Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dates, Dreams, and Reality

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to have a "date" with my wife to celebrate her birthday. Time can pass so quickly and we have not had a real date since December. The weekly routine becomes, well, routine and the next thing you know a month or so has passed. In our case, two months. We had plenty of discussion time as the crowd at Zeitgeist was nil. The conversation wrapped around many topics from our jobs, our son, and our house. Agreeing we are happy for the most part but often asking ourselves, "is this really all there is to our life?" Don't get me wrong. We have an extraordinary life but I think it is only natural to start looking for more at this stage in our life. The good thing is Kari and I are on the same page and will decide and follow each other with what ever we do in the years to come.

After all the spirits-induced discussion I came to the realization this morning that yes indeed, my life is super. I woke up, spent a little time tending to my caffeine needs, and then decided to take an easy trail run in the cool, northern Minnesotan air. It was just after the thirty minute mark when I bumped into Charlie, who was out on the snowmobile trail on his Pugsley getting in his Sunday ride, when, after visiting for a short time I realized that living in Northern Minnesota is what I like. To see others sharing the great outdoors is what it's all about. The air was crisp. There was a very light snow fall and my legs felt like a million bucks while keeping the HR at an ultra-low level. I suddenly felt very content. Kari and I have discussed moving to a new city and restarting our lives but really, in a dozen years will we be needing to move again just to cure our sense of boredom? Maybe, maybe not. I guess time will tell but for now I am looking forward to a fresh week of running and increasing the volume to yet another level in hopes to have a spectacular six weeks until the base-phase of this training is over.

Here is a recap of week 6 of phase I base training:

Monday: a day home with our son. I ran on the treadmill just because it was easiest with the schedule of the day.
51:44 6 miles HR=125

Tuesday: A mix of trails and roads. This was week two of allowing the HR to venture near 140. I really didn't approach that often unless there was a hill to deal with.
1:18:20 9.5 miles HR=132

Wednesday: Easy morning. Mostly roads.
50:02 6 miles

Thursday: Out on the trails a bit then shifted to the roads to do my first true "fartlek" style workout. During the loop I did 8 X 45 seconds at 5:45-6:00 pace with 30 seconds of rest. It felt good to get the legs to turn over some. :)
1:07:45 8.8 miles HR=133

Friday: I was just happy to get out the door. Felt very tired as I stared into the morning darkness. I made it out though. Easy recovery.
44:43 5 miles HR=122

Saturday: The plan was to run a bit over an hour with Dave H. and Jonas. Once we got to thirty minutes I made the decision to make the run into a long effort. We hit the trails of Lester and Amity and made it back to the rose garden via roads. Legs felt great.
2:00:00 14.7 miles

Sunday: Easy run on the trails and snowmobile trails. Felt great!! Legs recovered well and I must say I am a bit surprised. (must have been the martini)
1:02:20 7.1 miles HR=127

Weeks Total: 57.1 miles
Years Total: 278.9 miles

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Country Snowmobile Trails

I had a late night Saturday after driving to Edina and back in one evening to attend the 2010 Minnesota Runners of The Year Awards banquet. I managed to hold off my competitors (actually chase them down) in the 40-44 year age group. I will have more than my work cut out for me this year with some real speedsters joining the group. Anyway, it was a great night to be surrounded by other runners and share some winter training stories as well as future plans to bash head again come racing season! It's going to be anther great season.

To gain some extra hours of sleep I wasn't able to get out to the early morning running group but had the wonderful opportunity to run with Tony out on the snowmobile trails northeast of Duluth. The trails have been set quite firmly from the premature warm up we had last week and we took advantage of this by running out nearly an hour before making our return trek. Conversation made the time fly but I was feeling the fatigue after 90 minutes of ups and downs the trail had to offer. Being distracted by the excitement of running new trails with Tony I forgot any fluid or gels and was beaten down to the point of crawling on my hands and knees into the woods to punch holes in the snow in search of clean powder snow I could "eat" to gain some fluids. It worked. The last fifteen minutes were getting a bit challenging but knowing the car was just a hill or two away I was ready to dig deep to push on. The last 200 meters or so we had a nice downhill along a field and it was then I was so happy we decided on trails as the open roads would have been a chore. Good times!!

Total: 1:54:00 14.3 miles (-split by 4 minutes)

Weeks Total: 53.4 miles
Years Total: 221.8 miles

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back To Reality/Winter Wind Storms

The heat wave that covered most of the U.S. early in the week is over and our temperatures plummeted -24 degrees in less than 24 hours.
On Friday I woke up to temps at 12F and a hellacious wind blowing. I didn't bother to turn on the TV to see the wind chills as that was not necessary, as I was going out running regardless. I decided on a road/snowmobile loop I had done many springs of past years. The problem with the loop direction I chose I ran the entire second half of the loop INTO the wind. OUCH! I really wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be as my major problem was keeping my HR under control with the headwind. My legs continued to feel like crap and heavy. When I have felt this way in the past and I don't believe I have been pressing the training too much I always turn to nutrition. Luck would have it that one lunch option at work was baked ziti with breadsticks. The evening meal would be more pasta, tofu, vegies, potatoes, and cheese. (I had to wash the evening meal down with a little New Belgian IPA)
Total: 50:36 5.9 miles HR=129

This morning I woke up to temps near 10F. The wind died down to nil. I really wanted to hit the snowmobile trails so I drove out to Vermillion road and hit the trails from there. The loop down Amity and returning via Hawks Ridge was just amazing. No slipping as I wore the "get a grips" over my Ronin 2's.
The nutrition worked yesterday. My legs felt amazing as did my overall energy!! Sometimes you gotta get a plate full of pasta and life sure improves. (you just can't overdo it that's all)
The snowmobile trails were filled with "dead-heads" from the canopy of trees. That sure was some wind we experienced. They say more snow is on the way but I hope not. The running is very good right now and a foot of snow sure would screw things up.
Total: 59.04 7.2 miles

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heat Wave

We're having a tropical heat wave! Wednesday when I got off of work I read 52F at 5pm!
A Duluth record for the day. I know it will not last but I'm sure the spring-like weather had lifted plenty of moods in the last 48 hours.

Wednesday morning was near freezing and the trails were still in great shape. I ran a loop out to the gas line and back along with a small road loop the campus to make my recovery run complete. Running easy is becoming really easy to do. It used to be a chore.
Total: 48:45 5.4 miles HR=127 bpm

This morning I woke up to fog and 36F. I opted out of the woods and hit an out and back course on Skyline. The roads were a bit wet but not too much ice to navigate which made things pretty decent for my hour run at the higher HR zone. My legs felt fair to the turn around and never got any better. I was happy with the pace but my legs felt flat. I know I didn't eat very well last night, and I hope that is what it was, but heavy legs off of easy running just doesn't make sense.
I'm looking forward to adding a little more spice to my Tues or Thurs runs next week. It's not much, but I will increase the HR zone just a tad for some fartlek intervals. I just have to finish off this week and keep pressing on during this base-phase.
Total: 1:01:18 8 miles HR=134 bpm

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ice on The Trails

With the weekend temperatures hovering at 45F I figured the trails in Hartley would be long gone and beat up. Not the case. On Monday morning I ran to the trail head and as I approached the true single track I noticed that the surface was in great shape, the only thing was they were slick since the temps had dropped below freezing. I treaded lightly through the main trail out to the roads and had a wonderful easy loop.
Total: 40:00 easy

This morning I woke up plenty early and made my way back to Hartley with the intention of looping the lower trails. With the Get a Grips on my Ronin-2's I was feeling very frisky and the scheduled HR was feeling just fine. I'm still amazing how much faster you can run by increasing your HR by 10 bpm. As I approached the turn out at the gas line I decided to take a quick look at the upper trails and talked myself into giving them a try. I managed to loop out to the guard rail and for the most part the trail held up to the warm weekend temps and I was able to make it through quite well.
In the end I was feeling a bit fatigued but managed to get in my time. A super run and I am now looking forward to the rest of the week.
Total: 1:04:00 7.6 miles HR 132 bpm (high of 142 on hills)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week of Rest...I Needed It!

After a horrid long run on Sunday I spent the Monday morning run in Hartley running easy. I kept the HR near 123 bpm and it felt just fine. When I woke up on Tuesday I noticed it took a bit more to get up and out and my legs were still fighting me. (also, it was -35F with the windchill) I took another easy morning and that was all I could handle to keep warm. Come Wednesday I was looking for a day off but talked myself into a road loop and I actually felt fine despite the -25F windchill. That wind sure can zap your mojo and I was looking for a break. Thursday and Friday I took that mental, physically I was ready to get back at it, but I just didn't want to fight the wind any longer.

Since I blew the week of running, or as I called it, an impromptu recovery week, I played with my son in the snow and came to the realization I ain't no youngster any longer. I was sledding and trying to snowboard on a sled and made myself nice and sore after a few falls. My neck and low back took a beating and Sunday my lovely wife and I took off for a snowshoe on my parents property and my dad surprised us by doing a loop backwards and joined us for the last half hour. We sure had a great time as the temperatures hit mid 30's while snowshoeing and would top out at 45F for the day time high!! Yes, spring is right around the corner.

Weeks Mileage: ~25 miles
Years Mileage: 168.4 miles

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ending On A Sour Note

The week went so well and having it end with a poor long run bums me out. It's really no big deal as this happens every single build-up. It's a natural occurring thing. One might have a series of weeks going well then, Bam, a crappy run. As long as the crappy ones are few and far between that is OK with me.
The run took me out west again and we traveled east on Grand and eventually Superior street until we hit the Rose Garden and turned back. I couldn't find a rhythm the first hour and just struggled to maintain the second hour. No major pains to report, just heavy sore muscles.
I am looking forward to my ultra-slow recovery run in the am and will more than likely perform another week of stellar training in the woods of Hartley Park.

Total: 1:52:00 15 miles

Weeks Total: 46.5 miles (5 days)
Years Total: 143.4 miles

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Temperature Variance

I woke up Wednesday to howling winds. Lying in bed I figured that running conditions would be "less than ideal". I gave myself the chance and walked downstairs to check the air temps. It read -9F. I then turned on the TV to hear the reported wind chills in the -35F to -40F! No way! No outside running for me. It was an easy recovery day and I decided to take a nice fat 0! The coffee was brewing in less than 5 minutes and I was content on my decision.
Total: 0 miles

Thursday the temps were a bit better but negative below zero wind chills were being reported. I put on my gear and repeated Tuesdays run with a bit of snaking the Hartley trails. I continued to be impressed with the running terrain that greets me every morning. One month left and those conditions will be gone, if not sooner.
I allowed my HR to creep up to 140 once again but for the most part I saw 135 bpm. My legs felt better than Tuesdays run and the breathing is just fine at that increased effort.
Total: 1:00:12 7.2 miles HR:133

Friday was a super recovery-style run that felt awesome. I love these ultra-slow runs and doing them on trails puts the icing on the cake. The temps are moving on up and the weekend running may not be so great off pavement. For the morning though I did a series of mini loops and crested the ultra-high altitudes of Baldy once. The air is so thin up there I can only squeeze on of these crests per week right now. Maybe two summits next week.
Total: 48:35 5.3 miles HR:126 bpm

Saturday gave us wake-up temperatures of 25F! Really? With all the snow the roads and trails were "fair" at best. I'm spoiled having the last three weeks of exceptional traction in the Hartley system but the roads are just not as good right now. Soon, that will be my only option and I'm OK with that, but right now the more trail running the better. I did a mixture of trails in Chester and Lakewalk snow covered terrain to make my loop home via the Tischer Creek trail. Another nice and easy run this morning.
Total: 55:40 6.4 miles

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A New Zone

Monday I found myself feeling quite well for being 24 hours post medium long run. My legs felt decent and my breathing was under control. I gave myself an easy day and I kept the heart rate as close to 125 bpm as I could. On single track at that heart rate my pace for the entire run averaged near 9:20/mile pace. I'm starting to move my "recovery" runs closer to an hour and should be there in a week or two.
Total: 50:21 5.4 miles HR= 126 bpm ave.

This morning I allowed myself to move up a zone in training. Most of my runs have been feeling very good and well under control. For this morning I put myself up at least 10 beats with a ceiling of 140 bpm. It's amazing how much faster you can run when you allow yourself to go 10 bpm higher in heart rates. There were times this morning where I actually wanted to slow down because I enjoy the low HR runs so much but I realize it is time to step up a bit and soon I will be doing structured workouts. By the end of the hour my legs were feeling the increase load and I was ready to finish. In the end, it sure felt good to run faster on the trails and by completing the hour at that pace I realized that my fitness it getting ready to make a jump.
Total: 1:00:56 7.2 miles HR= 133 bpm ave.