Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grindstone Training, week #11, August 25-31

"Hmmmm....I don't think people have a clue what they have signed up for."

That was the general theme of our conversation after running miles 50-80 of the Grindstone course yesterday (Saturday). Race Director Clark Zealand and his helper David Horton, along with a few other helpful volunteers, ferried a group of about 11 of us up to Reddish Knob, which is very close to the mile 50 mark of Gstone and the turnaround at Briery Branch Rd. After climbing to the summit (which we will do once on race day)and admiring the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, it was time to "Go!" as Horton would say, as he waits for no one on his training runs. Yes, this is true, as I found myself left behind a few times after stopping to eat or adjust my pack.

Miles 50-65 are mostly all downhill on old fire road and the sweet single track of the Wild Oak Trail(click on the link and be sure to read the reviews!). It took us 3 hours to get down to the Wild Oak Trail parking area, which is where the aid station will be for miles 35 and 65 of the race. We were able to fill up our bottles and packs with water and Clif (thanks, Clark!!) and were on our way across the North River to pick up the Wild Oak Trail (TWOT) again. This time we were climbing up to Lookout Mountain and Hankey Mountain, and I was able to hook up with Jenny Anderson and a few other folks for the climbs. I went totally dry (full 60 oz hydration pack and one 20 oz hand held) after 2 hours of climbing...what the ...? Luckily, Jenny had plenty of Clif in her pack and was generous enough to share with me. We had a great time chatting and talking about our strategies for running Gstone, our lives as working moms (she's a teacher and coach like me, and it was great to once again share the trail with another tough woman from Lynchburg)!

The highlight of the day, in addition to making some new friends, was discovering the wonderful, wonderful Dowell's Draft trail: for many years, while running on the TWOT course, I had seen the DD trailhead at the intersection of the TWOT loop atop Hankey Mountain, but knew it lead in the opposite direction I needed to go. On race day, we will climb this trail at mile 20-ish and descend it at mile is a lovely, gradual descent on smooth single track, the kind Scotty Mills dreams about (he once told me running his ideal trail is like being a "marble in a slot"...they have lots of those trails in CA, but few in VA, I think).

It took us 6 hours to run 30 miles, the fastest day I've ever spent on TWOT (a 26 mile loop of TWOT takes me about 6:30 on a GREAT day). Clearly, the downhills worked in our favor as did running on fresh legs---on race day, I hope to run that same section in 7-8 hours! It was an awesome training run and it gave me a ton of confidence as I head towards the taper in a few weeks!

As for the post-run was clear by day's end that Grindstone will be a HUGE challenge to finish, because of the amount of climbing and the first 12 hours in the dark. The trail is fantastic and very runnable (when not hiking), and that will present another challenge, as folks will think they "should" run when really, they shouldn't. Hmmm.....

OK, Here's the week in full:

Monday, August 25: OFF. Nada. Nothing. Recover from Cheat.

Tuesday, August 26: Run 5 easy, lift upper and lower body.

Wednesday, August 27: First day of school! Day off to deal with all that.

Thursday, August 28: Run easy 6 miles on OHill.

Friday, August 29: Lift upper body and core.

Saturday, August 30: 30 hilly miles on Gstone course. Felt great!

Sunday, August 31: 5 miles walking in the woods near our house, discovering some cool new trails, with my hubby and dog. Great way to recover.

Next week: shorter, faster runs ahead as I taper down the weekly miles.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Grindstone training, week # 10: August 18-24

That's beautiful Cheat Mountain in the pic. On Friday I ran the first annual Cheat Mountain Moonlight Madness 50 miler, put on by Adam Cassady with support from the WVMTR. I included this race as part of my Grindstone training for a few reasons:

1. The 9:00 start on Friday was similar to what we'll see at Gstone, with its 6:00 start. I had to work most of the day on Friday, so I wanted to experience the feeling of working and then getting ready to race after dinner.

2. I wanted a really long run that wouldn't trash my body, and I knew a night run work make me run slower and help me resist the urge to race.

3. I am not a strong night runner, so I wanted to practice dealing with navigating in the dark and fending off the sleep demons.

And finally, the folks at the WVMTR always put on fantastic races, so I knew this would be well-run and a lot of fun.

It was also interesting to go into a race without a taper, as well as with the mindset of running 100-miler pace for 50 miles!

Here's the week:

Monday, Aug 18: Rest. No running, swimming, lifting. I worked hard with Greg, Jeff, and Ed up on the AT on Sunday 9/17 and needed a recovery day.

Tuesday, Aug. 19: Swim 1,000 and lift.

Wednesday, Aug. 20: Track workout, 10 miles total. 3 mile WU, followed by 3x1200 at 6:30 pace with the 800 meter hill surge after each 1200 off the track. I wrote about this workout a few weeks ago, and was hoping to keep my splits in the 4:55 1200/8:20 total range. As it turned out, the weather was very cool, and I was able to pop off 4:50/8:09, 4:49/8:11, and 4:51/8:10 splits, my fastest ever! I then ran another 5 miles on O-Hill with two powerline runs of 1:05 and 1:04, also my fastest ever. wooo-hooo! What difference cool weather and a little recovery make!

Thursday, Aug 21: Swim 500 and lift.

Friday, Aug 22: Cheat Mountain! The weather was awesome for a night run...clear skies, cool temps in the 60s, and a fairly bright moon (though not a full one). The race was staged at the 4-H camp in Beverly, WV and my friend Ed Duval and I arrived around 6:00pm. I ate a turkey sub from Subway around 4:00pm and then nibbled on a pop-tart and water around 8:00 while hanging out with the VHTRC (below).

It was fun to catch up with old friends and ponder whether to bring a hand held bottle or a hydration pack (I brought both). It reminded me of the moments spent anticipating Hellgate 100K, but without the stress of the weather. At 8:00 we had the pre-race meeting and were off at 9:00 after a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. The first 17 miles of the race are on dirt road that climb up the mountain, about 2,000 feet. I happen to like running on dirt roads but I could hear some good-natured grumbing around me from the trail lovers I was running near. When we finally entered the single track, I began to look forward to the next road section, as the trail was narrow, technical,and muddy, with lots of exposed roots and undulating climbs. I am sure it would be great in the daylight, but it was tough for me in the dark. Still, my goal for this race was to take it very easy and treat it as a training run, so I just trudged along enjoying the fine company of Rebekah Trittipoe, while we talked about our families, training, and work.

The hours sped by and I found myself running near Rick Gray, one of my faithful blog readers (Hi Rick!). Rick noticed I was plugged into my iPod so he stayed nearby but didn't try to yak, which at that time of the night (around 2:00am), I really appreciated. We navigated about 15 miles of trails and roads together, and then it was time to head for the finish line. I came in to AS 6 (mile 33), which was manned by my C'Ville training partner Bill Potts...he told me I was fourth woman and to get going. I was feeling very relaxed, a bit sleepy, but not interested in racing, so I drank some yummy soup and headed down the road.

Rebekah caught up to me a few miles later while I was fighting my sleep demons, and the caffeine pill she gave me was a HUGE boost. I found myself with new energy and a new was time to hammer this downhill road section! Rebekah and I decided to run in to the finish together, so I stayed with her when she had an upset stomach, and we worked hard together to pass a woman around mile 45. Rebekah is one tough runner (she holds the women's speed record for the Allegheny Trail), and it was a blast to run with another woman who is as competitive as I am. We came across the finish line holding hands and laughing, but also rather psyched that we were DONE! (that's me and Rebekah below after getting cleaned up and eating yummy bacon, eggs and pancakes).

The CMMM 50 was a tough race. I ran about an hour slower than I thought I would, but I was very pleased with how I felt at the end---I had a ton of energy left in the tank, my legs felt fine, and I had no stomach problems the entire night ( many folks seemed to struggle with nausea for some reason). I was happy to be able to hammer the last 17 miles, which told me that I had paced myself well. Despite having "only" 6,000+ feet of climb, I got in an excellent training run for Gstone.

Here are the results and some pics on Flickr.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #9, August 11-18

Ski Slope Repeats and Olympic Dreams

This was an easy week, about 50 miles total with one day of tempo and the rest at easy, 100-mile pace. I am totally into the Olympics and have been staying up late every night, so it's good timing to have a cut-back week and be able to sleep in. Next Friday and Saturday I am running the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 miler in WVA. It starts at 9:00 pm and will be an excellent training run for the start of Gstone (a 6:00pm start time). I am planning to run CMMM at 100 mile pace and not push it---just have fun, enjoy the beauty of running at night in the mountains, and get a good training run in...and of course, make every moment count!

Speaking of making every moment about Michael Phelps' fingertip touch to get the 7th gold medal? Here is an inspiring interview with Michael and Mark Spitz, who is incredibly gracious and supportive of Michael. This is worth watching, and has footage of Mark Spitz swimming to his 7th gold.

OK here's the week:

Monday, August 11: Day off after huge week of training. Slept late, no lifting, swimming, just eating, napping, and relaxing with the kids.

Tuesday, August 12: Swim and lift. I wanted to take an extra day off given the next few weeks of hard training that are coming we celebrated Rusty's 48th birthday. Good times!

Wednedsday, August 13: Tempo run, total 9 miles. Started with 3 miles easy on the Rivanna Trail, then 2 miles at 7:15 pace on rolling dirt. Easy 2:00 recovery, then 15:00 climb and descent on hilly single track, then another 2 miles at 7:15 pace. Finished with 2 miles easy on rocky trail. Tough workout!

Thursday, August 14: 5 miles easy on trail, 30 minutes of lifting focusing on core and upper body.

Friday August 15: Wintergreen Ski Resort ski slope repeats! I was at Wintergreen for a work retreat, so I decided to descend and climb up every ski slope at the resort. This took me about 1:30 at a steady pace, trying to keep my heart rate below 135. Ever wonder what lies beneath the snow on ski slopes? Weeds, wildflowers, brush, and fire roads (I used the fire roads). I have no idea how much climb and descent I got but it was a great quality workout.

Saturday, August 16: I was the keynote speaker for the Women's 4 Miler Training Program. Last year I wrote about this wonderful experience on my Montrail blog, and this year I was invited back, which was a huge honor. There were about 300 women getting ready to run their longest training run before the 4 miler on August 30, and I talked about the importance of setting race-day goals, being flexible when things unravel in the race, and having a mantra for training and the event itself. I am totally inspired by these women, most of whom had never run a step before June and who were now running 4 miles with no problem!

Afterwards, I ran 10 miles very easy on the Rivanna Trail.

Sunday, August 17: 21 miles on the Moormans, AT and Sugar Hollow trails with Jeff, Greg, and Ed. We added the Rip Rap trail today and did at least 5,000 total feet of climb. This is my new fave training run---the trails and views of the valley are awesome and all very runnable. Thanks, guys, for the great company!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #8, August 4-10


That's where I am in my training now. I have spent the past few months building my base miles (with a few stops to race), so now it's time to enter the sharpening phase. This is a period of training that combines relatively high mileage with runs of increased intensity, and should last any where from 6-12 weeks before the taper begins. In my case, I will sharpen for about 5 weeks and taper for 3 weeks.

This week ended up being my best yet in terms of mileage (80+) and key runs (a kick ass track workout/hill repeat day as well as some good long climbing days). I also mixed in some swimming and lifting, and I took a full day off, which made a huge difference in my ability to pull it off.

A few thoughts on nutrition...I was having a conversation with a woman who has run many road marathons, yet has no idea how to use nutrition to her advantage in training or during races. In fact, she rarely uses a sport drink or gels, even when running longer than 2 hours. I told her that for me, it doesn't matter how fit I am going into an ultra, if I don't have a solid nutrition plan in place (and use it), all that training will be wasted--- I will bonk and crash. To that end, I am eating as many healthy foods as I can my hands on during the week, as well as attempting to mimic race day nutrition in all my training runs, and using Cappuccino Ultragen recovery drink after every hard run. I am a huge believer in proper fueling and recovery and I am still learning!

OK, if you are still reading, here's the week:

Monday, August 4: OFF. No running, lifting, swimming. Slept late, ate well.

Tuesday, August 5: 9 easy miles on single track. Lifted 30 minutes core and upper body.

Wednesday, August 6: Track workout/hill repeats. I started with a 3 mile WU, then I ran 8x800s with 200 recovery between each. My splits were: 3:14, 3:14, 3:11, 3:10, 3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:09. I was focusing on getting negative splits and staying very relaxed. Afterwards, I ran 5 miles very easy on trail but in the middle of this run I ran 4 power lines at 1:10 per repeat, which are my fastest PL splits yet! Total miles, about 12.

pm: My son is running on the STAB cross country team this year (YAY!), so while he was at evening practice, I ran 5 easy shake out miles on Ohill near UVA.

Thursday, August 7: Easy 6 miles on dirt roads with Hallie at about 8:20 pace.

Friday, August 8: Easy 10 miles on road (the Charlottesville 10 miler course) with Leisa at 8:20 pace.

Saturday, August 9: Fun, hilly 18 mile run with Greg on the Moorman's Loop: Here are the GPS details.It was a glorious day, no humidity and bright sun. Greg and I yakked about ultras, training, nutrition, his new house...good times! Thanks, Greg!

Sunday, August 10: Tough, hilly run with the VHTRC gang (below) in and around White Oak Canyon, about 25 miles. (Click on the White Oak Canyon link, and scroll down to see a map of the area where we ran, including up White Oak Canyon in the Shenandoah National Park to Hawksbill, the highest point in the SNP, then north on the AT to Skyland, where we fueled up for the long downhill into Nicholson Hollow, site of the the infamous VHTRC Corbin Cabin weekend of July 2005).

A welcome thunderstorm rolled through the hollow for the last hour of the run...then it was party time! I love running and playing with these folks. We have some great memories together of past training runs and races, and have bonded through many life challenges, including marriage, injury, family illness, and break-ups. Most importantly, we understand and appreciate each other's love for trails and ultras, no questions asked!

Quatro Hubbard is in front, then L-R are John Cassilly, Marlin Yoder,Gary Knipling,and Bethany Patterson;Back row L-R are Kirstin Corris, Tom Corris, Joe Clapper, Michele Harmon,Marc Griffin, Gary Hearn, Kerry Owens, Dave Quivey, Jill Quivey, Debbie Schaffer, and Mitchell Goodman.

More pics from the run are here, courtesy of Kirstin Corris, and here, courtesy of Quatro Hubbard.

This was a huge training week and now it's time to bring down the mileage to a more human level...50-60 mile weeks with good quality runs and lots of rest, and a few more long runs for good measure. After running with a few other Grindstone entrants this weekend (Greg, Gary, Kerry, Marc, Marlin, John). I am getting very psyched for this adventure!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #7, July 28-August 3

OK, another must-read from Rachel Toor (a good friend and great writer). If you are an ultrarunner, a woman, or both, I think you will dig it.

The mantra for my Gstone training is "Make Every Moment Count." This means while in training, know why I am doing a particular workout, be rested for the key workouts, and enjoy the recovery days. This also means while racing the Gstone 100, I want to truly take in the experience of being out in the mountains with friends and running on beautiful trails, and enjoy every bit of the experience, even if I am feeling discouraged, crappy, or sleepy. Make Every Moment Count.

I find when I have a mantra for a race, it helps me relax and stay focused. In the past, I've used "Easy and Light" and "Steady and Smooth" for the past two Hellgate 100Ks. I haven't had a mantra for training AND racing, so I thought since I am blogging about the Gstone training, I might as well try one for the training experience. It has proved helpful when I have not felt like running (despite having the extra time this summer...reminding myself that I need to Make Every Moment Count gets my butt out the door). Conversely, when I have felt crappy or tired, I remind myself of the mantra and the importance of rest, and I give myself a day or workout off.

In the most recent issue of Running Times there is a helpful article on the importance of being rested and ready for key workouts, and to run recovery runs as recovery runs, with my HR in Zone 1 (120 bpm and below for me), not just as junk miles. To me, that is another example of Make Every Moment Count: Make every workout count, including rest days and recovery runs, and the rest will (hopefully) take care of itself. BTW, I absolutely LOVE running 100-miler pace during my recovery runs. I feel like I could run forever at that pace, which is a good sign!!!

The schedule this week called for about 77 miles (didn't happen---it was too freaking hot for doubles, but I managed about 65 miles), added a quality track workout (check), and I continued hydrating, eating well, and getting enough sleep (check). Next weekend I have a back-to-back planned which will take care of the miles (and hills!) I need.

Monday, July 28:
8 miles on rolling dirt road at easy pace (8:45 per mile pace, HR in low 110s and 120s) with 15 x 20 seconds hard, 40 seconda easy towards the end of the run. I LOVE this run. It is a great way to get some speed going without trashing my legs too much after a big weekend, and the scenery is beautiful on the road where I run.

Tuesday, July 29: Easy 5 miles on road and trail. Lift for 30 minutes...core and upper body.

Wednesday, July 30: TRACK!
The first of the program. I am running with a large group training for fall marathons, but doing my own workout. They were doing 3 x 2 miles but I did that two weeks ago on the roads. My workout called for 3 miles easy WU, then a few striders followed by 3x 1200 at my 5K pace (6:45 pace), with an 800 meter tempo run off the track down a 100 meter hill, turn around and surge up the hill between each 1200. I love this workout and have used it while preparing for all my hilly ultras. When I can hit my 1200 splits at 4:55 and my overall split at 8:20 or less, I know I am in good shape. Today it was very humid, so I wasn't that concerned about my splits---I just wanted to see where I was at this point in the program, 12 weeks from race day. So I was pleasantly surprised when my splits came back at 4:55/8:15; 4:53/8:17, and 4:55/8:20. Given the humid weather, I was very happy! Afterwards, I changed into my trail shoes and ran another 6 miles easy, at 100-miler pace on trail, including 3 power lines at 1:15 per climb/ 4:20 per repeat. Total miles, about 12. Later in the day, I lifted lower body, focusing on squats on the balance board and lunges.

Thursday, July 31: 5 miles easy with Andrea, who is training for the USTAF Masters X-C Championships in NC in October. Andrea is the fastest female runner in C'Ville over 40 (she's 47) and runs 5Ks in 18-something and 10Ks in 38-something. She loves trails and needs to train on them, so we will be running easy recovery runs at Secluded Farm as she ramps up for her big event. Afterwards, I lifted upper body and core for 30 minutes. I was scheduled for 5 miles in the p.m. but I took a nap instead . :-)

Friday, August 1: 7 miles on rocky, hilly, technical trail at 10:00 am (heat run). I took this very easy and kept the HR in the 120-138 range.

Saturday, August 2: 16 miles on rolling dirt roads with Leisa, who is trying to qualify for Boston by training for the Baltimore marathon in October. Leisa needs to run a 3:50 to BQ, so we ran most of the run at near her marathon pace, 8:20, which felt good to me. My goal was to stay in the 8:15-8:35 range and finish strong.

Sunday, August 3: Easy recovery on flat trails, about 10 miles.