Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tempo Monday

In my never ending quest to mix things up a little (well, actually because I got lazy on Sunday), I opted to do a tempo run yesterday. I wanted to do 60 minutes, but I got a late start (after 6PM). I scaled it down to 45 minutes. The plan was 10 min warm up, 25 min tempo, 10 min warm down. I started at the NAC, which makes the opening 10 minutes tough. Either way I go I have a hill to climb. I decided finally to go north. Even though this would mean that I am running on roads with cars for a good portion of my run, I would have an almost limitless run out because of the Upper Back Bay trail.

I was hoping that my rest day would help rid me of some of the nagging pains I've been feeling lately, especially my left shin. I think the day off was good. I had no pain, and felt pretty strong the entire run. My goal was to hit 90% MHR - around 160 bpm. It actually took me 3.4 miles to hit and maintain 160 bpm. I held that heart rate only 5 minutes before warm down began. Pace was good too, in the upper 8's and lower 9's. I was very satisfied even with mile 3, where even with the uphill trudge, I managed a 9:30 pace.

Granted, I still have a long way to go to be competitive in this age group. But, when I look back at where I was a year ago, I am very pleased. My next test will be the Harbor Heritage 5K on October 11th. My goal is to break 26 minutes, which means 8:22 per mile. Gulp. Need to make sure I schedule a couple of rest days beforehand I guess!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Missed a day!

Boo hoo! Unscheduled rest day! Not that I had any nagging injuries, or burn out or anything. Just kind of a lazy Sunday. By the time I had finished everything else, it was getting close to 6:30. These days it is dark by 7 PM. I figured one missed tempo day is not going to hurt me at this point. So I settled in for another episode of House and wrote Sunday off.

Today is normally an easy day to use as recovery from the weekend's long run and tempo/fartlek workout. I'm going to try to move things around and do an hour tempo run today instead of an easy 4. I have some errands this evening (wife is working late, so I have dinner duty). I'll see where things stand later in the evening.

This week also wraps up my current training plan. Based on that plan I'm supposed to run a 10K on Sunday, but, I can't seem to find one close to home. Instead, I'll do a long run on Saturday and take a couple of rest days during the week. The question really is what to do next week. I want to maintain a base of 25 to 30 miles per week. I will be travelling the week of October 12, so I am toying with 5 days next week Monday, Tuesday 6 easy, Wednesday speed work, Thursday 4 recovery, Friday SRD, Saturday 12 miles, Sunday SRD. That would give me a weekly total of 34 miles. Then, I'll take a week off while travelling, and start a new training cycle when I get back, the week of October 19th. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pulling Back a Little

Being Saturday, today is my normal long run day. After last Saturday's success at 10 miles, I was going to put in 12 miles. But, I've been feeling pretty fatigued this week. That along with some left shin pain prompted me to scale back my plans and play it safe. After all, even if I put in 8 miles today, I will still end up at 33 to 35 miles for the week, depending on tomorrow.

I started out this morning with the group with a plan to go 10. My decision was that if I felt good at the 5 mile mark, I would just continue around the bay and make it a 12 miler. I started out slow. By mile 3 I was feeling some discomfort (at least not pain) in my shins, and my quads were feeling tired. So, I decided to err on the side of caution and turned around at the 4 mile mark, making today's run 8 miles. As I sit here, I am pretty sure I did the right thing. I'm tired, but my legs feel fine. No pain. In fact, after about mile 6, my legs actually started feeling better.

I wanted to make sure I had enough left for a 60 minute tempo run tomorrow. I may have met that goal...

Friday, September 26, 2008


Ahhh! Recovery day. I needed it. Yesterday was 4 miles at an 11:00 pace. It was nice not pushing things. I went out of the NAC, took the south route, and except for a couple of hills, had a *slow* *slow* run. But I'm not sure that I could have managed much else. I ended the day in the weight room at the NAC for stretching and core workout.

Ever since Tuesday, my legs have felt as fatigued as they have in quite a while. I am sure the combination of increased miles and increased pace is doing it. Yesterday, I had shin pain and a general weak feeling in my quads and ankles during my run. So, I need to watch myself the rest of this week. Last thing I want at this point is an injury. I am sitting here at 20 miles so far. I was thinking about 12 LSD and then 5 tempo over the weekend, but I may scale that back. A lot depends on how I feel tomorrow. Right now, my shins are still sore. I am hoping today's SRD will help that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday Track Time

Yesterday was Wednesday, so that means time on the track to speed myself up. My workout was a 2 mile warm up, 12X200 intervals (with 200 rest in between) and a one mile warm down. Six miles total. Puts me at 16 so far for the week.

For the first time in a while I considered cutting it short. To put it bluntly - my legs are tired. They were at the start of the run yesterday. They are more so now as I sit here the morning having my coffee. I'm glad that today is a four mile easy run. I am going to slow way down and treat this as a recovery run today. As I read (and learn) more about the importance of various types of training, it occurred to me that for the past couple of weeks, I have been ignoring recovery. Hmm, I wonder if that has something to so with my fatigue....

I've also looked at my upcoming running schedule. Right now, everything hinges around the OC Marathon on May 9th. Given an 18 week training cycle, I will start my marathon training sometime in late January/early February. That means I have from the end of next week until then without anything specific to train for. I'll start a search for a new training plan this weekend.

I also spent some time planning out my upcoming races:
  • Harbor Heritage Run 5K (10/11): This was my first race a year ago when I got this all started. I remember it being a rainy morning. I also remember sucking gas less than a mile into the race...
  • Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K (11/27): Huge race. Did I say huge? Yeah huge. Too many people, but a great way to start Thanksgiving morning.
  • Xterra Crystal Cove Trail Run 15K (12/19): Maybe. I signed up for this one last year but had a better offer (weekend in Mexico).
  • Southern California Half Marathon (1/10/09): I think this would be a good wrap up going into marathon training.

The best part of this schedule? The farthest I would have to drive is 20 miles to get to Dana Point.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Six Mile Tuesday (Again)

The plan says five, but in my quest to get more base miles, I added one mile to yesterday's workout to total six. Nothing earth shattering about this run. Took off on the NAC South run like so many times before. Six miles at a pace a little more than easy, but definitely not hard. I managed an average pace of 9:58 and an average heart rate of 151.

I have just finished the sections in Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning book where heart rate is discussed - looks like I have a couple of things to check to optimize my training. The important thing that I have gleaned from the book is the same that many rowers that I know use - train at lactate threshold to maximize training benefits. So, I guess I need to figure out my lactate threshold. Maybe on Sunday I'll run hill repeats to figure out my maximal heart rate, and then try to get my resting heart rate Saturday morning after my rest day Friday.

Today's workout should be somewhat challenging - 12X200. For me, 200's are not as tough as 400's - so that's something to look forward to. Of course, 12 of them - well that's a different story....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Four Mile Monday

Okay okay - so I am getting repetitive. That is the purpose of a training plan. But, I'm also deviating a little as I enter the last two weeks of this plan. I am going to add a mile to each non track day this week and next. This should get my weekly mileage up into the 35 mile range. Still a little short of my 50 mpw goal, but I guess that gives me something to shoot for during the coming year. Plus, if I do hit 50 mpw, I am going to have to find an alternative to my Asics or else I'll be going through a pair of shoes every month. As it is, I got my free pair of shoes from Road Runner this month as it was!

Yesterday was a four mile easy run followed by some time in the weight room stretching and doing my core workout. I got a late start, so finished up the run just as it was getting dark. Looks like it's time to break out the reflective vest again. Or else run in the AM. My only beef with running in the morning is the nap that I will need during the day to recover!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Speedwork

I have so badly wanted to wrap up a week with 30 miles of running. This week gave me the opportunity to do so. I came into this morning with 25.8 miles so far, so it was a mater of a measly 4.2 miles to round out the week. Wow - this whole running thing is still new enough that I remember when 4.2 miles was a *long* way to run....

Today was a 45 minute fartlek workout on the training plan. Other than being a little sore and stiff from yesterday, I felt pretty good, so I opted to lengthen it out to a 6 mile fartlek workout. So, my workout looked like a one mile warm up, 4 miles of fartleks, and a one mile warm down.

Once done, I downloaded myGarmin and was quite surprised at the data! I was able to maintain a fast pace for up to a quarter mile at a time. My best pace was a 7:34 pace for a quarter mile! Overall I managed a 9:38 pace for the entire 6 mile workout. No wonder I'm a little tired and sore tonight!

My six miles today also resulted in my first 30 plus mile week! I ended up at 31.8 miles for the week! Woo hoo! I am looking forward to a 5K to see what my improvement would be!

Lengthening Out a Bit

For the first time in a long time (since May actually) I went double digits. A tad over 10 miles on the San Diego Creek trail up into Irvine.

I've been trying to concentrate on getting back into shape after my cycling accident, following Higdon's Intermediate Spring Training Plan. With this plan, Hal is concentrating on quality versus quantity. I had to deviate from plan this week, with one son's back to school night, and the other saying his family good-byes as he moved off to college (even though it was only to UC Irvine). So, I took Thursday and Friday off, and then lengthened Saturday from 8 to 10 miles.

In the last training cycle, these long runs gave me some problems. I think that it was due to a number of reasons - running too fast, being too new, etc., etc. This plan, though, has been making me do some speed work as well as medium long distances. I think it's pretty comfortable and is good for me, because yesterday I was able to keep a pretty steady pace throughout, managing a pretty comfortable 10:24 pace. It would have no doubt been a little better, but I had to make a short pit stop about 5 miles in to get rid of my morning coffee.

Today it's off for a 60 minute fartlek. I am going to concentrate on running at LT pace - 9:09 or thereabouts. I know I can run faster, but I am a little sore and stiff from yesterday. When done, this week's mileage should come in at a tad over 30 - right at the starting point for the Pfitz plan(s). Looks like it's time to start reading that book now!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Little Bit of Speed

That's all I have - a little bit of speed. But with workouts like yesterday's, I hope to see that increasing. Yesterday's workout was tough - 7x400, 400 rest. Two mile warm up, one mile warm down. That's a total of 6.5 miles. About interval #5 I wasn't sure I was going to make it!

Overall I was pretty pleased with the workout, though, when I was done. I managed to drive one lap down to a 6:46 pace (1:41), which is actually a whole lot better than I thought I was doing. I did have to rely on walking about 200 and jogging about 200 for rest and recovery, but that was part of the plan - I was allowed to walk 400 for recovery.

It is also time to plan this year's running goals. I'll be putting things on paper (actually in this blog) by the weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Six Mile Tuesday

Yesterday I ran a six miler north from the NAC. I dropped my son off, and decided to change the route up and took off up the hill and through the Westcliff neighborhood and back around the Upper Back Bay. My goal was to take it easy. I did push the last half mile though to drop my time below a 10:00 pace. Total of 6 miles in a 59:45.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Short Workout

Monday was a 3 mile day. Since my son had to workout, I did my usual trusty 3 miles south from the NAC route. I reflected while running today about how I used t dread this run because it was sooo far and sooo long to complete. I also used to dread the hill that I had to climb to get to Castaways. Today, I was able to average 9:15 over the course, and ran up the hill!

Today I think I will lengthen out a little over the plan. The plan calls for a four mile easy run today. The rationale is that I should still be in recovery from Sunday's 10K. Since I didn't run a race though, I think I'll lengthen to six miles and slow down today.

I'm also looking at my next race - the Harbor Heritage Run (5K). This was my first race last year, so this event will always have a soft spot in my heart. Plus, it's only 10 minutes away from home!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crystal Cove Tempo Run

It was Sunday - supposed to be race day. But as I said yesterday, I couldn't find a 10K close to home, so I ran a simulated 10K Saturday, and slipped in a 45 minute tempo run yesterday instead of taking rest days Friday and Saturday.

I felt pretty good when I started. By halfway in I could tell that it had been a long week! I still got 4.55 miles in, but the last two miles were tough - especially on uphills - regardless how minuscule they were. I felt myself degrading as I got closer to the end of the run, even breaking out in a walk a couple of times. But - I finished my time on the trails and took a well deserved nap when I got home!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Year of Running

Yesterday was my sort of simulated 10K. I say sort of simulated because I was supposed to run a 10K as part of my Higdon Training Program, but I couldn't find one nearby to run. So, I ditched the 10K for a 6 mile run with Cal Coast. I tried to push the pace just a little - not full out race pace, but faster than my normal long run pace. I finished the run 6.1) in a 58.23, which included a pit stop. But the best part of the run was until the last mile, I didn't feel that I was pushing myself too much, and managed to pull of a 9:19 mile 6, including 7:20 over the last quarter mile (yes - once I was up and over the hill). So overall, I was pretty pleased - a minute or so off my past 10K race PR and a strong finish to boot.

More important this week was that I celebrated my one year anniversary of running! That' right, it was one year ago this week that I laced up my shoes and went on a little three mile journey. That three mile run was south from the NAC, and took a total of 39 excruciating minutes. But it was the start! When I look back over the past year I can point to a couple of things that fall into the "delayed gratification" bucket: 20 fewer pounds, 9:45 easy pace miles, marathon, 35 miles per week. It time to set some goals for this coming year....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Three Mile Thursday

Yesterday was another three miles. Nothing real earth shattering or anything - just three more miles under my belt.

I did the Upper Back Bay trail. I really like the trail because there are no cars to have to watch out for. The views are fantastic all along the way. Did a mile and a half out and back. I managed a 9:40 over the 3 miles with a perceived low amount of effort. This was very satisfying - since I've felt really fatigued this week. IN fact, at the start of the run my legs felt really heavy - unusual for me. I guess I should think about taking it a little easy for a couple of days.

I'm supposed to run a 10K this weekend, but I can't find anything that is close by to run. I guess I'll put in 6 miles on Saturday. I'm also going to use my 2 days of rest this week too. I'm not sure why, but I've just been physically tired all week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Interval Workout

Yesterday was interval day on the track. I went over to CDM (by the way - I hope the football team does well this year - they are certainly putting in the practice time) late in the evening to hit the track for a 2 mile warmup, 10X200 intervals with 200 rest, and a 1 mile warm down. Total was 5.5 miles.

Today is Thursday and I am feeling as fatigued as I have in a while. I slept through my alarm this morning, and am starting to feel a few lingering pains in my left shin. I am going to err on the side of caution and *not* walk to work today. I feel I am making some good strides in my training - feeling more fit and feeling like I am able to run faster longer (at least subjectively), so the last thing I want to risk at this point is injury.

I also need to check my records - I am coming up on my one year anniversary here - one year of running for fun. It seems like some of my workouts now are pretty arduous, but I can still remember when 3 miles was a loooonnnnggg way!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tired Tuesday

Yesterday was a scheduled 6 mile run. My son had rowing, so I knew I would be starting at the NAC, but was having a difficult time deciding whether to go north through Westcliff or south and up the "Hill". My legs felt tired, no doubt from walking on Monday, so I was looking for the easiest way to complete my workout. The breeze pretty much made my decision, as it was blowing pretty stiff by the time I got started. So, despite my disdain for the run behind Newport Dunes, I took off to the south, wen t up the hill, back down and over the PCH bridge, and slogged through the mile behind the Dunes.

By now, I am pretty comfortable with my turn around points on the Back Bay trail. If running to the south from the NAC, the turnaround is at the entrance to Shellmaker Island. Yesterday, I knew this was not going to be a normal fun run when I got to my turnaround point. By then, my legs were starting to feel really fatigued. The feeling was very much like what I felt about mile 15 of the SD RnR marathon. I made the turn, and slowed to a walk for a couple of minutes to try to get some life back in my dead appendages. Since the plan was a "simple" six miler, I hadn't brought along any water or carbs to refuel with.

After what seemed like forever (I'm sure just a minute or two), I gathered up the strength to press on. I started thinking about a recent thread on the Runner's World forum about mantras, and pushed myself on to the last mile, where I knew I would be pointed in the right direction (downhill).

I wrapped up my run, but as I sit here the next morning, I wonder about my ability to run this afternoon. My legs are really tired and I feel pretty fatigued. Today's workout are intervals on the track. I hoping to feel better later in the day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Three Mile Monday

Yesterday was Monday, so it was another easy 3 miles. I dropped my son off at the NAC and I did the old "South from the NAC" run.

There was a difference yesterday though. I am always looking for other ways to enjoy the outdoors. I *had* purchased the bike to commute back and forth to work, but since I am still paying for that little experiment, I decided that on those days that I don't need my car and have no appointments, I can walk to the office. Yesterday was one of those days. So I packed up my Camelbak and "commuted" to my office. That added an extra 8.3 miles (round trip) to my daily total. It was actually kind of cool! It certainly gave me an appreciation for what people just a hundred years had to go through. A simple trip to Starbucks with the family would have to become an all day event!

I got home just in time to grab some fruit and head on out the door for my three mile run. I felt fatigued (duh!) but was still able to put in 3 miles including the hill in less than 30 minutes. Did my core workout of planks, side planks and bird dogs and then rushed home to stuff my face!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Speedy Sunday

Today I did a 45 minute tempo run to wrap up the week. I went down to Crystal Cove to run - not remembering that today was also the Pacific Coast Triathlon. But, other than the crowds that made parking a *little* tougher (I think I had to park an additional 100 yards from my normal spot) I was able to get my run in and got off the trails before the run portion of the tri got started.

I was surprised at how well I felt during this run. My initial mile came in at a 9:56 despite a potty stop. Over the next 25 minutes I concentrated on relaxing. I have noticed recently that I seem to be tensed and hunched when running. I started paying attention after listening to Petros Papadakis on our local sport station. Petros was a USC football player during the "dark days" before Pete Carroll. Among his other accomplishments, Petros was also a world class track athlete. He was talking about the importance of relaxation when running - as he put it "that why you see all those weird facial expressions." After that, I've tried to pay attention to that, and have noticed the tension when I run. So today, when I noticed that I was tensing up, I tried to relax - let my shoulders down and head back. It must have worked because mile 3 was an 8:51 without really being too tired - and it included a hill to boot.

I finished the 45 minute run with 4.75 miles, for an average pace of 9:30 - and that's after slowing down to a 10:05 for the final three quarters a mile. I think I'll need to watch this some more in the coming weeks.....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Long Run Saturday Again

I got my normal Saturday long run in this morning. My plan called for an 8 mile LSD, and after yesterday's rest day, I was looking forward to getting back on the trails. I have been feeling pretty good physically and mentally the past few days. I definitely feel like I am better condition - putting in more miles with better times with less effort.

It was warm and humid even at the start at 7AM. I started off with the Cal Coast group and traded a few pleasantries with some of the other runners as we went down the hill toward the Upper Back Bay trail. I settled into my pace for an otherwise uneventful 4 miles out and 4 miles back.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Exhausted Today

Yesterday's "easy" workout has done it. I sit here Friday morning a little sore and really fatigued. I need to make it through the day and then hit the sack early tonight.

Speaking of yesterday's work out - 3 mile easy run followed by stretching and core workout in the weight room. I was surprised (and I must admit - pleased) when I was analyzing my workout this morning. My average pace was 9:37! Wow! I am especially pleased that I got those results without a great deal of perceived exertion )although right now my body is telling me otherwise). In fact, reviewing the heart rate details, I had an average heart rate of 149 - pretty consistent with my other 3 mile runs.

Today is a day off - and I need it. Saturday I'm going to concentrate on slower instead of faster. The plan calls for 8 miles. It would be interesting to see how slow I can go!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday Intervals

Yesterday's workout was a toughie. Intervals. Heat. Humidity. But - when I hit the bed last night, I was sawing logs as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I didn't get out until late afternoon. I was a little surprised when I noticed the CDM football team was still practicing when I got to the track at 5:15. I laced up my shoes and wandered out to the track for 24 laps over the next hour. 2 mile warm up. Six 400 yard intervals with 400 rest in between. One mile warm down for a total of 6 miles. It felt great with the exception of intervals #4 and #5 where I had to slow down a smidgen to complete the lap. The warm down was a bit of a mental struggle - more because I just wanted to be done than for any physical reason. I finished up and got back home for a well deserved dinner.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three Miles Easy

Yesterday was supposed to be an easy three miles followed by some time in the weight room. After my little sojourn on Monday, I didn't really have much choice. My legs were just not willing to move too fast. To make matters worse, I didn't get out to run until about 4:30, and by then there was a stiff headwind blowing. Since my run was an out and back, I had to run into a headwind for 1.5 miles.

Since school is back in session, more of my weekday running will take place over by the Newport Aquatic Center, where my son is rowing. He had a light workout day, so I dropped him off and headed south toward the Hill. I was running tired, but got the 3 miles in. I know I was supposed to do my core workout, but my body was telling me that it was time to stop. So, I listened, picked up my son, and made my way home for dinner.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Quick Jog Up a Hill

My wife and kids have been calling me certifiably insane for a couple of weeks now - ever since signing up for The Run to the Top. This race is advertised as a Labor Day Classic - eight miles, 4000 foot elevation gain up to the summit of Mt. San Antonio (known to most of us Los Angelenos as Mt. Baldy) and now on it's 43rd year. Well, it's only a little over 7 miles and closer to 3800 feet of elevation gain. Like it really matters....

I was up bright and early to make the drive up the hill. I live a little more than an hour away, so I was out of the house at 5:15. I brought along a cup of coffee, but I had that done about half way there. I wandered around the streets of Upland looking for an open Starbucks, but to no avail (Note to self: If I'm crazy enough to do this next year, remember that Starbucks is on holiday schedule on Labor Day). Not being successful at my hunt for some more wakeup juice, I made it up the hill to the ski area parking lot at 6:45AM. The lot was already a hubbub of activity with with a lot of cars and people making an early showing. I parked the car, got in line and got my race packet (How's that for a stereotype - lines were non-existent except at - you guessed it - the porta potties). I checked out the packet - bib #100! I guess I'll need to keep this one!

By now it was 7:00. The race didn't start until 8:00. For the first time I noticed how cold it was outside. I got back in the car to warm up and checked the thermometer. Hmm - 51 degrees. But, the rest of the day was shaping up to be phenomenal. Not a cloud in the sky. No humidity to speak of. It turned out to be a great day to be up in the mountains.

About 7:45, we started milling around the start line at the entrance to the parking lot. I looked for a couple of people from the Runner's World forums that I knew would be at the race, but I didn't recognize anyone. Promptly at 8AM, the horn sounded and we were off. The first piece of the race was down the road to Manker Flats, which is where the main Baldy Trail begins. This is one of two pieces of downhill on the course ("course" is loosely termed here as I'll describe later). And downhill it is - a 15% grade for a quarter of a mile. We then turned right onto the trail and the uphill started. It wasn't maybe more than 200 yards up the trail that I started wishing that I had spent a lot more time doing those hill repeats! Needless to say, the power walk started a little sooner than I was anticipating.

I alternated between fast walking and jogging for the next couple of miles to Baldy Notch. This portion of the course was on a dirt road, so the footing was good. The scenery is *outstanding* - running through tall pines and fresh cool air. About 2 miles in from the start was a water stop manned my the Mt. Baldy Volunteer Fire Department. Baldy Notch is about halfway in, and I hit it at an hour. My goal was to try to run this thing in 2 hours, so I was on schedule at this point. At the notch, another water stop greeted us, and we turned to the north to "run" along another fire road up to the Devil Backbone. I was pretty much in full fledged walk mode by now. The funny thing is that I used to ski Mt. Baldy a lot when I was in college. The slope that now had me cursing under my breath was the same one I used to avoid because I thought that it wasn't steep enough. Hah! That'll teach me. I plodded the next mile and a quarter to the start of the Devil's Backbone and the 5 mile mark. My pace had dropped to 22 minutes per mile for mile 5, so I started thinking that the 2 hour target may be in jeopardy. But, I was at 1:28 at this point, so it was still a possibility. I stopped and had some fruit and water at the water stop and moved on to the next challenge.

The next portion of trail is spectacular! We were on a single track trail known as the Devil's Backbone - so named because it runs along a ridgetop. There are dropoffs on either side amounting to thousands of feet. A missed step along the next mile or so could be problematic (a couple of people die along this portion of trail each year). San Bernardino County Search and Rescue manned several points along the trail to make sure that everyone and everything was okay. I was still in good spirits here, albeit moving forward slowly. The altitude was starting to have an effect on me. My legs were fine, but it seemed the harder I breathed, the less oxygen I could get. My heart rate when I was just standing was 130. Walking got me to 145. As I clambered up the trail I hit 155 to 160 pretty quickly. My pace slowed to 32 minutes for the next mile. The trail gained a 1,000 feet between miles 5 and 6, putting us at about 9,300 feet and just above the timberline (Note to self #2: The reason that trees don't grow up here is because there's no oxygen!).

I hit mile 6 at 2:01 - so my goal of 2 hours was pretty much shot at this point. But, I still felt physically good. Mile 6 had a little downhill (remember I mentioned that there were two downhills?), so I put together a short burst of speed to the bottom of the final pitch to the top.

Here is where things really got ridiculous. I reached the saddle between Mt. Harwood and Mt. Baldy at 2:10 and change. The final 1200 meters requires a 700 foot elevation gain up the shoulder of Baldy. Count 'em folks - 30 minutes for the last summit pitch! It's been a while since I've been up at this altitude and I had forgotten some of its effects. A little lightheadedness, constant gasping for air, all in a fun day's workout! My final pitch was 10 steps up, stop and gasp for a minute or two, repeat. I crested the hill and put on a show for the camera - actually running across the finish line. Final watch time - 2:42. But I was up on top of Baldy - taking in the scenery and revelling in my accomplishment! I stuck around for about 30 minutes or so before beginning the walk down the hill back to the Notch and a ride on the ski lift back to the car.

The bottom line on this "race" - if you are looking for something different and challenging - this may be the race for you. If you are not a trail runner with some altitude experience, then treat this one like your first marathon. Concentrate on finishing. Enjoy the sights. Enjoy the views. And remember - once you are on top, there's still a 3 mile walk back down to the halfway point where you can ride down to your car! Will I do this one again? Probably. It sure beat sitting around the house on a Holiday weekend. The weather was spectacular, the views were spectacular, the challenges are formidable. Whether you were the race leader, a seasoned trail runner, or just an average Joe looking for something different, anyone who finishes this race can be proud!

A full set of pictures is available on my Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/glennsphotos2007/sets/72157607063901838/

Monday, September 1, 2008

Saturday Fiver

Well - Saturday I put in the miles that I was supposed to on Friday. I missed a lot of my running buddies because they were getting ready for the Disney half, but there was still a good turnout. Most of the people were running four miles, a couple six. So I settled in and ran my five miler. I know I said I wasn't going to push the pace, but I did. I was able to actually finish the last mile (up the hill to the track) in a reasonable pace of 9:40, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Now, it's off on Sunday and Mt.Baldy on Monday!