Sunday, September 24, 2006

SGM Taper Week 1

After running along side and leap frogging Sam Thompson at SEAFAIR in July, I really got into reading daily about his progress and each of his 51 marathons along the way on his blog. Now I’m really getting a kick out of reading Dean Karnazes’s blog as well as he knocks of 50 states in 50 days, too. For someone like me who aspires to running all 50 states this is a lot of fun. I hadn’t heard anything at all about Sam before SEAFAIR, his 9th marathon along the way. I’ve met Dean before and will get to run with him at St. George in a couple of weeks for his 21st marathon. I hopefully won’t be running along side him. Dean has been finishing around 4:15 or so and I hope to finish much faster than that. The cool thing about Dean’s 50 is all the people he’s bringing along with him to run. He has gotten a couple of first time marathoners to the finish at almost every one so far. Both of these guys are inspiring to me and have given me some ideas on which marathons to run in each state.

I guess I’m officially in taper, but because the hip is doing so much better, I ended up running just as many miles this week as last at 37. I was able to get in 5 runs this week for the first time in a month.

Saturday morning I headed back up into the canyons above Azusa and ran the road up to Cogswell dam. This is the route I took 5 weeks ago to simulate the downhill at St. George. The morning was beautiful and brisk. The clouds hanging around the mountains back there were pretty cool. I really should figure out how to carry my camera along. There were some pretty scenic shots.

I mentioned brisk. My hands were pretty cold for the first mile or so, almost numb, but this was wonderful weather for a run. The West Fork of the San Gabriel River runs along the north side of the trail. The trail is shaded in most places by the mountains on the right. On the way up the canyon, I saw a couple of fly fisherman and three bikers, one going up and the other two coming back down.

The sign at the base of the trail shows that it is 8 miles to Cogswell Dam. I ran up and all the way across the dam just to make sure I got the most miles. I made it up in 1:07, two minutes faster than last time when I was picking off the cross country team. When I got to the top I took a 5 minute break or so to enjoy the view and to take a PowerGel.

When I headed back down I could tell that the sun was warming things up. For the most part the run is shaded, except for maybe the first and last miles. In the shade the breeze was nice and cool. When I hit a sunny spot I could really feel the difference in temperature as the sun heated up the asphalt, even the breezes coming off were warmer. At one point on my way down a pretty good breeze came along and carried a snowfall of leaves off the tree above me on the mountain side. They just fluttered down gently, almost in slow motion. It was almost mystical to watch. I couldn’t help but smile at the show Mother Nature was providing for me.

Up until the last couple of miles of the run, I was pretty much alone. I really enjoyed the sound of the stream. At times it was silent, and at others it was babbling over the rocks. Sometimes the canyon magnified the sound. On the way out I came upon some hikers and some bikers, but I never encountered another runner. The downhill is noticeable, but I guess I was taking it pretty easy. My time on the way out was 1:02, 3 minutes slower than last time.

This could easily become a favorite run. For the cost of an Adventure Pass ($5 daily/$30 annual) and an easy 10 mile drive, I get away from suburbia and enjoy an easy run in the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains. There are actually tons of trails in those mountains, I just need to go explore.

If the sign is to be believed, for the 16 miles total route my pace was 8:04, 8:22 in and 7:45 out. This got me thinking about my expected finish time in St. George. I’m well aware that many runners PR there. If, and that’s a big IF, I could keep up an 8 minute pace, I’d be thrilled. Although, I doubt seriously I can keep anywhere near an 8:00 pace for a full 26.2 miles, downhill or not. St. George is net downhill but not all downhill. I think it’s reasonable to shoot for an 8:30 pace, that would get me a 3:43 PR. What would really suck is a 3:32 to 3:35 finish.

Today, Sunday, my mother-in-law has invited us over for lasagna as a going away for Tyler. The last couple of times we’ve had lasagna at her house I ran there, satisfied that the miles there justified the extra large portions of lasagna she served. I considered running the Lasagna Loop today, but because it was Sunday the lure of my morning “date” with Bonelli won out. I ran counter-clockwise for a change of pace.

Running in this direction means that once I start the loop I do the major downhill first and then spend at least a mile climbing back out. That climb out seems relentless. Once I got back up and hit a fairly level patch, about 30 minutes into the run, I got a sudden burst of energy that carried me along. My turnover rate was noticeably faster and I felt really good. I kept up that effort nearly to the end. It almost felt effortless. I really don’t know what to attribute this feeling to, but I sure enjoyed it. The burst didn’t parlay into a PR time but it was nearly a couple of minutes faster than my times earlier this summer.

Next week is going to be a little hectic. I’ve got a chiropractor/massage on Monday. Thursday and Friday, I will be in San Diego with Tyler and Saturday I’m riding to the beach, about 30 miles with some friends. I’m going to have to get creative to get my runs in. Good thing it’s week 2 of the taper.

Be sure you stop by these blogs, Joe, Michelle, Rob and Sara, and wish them all well as they race the Portland Marathon next weekend, October 1st.


robtherunner said...

Thanks for the shoutout and I am glad to hear that the hip is doing much better. I am sure you will finish way ahead of Dean at St. George.

RunnerGirl said...

It sounds like you are on your way to a fabulous race! Great blog!

Donald said...

Glad you're feeling well. DOn't let those tapering jitters get to you!

DREW said...

You'll have to explain "What would really suck is a 3:32 to 3:35 finish" means. I'd kill for something like that! Heck, I'd kill for a 3:43. You've really improved your fitness over the last few months. It's been fun watching your progression!

Wes said...

A beautiful description of your runs...almost made me feel like I was there with you, and still whetting my appetite to find my own runs like that here in Georgia.

Sarah said...

Thanks Darrell! Enjoy your taper. It sounds like you're ready to have a great race at St. George! : )

PLANET3RRY said...

You are definitely the man with the plan. Your pace is coming along nicely, I sure hope that you don't suck a big 3:32... whatevah! ;-)

Sounds like you are doing fine and remember to keep your head on straight during your taper! Fight the taper madness!

Joe said...

Great write up and thanks for the plug for us in Portland!!

Joe said...

Great write up and thanks for the plug for us in Portland!!

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the taper and have running with Karno! That'll be a neat experience.

Ryan said...

Enjoyed your post...exploring the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains….sounds really fun!

Gosh we sure will have a lot of different race reports to read on Monday =)

backofpack said...

Darrell, Thanks for the encouragement for Portland. And, yes, those really are my poor, sad toes. I'm glad you are feeling better and ready to go!