Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the mend and up the mountain

Thanks to a slightly strained pelvic muscle this past week turned into an active rest & recovery period.  Sometime the week before last said muscle declared "I'm out" after too much speedwork & downhill running and not enough attention given to my chronicly stiff lower back.  Structural failure always seeks out a weak point and after several months of quality training, 65+ miles per week and good race results mine was laid bare.

The good news is this injury has caused only a minor speed-bump in my training plan (so far; fingers crossed, knock on wood, etc.).  I cancelled only one hard workout and reduced my weekly volume by 20ish miles.  I also had the benefit of a PT visit yesterday to help loosen tight muscles and re-balance a pelvic asymmetry.  In the interest of preventing future muscular work-stoppages she also gave me some strength & stretching exercises to add to my already long pre-run routine.

With this injury in the mix my runs over the past week were unremarkable.  9 miles on Tuesday (ouch my pelvis).  A 40 mile road bike ride up/down Mt. Hamilton (again) on Wednesday (pictured above).  6 miles Thursday morning and 5 miles Thursday afternoon in a new pair of Salomon XR Mission shoes (pictured below).  I documented my thoughts about this new shoe vs. the Salomon XR Crossmax in a post on Google+.  With a PT appointment Friday afternoon I ran just once in the morning; 7 miles up & back on the Stevens Creek Trail.

I was pretty sore Friday afternoon from all the physical therapy but my PT gave me the green light to run hills today (Saturday).  My plan was to do a long, hard, uphill threshold effort so a trip to nearby Black Mountain  was the venue of choice.  I've done many training runs and a few interval workouts up Black Mountain but never an all-out bottom to top time trial so this was going to be interesting.....and painful.

The time trial would start at the Rhus Ridge trailhead off Moody Rd in Los Altos Hills and climb to the 2800' summit just under 5 miles away.  The start elevation is about 400' above sea level and the first .8 miles of the trail is very steep climbing 625' - a 15% grade!  Mercifully the next 3/4 mile is pretty flat.  Following that "break" the next 1.75 miles climbs very evenly up another 900 vertical feet.  The next section starts where the single-track breaks out of the shady woods and onto a sun baked dirt service road for PGE's nearby high-tension power-line.

This is where the fun begins because if you weren't suffering to this point you soon will be.  The next .6 miles climbs 500 feet and the loose pea-sized gravel on the hard packed dirt make each push-off less effective - especially for a runner with tired legs.  Now at 2500' above sea level the road briefly turns downhill, scrubbing off 50 hard won vertical feet.  About 100 feet of flat running is followed by a short but very steep "wall".  According to my Garmin data it climbs 40 feet in .03 miles.  Maybe not an accurate reading but trust me; it's STEEP.  From "the wall" it's another .5 miles and 300' of climbing to the wide open, flat-topped summit of Black Mountain.

I started my run at Foothill College so I could get a 1/2 mile flat-ish warm-up before hitting time trial start.  I felt really good up the steep Rhus Ridge trail going through the .8 mile Strava segment in 8:01; only 5 seconds slower than my PR.  I used the subsequent flat section to recover a little and get my heart-rate back under control.  The next 2 miles felt harder than I would have hoped due (I hope) to the heat and blazing sun on the open sections of trail.  Unfortunately I knew it wasn't going to get any easier when I reached the steep power-line service road......and it wasn't.  With 15 minutes to the summit my heart-rate was now bouncing along the upper limit of zone 4 (168-169) dropping only briefly for short less steep sections.  At "the wall" after the short downhill I had 5 minutes left and now my heart-rate went into zone 5 and would stay there until the summit.

I crossed the summit in 45:20 with a peak heart-rate of 174.  Total climb 2400' - distance 4.8 miles - average grade 9.5%.  Reviewing the heart-rate data I spent 32 minutes in zone 4 (threshold) and 8 minutes in zone 5 (anaerobic).  A good workout for certain but the Mt. Washington Road Race in two weeks will be 25 minutes longer, climb another 2000' and will be STEEPER with an average grade of 12%.

I finished the run with a 2.5 mile descent (900') to the Monte Bello Open Space parking lot of Page Mill Rd.   It was refreshing to finally be on the breezy side of the mountain after baking in the sunny, still air on the way up.  After downing some water and a couple FRS chews I ran another 2 flat miles of warm-down.  Total miles of trail running for the day - 10 (ten).  Time to go home and put my feet up.