Friday, July 27, 2007

Mount Duke

Last Sunday I was fortunate to hike the highest mountain in this region; we call it Mount Duke but the locals call it Ljuboten. It took us about 30 minutes to drive to where we were meeting the Polish Contingent, the sponsors of the hike. They then drove us in one of those large military trucks through rough terrain to where the hike actually started, Camp One :o) the ride took almost 30 minutes and it was quite bumpy and uncomfortable.

We did not start the hike until about 10:20, local time. The weather here has been quite hot. The past several days, the temperatures have hovered in the low 100s; it has been as hot as 110 F. So I was afraid it would be a sweaty mess. I also decided to wear the booney hat vs. the patrol cap. I seldom wear sunscreen because of my bronzed skin, but this time I decided to pour some on my neck, the area in my body that tends to get sunburned the most.

We started at approximately 6000' elevation. The length was not that bad, 4 Kms one way, 5 miles round trip with a net gain of about 2200' feet. Now, the hike was rather steep, but that was not what made the hike difficult. What made it difficult was the fact that there were no clear cut trails so we had to hike through boulders and rocks. In spite of my experience hiking [hiked Mt. Whitney twice, and half dome once --- if you have been in any of those two places, you know how well marked and cleared the trails are. Not here. I made the mistake of going vertical, and I found myself gasping for air. I had to stop a few times to recover. While it was hot, the strong breeze made it bearable. It got easier as I started zig-zagging, making my own switch backs and making it much more easier to climb. Even then, it took me 1:40 to reach the top, a whooping 30 mpm!!! How is that for slow hiking!

I spent 40 minutes at the apex, took a picture with the Polish flag and another one with the US flag.

It was time to climb down. I should be able to descend it much, much faster than ascending right? Yes, but it was not without cost. I was blistering, but not too badly. I wore my good boots this time :-) It was like climbing down through steep steps. I did make it down to Camp One in 50 minutes [20 mpm you all], but my quads felt trashed.

I waited for the rest of my group to descend. That time resting did me a lot of good. However, I did not stretch. Stupid is as stupid does. Two hours later we were all back where we had left our vans. There was this cafe right where we parked the vehicles and I ordered a machiato [similar to a cappuccino] and relaxed for an hour or so in the shade. We still needed to wait for one more guy.

The following day found me with sore quads. Not that sore though. Bagged the run.

On Tuesday, the quads were naturally tighter. Bagged the run.

On Wednesday I had had enough bags for one week and ran 10. I must have had a funny gait as I felt I was hopping rather than striding. It was painful but managed to run it sub 7:50. The next day the quads were less sore but still tight. The 10 miles were not as painful as the previous night [because it has been so hot, I end up running after 8 pm] but managed a decent pace even while including that hateful hill, 7:42 pace.

To say that I have been pleased with my last few runs is an understatement. I feel that the pace has been closer to my ability. I have ran several miles at my current MP goal, or 7:20ish and I have actually felt good doing it. Not like before, when those runs felt more like 5K efforts.

On an aside, I have always enjoyed reading John Grisham [probably because he's such an easy read], and I borrowed The Innocent Man from my roommate. Before I read this book I was totally pro-death penalty, but I am not so sure anymore. The book is non-fiction. The story makes you wonder how something like that can happen in the glorious U S of A, in small town America. I you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It will leave you thinking justice is neither blind, nor fair.

Carpe Viam... Seize the Road!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Beantown 2008

I haven't earned my ticket to Beantown and I already booked my flight and my hotel. It's never too early to plan you know. Me figures that if I do not BQ then I can always have a good time rooting for fellow bloggers. Besides I had some miles that needed to be spent lest they expire.

Hope to meet a few of you :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer of Malmo

I first ran across this concept as a member of the Dead Runners Society, whose motto is carpe viam, loosely translated as 'seize the road.' Then member Kevin Beck, and writer for Running Times, posted it to the list.

I since have 'googled' it and the credit for its creation is fuzzy at best. Regardless, the Summer of Malmo was created for High School runners. Naturally, it was designed to give them a strong base for their upcoming cross-country season. The program is very simple: to run as much, and as often as possible, with particular emphasis on doubles as they help increase the volume.

The program suggests to run only two quality runs in any given training week, 12X200s and a tempo run. It doesn't really go into specifics as to how fast the 200s are supposed to be done but I suspect them to be at 3K pace. It also fails to specify the length of the tempo run. While both of these quality runs are important to the program, the build up of volume is the real objective.

Now, I left High School many moons ago but I liked this idea. However, I never really tried it. My goal marathon is December 2, and my official training begins late this month, so I have been concentrating in mileage volume and decided to revisit the Summer of Malmo. The last eight weeks, I have averaged 52 miles per week. Not a lot, needless to say. But when my 'best' marathon program averaged 42 miles per week [which helped me run three marathons in a span of six weeks in 3:24, 3:17 and 3:22], and most of my 35 marathons were completed with training of 30 mpw or less, the 50+ weeks were expected to produce results.

Unfortunately I have failed to meet goals during my evaluation runs. Sadly my legs are slowing down. I still had hope that they had a few more PRs in them, but the horizon does not look too promising. Ah... the vicissitudes of an untalented runner :o)