March was an odd month. Some highs, several lows. It's easy to get negative, so I'll try to balance my psyche:
Good: started the month with an excellent track workout with Dan-O, doing a fund-raising 16K track relay event. We did 8x800 and 4x400 with the only rest being while the other guy ran. We popped a great one: all the 800s between 2:27 and 2:31, and the 4s between 68-72.
Bad: might've blown a bit too much there. I was very flat for Chuckanut.
Good: had a solid training effort at Chuckanut, that included a strong (mental) finish.
Bad: my mechanics completely went to crap. Issues with trunk positioning and -- as it turned out, my pelvic mobility -- made the stride feel just terrible, slow, and sore. My back strain from February caused me to lock up everything to avoid pain.
Good: I ran 366 miles in March, a fairly stout value, considering my work demands.
Bad: I logged no Hardesty ascents, only one track session, and lost two days+ to a right foot issue, post-Chuckanut.
...but we'll end with the ultimate good:
Good: Last weekend, I took a trip down the The Promised Land for some excellent running with great friends. I had an excellent long run effort -- from Placer to ALT and back -- and most importantly, rediscovered my "Bandera Stride"! (The occassional flying elbow, notwithstanding...)
In my posts on iRunFar, I've talked about how "pain is the greatest teacher". For the past year, I've been dealing with residual motor control issues stemming from a R heel injury in 2008 and a L knee injury in 2009. But what ultimately fouled up my mechanics this month was my back sprain in February -- it made me completely lock-up my pelvis ("protect!") without realizing it. My R abs and trunk muscles have been so sore the past month+ from resisting motion there. This past weekend, with Jake's help, I was finally able to "let it go" and let it move -- to truly "run from the pelvis". And boy, did it feel great! I ran comfortably and fast! And a day after doing an aggressive 30M on the course, I cranked out a pretty easy 3M tempo on sloppy bark trail in 5:40/mile pace -- proof that I've regained some efficiency.
Mentally, last weekend was also important: to forge positive experiences on the last 20 miles of the WS course. My impressions:
- Green Gate to Brown's Bar is unbelievably runnable: there are maybe 3 hills -- all <1 minute of climbing -- and the track is smooth as a baby's bottom. To run very easy on it Friday night (Green Gate to the finish with Jake), then more aggressively in the morning fog and sunshine on Sunday was vital to my brain and psyche, to say: "If you take care of yourself, you can fly on this!".
- Here were my splits on the Inbound segment of ALT to Placer (with some intermittent stops, but mostly continuously timed): ALT to Brown's: 39m, Brown's to Highway 49: 33m, 49 to the finish: 56m (easy to the end of the railroad grade, then aggressively up to Robie and over to Placer. Robie to Finish: 10m0s). Again, the only real "hard" running was the last 15-18min of the run.
- Brown's to [just past] 49 is the real bear: a steep, rocky descent to Quarry Road, then smooth road to the trail climb. The trail climb is a total washout. On Sunday it was a "creek trail". Pretty gnarly rocks to the "water fall", then more gnarl and rutted trail until close to the summit, then fairly runnable. Past 49, there's more "trail creek" -- very rocky, rutted trail to the meadow.
- The Meadow to the Finish is pretty money: some wash-out on the early descent, but otherwise smooth and fast, fast running.
- The real bear is from the end of the railroad grade to the top of Robie: about 15 minutes of hard, hard climbing. It was tough to keep the feet moving, after "only" 4hr of running.
Some people might find it foolish to drive 1100 miles to run for three days, but this could turn out to be the most important training weekend of the year. A turning-point weekend.
Here's one final bit of excellent news! I have a sponsor! Drymax -- of which I have been a tremendous fan since WS 2011 -- has chosen to support me in 2012!
Since WS, I've used their Max Protect socks for all my races and long trail runs. It's a total no-brainer: no taping, and no foot issues. Zero. I ran 4.5 hours on the WS course on Sunday -- inundated with water and high creek crossings. My feet were soaking within 30 minutes of running, so much so that my shoes squeaked with every stride. No blisters, no pain, no issues. No brainer! I'm excited to see what else they offer in day-to-day varieties!
I'm also in discussions with some other companies, but nothing firm yet. But I'm grateful for any support thus far!
Here's one thing you can say about a month like March: at least I'm healthy, and I'll be ready to really pour it on in April and May!