Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Strange creatures we humans

What gives with we humans? One day, we are struggling to keep it together and the next we’re sailing along like we were born to run. Sunday I set out to extend my long run to 14 miles … not too far, but certainly the furthest I’ve run since the San Diego Marathon this summer. The weather was perfect; temp in the high 70s, clear skies, birds chirping, just perfect and I’m pumped for the run. I was well rested after a good night’s sleep and I thought nothing could go wrong. Boy was I wrong.

Like the previous weekend, I headed over to the Christensen Trail for a little off road work. I turned on my HR monitor at the trail head and much to my surprise it registered 91 bpm! 91 bpm standing still. That’s just not right; it had to be a computer glitch.

I took off down the trail and my HR jumped to 130 immediately. By the end of mile 2, my poor heart was beating north on 140, approaching 150 and I still hadn’t hit the first hill. Oh boy, this was going to be a real pisser. Keep in mind that I’m carefully maneuvering around the rocks at something south of 11/mi … not exactly peeling the soles off my shoes. My heart responded pretty much as you’d expect when I hit the first hill and nearly topped 160 before I started walking. With 11 miles to go, the last thing I needed was to run way past my lactate threshold and blow up altogether. My legs are doing a slow jog and my heart is running a 5K.

Christensen Trail Elevation Chart .... not exactly the same as last week ... still hilly though

I repeated the run/walk routine for a while; running when things were flat and walking up the steeper hills once my HR topped 160. This went on for 6 miles until I caught up to another 50 something guy. He saw me coming and sped up. Not to beaten, I took off after him and chased him down after a couple of miles. As bad as I was hurting, he was hurting more.

After I passed this guy, I noticed that I had another 50 something guy 200 yards behind me and slowly closing the gap. It must have looked like the Old Guy Jogging club was out for a morning run. The second fellow caught up to me a mile or so later and we walked up a hill together and had a nice chat. I wished him well, he took off and I continued my walk/run strategy until I got back to the trail head.

Total distance 13.8 miles; total time 2:52:43; average pace: 12:32/mi (whoopee); Total Fluid intake: 3 lbs (48 oz); net weight loss; 5.5 lbs; total weight loss; 8.5 pounds. It must have been hotter than it felt.

Now fast forward to tonight. Temperature in the high 80s, no wind, clear skies, no moon. Perfect night for running. After a stressful day, this is exactly what I needed. Instead of trail running (running in the desert at night scares the crap out of me; too many snakes) I chose a nice path paralleling one of the North/South freeways in Phoenix. 4 miles north at a slow jog, keeping the HR between 135 and 140, followed by 4 miles running south with the HR between 155 and 160. Whereas I was unable to keep my HR below 160 at 12/mi on Sunday, tonight I cruised along for the last 4 miles at: 8:18, 8:04, 8:22 and 8:42. I was starting to feel a bit weary after 8 miles and my hamstrings where complaining a little, but I was running comfortably 4/mi faster than Sunday at the same HR. Go figure. We are strange creatures.

This weekend wasn’t the best of times for my running buddies. Mike, the fastest guy I know, ran a 2:48 in the Twin Cities marathon. Yes, I know that most of us would cut off an arm to run a 2:48, but it wasn’t what he had in mind. Of course, only Mike could take two potty breaks and still break 2:50.

Robin ran her first 50K in Chattanooga, Tennessee this weekend. Unfortunately, the ultra ran out of water on a very hot day and she was forced to withdraw at mile 26. It’s 90F and she’s out for a 32 mile run. She ran almost twice as far as I did on Sunday in much rougher conditions. Now that’s one tough runner.

David suffered with a cast of thousands in the Chicago marathon on Sunday. He finished the “race” in 6 hours (two hours behind his target) and was much more gracious to the race organizers than I would have been. In fact, I’d like to see the running community boycott the 2008 Chicago Marathon. Someone needs to give that organization a huge wakeup call. It’s not like they didn’t know it was going to be hot this past weekend. If they’d spend less time counting their cash flow and more time paying attention to race logistics, they wouldn’t have had to call the race. I know people can run in the high 80s if they stay hydrated, we do it all the time in Phoenix … but you can’t do it if you can’t stay hydrated.

Of course all was not lost. My buddy Ewen in Australia ran a fantanstic race at the Melbourne Half-marathon in perfect running conditions (those Aussies get all the good weather this time of the year). Check out his blog, it's alway a joy to read.

Thomas ran a near perfect marathon this weekend in Loch Ness, Scotland. It's hard to believe that his guy was having trouble breaking 4 hour a few years ago. He's now knocking on the door of a sub 3 hour marathon. He also regularly runs in the harshest weather I've read of anywhere. He is really an inspirational runner.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my friend Renee ran her first marathon this weekend in Scranton, PA.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ve been super busy and haven’t had the time to write my blog. I am keeping up with you guys though. I hope you all have a great week running. And for those in the US mid-West, I hope it cools off soon.


Ewen said...

Great trail run there Phil. Aussie readers would think you're training for Six Foot.

I'm always impressed by how you keep up with the different events others are running. Thanks for the kind words. You are a true gentleman - there aren't many of us left ;)

Thomas said...

Thanks, Phil.

I think to get out of your rut you just have to suck it up, run frequently and slowly, until you start to feel better about it.

ReneeMc said...

Phil, thanks always for your support! I am glad the first one is out of the bag, and I should have an easy time whipping this performance's ass in my next one!
I agree with the running boycott of 2008. I am so mad with Chicago -- insanity!

Your running is building back up and you'll be back to your old self in no time. Seriously. It might not feel like no time, but it will be.

Take care in the heat out there -- don't count on LaSalle Bank for any water stops!

Laufenweg said...

you make me laugh. OLD GUY JOGGING CLUB. nothing could be further from the truth, but it would make a great t-shirt. ha.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I've tried using a HR monitor many times, but I never seem to learn anything useful from it. I do better going by perceived exhursion instead. I guess I know my body better than the gizmo does.

I didn't see you mention anything about pain issues, so I'm guessing that everything has healed up? Good job!

J~mom said...

Glad to see you are getting some runs in!! The cooler weather is here at last!

Bex said...

Great post! Love the phrase, "The Old Guy Running Club." I could just picture it in my mind. And thanks for updating us on the other running bloggers - I'll go check them out now.

Anne said...

There's sometimes no rhyme or reason to our running, though maybe knowing you were in for a struggle on the trail run subconsciously played out with a higher heart rate.

And I agree with you on Chicago.

DawnB said...

I know the feeling well. I know when I do a really draggy run the day I run a great run just always seems to work out that way. Nice come back!!

Lana said...

Those bad days drive me crazy! I know we all have them, but what gets me is that sometimes I can't find a reasonable explanation - just like you were saying. I understand if I'm not hydrated, or have little sleep...but when you do what you are supposed to do - who knows what's going on?

Very strange creatures, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, would love to find some phoenix / scottsdale area people who like to do their long run at night in either on the road /track / trail