Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trial by Fire

Full disclosure: I will never, ever, even come close to even considering running Badwater. I am a full on heat wuss, my body just is not happy running in the heat of the day, and in fact the opposite is true: I seem to thrive on cold temperatures. But heat during the summer is a fact of life so these past few years I have been trying to improve my heat acclimation. This year has gone fairly well as it has been the coolest summer than I can remember since we moved to Colorado. But there have been a few days in the mid-80s/low-90s so I have tried to get out for easy runs or walks in the heat of the day. All this has improved my tolerance a little, and prepared me for my run today.

This weekend is a busy one for us, and I knew it would be a challenge to squeeze a run in on either day. So after all of my chores for the morning were done I realized I had one small window to get it done. I had to make it to a rehearsal at 5 but it happened to be fairly close to the gym so I decided to run from the gym and grab a shower before heading to practice. I thought if I left by 2:30 I would have plenty of time to crank out 16 around the reservoir, aiming to be back by 4:30. The plan started out well enough and I felt good for the first 4 miles, so I kicked into tempo/race pace mode hoping to keep it up for 9 miles. That went well until I started to head up the backside of the dam which seemed to have direct sunlight and little breeze. Bear in mind that it was only 85 degrees, and the humidity was low so we are not talking oppressive heat, just enough to throw me off my game. I finished 6 miles at tempo before saying "uncle" and seeking refuge under a tree to cool off a little. Keeping the pace easy I knew I could finish, but I was worried I would not make it in time. To add insult to injury the two water bottles I had brought were running on empty.

Fortunately I still had my wits about me and I decided to inquire at the park entrance about a source of water. It turns out there is a tap not more than 10 yards from the path I regularly tread, which makes me feel a little foolish as I have often been in need of water in that area and never found it. I was able to take a good drink and fill up both of my bottles for the final 5 miles of the run. The mental lift you get from knowing you can drink your fill is pretty potent, so I was able to boost my pace up a little. I also poured water over my hat every few minutes to keep it going. In the end I was able to finish fairly strong, although it was a tough effort. It took 2 hrs and 15 minutes, so I was still able to chill out in a cool shower, but not for as long as I would have liked.

All in all I survived, and managed to get a long run in that I probably would not have done at all, if not then. The direct sun of mid-afternoon really takes it's toll, especially when there is not much shade on your route. With enough water though and plenty of common sense it is manageable.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ticking away...

Man I love running on the trails! Check out the awesome descent awaiting me after I crested the Black Bear trail at Golden Gate State Park this weekend. Unfortunately the time/strength required for such training seems to be weighing on me, and I don't know how much I can commit to this endeavor. It's one thing to jaunt off to Cherry Creek State Park for a 20 miler a couple of times, the whole trip only takes 3 hours. But trail running is a whole other ballgame! This weekend I ran for just over 3 hours and only covered 16 miles. And I started running right from my campsite, most times I have to drive at least half an hour to a good trail (Not that I'm complaining mind you, Colorado is awesome). All of this adds up to a good chunk of time away from the family.

Coupled with the feeling that I've been spinning my wheels a little bit lately I'm going to try to return my focus to road training. I've got enough of a taste of speed to want more, and I think that with my base and some added cross-training I can make a serious push for some fast times. I'll still try to get some trail running in this summer as I want to be ready to pace at the Leadville 100, but getting back to consistent tempo and speedwork will be my priority. In that vein I've updated the upcoming races to reflect the Park to Park 10 Miler which I've been kicking around in my head for some time now. I may still decide to opt instead for a fall half marathon, but at least this gets something on the books for me to set my sights on.