Ten Weeks to the Big Sur Half-Marathon : Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Los Gatos High School Track

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

-Mae West

Mae West was assuredly referring to some hedonistic pleasure, not her weekly running mileage.  I can only hope cramming in an extra run here, tacking on an extra couple of miles there a couple times each week leads to ecstasy at the finish line in ten weeks.  The extra miles hopefully will add up to an increased resiliency during the last few critical miles of the half marathon.  Of course, too much of a good thing can also lead to a nagging tendinitis injury.

Recapping the week, Monday was a standard eight miler around my neighborhood.  I felt surprisingly fresh after a tired Sunday run.  Tuesday, more of the same with a short six miler heading south along the Los Gatos Creek Trail to Vasona Dam in Los Gatos and back.

Wednesday was the first big run of the week, a tempo run of six miles at sub-6:30 per mile per pace. This time, my Garmin GPS had no trouble finding the satellites unlike last Saturday’s tempo run. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing those GPS watches work at all.  Somehow, that small collection of electronics strapped to my wrist communicates to satellites several thousand miles away, determining my location to within about 10 feet over the entire surface of the globe.   However it works, a GPS watch is great for providing the necessary feedback to developing “pace sense”, an underrated mental running skill.

After the accelerating during the first warm-up mile of the tempo run to 6:15 pace, I zip by the Cat Lady, a short, thin elderly lady who arrives promptly at 6:30 every morning to feed the stray cats along the Los Gatos Creek trail.  A few opportunistic raccoons also take advantage of her generosity. The first three miles go by surprisingly easy at 6:15 pace as I get to the turn-around point.  Heading back, thw brisk breeze hitting my face makes me suddenly realize why those early miles felt so easy. Working those last three miles against the wind, the pace slowed to 6:30-6:35 per mile.  Still the overall pace for the six miles balanced out to 6:25 per mile, under the target.

Thursday was a “recovery” day.  Normally, I take one day a week where I don’t run at all.  Instead, I usually do some foam roller exercises and core exercises like planks,  push-ups, and other various contortions involving an inflatable fitness ball.   Before I started taking a  weekly recovery day, I found myself wearing down and often got injured.  I’ve also found strengthening my core has really improved my form which not only allows me to run more efficiently, also helps avoid injuries.

Friday, it was back to an easy six miles to the Vasona Dam and back.

Saturday was a morning four mile tempo run at the Los Gatos High School Track.  I meet up with a training group of people I’ve been running with for ten years.  Some people socialize over beers, some people over dinner or walks in the park.   We socialize by waking up early Saturday morning and running fast for a few laps around an all-weather oval.  I was hoping to run at 6:04-6:08 pace for the sixteen laps around the track.

Our group of five runs tightly packed for four laps, coming through the first mile in 6:07.  The pace picks up and it’s a little too fast for my blood.   I let a couple of the leaders go as our tight group becomes spread out single file and come through the second mile at 6:01 pace.  Subsequent miles of 6:06 and 6:01 put me at 24:16 for the four mile run, exactly 6:04 pace at the lower end of my target. Encouraging.

During the cool down, we talk about one member of the training group who didn’t show up that morning, hasn’t been running much lately, and lately has gotten noticeably depressed.  Some of us are little worried over this development.  We talk about difficult times in our lives, and how running helped get us through those periods.    After the cool down, we head over to Peet’s for coffee and a scone and talk about our upcoming races and that plane flew for thousands of miles after the pilot lost consciousness and crashed into the Caribbean.

Sunday was an eleven miler through the hills of Almaden Quicksilver Park.  As I ascended the main hill in the center of the park, on my right looming through the light fog were the gentle outlines of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  On my left was the urban sprawl of San Jose, the downtown skyscrapers barely visible.  The rugged hills of Quicksilver are a great place to develop balance and leg strength, as each stride on the rugged hills and uneven footing is always different by necessity.  It’s also a great place to escape the city for a couple of hours.

Week 2
Miles Completed: 48
Current Weight: 183 lbs.
Currently Preferred Carbohydrate Replacement Drink:  Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock

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ramblingsofabeerrunner

Writing about beer from the California's Silicon Valley.

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