Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hills, Heat, Humidity, Horrible Pollen = MMT

The 4 H's were in effect this weekend. Wow!

This weekend I went out and got in some good MMT training and actually did a hill repeat workout for the first time in a long while. I managed to run 12 x 2-4 minute long hills here in Arlington. It ended up being over an hour of constant up then down then up then down running on a concrete sidewalk. Not rock hopping for sure but actually physiologically really good. Not to mention that it was 85+ degrees.

The whole workout had me thinking back to 2001 when I would routinely run the 1.4 mile blacktop loop on O-hill on the UVA grounds. My best workout ever was a 10x loop workout done in April the week of BRR 50 and the Monday that the Barkley was finishing up. Read below for a April 2001.............


With the continued Barkley updates a fever began to bubble inside me and I knew there was only one thing I could do to stop the trembling and that was to go for a run. After spending 2 miserable hours on Sunday jumping streams and freezing in cold rain I cut my run short and
felt like a punk. Good thing I did not go down to Barkley, I am not ready for that.... So as redemption or Self punishment, or maybe as a way of proving me to myself? I planned a killer workout for a Monday evening run.
I headed onto campus and settled in to a nice warm up 2 miles to the base of Observatory hill. This is no "big hell" but it is an impressive climb with a nice downhill. In total a 1.4 mile blacktop loop. I started my watch and sprinted off climbing strong, trying not to over run early as the climb takes 6:00 and gets me to my max HR before I begin the 4min. downhill to complete the loop.

I crested my first hill in 5:38 a new PR... wow, I am fit, but way to excited..."get control Loomis".. I say to myself and begin the eccentric quad busting downhill part of the loop. I reach the bottom completing loop number one in 9:31. The fastest I have ever run. I continue on with out stopping, attacking hill number 2 with my thoughts on David Horton and Blake Wood approaching the finish in TN as I run. Wow, what great runners! 58 hours of continuous movement on THAT terrain. Unbelievable. I crest the hill in 5:44 and continue around, loop 2 done in 9:37, Loop three goes well and I am amazed at my consistency: 9:40. On loop four I begin to feel the effects of the lactate build up and my stride shortens. It is a huge effort to maintain this pace. But press on I do. I study the cars parked along the road, watch a mountain biker fly by on a trail
next to my road loop.

I begin to blank out, to turn off the pain, to move without effort. Detachment they call it. "The Zone".. feels like floating. Loop 4 done in 9:36, loop 5 in 9:35, on loop 6 I am no longer a human being running. I am a machine. My legs and arms propel and pump without my telling them
too. My mind is in ultra-tolerate mode. The pain will end soon, just continue, I tell it. The noise from my panting breath is almost a surprise and every now and then I come back to grips with how hard I am actually running. Wow, this is a great workout! Wait, what David and
Blake are doing is great, this... this is kiddie stuff. I run harder.

Loop 6 done in 9:34, I tell myself you can quit now, you have never done a workout this good before, anything more will cross the line between training you will recover from and overdoing. I continue on without a hitch; loop 7 in 9:33. I feel a blister forming on the downhill from all the continuous sliding forward with each pounding footplant. Bad socks. I block this out too and think about the chafe I am experiencing. Huge white salt line mounds are now forming on my
shoulders, and my face feels gritty. I can taste the salt on my lips.

I am over an hour in to the workout now and feel a bit hungry. My throat is soooooooooooooo dry: my tongue a cotton wad. Loop 8 passes and I reach that point where David has talked about where you KNOW you WILL finish, just not sure how long it will take....the way he felt in
'98 barkley before getting lost... I think of them now, they must be close to touching the gate.
I begin Loop 9 and feel my bad calf getting tighter and tighter on the steep climb, my hamstrings no longer allow me to stride out at all. I must continue though.... I am so close. The 9th down hill hurts worse than the up as my quads are shredding apart. One more, I think, as I look at the 9:38 split.

Charging into the last loop I sight a mountain biker ahead. She is on my hill! on my ROAD! I become possessive and really sprint off after her. I have passed the half marathon split in 1:28..not bad since it has 3,000 or so feet of climb. Somehow I find it in me to go just a
bit faster and 10 feet from the top I catch and pass her. A small victory sure, but hey life is all about SMALL victories. It is all down hill from here now and I pound on down for the last time. Loop #10 complete in 9:23............... my fastest ever.

14 miles of hill repeats.. I am done.

During the cool down jog home I have to stop and walk. I am wrecked. Hmmm have they finished yet??? I can't wait any longer and as soon as I get home I call Steve's cell phone and actually get him there at Frozen head. They just finished! he says. Wow, I am close to tears as
David says "It was hard..Real hard" when I congratulate him. Why do we do the things we do????
Does Pain=peace, does stressing oneself to your limit allow you to "find yourself"? Are we really more HUMAN when reduced to a weak, shaking, staggering and starving heap?????

I contemplate all this as I lay on the floor trying for 4 full minutes to take off my shoes. I have no idea. I Just know that on days like this I am happy to be alive and I to understand what
that truly means. I think the realization of what we are actually capable of is all that really matters.


Mike Bailey said...

I don't know if I have ever run with the type of intensity you wrote about. I have been "in the zone" before, but not to a place of such extremes. The Wild Oak Trail is right down the street from me, and reading your blog makes me want to rock that 26 mile loop!

I am a runner. "We are what we repeatedly do" said...

Get on it Mike! Having attained a good level of fitness again has allowed me to handle some tougher workouts. This reminds me of my running in charlottesville. What a great town for running fast!