Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Training over the last few weeks

Training has been going well lately. I've been getting in an unbelievable amount of climbing and my last big climb-oriented running consisted a 3.1 mile jaunt up (and 3.1 back down) Grandeur Peak (2800' of climbing the way I ran it) on Friday followed by a really high effort tempo run out of city creek on Saturday with an initial climb of 1000' and lots of additional rolling along the way. The important thing in all of this is to keep myself running and never hiking no matter how steep of terrain I'm on. When I'm running at 8000'+, already very fatigued, and continuing to run at inclines that can easily surpass 30%, it builds an incredible amount of mental strength (not to mention quad and calf strength) to keep going. Some of these peaks, especially Grandeur Peak and Mt Olympus give an incredible view when you reach the peak though, so it's totally worth it. Here are a couple shots from the peak of Grandeur on Friday (I've started running my big climbs with a camera in my water bottle hand-pouch):

(click to view full image)

Saturday's run, I had a pretty bad slam rocking the descent back into City Creek. There are lots of bikers on those trails, so at one point, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I had no oncoming traffic, tripped over a rock, and slammed hard going a little over 5:00/mile, cutting up my shoulder, hand, elbow, hip, and knee simultaneously. Lots and lots of fun that was...

Other than that, I've had a bunch of really high quality long runs, my favorite recently being a climb from the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon, on the road 4.5 miles up the canyon (climbing 1300 feet), then straight up the Mill D North Fork trail. I aimed to get up to Dog Lake, but there was a little too much snow to make a pass near the top and I had to turn around after 2200' of climb on that trail. For an idea of how awesome running in Big Cottonwood is, here's what the road looks like at one point:
(sorry, you have to click it to get the full image, not taken by me)

Up on the trails, you get some beautiful views like this:
(not taken by me)

Another on the road:
(click to view the whole image, not my photo)

Big Cottonwood is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to run, so I'm looking forward to all the snow melting up there in the coming weeks.

Beyond the long runs and pure climbs, I've gotten in some good speed and tempo work. I ran a half marathon a few weeks back that became a lesson in pacing and a good session of "how much pain can you endure". I went out way too fast, hitting the 5k in not much above 17 and started suffering when the big hills kicked in around mile 5. By the end, my legs were really destroyed and I ended up with a super slow 82 minutes. Even factoring a similar performance at sea level (converts to 78:xx), it was a pretty awful time for me, but I'll chalk it up to a poor job pacing and take the tempo workout it gave me (HR around 180 the whole time). Beyond that, I nailed a really solid 3x3 workout recently and just last night hit a flat 8 miles at 5:47 pace. Yesterday's run was fairly painful by the end, especially considering that 5:47s over that distance up here is equivalent in effort 5:35-5:40 at a lower elevation. Workouts like that show me the benefit of starting easy. In my recent half marathon, I went out at 5:30 for the first mile and that became my undoing by the end, but in yesterday's run, I started out in an easy 6:08 and just dropped the pace from there, which helped quite a bit for my ability to maintain the hard effort.

I'll leave you with a view of a mountain I'm craving to run as soon as the snow is gone. Mount Olympus has a straight 4200' vertical over 3.1 miles, no joke. This is the steepest and nastiest climb imaginable with an average gain of 25.6%, split into 2 miles around 20% gain and a last 3.1 at around 35% gain. The last 1.1 is absolutely BRUTAL, but I'm still looking forward to running this again.

(not my photo)