Thursday, September 06, 2007

Living, Not Necessarily Learning

Another long break from posting for me. I can't quite put my finger on the cause for my lack of desire for blogging lately. Things have been busy, true, but I think its been more a matter of doubting I had anything interesting to say. I think normally I have a tendency not to post when running isn't going well, but while I could be running better, its going better all things considered. So the quick/long update again.

Last week was my last class-free one. On the running front I was taking a bit of a down week after putting in 114 with three pretty hard workouts. I went to the track on Wednesday night with only the vaguest notion of what I was going to do. That is not necessarily a good thing. The workout I did do came out pretty well, however. 1600 (4:40), 1200 (3:29), 800 (2:15), 400 (62.1). In retrospect I wish I would have gone a little faster on the 1600 and 1200, but I was able to finish the workout strong and that is the most important thing.

Saturday I returned to Eau Claire for what is probably the biggest race of the year, The Buckshot Run. This has always been one of the sentimental favorites because I believe it was my first road race at the age of 8. It also serves as the UW-Eau Claire Alumni run so there is usually a good group at the front as well. Dan Held seemed to win it every year back then while he was at UWEC. I thought Jason would be there, ensuring the race would get off to quick start. When I didn't see him at the starting line I had a moments relief that I wouldn't have to go out in 4:40 to keep up. And I didn't go out in 4:40. I went out in 4:38. To be fair, the first mile includes a healthy downhill, but that still is probably quicker than I needed to be. But I continued to feel great until about mile 2. I was out front by this point, but I could definitely sense that I was being chased. Through miles 3 and 4 Todd Hierlmaier was making up ground. Footsteps were heard. Just before 5 miles there is a significant climb back into Carson Park. I did my best to hold it together, but it took a little time to recover after cresting the top. I knew at this point it was a fast finish so I gathered what I had left and made a satisfactory kick to the finish. I stopped the clock at 24:54 which overall is pretty good, but considering the first mile, I would have been happier with a more even race. But most of all I got to win Buckshot, which probably doesn't mean much to anyone else, but like I said, sentimental value. Todd finished strong just over 25:00 in what I think he says is a 1:30 PR. In a 5 mile race. Unbelievable. My best man, Andy, also finished well in 28:43, although he suffered the same fate as I did in the first mile. Regardless, he is looking very good for 2:50 at Lakefront Marathon in a couple week.
There is also a 2 mile run at Buckshot that I entered foolishly thinking it would make for a good workout. I even thought I had the legs to go for the double win, a notion that was quickly squashed when I saw former GEAR teammate Dan Schwamberger warming up. He is the new CC coach at UWEC and it turns out that his athletes badgered him into running the 2 mile. Dan, always the humble, semi-self-deprecating guy, informed me that he "really hadn't done any workouts since Grandmas Marathon" and that "he has just been running easy". Translating Dan-speak that means "I'm going to run with you for the first half and the effortlessly kick away from you". And....thats pretty much what happened. Within the first 100m I knew I was running for second, and maybe third as Todd had entered the 2 mile as well. I hung on through 1 mile, but then started to struggle and changed my focus to just staying as close as possible. Dan won in 9:33 and I managed to gut out a 9:41 in what I would classify as the most difficult run I've done in awhile.

So Saturday turned out to be a longer day as Katie and I rushed back to the Cities to go for Round 2 at the State Fair. Biking there and back in addition to all the walking and eating left my legs pretty fried Sunday. I headed out telling Katie I wouldn't gone more than 2 hours and walked back in the door 20 minutes later. I had no regrets about it either.

I had hoped this would be a higher mileage week, but after having a good 11 mile run Monday morning I steadily felt worse and worse throughout the day and into Tuesday. My nose was a faucet, I had a headache, and eventually my whole body just shut down. Having to drag myself to night class Tuesday was a chore.

But the body can surprise sometimes and I felt well enough on Wednesday to do a workout. The short day on Monday and the zero on Tuesday had given my legs some good recovery and so I improvised a workout on the TCM course. I headed to the 21 mile mark (6M/14M on the bike path marks) and ran mile repeats up and over the St Thomas hill. 4 repeats with 2 min recovery (4:59, 4:58, 5:00, 4:58). The I jogged up to the St Thomas track and ran 3x400 with 3 min recovery (64.3, 63.0, 61.5). The ease with which I ran the 400s compared with the past couple of weeks was startling. Its been a strange month because I think I've gotten faster in the sense that I'm feeling more comfortable at faster paces, but it hasn't necessarily translated into feeling better overall. I still slog along on most of my recovery runs. I have a feeling I will enter Twin Cities in pretty good shape, but really having no idea how my body is going to respond. I'm hoping favorably.


Mike said...

Nice to see you bag a win Patrick. The fact that you were able to hold it together and finish it off strong speaks well of your stamina, and your willingness to bag a long run that just wasn't meant to be shows some smart restraint.

Hey, how bad is that hill at mile 21 anyway?

Evan Roberts said...

Hills are like that sometimes. You get off them, maintain the more powerful stride, and there are your quick 400s. The fashion-of-the-moment short hill sprints have a similar effect on a workout.

Mike, after your Saguaro monument race the TCM hills should be fine. The challenge is just that after a mostly flat first 20 you hit a 3 mile climb (mostly very gradual) about the point most people are looking for assistance from gravity rather than extra work.

Patrick said...

Evan, I was thinking the same thing. I feel like the hills forced to activate muscles a little differently and when I got on the track I felt more powerful.

Mike, I concur with Evan's analysis. The course is pretty flat until just after mile 20 where you have a short climb followed by a downhill followed by a little bit longer climb followed by a little flat followed by a little longer climb. They're all barely hills but the succession and the timing is what adds a degree of difficulty. That said, if you run smart for 20 miles you shouldn't have any problems. Just don't expect to make up any time through that stretch.

Chad said...

PR, nice talking with you after Buckshot. Rumor has it Dan wants the varsity/alumni to run a 4-mile race at Lowes Creek next year, instead of Buckshot. I love Buckshot, so I may have a hard decision next year.