Current Training Status: not blogging... running.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

2008 Mountain Series Has Begun

On Saturday, May 24, the Wachusett Mtn. Road Race opened the 2008 Mtn. Series.  In one month will be Mt. Washington, not a race in the series, it is the focus of the work I'll be doing in these first 3 Mtn. Races.  There have been a few hilly races already this year.  D. H. Jones and St. Pat's Race in Holyoke were both good training for these Mtn. Races.  They weren't on my mind at Wachusett.  I had a good race though and a great day, running the course twice to tally 2200' of climb for the day in almost 13 miles of running.  
My mindset was fixed on this as the start of the series.  I ran the race as though it had been 9 months since the last race up a mountain.  Last years series ended 9 months ago, but in fact I had run bona-fide Mtn. races at the Summit Run, and those other hilly races that demanded the same strategies and skills.  Well, with that mindset I was very conservative.  When the course began to roll with plenty of flat and downhill in the first 3 miles, I realized I had missed an opportunity.  Holding my ground  though, I kept up with much of the group that had formed at mile one, and gained ground on the long downhill toward mile 4.  I had a lot more strength to give the race, and when Tom Derderian shouldered past me I responded with it.  The last half mile made up some ground and was a furious sprint to keep Tom behind me, and the last quarter mile more furious thinking of Mt. Washington.  I was totally pumped.  It was a good start, with few real regrets despite my mindset.
After chatting with other runners, I shook a bemused Tom D.'s hand just before he took off.  A group of CMS runners and leaders of the field started their cool down, down the course.  I headed for the other end of the parking lot at the top of the Mountain and found the start of my trail run down.  I got lost, got some direction and found the 'Old Indian Trail' which got me right back to my car in less than 20 minutes.  A lot of fun, with plenty of roots and rocks, hikers.  I took a gel, water and more endurolytes, and was down to the start again in time to see Abby Woods, Dave Dunham, and others just getting to the bottom via road.  My second lap was 40:27, lingering to enjoy the amazing sights and views.  I was back to my car this time in 16 mins. and in time for the Awards ceremony.
Doing 'Doubles' will be a cornerstone of my training for Washington.  This is a pretty crude training strategy, but I'll enjoy it while extending my fitness for the big hill.  After the upcoming Pack Monadnock 10 Miler, I'll double the climb with 7 miles on the Wapack Trail.  An out and back to the North Pack trailhead will be a lot of fun, and I can support it with the drop bag that the Race allows at the summit.  I'll run this race all-out. Fast.  It climbs gradually over the first 7 miles and I'll stay under 7:00/mile for them, shooting for a 1:20.  I'd love to introduce Wapack to others, the Trail run is mapped below:

 I also plan to Run Northfield twice, or a more direct summit run on steeper trails after the race.  In my training this week, will be one massive 20ish run at Mt. Tom.  I'll do other speed work on hills as I get into June.  My mileage has been in the 40's for weeks with increasing climbing.  In May, my vertical climbing may be double April's total.  This is a realistic goal, which I'll try to achieve with the big Mt. Tom run.  Thursday is a pasta night  at the Elks lodge, and I'll forgo my Sunset Summit Cooldown for a heaping portion after the 5k. The 'Mt. Tom Madness' run doesn't seem crazy anymore, though I'm still working on the map.  This will be the big focus of my week before Pack, shooting for 7000' of climbing:  

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Toby Repeats

Excuse the dust on this blog, it has been a busy two weeks.  The Mountain Series will soon begin, also the final month of training before Mt. Washington.  The Wapack race wrapped up with more climbing in a week than in some months this year!  I have been laying down personal records everywhere.  My training strategy is to pack more climbing into fewer runs, ensuring plenty of climbing and plenty of flat to stretch my legs and stay fast.  Climbing is ... easy, it has to be easy climbing to prepare for a slow sustained pace up Mt. Washington.  I also need to avoid injury while tackling the big numbers, focus on my gait and form and breathing and not on speed per se.
This approach generates plans like the map above.  This is a creative repeat of Mt. Toby with a neighboring hill thrown in for good measure.  I also intend to do a massive climbing run at Mt. Tom next week.  Just the other day I took a ten mile spin up to the summit of Whitney Peak on the Tom range from my house, great feeling.  At the Thursday races, I've begun doing a summit run before and after the race.  At Wachusett this weekend, I'll take a direct route down the mountain and repeat the 4.3 mile course for another 2000' or so of easier running.  
To recap, the Wapack Race went well, despite some unforseen difficulties.  Friday morning I woke with a sore throat and by evening kleenex was a constant companion.  I kept my energy up and started pumping in some good fruit juices and wholesome food.  I made good ground on the cold but that night I could not sleep much, waking to drink every couple hours and blow my nose.  I felt pretty miserable by early morning, and was probably a nervous wreck.   Somehow I managed a good run, and the link to results is at the sidebar.  This was also an Ultra event, with a 50 mile component, and the day truly belonged to them.  The spectacle before me, as runners followed me in with two laps to my single, after 42 miles they looked pretty fresh and eager to tackle the 8 miles of hill repeats which would finish their day, left me agog.  Many of the runners posted reports on
I avoided dehydration on the run, and felt in control using e-caps.  If I didn't immediately begin gobbling pizza, I might have run more.  The RD was tempting me to, to run the 42 miler next year, and I did declare that I'd do the 50.  In any case I returned home to something better.  My son, Nye, ran his first race that morning.  He has been training for a mile race in June, and this opportunity popped up.  Congrats Nye! Both of us pushing past boundaries, a picture is worth 1000 words: 

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Immediate Cloudline Report

The range was shrouded in mist and not visible before the race this morning. Temps ranged from low to upper 40's and it had been raining for days. Though the hills clung to a cloud there was no rainfall. These conditions were ideal, just like the best of my training runs. I didn't expect much sweat which would require more water, but still tried to improve my fueling. I left the house with a big jug of tea, and three bottles. Two bottles with 2 scoops Heed, one for the hour before, one for an hour into the race. I mixed a third bottle with 1.75 scoops Sustained Energy for the last 4 miles. Also, I carried the quick coin with 4 e-caps and a gel, knowing there was plenty of water on the course. at 8 AM with my bib pinned on, I would realize that I did not leave the house with my shoes! Nineteen minutes later I was back at home, setting a course record for the day and geting a warm up on my stairs. Made it back with 15 minutes to spare, stretched and soon we were off.
It was a constant battle to back off on the first hill. I don't think I really settled into a slow pace till Hitchcock. I decended agressively throughout the first half, almost recklessley. Upper body skills from the M+M were second nature and there were tons of blow downs to hurdle. Cruised for comfort in the flats, and once past the first water and some hurdles I loosened up for a great quick hill climbing gait. On the ups I kept pace running with power hikers a couple of times, but this was perfect for me. There was no problem transitioning between uphill and flat like last year. I felt pretty good about my pace as we approached the Summit House road, it came quick but my time of 50:00 even didn't seem much quicker than last year. I grabbed my first bottle from Bob Massaro at the Summit House and left the porch at 57:ish maybe.
Titans plaza was treacherous. All the flat sections of bare rock were wet and slippery with a margin of slick mud. In his british accent, the guy behind me watched me choosing turns on the trail and asked if I knew where I was going. The trail is tricky to follow in there and I told him I'd only done it once before so I only knew enough to be dangerous. Soon after I took a good ten foot slab of rock sliding on both feet and one hand, probably a 30% slope, totally nuts. Here the leaders appeared, some kid with a lot of hair in first, then Leigh and Ben. I leaped down boulders, leaned into bushes to keep upright, tons of fun but sobering. Abby was moving quick coming up, a few places ahead of Deb! The traffic constrained me somwhat, somehow I didn't fall, and reached the bottom to slap the aid table at 1:14.
I was passing people on the way up, where I was struggling last year. Somehow I made it up easily with the same run/walk strategy from the first half. Without feeling spent at all, I switched the nearly empty Heed bottle for the Sustained Energy where Bob was waiting on the porch, and had good form heading down to the road. I was amazed hitting the downhills again just how good I felt and ran right up most the other side past the road.

One new strategy employed was blowing my nose, one nostril at a time I cleared the passageways that ruined me on my last couple long runs. My nose was running copiously in the low damp temps. I kept limber hopping over everything and swinging my arms as I power hiked. Through the next section I didn't drink much, and didn't feel any inner ear trouble. There was a bout three of us that kept pace almost to the water stop. One girl and I switched positions once or twice. She was a great climber and I let her pass. Gave a loud hoot whenever we crested and stared out into the grey cloudy void. Then I passed her as she complained there was no view! I think she passed me later on but I'm not sure, I passed 4 or 5 people at least. Recognized their gait was the same shuffle those hills had reduced me to last year. 
Amazing how much easier this was. I had drank about half the Sustained Energy and was feeling a little inner ear pressure. At the water stop I gave a whoop and chugged from a jug. This cleared my head and was very refreshing. Came upon a guy wearing NB 790's and he did complain they didn't do well on the wet stuff. I passed him and more going over Hitchcock, plenty in the tank. Said to the guy behind that I'd come back for that hill, positive but maybe insincere response. It really had a very good sustained steep grade, only a mile or two into the course. 
Drank more SE on the way up Bear, feeling like a million bucks and passing more people whom I congradulated. Tore my way down the gnarly last decent, human tetris. The Crosslites did awesome, great on the mud and when planting my foot in sharp rocky pockets. With total confidence I sprinted down the scree and s curves to the finish in 2:34:29, faster than last year by 16:52! Bob was right there, he has my sincere thanks for crewing. Big help. Nye and Katie were across the street and I was glad she could bring him as he saw me tearing down to the finish. We hung out and chatted with a few people. I cramped a little bit walking to the car from the finish, popped a couple e-caps and was able to drink some Recoverite that wasn't too spoiled. Bagles and cream cheese, yogurt and sourdough, and only one cookie filled my empty belly before we headed for home. I was elated beyond experience, contrast of the brutal exhaustion from last year made it even sweeter. Can't wait to see the results and see how everyone else fared.