I’m back in Little Rock for Thanksgiving week, which means running and riding through the rolling hills along the Arkansas River. The river is surrounded by bluffs on both sides, so there are lots of elevation changes, even on the trail that hugs the shoreline. It’s a good break from the flat terrain of Tampa, but the climbs can be a real eye opener.
My ride yesterday was a 30 miler in mid-afternoon. I considered going first thing in the morning, but it was just a little over 30 degrees and that was too cool for me. I even brought my tights (yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually have cycling tights) and gloves, but couldn’t bring myself to ride when it was that cool. Note that I didn’t say cold… I know the difference. But 35 is cool, especially when you add in a 10 mph breeze and another 20 mph of forward motion. So, afternoon it was.
The ride itself was great. The air was still a little crisp, but the sun was shining and it was a great day to be outside. I considered taking the rolling hills route through the state park, but stayed on the river trail for most of the ride instead. I did take a detour through the city park to get in a little hill work (as if there weren’t enough along the bluffs). There is a section of the park where the road makes a 5 mile loop through some heavy woods. There are two really good, long climbs, and it gave me a chance to practice my “out of the saddle” technique from spin class. It was a little tougher to make myself push through the pain without psycho spin instructor calling me a wimp, but I did both climbs standing. I also climbed the last half of the hill leading back into my neighborhood while standing in the pedals… a feat I don’t try very often because the hill is SO steep that any loss of momentum can be disastrous. I think the folks at the bottom of the hill could hear my heart rate monitor beeping.
This morning was a 13 mile run with half mile intervals starting at mile two. The first 5 or 6 intervals went well, although I was definitely feeling yesterday’s bike ride in my quads. After #6, though, I just couldn’t hit the target pace. My heart rate was fine, but I couldn’t make the legs go any faster. Scientifically, I suppose that’s the lactic acid building up in the muscles. Since the purpose of the intervals is to train your body to clear the lactic acid as it builds, I suppose I was in the right training realm. I’ve felt that way a couple of times before… most notably in the spring after mile 14 in the Little Rock Marathon. So, good to get it out of the way in training instead of on race day, but the last half of the run was a struggle. I pushed through all of the intervals, but came nowhere near the expected/planned pace on the last few. It was a psychological victory to force myself to do them all, even if I couldn’t make the pace. Next week is a shorter long run (only 7 miles), so hopefully it will help push the wall back just a little bit more.
Once again, the Garmin proved its worth as a training tool. In the past, I’d have had no visibility into my actual pace or other performance. At least this morning I could tell how I was doing… and have a realistic appraisal of where I am in relation to my goal pace for a PR in February’s half-marathon. This morning proved I’ve still got a ways to go, but at least I know about how far.