Saturday, February 14, 2009

Training update: run commuting, sharpening, and staying injury-free

The past two months after running Hellgate 100K have been spent recovering, spending time with the family, and slowly building up my base with long, easy miles. I deliberately avoided racing this month so I could truly recover and refresh myself and as I enter the sharpening phase of my training, I am feeling great!

As you can see from this graph of my last three months of training, the weeks after Hellgate (appropriately marked red on the graph) were spent running easy and aerobic with no speed or tempo. My goal was to recover and heal any nagging kinks suffered from 100 mile and 100K racing before starting any faster running. About four weeks ago, Bill and I started adding tempo runs on Wednesdays---he is training for the Shamrock Marathon on March 22. This past Wednesday was my first track workout, and I had a great run: 3 x 1200 in 4:55 or less with 800 meter hill repeats in the middle of each 1200. Total time for each interval: 8:10, 8:07, 8:13, right where I want to be. I then ran over to the powerlines for a little "test" to see if I was back to pre-Grindstone fitness, and I ran four powerlines in :55, 1:00, :56, and :58, faster than my previous best. Wooo-hooo!

Today, while the masses were running Holiday Lake 50K, I ran a road 14 miler from my house that included 6 miles at tempo pace (7:15-7:20 per mile), two 4:00 hill surges, and the final mile at 7:00. As I had run 72 miles last week, I wanted to cut back this week and add some intensity, and I was very pleased with how I felt. The next 3-4 weeks will be spent in the 50-70 mpw range with more tempo, intervals, and hill repeats, and then a short taper for Terrapin 50K on March 28. My big goal for the spring race season is to break 9:00 at Bull Run Run 50 on April 18. If the weather is cool, I know I will have a great chance of going sub-9:00, but if it's warm, it will be a challenge. I last ran BRR in 9:00:17 in cool, rainy, muddy conditions in 2006. I am looking forward to seeing how my 100 mile training effect carries over into 2009!

My son has his driver's license now, so we are experimenting with a bit of run commuting for me. Yesterday, he drove the car to lacrosse practice after school (where I work as well) and I ran home. It was an easy 10 miles total on trails, dirt roads and asphalt and took me about 1:35...I even ran into Jeff Wilbur who was running loops around OHill! I can run a shorter, more direct route to work but I took the opportunity to run the longest route I could find to see how long it would take. Weather permitting, I plan to commute at least once a week to work so my kids can get to school with the big bro driving...sigh...they are growing up too fast! When lacrosse practice starts in two weeks, this will also be an ideal way to get in some long miles as my afternoons will be packed with practice.

Check out the March 2009 issue of Runner's World!! My orthopedic doc Bob Wilder and PT friend Jay DiCharry from the UVA Center for Endurance Sport are featured in an excellent article on staying injury free. All of the exercises that are demonstrated in the article are the same ones that I still do at least 2 x weekly ever since I went to their clinic in 2004 with ITBS suffered from running the Ring. Eric Magrum (another PT in the practice) put me through all the exercises and had me back running pain-free in 2 months, and 7 months after that, I finished my first 100 miler with no problems. I cannot say enough about how essential this core strength and balance training has been to my ultra success--I have not had an injury since that ITBS back in 2004, and I have run three 100s, four 100Ks and a bunch of 50s and 50Ks. I am a believer!

Stay healthy out there---spring is just around the corner!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Wild Oak Trail, 2009

Twice a year in February and October, ultra legend Dennis Herr hosts a run around the Wild Oak Trail, affectionately known around these parts as TWOT. One loop of this sweet single track trail boasts about 8,000 feet of climb over 25 miles. Most runners opt for one loop and the parking lot party, while others go out for a second loop under the full moon. Some folks even attempt four loops, the TWOT 100.

This year was perfect for at least two loops, as temps were in the 60s during the day on Saturday and the sky was clear for the full moonlight.
Four runners, Emily Grossman, Mitchell Goodman, Mike Dobies and Andy Peterson went out on a second loop but only Mike, his friend Pat, and Andy finished the loop...that road crossing at 10 miles leading back to camp is just too seductive in the middle of the night!

I ran with Bobby Gill, John Cassilly, Marlin Yoder, and Marc Griffin for most of the morning until John and Marlin dropped us like a sack of potatoes climbing Big Bald. By that time, the fluffy snow of the morning that had been so fun to run in was now slushy, not-so-fun snow. Throw in the ridiculous climb up Big Bald, and you have a freaking hard climb. But hey, that's why we love TWOT so much---you get three long, hard climbs, a fabulous, runnable trail, and Dennis catering to our every whim, so it's hard to hate Big Bald for long.

I enjoyed running with Marc and Bobby. Marc and I tried to scare Bobby, who is running in the Beast series this year, with tales of Grindstone, which shares a lot of the TWOT course. As we were climbing Big Bald and going into anaerobic debt doing so, Bobby asked, "Does Grindstone-gasp-have climbs-gasp-as hard as-gasp-this one-gasp?" To which we replied in unison, "Yes, and harder." Silence.

Bobby, who just started running in 2008, was a good sport and took it all in stride, including creating his own ode to TWOT. In fact, there were a bunch of young (read: 20-something) runners out there, including the JMU mountain bike crowd, who came into the parking lot hooting and hollering "I had so much fun out there!" That's a pic of those young guns, below.

It's cool that a new generation has discovered what we've known for awhile---that the Wild Oak Trail is truly a special place and we are indebted to Dennis for introducing us to its beauty. Thanks, Dennis, for another memorable TWOT!

Here's the link to results

Here's the link to my pics.

Here's the link to Charlie's pics.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rivanna Ring, four years later

In 2005, a few friends and I organized a run around Charlottesville on the Rivanna Trail, the 21-mile urban trail that encircles our little town. Two days before the run, we were hit by significant rainstorms and flooding, forcing us to re-route the course at the 11th hour. Over 60 VHTRC and WVMTR friends joined us that day for a true urban trail running experience. Anstr Davidson took some great pics here.

Yesterday, a few VHTRC buddies and a lone WVMTR renegade joined me for the Rivanna Ring, 2009 version. Marc Griffin and Marlin Yoder, fellow ultrarunners who live over the the Shenandoah Valley, had asked about running the RR, so I set the date and let the usual suspects know about it. At 0700, a small group was waiting at Greenberry's to get started on the adventure. We had relatively dry trail with a few isolated icy patches, low river crossings, and perfect weather. Unlike 2005, when we had to run on roads to bypass the flooded areas, we were able to run the complete trail, railroad trestle crossing and all (I chose to bypass the RR trestle this year and opted to get my legs wet instead---a small price to pay to stay alive).

The Rivanna Trail is an amazing gem for Charlottesville runners. The folks at the Rivanna Trails Foundation sponsor trailwork days on the second Saturday of each month, and as a result of the hard work of volunteers over the years, the RT offers 21 miles of rolling singletrack trail through quiet pine forests and along creekbeds, a paved 3-mile section for a change of terrain, and is always within a mile of the center of the city. When we run the Rivanna Ring, we do it "self-supported": we bring our own water and aid and supplement at mile 5 at Hardee's and mile 10 at CVS. It is a tough run in that there are very few hills to climb---you are always running! But that's
the point, right?

Here are a few pics from the run:

Along Moore's Creek

Crossing Meadowcreek

Wooo-hooo...into the sun, running with friends, life is good...

Four hours later, all done, time for coffee and breakfast! View the rest of the pics from our adventure here.