Saturday, May 24, 2014

Another Week in the Mountains

Since the knee injury it has been tough getting in both quality and quantity mileage. The previous weeks left me with sore shins and tender spots that left me worrying about possible stress fractures. So, I started taking it easy on the workouts by not running as hard and doing at least one intense workout a week in the pool to minimize the pounding stress. However, the week before last was a major breakthrough because I was able to get in two solid workouts and 50 miles on the week. This week, I'm heading back to the mountains in TN to spend the week with Maureen.

Sunday (5/18): Day off. Traveling to TN.
Monday (5/19): 9 miles.
In the morning, I took Maureen up to Carver's Gap on Roan Mt. We did some hiking mixed with running when she could handle it. The elevation was a little much for her because she was still recovering from being sick for a week. However, we still managed to get in two miles. That evening I headed to Buffalo Mountain Park, which is a very short drive (maybe five minutes) from her apartment. Buffalo is really nice because it offers technical single track with eight miles of trails and other secrets waiting to be found. I have been finding it difficult to learn the trails here. At home we basically have the option of choosing between three trails in the Baton Rouge Area, then each trail is basically a loop. Here, it is very different. Every place is comprised of tons of small sections of trail that you have to learn to link together to achieve your desired distance for the day. I take the approach of just running without planning or carrying a map. I like it better this way for a few reasons, you never know what you are getting into or how long it will take and if you get lost, just turn around. There is something about this approach that leaves you on edge the whole time and keeps your nerves firing. Sometimes, a trail run like this turns into a microcosm of real life, you feel like your flying out of control in some places, and other times you feel as if you are slowly sinking in mud. Just like real life you never know when these times will occur or how long they will last, but just like the run, you have to push through.
Tuesday (5/20): 10 miles.
I returned to Buffalo Mountain in order to thoroughly learn the trail system. This day I ran all the trails and then some. After running uphill for a mile, I was able to experience a beautiful view from White Rock (picture below). The highest point on the trail system is only 3300', but it is definitely enough for a flat-lander like myself. Between today and yesterday, I learned my technical downhill running needs work. So, I focused on running the downhills confidently and fast and working the switchbacks hard to make sure I was moving through them as quickly as possible.
Wednesday (5/21): 11 miles.
Today, I went with Maureen to work and we toured some nurseries in Sullivan County, after which we headed to Warrior Path State Park bike trails. This trail system is pretty incredible and boast some of the most immaculate trails I have every ran. This was the only run that I actually considered a "training run" because it was much flatter which allowed me to open it up. I started with a twenty minute warm up, then ran forty-five minutes at a 6-6:30 mile pace, then twenty-five minute cool down. I got terribly lost near then end because I was running way to fast to read signs or figure out where I was going. I really recommend this trail system; imagine Lincoln Parish Park trails with rocks and big boulders and a few more hills.
Thursday (5/22): 7 miles.
I returned to Buffalo Mountain in an attempt to get an easy and quick five mile run in and take some pictures of some native orchids I found blooming. However, it turned into an hour and a half run that left me scrambling up and sliding down mountain sides as I found a very old trail and was just to curious to see what was at the top. The day proved interesting as I found three species of orchids, I've never seen. One of which is very stunning. I was also able to collect some genetic material that I could use to expand my research grant. Running on Buffalo after a heavy rain really made me reminisce about my time spent working and running in the mountains and cloud forests of Costa Rica. All the lush vegetation, mountains, rocks, and heavy humidity.  Later that evening Maureen and I headed to Asheville, NC, to do some camping. We camped at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area which is in the Pisgah National Forest. It is a trail runner's wet dream with all the trails everywhere!
Friday (5/23): 8 miles.
If you love plants and trail running do yourself a favor and go camp at Lake Powhatan. Camping was enjoyable but tough because every time we started cooking the rain would pick up. After breakfast we set out for a nice little trail run together then we headed back to camp after three miles so Maureen could switch to the mountain bike. I just couldn't believe that I could camp in the middle of the woods and have her ride next to me while we went down a gravel forest road leading to the NC Arboretum. It was an amazing experience for me to have my girlfriend cruising next to me while enjoying the mountains and getting into a the arboretum for free! Apparently, it was free to enter through the back by hiking, running, or biking, and on top of it, once in we had more trails and gravel roads to explore. She certainly enjoyed killing me on the roads by making me run way to fast but I got her back on the uphills. After, touring the gardens and viewing the amazing bonsai collection we headed back to pack up the camp. Then we headed to the Farmer's Market in Asheville and went to a climbing gym in downtown to get our bouldering on.
Weekly Total: 45 miles

Buffalo Mountain Trail

Buffalo Mountain Trail

Native Deciduous Azalea on Buffalo Mountain

Buffalo Mountain Trail

Pink Lady Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium acaule) on Buffalo Mountain

White Rock on Buffalo Mountain

Bottom of Roan Mountain

Maureen flying downhill, at the bottom of Roan Mountain
Previous Training Weeks
It has been a while since my last post but if you're interested here is what my training has been looking life since my last TN trip.

Sunday (4/20): 5 miles. Easy then strides.
Monday (4/21): 10 miles. 2 mile warm up and cool down. 6 mile tempo @ 6:18 min/mi average pace. (shin pain)
Tuesday (4/22): 5 miles. Easy. Core Workout. (more shin pain)
Wednesday (4/23): Pool Workout, Mileage equivalent 10 miles. 20 min warm up and cool down, then 12 X 1:30min at quarter mile intensity effort.
Thursday (4/24): Day off.
Friday (4/25): 4 miles. Easy. (shin pain, felt tired and weak)
Saturday (4/26): 6 miles, around seven flat pace (felt better, less shin pain)
Weekly Total: 30 mi run, 10 mi pool

Sunday (4/27): 4 miles. Easy. Core Workout. (very tired, shin pain)
Monday (4/28): 10 miles. Pool Workout. 20 min warm up and cool down, 50 min progression run, increase intensity every 10 minutes.
Tuesday (4/29): 4 miles. Easy.
Wednesday (4/30): 9 miles. 2 mile warm up and cool down. Fartlek workout with 4 X 1:30 min @ mile pace (1:30 min jog for recovery), then 2 X 3:00 min @ 5km race pace with 1:30 min recovery jog, the 4 X 1:30 @ mile pace again.
Thursday (5/01): 4 miles. Easy. Core Workout.
Friday (5/02): 4 miles. Easy.
Saturday (5/03): 10 miles
Weekly Total: 35 mi run, 10 mi pool

Sunday (5/04): Day off.
Monday (5/05): ~7 miles. Short speed (pool). 20 min warm up and cool down 16 X 1 min at quarter mile intensity effort with 30 second recovery. Core workout.
Tuesday (5/06): 6 miles. Easy.
Wednesday (5/07): 8 miles. 2 mile warm up, 3 X 1 mile, 5:29, 5:33, 5:53. Felt fine on the first two repeats then felt awful. Today was the first day I spent working in the sun on my feet all day since the semester started so I think that had something to do with it. Training is much easier when you are in school all day. Three mile cool down.
Thursday (5/08): 4 mile. Easy. Core Workout (very tired)
Friday (5/09): 7 mile. 3 mile warm up and cool down, with 8 uphill sprints ~100 meter in length. These are designed to be very fast and are meant to increase leg turnover by forcing the brain to fire nerves not normally used.
Saturday (5/10): Day off, younger sister's college graduation in Mobile, AL.
Weekly Total: 25 mi run, 7 mi pool

Sunday (5/11): 5 miles. Easy.
Monday (5/12): 8 miles. 2 mile warm up and cool down. 8 X 400 meters, Average 1:12. then 6 stadiums. (Had to cut short due stomach issues)
Tuesday (5/13): 4 miles. Easy. Core Workout.
Wednesday (5/14): 8 miles. 2 mi warm up and cool down. 4 mile tempo @ 6:22 average, 10 short uphill sprints.
Thursday (5/15): 5 miles. Easy
Friday (5/16): 6 miles
Saturday (5/17): 14 miles.
Weekly Total: 50 miles