Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ahh, back on track, the good track discipline!

A short post, written from a plane for a change, 31,000 feet above the Great Lakes, in the friendly skies... Well, almost friendly, as I'm stuck in a middle seat, again...

While the Europeans battle on the track in their European Championships in Zurich, with the Russians dominating, it was also quite a track week for me. After the 70-laps-in-2-hours of last Sunday, I finally managed to hit the track with Bob and Mike on Thursday morning for our "usual" track work out of 5:45 am which I had missed for at least 4 months with my busy travel and ultra racing schedules. It was really refreshing to meet Bob again a few months after our running focuses and priorities totally diverged earlier this year. Bob is on a mission to break 5 minutes on the mile and 2:15 on 800 meters. In the meantime, I need to regain speed to even break 6 minutes on the mile, ouch! On the other end, Mike, a triathlete, is preparing for Pine to Palm 100 in September, so he wasn't going to push too much.

I was amazed at how much speed Bob gained these past months despite his own busy work and travel schedules and a few running issues. I was pressed by time with a conf call at 6:30 am so, after 3 miles to warm-up, we only did 6 400m repeats. I would never have pushed as much if it wasn't for trying hard to stay in Bob's aerodynamic drafting. We usually alternate the lead at each repeat but, this time, I was just happy for Bob to set the pace. Without pushing, Bob was consistently clocking laps between 73 and 75 seconds, while I was finishing a few seconds behind, barely breaking 75 seconds for my 6th and final lap. Not only the breathing was tough, but I could feel in my legs a few muscles that I had not felt for months. It really takes another type of running and stride to go faster on a track! I feel like having to learn all about running again, this is weird. But I'm really happy to have Bob as a partner to work on my speed again. By the way, we exceptionally met at Fremont High School as there has been some ground work at the Mountain View High School all Summer. Should be over by now, with back to school happening tomorrow!

2 days later, this Saturday, I went back to the track again, at Cupertino High School.
It was hot when I started my work out at noon, about 90F. I didn't have a clear plan in mind so, after the first 2 laps at 1'38", I decided I'll try to run as many laps as I could under 1:40. By lap 40, I was still on target but I started feeling a blister forming under my left foot, dang! I very rarely get blisters, I can probably count them on my fingers for the 36,400 miles I have in my log, but that was the day. I was feeling too good otherwise for stopping and kept on pushing despite the increasing burning sensation. It was actually bearable until I stopped running but the blister was so large that walking was really painful afterwards, so I walked the mile back home limping, so much that a lady walking her dog asked if I was ok and proposed to drive me home, sweet (although I passed on the offer). Ouch, a large double bloody one...!
I managed to complete 72 laps this time in 1:59:20, all in line 2, that is slightly more than 18 miles. A great workout, once more, the fartherst I ever gone on a track, but still quite far from the 16 miles at 6 min/mile pace I used to hold for 16 miles until January. Still, this is encouraging progress in the right direction and I'm looking forward to more of this track discipline over the coming weeks to prepare for the Fall races.

Only 71 flat miles this week, but quite a few good quality and fast ones. Happy to taper again for a few days before another challenging 50K race this coming Saturday, the Tamalpa Headlands. An event with a few speedsters from the East Bay and the expected domination of the hosting club, Tamalpa, and Excelsior also sending a fast contingent again. This tapering will also give my feet a break and time to recover from the blister. See some of you next Saturday on the hilly trails again, and have a great week, all!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Local running ramblings and rumbling

No, regarding the ramblings in the title of this post, I didn't go "abo" (as in Aboriginals) this week... And if you are intrigued by the expression, you'll have to get a copy of the August 2014 issue of UltraRunning Magazine and check on page 74. An interesting tip from Dean Karnazes, which I need to try one of these days.

No, by ramblings, I mean a few random running and training-related topics for this week, following my great run at Skyline 50K last Sunday. And some ire against a serious issue regarding our local park management.

Thanks to Vespa and no cramping at Skyline, I was back to training on Monday and Tuesday, keeping regaining some of the speed I lost back in February with my tibialis issue, followed by all the hilly miles of the Spring races. Quite a great season so far, I already passed the 500-point threshold in the PAUSATF MUT Grand Prix, the highest score I ever got despite winning my age group the past 7 years. It certainly helps getting the youngest of your age group! ;-) But the season is not over, I (and we...) need to keep working...

I took Wednesday off to focus on a work project but ran 11.5 miles at Alviso on Thursday and 15 kilometers on Friday. With all my travels in June and July, it had been 3 months since I ran at Alviso, it felt great to see my fellow visiting pelicans again! After all these flat miles, I ran to the top of Black Mountain on Saturday, twice actually as I also ran the Bella Vista loop, going 900 feet down Black Mountain on the other side. A solid 28-mile hilly run at 8:24 min/mile. I even met Agnès at the top of the mountain who was hiking with my nephew Cosme and our friends Caro and Hervé, the three of them visiting from France (photo credits: Hervé).

On the way down to Cupertino, I enjoyed running the Waterwheel loop and stopping by the small creek to get a fresh shower. A much welcomed stop as it was quite hot this Saturday and a large group of cyclists camping at the Black Mountain campground had drained all the water up there, I couldn't even fill my bottle. More about Waterwheel in a few paragraphs.
This Sunday, I went to the Cupertino High School track for some tempo run. I used to do up to 16 miles at 6 min/miles these past years but, not having done track workouts since January, I did lose quite of this speed (mind some of my fellow runners, I have hard time running a long series of 1:30 laps right now, I'm slower...). The longest I had done was 68 laps in 2012 and 60 laps the week before Skyline. This time I went farther, albeit not faster, for 70 laps in lane 2 so slightly more than 17.5 miles at 6:45 min/mile average. Quite a good tempo work out, getting in the right direction, it feels good to be back to the track discipline.

Overall, a good 86-mile training week right after and not counting the 31 miles of Skyline, no time to rest much with the next 50K in 2 weeks (Tamalpa Headlands) and more races in September, October and November.

And now on for the rumbling... I was just informed by a friend on Facebook of a project that the Board of Directors of our Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), the organism managing several of our local parks, is negotiating with the Ridge winery a swap of land to allow them to extend their vineyards on quite a few acres of the Montebello Open Space Preserve. I did find more about this project in a meeting notice from 2012 so it seems we are late to the discussion. Although it sounds like a 1:1 swap from acreage standpoint, and that public access to Waterwheel Creek Trail will not be affected except seasonally during the harvesting for instance, I fear about the fragile creek which is already endangered by the drought. I look forward to hear more about that from the Board and will let you know if we need more support to fight against this project. One thing is for sure is that I strongly disagree with this statement of the project: "The properties proposed for exchange have been appraised and are of equal value; therefore no funds
will change hands between the parties." Knowing that Ridge Vineyards are owned by the large Japanese pharmaceutical firm Otsuka Holdings Co., and that the land they have en eye on will be transformed into vineyards as opposed to the acres they have today which have no agricultural potential, I find these statement quite offensive for the tax payers that we are... The least they could admit is that this swap will create a lot of wealth and share some of it so we can use the money toward more land preservation! And here is my frustration and disapproval...
Enough negative thoughts for tonight, hope to learn more in the next few days about this, and let's run happy in the meantime. Have a great week!