Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As I write this blog I am in Newport Beach, California, on business. I arrived Monday, April 26th. I have yet to go running. But I am looking forward to a nice run in the warm weather and being able to breathe. As most of you know, I live at 8,000 feet in the Colorado Mountains. For 5 months I have been running in a frozen wasteland up and down really steep hills. When I arrived in California I noticed right off there are trees with leaves and water that is not frozen! Weird!
Prior to leaving for California I went on two long runs over the weekend. I really wore myself out. I ran 8.5 miles in 80 minutes on Saturday. I went on a recovery run on Sunday. I ended up on a rocky trail near Boulder, Colorado, running too fast. I did 4.25 miles in 36 minutes. Instead doing a gentle recovery run, I stupidly beat myself to a quivering pulp!
On Monday when I left for the airport my legs were really sore. The plane ride was a killer. I kept squirming in my seat trying to keep some blood flow to my cramped legs. Plane seats are torture devices!
When I arrived at the hotel I asked the desk clerk if there was a good place to run near some water. He directed me to a nearby Estuary that was about a mile away. I put on my running stuff and decided to do a brisk walk, yes walk, to check out the running potential around the Estuary. When I got to the Estuary I saw a sign, "This trail is closed May 2nd for the Orange County Marathon." I had found the right place! The "trail" is a veritable super highway. There were people running, biking and walking on an immaculate paved path. I thought, "This is going to be fun place to run!"
The walk did me a world of good. I managed to do three miles in 39 minutes. I think I could have been faster if I had not stopped at a Liquor store and grabbed a six pack. I also got a burrito at Chipotle clone. Consuming beer and burritos is called "carbo loading".
I am going running this afternoon. I could do a nice gentle jog and enjoy the spectacular scenery and beautiful weather. But I won't. On Monday as I walked down the trail I saw two guys jogging together. They were obviously very fit. They were just be-bopping along, talking and taking it easy. I had the irreverent thought, "Run faster! RUN!"
I know I have a really bad attitude!
I know what I can be telling myself as I try to blast to a new PR today, "Run faster! RUN!" I plan to be in pain tomorrow. Fortunately, I have a good supply of pain killers. I have beer!
Monday, April 26, 2010
I missed a race on Saturday due to the weather. The roads were very icy. The race, Sierra's Run against Meningitis, was over 90 miles from my house. I was loath to miss the race. Unfortunately, there was no practical way to get there.
I decided to go on a training run in the afternoon. I wanted to do a moderate aerobic foundation run of 60 to 90 minutes. I went to run on the High School track. I wanted to do 6 to 9 miles. I set up a nice pace of 9 to 10 minutes/mile. I threw in some 30-second speed bursts. I am trying to improve my ability to run longer distances.
About half way through my run an older couple stepped on the track and started walking. After I lapped them a few times, I decided to chat with them a bit. As I past them I turned around and ran backwards so I could face them.
I said, "Nice day. How far are you going?" The lady answered, "A couple of miles." She asked, "How far are you going?" I answered, "Maybe 6 or 7 miles. I am struggling to keep up a good pace." She then said, "Oh, you make it look so easy!" That floored me! My legs felt like lead. My hamstrings had tightened-up. My lungs were on fire. I had a stitch in my side. I kept running because I did not have the good sense to stop! I replied, "Thanks, I didn't think this looked that easy! Enjoy your workout."
I ran 8.5 miles in about 80 minutes. Not a world’s record but pretty good for me. My new friends were already gone when I completed my run.
There are a few things I realized after my encounter with my fellow fitness enthusiasts. First, I wasn’t running hard enough because I could carry on a conversation while running backwards. Second, I think I run backwards just as fast as I run forward. Third, I wonder if all those good runners that I have seen are hurting as much as me. I like this quote:
"Running is real and relatively simple - but it ain't easy."
Mark Will-Weber, Moravian Track Coach
Maybe I should have been more emphatic. "Hey lady, this ain't easy!"
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).
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.
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!
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