Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Training for Vertical when all you have is Horizontal

Post-Race Notes:
-Got through the VK, but was unprepared for how steep Whiteface is; I was happy to finish it and enjoy some gorgeous views and shared stories and laughs with fellow racers.
-Poles would have been helpful. 
-Treadmill not adequate for such a steep grade. Good for uphill races in the past that weren't as steep, but this time around it didn't really translate as I had hoped.
-Hiking at these grades very different than more runnable uphill running!
-Super impressed by how fast some people can climb! 
-Interesting time being in the Adirondacks with the huge manhunt going on for the escaped convicts.
-Totally recommend this race weekend for people looking for a fun challenge. Very well-organized and a fun, inclusive atmosphere.

******************************

We live near the shores of Lake Ontario, which I sometimes call a 'big old stupid lake'. I call her that affectionately because I love lakes, and I know I take for granted how fortunate we are to have so many of all sizes in Ontario. It's just that sometimes I would trade in a few lakes for even one modest mountain. In that respect we're a bit lucky too because we can drive 3 hours in pretty much any direction and find lots of nice mountains or really big hills. For everyday training though, we're left to find other ways to get vertical.

Since March I've been hitting the treadmill and hills in preparation for the Whiteface Vertical Weekend coming up June 27 and 28 in Wilmington, New York. The VK is about 1,000 m vertical over 4 km, so a grade of 25%. The SkyMarathon is around 30 km and 2,920 m of vertical. 

I've done phases of treadmill uphill workouts in the past, and I find they have a dramatic effect on uphill stamina over the weeks of workouts. We'll have to see how it goes, but really my main objective is to enjoy the challenge of the two back-to-back races and use it as training opportunity and launching point towards increased training for my fall goals. It is exciting to have this event come to the beautiful Adirondacks. 

Below are the hill workouts I did along with the usual mix of increasing long runs and overall volume, lots of yoga and some plyometric and strength sessions.  

Some notes:
- It is really important to take recoveries at flat incline at the beginning to let the calves, achilles and plantar fascia get used to the strain. (It would be helpful to use a higher drop shoe as well.) I only had to do this for the first week, but in the past I've done it for the first two or three workouts.
- I don't often make a note of the pace because finding a sweet spot of sustainable effort is more the point. Treadmill calibration can be off anyway. 
- Gym workouts provide great heat training too. I looked like I came out of a pool after. I didn't find I suffered nearly as much in the transition to warmer outdoor running this year which was a nice side effect.
- The workouts are intense and require adequate recovery. I noted feeling a bit woozy/dizzy near the end of some of them, which was my choice to push that hard since I wasn't racing at all during this period and I wanted some intense efforts. 
- I spaced them at least a week apart, sometimes more.
- On the outdoor hills I used the opportunity to push the downhills a bit to get used to the leg pounding.
- For the treadmill workouts I resisted switching to a hike even when the incline was considerable and my running pace slowed to a crawl. I feel that hiking practice has its place if you have big and steep enough outdoor hills, but shorter hills are better spent running. On on a treadmill the moving belt prevents the right muscles from doing the work, at least for me, so the treadmill is just for the cardio element.

Mar 13 - Treadmill uphill tempo (52 min total)
20' w/u
4' @ 5%
1' flat
4' @ 6%
1' flat
4' @ 5%
1' flat
1' @ 5%,6%,5%,6%
13' c/d

Mar 20 - Treadmill uphill tempo (55 min total)
w/u 20'
5' @ 5%
5' @ 6%
5' @ 7%
5' @ 8%
c/d 15 min
Vertical 210 m

Mar 27 - Treadmill uphill tempo (60 min total)
20' wu
30' uphill at 6:31/km
5' @ 6%
5' @ 7%
5' @ 8%
2x(1' each @ 6%,7%,8%,9%,10%)
5' @ 6%
10' c/d
Vertical 335 m 

Apr 3 - Long Road Hills (71 min total)
20' w/u
3 x entire hill (distance 960 m, varying steepness)
1 - 5:42 up (5:09 down)
2 - 5:38 up (5:04 down)
3 - 5:41 up (5:04 down)
20' c/d

Apr 11 - Long Road Hills (84 min total)
wu 20
up 5:40 down 4:55
up 5:37 down 5:01
up 5:43 down 5:09
up 5:47 down 5:03
c/d 21'

Apr 23 - Very Steep Trail Hills (88 min total)
Wu 32'
Started from top:
1 - 1:44 down, 2:22 up
2 - 1:48, 2:21
3 - 1:40, 2:22
4 - 1:40, 2:19
5 - 1:37, 2:20
6 - 1:35, 2:17
Cd/ 34'.

May 5 - Moderate Trail Hills (70 min total)
20 wu
Alternated shorter/longer
S1-2:07 (2:03 down)
L1-2:21 (2:03)
S2-2:03 (1:50)
L2-2:18 (1:58)
S3-2:05 (1:47)
L3-2:15 (1:58)
S4-2:01 (1:43)
L4-2:11
Cd 19'

May 12 - Treadmill uphill tempo (79 min total)
20' wu
3 x 15' at generally increasing incline, with 2' on flat between
set 1 up to 14%, ~9:00/km, 202m vert, 1.78km
set 2 up to 18%, ~10:00/km, 223m vert, 1.79km
set 3 up to 20%, ~10:00-10:20/km, 238m vert, 1.45km
10' cd
Workout total 5k going up 663 m in 45' (14.7 m/min).

May 23 - Very Steep Trail Hills (46 min total)
20' wu
1-2:14 (1:37 down)
2-2:11 (1:38)
3-2:05 (1:38)
4-2:16 (1:44)
10' cd

June 2 - Trail Hills (61 min total)
21' wu
Moderate Hill:
1-1:30 (1:26)
2-1:25 (1:20)
3-1:24 (1:18)
4-1:24 (1:17)
5-1:20
Ran over to Steeper Hill in 4:33 at tempo effort
1-1:13 (1:02)
2-1:11 (0:58)
3-1:10 (0:56)
4-1:11 (0:58)
5-1:07
13' cd

June 12 - Treadmill uphill tempo (66 min total)
3 x (2' at 10,12,14,16,18,20%) with 5' at flat between. 
Verticals for each were 221, 201, 203 m.
Workout total 36' going up 625 m (17.4 m/min).



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gananoque Wildlife Area and Waterfront Renewal

Last Saturday I had fun exploring the Gananoque Provincial Wildlife Area trails.











video

Then I went to visit my parents and we went for a walk around the newly re-developed Gananoque Waterfront. I hadn't even been aware of all the work done in the area, and I was really impressed with how nice it all is.




It was windy down there!






See the baby robin?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Injury as a Lesson in Acceptance

The past year or so has been all about learning to accept a whole bunch of things. I wasn't doing very well at it, but life has a way of showing us what we need to know, nudging us along, if only we'll listen. In late January I injured my back, and found myself flat out for days. I'd keep starting back up training and having repeated setbacks - boom, flat on my back again and again, while my snowshoe racing season went down the drain.

One day, walking back from yoga, when I'm typically rushing rushing rushing to get back to work, this time I was forced by the icy sidewalks to take the most gentle, deliberate movements, slowly navigating so that it didn't tweak my back. Suddenly it dawned on me that getting to where I was going was not important, but how I got there was crucial. It felt peaceful. I was feeling acceptance in a visceral way, and how different that felt than just knowing it philosophically but not actually buying in. We tend to think mental changes happen in the mind, but this time I felt the difference in my body first, and my mind is following along, trying to catch up. 

My back is now feeling good, and I'm starting to get into a training groove again. It was months after I thought I'd be ready to get training hard again, but the happy magic of motivation seems to have its own timeline. It comes on suddenly like an itch that needs to be scratched. I always have to meet it half-way, with it usually appearing during a harder run like a tempo effort. It is a wave that washes over me, and leaves me with an instant desire to run all the time, craving that feeling of strength and freedom.  

La Sportiva Mutants are an awesome new shoe for 2015. They love snow and mud!
My huge thanks to La Sportiva for all the years of support. I'm thrilled, honoured, and humbled to be continuing on as an ambassador this year. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Lakes are Open

And by open I mean closed; as in, frozen over so we can run on them. Every year in November and December I go about disliking the cold and darkness of winter along with just about everyone I know. Then, usually sometime around mid-January I'll have a run that changes everything. One singular, unexpected run that reminds me in spectacular fashion that oh yeah, I'm a winter lover. Winter is prickly and difficult and takes effort to get to know, but with that one run I remember why we're friends and always will be.

This year it happened last week, on a weeknight run just around dusk. Derrick and I ventured out on a local lake just in time to watch the fading sunset. It was a still, serene night, and the sky turned a rich, deep blue above the orange of the last rays. A crescent moon hung right above the horizon, with bright Mercury underneath. The silence on the lake added to the profoundly beautiful evening. It fills me with gratitude for all the best things about our lives on this earth and a longing that I can't explain and bitter-sweetness that I can't put into words. It diminishes trivialities and takes me far away from everything and everyone with just a few steps onto a frozen land under a vast universe.









Experimenting with Vert Panos:









Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Snowshoe Season 2015 Underway

The past two weekends have seen the first two races in the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series take place.

First up was Dion Ignite the Night, in Morrisburg, Ontario at Upper Canada Village. This was an evening race put on by Summerstown race director Gilles Parisien, where we had the treat of running through the village lit up with holiday lights. I decided to race the 10k, 2 loop course, and I was so glad I did as running through the festive village was incredibly unique and magical. It was a cool night with a brisk wind off the St. Lawrence River which quickly drifted in our tracks on the more remote section of the loop. The contrast between running through the bright village and the dark, windy outer part of the course made it so interesting and fun.

The turnout was huge, at 144 racers, and when we started it was crazy and fun with snowshoes and people everywhere. It was a fast start, but I settled in to a comfortable pace and tried to save energy for the second loop. I was among a small group nearby which traded places a bit, but otherwise it felt strange to have no sense of where the pack was in the darkness. Coming back into the village at the start/finish area I felt comfortable, so I tried to push more on the second lap, eventually hitting an even split and feeling very satisfied with that.

 






Next up, this past weekend was the Dion Frontenac race, where I changed gears and helped Derrick out with registration, timing and course marking and tear down. It was a mild day and everyone was in good spirits. I enjoyed my part of the day and felt good about how it went.

Setting the course the day before

 


Race day, waiting for the racers

Photo Credit: Sean Scally/ScallyEventPhotos.ca

 Next up is the Dion Brighton Snowshoe Race on January 31st, the third race in the series.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back to Batawa

A few weeks ago I ran the 25k race at Batawa for the third time. This year they added a Bad Ass 6 Hour race to the mix of other Fat Ass distances, which was somewhat tempting. Maybe next year.

As usual I really enjoyed the trails in this area, and the event ran extremely smoothly this year despite a huge crowd showing up for the various distances. Well done to Sandy Musson of Tri and Run Sports. Thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers.

My race was fairly uneventful. Remembering last year's painful experience of starting way too hard, I kept it mellow and ran by heart rate. The trails were a quite wet on the back loop which made for some fun negotiating of deep puddles and slick mud. My C-Lites were great in the mud as usual and my feet were happy the whole time.

It was my slowest time here which was a bit disappointing considering I ran it smarter, but it wasn't by much and I wasn't too far off the two women who finished ahead of me. Plus it was a good stamina-building session as always. All good, and by running it at a better effort throughout I wasn't very sore or beat up. Part of that is that I added back plyometric training into my routine the past few months. It doesn't take much to be a big help, and I definitely felt the difference on the five big climbs and descents on this course.

Past years' race reports here (2013) and here (2012).









Same-same. Left is this year, right is last year.

On another note, I can't get the pictures from the last two days of our Provincial Parks tour because my camera died. If I ever retrieve them I'll post them. As a replacement camera, I recently inherited Derrick's hand-me-down iPhone so I opened an instagram account: instagram.com/saramontgo


Thursday, October 30, 2014