Friday, April 27, 2012

Preparing for May

     Now that the BRHM is behind me it's time to shift gears and put some focus into some areas that I've been neglecting. My first priority is going to be strength training. I've kept up with a weekly 12 exercise free weights routine every week this year, but I largely abandoned many of my long term strength training goals over the course of the 10 week Blue Ridge Half Marathon training program. My overall fitness strategy follows a 6 discipline hierarchy...attitude>nutrition>strength>flexibility>swim>bike>run. I definitely have a passion for running, but all in all running is more of a hobby or sport than a necessary component of fitness. Neglecting attitude, strength, nutrition or cross training (swimming and cycling) for an extended time and I doubt I would be able to run for long without an injury.

     So as I de emphasize my run training and work on my strength base I still intend to run around a bit, just with less intensity and less frequency. I'll even be doing a trail 10k on May 5th. I'll do the best I can with it, but with a much lower run base than my other recent trail races. Still, it is just 10k so my residual fitness from BRHM training may offer a surprise come race day!

     And May the 20th is a big endurance event for me. I've slowly over the years been working up to a full century bike ride. My longest ride so far was a 67 miler at last years SOTR. They added some miles to the route this year to make it a 75 miler and I'm happy to just keep making annual efforts to increase my longest distance. SOTR is a ride not a race, so that gives me a good opportunity to establish goals specific to my endurance level and to not focus on high level intensity or finish times and places.

     Basically, I'll be preparing for SOTR with a weekly mileage progression for 3 weeks followed by a slight taper. I'll be holding back on speeds a lot and probably even drifting down most hills on my weekly long ride. I'll also do a weekly ride at 1/2 the distance of my long ride at slightly faster speeds. Add to that any short/fast rides to the gym and hopefully I will be able to achieve my SOTR goals of A) Finish feeling strong and ready to go longer B) 15 mph avg moving pace C) 5-10 minute breaks at the aid stations.

     The operative word above is "preparing" NOT "training", if I were training for it I would have started months ago and my goal would be to finish on EMPTY with an average speed in the 18-20 mph range.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Angels Race Triathlon

   2012 Angels Race Sprint Triathlon
     Two races in two days was not something I ever looked forward to doing. First, its just not enough time for me to recalibrate my intensity to maximize a high caliber performance and second, its just to much family time being focused all at once on me. Ultimately, I decided to do the Angels Race Triathlon on the day after the Blue Ridge Half Marathon for a few reasons, chief among them being that 2012 is the year that I intend to complete 5 pool swim triathlons and I need to do the five closest ones to home for financial reasons.

     Also, the 2011 Angels Race was my introduction to triathlons, so making it an annual event carries a significant weight in a nostalgic kinda reverent sort of way. Last, but not least, and perhaps even most importantly is just the spirit of the event. The Angels Race is intended to be an outlet for remembrance of individuals that have inspired us triathlete types and I personally believe that remembrance is a better coping mechanism than trying to forget. Part of the culture of the event is to have an inspiring persons name (usually deceased, but thats not mandatory) written on your arm and then completing the event in that persons honor.

     This year I raced in remembrance of an athletic young lady who grew up in the same neighborhood as me. We didn't talk much, but I still recognized her as being a good and decent person and just an incredible and dedicated athlete. I was saddened to learn she had passed away at a young age shortly after high school graduation. She was the only athletic female I ever saw running the neighborhood streets, so in my mind she was the face of female athleticism...period.

     Realistic expectations for this race are difficult to establish since I will be operating with a recovery deficit from having competed in the Blue Ridge Half the day before, but all I understand on race day is PR's, so I'll be looking for improvements in all 3 disciplines and both transitions. Last year gave me a S1-7:50, T1-4:46, B1-49:42, T2-2:18, and R1-22:38, personally I have a good feeling about everything except the bike. Last years ride was remarkable for me so I'm not certain that there is a lot of room for improvement without buying a lighter bike. I'm not willing to do that so the cycling will just have to be what it is.

The Event
     Waking up on the morning after the Blue Ridge Half my calves and quads were screaming "Bloody Murder! What hast thou done to us!". It was as bad a lactic acid build up as I had ever had. "Angels Race?" I thought. "Ah hell, lets do it anyway. My upper body is good to go and maybe a solid bike ride will loosen me up so I can get through the measly 5k with something short of an embarrassing pace." Thoughts of a PR were off the table. I didn't even look up last years time so as to know what time to beat.

     I'll skip much of the play by play and get right to the performance, but I do have to say a special word of thanks to my lovely wife and daughter, Denise and Faith, who took time out of their schedule to support me in todays event. Waking up at 5am and spending most of the next 8 hours transporting me, encouraging me, cheering for me, and just generally waiting on me...all in a frequent to steady just an awesome show of love and I am incredibly blessed.

Waiting my turn...1h 27m 45s wait this year.
     S1: 300m: Went much smoother than last year. I'm guessing 7 minutes flat (update: 7:28) including the jog to the timing mat. I got passed probably 3 times and I believe I passed 1 person. I did get thrown out off my rhythm once and ended up drinking a small quantity of the pool with 25 yds to go, but I recovered without creating a noticeable delay and got out of the pool feeling good.
Video above is a good portion of my swim. At video start I am already in the pool (not yet swimming, in the corner) and my countdown is starting. An old lady at the gym once watched me swim and as I got out of the water she said "You look like your swattin' at flies out there." I still laugh, cause I know she's right!
Heading to transition.
     T1: (update: 3:05): I know I took it easy, probably just under 5 minutes like last year. At this point I still didn't feel much like racing, so I was just trying to get re-oriented to triathlons after a 9 month hiatus.

Starting my bike leg
     B1: 25k: After about a mile on the bike I started feeling good enough to push the paces a little bit. I passed about 8-12 people and even though my calves were still feeling rebellious they did what I asked them to and I was gaining some confidence that I might surprise myself with the final result. Official splits aren't available yet, but I'm estimating 50 minutes (update: 50:40), about the same as last year.

     T2: No reason to think my transitions have improved, so I'll guess last years time of 2:18 (update: 2:49)  is close enough.

A few steps into my run and I knew it just wasn't meant to be, but I did what I could with it.
     R1: 5k: One step and I knew I had left any significant run game still on the BRHM course. Both calves, both quads, and my left gluteus maximus were actively rebelling against further use. I had no choice but to just find a comfortable, but not too comfortable, pace and just go with it and hope I could convince my body to cooperate without cramping up, or worse, causing an injury. I even walked up a steep hill so as to not provoke an over use injury. My guess...25 minutes (update: 25:08)...much slower than last year.

Finished! Glad its over. Serious rest gonna be happening for a week or so!
     Finally finished in 1:29:09, just under 2 minutes slower than last year. No PR, I had thought "maybe" at one point, but ultimately the tank was running on fumes. I'm incredibly happy to have had a great time, a great finish time in light of the circumstances, and to have been there to offer support to Lydia, Ray and the rest of the athletic community. I hope to continue to do both the BRHM and the Angels Sprint Tri in future years, but I really hope they don't continue to fall on the same weekend.
Race Swag: Water bottle and a nice quality jacket.

     Final Results:  2012 Angels Race Sprint Triathlon  (300m/25k/5k)2012 Time-01:29:09, (S-7:28, T1-3:05, B-50:40, T2-2:49, R-25:08), Place-79/190 Men,  9/22 Men 40-44

Saturday, April 21, 2012

2012 Blue Ridge Half Marathon: Pt 2: The Event

     I split this race entry into two parts because my Foreword, available HERE, got a bit lengthy.
 2012 Blue Ridge Half Marathon
The Event: Pt2
     I like to wake up every day and do an hour or so of something to promote my own good health. Sometimes its run and sometimes its cycling or swimming or lifting weights or even a stretching routine. Rest and recovery time doesn't come particularly easy for me, but I've seen the benefits of allowing adequate recovery time prior to a race and/or a challenging weight lifting set and I knew it was going to have to play into my buildup for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon if I wanted a strong finish.

     So with just about a half hour of moderate swimming on Thursday and just one more half hour of very low intensity stretching on Friday I prepared myself for this mornings half marathon. This is about twice as much rest as I've done prior to any of the trail races I've done this year and possibly even 2.5 to 3 times more rest than the most recent trail race, the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k, last Saturday.

     I usually follow a general fitness routine to just stay in good general health, but for 1 or 2 Half or Full Marathons each year, the ones I call my "A" races,  I like to follow a specialized training plan of my own creation. For spring 2012 The Blue Ridge Half Marathon was my "A" race. My goal was simply to beat my time from last year...1h 37m 22s. The training plan I laid out, on THIS post, was a gamble for me because I had never specifically trained using "brick" workouts in lieu of longer "long" runs.

     Approaching the start line I felt good. I knew I had a potentially strong pace in me, but in my last race I felt good too and eventually succumbed to complacency. That's ok for a warm up race, but for an "A" race things need to click. It's probably a good thing my last race worked out like it did. A fresh reminder that PR's can't be taken for granted undoubtedly provided me some extra and much needed motivation today.

     The Blue Ridge Half Marathon course is easy to split up into 3 sections. Start to Star, Star to Greenway, and Greenway to Finish. So I will address each section separately.

     Start to Star: Shortly after the announcements the start horn blasts. I'm on the front line and not tangled up in any congestion at all. Seems like there were 4 in front of me for most of the first mile, but the Full marathoners and us Half marathoners were still mixed together, so the best I could do was estimate my position. I wasn't surprised that I was being systematically passed all the way to the star because I knew that I was starting out at unsustainable speeds. By the time we Half marathoners cut right and head to the star on Prospect Rd I believe I had counted 17 in front of me. I had no idea how many had gone straight and how many had cut right, but I knew I was knocking the torturous uphill miles out at a sub 9 pace which is exactly what I had trained for.

     Shortly after cutting right and heading to the Star I got passed by whom I assumed was the lead female and that turned out to be where my race stayed for almost the remainder of the course, with the one I assumed was the lead female. I hit the star feeling intense burn in my calves, but I knew relief was coming. I was familiar with fast descents following murderous inclines and I wanted to log a sub 6 on my Garmin. It was time for the chase!

     Star to Greenway: Taking advantage of the descending elevation I wrapped up enough speed to pace the remainder of the mile that started at the bottom of Prospect Rd and had drifted into the low 10's all the way back in to the mid 8's then it was time to find a stand alone sub 6. It would have been easy to just try to hold my spot at this point, but I really wanted a sub 6, so I caught up to and re-passed the female who had passed me. I got back to the Sylvan Rd water stop and saw Randy B., who said I was in 7th or 8th. Yeah! Exactly the best I could have hoped for! AND I looked at my Garmin and saw a 5:59...Perfect!

     The passing had about all but stopped at this point. I could still see 2 male runners ahead, but I didn't want to risk burning out just to catch them and the "lead" female was never more than just a few steps back. I wanted the spot and every time I thought I was hearing the foot steps get closer I tried to pull away. I wasn't having much luck widening the gap so I figured it would come down to burning each other out or pulling each other forward.

     My energy level was staying consistent throughout this neighborhood section of the course, which consisted of miles 5-9, but my tempo training had only been to 10 miles and my 12 mile long runs had been in bricks, so I wasn't sure how well my energy level would be able to continue to serve me.

     Greenway to Finish: The flat greenway miles went by fairly fast and uneventfully except for the sun was starting to shine brightly and beat down in a less than comfortable way. Exiting Vic Thomas Park at mile 11 there is a slight incline for about 1/8th mile and I could see one of the runners in front starting to pull away from the other one. He was still making a healthy go of it, but I knew the course had a lot of downhill in its remaining 2-ish miles, so I held my steady pace to the top of the incline and decided to gamble a surge to the finish. I overtook the slowing runner, was finally able to pull away from the one behind me and blasted all the way to the finish at a sub 7 pace.

     My first glimpse of the clock showed a 1h 35m and change, so I knew I had my PR, but I gave it all I had to finish strong and I ended up with a 1h 35m 29s.

     I caught my breath, spoke with Richmond Runner and fellow dailymiler, Jay H., got a bite to eat, enjoyed a short massage, looked at the results to discover that I was 8th overall, 7th place male, and 2nd place Master. Turns out I had been keeping pace mostly with the 2nd place female. The first place female finished at a sub 7 pace! Amazing!

   While waiting for the awards ceremony, I went back to my car, grabbed my headphones, and walked the course backwards until I found my wife just past mile marker 10 and I walked with her and another walker she had met to the finish.

Kneesee taking it to the finish!

Me getting the 2nd Place Masters award from Hall of Famer Bill Rogers

Me and Kneesee.

    Final Results: 2012- time 1:35:29 (chip) 1:35:29 (gun), Pace 7:17/M, Place 8/515 overall, 2nd place Master, 7/231 among men. GARMIN data: HERE

Friday, April 20, 2012

2012 Blue Ridge Half Marathon: Pt 1: Foreword

     Planning out a race schedule can involve many factors and I know one of the things I look for is if I happen to be one of its legacy participants. It creates something of a territorial effect knowing that participation in an event has been consistent since its inception. Just looking at events that have been around for 3 years or more I can attach legacy status to two events...The Frozen Toe 10k and the Blue Ridge Half Marathon.

     The 2010 Blue Ridge Half Marathon was the first race I ever registered for. I had only been running regularly for a few months when the inaugural event was announced on the news. I knew absolutely NOTHING about amateur endurance sports or race preparation or anything about competitive events at all. The news release made a pretty big deal out of it, so for all I knew the Blue Ridge Half and Full Marathons were going to be just shy of Olympic level events.

     I thought about it for no more than a day or two when my running buddy, Brian R., announced that he was signed up for the full. I thought "Well, Brian knows what he's doing and I've kept pace with him for 8 miles or so...I guess I'll give the half a shot and just see what happens." I signed up the next day. I remember thinking "This thing has a 1000? runner cap! I better not wait or I may not get a spot!" I had to have been among the first 10 to register.

     That was the start of a huge shift in my running mentality. No longer was I just running to shed a few pounds, now I was "TRAINING" for an event, now I had goals, now every run had importance and many aspects of life had to be weighed against an overall running strategy for the best finish possible. This wasn't JUST a race for me, this was the BLUE RIDGE HALF MARATHON, future generations will be researching my performance at this event and I have to make a mark worth standing next to.

     Corny? Yeah. Over the top? You could say that. But as a non athletic person my whole life I had no frame of reference to attach to, so it was what it was, and I made it what I made it. I discovered the Star City Striders website and started researching race results and discovered that my training times were almost middle of the pack. I found a local race, the Bank of Fincastle 10k, and saw where the previous years 3rd place finisher had a slower pace that what I routinely run. For all I knew the same people run the same events every year so I signed up for that one as my first organized road race...sure enough, I got my 3rd place age group medal too!

     I did another 5k race that November, The Drumstick Dash 5k, no medal this time, but the results were encouraging and I was starting to get a lot of satisfaction out of these events. I looked for more events and found the Mountain Junkies. Here was not just ONE RACE, but a WHOLE SERIES...AND it works out perfectly for a lead in to the Blue Ridge Half! I did every one of them!

     Finally, the day of The 2010 Blue Ridge Half arrived. I saw a familiar face from Northside High School in Doug E., who had some experience with running and he passed on some encouragement before and during the race. I still vaguely recall the minute differences in the course that year, but what I vividly recall is being about half way through the course and realizing that there was still a lot of people behind me. I eventually crossed the finish line in total amazement that I could not just complete an event of this magnitude, but that I could finish somewhere in the top 25%. It was emotional. I knew this would be an annual event for me for as long as it existed and I was able.

  I returned in 2011 with even better finish statistics including a Top 10 with an Age Group win. Rather than re-blog that experience I'll just post a link HERE to a Race Report I wrote on dailymile. It is difficult to say what effect rain had on participation levels last year and even what effect it might have been having on me. As of right now, 20 hours before the 2012 event, it looks like rain won't be much of a factor for the Half runners, but the slower Full marathoners might see a shower.

I don't have any pics from 2010, but here's some from 2011.
I went home and showered prior to the awards ceremony. Kneesee had just barely finished walking the course when this pic was taken.

Add caption

We all got wet. Even Faithy who only walked from the car to the awards ceremony!

1st Place Men 35-39.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Training For Blue Ridge: Week 10: Race Week

     Mon: Tempo: 8 Miles: Dedicated Parkway 8 Miler: As is typical, I didn't put as much into this tempo since my last run was a race. Average pace for this 8 turned out to be right at what I need for a PR on Saturday, so I'm happy with it.

     Wed: Recovery/Tempo #2: 6 miles: Treadmill 6 Miler: Took it to the treadmill because the rain looked less than inviting. Set it at 8.2 mph for a 7:20 pace and just let it ride the whole 6 miles. Calling it a recovery/tempo. Recovery because I didn't push the pace at all or have any elevation changes and Tempo because it was in the range of where I hope to finish the Blue Ridge Half.

     This concludes my 10 week training program for the 2012 Blue Ridge Half Marathon. Nothing left now but to run the race. The big experiment with regards to this training plan was to see if doing my weekly recovery and long runs in "bricks" would yield me a better result than last year when my strategy was a 16 mile long run followed by a 2 week taper period. I don't have notes from last year to compare, but for future reference I will note that I feel much better now than I did 10 weeks ago when this schedule started, so regardless of what happens on Saturday I can be content just knowing that I've led an active, safe and healthy life.

     Also, a side interest of mine is the issue of muscle catabolization, which is the point at which the body literally starts looking to feed on muscle instead of glycogen or fat. I took an interest in this because over the course of training for the 2010 Richmond Marathon my weight lifting stats seemed to decrease by about 15-20%. In the spring of the following year, 2011, I had similar results after 10 weeks of training for the 2011 Blue Ridge Half. Surprisingly, however, over the course of 16 weeks of training for the 2011 Richmond Marathon my weight lifting stats improved significantly and now after 10 weeks of training for the 2012 Blue Ridge Half I can say that my most of my lifting stats have stayed consistent, some have improved, and 1, the bench press, is maginal, possibly leaning towards a slight loss. All in all, many other factors need to be considered for a comprehensive analysis, but muscle catabolization does not seem to be much of an issue at a mere 30-50 miles of running per week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Training For Blue Ridge: Week 9

     Mon: Tempo: 10 miles: Dedicated Parkway 10 Miler: Great run for wrapping up my double digit tempo training for this current training cycle. Course PR by right at 2 minutes! I've had considerably faster 10 milers before, but something in this routes elevation layout has consistently caused me to under perform. Of my 5 Dedicated Parkway routes, the 10 miler is the only one with a PR pace still in the 7's. Thrilled to have whittled it down a little more today. HERE is the Garmin data for today-vs-the old PR, which I set back in the summer while training for the Richmond Marathon.

     Wed: Intervals: 8 miles: 8 Miles of Burnt Bridges: Amazing interval session today! I had some question as to if having spent the last 2 weeks doing my interval work on trails might have cost me some intensity, but the numbers today say I'm still on par with my best. Compared to 3 weeks ago when I did this exact routine my overall time was a full second faster, but my downhill splits today were all sub 6, so the score board shows that of 16 target paces, I exceeded 4 and hit 12. Felt incredible the whole time! HERE is some Garmin data comparing today-vs-3 weeks ago-vs-last summer-vs-year ago.

     Thurs: Long/Recovery: 12 miles: Dedicated Parkway 12 Miler: Nothing to prove at this point so I started out just looking to log miles to maintain the base. After the first mile the high 7's felt comfortable so I stuck with it. I did have to crank up the effort to maintain the pace for the 9th, 10th, and 11th miles, but other than that it was just a low intensity run leg of a 5-12 brick. No need for a post run ride, Saturday morning is a race so gotta start getting rested up.

     Sat: Race: 6.2: Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k: I felt like I was at Half Marathon pace and not 10k pace for this event. That may be a good thing since my training right now is geared towards peaking at the Blue Ridge Half Marathon next Saturday. Full race report HERE.

2012 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k / RNUTS 4 of 6

 2012 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k

The History
    The Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k is perhaps the best course of the 6 race RNUT series. Not only is it a brutally punishing "gut check" race with roughly 2000' of elevation gain, but it also utilizes a scenic route that includes the recently restored Mill Mountain Toll Booth, the Mill Mountain Star overlook, and the very popular Mill Mountain trail system. As with the Montvale Park 10 Miler, this race has also been around since 2009 and I started running it in 2010 and intend that it be an annual event as the final lead in race for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon that has so far consistently fallen on the following weekend.
Elevation Profile as captured by my Garmin in the 2011 MMM

     My results history with this race has been good so far with a 53:45 for 2010, my "rookie" year, and following it up in 2011 with a 47:51. My finishing times and paces are how I view my progress as a runner, but I try to look at all angles and I do get at least some measure of satisfaction in noting that my Age Group finish place progressed from 6th out of 7 in 2010 to 1st of 11 in 2011 and that my Overall finish place progressed from 46 of 131 to 8th of 133.  I hope to maintain the forward momentum across all statistics, however my main statistical focus for measuring progress is on pace, not time or place.

     Pace, not time? Why is that? It's just the nature of trail events. Trail racing doesn't follow the same rigidity that usually accompanies street racing. The bulk of the courses usually stay the same, but trails change over time and so does the dynamic of the race itself. Add to that the relatively young history of these events themselves (most RNUT races have only been around for 4 or 5 years) and it is easy to see how some courses need to be altered from time to time to accommodate larger crowds, popular opinion, or perhaps just the discretion of the race directors themselves as they make tweaks to add to the whole race experience. The 2011 course was altered slightly from the 2010 course to make it slightly longer, but in doing so the Mountain Junkies created the finest visual race finish of any race I've been a part of with a descending zig-zag above eye level right before completing the course.

     Another fine memory from the 2011 event was racing the section of the Star Trail from the Mill Mountain Star down to the Parkway. When I look back at all the miles I've ever ran, I look at that section of trail as the absolute most reckless racing that I've ever done. When I hit that section in 2010 I was still a much more conservative runner and prone to slow down to avoid things like twisted ankles and broken bones. By 2011 I had was hitting some kind of peak that had me feeling just about indestructible. I hit that section of trail with all its loose rock and protruding roots and practically slid down the mountain with every foot strike. I somehow managed to stay on my feet and finish the race and thought "What in the heck did I just do?" A "good" finish may come down to how daring I can be with that part of the course, lets just hope "daring" doesn't translate to "foolhardy" or "injury inducing"!

 The Event
Warming up

      In a nut shell, I'm not really sure what happened out there today. Of course I'm going to waste several hours over the course of the next week pondering what might have caused my finish time of 49:25 at todays Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k to be slower than last years 47:51 when my recent training statistics suggest that I should have been capable of a PR. I can easily write it off as just a random less than typical day, but I tend to think it may have had been either A) lack of recovery time or B) mental complacency. Either way I still had a great time and finished in the top 10%, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much. Probably a few good baseball bat strikes to the shins will be all I need to remember to not make similar mistakes going forward.

     After the initial spacing out during the first mile of asphalt, I found myself starting the 2nd mile and entering Monument Trail in about 10th place, I didn't hold back much for the 2nd mile and I passed 1 and got passed by 1 during that section. Monument Trail takes the course back to the asphalt on the "old" road going up Mill Mountain and I remember thinking "Do I want to conserve my energy or try to hold onto the leaders while I can still see most of them?" I decided to conserve energy. I knew I had some high intensity intervals in me, I just chose not to use them, thinking that a PR was all but a sure thing. I fell into a comfortable groove over the next 2 miles and just let runners pass me whenever they wanted the spot.
Race start.

About 1 mile in just before turning on to the Monument Trail.

     By the time I got to the Mill Mountain Star I felt rather good and even goofed off a little for the camera which is not something I've been known to do (I'll post that picture when it becomes available.). I couldn't see any runners behind me, so I decided to stay in my comfort zone going down the Star Trail unless I was in danger of losing my spot. Given the rocky terrain on that section of trail it was probably a good decision, but sure enough just after crossing the intersection with Walnut Ave I could hear a runner coming up behind me. I had lost track of what spot I was in but I knew I wanted it so I turned on a great deal of juice for the last 1/4 mile or so and did manage to hold that spot.
Water stop crew! Includes Denise, Faith and her friend India.

Exiting the water stop
Cuttin' up a little bit.
     Finishing, I looked at the clock and was visibly disappointed with a 49:25, but after considering all the other facts of the matter, it was hard to not have a sense of satisfaction for finishing in the top 10%. Other encouraging statistics include finishing 3rd in my age group out of about 10 other men and finishing 2 years in a row at under 50 minutes.
40-44 Age Group Top 3

Shirt Back with 2011 and 2012 Age Group Medals. (Note: Please support Mountain Junkie sponsors.)
Shirt Front with 3rd place Age Group medal.
     To the extent that this race is a referendum on my chances of PRing at my "A" race, the Blue Ridge Half, next Saturday, I can only say there is a significant probability that my training has locked my race pace in at the 13.1 mile distance and that the complete absence of a fatigue factor over the course of todays race continues to speak well of what might happen.

     Final Results: 2012-time 49:25.72, pace: 7:47/M , Place 18/185 overall,3/11 in my age group,18/116 among men
Garmin Data: HERE

Monday, April 9, 2012

Endurance, for a reason.

     As I eluded to in a previous post, I have some decisions to make. The amateur endurance sports scene in Virginia and even just here locally has a about any race of any distance that an endurance athlete or a fitness enthusiast might want to do. I figure I'll do 'em all...eventually, but when? And how would they fit into my race schedule?

     The big distance in cycling and running is the 100 miler. So far, my furthest distance continuously running has been the 2 Richmond Marathons that I completed in 2010 and 2011. I've had to dig deep to figure out if I'm ready for the next step, which is a 50k (that would be a 31 miler for the uninitiated). What I came up with is that it is ok for me to participate in an event without reaching some high level, top of the age group performance.

     This may sound familiar in that it is in keeping with my 2012 goal to spend more time "enjoying the ride" and focusing less on the high intensity, results driven, performance oriented mindset that I usually find myself in, but in reality that goal was a little broad and I wasn't sure how it would manifest itself. I looked at my Tentative 2012 Event Agenda and everything I've made plans to do I'll be doing with a high intensity effort, so I needed something...something challenging in the way of completing and NOT competing.

     Then I saw where the New River Valley 50k was getting USATF certified as a 50k AND also at the 26.2 mile mark, which means that a participant could qualify for Boston at the 26.2 mile mark, but would still need to get to the 31 mile mark to officially finish the race. I thought "Perfect! I can run it this year with a focus on holding a steady pace to the finish while simultaneously getting a "feel" for the course so I can come back in 2013 and race it hard to the 26.2 mile mark and then just meander to the finish from there." I think I can do this, but I'm going to wait a bit longer to register just to make sure it still feels right in a month or 2.

     As for cycling, my longest ride so far has been last years Storming of Thunder Ridge metric century ride, a 67 miler. I remember thinking along about mile 55 that this was taking a marathon quality effort. The last 12 miles were brutal for me, but I hung in there...and still made it to work on time @ 3:00pm. This year SOTR has eliminated the 67 mile route and replaced it with a 75 miler, or I could do the 100 mile Full Century. I have actually agonized over this and time is running out. In the time available, I can only get trained up for around 50 miles of high intensity cycling (kinda like last year), so why even consider 75 or 100 miles? Answer, because it would allow me to experience a new level of endurance. I'll know going in that I will have to hold back in order to finish, that is not something I have experience with, but it is a good skill to have.

     I think I'll sleep on it one more night and register for SOTR decision will be available by reviewing my Event Agenda.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lost in Transition

     Where do endurance athletes go "mentally" while spending hour after hour performing the same monotonous task? Me personally, I like to dedicate about 65% of my cognitive functions to getting lost in the rhythm of foot strikes and heavy breathing. Each pace creates its own melody and I can usually tell how fast I'm running just by my breathing and foot strike patterns.

     The other 36% varies, but is quite often working on a blog entry. Like today, I was thinking about how much time I spend transitioning when I do my bricks or other combo workouts. Then it occurred to me, "Lost In Transition", that would make a great title for a blog post! The first sentence could read..."Have you ever been so exhausted that you got lost in transition? If so, then your probably a triathlete." Ultimately I decided against that, but wanted to throw it in the post somewhere, so there it is.

     Anyway, this post is just my attempt to clarify for my own sake some terminology that I may use from time to time concerning transition types with an emphasis on speed, metabolism and nutrition. I have decided to use 5 different terms, rapid transition, extended transition, recovery based transition, partial recovery transition and full recovery transition.

     It will still be possible that a unique transition type might pop up and fit part of one definition and part of another, and in those instances TIME will be the determining factor. But the BIG question is "Do I have maybe TOO much time on my hands to be writing this at all?" and the answer will have to be "Yes, but I just biked 10 miles, ran 12 and then biked 10 more all in under 3 1/2 hours, so the sedentary nature of blogging is like a recovery activity to me and really it just spews off the top of my head most the time, hardly taking any significant time at all."

     Oh right, transitions. I'll start with:

Rapid Transition: Characterized by at or near race pace (for simplicity I'll call it as less than 5 minutes), no significant drop in breathing or heart rate and definitely no food, but allowing time for a swallow or 2 of water.

Extended Transition: Lasting 5-15 minutes, allows plenty of time to catch my breath and a noticeable drop in my heart rate, food and water are consumed in a hurried manner.

Recovery Based Transition: Lasts 15-30 minutes, breathing and heart rate return to normal or may be slightly elevated, a fast meal usually accompanied by a prolonged period of sitting or relaxing is typical.

Partial Recovery Transition: Last 30-60 minutes, breathing and heart rate return to normal, a leisurely meal is consumed and significant rest allowing time for digestion to take place.

Full Recovery Transition: Lasts 60-90 minutes, breathing returns to normal, a leisurely meal is consumed, rest time allows for both digestion and some muscular recovery.

     Any transition that takes more than 90 minutes will not be called a transition, but will instead be referred to as a separate workout for the purposes of this blog.

Training For Blue Ridge: Week 8

     Mon: Tempo: 10 miles: Greenway/Mill Mountain 10 Miler: Good 10 miler today. Faster than last weeks tempo 10 miler by almost 3 minutes, faster pace by 10 seconds per mile than the 8 miler tempo run on roughly the same course from 3 weeks ago, and despite my own better wisdom I went ahead and pushed for another sub 6 mile coming down the old road behind Mill Mountain.

     Wed: Intervals: 10.6 miles: 12 Laps: Explore Park: Beginner Trail: Same routine as last week with about the same results. I was just under a minute slower for the whole routine, but my mileage is higher for the week up to this point, so I guess I had to give something back somewhere. Still hit all pace targets for the 3rd week in a row, so I'm encouraged by that. Cutting my interval mileage back next week and returning it to the asphalt for my final pre race speed work.

     Thurs: Recovery: 5.2 miles: Random 5 Miler: Running in the rain is not something I get excited about, but this close to the Blue Ridge Half everything seems critical, so I did it anyway. I did substitute the elliptical in for the bike though, so I call it a 7-5-4 elliptirun as opposed to a brick. It was just a low intensity recovery day and I did cut it a bit short, but am overall happy with my effort.

     Sat: Long: 12 miles: Full Mountain 12 Miler: Shufflin' around in my new kicks today! Did the Full Mountain 12 Miler 3 minutes faster than last week and with a longer cycling leg in front of it. The full workout was a 10-12-10 brick, I used ultra low intensity for both cycling legs. Stats are looking good and I have a lot of enthusiasm heading into the next 2 weeks with the Mill Mountain Mayhem, Blue Ridge Half, and Angels Race! HERE is the comparison data for todays route vs the same route last Saturday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

4 things random

     1) Double Header Weekend. Apr 21st-22nd is a double header weekend with the Blue Ridge Half on the 21st and the Angels Race Triathlon on the 22nd. I am NOT excited to be doing two events on consecutive days. My training schedule was laid out to prepare for a peak performance at the BRH. I'm sure I will finish at Angels, but it will be a handicapped effort. Ordinarily I would not participate in two events this close together, but I made the exception because my big "out of the comfort zone" goal for this summer is to complete 5 sprint triathlons and my options are limited to the 5 closest pool swim triathlons since my OWS skills are too unreliable.

     2) Omnivores. Just want to promote the word. OMNIVORE. Think "wide variety of small quantities", many pseudo foods or "phoods" as I like to call them are essentially the same thing. I've had a lot of weight control success by clumping all candy together and all processed foods together and making sure to maintain only limited exposures to each, although usually with some limited quantity on a daily basis.

     3) Strength. I had just posted last week about my bench press having dropped a bit from its peak. Actually I had been doing my weekly bench press on the heels of an hour or so of recovery after a 20-40 mile cycling workout. I decided to test my bench press with a fresh, well-rested body and as you might imagine it turns out I haven't lost anything as judged by a 150 lb set. Hope to see the trend continue with 140 and 160 lb sets over the next 3 to 4 weeks.

     4) Century? 3/4 Century? Ultra? Decisions are tough, but I gotta make 'em soon...time is running out!