Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting down to business

"Are you trying to kick my ass?"

The Genius asked this question as we crested the last hill about 7 miles into our hilly trail run last Saturday near Inverness.  I was scheduled to run 10 easy miles that day.  As we caught our breath, I reminded The Genius that I lose speed control on trails in that I only have one speed.  He said, "Right.  One speed.  On." I was not looking at my Garmin at all, just enjoying this effort-based rollercoaster, tromping through the mud, jumping puddles, dodging hikers.  He hit his lap button and mentioned something about a 5 minute something pace at the end.  Was I going that fast?  Maybe on the downhill stretch.  I paid for my shenanigans the next day during a late afternoon long run where I was slightly dead legged making the 14 miles feel like 50.  He told me the next day that I am going to have no problem with cross country if I run like that on trails.  I hope he's right.

This week marks my first week back to reasonably hard training.  I let myself relax post-Marine Corps Marathon in every possible way: I stopped tracking my food intake, slept in every day, and truly kept my running easy (well, except for the trail run).   I do like the perspective I get when I'm on the other side of training.  The rest makes me realize just how much time and effort I'm putting in to this pursuit and it gives me a chance to do something other than eat, sleep and drink running day in and day out.  The problem with allowing myself to fully experience the softer side is that it makes for a rough transition back to my hardcore training lifestyle.

I am not one for easing back into a routine, so I jumped into the ice water with both feet this week.  I resumed my early-morning training, meeting my early girlies 4 out of the 5 days at 5:15.  I feel like a pansy saying this when there are folks from the east coast reading my blog, but it has been cold here!  Every morning was in the low 30s.  I run cold anyway, so I've been bundling in at least 3 layers on top, long tights with compression sleeves underneath, gloves and a fleece headband.  That's a lot of clothing!

This week, I ramped up to 72 miles from the mid-50s, completed The Rock Circuit twice, got back to my TP Massageballer routine, and had three hard workouts scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  Tuesday morning, I ran my hardest workout of the week.  I got to warm up with the Bat who was doing my same workout but at different paces.  While we didn't run the whole workout together, I was happy to know that she was out there working hard too.  The 10.5 mile workout included:
  • 5 strides;
  • 2 miles @ marathon effort w/1 min jog rests; 
  • then 5 x 30 sec’s @ 5k effort w/30 sec jog rests;
  • then 2 miles @ half marathon effort w/1 min jog rest;
  • then 5 x 30 sec’s @ 3k effort w/30 sec jog rests
I've seen these kinds of workouts before and, I told the Bat that, while it looks easy on paper, the transition from the 5k effort repeats to the half marathon effort without rest was not going to feel easy.  I ran the 2 miles at marathon effort at 6:18 pace and the half marathon effort at 6:09 pace.  I wore my heart rate monitor for grins and my heart rate averaged 172 for both 2 mile segments.  I found it interesting that my HR would stay the same in the second repeat under a faster effort.  I also remembered that I had run 2 x 2 miles at goal marathon pace (6:15 pace) just before Twin Cities.  I checked my records and my heart rate was 168 on average for both repeats.

What can I take away from that?  For one thing, I was probably working harder than marathon and half marathon effort this week.  It also reminded me of the value of wearing the HRM on some runs to have a benchmark to touch back upon.  So, I think I will wear my HRM for some future workouts to see how my HR changes as I become fitter.  It will be nice to watch it creep back down into the mid-160s or lower for my GMP workouts this cycle.  I still don't know what my max HR is, but I will get a chance to find that out next Tuesday in a max HR test.

Monday, I was back to watching my food intake, counting my calories using my Absolute Fitness iPhone app. and weighing myself daily.  I don't exactly have a weight goal in mind for this marathon cycle, but I would like to get below the 125-pound mark I attained prior to Twin Cities.  I think I can get a little lower than that for Eugene, but I'll just have to see how I feel along the way.  While weight is a very important factor for a marathoner, I do know that pushing it too far is counterproductive.

As a sort of farewell to the good life, The Genius and I went to Roxy's Sunday night to order up my last meal before employing my new eating plan.  I had a massive burger, garlic fries and chased it with a beer.  I added the apple-cranberry cobbler, vanilla bean ice cream and a cappuccino for good measure.  I was full as a tick walking out of the restaurant, but it felt good to indulge.

Here's to the next 5 months of training!


  1. "I lose speed control on trails in that I only have one speed." How true.

  2. Cool on the HR max test. It'll be interesting to see how your past readings hinge off your actual max, percentage-wise.

    And very nice to see you enjoy your recovery, I'm just learning the necessity for that myself. Looks like you'll have no problem returning to the "harder" side, considering the success of your trail run and that mixed pace workout. Looking forward to spying on your cycle - cheers to the next 5 months!