Another beautiful week in the books. I ticked off 73-miles on two feet, threw down a solid midweek race in cold conditions, and pushed myself through a long run that pushed me out of my comfortable zone.
This week, I’ve hit some of my best training miles ever, and I’m brimming with confidence in my ability and potential. I’m humbled by the fact that I’ve focused on running since 2010, and am only now starting to feel like I’m doing it right. That’s SEVEN years of running to get me to this point. It’s a testament to running being a lifelong pursuit of continuous improvement. Take nothing for granted, and don’t expect to figure it all out in your first few years.
Monday: Standard bleh, which is OK…more on that later. Ran easy miles to and from work and threw in some errands along the route.
Tuesday: On Valentine’s Day morning, Julia and I had grand visions of a romantic jog up Lookout Mountain Road in peace and solitude as the sun rose over Denver. Reality: 32-degrees, bitter wind chill, dark, cold, missing our bed. We salvaged a few easy miles through a Golden neighborhood, and continued on for a coffee date at Pangea before work.
It was a nice morning treat with my Valentine. I showered at home, packed my run clothes for my evening commute, and Julia drove me to work. Nine hours later, I’m in the locker room changing for my run home and… shorts, shorts, I have no shorts! Plan B: Walk commute. Three miles walking went more quickly than I thought, and I didn’t have to shower when I got home, which was a plus.
Wednesday: Race morning at November Project Denver. We do an annual Sunrise 6K race across all of the NP tribes. It usually falls in the winter, which is hit or miss for the crew of the 5280 tribe. We had a dry road around Cheeseman Park, though the morning temp was downright bitter.
I digress though, as races are races despite the conditions, terrain, weather, etc. So we were up before 5AM, ran a few warm-up miles, bounced with the tribe, then set off for three laps of the Cheeseman inner road loop.
I was very happy with my performance – feeling relaxed at a tempo pace, and pushed myself through the grueling final 1/2 mile. Aside from being happy to race and have good pace partners, i.e. rabbits, on the course, I was pleased with my effort & cadence (avg 181 spm).
The curious figure is my heart rate data:
I call it curious because it took about a mile before it registered high exertion – HR above 170 bpm. Likely, it’s just a delayed reading from my wrist-based heart monitor, but I wonder if I wasn’t fully warmed up, or if I left some performance on the table? More lessons to be learned about this sport!
Here’s a quick aside to present a thought-provoking episode of Ultra Runner Podcast featuring ultrarunner and UN Ambassador, Stephanie Case. Basically, Stephanie is a seasoned outdoors woman who was shaken up in a fluke snowshoeing accident while on a casual solo trek over familiar terrain in the Italian Alps. Lucky her phone worked, she was rescued via helicopter, and has benefited from her endurance and positivity to expedite her recovery.
I was taken aback by her story and reminded of the risks that we, Coloradans, take on each season whether we recognize them or not. Check out Stephanie’s post about Backcountry communication devices, that could be the difference between life and death on an adventure in a remote location.
This is what my run commute home looks like:
Thursday: Since we raced on Wednesday, Julia and I opted for R&R Thursday morning… no PlayGldn for us. Two workouts per week has worked for me this cycle, and I’m making an effort to keep the easy days super easy. The temptation of hitting Dino Ridge repeats the day after a solid 6K, is not worth the wear and tear on my body. Every article I’ve read about run training calls for a drastic separation between easy days and hard days. It’s taken seven years to implement, but circumstance has finally forced me to practice what others preach, and it’s working.
Friday: The same mentality was carried into Friday morning:
Julia wanted to do hill repeats on Rimrock Road, so I joined as her personal jogging photographer.
While these easy runs have served me well, there’s always that voice in my head telling me to do more & push harder. I still fear if I’m doing enough?!? I needed to find out if my expectations for the Wings For Life World Run were realistic. Finally, I pulled up course recon from previous years races…
- Calum Neff – 2014 58.52k (36.36mi)
- Thibaut Baronian –2015 55.15k (34.27mi)
- Samuel Bradbury – 2016 60.8k (37.78mi)
In which, I saw the WFL course profile in Santa Clarita, CA for the first time:
That’s a big hill. Well it’s kinda sorta exaggerated by sea-level, but still. The course climbs 800-feet from miles 16-29. That’s not going to be easy. I’m good at uphills, but that is a long, drawn out climb that is going to be mentally draining.
Saturday: The goal for Saturday’s long run: Run 20+ miles at or below my WFL goal pace of 6:30/mile. The result: Best training run of my life!
I called this run my WFL Sub-Forever Pace. I’m hoping that through all of my training, I’ll become comfortable maintaining 6:30/mi for a long time, 38-miles long. After looking at the WFL course profile, I’m intimidated, to say the least. This is going to be the hardest race of my life. And I can’t wait.
So here’s what I thought about for two and and a half hours on a beautiful Saturday morning in Boulder.
- Keep your head up. On long stretches of rolling dirt road, I gazed ahead at the horizon. It was kindof soothing as I ran taller, stronger, and zoned out.
- Cadence is my melody. Whenever I feel like I’m slowing or getting sluggish – leg turnover, cadence – quickness is the answer. I sing Cadence like Axl Rose sings Patience. Try it.
- Unexpected Enthusiast. In the middle of mile 13, I passed a friendly dog walker around Coot Lake who stopped, watched me scoot pass, and cheered, “You are born to run!” I kept galloping along, but not without a new sense of vigor and enthusiasm. Thank you!!
- Final Four. As per usual, I like to empty the tank on the last few miles of a long run. There’s no better feeling than crushing the last few miles of your training week. I remind myself that this is a workout and I’ve got a rest day ahead: Make it hurt!
Salt output, stretch(?), and salt input.
Endurance changes time,