Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hard Earned PR!

I have been trying to set a new PR on the Mount Doug course since the 54:18 I set on the 26th of February, and today I finally smashed it at 52:57! I started the run feeling a bit leaden and heavy and had some sore spots in my chronic injured right hamstring and also in both lower legs (the usual aches that come with the consistent increase in trail mileage). This was supposed to be a hard run and I felt some doubt creeping in that I would not even be able to run 57:00 tonight.

I then reflected on an article in the New York Times about Matt Carpenter. Carpenter is very likely the best mountain runner to ever live. He has the highest VO2 max (a gauge to see how well the body processes oxygen) ever measured in a human save one (Carpenter's is 90.2 compared to Lance Armstrong's VO2 max of 81). The guy is a machine and I would like to make a "Titan's of Trailrunning" post dedicated to him in the future when I free up some time. In this article it mentions that Carpenter's training philosophy has always been "to go out hard, and when it starts to hurt, try even harder".

So I took Carpenter's simple advice and got down to business of getting this PR I wanted. The first summit felt forced and wasn't great. I was huffing pretty good and could feel my pulse in my neck and head. After my first summit I noticed my splits were a bit slower than my previous PR from the 26th. I knew I needed to make up some ground. I bailed off the Northwest face of Mount Doug onto the bedrock buster, a steep glacial scoured and exposed rock chute that is perhaps one of the most technical spots of the course (really bad when it is wet). I cruised on this section and made up 22 seconds on the downhill. I next summited the much smaller Little Doug and I was just hating it by the top but I put everything I had into it. Once I summited I realized I had gained another minute putting me spot on to my previous PR splits.

Now I knew that I could get a PR if I really pushed on the last half of the course. I took a deep breath a bailed off the south side of little Doug. I hit the next portion of the course which is a pretty gradual downhill grade for almost a mile. I struggled a bit on this portion of trail and the legs were tired and heavy and the lungs were not doing their job (I have had an upper resp. infection for over two months now). I finished the section of the course spot on with my previous PR's splits. I had one more big summit of the mountain, a final descent, and then a bit of flat sloppy single track to the finish. I kept repeating Carpenter's mantra in my head and when I began hurting I kicked it up a notch. I reached the summit and was a bit light headed but quickly caught my breath and screamed down the final slope. I reached the finish and stopped my watch and did a double take to make sure I had read the 52:57 right. I couldn't believe it, I had struggled for 12 days to even get near my previous PR, but tonight I passed it up by over a minute and a half. I guess Matt Carpenter knows what he's doing when it comes to winning and setting impossible course records on some of the most rugged and highest elevation marathons and ultras in the world.

I had some Frozen Plasma songs in my head tonight. FP is a synth group from Germany and could be considered futuro-pop. The song I am posting is a song called "A Second Of Life". It is kind of a dark and haunting song. Honestly the lyrics and mood of the song had nothing to do with tonight's run it was just in my head. I couldn't find any good videos to post for this song. Several versions had 9 minutes of watching people's digital avatars from some computer game wander around in some nerd environment. Another had clips from some vampire movie, so I ended up choosing this short version with a video of some fog and boardwalks and a forest. It was my best option for this post. Like I said the song has been in my head lately and though I don't expect many people to go nuts over it I think it is a cool song with a haunting vibe.


Tim said...

Your running is going into a whole new level, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if you had pushed yourself hard the last run if you would have been faster or slower. What is the mileage you did anyways???

James and Jenni McBride said...

Congrats on the PR! It always feels good to finally reach and smash a goal you set for yourself. Proud of you Steve, keep it up!