Press On

After putting in my highest volume week, I backed it up with another solid week of training that included a 4 hr hilly/rainy bike ride w/a 4 mile brick run Saturday and then a 10k race up at Mission Inn in Riverside Sunday. Running on tired legs was the death of me at Soma weeks ago so I really need to learn how to run fast on tired legs so I can use my biggest weapon (the run) in races next year without cramping up.

I really didn't want to cheat myself this weekend so I tried to pick the hilliest route I could find to do on Saturday. This included a trip up Couzer Canyon, Lake Wolford and Pala, totaling over 5,000 ft of climbing. The forecast called for rain but after waking up, eating and going outside for a bit it really wasn't that cold and it seemed like the rain had surpassed. Little did I know that the 1 minute I stepped outside would set me up for a very rough day both mentally and physically. For those of you that have ridden with me, I'm almost always under dressed on rides. I actually like the cold and I usually warm up quickly and would rather not haul extra clothing around for the whole ride or be too hot. So for my 4 hour ride I decided to just wear what I did the week before. Cycling shorts, dri fit shirt underneath a cycling shirt, arm warmers, toe warmers and gloves. The week before it was actually colder and I was very comfortable the whole ride. So I set out with a powerbar, pack of shot bloks, 2 caffeinated gels, 2 bottles of EFS and a small snickers bar.

Not me, but about as lonely/cold it really was out there!
I set out solo and naive. The first 10 minutes of the ride were fine, then the rain started dumping on me. It was COLD rain along with cold wind. It instantly drenched me from head to toe. I had on wool cycling socks that were now frozen. This was the first time I thought about turning back and doing this on the trainer but the rain subsided for a bit so I pressed on. As I was making my way down Rice Canyon I started getting really cold. My clothes didn't seem to be drying because the roads where wet and I was kicking up water all over me. I pulled over to pee and started shivering a bit. I started to worry a little and even thought about having Amy come pick me up. I pressed on. When I got to the bottom of Couzer (before the climb) my legs and feet were numb, my heart rate was low and I was already hating this ride. I decided at this point that I would get to the top of Couzer and see if I'd warm up by then. Of course, the rain starts dumping again....then I see from the side of the road a pit bull comes charging at me. Are you kidding me? Seriously? I had to gas it and let's say my heart rate was no longer low. I kept getting those stupid things get in my head that people always say "It's a sign" or "everything happens for a reason" maybe I should probably bag the workout today because it "wasn't meant to be." I really don't believe in that kind of thing and at this point I just started laughing..."This sport wasn't meant to be easy" I do believe in that. Press on.

At the top of Lake Wolford
After I sped past the dog I started hitting the climb pretty hard and the sun actually started peaking through the clouds and I finally started warming up. I was no where near hypothermia or anything...just miserably cold. And I just started being realistic. If I did become dangerously cold, there are houses and cars everywhere. I wasn't going to die for crying out loud! By the time I got to the top, I felt like I pressed through a lot of mental demons and learned a big rookie lesson. Better to be overdressed than under dressed! My legs for the first few hours of the ride where just numb with no pop in them. As I was climbing Lake Wolford, they started warming up and I couldn't believe how easy the ride started to feel. With each climb, with each mile and each obstacle I became stronger mentally and physically. I think these long solo rides really make you into a beast. I love riding with others, but I think balancing it out with solo rides gives you the chance to chill when you want to chill and hammer when you want to hammer.

After climbing Pala and making my way back into town, the mental demons came back. I was pretty much frozen from head to toe and all I wanted was a hot shower and some hot coffee. A 4 mile brick run was pretty much the opposite of that. As soon as I got in the door Amy made some homemade cinnamon rolls and the house smelled amazing but I forced myself out the door before I consumed any. I couldn't believe how strong my legs felt after that ride. After the first mile, I was finally warm and I was kicking off 7 min miles with ease. With just a short 3 weeks I've been working with my coach James, I've lost a much needed 5-7 pounds and I've seen big gains in all 3 sports and I'm excited to see where my fitness takes me next year.

The next morning I woke up and actually felt OK. It was really cold and with our son Taylor being sick, Amy and the kids decided to stay home. I headed up to the Mission Inn 10k solo and met up with some old friends I had run with back in college. After getting checked in and standing in a 20 min bathroom line, I headed out for my warm up and I'm not going to lie, my legs were trashed! I was crawling along at about 9 minute pace the first mile and then I started "picking it up" the 2nd mile and I look down and I'm only hitting 8 minute pace and I was breathing pretty heavy! Great, this is going to be rough. Even in national championships in college when we'd race 3 times two days in a row -my legs had never felt this heavy before. I went back to the car, put my racing flats, powered down a caffeine gel and once I heard the announcer yell 10 minutes til start the race day adrenaline started taking over my battered legs. After doing a few strides I saw an old teammate of mine I hadn't seen since college who was also racing and a few other guys I had raced against at the AFC 1/2 marathon. I was now ready to race!

I lined up front and the gun went off. Instantly a pack of 4 guys took off ~5:15 pace. I settled in the 2nd pack with another fellow Running Center teammate (from Riverside) and we were going 5:30 pace. He started chatting it up with another guy - like literal conversation - "So, you from Riverside? What do you do for work?" I didn't want any part of the conversation, but I did just sit right on those guys. The course was a little hillier than I had expected. A guy at the start was saying miles 2 and 4 have good size hills in them. So we hit the mile marker and I look down at my watch said 4:25...we all laughed how off the marker was. When my Garmin actually hit the mile marker we nailed 5:30 on the dot. Mile 2 came and so did the hill. We powered up together and their conversation finally stopped. We passed one guy from the lead pack and now there where only 3 to catch. Mile 2 hit in 5:43 and I noticed the 3rd place guy (my former teammate) dropped off the lead pack as well. My legs felt surprisingly good at this point so this is where I made the decision to go for it. It was only a 4 mile race from this point so I made my move to get to the lead pack where stud runner Christian Hesch was leading the way. I went to the lead of our pack and they sat my my heels. We went through mile 3 in 5:19 and 3 mile mark in 16:30. We made up a lot of ground on 3rd place at this point, but the 2 leaders where gone by chance. We slowed down a bit because of a hill and went through mile four in 5:30, but this is right about where the wheels started to come off for me. I tried to just focus on my cadence and stick with the pack of three I was in, but they slowly started to pull away from me. Mile 5 was 5:44 and I noticed I started gaining on the two that left me. The next mile was all uphill and at some point I passed my teammate. The last mile was chaos as we hit 1/2 marathon traffic and at this point my heart rate was at a high 187 and with a 1/2 mile to go, I pushed even more elevating my HR to 191 (with my max at 193). I split a 5:51 and then sprinted in to catch 4th place with literally 5 meters to go to finish in 34:57 (5:37 pace). I couldn't believe how strong I felt at the end of the race. Over the past year I've been so used to just dying mid way through a race, but Sunday my legs had some fight in them, something I haven't felt in many many years.

I was pretty pumped to break 35 on that course and to do it with such tired legs. The results showed me at 5th place overall (out of 700) and 2nd place in my AG, which come to find out - the guy that I beat at the end started 1 second behind me (chip timing) which is why they gave me 5th.

You can check out results here.

Sorry for lack of pics, I didn't have my photographer at the race!!

And for those of you that love a good winter warmer to compliment the cold weather and the holidays, you need to try these!

Deschutes Jubelale and Anchor Brewing's Merry Christmas Ale.


jameson said...

solid week. weekends like that will no doubt make you stronger... and there are a lot more coming!

Running Bums said...

Dang I didn't realize you did all that crazy riding before your race! That's intense! I noticed you mentioned racing three days in a row at college nats. Did you do the 10K/5K double? Sergio and I were just talking about how crazy that was. Nice to read about Riverside as well:)

Ryan said...

Yeah boy... way to get under 35... amazing run on tired legs.

James said...

Morgan, I was an 800m/1000m/mile guy in college. We'd do 4X800,DMR prelims/finals, then 1000m,mile prelims/finals (indoor)

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