16 September 2011


Today was a great training run. I set a new FTK ATM (Fastest Known Time...according to Martin;-) for one of our favorite trail runs by beating our previously recorded fastest time by over 10 minutes. Granted, I had only been tracking our times on this route for the last 2 years since I started joining the guys on their training runs, but I'll claim FTK until Mike, Richard or James show me proof of a faster time. Actually, I will settle for one of them telling me that they'd run it faster before.

With temperatures barely above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and no daylight to speak of, I drove over to Richard's house to meet up with James to run our favorite uphill trail run, Pratt Ave to Monte Sano Ranger Station and back, at 5:15 AM this morning. Rich had decided last night to ditch us for some leisurely round of golf. Oh well, he missed an excellent run.

My "new" used trekking poles (LEKI Makalu Ultralite Super Lock) had arrived in the mail Wednesday and I needed to try them out before even deciding if I was going to use them during the Georgia Jewel 100 next week. I also used my Petzl Myo XP headlamp that I originally purchased for the Rocky Raccoon 100, but never got to use due to its late arrival. I will be writing/updating my own product reviews here on my blog shortly.

James and I departed on time, after I adjusted my trekking poles to a length of 125 cm, which seemed to give me a 90 degree angle in my elbows, which felt good at the time. I had no idea if that was the proper approach/adjustment and I will be spending some more time online reviewing not only the proper trekking pole height adjustment, but also the proper running technique with trekking poles. I'm sure YouTube has the answer;-)

Running the first mile road section of the course, I decided to just carry the poles in my left hand until we arrived at an actual trail section that included some climbing. James and I weere both wearing headlamps, his already on its last leg of batteries, mine lighting the entire neighborhood and annoying James in the process while casting shadows across his path while I was folling him. As a result, I was put in the lead. Honestly, I just think he didn't want to be the one clearing the spiderwebs and spiders from the trail today.

When we exited the first section of the Tollgate Trail at the Bankhead Parkway hiker's parking lot, James had to make a pit stop at the only portapotty on the way. Legal disclosure: At this point, I did stop my watch until he joined me to continue on. We continued up Tollgate Trail with its really technical rocky uphill section next. James and I stayed relaxed but never stopped to walk. About 3 miles or so into our uphill run, James had to take a short break to deal with some allergy issues, while I continued on. Art this point, I had been using the trekking poles for some of the wider sections of the trail, trying to figure out a good, effective running rhythm. Initially, I would push off on the opposite trekking pole on each step (e.g. left step, right trekking pole push, etc.), but that did not seem very efficient or effective. Instead, I was struggling to even keep up with the trekking poles.

Then I decided to push off on every other right and left step, basically skipping one push off and that seemed to work much better. However, I was still struggling to figure out where to push off with the pole, e.g. in front, next or behind me. I also realized that this could be quite hazardous during a race, e.g. getting the tip of the trekking pole caught in a rocky crevice while in full forwrd motion. In any case, I will have to compare my splits and my heart rate levels with my previous fastest time to see if I can draw any conclusions based on comparing the data. Basically, did the trekking poles help me or not. I believe they did, but I'm not sure if they are worth the effort of carrying them along when not using them during an ultra.

I arrived at the ranger station atop Monte Sano State Park in just over 50 minutes and James followed about 4 minutes later. At this point I stopped my watch again until james caught up to me. As soon as he arrived, we turned around and started our descend. James really pushed to pace on the downhill, which was ironic, because he is usually the one pushing uphill and I am the one puishing downhill. Not today, I think James decided early on that he wanted to see how fast we could geturdone. No rolling ankles were going to keep him from running strong today.

When we arrived back at Richard's house, we had completed the downhill section in under 40 minutes, more than two minutes faster per mile going down vs. going up, resulting in a new "fastest known net time" (I am using this phrase loosely here) of 1 hour 31 minutes. That is two great training runs back to back in a single week. Hey, I might not really be prepared to bike bike 100 miles tomorrow or run 100 miles next week, but I sure had fun on my training runs this week.

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