Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bubka-esque

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.

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