Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Weekend of Hard Running

I headed up to Poolesville, Md on both Saturday and Sunday for a weekend of hard running. I miss going out and getting after it on long runs and I feel I'm really in need of some strength work. My speed, for the time being, is sort of where I need it, but my endurance is weak.

My plan was to run a 14.25 mile loop old Benedict Sloane turned me on to last week. Essentially it's the first 8-miles of the "Duel Ferries" loop but then you make a left at Elmer School Road (see photo above -- stupid bikers, but you get a sense of the area) instead of staying on River. I could explain the rest of the route, but a picture is worth a thousand words. So, see map HERE.

But, before Sunday comes Saturday, naturally. I drove out to Riley's Lock alone with the idea of running a hard, but comfortable, 12 miles. I ran the usual Riley's Lock run sans the warm-up and cool-down loops we typically add on to make the run 13 or 15 miles (i.e. - 11+ miles). I started out at 7:00 pace, but quickly felt comfortable hitting 6:20s. After a few miles hovering around that pace, I turned right onto Sycamore Landing Road and slowly cranked up the tempo: 6:07, 6:00, 5:56, 6:00, 5:51 and 5:48 (while hurdling a black rat snake). I was trying to stay right around that 5:55-6:00 mark, but each mile felt easier than the last and my pace naturally wanted to quicken once I felt comfortable. My last 5 miles were around 29:30. I cooled down enough to make it an even 12 then rested up for Sunday.

The next morning, I met the Chicken Tender Runner at the Edward's Ferry parking lot a few ticks after 9:00am. He was hoping to run a hard 10-mile cut down, so I told him I'd join. We hit our first mile in 7:00 and, like yesterday, I settled into 6:30 pace, give or take, for the next 3 miles. After turning onto River, we found our stride and quickly got down to business: 6:13, 6:06, 5:48 and 5:45. CTR was about 10 seconds ahead of me at this point, but knowing I still had many miles to go, I decided to not push it too early. We parted ways (he running back to the parking lot via River), but before he left I pleaded with him to circle back with his bike to give me a splash of water, which would be somewhere around miles 11-12. He accepted the challenge, but as soon as I turned on to Elmer School Road, I realized I'd given him the wrong road name to turn down. Damn. Hopefully he'd recognize my mistake and he'd find me somewhere on the road. Meanwhile, the sun, flexing a devilish smile, winked...

I was now on asphalt and approaching the short, but very steep, NIH Animal Hill. I hit 5:55, but re-grouped and then got after it. I recall Sloane noting that there were "hills" (plural) on the run and within a mile or so I found them. The next 4-miles rolled up and down bucolic farm roads, which were quite taxing, but I wanted to try and hang on to 5:45 pace: 5:42, 5:46, 5:44, 5:46. When I finally turned on to Edward's Ferry Road my tongue was parched and the sun was finding ways of sneaking its rays onto my salty face. I began to curse Andy's name under my breath, but no sooner than I did, did I see before me -- the Chicken Tender Biker. He tossed me his bottle and I filled my mouth with sweet, sweet nectar. I cruised down back to the car clocking a 5:36 for my last mile. I shuffled a 2-mile cool-down, netting 16, and called it a day. My last 10 miles were run around 58:20, but it felt comfortable. The rolling 6 miles of hills was just what the doctor ordered. 1:26:00 for the 14.25 mile loop ~ approximately 6:02 pace (which includes the opening 7:00 mile).

Granted this sounds more like a marathon workout than a half marathon workout, but it was a real confidence booster and I definitely felt like I needed some simple long, hard running. Perhaps the best news of all was that my legs, which normally moan after running anything longer than 12, were strangely quiet. I got in 72 miles for the week.

Next Saturday I'll race the Germantown 5 Miler and on the weekends leading up to Duluth I'll practice running more half marathon paced workouts.


Chris Vames Sloane said...

Awesome, awesome run, Jake. That's some terrific strength work because you're getting in both hills and hard running. Glad you "enjoyed" the loop.

Andy said...

Sloane... your record will fall. I guarantee it.