into 27° slope angle. By comparison, stairs typically have a 36° slope angle.

I think I should have picked a flatter hill. I ran around a lake at the bottom of the hill and started the ascent. I would love to tell you I blazed up this nasty piece of real estate. I actually had to walk some. I ended up doing a 3:1 ratio of running to walking.

I find chanting in my head helps. I just kept thinking, “Up! Up! Up!” I don’t wear an IPod when I run. I find my hallucinations to be much better company than music. If you haven’t run at high-altitude you are missing-out on pain and misery of epic proportions! You can try to breath but it does no good. The air is so dry that dehydration is instantaneous. Your eye-balls dry out! Every breath hurts.

At least it is good exercise. According to my Garmin timer I burned 834 calories during my run, which means I ran off the hot dog and one Snowball.

My time? I ran, walked and crawled the 5.01 miles in 57:52, which translates into an abysmal 11:32 min/mile pace. I felt I was barely moving. I will keep assaulting this hill until I can run the whole way. This hill is not going to beat me!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GAZELK 4/5/2010 10:37PM

    That's quite a hill (mountain) you accomplished. Bigger than anything I have around here. Amazing how dropping a little weight makes those just a little bit easier.

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HARRINGTON5 3/29/2010 4:18PM

    Your new name fits you so much better. You make running at a high altitude sound delightful. Certainly something I will stay clear of. Great job though. You are one determined guy! Onward and upward!

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CHARGER25 3/29/2010 10:30AM

    Way to work it! Lunch sounded good until I thought about what is you have to do to get rid of the calories......I hear snowballs can occur only in the coldest of climates..... emoticon

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ELYMWX 3/29/2010 10:21AM

    Your hill makes the one I'm avoiding running up look like a molehill! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LKEITHO 3/29/2010 8:47AM

    Wow! Sub-12 minute miles on that kind of slope sounds awfully darned good to me! I have trouble making that time on a flat course! Congratulations!

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IRONGRANNIE 3/29/2010 4:33AM

    Congrats on your name change! That's the attitude! Go get that hill, Dog!

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USFBULL 3/29/2010 3:47AM

    Nice work, emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Running in snow and cold - NOT!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I did not do much running this last week. The weather was really cold and nasty. I know I am wimping-out. I counted on my fingers and toes that it has been cold and snowy for 5 months. I am just tired running in sub-freezing temperatures. I didn't mind the cold in November. December is a good month for snow and cold. I expect a deep freeze in January. I can stand the bitter cold of February. I guess I thought by the end of March the weather would be getting better.

No dice!

I went running today. I quit after 2.5 miles. I felt a twinge in my right hamstring. I knew if kept going, my right hamstring would tighten-up. Usually, I just keep going. The wind, cold and blowing snow changed my mind. Maybe the hamstring pull was just an excuse to go get warm.

This is my house at 2:00PM today. I wonder why I even try to clear my driveway. This could be called a blizzard but the snow is falling at an angle, not sideways.

Here is my truck two days ago. The snow melts a little. Then we get more snow. Four wheel drive is a necessity here. The problem is that you can go, but you cannot stop! Spring snow is slippery.

This is my backyard glacier. The ladder is for removing show from the satellite dish.

Springtime in the Rockies. This is as warm as it is going to get. Time to go running.

I am having trouble getting motivated. I would really like to see the sun. I guess I am getting cabin fever in a huge way! I have decided not to pre-register for any races until June. Race-day registration may be the only way to go! My dad used to say we have two seasons here, "11 months of Winter and 1 month of mighty late Fall!" I used to think he was joking!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GAZELK 4/5/2010 10:39PM

    Yuck! We haven't had snow here in Minnesota (usually, a cold state) in over a month. If I had that kind of snow here, I'd cry. I'm all Spring now and I'm not going back to Winter.

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DAVIDMU89 3/28/2010 4:52PM

    Hey , you made the effort, KUDOS! The weather is crazy , we had predicted 100% showers with thunder during my 15k race today. Not a drop during the race , which is cool , but i could have foregone the tights today. Keep on , keepin on my friend!

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LKEITHO 3/28/2010 9:01AM

    I know exactly what you mean! Winters like those were exactly why I moved from Calgary to Phoenix. I hope you see some more sunshine and heat soon! I also remember how beautiful the Rockies are in the spring and summer, so hang in there!

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    Holy snow! You win. We're firmly into Spring in WI. Blustery 20-30 mph winds, but free of ice and snow. Nice house, though....I'd be tempted to never leave! At least you got out there and gave it a try. Yeah, unless its a really popular race, I'm doing race day registration. Too many things come up that keep me away!

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SUMMAHFRUTE 3/28/2010 2:42AM

    ew, rough weather. greetings from san diego, haha, i know, we're spoiled.

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