Sunday, September 21, 2008

Catching up

Attempting to get up to date on running things after my typical blogging ennui that seems to follow my 100 mile races. I have generally returned to normal running within a week or so after my big races, but I seem to take longer and longer to arrive at the point where I can sort it all out in my brain and report about it. Perhaps I will analyze and write about that at some point. Then again, maybe it's as simple as the fact that finishing each of these races is a very personal experience and it is hard to figure out what and how to share.

As previously reported, the week after Cascade was focused on my wife's race at Disneyland. We did a few short runs the week leading up to the race. The following week, I returned to my running schedule in earnest. I've set a goal for myself at my next hundred, Javelina. Last year, I had a sub-24 hour finish and this year I've decided to try and take it down even further. I will write more on this later. The initial implication of this goal is that, I have decided to add weekly speed work into my schedule. The idea is that training my body to become accustom to some faster running at least once a week will make all my slower running seem easier as well as allow me to tap into a slightly faster pace late in a long race. I'm starting with intervals since I've read that they are better than simple tempo runs. I like 1/2-mile repeats with 1/4-mile jogs between. My goal is to build to 8-10 repeats per week. I may do some variations once I have been doing it for a while, but the most important thing is to be consistent in doing some "work" once a week.

Unfortunately, my first week of speed work coincided with a local heat wave that saw temps hit triple digits. Mid-day repeats plus appresive heat minus a water bottle equals a redlined heart rate and more than a fraction of pain. I only managed 4 repeats before I realized what a stupid idea this was. I did two more 1/4-mile repeats followed by an extended cool down that still left me far from cool. Not quite as I planned, but I have managed a bit better in the following two weeks. The second week of intervals I managed 7 repeats. I targetted sub-7 minute miles as a starting point. I managed to stay close to that even when running into a strong headwind and managed my last tailwind repeat at a 6:43 pace. This past week I did what felt like my first "real" speed workout. I managed to keep all but my second (windy) repeat under a 7 mpm pace and dropped things down the more I did. On my 7th repeat, I pushed it down near a 6:40 pace and kept going for a full mile finishing in 6:45. I felt so good after that, I knocked off one final 1/2 for a total of 9. Now, 7-minute miles may not constitude speed work for many people (anyone who runs around a 3-hour or faster marathon, for instance), but for me it's about what my 5K pace was last time I ran a 5K. I imagine that I am a bit faster now, but I do have a pretty active imagination.

Aside from the speedwork, I have been trying to get my weekly mileage back into the 60+ mile range. I managed 62.5 miles the week after Disney doing a couple of runs on each of Saturday and Sunday. Sunday included a 24 miler along the top part of the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail. I hadn't run this section of the trail before and wanted to see what the race a couple of weeks later would be like at the start. While the course is a net downhill, there was quite a bit of rolling terrain at the start so I would have to think about what that would mean for a downhill "purist" such as myself come race day. The heatwave was ended, but not over and the run turned out to be pretty hot and a bit humid in the shaded woods. I ended up dehydrating myself pretty badly due to bad planning and a couple of bonus miles, but still had a good run. This race was one I was definitely looking forward to. I haven't "raced" a 50K in a while and wanted to see what I could do on this course. I didn't plan to taper or anything like that, but I did want to at least push it a bit.

The next week I managed nearly 67 miles mostly due to my friend Craig's 36-mile birthday run. My wife left for Singapore on Friday so I had pretty much no time constraints so it was going to be a full day of running with friends, something I almost never do outside of a race venue. There were six of us at the start including myself, Craig Slagel (the birthday boy), Fred Ecks, Chuck Wilson, Stephen Sorrow and Craig's girlfriend Mira who would be our roving aid station and support crew. We started at Muir Beach and generally followed the Headlands Hundred course up to Pantol. We then headed on to the top of Mt. Tam for the first loop and back for the first loop. Chuck wasn't up for the full 36 so he headed down via the Heather Cutoff trail that Headlands takes while we retraced our route up. This came to around 19 miles. For the second part we were going to go back up the same way and then just do an out-and-back towards Bolinas Ridge, but we decided to alter it a little bit. We went up the Heather Cutoff on the way out and came back down via our original route. We had a great time, in fact, almost too much fun in the beginning as our pace put our plan of making it back in time for the Sunday buffet at Pelican Inn out of reach. We picked it up a little for the second part, but still finished between 81/2 and 9 hours for the group. We all had a good time both during the run as well as at dinner afterwards.

My commented slideshow of the event can be viewed below for the interested.


meredith said...

with all of this speed what time are "we" going for at Firetrails?? I haven't run the whole course, so would love a time thought :) mer
By the way, I PROMISE if you are under the weather at the start line I will not put a time in your head...

Eudemus said...

Meredith, I noticed your name on the list for the full distance. I did 9:33 last year and would be targeting at least sub 9:30 time this year if I were planning to race this one. You should be able to beat that no problem with your recent race performances.

However, I will be running in "zombie-mode" as my flight home from Costa Rica lands at 1am Saturday morning and given the 6:30am start time, I don't expect to get much sleep. It should be good 100-miler training :-)

Thomas Bussiere said...

Enjoyed your blog. I need to do some speed training myself to improve my time. I will check back later to see if the training works. Good luck with your next PB.

Jean Pommier said...

Steve, that's so cool, such a great way to celebrate Craig's birthday.

OK, so the big question: how much advantage do you think Craig got for being pulled by the balloon on the way to the submit?? I was wondering if maybe we could run Mt Diablo next year with more balloons. You know, when science and physics get applied to ultra running... ;-)

Keep the great blogging (cool inline picture album, I need to check this feature)!

Farther Faster

olga said...

Man, I am catching up with you too! Great shots from CC100, and awesome fun at Disney, congrats to Zane! Bummer you're so busy in October to come visit with us at GC, but your plan is just as fantastic!