Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011: other goals, other dreams

 For the past 4 years, like many other lucky ones, my ultra goal and dream during the Memorial Day weekend was all about Western States. I'm not in this year and will actually be with the family in Croatia. Seems like I'm going to miss a serious snow year: it even snowed around Lake Tahoe this weekend and, while Squaw Valley's website talks about this weekend marking an end to a very long season, rumors have it that a few lifts may reopen for July 4th, one week after Western States! With all this snow, I heard that the Western States training camp was quite disrupted, at least the start from Robinson Flat on Saturday.

On my end, the weekend has been very different from previous years. After running 88 miles at the WS training camp in 2007, I had started a short tradition of my busiest training weekend in the Bay Area with 126 hilly miles in 2008 and 122 miles during the Memorial Day weekend of 2009. Last year, I only ran 49 miles over 2 days and that may explain why I was slower in my third Western States run. Well, this year, my goal is to "regain" speed, in preparation of the 10K and marathon at the World Masters in 8 weeks.

After a valorous Ohlone last Sunday, my legs were still sore on Monday and Tuesday but I managed to run a 10K each day, albeit slowly (8:40 and 7:40 min/mile respectively). I ran 9 miles on Wednesday and another 10K on Thursday, this time at 6:52 min/mile. It feels good to get faster, but I wasn't easy to get outside of the recovery comfort zone.

For this weekend my goal was to take advantage of the long weekend and run hard, twice a day, like the pros...! Well, that was before I realized that we had a few obligations (2 graduation celebrations) and a lot of work on my side to catchup after all these weekends in April and May, either racing or traveling.

On Saturday, I was running in the neighborhood (I have a perfect 5K loop which gets some neighbors crazy when they see me going and going) and did 25K. I had a nice 6:24 min/mile pace which I intended to keep for another loop before I had to stop with a blister burning under my feet. Damned, I barely has one blister a year and it has to happen on the first run of such a weekend! Certainly, I had forgotten that running fast and all on concrete is pretty bad and requires special foot care before going out. For this reason, I did not run in the afternoon (I tried but it was too painful after piercing the blister) and let the blister dry.
I went for my second run on Sunday morning and did 4 loops (20K) this time, just on 7:00 min/mile pace. A sort of recovery run to ensure the blister kept healing. I also took the opportunity to try on my new Brooks Ravenna. They are so narrow that this was what I needed to maintain my foot in place and prevent any friction.
Monday had to be the big day then, if not about mileage, at least about speed and, after working in the morning, I went to the track for a long tempo run. I stopped by the new track of Homestead High School but everything was locked down (same at Fremont High), which upsets me and will need to be brought up at the district level when I have more time.
Welcome? Sure...
Anyway, I drove to Mountain View High School which in addition to have a wonderful track, is always open and welcoming visitors. After 2 laps to warm-up, I went on for the tempo run, aiming at running as many laps as possible at 6 min/mile pace, that is 1 minute and a half or 90 seconds per lap.
I was clocking 1:27 to 1:29 laps, I believe my first 1:31 lap was around #30. Thankfully, my GPS is counting the laps for me, so I can just "zone" and look around, thinking of something else. There were a few runners coming and leaving, each running a few laps or a few miles. It was sunny but the temperature was perfect, 65F, mostly because of a relatively strong breeze from the North. I passed the 40-lap mark around 58:30 and felt so good that I was confident I will do at least 64 laps, if not more. Indeed, I completed the 64 laps in 1:35:22, that is 38 seconds faster than my goal. I had drunk one bottle of GU2O but taken no gel nor SCaps! so started slowing down with 1:32-1:35 laps afterwards. I still managed to complete 72 laps this time with 3 seconds to spare on the 1:30 min/lap pace, right on! My last attempt at this long temp run test was 64 laps back in January. That's quite a few laps seen from a satellite... ;-)
Although there is much more work to be able to maintain such a pace through the wall like I did in Chicago 8 years ago, I'm happy with this intermediate result. Now, if only it was going to be 65F in Sacramento mid July... Who knows, this is such a strange weather this year, maybe we don't have to go through the painful heat training this year!

With that, I tried on my three new Brooks shorts that I received on Friday, and two of the three pairs of shoes (Ravenna 2, Racer ST 5 and the super light T7 Racer). The new material of the shorts is amazingly lightweight and comfortable (stretch). And the Olympic Blue a perfect match with our Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team tops. Christmas in May, just in time for the speed work...! ;-)
Looking forward to hearing more stories from the participants to the Western States training run and, two things before I conclude this post:
1. It is National Running Day this coming Wednesday (June 1), so hope all of you get to run!
2. Peter Defty, from Vespa, is organizing a Vespa Night, that same Wednesday at ZombieRunner (6:30-8:30 PM). Dr. Stephen Phinney will share insights about how Vespa works and I'm excited to listen to him as Vespa indeed works so well for me! Please RSVP on the special event web page to let Peter, Don and Gillian know you are coming! Hope to see many of you there and, in the meantime, have a great National Running Day (even if you don't live in the US ;-)!


Greg said...

That's the first time I have ever seen a Garmin upload of track running.

Anonymous said...

lu et apprécié
bon national running day