week of june 23rd thru june 29th, 2014 (mm 87)

Rest Week

Monday

Decided to start the rest week with…rest.

Tuesday

7 miles, 1:24, +900′ vert. Perch #53. besides giving the legs a little bit of a reprieve, recovery weeks are a good time for me to test out my “ultra-distance race pace”, i.e., I shouldn’t really go much faster than a 10-12 min/mile pace during an event that’s 50+ miles. Man, that pace sounds slow. But in fact, if I could run 12 minute miles for 100 miles I’d come in the top ten and have a shot at winning! Crazy. For now, seeing as I’ve never taken a step over 50 miles in a race, 12 minute miles are great for recovery runs and to remember what a ‘race pace’ should feel like. At Leadville, my ideal pace for the flats and steeper downhills would be about 11 min/mile. More on pace goals and benchmarks later. Anyway, I jogged the flats today in about 10-10:30 pace and power-hiked all the uphills, taking it about as easy as possible without walking. body’s bouncin’ back well from Sunday’s effort.

1.5 miles, :18, +50′ vert. didn’t feel like calling it quits when I got home so I threw the Nimbus 3000s on and jogged with Maya around the park. kept it at the same slow/steady pace as the longer run.

Wednesday

7 miles, 1:22, +900′ vert. perch #54. same run as yesterday though a little faster. was trying out the new shoes–Altra Olympus–which are seemingly the perfect balance of hoka and cascadia, with a huge toe box (finally!). they were really great to run in, and my only concern is, since they are ‘zero drop’ (same stack height at forefoot and heel) that they may cause some tightness in my achilles/calf area. we’ll see how it feels in the morning. hopeful that i’ve found the boats that’ll get me to the finish line without knee pain or blisters.

Thursday

Resty McResterson

Friday

6 miles, 1:08, +800′ vert. perch #55. nice and easy recovery run again. pushed a bit more than thursday and tuesday but overall kept it chill. just trying to rest before the crazy July Bender that is forthcoming.

Saturday

nada.

Sunday

Walked part of the Perch route with Kels, Maya and the Martins, who made the wise decision to come to Paradise for a few weeks to check out the situation here. Glad they’re around.

Weekly Totals

~23 foot miles, ~4.5 hours, ~2700′ vert.  Slacked-off the mileage a little more than I was planning on, but it was probably a good idea. Even with a super-chill week, I will reach 200+ miles for June, the most I’ve run in one month. Ever. In all honesty I’ve noticed in the last week or two that I’m actually starting to feel…fit. My main goal back in September was to get to July 1st in good-to-decent shape, uninjured, and ready to hit the gas for the last month of training. Check, check and check. My knee still nigs here and there but nothing major at all. The practice races (Quad Rock 50 and Leadville Marathon) went well–well, QR50 was rough but I survived and don’t need to regurgitate what I wrote back in mid-May. I’m feeling excited as August approaches but know that I really need to get after It in order to be as prepared as possible for the Big Day.  Will it be enough? I don’t know. But I’m excited to find out. In four weeks I will finish my build-up and begin my resting-up. #ExcitedToSeeWhatHappens

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Love and Leadville (mm 86)

There are seven weeks left until the start line in Leadville, including my last solid training block encompassing the next four weeks—a period I will now refer to as The Bender. I attempted to go on a bender once, but it didn’t involve running. After about six hours I realized I wasn’t cut-out for such activities and haven’t heard the end of it since (sorry, Cook!). Hopefully the running Bender will last longer, be a bit more constructive, and certainly be more successful. The Bender will start tomorrow, involve about 250 foot miles, most of the LT100 course, and a lot of camping. Hash tag, excited.

The Bender is brought to you (me) by: a very supportive, encouraging and patient partner who I’m no doubt driving a little nuts by filling most quiet moments and conversations with questions/thoughts/strategy about the Big Day. My goodness, Kelsea, you’re wonderful. I promise to try to give you at least a three month break from “run talk” once this craziness is over. The Bender is also brought to you (me) by a great recovery from the Quad Rock 50 and subsequent injury/pain-free month of June that has me feeling strong and cautiously confident in my fitness level. This fact makes me excited for the Bender and thus more talkative about running and Leadville and toe box widths and electrolyte strategy and headlamp research and vertical gain per mile and what should go in my drop-bags and night running sessions and blah blah blah. Kelsea is kindness itself (P&P reference). 🙂 Morgan, you get it. Finally, The Bender is brought to you (me) by public support from viewers like you. Thank you for continuing to encourage me on this foolish adventure. Much love to you, friends.

the itch (mm 85.5)

It’s 64 degrees outside. No clouds. Perfect hiking and running weather. Most weather is though. I spotted an empty seat by the only window in the secured room. Everyone else got on their iWidgets or flipped through magazines from 2010 that discussed pertinent topics like celebrity weddings and gourmet meatball recipes. I sat down next to the window and starred out at the mountains for twenty minutes while waiting to go into the courtroom. How do people remain sane in solitary confinement or jail cells without windows? Maybe they don’t. I can’t even handle an hour. I’ve noticed over the past few years that, when given the option I will without hesitation choose the window seat. I’ve tried to keep my elbows down when rushing through crowds to get there. If I can’t be out in It, I want to at least look out at It. I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m okay with being inside from 10pm to 7am is because I’m mostly unconscious during that time and thus unaware of all the exciting things I’m missing out of doors.

The sight of the mountains gives me the itch. To move. To breathe deep. To sweat. During jury duty you can’t scratch the itch though. You have to breathe in the stale, controlled and conditioned air of justice and civic duty. I’m somewhat excited actually, to see what case I might have a hand in deciding.  Until we walk into the court room and there’s no windows. I’m never going to be a lawyer, I say to myself. Though I’ve been told there’s more to being a lawyer than being in a courtroom, I’d rather not take the chance.

Despite my interest in the case I’m the first juror dismissed (maybe they knew about the itch?). My slight disappointment is eased once I step outside and realize there is time for at least a two-hour run in the hills before heading back to work. Maybe 2 and a half if I hurry.

week of june 16th thru june 22nd, 2014 (mm 85)

Monday

much needed rest

Tuesday

7 miles, 1:19, +900′ vert. perch #50 on the year. nice steady jog after yesterday’s rest. legs still feeling a little tired after last weekend’s effort but that’s to be expected. hoping for another solid week before resting a bit next week. 2 months til the start line.

Wednesday

11 miles, 2:31, +2700′ vert. Towers Rd. Was planning on going another few miles but after the first go I met up with Harvey the Rabbit’s friend, ascended again, then participated in a very fast descent. That guy can fly down hill! 62 years old my a–! It was really hard keeping up without the Cadillacs (Hokas) but I hung in there. This workout told me two things: a) my fitness level is creepin’ up, but b) I gotta go harder during workouts (even the easier ones like today). Having a little interval here and there is good. Leg speed needs to continue to increase. May try running the Bacon Strip loop (rollers, 10 miles) or more of the Blue Sky trail, which will simulate about half the LT100 course.

Thursday

8 miles, 1:36, +1200′ vert. perch #51. feeling very sore/stiff/tired this morning after yesterday’s towers effort and battle rope session with Bro and Taya. glad to get in a ‘bonk’ workout though. hopefully a night session later today.

6 miles, 1:10, +800′ vert. perch #52. night run with duder and taya to try out the new head torch and hydro pack. both worked great, though a little tickering and adjustment time will be necessary. the Ultimate Direction pack is pretty barebones but is really form fitting and comfy. water sloshes in the pack a bit but i stopped noticing after while. the headlamp is insanely bright, even on the 2nd of 4 settings. i think we’ve found a winner for the early morning start and last 1/3rd of the race in Leadville. Looking forward to testing these guys out on the race course in a couple weeks. It was a little difficult, buying/trying a new item at this stage in the game, with only a few hundred miles of training left, but the pack i’ve been using for a few years finally started to come apart. if the UD pack doesn’t work I can always go back to the old Nathan (just a new one). It’s nice having a little less weight/bulkiness though. We’ll see. energy was a little lacking on the run and legs were a little sore, but it’s always fun hiking/running at night. The world is reduced to the area that your headlamp illuminates in front of you. Fun to stop every once in a while and turn it off to look up at the stars. 

Friday

2 miles, :22, +50′ vert. nimbus 3000 run with Maya around the neighborhood after waking up very sore and exhausted. thought better of heading up to the perch and kept it easy.

Saturday

4.5 miles, 2:10, +1000′ vert. one of the most enjoyable outings i’ve had in a long time. Kels, Maya and I hiked up well gulch then connected with timber and ascended the switchbacks. it was late in the day, after rain, thunder/lightning and the lighting was perfect for pictures–so kels took a bunch and we meandered our way through wildflowers, creeks and waterfalls. a great way to celebrate the first six months of 2014.

Sunday

22 miles, 4:52, +6000′ vert. Towers Rd Trifecta.  Felt like I got shot out of a canon today. body felt pretty good and responded well to the high amount of vertical gain. three ascents: :52, :44.15 (PR by about 20 seconds) and :55. pushed it on the last two descents as I was feeling pretty good still. intentionally ran out of water with 4 miles to go and only ate one pack of sports-jelly-beans and half a mango lassi just to simulate a bonk run. Despite the lack of calories I felt great and pushed the entire way. happy with this one. time for a rest week!

Weekly Totals

60.5 foot miles, 12,650′ vertical gain (209’/mile), ~14 hours.  Best training week I’ve had in a while–certainly the most miles I’ve put in, in a non-race week. A great continuation of last week’s Leadville weekend. Glad to feel good during yesterday’s effort despite putting in about 100 miles in the last 9 days. 

All photos courtesy of Kelsea MacIlroy:

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Race Week: The Leadville Marathon. Week of june 9th through june 15th, 2014 (mm 83)

Monday

4.25 miles, :44, +300′ vert. easy shake-out…legs feelin’ a little heavy this morning. kept it light in favor of a tough tues-wed. 5 days til we head back to Leadville (I’ve been away for 9 months…too long, too long) for the first of many high altitude summer camping/running/hiking weekends. gettin’ excited.

Tuesday

6 miles, 1:05, +800′ vert. perch #49. had a big breakfast and legs felt a little stiff, but i tried my hand at a decent time trial from the trailhead on up. probably a top ten PR time (~20 min) but I had to a) stop to pee and b) slow down on the second half because i had clearly gone out too fast. took it easy on the way home, legs still feeling a little tired.

Wednesday

10 miles, 2:18, +2500′ vert. Towers Rd. Body was pretty tired so i took this one a little easy. kept the heart rate low and hiked most of the uphill portion. i don’t think I’ve taken a rest day since last tuesday, which would explain my lack of energy and soreness. I plan on taking the next two days completely off (other than stretching and rolling) in prep for this weekend’s effort. hopefully 26 on saturday and 15 on the LT100 course on sunday.

Thursday and Friday

stretching, rolling, driving to Leadville, camping…my goodness, the snow-capped high mountains! Air’s a little thinner up here.

Saturday

The Leadville Marathon. 26.4 miles, 7:02, +6400′ vertical gain. really fun event with great friends in an incredible place. body and mind felt solid all day, with the exception of the brief period around 13,000 feet asl. A few late intervals (one uphill and one down) just solidified a great training run. great to spend much of the day running with Jay, Duder, Humphrey and the Stubbs brothers, and seeing Kels throughout. Leadville did not disappoint with many panorama views of the snow-capped Sawatch Range. three very solid climbs as well. The altitude is not to be underestimated! important to also have back-up shoelaces in case one decides to snap 4 minutes before the gun goes off (thanks for the extra lace, Boj!). Stomach stayed great until about mile 22 — I think i ate too many chips and gu and not enough real food. the good thing was I knew exactly what I did wrong, and the result wasn’t too bad. Overall a fun outing including camping near turquoise lake. Really excited to get back into the high country. congrats to humphrey, jay, andrew and the stubbses for kickin’ ace and finishing their races. wish i could do more events like this with friends!

Sunday

9.5 miles, 3:00, +1100′ vert. first real recon day of the Leadville 100 route (May Queen, Hagerman Rd, Sugarloaf Pass). solid hike with Kels and Maya up hagerman/sugarloaf, which will be miles 14-18 and 83-87 come race day. this was one of five major climbs, and probably one of the easier ones. the grade was almost all jog-able and not as intimidating as I originally thought. but again, this is probably one of the easier climbs. good to know that i can vacilate between jogging and powerhiking and knock-out a good pace. it’ll be a welcomed first incline after the flat-ish first 14 miles of the race. really enjoyed hiking/running with kels and having a nice lunch at the top. good to get the legs movin’ after yesterday’s effort. again, excited to be back up high and lookin’ forward to more camping and hiking/running with kels and friends over the next six weeks. more altitude = more fun. 

Weekly Totals

~57 foot miles, ~14 hours, 11,000′ vertical gain (193’/mile). A great weekend in the high country. not much else to say! gonna try to hit it hard again this next week, which will make it four solid weeks in a row. Starting to feel the closeness of race day, now that all the prep-races are done. about 300 miles and 6 weeks of solid training to go.

Pics courtesy of Kelsea MacIlroy:

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week of june 2nd thru june 8th, 2014 (mm 81)

Monday

10 miles, 1:55. +1100′ vert. Perch #47, with some rolling trail along reservoir road. kept it nice and easy/smooth (under max aerobic threshold) and enjoyed the day. came home and did some circuit/strength training before going back out for 2 easy Nimbus 3000 miles with Maya. feel a lot better today.

Tuesday

rest and studyin’ for my certification exam (thursday)

Wednesday

8.5 miles, 1:53, +1500′ vert. hot out there today! the shaded switchbacks were a welcomed relief after the first two miles in the sun. vacillated between feeling good and feeling tapped of energy. I think the heat really effected me. Overall the body responded well.

Thursday

7 miles, 1:25, +950′ vert. perch #48. evening run with Duder followed by some strength/circuit stuff. Legs actually had a little pep for the first time in about a week. took it nice and easy on the flats/descents and pushed it on the uphills. Added a few hill repeats for good measure. another beautiful early-summer evening in Coloradie. always enjoyable spendin’ time with my bro.

Friday

5.75 miles, :56, +500′ vert. speed intervals to get the legs turnin’ over. started with 5 min warm-up, then 3 x [5 mins HR Zone 3, 3 mins HR Zone 4, 1:30 HR Zone 5], then finished with a 20 minute jog. The first set always feels worse then my last. Maybe I’m doin’ it wrong. Meh. Just glad to be movin’ faster. It makes the daily run seem slow and easy, which is the whole point.

Saturday

10 miles, 2:26, +2500′ vert. morning rain and fog in the park made for a creepy/beautiful/quiet morning with Duder. He rocked it on the ascent and i struggled to keep up–combo of dead legs (yesterday’s sprints) and gluten/beer last night (that’s about enough of that), but by about mile 4 I started feelin’ better. Enjoyed the chat and company. It was darn near cold up there!

Sunday

8.5 miles, 1:31, +1000′ vert. Ran up to the Rez via Reservoir Rd. Not my favorite kind of run, but with the temps low, a slight mist and my legs feelin’ good, I enjoyed it. stayed at a low heart rate but kept the pace steady throughout the climb and decent. Great way to finish the week.

Weekly Totals

50 foot miles, ~10 hours, +7550′ vertical gain (151’/mile…a little low). A couple miles short of where I wanted to be but all in all not bad. 50 miles without a ‘long run’ is kind of difficult to squeeze in.  Could’ve done a little more climbing but there was a lot of jogging/running this week–more than usual. Leadville definitely has a lot of runnable sections so I’ve got to be prepared to cruise for 40-50 miles, not just power hike and descend steep slopes. Though, there’s plenty of that too…  A good pre-race-week week. Excited to get up to Leadville next weekend.

week of may 26th thru june 1st, 2014 (mm 79)

Monday

2.5 miles, 1:00 +400′ vert. early hike with Kels at South Mtn in Phoenix before it got hot. really hot. swam a bunch in the pool and am thinkin’ maybe it would be a good weekly activity upon returning home. 

Tuesday

Drivin’ back home

Wednesday

6 miles, 1:06. +800′ vert. perch #45. took it out steady, if not a little fast, then coasted on the way home. legs were a little cranky (probably from idling and sitting in the car the last two days) but considering I stopped for a few minutes to stretch, the time was decent.

4 miles, :40, +100′ vert. shook the legs out and warmed back up for some strength training at Duder’s house. I’m very weak from the waist up. Gotta change that!

Thursday

8.25 miles, 1:52, +2000′ vert. legs and ass were pretty sore and stiff from yesterday’s circuit workout, so this one hurt a little bit. good combo of pushing the pace and backing off a little to keep some energy for tomorrow’s big effort. did mini ‘repeats’ up and back from Duder as he is still on the come back trail (and was carrying extra weight in his pack). Crazy man.

Friday

25.1 miles, 6:28, +6000′ vert. Quad Rock route. Man, this course is a freakin’ bear. 6:28 is pretty sub-par (about 40 minutes slower than my PR) but after hard workouts the previous two days, lack of sleep, lack of calories and quite frankly, a little lack of motivation, I’m happy to have slugged this one out. Kept my heart rate under aerobic threshold the entire way, which is not something I can say for the QR50 race two weeks ago. Rained on and off most of the day–everything is so green in the parks!–and I had a really hard time gettin’ out of bed. No energy, sore legs, hungry. Perfect training conditions for those final 25 miles in Leadville! After about 5 miles I really struggled, dueled a few times with the Beast, but did a fine job of enjoying the day. Besides hangin’ out with Kels there ain’t many other things I’d rather be doin’ then running in the hills. Gonna be sore tomorrow though…lol.

Saturday

sore and exhausted. woke-up in the middle of the night feeling pretty nauseous, which is a sensation I’ve never really felt after exercising.  Slept about 5 hours so I decided to take the day off.

Sunday

6 miles, 1:10, +800′ vert. Perch #46 on the year. felt good for about a mile, then wed-thurs-friday’s efforts came back, so I slowed down. No watch, no heart rate monitor. Just jogged along, stopped for about ten minutes at the top to enjoy the view and amazing weather; stopped and chatted with Stubbs when I ran into him on the way back down. Good to stretch the legs but not exert too much effort. Another sizeable week ahead. Just glad to be out.

Weekly Totals

52 miles, ~12:30, +10,000′ vertical gain (192’/mile. good). I felt really good at the beginning of the week, so I decided to push my efforts a little bit.  I definitely paid for it on the long outing, but that was good (at least psychologically). The weekend was a bit of a wash — ended-up about 8-10 miles under what I wanted to do for the week, but I had to listen to my body on Saturday and Sunday.  I’m almost certainly running the Leadville Marathon in two weeks along side Duder, Jay-pop, Stubbs and Humphrey; so I’m now trying to decide how to approach the next ten days.  I slight taper might be nice if I want to do well on race day, but part of me wants to continue training and view the race as simply a solid training run at altitude.  The course is almost identical to the 25 I ran this week: about 6300′ vert in 26 miles, so a time around 6-6:15 would be fine with me.  I also want to put in some miles on the LT100 track the following day, so I might not push the pace on race day.  We’ll see.  Will be fun to run and hangout with friends during the run–not something that normally happens at races. Really excited to get back into the High Country.