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What a morning!  Did anyone else catch the Boston Marathon?  I didn’t think it could get much better following the top three women breaking the previous course record, but then Shalane turned in gutsy performance that ended in a three minute PR and an American record at Boston.  On the men’s side, Meb did the unthinkable and became the first American to win since 1983.  What was perhaps most inspirational to me was his pacing – he saved enough to run a 4:59 mile 25 and pick up for the duration of the race – if you missed it, I highly recommend watching the highlights.

Now back to planet earth where I’m reporting live from my pajamas on the couch on what is now officially vacation!  I’ve opted for a week off following a month-long travel stint at work, and couldn’t be happier to have a week in the Bay Area at my fingertips.  When I lived in New York, I saved all of my free time and money to go on trips like this, and it’s that much sweeter now that I’m here.

Determined to make a big push before my (slight) taper ahead of Wildflower, I hit it hard last week.  Really hard.  In numbers:

  • 2 long bike rides: 85 miles total – 8000′ of climbing
  • 2 difficult spin classes at 85% effort
  • 2 swims – 6000 meters total
  • 3 runs – 30 miles total
  • 2 strength training sessions

The weekend took the cake though, and I kicked off my vacation with a strong, hilly 16 mile run that I set out to negative split.  I have mixed feelings about training with a heart rate monitor, but I’ve been trying to give it a chance per my coaches advice and used both heart rate and pace zones during my long run this week.  The aim was to run steady and comfortably and eventually build to a fast marathon pace by the end.  Here’s how I broke it down:

  •  60 minutes in zone 1 (8:30 pace)
  • 30 minutes in low zone 2 (8:30-8:00 pace)
  • 30 minutes in high zone 2 (8:00-7:30 pace)
  • 5 minutes in zone 3 (7:30-7:00 pace)
  • 10 minute cool down in zone 1
Which way to the pizzeria?

Which way to the pizzeria?

Surprisingly, the hardest part about this run was the 60 minutes in zone 1.  I’m often inclined to harness my inner Meb and pick up when I’m feeling good, but I found it much harder to hold back; I expected the negative split to give me more issues.  After good pacing the first half of the run, I kicked it into high gear and logged a huge 10 minute negative split, and even made mile 15 out of 16 my fastest (7:23).  Between the 1200′ of elevation gain and the volume I logged earlier in the week, I was thrilled to average 8:27 for 16 miles.

Yes - there is actually a dam

Yes – there is actually a dam

Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

On Sunday, I went for an iconic Bay Area bike ride – one not for the faint at heart: the one and only Alpine Dam Loop.  It’s roughly 55 miles round trip, but don’t let the distance fool you: there’s over 4000′ of elevation gain and two soul crushing climbs that each span ~30 minutes in length.  There’s also a not so free wheeling 2000′ descent down technical switchbacks on the west side of Mount Tamalpais.

Feel the burn!

Feel the burn!

My motivation behind this ride was to gauge my fitness ahead of Wildflower.  If I could complete this the day after logging a 16 mile run with elevation, a hard week of workouts, and less than a week to recover from my business travel, then I’d be more than ready to go.  Fortunately, I rode very well and it wasn’t until the infamous Seven Sisters that I started to feel cashed.  I’ll be taking it easy today – stretching, foam rolling, and staying off the hills for at least one day this week.

Photo opp mid Seven Sisters - Stinson Beach off in the distance

Photo opp mid Seven Sisters – Stinson Beach off in the distance

For anyone curious about Alpine Dam Loop, I highly recommend this article – the author frames the route very well: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-dean/sf-biking-routes_b_2025521.html

As if there was any question after crushing Alpine Dam

As if there was any question after crushing Alpine Dam