Saturday, October 23, 2010

10/24/2010: Fine Tuning for MMTR

As you can probably tell, I'm really getting excited for the MMTR 50. The big training is done, and now I mostly just need to make sure I'm rested for the race. I definitely want to avoid what happened in Laurel Highlands, where I came into the race not nearly rested enough.

I hit 90 miles last week, which was the third week out from the race. While it may not seem like that is tapering at all, the mileage was heavily stacked to the start of the week, and I was taking it easy in the second half of the week. I ran 6 easy miles on Wednesday, 3 easy miles on Thursday, and took Friday off.

Aside from resting, my other goal is to do some fine tuning to make sure I'm fully race ready. The first part of that was to get in a "comfortably hard" final long run this weekend. I did some light running and cross training yesterday to make sure I'd be ready for a long run on the Potomac Heritage trail today, which is fairly hilly and has a good amount of short steep climbs. The goal was to run hard but not redline it.

I had hoped to run to the end of the trail and back, which would have been 26 miles. But my legs were feeling really tired and "tweaked" though when I started the run. I guess I was still feeling the 90 mile week and 44 mile long run. I decided to cut it short and maybe not run as hard.

The first 7 miles were on hilly roads. I was hitting around 8 minute miles, and my legs definitely were not feeling great. When I hit the trail at mile 7, I surprised myself by really coming to life. My legs hurt less, and I was able to pick up the effort level. I felt fantastic on the climbs and descents. Usually 10 minute miles is fairly brisk on the Potomac Heritage trail, but I was averaging under 9 minute miles. I came off the trail at mile 16 and ran pretty hard to the end. Finished in 3 hours 3 minutes, which is a 7 minute PR on that route. Definitely better than I had expected, especially with tired legs. This run was a huge confidence builder for MMTR, which is exactly what I wanted.

Later this week, I'm also planning to do one of my favorite workouts for ultras as long as my legs are up to it. It's a treadmill workout where I run a few 6 minute miles, take a short break, and run a few 10 minute miles miles at 10% grade. I love this workout because it is a bit of a speed workout and then a great way to practice running hard uphill when you're already tired.

I'll do another short speed workout early in the week before the race just to keep the legs moving. I'm also trying to do some cross training and strength training this week, though I'll back off from that next week. Yesterday I biked 10 miles easy and did a good amount of upper body lifting.

Hopefully this will all result in me being in perfect shape for race day on 11/6!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

10/18/10: Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim

On Saturday I went for a really long training run with Greg. We figure the run was about 44 miles with 9-10K feet elevation gain, which makes it the biggest and baddest run I've done at least since my 53 mile DNF at Laurel Highlands in June.

Greg came up with the route, and a glorious route it was. The short version is that you climb up and over the Massanutten mountains, run across the Shenandoah Valley, run up the Shenandoahs to the Appalachian Trail, and turn around and do it again. Aside from running to another mountain range and back, another cool part is that the whole route is on the Tuscarora Trail, which is an ~250 mile trail that runs mostly parallel to the AT.

Here is the more detailed course description:
  • Start in the valley between the western and eastern ridge of the Massanuttens
  • Climb up the eastern ridge to about 2,000 feet (0 - 3 miles)
  • Run along the ridge with some great views out over the valley towards the Shenandoahs (3 - 6 miles)
  • For kicks descend back to the valley on the western side, climb back up, and descend over to the Shenandoah valley (6 - 12 miles)
  • Run across the Shenandoah valley and river on rolling dirt roads (12 - 16)
  • Climb forever from the valley up to about 3,500 feet (16 - 22.5)
  • Turn around and run back to car (22.5 to 44)

For the math whizzes out there, you'll see that the way back was a mile shorter. We took a shortcut route on the final descent (weak sauce, I know).

Below is a terrain map of where we ran. I've marked the starting point, where we crossed over the Massanuttens and into the valley, and where we hit the AT and turned around.

It was an awesome day out in the mountains. The weather was perfect, the views were incredible with the low humidity, and there was some good fall foliage. My legs were a bit dead after running 90+ miles the prior week, but I hit a groove after a few hours and stayed there for the rest of the 10 hour run.

Here are some pictures from the adventure:

(After climbing up the eastern ridge of the Massanuttens. We ran over the rolling hills up on the ridgeline that you can see in the center of the picture)

(View out over the valley to the Shenandoahs where we were going. It looked pretty dauntingly far away)

(Crossing the river down in the valley)

(We came across the biggest mushroom I have ever seen. It was bigger than Greg's head! Greg ate the whole thing while running)

(Part of the way on the climb up to the Appalachian trail. You can see the Massanuttens in the distance.)

(There's a trail somewhere in here!)

(Fall scenery up at 3,500 feet)

(Back down in the valley. The highest peak in the distance is where we came from.)

(View while climbing back up the Massanuttens)

(I really love this part of the trail that climbs back up into the Massanuttens)

(Another view over the Shenandoahs from the Massanuttens. Almost home!)

It was a fantastic run, and I was really excited by how good I felt. I'm pumped for MMTR in a few weeks and just need to make sure I'm fully recovered and rested!
Greg, thanks for keeping me company and designing a killer course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10/10/10: Training Update

Last week was a bit of a down week for training. I ended up hitting something like 55 miles. Most of it was pretty easy running with the exception of a track workout with three 1 mile repeats (5:57, 5:51, 5:38).

I was feeling pretty energized going into this weekend. On Saturday I ran 26 miles out in the Massanuttens. It was an absolutely beautiful day (got some good pictures below). The run was so/so, and I basically ran out of gas, but it was a good time.

On Sunday I followed it up with a fairly brisk 27 miles that felt pretty good. One more big weekend of training for MMTR and then it is taper time!

(Nice morning view into the valley)
(The eastern ridge of the Massanuttens. I'm running on the western ridge. You can see the Shenadoahs in the background, too.)

(It was definitely well into fall up top!)

(Looking out west towards the GW National Forest)

(VIew from Signal Knob)

(Even better view looking out east over the Massanuttens and Shenandoahs)