Thursday, April 19, 2007

At Least I'll be Rested

I joined the gang from the Running Shop for the weekly evening run yesterday and felt much better than I did on my morning run. In fact, I actually felt like doing some strides or pick-ups off of the front of the group on the way back. This would have been far too obnoxious for the other runners, so instead I just contentedly jogged along.

The legs were feeling good again this morning, but instead of returning to the track I knocked out a series of ten by 100 meter strides on the roads and trails. For the last four I ran along a dirt fire road as I visualized getting off the line and down the wide dirt trail that starts the 5K cross-country race this Saturday. I felt I ran fairly strong last year at this race, and I'm looking forward to giving it another go.

Because of some unavoidable family circumstances I won't be able to get a run in tomorrow unless I wait until the evening, but I figure I will be better off taking a zero than running so close to the race. On the plus side I will be rested, though there's also the possibility that the time off will leave me feeling flat.

I'm quite excited about this race, as I can comfortably shake the "pace monkey" off of my back and simply race for place. The course is beautifully cruel with extended sections through sandy washes, up craggy dirt climbs, and around tight corners. Everyone I've spoken to hates this course, but I think it's a blast. When I'm on a difficult course like this I try and remember some of Colorado University coach Mark Wetmore's strategy as described in the Running with the Buffaloes book. While running on their home course in Boulder at altitude, he cautions his runners to run at a strong but measured pace up the climbs, then to accelerate and make up ground on the downhills or flats following the tough stretches. The idea is to avoid taking on huge amounts of oxygen debt at the wrong times by being cautious on the most taxing parts of the course, which should pay off by enabling a runner to make up ground while those around them are trying to recover after overextending themselves. In other words, I'll try not to scald the milk in the oatmeal.

Training: 5 measly miles, 34:05, 6:49 pace, w/10x100 strides/accelerations


Sempre Libera said...

"Everyone I've spoken to hates this course, but I think it's a blast."

Great attitude! Sounds like a fun race. And good luck getting into Chicago - wish I had a tip for you! I know NY holds spots open based on time qualifiers, but I don't know about Chicago.

Thomas said...

Roger Bannister had a good trick for a xc race; he once battled another runner for the lead on a big muddy climb, and on top cheerfully remarked "well, that wasn't as bad as last year". The other runner freaked out and immediately fell back.

Blaxabbath said...

I don't know which I hate more -- oatmeal or this course.

Viva crepes and roadraces!

Phil said...

Great attitude Mike. It's those courses that are so tough that you don't fret about hitting a PR that you re-discover why you enjoy this sport. Folks that will only run on pancake flat / fast coursed just don't know what they're missing.

You'll do great this weekend. Can't wait for the race report.