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!

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