I'm between long run weeks so I thought I'd get out and do some hill intervals. They're supposed to be even better than flat intervals and safer for your body because you can't do them as fast going uphill. I had a big breakfast at my favorite local place, Oatmeal, toast, eggs over easy and a few bites of my daughter's pancake w/ strawberries and whipped cream on top. I wanted to run earlier in the day but I had to let that huge meal settle. I decided on a mid-day run and started out with my "One Store" loop. I began with an easy first mile and then settled into just under 8 min pace give or take a hill here and there. When I got to the store that the loop is named after I headed out to 40th ave instead of turning toward home.
40th is just over a mile of 7% - 8% incline with wide shoulders. I'd prefer to run something a bit steeper for hill repeats but there's nothing steep and long enough near by. I tried my first ever Gu Roctane gel before I started the repeats. I've heard that they work better than regular Gu and that the Amino acids make a noticeable difference. The flavor (Blueberry Pomegranate) didn't taste very good. It had a bland taste that wasn't pleasant but not quite inedible. Maybe it's the berries, I'll touch on this again later...
Anyway, back to running: I started out with a pace that I thought I'd be able to hold for a quarter mile and not much more. I had a pretty good sense for my pace as I was ready for the repeat to be over just before I hit 0.25mi. I was hitting "stop" on my Garmin instead of "lap" for the first few intervals so I didn't get splits for them but I'd guess around 1:45. The next 4 went pretty well and I wasn't struggling too hard at the turn-around. I'd just do an easy jog back down to my starting point and immediately start back up. This was giving me about 2:25 for the intervals (the recovery part).
Repeats 6 - 10 were harder. I was trying to keep my time steady on legs that were getting tired as I passed the 10 mile mark for the day. I kept my times in the 1:40 - 1:44 range for #6 - #9 and then tried to use up whatever I had left for the last one, telling myself that I had to break 1:40 for #10. I could feel myself losing form as I tried to lean into it and keep my core tight to keep my speed and leg turnover up. Gasping loudly for air, I hit the quarter in 1:39 which is slower than I thought I'd be but I have to be happy with it. My splits looked like this:
5:19 for the first two plus the recovery jog..
4:22 for the repeat plus recovery jog.
I doubled over to catch my breath after the last one before jogging back down to recover. At the bottom of the hill I jogged the ~2 miles back to the house at an easy pace (8:40) to let the legs start to recover. When I hit "stop" this is what I saw:
Dist: 13.1 mi.
Ascent: 2875 on the Garmin, so ~1400?
At home I immediately hit the Recoverite and ate the other gel that I'd brought with me and forgot to eat on the run. It was a Hammer Gel in the new Mountain Huckleberry flavor. I don't know if I could tell the difference between this one and the Roctane earlier. They both had a bland taste that didn't remind me anything of berries. Maybe berry flavors are harder to synthesize in the lab or something. I didn't have any expectations for the Roctane as I've never had one before. Hammer is usually pretty good with their gel flavors though. I love the chocolate, raspberry (hey, that's a berry and they got that one right!) espresso (awesome), and Apple Cinnamon, which is good but too sweet to eat much of and tastes exactly like the filling in Hostess Apple Pies.
Looking ahead to next week, I have two 6 mile runs during the week, one easy and one tempo. I have my final pre-race long run on the weekend at 24 miles. After that I'll try to taper for my race. I wanted to run the Redmond Watershed Trail Marathon on 3/28 as my last long run but the weekends didn't line up and my schedule got pushed out when I had to miss my 20 mile run for 3 straight weekends. Oh well. It wasn't a goal for the year anyway.