Monday, March 28, 2011

McKay Hollow Madness That Wasn't

The past two Saturdays, I've planned to race and it hasn't happened.  On March 19, I woke up at 4:00 AM with a stomach virus (I'll spare the details) that just made getting out of the house impossible. An easy run was out of the question. A race? No way.

On the 26th, I planned to race McKay Hollow Madness 25k, but nature had other plans. I was actually feeling pretty good and I was curious about what I could do on that course on that day. But it was lightning. HTC will not run a race while there is thunder and lightning. There was no chance of the weather clearing up any time soon, so Blake had to cancel the race. It was the right call. I know several were disappointed, but it is part of the risk of paying the entry fee of a race.

A dozen or so of us decided to run the course anyway. What a blast!!! I've never seen the course in those conditions. It was raining and had been. It rained harder. It was lightning and thundering. I know it wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but it wasn't the dumbest, either.  We joked that it was the "unofficial" McKay Hollow Madness.

I was just amazed by the way the elements changed the course. The last few times I've run this, it has been bone dry. On Saturday, there were several places that were over knee deep. There is no way I can describe the course.  I ran with a smile on my face the whole time. Waterfalls were everywhere. Streams that I don't remember were just rushing. Slush Mile was the wettest I've ever seen it. I loved just playing in the mud and water. It was just a great day to be out in the woods. Today restored a good bit of joy to my running.  I enjoyed the company, the trails, the elements, the little bit of danger of the lightning, and the tired feeling I had at the end of the run.

I didn't run it very hard, but I did get the feeling that it would have been a better race than I expected. But I would have to put that in perspective.  I am not as fit as I was at this time last year. I have a lot of work to do this spring and summer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Still Training...

I feel like I've been gaining momentum in my training recently. That's a really good feeling. No, I'm not at the level of fitness that I want to be. I am not anywhere near 3 hour marathon shape. I'm not in my peak condition. I'm not where I was at this time last year. But... for the first time in a long time, I think I'm improving.

Last week was a very low mileage week.  I took 4 days off because of bronchitis. It's hard to run when you can't sleep because of coughing and when you can't breathe. But Friday and Saturday I felt much better. I was torn between racing the Huff N Puff 15k or just doing a long run around Athens. Well, Friday night was an awful, sleepless night because of the personal struggles that I've occasionally mentioned on this blog for well over a year. (I do see an end in sight.) Given that and the week of sickness, I opted to save my money and to save the embarrassment of a super slow 15k. So, I just ran from my doorstep around town I planned for 18 with 10 at marathon pace. Ouch. It was miserable. I totally tanked and I was only able to do 8 at MP.

I felt great for Sunday's 10 miler (even with the lost hour due to Daylight Savings Time). Monday was a struggle just to get the miles done. I had no motivation in the morning. I just could not drag my head out of bed. I didn't want to run at all. I didn't want to even wake up. (Beginners, see, it happens to most everyone some time. We all struggle with it from time to time.) So, I slept in and told myself that I'd run at lunch. I was able to get a recovery run done at lunch. Whew.

Tuesday morning, the sound of the alarm clock was repulsive. I could not motivate myself to get out of bed. I had no desire to run. None. So, I told myself the lie that I'd run at lunch again. As I was considering leaving my office at 11:20 or so, my director walked in. I decided to talk shop with her instead of asking her to come back in an hour and a half because I was going to take a long lunch.  That was probably a good career move.

So, the afternoon came. Oh how I wanted not to run. But my wife talked me into it. I'm so glad she did. I ran over to the Athens High track and just happened to meet Johnny there. He didn't plan on a track workout, but I convinced him to join in the suffering! It was an easy workout as track workouts go, 5x600m.

  1. 2:06
  2. 2:11
  3. 2:08
  4. 2:09
  5. 2:01
Less than 12 hours later, I did a 15 miler at about a 7:40 average pace.  A couple more weeks of hard training, then I'll be tapering for Boston. Man, I hope the progress continues.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Not Enough Pictures

I'm not a visual learner. That's one reason why I don't post more pictures here. I'm such an auditory learner that my lips move when I read. (Okay, I'm not quite that bad, but close.) But I need a picture to describe today's run.

Hills have been missing from my training with the exception of the trail runs that I've done. Shane made me fix that this morning. I need to run that route more often to prepare for the Newton Hills at Boston. We did 20 miles at just under 8:00 average pace. Thanks to Shane for letting me set the pace. He could have destroyed me on this run today. I dreaded the run but really enjoyed it. It was fun! I probably should have run it faster because I feel great just a couple of hours later.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Midweek 15 Miler

Ah, the midweek 15 miler. It's been a staple in my last 3 marathon training plans. I must say that I enjoy these runs. Yes, I run them easier than tempo runs. Yes, I run them easier than Marathon Pace. But I don't run them easy.  Today's 15 miler was at a 7:40 average pace, including a 9 minute warm up mile.  So, it was mostly at like a 7:30-7:35 pace. That's not an easy pace for me.

For some reason, I just like doing this run.  It's long enough that I want to quit before I'm finished, so I feel like I've accomplished something every time I run one.  It's not so long that I'm out of commission for the rest of the day. I feel great right after this run. That may mean that I should run it a little harder, I don't know.

Today actually gave me back a little of the confidence that yesterday's 1200m intervals destroyed.  For the first 5 miles today, I was coughing up my lungs... huge, firm hunks of phlegm. I didn't sleep well at all last night because I couldn't breathe and I was coughing and tossing and turning. Maybe I was slow yesterday because I couldn't fill my lungs with air because they were congested. Yeah, that's my excuse. I felt awesome immediately after today's run, but now I feel yucky. I feel like I have a chest cold and a sore throat from coughing.

Running makes me a better employee.  If I weren't a runner, I would have called in sick today and slept in. But my conscience won't let me run a hard 15 miles and then take a sick day! And I wasn't about to miss a nice pre-dawn 15 miler through my hometown on a crisp, cool morning.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Almost Weekly Update

I've good intentions of updating this blog with my training.  I really do.

I finished last week with a good few days of running.  Matt joined me for most of a 15 miler on Thursday. On Saturday I ran the McKay Hollow course plus 2.5 for 18 total.  That course just beats me to death! I followed that up with the usual Sunday 10 miler, but I had stomach issues and nothing in my legs on Sunday. I ended up with about 9 miles, and they were not a very good effort.

Today was the first visit to the track in a LONG time!  It showed. I was slow. It was uncomfortable. I couldn't remember if I were supposed to do 6x1200m or 5x1200m.  Again, I had stomach issues this morning so I was running late.  When I got there, Matt had already run 3, so he did another 3 with me.  And he ran me into the ground. That guy is in pretty good shape right now.  I could not keep up with him.

  1. 4:27
  2. 4:29
  3. 4:30
  4. 4:31
  5. 4:31
  6. 1:33 (only a 400m)
When I could only do a 93 second 400m, I realized that I was not doing any good at all by trying to finish that 6th repeat, so I quit. Then when I got home and looked at the schedule, I was only supposed to do 5 repeats! So, what I thought was an absolute beat down and failure turned into a reasonable workout. Sometimes things are funny like that.

So much work to do to get ready to race a marathon.