Saturday, March 26, 2011

going long

Again and again I pound out the miles at the expense of quality. But now I have a reason: I signed up for the Mad City 100K. Plans are to travel to Wisconsin and run this April 9 race with Connie and Bob. But holy cow. I'd better train. And that means even *more* miles.

So last Sunday, after getting home from California the morning before, I ran on the order of 33 miles at Hinckley. It wasn't all 9-mile loops, although there were a couple. There was some back and forth, and also 8+ miles of trails as the first loop of the first annual Buzzard Run 50K put on by Roy and Shannon. That, incidentally, was a blast - it was near the end of my odyssey, so it was rather slow, but still fun. Part of the run was with Dan and Becky.

That wasn't enough. I wanted to do a *longer* one, and I wanted it to come in 6-miles increments because Mad City consists of 10 10K loops at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. So Wednesday I ran my own 6-mile loop 3 times, did some additional stuff around the school, and came back with 24 miles. Then I hopped on the mill for 9 more. Unfortunately I ran out of time and had to quit at 33 for this day as well. Not quite as far as I wanted, but it would have to do.

Today I did 21 at Dave's. We did his favorite loop into the valley and back out to his place. It was cold, but the run went fairly well.

Now, about running long, here is my weekly mileage:
Sunday: 33
Monday: off
Tuesday: 10
Wednesday: 33
Thursday: off
Friday: 4
Saturday: 21

I'll leave the math as an exercise for the reader.

Will the madness ever stop?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In my post about the Green Jewel 50K, I mentioned the concept of setting a PR so far ahead of one's previous best, that it could be called "Beamonesque". Of course I was recalling the Bob Beamon long jump in the 1968

I now find myself in Lake Forest, CA once again, and I'm once again running the 10-mile Portola Hills route that I described in my Running in La-La Land post. Note that there is neither a lake nor a forest here. But it's really nice, nonetheless.

Ukrainian Athlete Sergei Bubka, made his living as a pole-vaulter. But he wasn’t just any track and field athlete; he was a world record holder. He would famously predict another world height record to the promoters of any and all events where he was invited. The promoters would happily pay a bonus for such record performances, and Bubka would come through for them.

The thing was that he would only break his previous record by a small amount each time. He wanted to continue making such a good living with the bonus payments he constantly earned. Had he ever broken the record by a large amount like Bob Beamon did, he would’ve had a much tougher time breaking it again the next time.

Last time I ran the route 3 times, and I got a bit faster each time. Those times were pretty darn slow however. I’d like to point out, however, that the elevation gain during this 10-mile run is pretty darn significant. It appears that I run from an elevation of 300 to 400 feet, all the way up to 1600 feet at about the 4-mile mark. From there it’s down to mile five before turning around, climbing the mountain, and heading back down the other side.

After an improvement of something like four minutes for those three runs, I was wondering whether I could continue that trend this week. I’d be doing the run as many as four times; that’s a lot of improvement. One thing in my favor was that I knew the course well by now. Another was that the weather, which was excellent last time, would be even better this week – the morning lows would be in the low 50s.

So for my first trick, I wanted to at least break 90 minutes; something I couldn’t accomplish at all last time. The problem is that the elevation gain in the first half is so darn high, that it’s tough to even make 10 minutes per mile for that portion. But Monday morning I did succeed: I went out in 48 minutes and got back in 41 for an 89 minute run. Would I be able to beat this?

Tuesday’s splits were 47 and 40 minutes for an overall time of 87. That’s real improvement. But was I holding enough back to break this course PR the next time.

That answer would be yes: Wednesday’s splits were 45.5 and 39.5 for a time of 85 minutes. Surely I’d now hit my lower limit on speedy times. But I only had one day left. I’d run on Friday, but I’d probably do a shorter route. I had this one major run left. There would be no tomorrow.

Instead of my usual 2+ cups of coffee I use to get myself out the door, on Thursday I did something I hadn’t done in a while: I took a caffeine pill. And I washed that down with a little coffee. Hey, I just *had* to get myself going. And get going I did. I went out in 44 minutes and came back in 39. That adds up to 83 minutes for this, my course PR.

Sergei would be so proud of me.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

2011 Green Jewel

I've been putting in the miles, and my 50K PR, at 4:46, is mighty soft, so I went into this one *expecting* a PR. And not just an incremental one; I wanted to be Beamonesque, and really put one out there. But before I get to a description of the run, I just have to list the excuses:

1) I flew in from Boston last night, arriving at 8:30, which is pretty nearly my bedtime. I don't often run well the morning after a late (for me) flight.
2) With all the traveling, I've naturally put on a few pounds. This is never helpful.
3) The weather was fairly awful. The constant rain was bad enough, but the cold wind never let up, and seemed to be constantly in our faces.
4) Said rain caused flooding at many points along the way. The water (more like rivers) running across the all-purpose trail at many points was bad enough, but in some places there was thick mud on the asphalt, with water on top of that. It turned out just like ice.

Okay. Even with those caveats, I was still going for it. And that means, of course, that I went out too fast. I ran alone most of the way, but that was fine. I probably averaged 8 minutes per mile for the first half, hitting the mid-point (maybe 14.5 to 15 mile) aid station in Berea at 1:58.

Things went downhill from there. Actually uphill, but my pace slowed considerably. I hit mile 24.5 - the final aid station at about 3:25. Would I be able to do those final 7+ hilly miles in a bit over an hour to break 4:30?

It was tough. I was doing only marginally better than 9-minute pace on those parkway hills through N. Royalton and Broadview Heights. I hit Brecksville Road at about 4:17. Now I had a (steeply) downhill mile and a half to do in 13 minutes. Would I be able to?

Yes. I finished in 4:28 - a PR by 18 minutes. Almost, but not quite Beamonesque. (By the way, google Bob Beamon - and the 1968 Olympics - if you want to know what I mean by that.) Patrick told me that I'm not allowed to complain about any run that results in a PR, so I won't.

It was wonderful, once again, to run with all my MCRR buddies. Everyone did well!

(photo courtesy of Dan DeRosha)

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...