Sunday, August 22, 2010

Questions easy. Answers hard.

With the summer blast furnace just past it's maximum output, it is very difficult to make any real training gains. The body is put under great stress from the heat and it becomes difficult to maintain the level of fitness from the spring. However, it is conducive to slower running with the necessary grunt work that entails base training, with just enough speedwork so the legs don't forget the race parties they will be attending in the cooler weather.

This past week was planned to be a little lower mileage, but I did a couple of faster sessions tuned to the heat. On Tuesday I did my imitation of a Zatopek workout: 16 x 400m at a slower pace. The purpose of this workout is, as part of my base training, to build endurance while not overdoing it. My second workout was a 4 mile tempo run. A thunder/lightning storm forced me to do this on the treadmill; I much prefer to do this run on the roads. Tempo runs offer a race-like experience without as much distress as a race, instilling confidence as well as a great fitness benefit.

 Melted asphalt coming off my shoe outsoles on the treadmill

On other days I ran easy, and on Saturday I had 10 miles planned with 8 at MP (marathon pace). Earlier in the afternoon I checked the weather and the heat index was about 96oF. I knew the run would be tough but not impossible, especially since I have run further albeit at a slower pace. What I did not know until after the run was the forecast was revised and that 96o would be in excess of 100o. This would prove too much for me in my current condition.

After a 2 mile warm-up on the treadmill, I headed out with my CamelBak Siren filled for the trip with trusty Gatorade. It actually took some concentration to slow down the first mile, which I still ran a little fast. Shortly after starting mile 2 I began wheezing some and admonished myself to hit the damn planned pace even if I have to walk to slow it down.

As the run progressed it took more effort to maintain pace and I finally compromised with doing 5 miles at MP and running the last 3 easy. When I checked my Garmin 301 when I was finished, I found my HR (heart rate) was the same at my first fast mile as my last easy miles. My body had overheated and just could not perform as I had expected. At 57 years of age, at least I can still recognize a need to learn.

Questions easy. Answers hard.

In three weeks I do my first half marathon - the Francis Marion Dirt Dash - as an amputee runner. I easily could have done the distance months ago, but it is my desire to do it well, not just finish. It will not be close to my best times at an able-bodied athlete, but it will be an honest effort. That is how I try to live this life.

My friend Kelly Luckett, who I met at the Getting2Tri National Paratriathlon Camp, and her friend Holly will be doing the half marathon and my wife Jennifer will be doing the 5k. I am hoping the oppressive heat will lift some, as it is doubtful much if any breeze will be felt in the forest. I will do my best NOT to start the race too fast; since I have 3 other half marathon scheduled there will be other opportunities to push the pace. I'd rather finish with something in the tank at this point, so that is the main goal.

As Jennifer likes to say, "Eye on the prize." January 15, 2011 is that date.

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