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Nine Good Days

As time continues to fly towards the Savannah Marathon, training must get more geared to quality. As this phase begins, the last nine days saw three things: 1) a race, 2) a 20 mile run and 3) some speed work. Yikes!

The race was the Aetna Park to Park 10 mile. Beautifully charted to wind its way through five Denver parks, the park to park is a rolly (but not severely so) course, and also a fun one! I chose to forego the shuttle busses and rides and parked between the start and finish. It provided a 3 mile warm up to the start and a 3 mile cool down afterward.

The WU went like clockwork. The 3 miles, then stretching a bit, some pickups and drills and then the usual fidgeting prior to the start. I placed my self about a fifth of the way back from the front and awaited the gun.

The first mile was downhill and control was the main requirement. My hope was to not get too carried away and pass the marker over 8 minutes. I was 8:05. Basically, I had three goals in place. My low goal was to average 9 minutes a mile. If this happened, I would be extremely disappointed but wouldn’t throw myself in front of a bus upon completion. It was, the worst acceptable scenario. My real sort of goal was to average under 8:30 at a reasonable effort. Reasonable effort is defined as a heart rate average not to exceed 165. The ultimate would have been to run under 1:20:00. Having a pretty good feel for my condition after 46 years of running and racing, I knew this was WAAAAYYY out there, but hey, it would have been cool just the same.

Miles 2 and 3 brought us back into City Park (the start park) and was mostly uphill but truly nothing you would visually notice much. Those went 8:18 and 8:10. Leaving the park I was relaxed, had a heart rate around 160 and was in control. The next three miles were either flat or those gradual, long pesky uphill streets. In Cheeseman Park just before 5 miles, there was a nice little downhill woosh, but it was soon negated by some ups on the other side of the park. My uphill/cruising miles were 8:33, 8:41 and 8:39.

Two things happened in the seventh mile. First there was a nice 300 yard downhill early and second, a guy went by and said, C’mon, we can do it.” 8:01. Mile 8 passed in 8:34 and around that point a significant number of people appeared to run out of gas. I passed a couple at mile 8 and he said to his mate, “keep an eye on him, he’ll be back.”

Mile 9 was an 8:34 and the final mile closed out the ten at 8:13. All in all, it was a lot of fun. My time of 1:23:50 was good for 207th place and THIRD in my age group. I’m trying desperately to come off as excited even though I have college training logs that say, “ten miles easy : 56 minutes.” For the record, I posted the picture on the left on Facebook in the hopes that the couple at the eight mile mark could see the front of my shirt since I never saw them again.

Fearing some soreness, I logged an easy 6 the next morning and self massaged my pounded quads. Surprisingly, nothing negative to report. I went for a moderately quick 8 the next morning and backed off a bit the next two days. Saturday, I went 12, feeling pretty good.

Sunday, it was 20 mile time. My goal was to go easy, either side of ten minute pace and see how my body handled the run. Luckily, the weather was cooler than usual and that allowed for a little less H2O consumption (about 70 ounces compared to 120 on the hotter summer days). I dodged the bikes and the hundreds of others out and about and ended up right at about 10:10 pace, but with a very low 130 as the heart rate average. Best part: VERY easy!

Again, I thought I’d be sore the next day, but my post stress ritual of fluids and quad massage seemed to do the trick. So yesterday I ran a nice, fairly brisk 11. 

The original plan for today was to run around ten miles and hit some 400 repeats tomorrow. A change in my work plan caused me to move the 400’s to today. 4 miles at tempo (probably 8:20 ish), 3 miles easy with some buildups thrown in and then it was time for the SPEED!

I run my 4s and 8s on a road in the Cherry Creek State Park. The first 150 of the 400 is slightly downhill, the next 150 is as slightly up. Then it’s 100 flat (with the last 30 meters a little down for the finish). All in all, it’s a good spot: asphalt, absolutely no traffic and a 200 jog loop back to the start. 

Six months ago, I did this exact workout and averaged just under 1:40 for the 400s (1:39.8 to be exact). This time it was 1:38.9, 37.3, 36.8, 35.7, 37.7, 37.5, 37.6, 32.3 for an average of 1:36.6. Gotta say I was pretty happy as while the effort was strong, it was not “difficult.” I finished with a three mile cooldown to get me home, logging 13 for the day.

The rest of the week will contain a hill workout and a tempo run and maybe, just maybe, a 5K on Sunday. Hey, I’m feeling a little zippy. Now that I am logging some quality oriented miles, it’s time to let go a little. As I have slowly moved into this training chunk, I’ve been somewhat overcautious. Having passed those tests, it’s time to stoke up the flame.

The quest to hit 100,000 miles gets ever so close as it looks like next Tuesday will be the day. 78 miles to go!