PR!

Yep, a running personal record.  A blistering 10:31/mile pace!

What?????

good internet friend asked me a week or so ago if I was still running and/or cycling.  Probably because I hadn’t been talking about it here.  Odd, considering the first word after my name in the blog title is “racing”.

Well, you long-time readers might recall my rudderless post early this year after a few years of running marathons and ultra-marathons.  Even without a goal to work toward, I decided that I needed to be at least fit enough to fake my way through a half-marathon at any time.  And I’ve held true to that, running a great 14-mile mountain route in late October with 6,000′ of elevation gain, 2/3 of which was in the first four miles.

Good times.

That came through a great six months of short, high intensity workouts, alternating days between Crossfit-style workouts and intervals.  I never ran more than just over seven miles during that time (at that was a fluke).  But the majority of my runs were quick, working on leg turnover and speed.

Anyway, so what’s that got to do with a PR?  Well, it’s the fastest I’ve run this course.  So that makes it a PR.

I covered .91 mile in 9:35.

Not much to get excited about, eh?  I guess it depends on perspective.

Here’s the profile.

That’s 350′ of gain in .91 miles.  Thanks to way too many steps to count.  Thankfully, I guess, someone painted a number on every single one.  But honestly, after 200 (just over a third of the way up), it just doesn’t freakin’ matter.

And if you pay attention to the grade percentage line (the thin brown line), you’ll see that there’s a good stretch of 55%.

That’s after the false flat about midway up, where the stairs turn slightly to the right.  Approaching that landing, you think you’re reaching the top.  Only to have your hopes crushed as you see the wall continue ahead of you.

But a run with a great group of fast guys will keep you from even noticing.

Because all you can see in front of you are two legs moving as fast as they dare and that ghastly sound coming from your mouth, a mixture of half gasp, half sob.

Perhaps a tonal shift as you lose two or three hopes and/or dreams.

So it wasn’t an organized race.  It wasn’t even on a calendar, other than an announcement for a farewell run for a great guy.  A farewell run that turned into a race for a few of us.  A race where the real speed demon didn’t show up, so I actually won this one by a few strides.

And if by winning I mean that I pushed my heart rate into numbers that have been impossible for some 15 years, then yeah, I won.

But that was yesterday.

Today was my first bicycle commute in over seven months.  A nice brisk 30F for the morning and a balmy 37F for the afternoon.  It sure made me look forward to riding through the winter, regardless of the weather.  Because, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Besides, I’ve now got just four months to train the butt to be ready for a week of several back to back 200km rides.

I hope the legs are up for it.

Driving Tempo

It was rough to get out the door today.  For some reason the stomach was feeling off early on.  Then Goddess made a game of making it difficult.  She’s good like that.

But I was on a tight schedule for the day and had to get it done. 

The run.

Not Goddess.

That’s later.

It’s warm today, in the low 60’s.  Too warm for my liking, especially with today’s workout, which was a long warmup followed by three miles at 10K pace plus for the tempo.  Besides the temperature, the wind certainly wasn’t going to help.  When I headed out the door, it was in my face at 20mph, gusting to 35mph.  I took no time at all to warm up, since it was everything I could do to get to and maintain a 9-minute pace.

Then it was into the trees, where the wind was completely blocked and I was quickly on my way to overheating.  But it was a nice stretch of road.  And after the first three miles were done, it was time to get to business.

I planned on using the wind to my advantage and heading north, with the wind to my back.  But for the first mile I was still in the trees, so I had to get back out into the open.  And the only way to get into the open was to get out of the holler that I was in (yep, I said holler, although we aren’t between mountains).  Here’s the profile:

Running  KY 3-31-2009, Elevation - DistanceNeedless to say, the heart rate was appropriately through the roof at when I hit the 4-mile mark, so I had to throttle back a bit once the terrain flattened out.  Then it was time to cruise with the wind to my back.  The breathing was steady and the sweat was flying.  Everywhere.  I was constantly having to squeegee the sweat out of what little hair I have just to keep it out of my eyes.

At about 5.75 miles, I was impressed that I was flinging sweat behind me, against the wind, so far that it was making it down to splatter the backs of my legs.  Then I realized that it wasn’t me.  It was raining.

I’m good with that.

So the tempo ended at six miles, as planned.  It coincided with a turn that now gave me a 30mph crosswind.  And 1/4 mile down the road, another turn made it a 30mph headwind for the last mile home.

And that’s when it really started pouring.  My forward motion, coupled with the wind, made for a driving, driving rain.  It felt like I was getting shot everywhere with BB’s.  But I was smiling. I LOVE IT!!!

I probably looked something like this guy:

Rain Runner by Sam Javanrouh

Except I wasn’t wearing pants (shorts, silly) and I do not run with headphones.  And I was grinning.

BTW, that pic was taken by someone who’s photos I enjoy daily.  If you’d like, browse over to Daily Dose of Imagery and have a look at life in Toronto, Canada.  Some beautiful shots there.

Hopefully your run, or other chosen activity today, was just as enjoyable.

Rockin’ Weekend

Unfortunately, no concerts were involved.

Friday was a beautiful day.  Cloudy, a bit of drizzle, temp in the low-50’s.  A gorgeous day for a long run.  And that’s what I did.  A 20-miler, my last “long” run before next month’s Country Music Marathon.  The plan was go out with the race in mind, negative split the course and keep my overall average pace within 30-seconds of my goal pace for the marathon.  And that’s exactly what I did.

First was figuring out a course the replicated the CMM, which is fairly hilly during the opening miles, then flattens out as the course winds its way along the Cumberland River.  I think I did that pretty well, although I know this 20 mile course is a bit tougher.

On top is my course, on bottom is the CMM course that I ran last year.  This year they’ve made some minor changes to the course, but nothing drastic.

 

At the risk of jinxing myself, I am now confident in a significant PR for a marathon.  Now it’s just a matter of managing my fatigue, tapering well and avoiding a last-minute injury.

Saturday was a day at work.  It started out slow, then turned into quite an interesting afternoon as we issued a tornado watch for the area and then watched everything blow up around us.  It’s one of those days of mixed emotions.  You don’t want it to happen, but when you lay it all out there and forecast it when the day is nice and bright and sunny and there isn’t any activity anywhere near, you sure do hope that it does; y’all abuse us weather folks enough, remembering only the times that we get it wrong (which really isn’t that often). 

But this guy got it wrong:

  

So very wrong.

Once the storms blew up around to our west and headed our way, we kept our fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be any significant damage and ideally no injuries. 

It rolled through and we had reports of hail and wind damage in the area, as well as one highly questionable report of a funnel cloud, that, if the spotter was correct, would have put the funnel directly over my head as I was standing outside.  A good look at the radar afterwards confirmed that there wasn’t any rotation. 

But the real worry was up north, out of our area of concern.  An EF-3 tornado rolled through a rural area of Kentucky.  We were interrogating it pretty hard on the radar and shaking our heads, but had to turn our attention to those storms that were still coming at us.  Luckily there weren’t any reports of significant damage or injuries in our area of concern.

Sunday turned out to be much, much colder.  Everyone out west got the snow, we just got the cold.  So after work it was an easy 5-mile run in tights and doubled up long-sleeves.  And that run took me over 60 miles for the week. 

And that definitely puts me on track for a marathon PR.

But we shall see.