I am back from vacation and Colorado and running at 8000 feet above sea level. I have no pictures of my run because, as I headed out on my last day, I found out my camera battery was dead. And no store in town sold a charger or new battery. Only choice was to buy a new camera. Uh, no thanks.*
My last Colorado run was a 10 miler. I had been running out of town -- upriver and thus uphill -- on the way out of town. My running route had been 3 miles out, turn around and 3 miles back. At the midpoint, I had gained about 250 feet in elevation -- a pretty solid gain, and a nice downhill run home. For my ten miler, I thought I would just continue along the path for another two miles, turn around and come home.
That was a bad plan. After about 3.5 miles, the path went from a biking/nature trail beside a rolling river to a path on the side of the road that ran up to a mountain pass (and the continental divide about 7 miles up the road). From mile 3.5 to mile 5, I gained almost 350 feet, up to 8550 feet. That was a crusher. But I couldn't turn around -- it would have felt like such a defeat not to reach my goal, and I was almost there...keep going...look at my Garmin..only half a mile more...wow this is hard. Any way, during that hellish mile 4 to 5, I had to stop once or twice to catch my breath, and ended up with a 11 minute mile. And I never felt more proud of that mile -- up almost 300 feet. (Then I turned around and ran home. Mile 5-6 (down that hill) was 7:02, as was mile 6-7.)
I also took a water bottle with me, which I drained by about Mile 6. I also wanted to take a PowerGel or Gu with me, but the only thing I could find was a package of Cliff ShotBlocks, cranberry flavor. I have to admit I am not a fan. I didn't like having to chew them, and with a dry mouth, they just seemed to stick to my mouth, tongue, etc. They had the consistency of between gummy bears and jello, if that is possible. I missed my Chocolate PowerGel. Oh well, that is life.
So now I am back in New York. At sea level thankfully. I ended up running 5 days of a 9 day vacation. Not so bad. Probably gained 1 or 2 pounds from eating, drinking, etc. I actually had a chocolate chip cookie for first time in 4 months (and I love chocolate chip cookies.) But now back to healthy eating, no drinking and a running schedule.
Now it is time to start training for the New York marathon, which is November 1. I have decided to follow the FIRST program. That program advocates 3 strong workouts in a week, with two cross training days and two rest days. In essence, each run should be a hard one, and that intensity conditions the body to greater endurance, etc. The workout paces are challenging and the workouts are hard. No more just getting to gym, putting on headphones and zoning out for 45 minutes on t he treadmill. For example, today's workout was 10 minutes easy 35 minutes at Lactate Threshold pace (85-90% of max Heart Rate) and then 1 mile cool down. It is a real push to make myself run at this kind of pace. Of course, when I look around there is always someone running faster -- somebody ran 5 miles at 5:30 pace on the treadmill next to me.
We all have our own pace....
*A link to some pics I found on Flickr of the trail in Colorado that I ran on. It was actually greener (and had more wildflowers) this year than in the pictures (which were taken in 2007) because of the massive amount of rain in Colorado this year.