Training Updates, PR’s and Bushwhacking

It’s been a couple of months since my last blog post, where I posted this year’s race plans.  Surprisingly, quite a bit has transpired, both training and race-wise.  I spent the majority of the “off-season” on the treadmill, focusing on short workouts at high intensity levels.  Thus far, it seems to have paid off.  I’ve already set some surprising PR’s this year and am hopeful that the training will pay off in the longer distances. Training Recap For those interested, here are the types of workouts I’ve been doing and seeing a good amount of progress from (click for Strava data):

  • Varying Speed Intervals:
    • Treadmill 3-2-1: After a 5-minute warm-up run 3 minutes at 10K pace, walk/recover 1 minute, run 2 minutes at slightly faster than 5K pace, walk/recover 1 minute, run 1 minute at 400m pace, walk/recover 1 minute and then start session over.  The 3 minute interval should be just under anaerobic threshold, the 2 minute just over, and the 1 minute well over.  I’ll typically do 3 to 4 of these sessions at 1 to 2 percent incline.
    • Song Intervals: These are probably my favorite, because they are all on feel and go by really quickly.  I do them often on my lunch runs.  It’s simple: after a 5 minute warm-up, run the next song at just over 5K pace.  When the next song begins, recover (I prefer active recovery here, such as a slow jog).  Repeat.
    • Progression Run: Start at an easy pace, clock that mile, and increase each mile from there by about 15 to 20 seconds per mile.
  • Hills:
    • Treadmill 4-1: This one is hard to get started with because you want to find that incline VS pace ratio that works.  The goal is to run 4 minutes at an incline that hits your anaerobic threshold, and then walk a 1 minute recovery.  Repeat.  What’s fun here is that you can switch up the incline to pace ratio depending upon how steep VS how fast you’d like the training session to be.
    • Steep Intervals: Find a steep hill.  Run up it and then back down.  Repeat.

I’ve also been doing weekly track workouts with the Colorado Columbines.  They are a fun group of women that meet every Tuesday in Littleton for a coach-directed workout around the oval.  I’m not-so-secretly in love with these workouts!  Why?  1. Someone is telling me what to do. They only thing I need to think about is my pace and how hard to push it. 2. No pressure; the ladies in this group are wonderful! 3. Results. If anyone is looking to get faster, track is where it’s at! Race Recaps


Le Cours de L’Amour 5K

Yep, that’s me on the left rocking the Mary Catherine Gallagher look.  My hands were cold and my armpits were warm. ‘Nuff said.  The course was around City Park, which is pretty flat.  I finished up in 21:57, good for 3rd overall in my age group.



Snowman Stampede 5M

Snowman Stampede 5M

I decided to run the Snowman Stampede 5 mile at the last minute.  It fit in with where my training was at and I thought I’d shoot for a PR.  I seriously surprised myself and ran a 35:46 (approx. 7:10/mile).  It was cold and dreary, which decreased the field size quite a bit, so I ended up finishing 5th female and 1st in my age group.

Erin Go Braugh 7.77K

Erin Go Braugh 7.77K

I got a comp’ed entry into this race and figured hey, why not?  I ended up going out way too fast and dying the last couple of miles.  Ouch.  Finished up in 35 minutes flat and 1st in my age group.

Brain Booster 5K | Photo by Tim Bergsten, Pikes Peak Sports

Brain Booster 5K | Photo by Tim Bergsten, Pikes Peak Sports

Ahhh, the Brain Booster 5K, one of my favorites.  It’s the type of race you love to hate (or hate to love?), with a bunch of steep climbs and descents.  Couple that with the last mile being uphill and in a sand trap, and you have one of the most challenging 5K’s in the state.  I was initially (and still am) attracted to this race because of its cause: brain tumor awareness and research support.

“In Memory of Marissa; In Honor of Dad”

2015 marked the 4th year I’ve run this race, and holy moly did I set a course PR!  I came in at 23:26, 90 seconds faster than my previous event time, good enough for 5th female and 1st in my age group.

Three Creeks Half Marathon

Three Creeks Half Marathon

I decided to run the Three Creeks Half Marathon at the last minute as well.  I toed the line with two goals: run a sub 1:45 and don’t die!  I have a tendency of going out too fast in races.  Call it adrenaline, call it excitement, call it stupidity, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I had an amazing race.  I didn’t go out too fast, picked it up mid-way, and finished strong, with nothing left in the tank.  Around mile 8 or 9, I calculated that I may be able to sub 1:40, and decided to shoot for that.  Unfortunately, the course was long (by over .2 miles), and I clocked a gun time of 1:40:06.  For the record, my Garmin states that at 13.1 miles I was at 1:38:58, sigh.  Regardless, I had a blast and was internally screaming “I LOVE RUNNING!” throughout this race. C.U.R.E. 50K Finally, the bushwhacking reference comes into play.  I registered for this race with one goal in mind: training race.  The website claims that the event is very low key, and that it is entirely runable with little elevation gain.  Too true this was: not only was the entire course runable (save for the 15 water crossings), but it traversed over every type of running surface one could find.  Trail? Check. Mud? Triple-check. Slippery rocks under fast stream currents? Check-check. Grassy fields? Check. Sand beaches? Check. Muddy marshes that smelled of animal feces? Check. Pavement? Check, unfortunately. I could go on. Another aspect of the race was the crazy course concoction.  It had book-ended miles of straightaways with intricate trails as filling.  For the first time ever, I came into a race not scared of the distance, but rather scared of getting lost.  The website states: “Anyone getting lost will be made fun of…”  PERFECT. So what did I do? I got lost.  More than once. Not only did I walk away from this race feeling like I bushwhacked half the course, but that I should have been given a certificate for orienteering 33 miles of Chatfield Park trails. Bushwhack I can’t decide which definition fits best; it’s between “cut or push one’s way in a specified direction through dense vegetation” or “fight as a guerrilla in the bush.” Okay, back to why I ran the race: training.  I have 2 1/2 20+ mile training runs in the books (that 1/2 accounts for the day I felt like ass on my long run and cut it short, but finished up the mileage that afternoon.  Perhaps it was the french fries, chips and polish sausages I had the day before. Oh, and maybe all the beer!).  The majority of these runs encompass at least 2,000′ of elevation gain, in preparation for the season ahead.  I thought it would be a good idea to get a long run in with more running than elevation gain. Enter: CURE 50K. I immediately knew, before the gun ever went off, that I was in for something different.  There had been three days of rain/snow prior to the race, and Chatfield is nestled in the foothills, which is prime location for weather and mountain weather runoff.  Unfortunately, I was right.  I would estimate that a little less than half of the course was mud or extremely soft trail.  For those that haven’t run in mud, sand or soft trail before, it’s a different animal.  It forces your legs to work harder and it uses muscles (in my opinion) that don’t get worked as often on harder surfaces.  Additionally, there were at least 15 stream crossings over the course of the 50K.  In the end, my legs and my lungs were toast. Nutrition  I’ve found a few new nutrition items that I really like on the long runs and when it gets hot:

CLIF Organic Energy Food in

CLIF Organic Energy Food in Banana/Beet/Ginger and Banana/Mango/Coconut

Tailwind Nutrition in

Tailwind Nutrition in Raspberry Buzz (Caffeinated)

Up Next…is the Greenland 50K on May 2nd.  My initial goal was to finish sub-5 hours, but I’m a bit nervous that I’ve set my sights too high.  My training is certainly there; the mileage, nutrition and build-up is there; I guess I’m just nervous because it’s a lofty goal and anything can happen.  I was reading an interview with Shalane Flanagan after her finish at Boston on Monday where she says she had “a bad day at the office.”  I can’t decide whether it’s nerve wracking or comforting to know that professionals have bad days too that they cannot explain.  I suppose the only thing I can do is be confident in my training, stick to my race plan, and keep patient, positive thoughts.

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