Saturday, March 29, 2014

Month in Review (March)

3/2010: 109.0 miles
3/2011: 129.6 miles
3/2012: 153.3 miles
3/2013: 174.7 miles
3/2014: 192.4 miles

Looking Behind

March was a month of extremes. There were many days when all I could muster was a 30-minute ride on the bike trainer or a 3-mile run down the Boulevard. It was exceptionally difficult to motivate myself to get outside the week after I returned from the warmth of Florida. But, in contrast to these short bouts of exercise, I did manage to get in 5 long runs-- one each week. Definitely an improvement over last year. I'd estimate that those long runs accounted for half of my mileage every week-- meaning they accounted for half of my mileage for the entire month! So, I hit my modest mileage goals for March, but the distribution of those miles was perhaps a bit... unorthodox.

My daily exercise streak is now at the 3-month mark. I like the discipline of carving at least 30 minutes of time out of my day to exercise-- even if it means riding the bike trainer at 9pm after the kids are asleep and the dishes are done. There is no waffling, pondering "Should I exercise today?", there is only "When should I exercise today? What should I do? Bike? Run? Ski?" I keep waiting to come down with a cold and be forced to skip a day or two, but luckily that hasn't happened yet. Everyone in my family is hacking up a lung except for myself. Knock on wood.

So, I'm feeling pretty fit. Not amazingly fit by any means, but better than I've ever felt for this time of year. If I had to guess, I'm maybe as fit as I was last year in May. Maybe. It's hard to tell. Hopefully I can buckle down, continue to improve in the coming two months, and whip myself into shape for Bighorn.

Salida Marathon

Of course, one of my long run runs-- in fact, the longest of my long runs-- was the Salida marathon. As always, it was a great race and a ton of fun. It's sooo nice to be able to run on (relatively) snow-free trails at this time of year! My race went well-- not off the charts by any means-- but I'm pleased with the result: 4:46. That represents an 11-minute PR for the course. Secretly, I was kind of hoping for something closer to 4:30, given all my extra training this year, but that would've required much more effort on my part. In retrospect, I think I ran the race a little bit too comfortably. I felt absolutely great before, during, and after. I kept things conversational almost the entire time. I enjoyed myself. I ran the last mile of the course at basically the same pace as I ran the first mile. And I was able to grunt up the hill at mile 21 more than a minute faster than I did last year. Everything felt very sustainable. I didn't listen to any music during the race, which is rare for me, and probably made me a little less aggressive and more inclined to chat up neighboring runners and simply enjoy the sights.

Mile 3

One thing I did differently-- which led to humorous results-- was try to drink more water. I'm convinced that when things go badly for me during a race it's almost always due to dehydration. So, I wanted to practice drinking more fluids. Since I pack 310 calories into every bottle I drink, I only get about 18 oz of liquid per bottle. Which means I generally only get 18 oz of liquid per hour. Not quite enough, I've learned. I think I want to be closer to 24 oz of water/hour, depending on the conditions. This will hopefully keep the osmolarity of my energy drink lower and make it easier to digest. So, I carried two water bottles during the race even though the aid stations were generally less than an hour apart. The exact numbers were difficult to keep track of, but I'd generally try to hit my targets for calories and liquid by keeping one bottle at full concentration and another bottle at a more diluted concentration and alternating between the two. Of course, the cool, cloudy weather on race day did not warrant 24 oz of water/hour, so I must've spent 5 minutes peeing on the side of the trail throughout the day! The sacrifices we make for science...

Looking ahead

So, I survived March. April's next. I think it's going to be my most difficult month of training, at least from a motivational perspective. It'll also be logistically tricky. My wife will be in the field for 10 days-- overlapping two weekends-- leaving me as the sole parent. The rough goal is another 5 miles per week, bringing me up to ~45 miles/week. The question is how to best divide up those miles into quality workouts given the conditions in Leadville.

According to the calendar, it's spring. Looking out my window, it's winter. The roads around town are beginning to melt out, but the trails will have to wait at least another month. Looking at my training log, I can see that in '12 I was running the local trails during the first week of April. That was a very dry winter. Last year, they didn't melt out until May. This year, it's looking like I'll have to wait until May again. My dreams of another early melt don't look like they're going to happen.

So, what does that mean? Running roads, roads, and more roads. Some dirt, but I'm going to have to embrace the asphalt for most of my running next month. And, given my limited options, that means that April probably won't be very big in the vertical department-- at least, certainly not where I would normally like to be at two months before a 100. I'm going to have to mix things up a bit and try to substitute some speed for elevation gain. Given the choice, I prefer the later. But, I've come to accept the fact that I'll have to wait until May to start running up mountains... In a lot of ways, what I've been doing so far is just base building. Sure, I've had a smattering of quality workouts where I pushed myself-- most notably in Florida-- but mostly I've just been slowly ramping up the miles without ramping up the intensity. That's going to have to change in April, I think.

May will be fun. The leaves will come out; more and more of my favorite running routes will open up. In many ways, May will be the reward for all this early season training-- huffing-and-puffing up and down the same roads every week. I've got 3 back-to-back-to-back races lined up: the Collegiate Peaks 25, the Quad Rock 50, and finally the Sage Burner 50K. It will be a cycle of race, recover, race, recover, race, recover. Then a final two weeks of peak training, then the taper for Bighorn. It's crazy to think how close it is!