Monday, April 14, 2014

Doin' Work

Since we’re just past the quarter pole for the year (and for the 100 Mile Training Plan) I thought I’d post a quick progress report this week…

So far in 2014, I have run 1025 miles (in 15 weeks) which works out to be just over 68 miles a week. I have been building miles slowly – both in terms of weekly mileage as well as mileage in my back-to-back weekend long runs. This week I got up to 80 miles total, with 40 of those on the weekend - Saturday (20.5) and Sunday (19.5).

This 40-mile weekend represents my biggest 2-day training session since I did 64 miles last June during my Summer of 48. The biggest difference, however, is that these miles were done at a MUCH faster pace than last years “hiking” miles.  The 64 miles I did last year were covered in just over 20 hours – or 18:45 min/mile. The 40 miles I did this weekend were run in 5 hours and 17 minutes – or 7:55 min/mile. Of course, there was just one mountain this weekend, not eleven like last year!

Saturday’s effort was a repeat of the Pack Attack Run we did a couple months ago. However, instead of turning around in the parking lot at the base of Pack Monadnock, the plan was to continue right up the auto road to the summit - 20.5 miles round-trip! 12 of us started out from the school, but only 5 of us made it to the summit and back – including the “Last Hero Only Hope” Josh Ferenc, the “Duck” Tim Mallard, the “Age-less Wonder” Brian Ruhm, the “Cliff Diver” Emmet Clifford, and myself.

The day was picture-perfect, with bright sunshine and scarcely a breath of wind. Emmet and I hung with the “fast” guys for the first two miles before we wisely decided to back off and let them go. And, GO they went, as they were out of sight by Mile 4. We reached the parking lot in 1:11 (a new training record for me) and headed up the auto road. About half-way up we saw Josh screaming down and then the other two - just a bit later. We reached the summit ourselves in just under 16 minutes (11% average grade) and then climbed the fire tower for a better view!

A couple pictures, then back down to the parking lot (10 minutes) before continuing back down 101. Emmet hit the return trip pretty hard and I foolishly tried to keep up. Many of those early downhill miles were covered in 7 minutes, or less. By Mile 17, my legs had nothing left and he just floated away. I shuffled the last four solo and finished the descent from the parking lot in a “still respectable” 1:07 – for a 2:44 total, or 8:00 per mile. Not counting the summit cone, the trip to the parking lot and back was 2:18, or 7:30 per mile!

The next day, I headed out to Mine Falls Park to do the second part of my back-to-back. I’ve been loving the warmer weather, especially since it’s allowed me to run my Sunday long runs on these wonderfully soft and forgiving trails. My quads were pretty much shot from the run down Pack the day before, so jogging along the dirt and pine straw of Mines was just what the doctor ordered – if, in fact, there was a doctor crazy enough to prescribe double 20’s!

I took it out very slowly, and wondered to myself, if I had bitten off a bit too much this time by trying to squeeze a Pack Run into a 40 mile weekend. “We’ll soon see”, I thought as I shuffled down the trail. Eventually, my legs started to loosen and felt more a bit more normal. I finished the first 6.5 mile loop in 54 minutes (8:18 pace) downed a GU, some Gatorade and an electrolyte tablet before continuing on.

Lap two was a little better and I started pushing the pace a bit more. I came through the start/finish this time in 52 minutes (8:00 flat) and then said. “OK, let’s see what you’ve got left!” I cranked it up again and was soon flying down the trails - 50k into a 40 mile weekend and I was officially “In the Zone”! Not fresh, but certainly not tired. Not asleep, but not fully awake. I had reached some sort of running equilibrium where I was just “there” watching it all effortlessly unfold before me – almost trance-like!

I crested the last little hill, and rounded the corner to the finish - Last lap: 47 minutes (7:13 pace) which is pretty darned fast for me - even on roads, never mind dodging roots, rocks and trees on the trail!

I had said before I left for my Sunday run, that these were the kind of days that would either “make me”, or “break me beyond repair”. And, as I climbed back into my car for the drive home, I felt neither made, nor broken. Just tired. Which could be a symptom of either. But, knowing a little bit about how these things go, in two days I’ll probably feel “broken” but in two WEEKS hopefully I’ll feel “made”!

…which would suit me just fine.

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