Sunday, April 12, 2015

Of Sunshine, Training Plans & Hill Runs

I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of this beautiful sunshine. As I write this blog post I'm sitting on my front porch with my coffee, watching the chickens wander from the back to the front yard and back again. Super satisfying.

For the past week or so I've been trying to put together a training plan that covers the next several months. We have quite a few races between now and October so I'm trying to make sure I can adequately be prepared for everything and still meet my goal for Marine Corps Marathon in October. I bought this pretty little planner from Amazon to track my training and meal planning.

pretty in peach lace :)

As I work on the training plan I realize there are so many things I want to include; but just not enough time in the day or days in the week. I'd love to ride my bike to work multiple days a week. I'd also love to run to work once a week. But there's also speed days, hill days, and strength days that need to be fit in during the work week. The weekends are reserved for the long run and long bike rides (to prepare for SMECO 75 in June!). I need to find a way to make this my full time job :) 

We have our third race of 2015 next weekend-- the Blue Ridge Half Marathon! We ran this race last year (race recap can be found here) and absolutely loved it. The race was tough with plenty of hills. And there was plenty of small town hospitality. We did a lot more hill training this year to be prepped for the race. Our final training run was yesterday and it was a doozy. 

summary data from the Map My Run app

There is a pretty intense hill climb at the turnaround point of the Catoctin 50K in Gambrill State Park-- think 800+ ft gain in roughly 2 miles. Nick and I had been talking about running this as part of our training for a while so it was exciting to finally do it. 

pre-run

Sarge was all business
she had no time for selfies

Our plan was to run-hike 3 repeats of this hill. From where we started running to where we turned around was a little over 2 miles. The parking lot was on the opposite side of a stream from the trail so we got to go on a short stream crossing adventure. Sarge was not happy about that, and ended up getting the rocks really wet. I was nervous about jumping onto a slippery rock so I ended up stepping in the stream. Thankfully I'm not wimpy about wet feet like Nick is :)

stream crossing makes it feel like a real adventure!

There is a good portion of this hill climb that is surprisingly runable. But there are also a lot of rocks-- some big and some smaller, but it makes for tricky footing. There were also a lot of downed trees on the trail. I was predicting that we would get to the top in 30-35 min. On the first trek up we made pretty good time, getting to the turnaround point in ~31 min. Going back down ended up being way harder that I expected because of the rocks and all the leaves on the ground. I was so afraid that I was going to twist my ankle or fall down the mountain. I think I probably did more walking going down that I did going up. 

you can kinda sorta tell that it's steep, but the picture doesn't do it justice
(taken with my GoPro HERO3+)

The steep parts of the trail were really steep. I attempted to maintain a defined run-hike interval, but it was too much. My goals slightly shifted to running at least 1:30 min, then walking for 1:00 min. If the area was runable I would continue runnning until it started getting steep again. This seemed to work out pretty well. It took 14:24 min/mi and 16:54 min/mi for the run-hike up. The second mile was definitely rockier than the first which made it much more difficult.

a slightly rocky section of the trail
(taken with my GoPro HERO3+)

The second trek up the mountain was slower. My legs were starting to feel like jelly. I kept thinking there was no way I'd be able to do a third repeat of this climb. I tried to stick to my run-hike plan, but found myself doing more hiking on this climb. It took 15:41 min/mi and 17:20 min/mi to make it to the top the second time around. 

We had packed some sandwiches, and since it was lunchtime, ate them before heading on our final trek up the mountain. Sargey had fun splashing in the stream while we ate.



The final climb up the mountain was hard. I walked a lot. I didn't really want to do a third repeat, but I knew that in the long run it would be best to do it. My IT band was really starting to bother me. I also slowed down even more. I was really happy once we reached the turnaround. There was a beautiful rock overlook that we took some photos at before heading back down. Since my legs were so jelly-like and I was afraid I would trip, we ended up walking most of the way back down. 

is that a mountain goat or a dog?

loving the view and the perfect running weather

don't they look so adventurous together?

"please no more selfies!"

In total we covered 12.74 mi and gained 2,516 ft with an average pace of 16:40 min/mi! It was a tough, but gratifying workout. We plan to come back a few times over the next several months to use this climb as training for the Pike's Peak Ascent in August. Only next time I think we'll be attempting 4 repeats-- yikes! 

What adventures did you have this weekend? I'd love to hear about them :) Feel free to share in the comments below!

♥AK