I had a particular goal in mind heading into my first ultra run of 2014 this past Saturday: run sub-seven minute miles for 31 miles on tired legs. So the first thing I had to do was get my legs tired. I did that successfully on Thursday before the race in running a marathon specific workout that I took directly from Matt Flaherty (who in turn took directly from Canova) (an aside: if you are looking for a running coach, Canova would be a great choice; but given that he is likely unavailable to coach just anyone, I'd recommend Flaherty as an excellent alternative -- check out his blog for coaching info). The workout was this:
6 mile warm up
6-8 miles of alternative "on" and "off" 800m segments
--> 800m "on" at ~15 seconds below marathon pace
--> 800m "off" at ~15 seconds above marathon pace
4 mile cool down
Total: 16-18 miles
However, due to some stomach distress in the middle of the workout, I amended the workout slightly as follows:
6 mile warm up (~7:00min/mile pace)
3.5 miles of alternating 800m (~5:35min/mile pace)
2 miles easy (~6:55min/mile pace)
3.5 miles of alternating 800m (~5:38min/mile pace)
1x 400m (~4:48min/mile pace)
4 miles cool down
Total: 19+ miles
My splits were as follows:
1st 3.5 miles (800m segments): 2:42, 3:00, 2:39, 2:57, 2:40, 2:58, 2:40
2nd 3.5 miles (800m segments): 2:58, 2:40, 3:00, 2:38, 3:00, 2:38, 3:02
The purpose of this run is to first get the muscle fibers somewhat worked with a longer warm up. The interval portion of the workout, which I did on the track, is run at paces that mirror marathon race pace. As I'm shooting for 5:45 - 5:50 per mile, the goal was to run the 800m "on" segments at about 5:30min/mile pace (2:45 800m) and the 800m "off" segments at about 6:00min/mile pace (3:00 800m). The goal here, as far as I understand the theory behind it, is to become more comfortable and efficient at marathon race pace, and to tax the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
The short story here is that my legs were already worn down when I toed the start line on Saturday. Nevertheless, given the characteristics of the course -- flat (about 200 feet of ascent TOTAL), non-technical trails -- I thought I would be able to manage sub-seven minute miles, which I did successfully despite 1 pit stop (30 seconds), a missed turn and some time off course (2 minutes) and a few aid station stops for water refill (4 stops, about 1 minute total). This was all at the end of a 90 mile week as well. So I was very pleased with how the race went.
Gear/nutrition used during the race:
10 oz coke
5x Hammer Gel
Finally, a change in my racing schedule, for sure this spring and likely this fall. It is now no surprise that the IAU 100k World Championships have been cancelled. I have been aware of this for over a week now and so have had time to consider how this impacts my racing. I am not so quixotic as to believe that I have, or had, a good chance of making the USA 100k Team, but I did hope to at least run a time that would qualify me for consideration (7hrs:20 for the 100k distance) at Mad City in April. Ten loops, on the road, on a 10km circuit that I have run too many times in my life already, seemed very unappealing to begin with. But now that Worlds are cancelled and, given the situation last year, are seemingly unlikely to be rescheduled, I have even less incentive to run Mad City.
So, although it is no longer a part of the Montrail Ultra Cup, and so won't be as competitive as previous years, I intend to run the Leona Divide 50 in late April. I have very fond affections for CA, the beautiful scenery therein, and the extant running/trail scene generally, and I hope to eventually run most all of the ultras that California has to offer. This year, Leona appears to fit my schedule best since (a) it's around the same time as my previous goal race, (b) it's not too technical of a course, so I won't be terribly handicapped by my lack of trail running in training, and (c) the course this year has just 7,000' of climbing and so is rather tame for a CA ultra, which is good given the training grounds that I have available. In the fall, I'm considering running the Fall 50, host of the USATF 50 Mile Road Championships, in conjunction with TNFEC-Georgia. On the other hand, I might forgo TNFEC in favor of the Fall 50. In any case, those are some thoughts as of now.
Finally, after scheduling conflict resolution, the date for a R2R2R effort at the Grand Canyon is finally set on May 10th. Looking forward to navigating the Canyon with a swell group of fellas!
That's it for me, keep on keepin' on, snow, rain, or shine.