Tuesday, August 25, 2009

6 weeks and counting...but who's counting?

Last Saturday I once again had the privilege of speaking to the women of the Charlottesville Women's 4 miler training program. This is always a highlight of my summer and I am so inspired by these runners! In past years I have talked to them about having different race day time goals, pacing themselves in the first three miles, adjusting their goal race times for the weather, and embracing the idea of being competitive. Most of these women have never run a race in their lives and they train together all summer to get fit and raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and prevention. Awesome.

As I was gutting through my toughest track workout to date on Thursday, I noticed a group of 4-miler women getting ready for their workout. They were laughing, talking, and clearly invigorated by being together and running together. In contrast, I was suffering alone in the worst heat and humidity of the summer while attempting a ladder that went like this:

200 in :46
400 in 1:35
800 in 3:08
1200 in 4:46
1600 in 6:25
2,000 in 8:00
1600 in 6:24
800 in 3:06
400 in 1:28
200 in :43

Each with 2:00 rest in between intervals.

I went up the ladder with no problems---in fact, I got a little (actually, a lot) greedy. My 1200 was 4:36. My 800 was 3:06. I was feeling it and feeling good, until the 2,000 (which AJW noted, "do this and you're good to go!"). Of course I am thinking about his comment the entire 5 laps while really suffering. Using a random guy runner in front on me as a pacer, I squeeked across in 8:02. FAIL. Guess I'm not good to go!

The way down the ladder was uninspiring. 4 seconds off the splits here, 6 seconds off there. I even bagged the 800 just so I could have something for the last two (which I did). I limped home with my tail between my legs. Ouch.

But then I started thinking about the 4 miler women. They were having fun; I was not. Nor did I didn't take my own advice and adjust my goals for the weather, and I let the clock be my slave. Granted, that's the point with a track workout, but I should have been smarter in the beginning and paced myself. I let the clock drive the train instead of the weather and my experience. Definitely something to remember come race day on October 2!

Hallie and I ran 11ish miles nice and easy on Saturday and then I hammered out a nice 5-hour jaunt with Jeff Wilbur and Quatro along the Rip Rap and AT in the SNP (running up the three longest climbs without walking---16 minutes, 32 minutes, and 26 minutes...but who's counting?). It was a great way to end this very tough training cycle.

One more three week cycle to go before the Grindstone taper! A big shout out to coach AJW for his top-10 finish at Leadville 100...three 100s in 8 weeks and three top-10 finishes. I am in good hands. And just to prove what a tough ultrarunner he is, check him out losing his lunch here at the end of Leadville.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Big miles

Aaahhhh, the dog days of August. It means summer is almost over, school is right around the corner, and that Grindstone training is kicking my butt.

Actually, AJW is kicking my butt and I am just allowing it to happen. Two weeks ago I took a much-needed cutback week while at the beach. I returned refreshed and ready for the pain and suffering, so AJW sent me a plan for the next three week cycle that includes 80+ miles per week and ladders on the track. He has prepped me well for these ladders with 1200 repeats throughout July, so now it is time to add some speed at the "shorter" distances. Thursday was the first ladder: 2 mile wu then 200, 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 and 200. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't hit all my splits given the 83 miles I ran last week, the stressors of life lately and the heatwave we are having...but I not only hit my splits, I ran each at least 2-3 seconds faster. I am very happy about that and next week I will add another 1600 at the top of the ladder with faster splits and less rest between intervals so I am excited to see what I can do. It has been fun to have a new challenge with different track workouts and tempo runs.

Here are some pics from recent Grindstone training runs on the Priest and Three Ridges with Bill Potts, Bill Gentry, Quatro and Rhonda, on the Grindstone 100 course with the motley crew of Clark, Horton and Company, and at Martha Moats Baker 50K with the VHTRC crew...some big miles and big climbs on these gorgeous trails. Check out what we found on the course:

this fella

as well as this fella

and these views from atop Elliotts Knob, the highest point on the Gstone course at 4400+ feet (above) and Reddish Knob, 4300+ feet and mile 50 of Gstone (right, with Hallie):

Rocks on the Three Ridges climb (left) and Martha Moats Baker's grave (right)
(pics by Bobby Gill, Quatro Hubbard and Billy Potts)

More pics of Martha Moats Baker 50K are here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Catching Up

It's summer vacation time so I took some vacation from the blog...but I'm baaaaack. I've had some serious fun these past few weeks. Let's recap:

Catherine's Furnace 50K Fat Ass. The quintessential VHTRC event: no fee (our annual 10.00 membership dues at work instead), no T-shirt, no wimps and no whining. My kind of fun! I ran the first few hours with Michele Harmon, Martha Wright, Marc Griffin and Bobby Gill. The weather was fabulous---cool, clear, and no humidity-- and the views atop Bird Knob were awesome:

I felt really good the entire 30+ miles. There is something blissful about running with friends and with no pressure for a particular finish time or splits. I was happy to run near 6:00 (my best time at Cat's was 5:51 on 2007 and I was running hard the entire time) given the amount of time we stopped for photo opps. Afterward, the classic post-run scene evolved as we cheered on finishers, ate delicious brats and burgers, and replenished with many cold beverages. The post run chatter included everything from updates on impending nuptuals, recent Badwater and Hardrock crewing and pacing experiences, and organic farming...we are a crazy fun bunch!

Typical Cat's post-run scene

Kirstin Corris, fabulous organic cook and half of the grill Team Corris

The usual suspects (Frank Probst, Martha, Quatro, Rhonda, Gary and Jack). Well, actually Q and Gary are the usual suspects and the others are innocent until proven guilty)

Bald Head Island. Last week we took off for Bald Head Island, NC.
I first went to this wonderful place 13 years ago with Rusty and Chapin for a friend's wedding...little has changed since then. It is only accessible by ferry and no cars are allowed on the island, so we got around by golf cart, bike, and foot. I usually dread running while on beach vacays (too flat, too boring, too much asphalt) but Bald Head was a blast to run on. About 10+ miles of roads including my favorite, Middle Island Road which is a rolling dirt road that snakes through the marsh and ends at a wildlife preserve. I also ran on the technical and rooty maritime forest trails---very cool! Our days were spent sleeping late, running and biking in the a.m., a late brunch and then off to the beach for excellent surfing and big waves and warm water, then perhaps a nap before yummy sangria and a good book before dinner. Then a killer game of cards with the kids before the teens went out to meet their friends (since they were only driving golf carts I wasn't too worried). Bed by 10 and then we did it all over again. Ahh, I love vacation---time is suspended and it's so fun to have nothing to do except eat, sleep, read and hang out with the family! The photo below of Virginia was taken at the easternmost tip of the island at Frying Pan Shoals, a famous area known for shipwrecks due to the convergence of waves from the beaches that face south and east:

Now we are back and I am excited to start on phase 2 of Grindstone training. I took a cut back week while at the beach and still managed 45 miles with a few quality days and the rest just time on my feet. The next 6 weeks will be big miles and lots of time on the course. I am curious to see how 80-90 mpw feels but I am ready to find out! School doesn't begin for another three weeks so this is a perfect time to trash my legs. I remember telling myself after Gstone 2008 that in order to run the course faster in 2009 I would need to train more on long, steep descents and on rockier trails to condition my quads and feet for the pounding. Stay tuned as next weekend I am off to the Priest and Three Ridges Friday and then the last 20 miles of Grindstone on Sunday.

More pics and details from Catherine's Fat Ass are on the VHTRC website here.