This week would not be too big of a progression from last week in terms of volume, but the workout and long run were definitely going to be a lot more challenging. Monday and Tuesday got off the same way last week did, with easy run doubles of 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Tuesday once again also meant meeting at the grass fields at NAU for drills, strides and plyos before Wednesday’s workout. I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt these days, expecting to feel wiped out from the combination of Saturday’s hill reps and Sunday’s 23 miles. I think I did a good job recovering from those, and had built a little bit of confidence which always helps.
Wednesday’s workout was an 8 mile steady state on Lake Mary. These steady states are a staple of NAZ Elite training, and they’re workouts I always look forward to as I feel I get the biggest fitness boost from them. The twist to today’s workout was that after 4 miles at marathon effort pace (around 5:15 per mile up here) we had the ‘green light’ to pick up the pace the last 4 miles. I joked Tuesday afternoon (but was being somewhat serious) that with only 3 weeks of training which consisted of basically just fartleks and long runs, that me picking it up may mean running 5:14 per mile the last 4 miles. Coach Ben did a great job changing that mindset for me when he texted me before the workout: “Reminder: We talked about taking chances in practice here and there. This is the first opportunity for that this segment. Let’s have a good one.” That immediately fired me up to get after it those last 4 miles. The Scotts (Fauble and Smith) and Ben Bruce would also be starting this workout, though Fauble and I were the only ones going 8. We got off to a bit of a quick start, coming through in 5:10. The Scotts kept that pace going for about the next mile and a half, while Ben and I tried to back off just a bit, running a second or two slower over that distance. I was hesitant about running any faster than the 5:15 prescribed pace, wanting to save as much energy for picking up the pace the last 4 miles. Ben and I worked our way back up to the Scotts as they eventually backed off a bit, but we still came through 4 miles in 20:48, 12 seconds faster than planned. I thought that may cost us some time the second half, but I don’t think it did. We picked it up a little the next couple of miles, running 5:09 and 5:05 respectively. Fauble got some separation from me over the last 2 miles, I was glad to see him back to form after our tough workout last Wednesday. I would guess he ran about 4-5 seconds faster those last 2 miles, but I was more than pleased with running 4:58 and 4:55 for my last 2 miles to finish 8 in a total time of 40:55. I finished the day with a slow shakeout 3 mile run in the afternoon. This Wednesday compared to last Wednesday was a great example of the crazy highs and lows you can go through in a training segment; and I would continue that rollercoaster ride throughout this week.
Thursday was another 10 mile morning, hour of strength work at HYPO2, and 4 mile second run day. I was definitely feeling the physical effects of a big effort the day before, but was excited to have a workout like that under my belt. On Friday, my family and I were driving out to a vacation in Santa Barbara, so I only had one 10 mile run that morning. I was scheduled to do my long run for the week on Saturday, but after spending 10:30am-8pm driving to Santa Barbara, my body felt really tight, and my mind felt fried. I talked with Ben and decided to switch Saturday and Sunday. It worked well schedule-wise as we were already planning on the next hard workout the be on Wednesday, so I’d still be getting our usually two days of rest in between hard workouts. As a result, I ran another 10 + 4 mile double Saturday, while enjoying beautiful Santa Barbara.
The long run this week was going to be very challenging no matter what. 24 miles total, 2 miles each for a warm up and cool down, 20 miles of alternating between 5:00 pace and 6:00 pace. On top of that I still felt a little off from the long day of travel Friday, and a very hard workout Wednesday. I probably didn’t eat enough carbs at dinner Saturday night, and was running in unfamiliar terrain in Santa Barbara. That was a great reminder of how spoiled my teammates and I are to live and train in Flagstaff. Doing long workouts on Lake Mary is a privilege not many other places have. I know that seems like a long list of excuses, because it is. This workout did not go well for me. From the very start I just felt flat. My breathing was fine (no surprise being at sea level) but my legs just felt heavy. Craig Lutz (who is interning with HOKA ONE ONE out in Santa Barbara) came out to take pictures and provide fluid support. He asked me how it was going around 9 miles in, I simply replied “rough”. At that point, I was still on goal pace, ranging between 4:58-5:02 for the fast miles, and 6:00-6:05 for the slow miles. But I knew it felt too hard too early to make it the whole 20, I just had to keep grinding and go as long as I could while staying close to the intended pace. Unfortunately, that wasn’t too much further. Miles 12-14 began to get further off pace as I ran 5:07, 6:10, and 5:12. Continuing to struggle and getting further off pace made me decide to stop there and save it for another day. I cooled down 3 miles to get 19 miles for the day. Afterward, I talked to Coach Ben about how I felt, and what small adjustments we could make to get back on track. I knew that training hard while on vacation was going to be a struggle for me, but was disappointed to not have been able to get a little more out of myself that day. But, as I mentioned earlier, it’s all part of the ups and downs of training. All I could do then was to move on, trying to recover as well as possible and have a great week of training next week. 104 miles for the week. 8 weeks to go!