Monday, September 1, 2014

Train and work hard, taper easy, race and play hard, repeat!

The first weekend of September we celebrate Labor Day and it's an opportunity to have an extended 3-day weekend, an opportunity to... work more as I highlighted in my blog already (Labor Day 2013: what a laborious week!, 2012: Labor day: back to (running) work!, 2010: Labor day: how hard are you working on your running?, 2009: Labor(ious) Day weekend: 4 stories, 1 post). You see from the titles of these posts, as much as we were all meant and born to run, I do consider we need to put some work in our running, so we can enjoy more of it! I also think that the multiple uses of the word laborious reflects the potential fatigue from the first 8 months of the season and especially the tiring runs and races in the Summer heat.

As many of you know, I like racing for the opportunity to test and push my limits. Racing so much also provide great, that it hard, training opportunities, training intensity that you would not necessarily reach training alone or even in social and fun runs. Moreover, racing also provides great opportunities to have fun by meeting other participants, volunteers and crews, and discovering new places and trails. And an "excuse" to taper from time to time!

After last week's Tamalpa Headlands 50K, I ran 10K on Sunday but was still too sore on Monday. I ran all the other days of the week for a total of 42 miles. On Saturday, I went back to the track for another long tempo run. I wasn't sure how long for but, as it was late morning and quite hot (88F), I set a goal to run laps at or just under 1 minute and 45 seconds, all in lane 2. After the 72 laps of 2 weeks ago, I reached a new milestone with 80 laps this time! One more step toward a marathon and an ultra on the track... Well, quite a few steps actually as my Fitbit counted 25,950 steps for these 20.3 miles (I was curious about how longer a lap is in lane 2 and, of course, the Internet has the answer! See: Track Training - Differences in Lane Lengths). I was very pleased with the regularity of my laps, I only ran 6 laps slightly above 1:45 for 3 bottle-change stops and 3 changes of direction (every 5 miles). Average lap time: 1:44, spot on!

On Sunday, I wanted to have a more precise goal to log a few miles and I chose to run from home to the Palo Alto airport. I had been months since I did this run and I thought it was going to be a short ultra (28 miles or so) but forgot it was closer to 33 miles, thankfully with a few water stops on the course. It's about 5.8 miles from home to the start of the Stevens Creek trail in Sunnyvale, then 6 miles to Shoreline Lake. By Bixby park in Palo Alto, my GPS shows 15.4 miles, a place with restrooms and water fountain which I sometimes use as a turn around for 50K goals. I did stop for a while to cool down, I really needed it! Then I went on around the Palo Alto airport and golf, stopping again for a few minutes at the Baylands Sports center. There was a breeze but, for some reasons, I couldn't bear with the 90F temperature and blazing sun at noon. I ran back to Shoreline, along 101 and made another stop at the Lakeside café which was super crowded. Got a Coke and some ice and, still under 7:25 min/mile, went back on the Stevens Creek Trail toward Sunnyvale and Cupertino, seeing less bikes than 2 hours earlier in the morning. I covered the 33 miles in 4 hours and 4 minutes, not counting the handful of long stops I made to drink and cool off. Our Summer is definitely not over, glad there is still water at these drinking fountains, phew! Can't wait for a rainy Fall and Winter now...

Another 12-mile run this Monday, and in 90F+ temperatures at mid day. I would have run a few more miles but I was pressed by... work. Yes, on Labor Day... Overall, not an extravagant ultra training weekend, "just" 108 miles for the week, and flat ones, but at a better/faster pace nevertheless.

As for playing, I did enjoy following quite a few fellow runners at the grueling UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc). Francois d'Haene won with a magisterial new course record of 20 hours and 11 minutes, improving Killian Jornet's record (20:36 in 2011) and Xavier Thevenard (20:34 in 2013)! To put things in perspective, Anton Krupicka finished in 26 hours and Michael Wardian finished 10 hours after Francois, yet he placed 123 overall, out of more than 2,000 starters. On the women side, Rory Bosio of California won this year's edition again, twice in a row! After training quite a few times on the course, I need to get this beast on my program sooner than later.

Hope you had a relaxing Labor Day Weekend, yet didn't stay on the couch! Have a good and short week all, or a full one for those who are not reading from the US or Canada.

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