Monday 2/14 (5.9mi, 54min, 9:30/mi) My legs were a little tight after Sunday's 12 miles. I've been getting a bit of tightness where my right hamstring meets the Glute muscle lately. I wanted to get out for an easy run to loosen up my legs. Despite the rain over the weekend as well as most of Monday I gave the Bridle Trails a shot. I wore my Vasque Transistor shoes which are getting old enough that I don't care about getting them dirty any more. I started out trying to avoid the puddles on the trails, working hard to hop from side to side or sneak by on a sliver of dirt to get around them. After about a mile of this I just gave up and started plowing through the middle of the trail, mud and water be damned. It actually took a few good puddles before I even felt my feet get wet through my Drymax socks. Again I followed the small interior trails that I seldom run rather than the familiar exterior loop. By the time I finished my route through the Bridle Trails and back through the muddy wet corridor trail I was pretty well covered in mud and dirt from toes to knees. It took a bit of work to wash it all off in the shower back at the gym. It was actually quite fun to play in the mud and puddles as I ran. My knee didn't hurt particularly but didn't feel good either. Glad I got out for a run.
Wednesday 2/16 (6.0mi, 40:42, 6:47/mi) I had tempo on the schedule and hadn't pushed a fast pace since before I was sick at the end of January. I also needed to pick up a new combination lock to use at the gym lockers at work. It turns out that the Master (tm) combination locks that I remember from my high school days are crap now as mine barely works after a few months of sporadic use. I planned to run out to Target in Redmond and see what Tempo I could hold on the trip. The way out has a big descent along the bike path that parallels Hwy 520. I managed to pull 6:05 and 5:50 my first two miles, largely due to the hill and my NB MT101s. At the bottom of the hill I ran along the Sammamish River trail out behind Redmond Town Center and under 520 to Target. It's almost exactly 3.0 miles each way. I pulled up to Target in 18:30, quite a bit faster than I thought I'd be. After buying a different type of lock I started on the trip back. I did okay getting out to the trail but I was starting to struggle keeping the pace under 6:30/mi. It definitely wasn't comfortable but I didn't want to back off. I had some luck with the two stoplights I had to go through, catching them after only a short wait. I was hoping for more of a break to catch my breath though. Running back up the 1+ mile hill was pretty tough. I was just gutted trying to keep any kind of pace heading up that hill. When I was half way up I was greeted by a strong headwind to further work against me if the gradient wasn't enough. I pushed the best I could and then recovered pretty quickly to sub-6:30 pace once I was back on the flat streets near work. I'm surprised to see 40:42, especially considering the hills. It makes me hopeful that there's a fast 10K in my legs later this year if I can find a flat course. Later in the day my legs were really sore from the tempo, but I'd say it was worth it.
Thursday 2/17 (2.0mi, 18.5min, 9:13/mi) My legs were very tight after Wednesday's tempo run so I just wanted to get on a treadmill and run a couple of slow miles to stretch out my legs. My right Glute/Hamstring was still really tight. The tightness is pretty deep in there and hard to work out with the stick or the foam roller. I've tried using tennis balls but it doesn't quite work the knot out. Speed work seems to bring it out more than other things so I'll probably tone down the speed work for the rest of my training for Chuckanut. After the treadmill I lifted weights for about 30 minutes. I've started spending 2 days a week lifting to give my knee a little break as the mileage ramps up.
Friday 2/18 (3.0mi, 27min, 9:00/mi) I had plans to do a longer run after work so I just ran 3 easy miles at lunch before some more weight lifting. It really helped shake my legs out as I was still feeling some Hamstring/Glute tightness from Wednesday's tempo run.
Friday 2/18 (8.9mi, 1h 18m, 8:47/mi) Just after dark I got out to run at the Bridle Trails. I'd just put new batteries in both my headlight and my small flashlight and wanted to see what kind of improvement that made. The ground wasn't too muddy and wearing my beat up Cascadia 5's, I didn't care enough to avoid the mud. I tried to keep the pace pretty easy on the way out to the Bridle Trails and ran a little bit more around the interior trails instead of taking the perimeter trails that I knew would be in the worst shape. About 5 minutes into my run in the middle of the woods I saw something swoop over me just at the edge of the beam cast by my headlight. It startled me enough to bring a four letter exclamation out. I looked up in time to see a large bird fly over my head and perch in a tree just ahead of me. I looked up with my light and saw a good sized owl watching me. I continued running and the owl swooped over me twice more. I decided that I didn't want the owl to keep following me so I stopped and walked over to the tree where it was perched about 12' up and squirted it twice with my water bottle. It flew off and I took off running at a little faster pace. I didn't know if it was attracted to my lights or using them to hunt but I know that owls have some pretty serious claws that I could just picture digging into my shoulder when I wasn't looking. Luckily the trail ahead had much more tree cover and that was the last I saw of the owl. The rest of the run was pretty easy but my fitness isn't great after being sick and it was a pretty tough haul. Running at night in a muddy forest requires extra effort and concentration to process the little bit of the trail that you can see and then plan your path through it. One odd thing did happen though, I got turned around in the middle somehow and made two wrong turns in a row. I was lost for a few minutes knowing that I wasn't where I wanted to be. Once I recognized a sign at a trail junction I got back on track but it added a little over a mile to my run. I was over my planned time, running a little bit late by the time I got out of the Bridle Trails so I picked up the pace and got back to work to shower and get on the road back home.
Sunday 2/20 (20.0mi, 3h 05m, 9:17mi) After missing my last two long runs I decided that if I can get a long run in the next three weekends I'll still be okay to run Chuckanut. If I hurt myself or it's too hard, I'll just go and volunteer on race day. Today was my first of the three consecutive long runs. My only plan was to be on my feet for 3 hours (the next two weeks are 3.5 and 4.0 hours). I headed out the way I normally do and went up the Tunnel trail (muddy) and out past Kopachuck. Down the hill and around past the Island View market. I headed out to Sehmel park as I'd heard from the local running store (Route 16 Running) that there were some trails to run there. I happened to find a quick way into the trail about a half mile from the park. I didn't know where the trails went exactly but I tried to head toward the general direction of the park. I was pretty impressed with the trails and they lead me right to the park. I cut through the park and picked up the trail on the other side. I turned East onto Sehmel Dr. and went up the steep hill. At the top I kept on for less than a mile and then turned off onto Bujacich dr. where I found the entrance to my final goal, McCormick Forest Park. I'd run by it on previous long runs but never ventured in to check it out. I regret not looking previously. The trails are hilly, wooded, clean and groomed. In other words: Great! I didn't know the layout of the trails but it was incredibly easy to find the perimeter trails as most of the major trail heads had small laminated maps next to the trail markers. The trails actually reminded me of the little bit of the Interurban trail that I ran on two summers ago up in Bellingham, which happens to be part of the Chuckanut course. I think I need to spend some time on these trails. It was about a 1.5 - 1.75 mile loop around the perimeter with a good bit of climbing and descending. Half of the loop was flat and the other half had no flat sections at all. I'd say that they are the best trails I've found in the area so far. I had time for two laps before I had to head back home to make my 3 hours. By the two hour point in the run I was feeling pretty beat up and my pace was slowing. I was a little confused trying to find the Northern entrance to the Sehmel park trails and then took a different route through the park trails which resulted in two dead ends that I had to backtrack. Once I got back onto the roads with about 6 miles to go my legs were really starting to complain. My form was getting sloppy and I could feel my Hamstrings tightening up. I tried to just ignore the pain and focus on the music which worked for a little bit. I had to stop and walk for a minute up the hill heading toward the tunnel trail. I felt a little better after getting to the bottom of the trail and for the last mile but overall it was a pretty brutal long run due to the shape I'm in right now. I was just glad to get through it.
For nutrition, I drank Heed & Nuun in my Nathan's bladder and it lasted until I had a mile to go. I also was eating my Perpetuem / Hammer Gel slurry mix every half hour. On top of that I tried out some Gu Chomps for the first time today. They're just big flavored sugar gel blocks but they're 33 cal/block and they tasted pretty good. I need to look at what kind of sugar they use and if it's not HFCS, buy some more. I didn't have any stomach troubles on the run, or the entire week for that matter. Maybe the Acidophilus I started taking recently is helping.