First long run since Lincoln

Since starting up Pete Pfitzinger‘s Advanced Marathoning plan in preparation for IM Wisconsin (also known as IMmoo), I’ve been feeling more confident with my running. Maybe it’s because I’m trying something new, or because I haven’t really had to put the hammer down yet. Yeah, sure, last week I had to do a 4mile lactate threshold run (that’s at 15K race pace) and Pfitzinger’s plan demands that your second half of long runs is faster than your first… but we’re not talking race-fast, we’re just talking “pick it up a little.” So, when the first marathon-pace run came up on my schedule for today, I was pretty nervous.

It’s not that my goal marathon pace isn’t something I can keep for a few miles. But with Pfitzinger’s plan, again- the last half of the run is supposed to be the hardest. So, for today’s marathon race pace run, which was supposed to total 16miles, 8 of which were designated for marathon race pace. I assumed, based on his book, that the 8 harder miles take place at the end (and I am pretty sure that’s the right approach, but if its not, someone should let me know before I get too far into this plan!). So that was the plan.

Margot, Karl, and I set off down the snowmobile trail that heads from Houghton to Ontonagon. It’s a pretty easy, gentle climb all the way to South Range, and when we approached the town, we decided to pop out onto the road and head back to Houghton via the paved route. This was decided 1) because of the GPS’s accuracy issues and 2) because it might be easier to hold a faster pace than on sandy, rocky trail.

The run was great. Our first two miles were at a decent, downhill clip of 7:15 and 7:18. A little fast, but it was mostly downhill. We stayed under 7:30 for miles 3 and 4, but mile 5 (which was mostly climbing) was a painful 7:43. Miles 6 and 7 were a bit faster at 7:15s, and the last one rang in at 7:24. Not too shabby. I felt tired, winded, but was excited to roll down Denton Road to US41 after we hit the 8th mile mark and pop onto the Portage snowmobile path. It was a nice, steady, easy pace back to town, but the 16mile goal was extrapolated to 21. Oops. Good thing tomorrow is a rest day!

You can check out the run route here: 21mile loop from downtown Houghton

First Harbor Ride… ever!

Adam and two of his good buddies had their hearts set on riding Copper Harbor mountain bike trails today, and I decided to tag along. It was my first ride up in the Harbor, and all the stories and legends I’ve heard over the years about riding there were put to the test. I’ve been told its not a place for those who aren’t comfortable with steep decents, big rocks, loose rocks, shale rocks, bridges, cliffs, bridges-on-the-sides-of-cliffs, narrow trees, and so on. In other words, the rocky, undulating trails are not necessarily the place for a beginner mountain biker. But I have been riding my steel hard-tail (Jamis Dragon Comp) for over a year now. I decided it was time…

Did I mention it’s not the place for a hard-tail?

Anyway, the commute to the Harbor from Houghton typically takes 45minutes, but we stopped in Calumet for some energy drinks along the way. I went with the tried-and-true Red Bull Cola. Once we arrived in Copper Harbor, we pursued the long, steep road climb up Brockway Mountain to venture down one of the newest trails- the Brockway Mountain Trail. Once we hike-a-biked to the actual trail from the road, I was surprised that I was able to maintain speed around the undulations and switchbacks. The trails were beautifully laid out and mostly dry. Eventually, the network of trails began- some were smooth and fast, others make me wish I had a full suspension. It was a lot of work but a lot of excitement. I’m not sure I had a favorite, but the trail Stairway to Heaven was beautiful (although I’m a little less than good about riding bridges on the sides of cliffs) and the west side of Garden Brook offered some fast terrain for a hard-tail ride. I was jostled, bounced around, and tired by the time we returned to the truck. My hands were numb from the vibrations. My legs were tapped from the climbing. And my psychological well-being was over the point of stressing out about running into a tree or falling down a ravine. So I shuttled the more experienced gentlemen on two runs to the top of the mountain (via Keweenaw Mountain Lodge). To think: Some people ride these trails with single-speeds or fully rigids. Yikes.

But then, my legs were feeling pretty good all of a sudden after the last shuttle, and I decided to follow through with a brick.

I threw on my Adrenaline 8s and some new running clothes from Brooks Running Company (the Equilibrium tank and long-sleeve and the team boy shorts) and headed out for a trail run around Lake Fanny Hooe. It felt good to be on my feet, and the clothes were so comfortable. Although I typically don’t like too short of bottoms because of chafing, the boy shorts were fitted really well and felt refreshing. I will definitely be using them for trail racing and half marathons this summer. The Equilibrium tank was a little sweaty from the riding, and I thought it would give me a chill as I was running at a slower clip, but it was surprisingly well-wicking. My heart rate monitor fit well under the built-in bra for the entire ride/run combo (over 4 hours total) and I didn’t have any chafing or uncomfortable spots. The small may have been a little snug around the built-in bra band, but it wasn’t too bad (especially during the ride). I’m actually becoming less of a fan of built-in bra tops, only because I feel constricted- but I was surprised that this top had a higher neck and didn’t make me feel suffocated! I think it will be great for road-riding and triathlons, because it is not baggy around the neck and will keep my aerodynamics in check.

And what about the Equilibrium long sleeve? SO nice. It was beautifully cut, fitting me snugly where it should, and long. The seams were not noticeable at all, and the fabric was smooth, wicking, and super-lightweight. It felt as though I wasn’t wearing a long sleeve, but it still cut the breeze from off the lake. When I got into the shade, it kept me at a comfortable temp, and in the sun I really felt like I wasn’t even wearing a shirt at all. I’ve always been a fan of Brooks shorts (I have exclusively raced in a pair for all three of my marathons thus far), but the shirt was hands-down the nicest long-sleeve running shirt I’ve ever owned. Two thumbs up!

So, my first ride in the Harbor was a good one, and I’ll definitely be heading back again soon. The intimidation factor of riding the trails is over, but I think I’ll stay away from Paul’s Plunge… at least for the time being 🙂

Back to da UP

It is nice to get settled back into the new place. After we dumped our weekend goods (tri bikes, running shoes, and gear bags… plus the miscellaneous awesome stuff from parental units), I went for a nice hour-long run on the Tech Trails. I was thinking about going longer, but the Pilgrim Trail was blocked off by downed birch tree, and when I looked at my watch it read 29:55… so I figured it was a sign. I did take my first fall of the season, though, but luckily only ended up with dirty (not bloody) hands and knees.

We left Abbie at home for the weekend, and she ended up locking herself in the bathroom. Poor thing. She really enjoys her new cat-carrier (thanks, Amy!).

This morning, I used hand paddles for the first time in the pool (Adam borrowed them from Ian). They were awesome! They helped me maintain good form, and when I took them off to swim, I felt fast and efficient. The flippers were a little big, though, and gave me a gastroc cramp… I’ll have to order some in my size!

Weekend downstate

I am wrapping a brief venture to the Lower Peninsula, where the boys (Andrew and Adam) and I had our triathlon bikes professionally fitted. We went to ProFit Bicycles in Sylvan Lake, located in the Skier’s Peak Ski Shop. What a cool place. The owner and pro-fitter, Chad Johnson, was awesome. He spent a thorough 2+hrs with each of us, hammering out our position based on our goals (for all of us, I think it was focused on power, aero, and comfort). He made significant changes to my position, including lowering my bars, raising my seat, chopping off my aero-bars… And he provided good conversation, too.

The trip down was decent, probably because I slept a lot of it. My parents met up in Sylvan Lake and we went out for lunch and took Sam to the park. It was so great to see them! It was a beautiful day, too. I am so glad they were able to meet up.

Today, we went to the Eastern Market in downtown Detroit. Holy cow, what a big market! There were so many vendors. I went to Rocky’s and bought deliciously fresh nuts and dried berries for some great, healty trail mix. After the market, the boys and I went for a brick workout at Stony Creek Metropark. We rode our triathlon bikes around the park twice and went for a short (4 mile) run on the trails in the park. It was a little windy on the bikes, and I wasn’t very good about staying aero for the first lap- but made it around the second lap nearly the entire way (until the road got a little choppy at the entrance).

National Guard Marathon Report

What a great weekend! So much to say about the race, weekend, and fun times.

I rented a car from Houghton and drove down to Madison, Wisconsin to meet up with my great friends, Leslie and Jess. Thursday night, we ate at Bluephies, and I had some delicious gluten-free vegetarian risotto! We went for an easy run to Picnic Point in the morning, and drove down to Omaha on Friday afternoon, where we stayed with Sarah, my roommate from Bozeman. All four of us were entered in this year’s National Guard races in Lincoln, Nebraska- the other three ladies did the half, and I went all-out for the marathon. We cooked a gluten-free spaghetti dinner on Friday night, and went for a nice walk around Omaha. On Saturday morning, we walked around the Omaha Farmer’s Market for a little bit, and I bought some delicious local chevre cheese! Then, we headed off to Lincoln for the race expo and some relaxation time. We picked up our race packets and headed to the hotel, where we napped for a bit. We had dinner at Lincoln’s Venue, an elegant restaurant on the south-west side of town. I had the sea scallops and cheddar mashed potatoes… so good!

Race day started with us waking up at 5am and making some Starbucks coffee in the hotel. I was nervous all day on Saturday, and started to get excited and anticipated the race to come. We headed to the race a little after 6, and parked only a few blocks from the start. Lines were long for the toilets, but we all made it. I didn’t want to start too far back from the starting line, but also didn’t want to get swept away with the speedsters, so I started between the 7 and 8 min pace groups. I felt good, stayed relaxed, but noticed my heart rate was a little high even before the 1-mile-mark. I had started my watch a little after I crossed the starting line, but I was still around 8min pace, which was slower than the goal pace. I was ok with that, because if I stayed conservative in the beginning, then I’d hopefully have more at the end, but my heart rate rose to 170+. Weird… but I didn’t want to slow down too much more than 8min pace, so I hung on. I ran for a few miles with a girl that goes to school in Omaha, and it was nice to control my breathing by taking my mind off the race a little and being able to chat. I was taking aid (Roctane) every half hour, and water/gatorade at every station. Unfortunately, my heart rate continued to stay high. I got a little carried away a few times, where I ran a few 7:40s and my heart rate rose to 180+. Ooops, so I held back more, relaxed on the downhills, and tried to stay focused.

After the half marathoners split off to the finish, I tried to regroup again, but the heart rate drift started to take its toll. I was now in the 181-185 range and, regardless of slowing down, couldn’t get my heart rate to drop. The sun started to peak above the buildings, and I started to get passed more and more. I stopped to use a porta-john (I was drinking a lot of water) but wasn’t satisfied with how little fluids came out. I stopped again a few miles down to stretch and regain control of my heart rate, but it was too late. I eventually got so frustrated with the whole hr thing that I just took off my monitor from my chest. I pushed through the last few miles, in a lot of pain, and when I crossed the finish, I wanted to cry. I drank two bottles of water and was still thirsty, but didn’t pee until three hours or so later.

As far as the race organization and course goes, I couldn’t have imagined a better event. I enjoyed the post-race massage and great food (local pork roast). The support crews were phenomenal, and there were spectators everywhere. The aid stations were consistently full of volunteers and VERY frequent, nearly every 2 miles in the second half.

Leslie did exceptionally well, finishing 4th overall in the half. Jess and Sarah both PRd, and I qualified for Boston next year. Going to spend the week on recovery and perhaps pick up a new training plan. I’ll talk about that more later.

Special thanks to Brooks Running for picking me up as an ID athlete.