Monday, March 31, 2014

Walking the Fine Line

After a week of nothing to recover the body and mind and another of just easy running, I've jumped back into the swing of things pretty quickly here.  It's not the way I'd like to go myself and definitely not the way I'd suggest others going but as the Ice Age 50K gets closer, I've found myself trying to walk the fine line of truly being ready but not over-doing it to get there. 
This past Fall/Winter I did do some front-loading of volume with the training plan in an effort to acclimate my triathlon system back to being a full-time runner.  With a handful of 3 hour runs and a few other pretty solid double days back then, I'm hoping that now as I ramp into a 4 week training block of high volume and quite high intensity, that my system will recover well enough between each bout that I can get the gains I'm hoping for without injury or fatigue.
I had a really solid 3 hour run this last Saturday on hilly gravel and some hilly trails that felt great and should have further gotten the legs used to the ups and downs of the up coming race.  I really do feel like the higher volume of the Fall/Winter, even though a lot of it wasn't super fast, has helped the body get back to being a running machine and has helped it learn to recover well.  Something to think about for people that always want to roll to every race with the "A" race mentality and also want their training to be "A" race training as well.  Sometimes it might be good just to get some of that good ol' LSD Long Slow Distance if you're able to be patient and wait for that one truly big "A" race opportunity.  I know that's not the talk of today with "quality" over "quantity" for a lot of people but I guarantee you, even with quality, you won't get all you could out of training without a little over-distance from time to time.
So off to the races in May to see if that 15 year old course record can finally fall.  We'll keep you posted ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 US Snowshoe Nationals Race Recap

We had a great time at Nationals this year out in Vermont.  Not only was it a killer course but the ground crew put on a great weekend.  We had a bigger field of international athletes than I've seen in quite a while so the race started fast and furious and pretty much stayed that way.  Two Canadians went straight to the front and I went with them.  Within the first 1000 meters the race spread out quickly and I found myself working pretty hard to stay up with the two front-runners and so was alone in third quite quickly.  My goal has been and continues to be to win a National Championship but I will probably always over-ride that goal with racing whomever shows up whether from the US or not.
That being said, Eric Hartmark, 2-time National Champ, ran the smarter race by running within himself and slowly but surely made his way up to the front as 1 through 4 finished with a good gap on the rest of the field.
The course started in a frenzy with two steep climbs and allowed the race to thin out quickly.  The pace stayed frantic for most of the race and right before mile 2 we headed up a 6% climb that lasted a mile.  As I tried to grind through that section I could tell I was cooking the goose a little faster than I'd hoped but the two Canadians were starting to pull away just a bit.  By 4K I was a hurting unit and finished the last 6K of the race with a side cramp that wouldn't go away.  With hills up and down, single track through the woods, and plenty of groomed ski trail to pass on, this year's Nationals course was one of my favorites of all-time.  As Eric pulled up to me and then made his way past I tried to summon the reserve to stay with him up over the top of the big climb but I didn't manage it.  He continued to run an awesome race and finished 17 seconds ahead in 3rd place but also in the US National Champion's spot.  This marks my 3rd Runner Up finish at Nationals.  Back to the drawing board?  Kind of...
Sarah and I worked hard to design a training plan that was challenging, fun, and helped us get fit and stay healthy at the same time.  Therefore, I didn't over-push any one workout and felt that my fitness going into Nationals was as good as it could be but not as good as it should be a year from now.  I turn 40 in July and really do hope to find myself in a similar spot next year at Nationals... with a chance to win it if I can.  Hopefully next year, the fitness will be a bit bigger than this years and then we'll see if I can finally find the top step on the podium.  No matter, training has been incredibly fun and continues to keep me coming back for more.  No for some summer trail racing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rollin' With It

In the last three weeks we've had a little weather fly through our neck of the woods.  While we absolutely love that this winter has given us a great season of snowshoeing, it did throw a bit of a curve ball for the first long race of the year at Psycho Wyco.
The Iowa Snowshoe State Champs went really well despite being sick on race day.  I felt good, had a long warm up, and after the first 5 minutes of racing, was able to really push the gas.  Randy Bill and I finished together and I was pleased to know that he was at least breathing hard as we went. 
Sarah and I were then to go to Kansas the next weekend for the Psycho Wyco 50K.  On the Tuesday before, it snowed 14 inches in Kansas City!  I was hoping for a good long effort that would allow for a great training effect three weeks before snowshoe nationals but the 10 inches of snow running for 31 miles was more than I thought would be a positive deal with fear of over-training so close to nationals.  So we headed to Eau Claire, WI for a snowshoe race and a solid effort that wouldn't take six hours!  (For Real... the winner at Psycho Wyco was the only one to break 5 hours this year.)
Eau Claire was a great trip, a fun course, and a solid effort.  Sarah and I both won with a sizable time cushion but the effort was the deal.  If you're training for a big race but go into it without a lot of competition under your belt, sometimes it seems to make you feel flat.  So we're hoping to be sharp in Vermont in two weeks. 
I think it's good to realize that a training plan is just that, a plan.  It can be adjusted, tweaked, re-worked, etc. as long as the end goal and hopefully results are positive.  Roll with training and know when to adjust in order to continue to make positive fitness gains without over-training or getting hurt.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Busy Month Ahead

As I eye the next six weeks of training and racing I end up with a bundled array of emotion from racing excitement to anxiety at the proposed goals set ahead.  With another three weeks of real training, it's getting close to go time.  The first weekend in February we'll head to Kansas for the Psycho Wyco 50K.  Three weeks after that we'll head to Vermont for the Snowshoe National Championships.  And two week later we'll hit up the Hawkeye 50K as well.  So as training leads into competition and that leads into a taper I've begun to try to turn a bit of attention to recovery and how I might go about recovering from the 1st 50K of the year to be ready for SS Nationals and for my second 50K not long after.  Winter time is a great time to add new tricks to the bag so I've begun make a mental list of things that I plan to do right after (within 1 hour) the first 50K to really bounce back as well as I can.  A Naked Juice Smoothie with some protein and good clean fruit and vegetable ingredients.  A massage within 36 hours of that as well as a big focus on hydration and good eating.  If all goes well and the legs snap back well for SS Nationals then I'll give a full report of what the plan looked like and how it went.  Until then, some more hills, thresholds, and snowshoe workouts.  Sounds like my kind of fun.