Week 19 & 20, 2012

No activity week, followed by the best week ever

This was a crappy week; I was in Portugal and didn't feel much like running. I only went for one run on Friday. If you look at my speed during this training you may think I was out for a walk. Not so. I don't know good places for running around Braga, so usually I end up going up the Bom Jesus hill; and that's a hell of a hill to climb. During this session I did a total ascent of 560m; and such an ascent can do that to your pace!

The following week I decided to step up my game. On Monday I again attacked Bom Jesus, but this time with a twist. I would go 4 minutes uphill and then back up and go down for 1 minute. That means that on the downhill part I basically covered half of the distance I did on the way up. So in the end I climbed the hill twice. And this time I didn't stop at Bom Jesus but went all the way up to the Sameiro Sanctuary. Great training. Also psychologically as you struggle up and then kinda undo it going down. I'm not sure whether it's a known training scheme (given how obvious it is, I suspect so) but if not, it should be. Total ascent: 920m.

On Tuesday I wanted to take a break from the hills, but it turned out not to be that easy. I have to say Braga is not very pedestrians/cyclers/runners-friendly. And the driving culture is not making it any better, I'm afraid. So I ended up going towards the Bom Jesus hill again. I was hoping to go around the mountain avoiding the climb, but it didn't work that way. And as I went at 3pm the scorching sun wasn't much of a help either.

Wednesday was a day off and on Thursday another attack on the hill. This time I decided to try to make it heavier by trying to "race" up the hill; well, maybe not exactly race but to get there rather quickly. I soon had to revise my plans as some minutes into the race I started seeing white spots and my heart rate was sky-rocketing. Still I managed to get up averaging 164bpm. And if I add that my average pace was.... 7:18min/km... yes, running in the hills is a different game altogether. (Just for reference my average uphill pace on the more relaxed Monday training was 9:05min/km). So I managed to get some hills and I hope this will pay its due if in the end I decide to race in the Lakeland 50.

On Saturday came time for the long run. I planned a 55km loop from my house. Unfortunately I started the training very late; 7:20pm, which is a pity as it was a wonderful day for a run. That also meant I would end it around 1am, in total darkness, which could pose a problem; so I was hoping to spend the last 2 hours of the run on a familiar territory. If everything went fine this should in principle be possible. But not everything went fine. Around 24th kilometer I missed a turn, which costed me some extra kilometers. It was getting dark by that time, so I had to adjust my route back, as I went. Gladly it all worked fine in the end. I was close to home and would end the training with close to 50K. It took all the strong will I could muster to take a detour and get closer to the planned 55K. I ended up with 52 and decided to call it a day as it was late and I was super exhausted. Nice thing about this training is that I was going at a very decent pace. I averaged 5:24min/km, which is a respectable 12 second per km faster than two weeks ago. But I didn't manage to go as evenly as back then; in fact I did the first 20K in 5:07min/km and the last few kilometers I was done for and was going slower than 6:00min/km. Still, my average pace was faster than at the 50K ultra in Assen last year! I think that's a clear indication that my endurance is way better now.

Does that mean I'm ready for the Lakeland 50? I really don't know. I'm fairly confident that I could run 80km now (that's almost precisely what 50 miles are), although as usual it's more a question of how fast not if. But it's not so much the 80K that I'm worried about (granted, that's scary too) as the 3km of the vertical ascent that I'd have to face there. And, especially after the experience in Portugal, I know this is not something to be taken lightly...

... but the problem is gone, as I just tried to register for the race and ended up... on the waiting list. I mean, seriously?!? I know that marathons became mainstream and for the biggest events one has to register way in advance. But ultras? Are there really that many ppl crazy enough to want to do that to themselves? I really didn't see that coming... So now I can either hope that I still make it there (unlikely), or per Jan's advice go for 50K in Amsterdam on 10th of June (too little, too soon) or for 100K there (too much, too soon). I'm also toying with the idea of a 62K run in Corsica; it's at the end of July, just like I wanted. The only problem is that it's super hilly -- 4500m of total ascent is, well, A LOT... if at least I had a place where I could do hill training. Oh well, I guess I need to look some more at available races.

Anyhow, I finished this week with an easy 11km run on Sunday, bringing my weekly total to 113km and setting my new weekly record :), improving over 111km from August 2011, which is even more pronounced, given all the hills in Portugal. Ultras, here I come! :)

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