Bunny Hills

The heat broke yesterday, and I’m not sure it even got above 80. There was a beautiful breeze blowing in my window in the morning, and I didn’t wake up sweaty and gross from another hot July night. The timing was perfect because I tried out my new amped-up version of a hill workout after work.

I ran up the Chester Bowl ski hill 4 times today. It’s a tough climb, although as ski hills go it is not that frightening.

I warmed up with a nice uphill run because that’s how one gets to Chester Bowl, and then started at the base of the hill. The first pass, I went out rather aggressively, and I was breathing pretty heavily halfway up when I slowed to a hike. I took it easy on the way down, and on the second pass, began at a very slow run, then slowed to a walk again about halfway up. I made the third pass a “sustainable” effort, meaning closer to what I would actually do in a race, and hiked the whole way up, still huffing and puffing. On the way down, my quads were a little shaky. I mixed up running and walking on the fourth pass, running about a quarter of the way, hiking, running, hiking, and running to finish. Then snapping the photo and heading back down, again on uneasy legs.

I realize this workout is like, the opposite of what is metabolically efficient, as I am giving an anaerobic effort on the climbs. I don’t need a heart rate monitor to tell me my heart’s about to explode. I don’t even really know if this workout is a good idea, although I think it is, for whatever that’s worth. I think it’s going to make my legs stronger on uphills AND downhills. I definitely need to mix in some more practice power hiking, since that’s what I’m actually going to do in the race, and I need to practice getting my arms involved more. I’m barely pumping them at all. The handheld is throwing me off, so I think I need to bring both for my next hill workout (in 2 weeks), as bringing none is not an option. I plan on doing 5 more repeats of this workout between now and the race date, and doing intervals or tempo runs on the alternating weeks. The more hills I can do, one after another, the better I think it will be come race day. I don’t have a way to quantify any improvements, but I hope I’ll be able to feel a difference in effort between this week and week 11, when I do the final set of hill repeats.

After the hills, I ran down to the 9th St. bridge using the Chester Creek trail and then cruised home. I actually felt pretty good, and my legs felt strong. I wanted to do a yoga video when I got home, but Chromecast wasn’t cooperating, so I just did a little freestyle yoga that lasted maybe 5 minutes. It doesn’t count. Today is another rest day, and I am getting a massage. This week will practically count as another recovery week. Two rest days (so far), a break in the heat wave, and some pampering!

Week Seven Update

Let me pat myself on the back for yet another awesome training week. And by awesome I mean I didn’t wimp out on any workouts.

A quick recap:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5.3 miles, road, 6 hill repeats
Wednesday: 5.2 miles, road
Thursday: 4 miles, treadmill
Friday: 4.1 miles, Lakewalk, speed work
Saturday: 12 miles, road
Sunday: 2.9 miles, road/trail (Chester Bowl)
Total: 33.5 miles

Friday’s speedwork went well. I hit an overall pace of 12:35/mile, with about 3 miles of “medium paced” running. I feel like I’m in a good spot for my 5k this weekend. I doubt I can hold the speedwork pace for 3 miles (around 11 min/mile) but I think I’ll be able to be somewhere between my A and B goals.

Saturday was my first double-digit long run. It was not the best idea to plan it the day after my speedy day, but Saturday’s forecast was better than Sunday’s, and Sunday is my “desperately catching up on homework” day. So the first couple miles felt slow as molasses. My 2nd mile was the slowest pace (17:11) of the whole run, except for the one where I took a break. I planned an 8-mile loop, back to my house, followed by a 4 mile loop. My hips and my back were pretty sore the whole time, but as I turned off Rice Lake Road onto Central Entrance to head down the hill right before my break, I couldn’t stop grinning. It was a gorgeous day, the lake looked beautiful, and I was high on endorphins.

I planned a break at 8 miles just in case I had to pee or was dying of thirst. I had felt pretty thirsty toward the end of my 9 mile run last weekend, and I didn’t want to carry a hand-held water bottle, so I stopped at home for about 5 minutes. Somehow I still ended up with a “pace” for that mile of 19:23, which is faster than some of my trail running paces.

The last 4 miles felt pretty terrible. I made a kind of stupid route choice, with too much uphill. Maybe I am doing too many hills. That sounds lazy, but I also think it’s a valid question. I finished the run with an overall pace of 16:30 and an average heart rate of 151 bpm, so I didn’t push too hard and only lost about half a minute off my 9-mile pace, even with the break.

Sunday I ran as slowly as I could stand, and took it easy on my body by running down the Chester Creek path from Skyline to 9th. I stopped and took a picture of ducks.

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#chesterbowl #conservationofmomentum #trailrunning #ducks

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5K on Saturday. At 9 am. And it’s not going to be warm. Blahhhh.

If The Good Lord’s Willing and The Creek Don’t Rise

So, there was my Sunday.

Saturday I made the somewhat ill-advised choice of doing another long (for me) run. I ran from the entrance of Park Point to the lift bridge and back, which is 7.5 miles. My legs were a bit fatigued from Friday’s run, but I figured a flat route wouldn’t be too hard on them. I made up for that by being stupid and pushing the pace. I couldn’t help it, I was bored. It really was a good thing I pushed the pace at times, because I had misjudged the temperature. I finished the run at about 6:45 and it was only 38 degrees. I was only wearing a tank top, a tissue-weight long-sleeved shirt, and leggings, but the only part of me that was cold was my hands. And they were extremely cold by the end of the run, so much so that I didn’t have full range of motion of my fingers until I’d warmed them in the car for a few minutes. Oops. I really should have known better, since I’d worn gloves on Friday’s run even though I felt like it was warm enough to skip them. Lesson learned.

Sunday my hips didn’t really want to function. I don’t find this concerning because I obviously put a lot of stress on them on Friday and Saturday, and the soreness was symmetric. So, unless I have Joe Mauer’s bi-lateral leg weakness, I’m sure I’m fine. I decided, because I’m not a complete moron, I wouldn’t try to make up the rest of the week’s mileage (21 miles) on Sunday. Originally I had planned a short hike with a friend, and then a run to top things off, but I scrapped the plan for the run.

My friend and I hiked from Chester Park down to 4th St, and then walked back up on the road. That was not the original plan, but the trail along the creek alternated between mud and ice, so we decided not to try to crawl back up it. As the video above shows, the creek was roaring along. Underneath the flowing water, the creek bed was still covered in ice; it was pretty cool to watch. I still can’t do a trail review, I suppose that will take a few more weeks of above-freezing temperatures, no more snow and some evaporation or absorption of the water we slogged through on the path. The walk up wasn’t that pleasant; it was an annoying uphill on a sidestreet, nothing of note. I felt fine afterward and my overall soreness was barely noticeable on Monday, so I haven’t completely derailed my training.

Total mileage for Week 4: 16.1 (5 miles short of prescribed mileage) (I am counting the walking miles in my total mileage, since they were intended as a workout.)
(Total mileage for Week 3 is of course zero, no need to recap that)

Ups and Downs

Friday was an unexpected rest day.

Now that school is in session, my planned rest day is Monday. I have class starting at 9 am and don’t get home til 8 pm, so it’s not a day conducive to working out. I don’t like the situation because I like having the flexibility to slack off when I feel like it, rather than on a schedule, but I guess I’ll have to take two rest days in a week if that comes up.

Friday was an unexpected rest day because I went out to start my car to let it de-ice a bit and fell down the four concrete steps from the door to my yard. I didn’t realize that the stoop would be icy under the awning and stepped out confidently into the warm air, only to completely lose my balance on the invisible coat of ice, tumbling down the stairs. I actually rolled down them, rather than sliding like I have in other stair-related incidents in my life. I kind of wish I had a video of it because I am sure I looked ridiculous. I wasn’t hurt that badly (just some bruises) but I had some stiffness in my back (which could have been from sit-ups from Thursday) and some random twinges, so I chose to take the day off.

Saturday I felt good, apart from the bruise, and it was a beautiful day (any warm day in winter is beautiful, even if it is cloudy), so I drove to Hartley Nature Center. There’s a trail map here. I enjoyed running there last fall, although the trails I typically ran on are groomed for classic cross-country skiing, so I chose to stay off them. I tried out a new trail, the Guardrail, which is not shown on the trail map I just linked to. I should probably look around the interpretive center and see if there’s a better map, but I spend most of my time on the Guardrail trail wondering if it was a loop, an out-and-back, or part of a larger trail. I wondered if I was actually going around in circles or possibly getting farther and farther away from the nature center. It turned out I was not, but it was a bit nerve-wracking. I ended up running just under five miles, a lot of it at a pretty slow pace. My GPS was acting kind of funky and giving me 19:xx paces when I was flying down a hill and quicker than expected paces when I was walking, so I was having trouble gauging how things were going. I was also fairly cautious because the last thing I wanted to do was fall again, especially if I fell on my already-wounded right side.

The Guardrail trail is actually pretty nice and I would like to run it again soon. I planned to do a full trail review but I’ve already forgotten my thoughts about the trail.

Sunday I was really struggling to get moving. I got up, had a bagel and cream cheese, and got dressed in my running clothes, but I couldn’t get my butt out the door. I kept stalling. I was having an “I hate being slow” moment. Even a few miles at my sloth-like pace ends up being a major commitment. There’s no such thing as a “short” run for me, time-wise. I can’t fit a run in at lunch or between classes; it’s not worth the hassle for a measly 1.5 miles. I want to be at a point where I can put in 3-4 miles and have it be over like *that*. That is a long way off.

I finally got off my butt and headed out, running along Skyline to Chester Creek Trail. This stretch of Skyline Drive has some of the best views (I should have brought my phone to snap a pic or two), but I also don’t feel safe running on it because it doesn’t have a sidewalk, and just before the bridge over Chester Creek, there’s a nearly blind curve. I end up running on the wrong side of the road at that point because I am concerned about being struck by a car coming around the corner. I had to kind of sprint (relatively speaking) across the bridge because half the sidewalk was under construction and blocked off. I hate road running.

I wanted to do a trail review of Chester Creek Trail from the Skyline bridge down to 4th St, but in order to do that, I would have had to slide down on my belly like a sea otter. It was horribly icy, and even with my shoe chains on, I didn’t want to risk it. One slip at certain spots along that trail and I’m falling over a cliff. I was really bummed because I like that trail and because I wanted a little extra distance. Instead I had to circle back home and didn’t even get to three miles.

Monday I got out of class about an hour early, and decided to forgo the rest day by running an uneventful 40 minutes on the treadmill. I managed to run an average pace of 15:33 with an average heart rate of 142 bpm, so I guess I’m improving? That should be a pick-me-up after Sunday’s crabbiness, but I’m mentally drained. I also won’t get a chance to run outside until Friday, thanks to work and a meeting, so I’m disappointed about that. I’m going to need to end this post before I complain about something else.

To end on a high note: I have no lingering effects from my exciting tumble down the stairs on Friday.