May Training Reflections (I need more exciting titles)
May was an interesting month for training. I started my new position as a field biologist May 3rd, and as the month progressed I was spending more and more days in the field, and I also moved to 4 10 hour days. I spend a lot of time hiking and bushwhacking at 3000-4000 feet, and can easily get 2000 feet of climbing in a day. Coming from a desk job where I’d be in a chair for the bulk of my 8 hour day, it has taken some getting used to. Before, I’d get home from work itching for a run, now I get home from work pretty worn out, it’s already almost 7pm, and I’m ready to be done. The best solution that I have found for now is to drop my Wednesday run. I know mile for mile a hike isn’t worth as much as running, but it’s all time on legs, and it’s got to count for something, especially with the steep climbs. Having that extra day has left me feeling far more refreshed mentally and physically for both work and training. Even with the dropped day, I still managed to set a personal record for monthly miles logged. I also managed to get bit by a dog on one of my weekday evening runs. Nice big boxer. Didn’t really break the skin, thankfully, but it’s bruised and tender. I thought the owner had control of the dog, but apparently not enough control. Not a pleasant experience.
May also introduced consistent back to back long runs for the weekends, starting at 14 and 10 and moving to 18 and 10. The 14 and 10s weren’t too rough, but running that first 10 after 18 the day before was something to be remembered. The first 3 miles of that run had my heart pounding so hard I could feel it in my jaw. It was my first time running this particular section of the Wildwood Trail, and I was so focused on gutting it out that I didn’t even notice any of the streams or bridges until the return trip. Things looked so out of place that I thought I took a wrong turn and had to ask a few passerby if I was heading the right way. Thankfully, after 3 miles something clicked and my legs just took over. My heart rate steadied, my turnover increased, and I had energy again. It ended up being a fantastic run, and I was hit with the biggest dose of runners high I’ve experienced since I started running. I ran the same 18 and 10 this weekend, and the 10 miles went much MUCH better. It was actually one of the best runs I’ve had in recent memory.
My Sunday runs as a whole have been more enjoyable now that I’ve started meeting up with the Portland Running Company for their group run. I don’t mind running solo during the week, but on the weekend longs runs just go by so much better with company. I push harder too. The first group run I showed up for, my training called for 14 miles, and there were 4 or 5 people (of the close to 20) that were more than happy with that distance. The group meets on Thurman Street, which is conveniently close to Forest Park, so you have single track options with Wildwood and it’s adjoining trails, or you can take Leif Erikson Drive, which is more of a crushed rock surface. Ryan, the organizer, said we’d just keep it simple and do an out and back on Leif Erikson. Thurman is flat at first but very quickly starts to climb. About 2 miles into the run we’re still climbing and I asked when it leveled out. “Around mile 6” was the reply I got. One thing I’m learning about Portland and the surrounding areas is that everything starts on a hill. That’s something this flatlander is not accustomed to. I did my best to hang on, and at the end of my run I discovered I ran my 3rd fastest half marathon. Had there not been a 781 foot 6 mile climb, I’m pretty sure I would have PR’d that day. Today was my 3rd run with them, and the highlight was running with Mark Remy from Runner’s World.
For my training 50k, I signed up for Mary’s Peak on June 20th. It’s a little longer than 31 miles, 32.5 I think (yay bonus miles!), and you cover 3000 feet of climb up a mountain over the first 8ish miles. The good side to that is you have 8 or 9 miles of downhill afterwards. This flatlander will become a strong climber yet. I toyed with the idea of doing a self supported 50k, or asking some of the trail runners with the PRC to pace me for a bit, but the idea of an organized race is far more exciting. It will also give me a more realistic test for my gear, fueling, and hydration. The course looks like it’s going to be an ass kicker, but I’m excited to experience that race day energy.
In other news, I continue my quest to find the best burrito in Portland. So far I have not been disappointed, and habanero has been a common theme : )