Friday, February 22, 2008

Time away from running

Following my 50K trail race, I've decided to take a little down time to give my body a chance to recover from the Louisville's Lovin' the Hills race on Feb. 16. So far, I've taken a week of no running, and I'll probably take off another week or two before I start jogging again.

After the ultra race, I've not decided what to do yet. I might get ready for a marathon or start biking more for either duathlons or triathlons later in the summer. My options are to either do the Louisville Marathon again, train for the three-race duathlon series that Todd Heady puts on in August, September and October, or train for the Headfirst Ironman-distance triathlon in September.

I'll just have to wait and see what happens...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Louisville's Lovin' the Hills

The Louisville's Lovin' the Hills (LLTH) 50K trail race didn't go exactly as planned, but I survived and made it to the finish. When I started out Saturday morning, I had goals of racing close to the leaders, finishing among the top 3 and running close to five hours on the tough trails. But when the going gets tough you keep going, but you adjust your goals. My goals went from staying in the top 5, to staying in the top 10, to just finishing. I finally finished in 6 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds, about an hour off from my goal time, which got me 15th place out of the 68 finishers.

I felt really good when the race started - actually, too good. I didn't think the weather was too bad, just a tad chilly without much wind. And once I got running, it felt really good. For trails in February, it was decent weather. The one problem that did give me fits all day was the trails though. I couldn't get good footing at all and the up hills and down hills took a lot out of me. I struggled so much that by the time I reached 10 miles, I was already struggling to keep my pace. I fell down about a dozen times, turned my ankle about five times and did a few dives right off the course. The trails were kicking my butt, and I knew it.

With the 15-miler runners ahead of me, I think I was leading the 50K runners early on. I let some of the 15-milers go on and couldn't see anyone behind me so tried to stay relaxed, running my own pace. Troy Shellhamer eventually went passed me, and at around 10-12 miles (not really sure about this) two other 50K runners joined us to form a 4-person lead line. Russ Goodman was leading the line, followed by Shellhamer, myself, and Tim Barnes a little bit back.

Besides the tough up-and-down trails, what really threw me off was the constant change in pace. I'm more of a road runner that likes to get in a rhythm and pluck the miles away. The other three runners knew exactly what they were doing, they seemed to be pros at long-distance trail running. It seemed like every time we walked up a challenging hill, I would struggle to get back on their tails while they seemed to be floating.

With the slippery ground, the hills and the constant change in pace (all things my body wasn't used to), I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on to these guys for the entire race. I finally started to fall back at around 18-20 miles (not sure on this either), and before I knew it the trio was out of sight. Goodman ended up winning in 5:06:12, while Barnes came in second in 5:13:17 and Shellhamer got fourth in 5:20:08. The first female runner, who was flying when she passed me just before the final turnaround, came up with third overall in 5:18:04.

Meanwhile, I struggled to keep form. And just after the final turnaround, about eight miles from the finish I was told, while I was in fifth place overall, I started to cramp in more places than I could count. And when I started to cramp, I really started to cramp. I felt like I was in decent shape coming into the race, but I knew the differences in my training versus the conditions would get the best of me. My pattern was much of the same for the final eight miles: run until I cramped, walk a little, stop to try to work out my cramp, walk a little more, then run until I cramped again. I actually continued to enjoy the race while I was able to run, but the cramping and stopping is what really bugged me. I just got frustrated. And it didn't help that I went the wrong way a few times and had to backtrack. But that was my fault - I've figured out that trail running is about navigation as well, which is something I'm not very good at.

So, more people went past me than I wanted and more time passed, but I eventually finished. And although it wasn't what I had hoped for, I'm still glad for the experience. I love running on trails, but I definitely need some more work, both in my training and my racing strategy.

Some training changes I would make are adding way more fartlick-style sessions each week to get used to the adjustment in pace, add some walking intervals in my training, and increase my long run from 3 hours to close to 5. As for racing, I would start out even more conservative (even though I felt fine), stay relaxed and maybe walk the early hills a little more.

But overall, it was still a fun race. LLTH does a fantastic job. And I'm sure I'll be out on the trails in no time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week of Feb. 4-Feb. 10

Heading down the homestretch of my 50K preparation, I've backed off some this past week but still managed to get in a few quality runs. Now, with one week remaining until the showdown with the tough trails, I'll rest as much as I can while still getting in some easy jogs and light strides. Here's what the previous week looked like...

Monday: 40 minutes progression run, plus 10 100-meter sprints. Finished run strong and felt smooth on strides.
Tuesday: 1:06:00 steady run. Felt a little tired but finished run strong. Ran most of run on side of road in grass to get used to the poor footing on the trails. I think I turned my ankle at least a dozen times.
Wednesday: (on treadmill) 20 minutes easy, plus 5 minutes hard, 4 minutes hard, 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes hard and 1 minute hard with short recovery off treadmill between each hard run, plus 20 minutes steady.
Thursday: No "official" running, but played volleyball for about an hour.
Friday: 400-meter swim, plus eight laps of water jogging.
Saturday: 11+ miles in 1:19:22 with Shelbyville Road Runners. Felt good but didn't pick up the pace until the final three miles. Finished strong. Ran second half much faster than first half.
Sunday: Off

Note: I also did some strength training twice during the week and core training three times. One week out, it was a good week and I actually had to hold myself back from training. Even though I've only trained the previous four weeks for this race, I feel like I'm in decent shape now. We'll see Saturday morning I guess.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3

In my final "tough" week of training during my short buildup to the 50K race, I had a solid week. Now that I'm approaching Feb. 16, it's time to just cruise it in until race day. Here's what the previous week looked like...

Monday: 60 minutes steady on treadmill.
Tuesday: 40 minutes steady on treadmill.
Wednesday: 2:50:00 long run. The first two hours were at a steady pace of 7:30-8:00 minutes per mile, while I really turned it up for the final 50 minutes, running close to 6:00 pace I'm guessing. Surprisingly, I felt really good during the final 50 minutes. I ran from my house in Pleasureville, cut across some back roads to highway 55 just outside of Eminence, ran down 55, through Shelbyville and past Wal-Mart, where Sandra picked me up. It was my longest long run for this race, and my final.
Thursday: No "official" running, but played about 1.5 hours of volleyball.
Friday: 40 minutes easy on cross-country course in versailles.
Saturday: Around 11-mile hard run in 1:08:00. I was running late to meet the Shelbyville Road Runners (actually, I didn't wake up until 7 a.m., the time I was supposed to be there), so I started on my own. I ran the normal (a little over) 11-mile course we do, minus a short section on the way back that does a little loop inside the entrance to the park. It's a course I usually run in 1:18-1:20 and my best was 1:16:00, so to run 1:08:00 (which would have been around 1:09:00) was a solid time that shows my speed for a 50K race is there.
Sunday: Off.

Note: Overall, it was a good week. I really concentrated on the mid-week long run and the weekend hard medium long run, which I think will be very beneficial for me in a few weeks. I also did some strength training a few nights and some core exercises. I'll get in a few solid runs this coming week, including one workout and one longer run, then back down for the race.