Friday, June 27, 2008

Grindstone Training, week #2: June 23-29

The training plan called for 70 miles this week. I have been averaging around 50-60 since March (with two weeks off after Promise Land, which I really enjoyed). I am running most days at a very comfy, "100-mile" pace, and my heart rate has stayed in the 120-130 bpm range, which is what I want. This is how the week turned out:

Monday: 8 miles on dirt and road with 10x 1 minute pickups (at about 5K pace) with 30 seconds recovery after each pick-up. I ran the pick-ups toward the end of the run, and overall felt great. Every Monday is "pick-up" Monday, which I enjoy and which really helped me at Masochists last year.

Tuesday: My first double! am: 7 miles easy, HR in the 120s. pm: 5 miles easy, HR in the 120s. I was starving after this run so I was happy that Rusty and I were going out to our fave restaurant, Mas, for our anniversary. I think I ate at least a loaf of bread before dinner was served (actually, tapas...very yummy).

Wednesday: 8 miles with 6 miles at tempo pace (7:20 per mile), as well as two power line climbs at the end. These climbs are short---about a minute long) but the grade is sick, about 15%. Bill Potts and I run this loop every week or so...we call it the "Bread and Butter" run because you get rolling dirt,technical trail, lots of climb, and a tempo run all neatly packaged into a 1:15 run. Our goal for the end of the summer is to be able to run it with 4 powerlines at the end in under (dare I say?) 1:25.

**A fun note about this power line run...a few summers ago, Bill and I were training on this same trail, which is on the UVA campus. We came across about twenty current and former UVA football players running sprints up the powerlines. They were finishing their tenth one, and these huge men were CRYING for their mommies at the end. All except for Chris Long, one of my former students at STAB and who ended up being the #2 pick in the NFL draft this year. He wasn't even breathing hard, while all his teammates were in tears...something to think about!

Thursday: Day Off. I was beginning to feel sluggish and tired, so I went to the gym in the p.m. and lifted instead. I am concentrating on developing my core strength, as well as my climbing muscles. So I did a lot of lunges and squats on the balance board, and a lot of good exercises on the Swiss ball.

Friday: Carter's Mountain run with Bill, 8.6 miles (Bill got a new toy called a GPS today). Carter's Mountain is about 1,000+ feet of climb in 2 miles and borders some really awesome singletrack. We climbed up to the top in 25 minutes, keeping the HR in the 150 range. Then we hammeered down to the halfway mark to trash our quads a bit, then uphill again on another trail for 30 minutes. Then down , down the mountain on sweet singletrack and mowed fields to the parking lot. I can see myself spending a lot of time here this summer!

Saturday: Afton to Humpback and back with Quatro, 5 hours/21 miles. This was an easy, relaxed run with lotsa climb and some excellent downhill. The views at Humpback were gorgeous and it was surprisingly cool all morning! It was fun to catch up with Q, whom I have been ultra training buds with since 2002. The Afton To Hump and Back run was a VHTRC training run in 04 and 05, before the ultra calendar got so crammed with races. Perhaps it's time to bring back the Afton to Hump run? It's wonderful, runnable singletrack with plenty of creek crossings to cool off in. Hmmmmm....

Sunday: Easy 12 miles on rolling dirt and gravel roads near my house. A great way to end my first 70-mile week. Next week calls for 75 miles and I will be at the Outer Banks, so I will be training on flats and on the beach! We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My favorite ultra---19 years of marriage to Rusty

(photo by Frank Probst)

Today is Rusty's and my 19th wedding anniversary! Actually, we dated for five years before we got married on June 24, 1989, in Washington, DC, so we are really
celebrating 24 years of being together. Our first anniversary was celebrated while competing in the now-defunct Bud Light Baltimore Triathlon (International Distance). That was fun, and symbolic of our dating years where we raced and trained for marathons and tris together. Many other anniversaries were celebrated while vacationing in the Outer Banks of NC with our family (where we will all be next week--YAY!). One of the most memorable was our 17th, celebrated in Auburn, California. Rusty had been up all night crewing for my first WS100 attempt, and as I ran around the Placer HS track to the finish, the announcer said, "Here is Sophie Speidel from Charlottesville, Virginia! Today is her 17th wedding anniversary, and that is her husband running with her on the track!" That comment elicited lots of applause from the crowd, but I was cracking up (in-between sobs of relief for finishing in under the cut-off) because the guy running alongside of me was not Rusty, but Alex Papadopolus from the VHTRC. Rusty was actually documenting my finish here.

It's kind of cool that WS100 will always remind me of our anniversary, because I like to believe that building a healthy marriage is a lot like training for an demands commitment, patience, flexibility, hard work, and sacrifice, and in return it provides a feeling of fulfillment, gratitude, peace, joy, and love. Rusty is the one who convinced me to try another 100 (but I think he just wants an excuse to go back to WS100 so he can mountain bike around Tahoe again), so this Grindstone's for you, Sweedie!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grindstone Training: Week 1, June 16-22

I enjoy reading other blogs to see what kind of training folks are doing to get ready for their races, so I decided to jump in and post my training for Grindstone 100 on October 3-4, as well as my thoughts and worries, concerns and hopes for the race. I welcome fact, I need feedback! Please share your thoughts, I want to learn as much as I can from other runners. I am using the same training plan that worked so well for me at the Mountain Masochist 50 in 2007. It calls for a build up to about 80+ mpw about 2-3 months out with very little speedwork, then mileage in the 50-60 range with track work of long intervals. I will probably add more hill climbing and hopefully have a few more 80+ weeks into September before tapering.

The first real week of training commenced with the Highland Sky 40 race (see post below). I rested Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (that means no running, just sleeping, recovering, and a short strength training session on Tuesday: mostly core strength work with a Swiss ball).

Wednesday: Easy 8 miles on hilly trails and dirt with Bill Potts (my fast training partner who is a dirt ultrarunner training for his first road marathon in October).

Thursday: Easy 5 miles on trails near my house with my Aussie Shepherd, Jack. The weather in VA this week was spectacular...morning lows in the 50s, high only near 70, low humidity. I felt great after the run!

Friday: am: 9ish miles around the Ragged Mountain Reservoir on single track, rolling hills. Very easy, ran all the hills.
pm: I took my daughter to lacrosse camp near Shenandoah National Park, so I took advantage of being so close to White Oak Canyon and went for a 2.5 hour, 8.5 mile jaunt up the falls to the horse trail and then down Cedar Run (very rocky and technical, and about 2600 feet of climb). I brought Jack with me--he loved it, and it made me feel safer. He went after a bear cub (yikes) but came quickly when I called him. Good boy! He is only 9 months old and still in training.

Saturday: I will rest and take my son to lacrosse camp in Baltimore, then go to DC to watch my 14-year-old son play in a lacrosse tournament (yes, there is a theme here).

Sunday: Run in Rock Creek park with Keith Knipling, distance TBA. Looking forward to catching up with Keith after his OD100 finish (second by 7 minutes) and hearing about Hardrock training. **update** I had a great run with Keith this a.m. He took me on parts of the Potomac Heritage Trail 50K course in DC, Glover-Archibald Park and Rock Creek Park trails. I had fun pointing out the various houses where I lived while growing up in DC, as well as where I hung out with the boys in high school (Battery-Kimball Park). I took 60 ounces of water, a GU, and a bag of Clif Shots, and ate/drank it all in our 3 hours/17 miles on the trail. Keith, by contrast, had ONE sip of water from a water fountain. No lie! Unbelievable. Keith is ready for his Hardrock adventure...he kicked my ass while I suffered running his "easy" pace. Good times, Keith! Thanks for the great workout.

I am guessing this recovery week will yield about 45+ miles. Next week my plan calls for 70 miles so I am glad for the rest!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Highland Sky 40!

I have now run the Highland Sky 40 four times. The first year, in 2004, I won the women's race in 8:06. In 2005, six weeks after finishing MMT, I was second in 8:19. In 2007, I was second woman again in 8:30 (the weather was hot, sunny, and humid), and this year, in humid but overcast conditions, I ran a smart, evenly paced run and finished 7th woman in 8:26! The women's field was tremendous and featured a number of the up and coming young female runners on the east coast-- Justine Morrison, Rebecca Phelan, Alyssa Godesky, Jenny Anderson and Tracy Schrage. Annette Bednosky ran the race as a test run for WS, as she has been injured and is just getting her race fitness back, so she was running just a tad faster than my pace, which for her was fairly slow.

A few observations from the weekend:

David Horton was there to support Jenny and Jeremy Ramsey---it was wonderful to see him home again and healthy, and to hear him bellow my name at the 19-mile mark and at the finish line. Welcome home, David!

The men's field was not as deep as the women's...that seems to be a trend at this event. But the top two men both broke Clark Zealand's CR in sick fast times, with the winner going under six hour on that very tough course! Yow!

The over-50 crowd never ceases to amaze me. Frank Probst (a legend up there with David and Dennis Herr) won the grandmasters title only thirty minutes behind me. When I passed him at around mile 15, he was running smooth and relaxed, in road shoes (and this is NOT a road shoe course, at least not for the first 19 miles).Barb Isom and Vicki Kendall both won their respective age groups in strong fashion as they prepare to run the 90-mile Wonderland Trail in WA in late July.

Michele Harmon (taking the pic with me, above) is nursing an injury so she decided to ride her new mountain bike on the 7-mile dirt road section while cheering on Joe and the rest of the VHTRCers. When I came upon Michele, she was walking the bike up a small hill. Her comment: "Sophie, biking is hard!"

I earned several "Scotty's" while stubbing my toes on the boulder hops and tripping down the Lehmann Butt Slide (a "Scotty" is VHTRC-speak for foul language after a fall, trip or face plant). I dropped Rusty off at TWOT on Sunday to mountain bike with his friend Milton, and he returned home later that day, pronouncing his disdain for the climb up to Little Bald from the river crossing ("I have a lot more respect for what you do at TWOT now...that freaking climb took us 2 hours!") and announcing he earned many Scotty's while descending Little Bald. I told him he was part of VHTRC lore...Scotty's and TWOT go together nicely!

I was very pleased with my nutrition in the humid weather. I started with a bottle of SE and a bottle of Nuun and water, and kept each filled like that at each AS. I also sipped on Hammergel every 15 minutes from my 5 oz. flask, and ate melon and grapes at the AS. Heaven! Note to race directors: cold fruit is all we need at the latter aid stations, especially in the need for dry cookies and chips. Yech! Overall, no stomach issues and my energy level was strong throughout.

It's scary to be running in a flat field with lightning and thunder all around you. I had about 2 miles to go in the race and briefly entertained flagging down a random car.

Dan Lehmann and the WVMTR folks put on a great event in Highland Sky. This has got to be the most family- and crew- friendly ultra that I run. The resort at Canaan Valley, is a perfect place for the pre-race dinner and post-run party and dinner. The finish line is next to the climbing wall, bungee jump, and outdoor pool but there is also an indoor pool and hot tub. The Nature Center sponsored kid-friendly hikes during the day, and on Saturday night, we all went to the Purple Fiddle in nearby Thomas for coffee, ice cream, beer, and funky live music from the Weber Brothers. Rusty and I left the kids at home this time, but many other runners brought their entire families. Rusty was able to mountain bike during the day and he met me on the course with a few miles to go---it was great to get my post-run recovery drink and chair request in and know it would be waiting there at the finish line...aahhhh!

Overall, a fantastic weekend!! This is a perfect race for those folks not traveling out west and who still want the feel of a "getaway" race...and the Dolly Sods gives you the feel of alpine meadows. Many VHTRCers made the trip as did many MMT100 2008 finishers, which is impressive! Every year after I run Highland Sky, I can say that summer has finally arrived. Now, onto Grindstone 100 training! Wooo-hooo!!!