May 31, 2012

Frozen Head State Park

View from the top of the Fire Tower
My parents and I took a trip to Frozen Head State Park. It's a beautiful area and, for those interested, it's also where the infamous Barkley Marathons event is held. The mountains in the southeast are such a contrast to those out west. I love how GREEN and lush it is. The only frustration is that the trees are so abundant and so tall that you often don't have any views until you are at the very top!

This dayhike started on Old Mac Trail (.3 mile). We took Spicewood Trail (2.5 miles) which connects to Chimney Top Trail. We then took that just over a mile to the Lookout Tower Trail and the top of Frozen Head. We returned to the parking lot on the South Old Mac and Judge Branch trails. The loop was about 8 miles total.

We had a great time! Although I grew up in TN, I had never been to this state park before. It seemed very well maintained and a nice alternative to the Smoky Mountains. I was really surprised with how little (to no) water was in the streams. I thought there would be much more since it's only May...hope the area gets some rain before it really starts to get hot! The poison ivy was definitely out in full force. I don't think I've ever seen so much, and I'm really hoping that I don't break out in hives tomorrow. We didn't see any wildlife except for about 1,000,000 bugs!

Satellite map of the hike

The trails are much more obvious than in the Rockies!

Wild mushrooms

The 'rents.
I just love these trees!
My dad is trying to squish me :)

May 29, 2012

Bachelorette Party - Tybee Island!

One of my best friends is getting married on June 2nd, so a group of us took her to Tybee Island, GA for her Bachelorette Party. We spent our time relaxing on the beach, surfing the waves, staying up too late, hot-tubbing, talking about guys, dancing, and just enjoying ourselves.

Although I couldn't get any of these girls to go running with me (not even the two collegiate soccer players!), I did get to run during Tropical Storm Beryl. It didn't hit too hard at Tybee Island, so I went out in the pouring rain and crazy winds. It was so fun!!

I'm spending the rest of the week in Knoxville, TN hanging out with my family and enjoying a few days off from work :)

Photos from the weekend -

The crew!
Tybee Island Pier

Girl time :)

Our bride-to-be
Out on the town in Savannah before the storm!
Looking stormier...I was the lucky one to run to the car once the downpour started!
Sarah and me

May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

The unofficial start of summer. Or, as my Dad and I often call it, "Amateur Weekend" in the mountains! :-)

Andrea and I hope everyone is enjoying fun times with their friends and family.

I had an excellent morning running on dirt roads in Park City, soaked my legs in a freezing cold stream, then came home for some cookie dough ice cream! Gotta rock the flag shorts by the pool and soak up some vitamin D!

May 27, 2012

Smile Center Memorial Day 10K

Start of the 10K. Kyle in black, me in Orange, and then some guy in way over his head.
I'll get some better photos from the race in a day or two.
While Andrea was hanging out at the beach in Georgia yesterday, I headed "south" to Utah County for Run 13's Smile Center Memorial Day 10K. It was the beginning of my "6 races in 22 days" stretch. We ran this one last year (31:55 for me), and today I was aiming to hit around 31-flat (5:00 pace), as I really needed a solid longer LT workout to prep for the upcoming 1/2 marathon in Duluth... and those are tough to do in a non-race setting.

I warmed up ~3 miles and decided I was OK to wear my lighter flats (I've had some minor achilles tightness over the past week, so I've been playing it safe and wearing shoes with more heel). The race started about 10 minutes late which wasn't ideal, but it wasn't a big deal either. I didn't see anyone I recognized so I thought I might be running solo.

After the gun went off a tall, skinny guy got right up in the front with me. I didn't know who he was, but I could tell he was legit because I'm pretty sure he wasn't even breathing. Turns out it was Kyle Perry, former NCAA champion who now runs for New Balance. The thing about racing in the Provo area is that you never know when a former NCAA superstar from BYU is going to randomly jump into a low key road race!

First two miles was 5:02 and 5:10. Kyle and I were running together. That second mile is always a bit slower as it climbs uphill ever so gradually. You get that little bit of downhill back on the third mile, which was 4:49. I probably fell back about 4-5 seconds during that mile. The next two miles were 4:55 and 4:57. Kyle really opened up the gap here and I kind of lost sight of him (as we were now running with the 5K people). So I ran 14:40 for these 3 miles and fell back about 100 meters. Unbelievable. When I hit the 5 mile mark I did that math in my head and was sort of peeved off and threw in the towel. The sixth mile was 5:03, then 1:09 for the final stretch. Chip time had me at 31:06. Kyle finished in 30:51, a new course record.

The Orem HS track is conveniently located a 1/2 mile from the finish line of this race, so I immediately jogged over there to finish my workout -I ran 12 x 200m on the track in just under 33 seconds average. Then jogged back over for awards and chatted with other runners for a while. Run 13 once again did a great job organizing the race and the post-race festivities (they had a fun race for the little kids). I like this course because its a really good, fair test. Its just a big loop that starts and ends at the same spot.

I basically did exactly what I wanted to do today (except win the race). But that's OK - I ran 50 seconds faster than last year. And my next 10K is going to be on the track at sea-level in two weeks, so I should be able to run significantly faster. Overall this capped off a solid week of training (4 quality days) and my highest volume week since March. Next week I'll start tapering back for the rest of the upcoming races.

This is a 10K PR for me. I've run faster 10K splits in longer races, but for a just a 10K race, I've never gone quicker. The fact that it was an non-aided time at altitude is good.

When I got home, after taking advantage of 50% off Fro-Yo at Yogurt Stop, I went out for my shakeout run and ended up turning a 3 mile jog into a steady 12 miler. I'm feeling good and I'm excited for these next couple weeks.

Here what a 10K + 12x200m + 12 mile afternoon run results in...

I slept for 11 hours straight!

May 25, 2012

We're still here! Some randomness and thoughts on ACCUMULATION

Bad blogger - lounging by the pool and letting Wasatch & Beyond waste away!
We're still around, we've just been bad computer users over the past two weeks. Andrea and I have started about 5 drafts of really good blogs, but none of them have been completed yet. I don't necessarily know if we've been that busy, although I bought an iPad earlier this week and didn't get around to actually opening the package for 2 more days afterwards, so I guess we've been a little occupied.

Both of us have been ramping up our training and getting ready for the June onslaught of big races. As I mentioned previously, I'm headed out to California next weekend to race a 5K and Mile. Then we both travel on back to back weekends to the Portland Track Festival (Andrea is running the 5000m, and I'll be running the 10,000m and possibly doubling back in 5000m) and the USA 1/2 Marathon Championships in Duluth. 

As followers of the blog know, Andrea has dealt with a string of hamstring and lower back issues over the past year. It hasn't been easy on her, but she is a tough cookie and hasn't given up on herself despite the setbacks. There was a point earlier this spring (around March) when she was seriously wondering whether she'd be able to run fast again this year. I tried to get her to believe that all her work throughout 2011 didn't happen in a bubble that popped when the calendar year changed, and that once she got on a roll, it would come back again and she could get to an even higher level than she was at last year. The reason I mention this little story is because yesterday afternoon Andrea (somewhat unexpectedly) ran one of her best workouts ever, and this morning one of our favorite blogs (Functional Path Training) posted the following:

Sometimes we forget that training accumulates training session to training session, week to week, month to month and year to year. So what are the implications of that?  Simply that it is not necessary to think you must have to have a spectacular training session or a stupendous microcycle, rather it is important to be consistent in the application of stress and balance it with appropriate recovery to allow adaptation over time. It also means that when you start a new training year you don’t have to start over each year, you build upon the previous year or years and start each year on a higher plane. Adaptation takes times and it accumulates over time. As I have said many times in this blog one workout cannot make an athlete but one workout can break an athlete. In the long term focus on the process and the results will come. 

That is great advice and something we should all take a few seconds to think about. Especially the part about no single workout making an athlete, but a stupid workout can definitely break you.

The photo was taken a few weeks ago. That is Andrea's "side" of the couch at the height of her back pain, when it takes a lot of pillows and blankets to find a perfectly comfortable position. I'm proud of her for fighting through the tough times, training smart, and putting herself in a position to run some excellent races in the upcoming weeks...

And one last little tidbit of randomness... my high school's 4x800m school record finally got taken down last night, 11 years after my team set it. I like seeing records go down - they are made to be broken, and they raise the bar and give you something big to shoot for. I'm happy for the Amsterdam High School guys!

The old guard... circa 2001
And the new record holders!
Andrea is off to Tybee Island, GA for Memorial Day (yes, I'm jealous!). I'll be hanging around in Utah - running a lower key 10K tomorrow, then playing in the mountains if the weather cooperates.

Tybee Island

May 13, 2012

Altitude Training

On the shoulder of Mt Baldy, surveying Albion Basin and trying to figure out how soon we'll be running up here!
For the first time in a month, neither one of us had a race this weekend. On Saturday we met up with a group of friends to do a long run on the Jeremy Ranch Road in Park City. Last summer we did a lot of long runs up there (some pics from last July here). This road is my favorite place to run (and Andrea tolerates it because she knows how much it helps us get super-fit!). Its a dirt road at ~6000 feet and has nonstop rolling hills (many of which are very steep). The way out is a gradual downhill, which means the way back is extra challenging. Its awesome! After the long run we met up with even more friends for brunch at Ruth's Diner (which we highly recommend).

The elevation profile for the Jeremy Ranch run. Nonstop short, steep hills.

On Sunday, after an easy run in the morning, we headed back up to Alta for another round of spring skiing. We ended up climbing and skiing an aesthetic line we eyed last weekend off the east side of Mt Baldy. The conditions were fantastic and we had a TON of fun!

Lots of photos from the skiing as usual...

Our objective was the chute right in the middle
Setting the bootpack
Traversing a bit
Andrea being awesome
At the top!

Skiing off the shoulder
Entering the chute
Andrea off the top making it look easy
A couple jump turns

I wore my extra-modest shorts
Mountain essentials - helmet, skittles, and diet dew
Andrea and I where we stopped for a snack
Andrea skiing back down to the base
You gotta get in a few shirtless ski runs before you call it a season