This describes my new outlook on tempo runs. Tempo runs used to be a cornerstone of my training, until I replaced them this spring with hill repeats to get ready for the punishing hills of the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run. I've always known of the benefits of tempo runs, but I felt that as an ultra runner hill repeats, along with intervals at the track, would be more beneficial. I didn't see a way to incorporate tempo runs into my weekly schedule especially as it's important to have easy-run days. Something had to give, and it wasn't going to be the track, hills or long runs.
Not long after the Perfect 10 Miler on August 16, I noticed something different in my running (but not until after my strained hamstring quickly healed). I was running with more power, strength and efficiency. The 10 miles at 6:15 pace must have triggered something, I thought. So I decided to incorporate some tempo running into my Sunday long runs to see what happened. For the past two Sundays, I've done a few warm-up miles before transitioning into 6 miles at tempo pace (6:00-6:20), followed by additional miles at normal long-run pace. Sure enough, I feel like my legs have been infused with new strength and power. I feel great. My turnover is excellent. So tempo runs are now part of my Sunday repertoire for the time being.
When the day comes that I go after a sub-2:50 marathon, tempo runs will take on even greater importance.
For the week of August 24-30, I covered 101 miles with some good performances on the hills, at the track (3x1600 at around 5:40 pace), on the trails at the very muddy South Chagrin Reservation and in my Sunday tempo/long run. This was my second consecutive 100-mile week. Toward the end of the week, I developed some "discomfort" in my knee cap--"runner's knee," which I'm susceptible to as we learned at the 2008 Mohican 100--and resorted to ice therapy and my trusty Pro-Tec patellar tendon knee wrap to stabilize the area. It worked! The inflammation quickly subsided and my knee is feeling great. I will definitely rely on my knee wraps at the North Coast 24!
On Sunday, Anne had a horse show, where she was champion of her division(!), and so I ran long on my treadmill while Noah slept upstairs (and Anne was at her show). I was going to take Noah out in the baby jogger after my tempo run, but the temperature was in the 50s and rain was blowing in. I've missed going to Solon these past two Sundays, but I'm glad Anne could get in two great shows. I'll be back in Solon soon.
On Friday afternoon, I met Zach Lewis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer at Edgewater Park, where the North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run will be held on October 3-4. Zach is also running in the NC24 and he and I met for an interview that he had requested. Although I've seen Edgewater Park before, this was my first time on the North Coast 24 course. Zach and I ran six laps before the sky opened up big time with rain. (It took me over 2 hours to get home--the weather was that bad.)
What were my observations of the North Coast 24 course? The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the Edgewater Park parking lot was how exposed the course is. There are very few trees. If it's a hot day, runners are going to have to endure without a whole lot of shade. I also noticed how flat the course is--flat as a pancake except for one minuscule "hill" on the lake side. Parking is ample--a plus on race day with crew members, families, and others coming and going. Once Zach and I began running, I noticed the stiff breeze coming off Lake Erie. This could have been from the nasty front blowing in, or maybe the park is just a breezy place. If there's a breeze on race day, what a challenge it'll be after a while.
Although the lake is quite a site, enduring 24 hours of Edgewater Park isn't going to be easy. I'm sure many friendships will be forged on the course that day. Without the entertainment of ever-changing scenery, as you'd find in a 100-mile trail race (or even a marathon!), I plan to talk to as many folks as I can, and then when things get intense I'll put on my iPod and retreat into myself. I still believe that the weather will be the single-biggest uncontrollable challenge. There could be a 30-degree gap between the high and low of the day and night. What clothing you have on hand will likely be critical.
People continue to pledge support for my Run for Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. This is so inspiring! Let me be absolutely clear in saying that every dollar you contribute to my Run for Rainbow goes right to work for the patients and families of Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. If there are any questions about the importance of a donation, think for a second about the:
- Premature infants and critically ill newborns in the Rainbow neonatal intensive care unit right this very second--and the parents and families who are consumed with anxiety and fear.
- Kids with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy right now when they should be playing with friends or in school.
- Parents who've just learned that their 6-month-old baby has a heart defect and needs major surgery.
- Child with cystic fibrosis who undergoes treatment daily.
- Kid who fell off his bike and got seriously injured and was life-flighted to the Rainbow trauma center.
- Little boy who just learned he has something growing on his brain that requires a surgeon to cut his head open.
Behind each of these kids are devastated parents and families. These are the kids and parents who I'm running to help. So please, let's join together through my Run for Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and make a difference! E-mail me for details on making your gift--it's super-easy and your gift is tax deductible. You'll get a tax receipt from the hospital.
My goal this week is 85-90 miles with continued emphasis on quality. I'm scaling back just a tad to help promote recovery and ensure a strong final push into my taper for the NC24.
On Labor Day I run in the annual Aurora Labor Day Classic 5K. Last year I finished second overall (by about 10 seconds!) behind Steve Godale, clocking a new 5K PR of 17:45. This year I'll be looking to set a new PR. The Aurora Labor Day 5K is a great race at a beautiful area--Sunny Lake in Aurora--and the pancakes afterward make it all worthwhile. I've never had better pancakes.
Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.