Jumping into the Deep End

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last weekend I ran the Smoky Mountain Relay (200+ miles) with Duncan, Sarah, Ellen, Ronnie and Mark. Since we were an ultra team (6 people vs 12), we were all going to run 3 sets of 2 legs. We split the cars up 3 and 3 so it was one on, one off and the car that wasn’t running could go ahead and wait at the next exchange point. I was originally planning on running the shortest distance, 28 miles, but ended up switching with Ronnie and took on the longest leg (40+ miles). This would be the true test of my foot.

My first leg was a huge downhill over 8-9 miles followed by a rolling section. It started out all right but after the big downhill, I could tell my quads were pretty cooked. Add that to the fact that I had run 14 miles of Boston 4 days earlier and I knew I was going to be sore and tired. As if that wasn’t enough, I had to stop on the side of the road 4 times in the last 5-6 miles to relieve myself. Not fun. So when I finally made it to the exchange point, I took some Imodium in the hopes that it would help. It did, thank god. My next leg took place around 3am I think. It was 13 miles of rolling hills and it went great. My foot didn’t really give me much trouble and once I got my legs loosened up, I was able to roll. However, as soon as I finished, we had to get in the car to get to the next point, so I didn’t get the chance to stretch out which meant I could hardly get out of the car when I tried. We were able to get an hour or two of sleep before our last set of legs on Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the time trying to get my quads loosened up. My last leg was incredibly painful. I was on the roads on a slight downhill for about 6 miles, climbed for 25 minutes straight up, dropped straight back down and got lost because the markings were so poor once we got off the trail. Finally, when I was nearing what I though was the end, the directions seemed to make no sense. There was another runner and she and I both wandered around for 20 minutes trying to figure out where to go. Then, when we retraced our steps, the race director was where we had gone off course, marking it. I was livid. The last thing you should have to worry about is finding the course, especially on your last leg. They should know by that point that runners are fatigued and definitely not thinking clearly. The course needs to be clearly marked and leave no doubt as to where to go. As it stood, the directions said to go right at an orange gate. It turns out there were 2 orange gates and we were to go right at the 2nd one. There was one line on the directions indicating that we had to cross a stream and go down a road but it seemed as though we’d already done that. You’d think they would tell you there are 2 orange gates in the middle of nowhere. It ended up all right, as I finally found my way after slogging through a creek, falling, and crossing maybe the coolest bridge ever. One person just forded the river so at least I didn’t have to do that. But I was pissed when I handed off for the last time.

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Team Mac and Cheese

We finished as the 1st ultra team and 3rd overall, which was really cool. We all got huge medals which are sweet. I was incredibly sore for the next couple of days but my foot seemed to handle the stress all right. It doesn’t like pavement a whole lot, but it’s getting there. My hammys suffered the most. Through Wednesday, I didn’t feel like I could extend them without pulling something. Reed and I ran a 6-5-4-3-2 workout at the Duke track and I was in pain the whole time. I also learned that I lost a large amount of speed. Or at least it seems that way right now. I think my aerobic base is still there for the most part, but my turnover and ability to run at 5-minute pace has greatly diminished. So I suffered through that workout, hitting times that were pedestrian before my foot started bugging me. On Thursday, my hammys finally loosened up a bit but an hour into my 1.5 hour run, the inside of my left knee got really tight and painful. I was able to finish up my run, but it was really bugging me the rest of the day. Then, on Friday morning when I went out to run, I couldn’t. It was too painful. So I went back home, rested and iced and stretched and was able to run with a bit of soreness that evening. I ended up doing a 5 mile tempo on the track. I started out running the normal direction but after a mile was forced to switch directions because my knee was bugging me. But once I flipped around, there was no issue with the knee and it even felt pretty good towards the end. The knee was a bit sore on the cool down, but it still felt ok. It continued to improve on Friday night and my Saturday morning run was slightly painful, but not too bad. It felt pretty good the rest of the day and seemed to be responding to icing and stretching so I wasn’t too worried about running the beer mile on Saturday night. It felt good during the beer mile and I took 90 seconds off of my PR from January (ran 6:48 I think) so I was very pleased with the result. Dancing on it the rest of the night may not have been the best idea, but it seems ok this morning and I’m continuing to ice and the day off will do a lot for it too I hope. I hit 80+ miles this week and am planning to up it to 100 next week and stay there through all of May, dropping a bit before the Dipsea. I’m going to keep running workouts regularly which is something I didn’t really do last year and if I can stay healthy, I think I’ll be in good shape come June 10th. Fingers crossed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

First, a quick rundown on what’s happened since last time: Hell Hole Swamp 10k champion in 34+, Capitol City Classic 10k in 32:00 (6th overall), graduation, moved back to CA.

I ran in the Bay 2 Breakers yesterday as part of the West Valley centipede. This was my third B2B and third different centipede (LinkedIn in 2010 and Aggies in 2011). We ran 42:11 to finish as the 3rd centipede behind those two teams. It was by far the least stressful centipede experience I’ve had and even though the other two were faster by 4+ minutes, this one passed the fastest. I think it’s because I was comfortable the whole time and was able to talk and joke with several other members of the team. I was also really pleased with the effort level. It wasn’t too hard at all, and when we finished I still felt fairly fresh. My foot didn’t really bother me which was probably the best part of the whole thing. These past couple weeks have seen some really solid training and accompanying fitness gains. Since the Hell Hole Swamp 10k 2 weeks ago (34+), I ran a really solid 10k at Capitol City Classic (32:00) on a somewhat hilly course all while keeping my mileage above 100 miles. This week will be my 4th and final week above 100 miles before I drop to 80 and then 60 the two weeks before the Dipsea. I’m very careful to do my exercises and stretching after my runs and I think that is going a long way to keeping me healthy. I hope it continues.

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Grand prize at the Hell Hole Swamp 10k: A Gator Head

Last Sunday I graduated and we flew back the next morning. I ran a solid workout in Berkeley with Sean McFarland: 6 x 1000 all under 2:58 and all at least as fast as the same workout last week. Then I went out to the Pelican Inn on Tuesday and had a solid hill climb (17:38) considering I’d run a 10k on Saturday, flown home and worked out on Monday night, and ran 10 miles Tuesday morning. It still felt fairly relaxed and I was able to push on the flats. I think my strength on the hills will come back fairly quickly as I’ve been focusing on running hilly routes. On Thursday I did the hilly 14 mile route (allen, crown, hoo koo e koo, wheeler, pilot’s knob) and on Friday I got in a double in under 2 hours, with a negative split that felt really good. Tonight Gus and I ran 13 miles with a tempo around Bon Tempe and Lagunitas. It wasn’t anything particularly strenuous and admittedly I had a harder workout in mind when I woke up this morning, but I think it was good. There is a decent amount of climbing involved and in the great scheme of things, 3 days in a row of workouts is a good amount, even without a hard one in the middle. I think trying to go out and do something like 2-3 x 2miles would have been too demanding on my body, since my hip and hammy are a bit sore as it stands right now. But I’m happy with where my fitness is at this moment and have about another week and a half of hard training before I taper for the Dipsea. I’m really excited to see what happens. I’ve got some more competition this year with Crosby and Mocko but I think my experience and my hill climbing ability will help. And if I don’t get the fastest time, it wasn’t meant to be.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Since the last post, I’ve done some really solid training. The day after Bay to Breakers, Gus and I did a 25~ minute tempo around Bon Tempe and Lagunitas and then I followed that up on Tuesday with a 16:45 time trial from the creek to Cardiac. That’s my fastest time by 20+ seconds and I’m really, really excited about it. I think it bodes really for race day when I’m hoping to run right around 18 minutes for the climb, which will give me a shot at going under 48 minutes. It’s a lofty goal, but I think it can be done if I’m fresh and ready to go come Sunday.

In my training, I’ve really just concentrated on running hilly routes as much as possible and have gotten in 3 Double Dipseas since I’ve been back, which is something I haven’t done in the past. I’ve used the route as a substitute for a more structured workout later in the week in an effort to get my legs as familiar with the course and footing as possible. Granted, I haven’t taken the Doors yet and will do so for the first time on race day, I think taking the Moors on my runs has made me stronger since they’re longer and involve a climb that the Doors bypasses.

Overall, my legs have felt pretty good. I’m recovering quite well after my hilly runs and fatigue doesn’t play too much of a factor from one day to the next. My left hip and knee have been giving me some pains, but now that I’m tapering, they feel better on the whole. They really react in a positive way to rest so the fact that I’ve been able to run only singles this week has helped them quite a bit I think. My last double last week was really painful and I had to stop a couple of times to try to stretch it out, which doesn’t really help, unfortunately. But I think with the decreased mileage and continued rolling, I’ll have it under control fairly well next week.

In terms of racing, on Monday, Memorial Day, I ran in the Marin 10k. I PR’d in 50:53 which was a nice surprise considering I haven’t been on the track since my first workout back in CA a couple weeks ago in Berkeley. I felt really strong the whole time but not fast which makes sense since I’ve been running lots of hills but not doing anything on the track. Also, I was only 4 seconds behind Crosby which was a big confidence boost heading into Sunday, but who knows what will happen on race day. I’m going to do my best to get my 4th fastest time award. I really want it.

I dropped my mileage to 80 this week and will hit 60 next week. I’m thinking of going out to the track on Tuesday and doing some 400s and 200s to work on my turnover for race day. But whatever I decide, it won’t be too strenuous, as the hay is in the barn and the worst thing I can do is make myself tired for Sunday.

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About afvarner

Runner. Donuts. Sneakerhead. Not necessarily in that order. Nike Trail Elite. Picky Bars. Gu. Vicory Sportdesign.
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