Monday, May 16, 2011

Two Contrasting Runs

One of the most repeated words in my training lexicon is specificity. When the training plan relies on minimal mileage, it is wise to make certain that each one of those miles serves a purpose. Looking at my log last night I had to chuckle at the similarities and differences in the two runs I had completed. I wondered whether anyone other than myself would see the specific goal I am training for reflected in the log.

Saturday morning in Chicago was a bit beyond blustery. Fast-moving dark clouds let a few sun rays pass through when not spitting rain indiscriminately. The NNE wind was merciless as it thrusted and gusted from 40-50 mph. My chosen course closely resembled the last-minute lake front course of the Chicago Monster of last October. I ran north from Grant park along the Lakeshore Trail to a point almost a mile north of Lincoln Park.

The run can be described in several ways. It was a seven mile sand blasting of my legs. It was like running behind a jet engine. It was insanity. It was fun!

Before leaving Grant Park a guy eased ahead of me.  He looked at my chest - and I at his.  He had a number on. I picked up my pace a little and yelled at him through the wind "What is the race distance?"  "5K," he yelled back. I eased off and was eventually passed by a five other racers.  They turned twice and made their way south at the north end of the park. Lucky bastards!

This was the kind of run where pace meant nothing.  I checked the HR a few times due to my stress and strain against the wind.  The HR was fine. The pace was not, so I made the decision to keep my planned distance and live with running for a longer period of time.  You are training for a pair of high altitude 50 miles races!!

It was north of Castaways that my legs began to feel as if they were being sanded with sixty grit. Merry travelers going south began to stare at me - at my legs.  I looked down and saw what looked like raw meet. I wanted to eat my Espresso gel at about six miles, but I didn't want to have a sand chaser.

At one point I laughed at a couple of triathletes who eased ahead of me on their $5K bikes. They were tucked in tightly while stomping on their smallest gears. They were weaving back and forth much more than I was. It was the Lakeshore Insane Asylum. Until I got a bright idea. Another triathlete passed me on a Cervelo P3.  Nice ride! He was barely moving faster than my near eight minute pace, so I surged and started drafting off of him. He was lower than my torso, but he and his ride deflected much of the sand that would have become embedded in my thighs. I stayed on his wheel for almost a mile. He noticed and shook his head. I laughed and told him to kindly keep his head up.

As soon as I made a U-turn the "Fasten Seatbelt" light came on while I accelerated. I could hear again. Bikes going south, even the cruisers, were booming through the sound barrier. I found myself among a couple of hundred participants in a half marathon. Too funny - they soon had to turn back into that wind!

Good mountain training? Well, it was designed to weaken my legs before the Sunday run. The fierce wind made it more challenging than expected, but I was OK with that. Day one goal accomplished.

Sunday's run was quite different. I strapped on the La Sportiva Crosslites and made my way to Stru Hill. I was thirteen minutes into the run when I began to run repeats on the hill. Twenty-four round trips on that hill gave me just over 2K vertical feet of climbing in eleven miles of running. That is 2K up and 2K down in just over eleven miles. I thought about completing thirty climbs, but I ran them faster than I ever have run a long set, so I quit after two dozen. This run indicated that I am well ahead of the fitness I had five weeks before the Silver Rush last summer. Day two goal accomplished.

Two extremely different runs that combined for great ultra preparation. Both runs were almost entirely off asphalt, since I ran on the gravel beside the Lakeshore Trail. A flat, but brutally windy run was followed by a run without flat sections. The average HR for the two, while higher than I would average for a hard 50 miler, was slightly higher than the highest HR I will achieve in a 50-mile event. I can't wait until next wedkend!

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