Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Salida Project

The Salida Project started back in January at the end of my first week of running in several weeks. That Saturday I did a 15.5 mile run up to Ashcroft then back down a bit before Melissa picked me up. That run put me into the hurt locker but not too deep as I ran ten miles on Sunday and was actually feeling pretty good. It was actually on that run that I hatched the plan to go and race the Salida Marathon this year.

In my mind, I would just head over on Friday night, maybe crash in the Jeep, do the race on Saturday then come home right afterwards. Simple enough.

When I got home from that run I told Melissa of my idea of running the race and she suggested we just make a weekend of it and stay there. So basically within 15 minutes of getting home we had that discussion, I registered for the race, AND we booked a hotel room at a hotel so we could even take Asia.

That sewed things up quite nicely and I was from then on committed to the race.

Training in and around Aspen in the middle of the winter is iffy at best. Having about eight weeks until the race I decided on four more solid weeks of base building and trying to get the weekly mileages up while focusing solely on running at MAF or at zone two. No speed work was allowed at all until the week of the 16th of February. It was also in January that I finagled a trip to Moab, Utah to run some dry trails.

Those four weeks went well and then came the speed work. I was basically left with only two weeks to really focus on that then a week to back off just a bit then a week of resting and taking it easy leading up to the race. The fist week of specified training I handled pretty well and in way it was fun to do those focused and concise workouts again.

The second week, I felt a little jagged around the edges but still managed to do okay. By the week before the race, the speedier workouts were showing results and few more running gears became available to me.

I also rediscovered that little sweet-spot of fatigue after the second week of speed work... I would feel tired and struggle to get motivated to go out and run each day but after a couples miles into the workout I felt fine.

Wanting to show up and do my best for this race I got a little more serious than usual about my diet.  Nothing crazy but I cut out a lot of crap and each week my weight dropped a pound or so. (I still resent the fact that I have to watch what I eat in order to lose weight.) But the loss in weight payed off significantly for me on that five mile climb on the road between miles 8 and 13. I could literally feel the difference.

Taper week was fun like all taper weeks. The week started off with me feeling rather crappy but I knew it was just my body going into repair mode since the volume and intensity of the previous few weeks had gone away. But by the end of the week when it was time to go to Salida for the race I felt fine and ready to go.

Now, I had a plan for the race... I had been monitoring my heart rate rather diligently and figured if I could go out and keep it between 155 and and 160 and end the thing with a 155 average at the end I should have a solid run. With that level of effort I should have been able to start off at a reasonably fast pace along with a reasonably strong level of effort and maintain both through the entire race.

Well, you know what they say about plans...

The race starts and off I go. Legs feel fine, cruising a little faster than I had anticipated, yet I was still comfortable. However, my heart rate was about ten beats per minute higher than I was planning run it.  Decision time... Do I back off and play it safe, or do I risk it and see how it turns out?

I gave myself about five miles to sort it all out. My heart rate was not dropping, but I was also feeling really good. The internal dialogue went a little like this...

"Well Andrew... if you are going to be dumb ass today, then you are going to be a dumb ass until the absolute very end...  when you start to feel like crap and want to back off, tough shit... you are committed now."

So I did commit and ran all out the entire race and it worked out obviously. In the end my average heart rate was 165. One of my goals, knowing there would be mud and snow in the middle section of the course, was to run fast enough so that when I got to the mud and snow it might be still setup and frozen from the night before. With the exception of that first quarter or half a mile or so past that mid-way aid station, mud was not really an issue.  As for the snow, it sucked, but I have a ton of experience from running around Aspen all winter which allowed me to handle it better I think.  I could read the nature of the snow, and know exactly how hard to hit it or how to approach it.

But I have to say, that second to last long section of snow that had an uphill angle to it, about nearly did me in.

It has been a long time since I have ran in Salida and I forgot just how technical those last few miles are. I've been wondering in my mind which race might be tougher, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon which I will run in June, or the Salida Marathon. I have never ran the Aspen one, but I am pretty familiar with the different sections of the course and right now I will say that I believe that Salida is just tougher due to the technical portions.

In the end, I have never been more proud of my preparation for a race and also the execution of the race.  Each training run, each speed workout, and each rest day were fully taken advantage of. And though the weather sort of gummed things up at the end of February I still made do. There isn't a part of my training for this race that I wish I had done differently. The same goes for the race... I have no regrets. There is nothing that I could or would change. No wishes or "only if's" at all.

That is a pretty good feeling.

You can see the course map, elevation profile, and my data here on Training Peaks.

For now... Taking some time to step back a bit. Working on getting the legs moving again this week.  We leave for Cozumel on Saturday, and then when I get back I will start focusing on the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. For now it looks like a month to a month and half of nothing but more basebuilding and running at MAF before I reintroduce speed work around the first of May more than likely.

P.S.  This was my fastest Marathon ever and a new PR. Note: I have never run a fast road Marathon ever.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Foot On The Gas And One Foot On the Brakes

Another solid week this week.  Backed off a bit but increased intensity just a touch more. The weather was seriously crappy the first part of the week up until Thursday but has been rather nice the past two days.

I have definitely discovered (rediscovered) that sweet spot of fatigue this week.  I am familiar with it and it tells me that I have been training hard enough to get worked but not so hard that I am digging a crater that I can't climb out of.  The most obvious symptom is that before every run I really do not want to go run. But once I am out and have a couple of miles done I feel great and there isn't any issue.

The week broke down like this...

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles - 1:16:30. MAF focused run.  Cold, snowy, and actually windy for up here. It felt pretty good though. It also felt a little fast but it all worked out.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:39:46 - As bad as last weeks 12 miler went, this one was the opposite.  Went into it tired and not knowing how it would go but after a couple of miles it felt great.

Thursday - 13 Miles - 1:46:02 - Two Mile warmup, 5x1 minute easy hill repeats, then nine miles in Zone 3 or M effort. I went into this one feeling the tiredest all week but the run unfolded and turned out pretty good. It was also the first nicer day of the week which was a treat.

Friday - Mandatory rest day.

Saturday - 9 Miles - 1:09:02 - Two mile warmup, 3 miles in Zone 3 or M effort, .5 miles MAF, then another 3 Miles in Zone 3 followed by another .5 miles at MAF to finish.  Beautiful day. Not quite warm enough for shorts but still pleasant.  I even saw two guys on 82, east of town, riding their road bikes.  Spring must be close.

Sunday - 10 Miles - 1:21:47 - Easy ten miles at MAF effort. Felt a little off but I think that is partly due to yesterday's run, accumulated fatigue, and I got up at 4:30 this morning so I can counterbalance the effects of switching to DST and be able to go to bed on time tonight.

So that was the week... 53 Miles for the week. 7:13:07 for time. And 4829 feet in gain.

Today was my birthday and a nice one. No real shenanigans to report as I figure on just waiting until I am in Mexico in two weeks to really celebrate.  I had a nice mellow day and wrote another article for my work blog. Plus today's run in the sun was good enough for me.

But right now I am tired and ready for bed and definitely looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chronic Snow Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Snow Fatigue Syndrome, CSFS, also known by it's street name Can't Stand F*cking Snow is not in the DSM but it should be. I might have made it up but I know it is real because I certainly have it!

Pretty good week this week. Even with the onslaught of winter weather I was able to miraculously fit my runs in between storms. Most of the workouts were a touch slower it seemed (except for Saturday) and I think the weather along with road and trail conditions were to blame.

The week broke down like this:

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles with hill repeats - 1:27:50 - I was not sure how this run was going to go. We got a lot of snow Monday night and I was not sure if the path on Cemetery Lane would be clear or not. I waited until mid-afternoon before heading out and the path was indeed clear. Unfortunately I had waited to late in the day and the sun was behind Red Butte, so the hill-repeat section was in the shade and cold. The workout went well but the three mile cooldown was very slow as my heart-rate was still elevated and I had to go slow in order to keep it lower.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:59:56 - I didn't sleep well Tuesday night and I suspect the workout from Tuesday had me a little beat down. Melissa and I had gone to Glenwood early in the morning to run errands and soak and she dropped me off on Lower River Road and I ran from there the 12 miles to Aspen. It was a rough run, slow, and I was so tired. But even if the run went sort of crappy, I took it as a solid sign that I am indeed getting stronger.

Thursday - 9 Miles - 1:16:22 - Progression run broken into two mile segments. 9 Mile Progression run in 2 mile increments. #1- HR 135-145. #2- HR 145-155. #3- HR 155-165. #4- HR 165+. #5- 1 mile MAF/cool down. I found myself procrastinating as it got closer to lunchtime and time to run as I guess I was fearing what was in store for me. The same as last week. BUT! As badly as I had suffered the day before on this run I felt as if I had just floated. The overall time for the run was a minute slow but that is more due to more climbing than the week before.

Friday - Mandatory rest day. I really don't remember Friday. I know I was glad for the day off.

Saturday - 20 Miles - 2:52:59 - I had three plans going into Saturday's run. The first was to just get it done, stick with the heart rate at MAF and get it done. Then on Friday night or Saturday morning I started getting a little more ambitious and thought that I would run only the first six in Zone 3, marathon pace/effort. When I left the apartment that was the plan but as I got closer to mile six I decided that I wanted to see if I could hang on for the entire 20 miles. And I did! 20 Miles, 2:52:59, avg hr 155, 2710 feet in gain, avg elevation 8106. Hell of a confidence builder. Just one hell of a confidence builder.

Sunday - 10 Miles - 1:32:41 - Treadmill - I figured that I would just stick with the treadmill this week just like last week. My legs felt fine on Sunday morning after the 20 miler but damned if I did not feel tired. Just that overall sensation of fatigue in the body that comes with a few hard weeks of training strung together. Treadmills are not fun but we got a lot of new snow last night and everything was WAY too messy outside to try to do any serious effort running. 

So that was the week... 60 Miles for the week. 9:09:49 for time. And 6076 feet in gain. 

Total miles for February, 255.5. 

The Hoka Mafate Speeds are an awesome shoe. I have liked them so much this past week that I have already ordered a second pair for when these are done.