Last week was our annual family vacation to Florida-- a welcome break from both work and winter, and a great opportunity to run. I logged 55 miles of training-- all of it spent running along the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico at dawn. The warm, sunny weather was inspiring, and the extra oxygen and flat terrain didn't hurt either. The biggest hill I could find was a tiny 10 ft rise next to a pond labelled "Alligator Habitat". I started out with an easy 9-mile run on Monday and then just added 1 mile a day for the rest of the week, culminating in a half marathon on Friday. The legs felt good. No quad soreness to speak of. Slightly tight calves on Saturday, but nothing out of the ordinary. Despite my lingering cold, the running was so easy that I'm pretty sure I set PRs on at least the 10-mile and 13.1-mile runs. Most folks caution you not to increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% a week to minimize the chances of injury, so a 120% increase had me a little concerned. But, I simply couldn't resist the opportunity, and the change of scenery was rejuvenating. While a trail runner's paradise in summer, running through Leadville's long winter can be a bit trying-- at least for me. So I told myself that while my weekly mileage might have increased by 120%, my effort level certainly didn't. My GPS said I was logging about 400 ft of elevation gain per 10 miles on my route (with elevation correction), but I have no idea where that came from. The first word that comes to mind when trying to describe the vertical challenges presented by my beach-side route is "pancake".
Only four weeks left until the Salida marathon. I definitely need to squeeze in some long runs between now and then if I'm going to have a chance at surviving that distance. I feel like I'm in better shape than I've ever been in February, but that's not saying much. I've never run a marathon this early in the season before. I ran the Salida half marathon last year and it was a ton of fun. I upgraded to the marathon this year to push myself to log more 20+ mile runs. Since the only other marathon I've run is the brutal Leadville marathon, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to set a PR for a 26.2 mile race. However, since I don't have a previous time to beat on the Salida course, I'm thinking of it more as a stepping stone towards the Collegiate Peaks 25 miler in late April. I've run that race twice before and I'm very motivated to compare my fitness this year to previous years.