Tabatas: Under-appreciated fitness boosters


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I hurt myself today. ~ N.I.N.

Ah the Tabata. Some people hate them, others love them. In the moment, they can be the bane of my existence but after rocking out a few sets, I really tend to notice the benefits. For the uninitiated, a Tabata can be applied to virtually any exercise type (cycling; swimming; push-ups; chess, I assume) but since I am a runner, I tend to knock these out while running. Go figure. Here’s the formula:

Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Repeat 8 times
Feel free to do multiple sets

Four minutes (per set) of activity doesn’t sound like much, but if done correctly, these can really help boost your fitness. I tend to replace strides with one Tabata on Fridays and will work in multiple sets as part of my Tuesday interval training. Just keep good form, really work the 20s and you’ll reap the benefits.

~stubert.

GTIS Race Report


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First, do enough training. Then believe in yourself and say: I can do it. ~ Haile Gebrselassie

New PR: 1:26:24, 68th overall, 3rd in division

For a race in which I didn’t actually start feeling okay until past the half-way point, this one turned out well. I had zero expectations for this one so goal-setting was a bit of a challenge. Arbitrarily, I settled on 1:25 as a pie-in-the-sky goal, PR as goal #2 (though actually had my old PR wrong so nearly screwed this up) and a sub 1:30 as my “I’ll be okay with that” goal for the day.

My other objective for this race was to get a bit of a feel for the whole remote-start-line aspect since I will need to repeat this style of race-day shenanigans in November. I am not sure I really nailed any of it, but it was good practice.

I slept through my alarm a bit and was pretty tired as I zombied my way out the door around 5:30. Jammed up to Idaho Springs and made my way to the busses that took us up to the starting line in Georgetown. My buddy, Caleb, found me in line so we were able to hang out on the way up the hill and throughout the pre-race warm ups and whatnot. His friend, Mike, made it a trio.

We milled around the start area for about an hour, got our numbers, tried to stay warm, etc. With about 30 minutes to go before the start, we warmed up a bit (ran the first couple miles, which were on a loop, and did some strides) and then bullied our way into the front of the starting corral.

Pretty quickly after making it into the corral, it was time to race. I ditched my t-shirt and water bottle and we were off. I was pretty far up front so had clear sailing for the first couple of miles which featured some hills (up), tight corners, and relatively steep downhills. My buddy, Rafa Pacheco (who ended up 24th with a solid 1:21), ran by me about 1.5 miles in and we exchanged words of encouragement. I definitely went out a bit on the spicy side (have to knock that off) but settled into my target pace fairly quickly, though I wasn’t feeling super well.

I really struggled to find my pacing and shake whatever was causing me to feel so bad in the early going. Finally, I ducked into a toilet around mile 5.5 to relieve myself and this seemed to make things improve in the next couple of miles. I didn’t really start to feel okay until around mile 7 when I was able to pick up my pace on a stretch of dirt roads and start picking people off. I actually felt human for the next several miles, lost my rhythm a bit on a short uphill around mile 8.5, was able to recover from that and motor through about mile 12.5 then faded just a bit on the run up to the finish. After a couple of final turns, I was done with a new PR (barely) of 1:26:24.

Lessons learned: I certainly didn’t approach this race with as much focus as I probably could have and didn’t really eat or sleep as well as I should have in the week prior. I went out too fast but was able to overcome some wonkiness early, which was nice. Mostly just focused on staying smooth and working on form when things weren’t going quite to plan. At New York, I am going to try to get off my feet once I make it to the starting line. I definitely didn’t do this well yesterday. I also plan to take more clothing to the start as I was a bit chilly waiting for the race to get rolling yesterday.

All in all, it was a solid effort and a good race. I plan to do a recovery run today to see how things shake out and don’t think I’ll lose any real training time (another goal for this one). I feel like I am on track at this point and am hoping this event really helps kick start the rest of my NYC training. If you are looking for a fun half, I recommend the GTIS. Good stuff.

~stubert.

Pre-race work-out


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Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. ~ Military Adage

For the past several years, I have implemented the same pre-race strategy: take 2 days before the event completely off, run my pre-race workout the day before, get off my feet. For those of you looking for a good, pre-race workout, here’s my approach (thanks to World Champ, Mark Plaatjes):

  • Warm up for 20 minutes
  • Do 4, 20-second strides
  • Run 1-mile at race pace
  • Get off your feet

Today, I did this workout up at my house, so the warm-up was a little spicier than I would have liked (given that there are approximately 150 meters of consecutive “flat” places to run anywhere near my place) but the strides felt progressively better as I worked through them. I give myself enough time to recover completely between each set, then recover completely before trying to lock in my race pace for the prescribed mile. Today, I was a bit on the fast side but it was good to shake things out. Since I don’t normally race half marathons, I am not as familiar with my pacing so I went out a little too hard, then backed off in the second half mile. Still was about 15 seconds faster than my fantasy target race pace but I felt solid.

I am using tomorrow’s race from Georgetown to Idaho Springs (GTIS) to get my head wrapped around logistics a bit. New York is going to require some patience in the early morning lead-in to the race. Guessing I’ll be taking a train to the ferry and then jumping on a bus to the start line so I am going to use the bus-to-start cluster tomorrow to get myself more in tune with that nonsense and “practice” the waiting game that I’ll inevitably face in November at NYC.

Tomorrow’s race should be interesting. I have only raced two other half marathons. The first was in March before I raced Boston and I felt like I put in a pretty solid effort. The second was a couple months after Boston in the run-up to San Francisco and that one was a bit of a disaster. I have three goals in mind but am mostly focused on starting a bit conservatively and finishing strong. I’ll let you know how it goes.

~stubert.

I Accidentally Signed Up for NYC


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I’ve made a huge mistake. ~ Gob Bluth

You read that right. Back in May, I decided, with about 17 minutes to spare, to sign up for NYC. Given last year’s shenanigans, I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting in. But low and behold, less than 12 hours later, I got the nod. I guess I’m running NYC this year.

So I have been training, ramping up my miles, trying to get some consistency in the books. June and July featured some decent weeks, but very little consistency of volume. The last couple of weeks in July started to show some promise and I have managed to follow up a 48 last week with another 48 this week (and I might just have to go out for a double today given that this morning’s run went well and was pretty mellow). But I’ll take the 48 regardless and consider it a good kick-start to the next 12 weeks of more focused efforts.

This week’s training featured some highs and a couple of lows:

  • Monday: 3.8 in 40 on trails. Overall not a great run. Ran in my NB MT10s and though this one started out okay, my legs went a bit dead about half way through.
  • Tuesday: 7.05 in 1 hour hill play. Headed up to North Boulder Park and after a couple miles of warm up, did some hill repeats. I would consider this particular effort to be in the 6 range on a 1-10 scale. Didn’t feel great but got them done.
  • Thursday: 8.05 in 1:16 on trails. After missing my Wednesday window due to work constraints, I shifted things to Thursday. This was actually a pretty decent effort sans-watch with some good sized hills so I was pretty pleased with this one.
  • Friday: 3.95 in 45 on trails. This… was not a good run for me. Intended to throw in a Tabata but after a couple reps really, REALLY wasn’t feeling it. So I walk/jogged back home. Ugly. Guessing I was dehydrated or something.
  • Saturday: 9.58 in 1:12 Tolland Road 10K. Tempo efforts at altitude are always tough to judge. On one hand, I knocked this out. On the other, it wasn’t a particularly strong effort if you look at the numbers. But I’ll take it. The item that made this workout AWESOME is that, after living up in the mountains 2-days -shy of 20 years, I finally saw my first mountain lion. Really super cool.
  • Sunday: 14.89 in 2:15ish on trails. Fairly mellow 8 miles then tossed in some quicker tempo efforts in the last 6. Overall, felt great on this one. Ran with Mark Plaatjes’ crew, which was a lot of fun.

So with 12 weeks to go before NYC, I am still playing things by ear and am planning to let the training dictate my strategy for the race. I would say that I am pretty much on target at this point when compared to where I was last year prior to Eugene. I’d benefit from a few more road miles but am not willing, just yet, to completely abandon trails so we’ll see how I can work in mileage increases in the coming weeks on the slab.

This week was a bit nuts when it came to juggling work and running as well. Lessons learned include: Don’t get too uptight if things don’t go completely to plan; Be sure to get in your long run; Don’t force it if you aren’t feeling well but give yourself time to settle in. On two occasions this week I had less-than-stellar runs. I didn’t let it bother me and just moved on to the next workout without investing too much time in worrying about the previous day’s performance. You are going to have bad days. Don’t get too caught up with these.

On a final note, I am really looking forward to tuning into the IAAF World Championships starting next week. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Mark Plaatjes’ marathon win. I am guessing the U.S. men don’t have much of a hope this year but perhaps one of the women can uncork a good race. Here’s a link to the schedule.

~stubert.

Trip Report: James Peak via Rogers Pass


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How does Scott Jurek know you? ~ Bob
He doesn’t. ~ me

Bobby T, Leah, and me on James PeakWhen Tall Bob and I were sussing out this route, I had a particularly tough time finding any good beta. So I thought I’d share with a quick trip report to help those who might desire to follow in my footsteps.

James Peak is farily easily accessed from the east via Rogers Pass. This fantastic trail starts just to the north of the Moffat Tunnel at the terminus of the Tolland Road about 8 miles west of Rollinsville. Go to Rollinsville. Turn west. Drive until you see a tunnel. Easy peasy.

At the risk of giving away one of my favorite secret spots, Rogers Pass is incredible. Mostly runnable (or completely, if you are a stud), the pass travels west along South Boulder Creek through old-growth forests replete with waterfalls, wildflowers galore, and a variety of gorgeousness in which to wallow. The trail itself crosses the creek on numerous occasions and spits out right at treeline at the headwaters at Rogers Pass Lake (~4 miles). Trust me, this is worth the hike. Heart lake rests in high tundra just above and is a short push further up the pass. From Heart, follow the trail up the final pitch to the pass summit (~5.5 miles). Bask in the glory.

From the summit of Rogers, there are a number of route variations for the explorative-type but since you came here to learn about James Peak, I’ll try to stay on target. Bear left (south-ish) from the summit and you will see trail markers that will quickly guide you to the well-established route toward James. This dips along the back (west) side  of the ridge and contours southerly until it pops back out on the east side of the ridge for the final climb up to the peak’s summit (13,300′ according to Wikipedia). Reverse your steps back to the start. Good times.

My final stats for the round trip are as follows:

  • Total distance: 13.34 miles
  • Max elevation: 13,314
  • Elevation gain/loss: 4,254′
  • Crash landings: 1 (me)
  • Scott Jurek sightings: 1
  • Garmin info
James Peak Map

 

James Peak Profile
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