Friday, August 14, 2009

Grandfather Mountain Cinders

AM: 3 mile w/u
5k predator run in 18:28 (6:13, 6:11, 6:04 for each 1.05 miles
= ~6:00, 5:58, 5:51 per mile)
1 mile c/d

Total: 7 miles
PM: 30 mins. pool

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed after 9 hours of sleep in the mountain air. I was anxious to test out my hip flexor and hopefully work out with the team. We loaded up just after 8am to drive to the Grandfather Mountain track, which is a really awesome cinder oval that measures just slightly over 400m per lap (hence my splits at each 1.05 miles above). It also sits at about 4,200 ft. altitude, which adds to both the majesty of the surroundings and the hardcore-ness (yup that's a word)
of the run.

We warmed up out and back on an undulating gravel road, and from the outset I could tell my hip was sore but much better than yesterday. The noticeable limp was gone, and as the warmup miles ticked by I began to feel more and more comfortable. There was still some nagging discomfort--I'd put it at about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10--but I could definitely tell things we
re looser after the warmup than when I began. Still cautious about overdoing it, I decided to run the first few laps of the workout and make the call from there.

The girls team poses at the Grandfather Mountain track

Whether it was indeed a result of my warmup, or the more primal aspect of having adrenaline flowing as I toed the line, at any rate my hip instantly felt the best of the day as soon as I started the tempo. I still felt twinges throughout but overall it was manageable. The idea of a predator run is to go out conservatively and to speed up with each mile, so from the outset I decided not to get too hung up on pace and to just focus on staying relaxed. The cinder surface felt awesome, although the home curve was a bit sloppy--gravel was way too loose--so I took that turn on every lap extra wide, swinging out into what probably would've been lane 3. Although I didn't have anyone to run stride for stride with on this effort, I definitely fed off the energy of having other people on the track at the same time. Surprisingly I didn't really feel the effects of the altitude either, or at least I didn't realize it. My breathing was noticeably labored on the final mile, but overall I was surprised at how fluid and relaxed I felt throughout. Using this as a gauge of my fitness--first true workout in several months, at altitude, with a bum hip, running by myself--I'd definitely say I'm in better shape than I thought. Of course I did get lapped twice by Mike, so then again maybe not.

The hip was really stiff and sore afterward, so much so that I cut the cooldown short. I think a regimen of BioFreeze, hot tub and stretching is in order for the rest of the day.