Monday, April 23, 2012

Pear Blossom/Monument Peak

Time for an update.  :-P

At least I have two races to talk about, and it's a pretty big coincidence, I guess, that they were both 10 mile races, only a week apart, and that it is absolutely impossible that they could have been (or ended) any more differently than they did. These two Saturdays served as a sobering study in how extremely opposite two races of the same distance can be.

Pear Blossom Run - Medford, OR
This was a big (a couple thousand) and very enjoyable race. The weather perfect - a bit overcast and cool. Pancake flat, except for one minor hill, all on city/country roads that were mostly closed to traffic, with multiple well-stocked aid stations. Plus, it was in my hometown, which was very nostalgic and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which in turn made me feel like I could run forever. I managed to run every step until about 6.5 miles, and better yet, I ran the first five miles in only 1:03, which was (is) a positively scorching time for me. The last three miles were tough, as it was beginning to warm up a bit, but I finished strong and killed my predicted time. There were still quite a few folks out on the course behind me.

Distance: 10 miles
"A" goal time: 2:15:00
Actual time: 2:08.53
Pace: 12:53

Monument Peak Run - Gates, OR
Remember this?

Much smaller run, less than 200 participants. Tucked well up into the foothills leading to Sisters, on the way to Bend. I started feeling pretty good, a smile on my face....and within 2 minutes of the gun was dead last, with the pack rapidly fading from sight. Managed to reel in two folks who ended up reeling me in (permanently) at around the 6.5 mile mark.

Mud, mud, and more mud. Nearly lost my footing multiple times, but only fell once at around mile 8, and it was a backwards fall on a downhill slope (which made the distance between my butt and the ground much shorter) and coated with about 6 inches of mud (which softened the blow considerably, but as a result coated much of *me* with mud as well!)

The singular aid station was actually at around mile 6 rather than mile 5 as it had been announced at the start. At a certain point, I'd decided they'd already taken it away since I kept going and going and wasn't getting there, and when I finally did get there, I almost broke down and cried because I thought I'd only made it to mile 5, and I was already exhausted and ready to be done. I spent about 5 full minutes at the lonely little unmanned table, extremely grateful that there was plenty of water left, but absolutely dreading the thought I'd only gone 5 miles, and at that point had already been out on the course about an hour and 45 minutes.

Shortly after the aid station I was passed by the two aforementioned runners who were completely out of sight within a few moments, and then I knew I was absolutely dead last, which hadn't happened to me for a very long time. I knew my time was ridiculous - on the climbs I kept having to stop and catch my breath, trying not to completely lose it in total and utter despair; I stopped A LOT and this was slaughtering my time. I mean, very, VERY rarely have I ever had to just stop and not move during a race. It made me mad, but when your legs are on fire and you simply are not sucking in enough oxygen no matter how hard you try, there's not much you can do.

The thought that not only was I last, but that they were probably going to take down the finish line and stop the clock before I got there was just humiliating. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, on a trail by yourself, you don't have a choice to do anything but to either turn around and go back (which would have been stupid in this case, because I was halfway already) or keep going forward. You can't just quit - unless you are so gravely injured that all you can do is wait for a sweeper crew that the race organizers *might* send out, you have to keep moving one way or the other!! So it was a sure affirmation from God Himself (and I mean it!) that I actually caught up with one other person at about the 8.5 mile mark. She was a lovely soul and we decided to stick together to the end, and we did. If it hadn't have been for her....

We were relieved to see that while all the other tables and food and whatnot were long gone by the time we finally staggered across the finish line, they hadn't stopped the clock so we still got official times.


Distance: 10 miles
"A" goal time: 2:30:00
Actual time: 3:32:58
Pace: 21:17

Worst. Pace. EVER.
Dare I say, worst race as well. Even as beautiful as the course was.

But there are certainly a few lessons to be learned here:

One, I need to get busy with some serious hill training. Like, immediately. Because in the scheme of things, this race was not nearly as brutal as many other trail races are - ones that I would like to do someday. This one was more than I should have tried to handle - I was not ready for it. Respect the distance AND the elevation!!

Two, I must never assume that a great pace with a certain distance is going to mean a great pace at that same distance later down the road. I knew going in that Monument was going to be more difficult than The Pear, but....see Point #1.

Three, I need to overcome my significant fear of running (and not walking/stepping delicately in order to keep my footing) when it gets really goopy. It must be mostly inertia that keeps the seasoned trail runners on their feet when slogging through water and sometimes-more-than-ankle-deep mud, especially on the downhill slopes, but I am so petrified of falling that I have a hard time just forcing myself to barrel right through it rather than slowing to a careful walk and stepping through it like there's a hungry alligator lurking in the slime. I must add, though, that the Monument course was a very technical course in addition to the mud - tons of roots, rocks and potholes - and that just made it all the more difficult.

Be that as it may, I am pretty sure I'll do this one again next year (in addition to Pear Blossom, which was cake and rainbows by comparison) --  but, as long as I keep hammering away, it can only get better, right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter post

So, this post has two, to wish everyone a very blessed Easter. He is risen, yes indeed.

1 Peter 1:3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

The other purpose is to catch everyone up a bit on running and fitness and all that stuff.

The newest element I've introduced to the mix is Crossfit. I'd actually been intended to check it out for a long time, very intrigued with the concept and how it worked. The week before last, when I had a bit of time off, I decided to go check it out and the little baby mini-workout I was put through kicked my butt up one side and down the other. Strangely enough, I decided that this was *exactly* what I needed. So I signed up for the introductory "Onboarding Class", which is a series of six sessions that are designed to carefully introduce one to the major components of Crossfit.

So last week, I did three sessions and I'm pretty much hooked. This is hard stuff - very intense bursts for relatively short periods of time. Warm-up at the beginning is a good 10-15 minutes, but the workout itself is only about 30-40 minutes. Lots of weight lifting, about a bazillion squats. A healthy sweat + elevated heart rate + intense strength training = pretty good stuff. If I can figure out the financial end of it, I am definitely going to stick with it.

I've also really shaken up the eating plan. From the beginning of February or so I had been tracking all of my food and keeping it generally under 1800 cals a day, but not paying a whole lot of attention to the composition of those calories. I lost a bit of weight, but then it completely stalled out, for several weeks. So last week I really tightened it down - using a "mash-up" plan using concepts from the Zone diet and the Paleo diet - very low to no refined carbs (bread, pasta, rice, added sugars) and more significant amounts of protein and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil). And boy, does it work - at least so far: 9 lbs. down since last Sunday. All of the food I've been eating is stuff I really like, so I honestly don't think it will be difficult for me to keep this up, even incorporating it into lifestyle eating - which is entirely possible. I mean, how could it *not* be possible, if it means eating all sorts of veggies and fruits, not giving up the meats (which I love) and not having to worry quite so much about fats? I'm not even going to completely give up the grains - an occasional serving of rice or a peice of toast, or even having a small piece of birthday cake and a muffin every once in a while - the key, obviously, is moderation.

The next thing I need to figure out is incorporating a reasonable running schedule into the Crossfit schedule. And making sure I don't lose momentum with the new eating plan.

Happy Easter, everyone.