Monday, September 01, 2014

We Run Prague 2014

Being a Nike supported athlete, I was sure to compete in the We Run Prague 2014 as I have been running the Nike 10 km runs since the first edition in 2011. On the other hand, my autumn "A" race is the Chicago Marathon in October, so everything is going towards it as was the training camp I just came back from. I drove back already on Friday because of We Run Prague, but I did not really adjust my training program at the camp in order to be fresh and rested for the race :)

I even did little shakeout run in the morning to get the stiffness out of my legs after the long drive on Friday, did lot of stretching and as the race was starting at 7 pm (that was this year's new thing, it usually started in the mid-afternoon), I even managed to have a nap. I also took it as a routine rehersal. So set up my gear, pain my nails, get my fluids, nutrition and off I was to the start. 

On the way to Žluté lázně where the race started there were many many neon green tshirts. What a marketing to make the people wear tshirts as race numbers :) Every year the same, I am getting nice collection, already fourth. When I got to the start area, I bumped into several friends which is nice among the 10 thousand people running the race. In the Nike backstage I finally met with Fit Veronika in person and yes she looks as beautiful live as she does on the photos, so no Photoshopping there... :)

I did my warm up routine, drank my Generation UCAN, changed in my racing flats and it was time to get to the start. As I just came back down from the altitude with lot of volume in my legs, I did not know what to expect so it was great opportunity to run by feel and that is what I did. 

I am very prone to forming too much lactic acid when I start too fast and then suffer in the end, so I tried to ease into the run even though it is tough in the atmosphere and tons of people going out fast :) I checked my watch only occasionally, but mainly for heart rate. And my heart rate was climbing steadily as it should be, almost a book example :D I was quite happy about that, because it wouldn't go higher than 170ish at the altitude, so I was curious how I will do in the intense effort. I am reading a great book about Kenyan running and training called More Fire, so I was on for More Fire and more suffering in the second half of the race. It does not seem so from the mile split chart, but given the ups and downs and huge amount of cobble stones in the second half of the race, it certainly felt like higher effort.

As I knew that I was on the edge of my personal best and it did not seem for a big "breaktrough", I tried to concentrate on competiton = other female runners, that helps a lot :) I overtook Blanka at around 4th km and she tried to get back to me, so that gave me nice boost to stay ahead of her. We were also going up and down with the girl in the photo above. Unfortunately, I did not stay ahead, lucky her having the guy in red cap as pacer. Not making excuses for myself, but having faster runner to pace you surely helps :) The 5th mile was kind of no man zone and looking back at it, I am not sure why my pace dropped that much, I guess this was the one with the most cobble stones. After that, the last 2 km you suffer, but you know you have "only" 2 km left. I am glad I found a little faster kick for the finish, even though again on the cobble stones it was tough. The official time says 43:06, so I pushed my Garmin too late at the start or to early in the finish, but that does not matter.

Well, writing this race report now, I am little upset with myself that I stayed few seconds short of my PB, but I guess I can shoot for that after Chicago :) Marathon is my "A" distance anyway and my results 10 km vs. half marathon vs. marathon have always been very disproportional :D

Overall I am really happy with the race, the atmosphere was amazing as always! And I can't wait to see how I will "sell" my training next weekend in 5 km on the track and in the half marathon on September 14.

I don't like the color of the shoes, but I love the feeling running in those Flyknit Racers :)

Back home, back to evening dog walks :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Discovering Dolomites ... Thursday Superhike

With little delay because of travel and We Run Prague 10 km race, here comes a post full of photos from our crazy 6 hour hike on Thursday with my mom in Alpe di Siusi (Dolomites, Italy). We did not have exact plan and ended up doing a looooot of walking :) With the beautiful weather it was perfect!

We drove by bus to Saltria (actually drop in elevation - down to 1 690 m above sea level) from where we did not take the lift to Williams Hütte as most people do, but we walked up to the 2 100 m.

Many beautiful unknown flowers / herbs (for me unknown, I don't know flowers at all!).

Matcha porn ... with the local dominant the Schlern / Sciliar (the rock on the left) in the bacground

This is how my Nike FuelBand measured the whole hike :)

From the Williams Hütte we were off to more very steep hiking towards Plattkofelhütte (2 300 m).

Apparently, in Italy even horses take siesta!

Plattkofelhütte just in time for lunch :)

I have been hydrating with my nuun as champ in order to prevent cramps and refill on electrolytes :)

I had light lunch of beef broth and this salad with grilled goat cheese ... YUM!

Leaving Plattkofelhütte...

... I made new best friend :)

... I also wanted to do some push up challenge performance next to the relaxing cows ...

... but the horses would disturb the cows ... they were following us all the way to the end of their pasture as they are apparently used to being treated with some yummy food from walkers :)

Push up challenge succesful attempt :)


View to the other side of the mountain edge we walked back in the direction of Compatsch (where we were staying). Little did we know how long the walk was gonna be :)

This is next to the Tierser Alpl "Refuge" at 2 440 m altitude - our maximum of the day was 2 490 m!!!

View back on where we came from with my attempt to show you the different places discribed here.

At the top of the world with my mom :) Well at least almost at the top of Alpe di Siusi. What a day!!!

We came back to the hotel at 6 pm and although I knew I had plenty of endurance training for the day, I still wanted to work a little on my strength / speed. So before getting all tired and hungry, I ate half a banana and bit of almond butter to push off the hunger and set out to quick hill sprint session. Sometimes I dread going for such intervals and I was amazed about how much I liked it and had fun doing it. I did not wait for my HR to drop significantly in order to keep the session more intense. There was also strength training involved after coming back to the hotel.

I did not watch the splits on the watch, I just tried to push more and more and not drop speed ... so happy with this workout!

For some reason my heart rate would not go over 170ish at the altitude. Here is the Garmin file.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Going Long ... Breathtaking Nature

Everything great tends to come to an end to let a new great things begin. I am driving back home on Friday so today was my last really big day. I was very happy with how I did yesterday in the hill workout (AM) and progression/fartlek run (PM). Today was long run split in two, I had to do my morning run super early as I was picking up my mom in Bolzano at 8:30 am! So 6:25 I was already on the go or on the run. Oh my body took lot of time to wake up, I could definitely feel the harder effort from yesterday. Did 5.5 miles and off to pick up mom and we were just in time to have very late breakfast at 9:30 ... I was starving!!!

Worked on my computer and after noon I was off for 20+ km of running through the beautiful mountains of Alpe di Siusi. I chose the Paul Tergat track to be main part of my run, it is ranked as "hard". I now understand that means that I won't be able to run some parts which was exactly true due to very steep climbs or descents and narrow paths. But it was totally worth it as you can see the beautiful scenery I got to see all the time on my run:

Running down, to run up again on the opposite side :)

Crossing the small stream just few steps from ever present cows :)

Running through a horse pasture was super exciting for me as I love horses! Here is one youngster :)

Love the views :)

Turns out the youngster was hungry and going to suck on his mother's milk ... I have never seen that live for horses from such a small distance.

Map & altitude graph of my run today pictured in eVito app, here is the Garmin Connect link ... quite some climbing over the 21.5 km (13.4 miles) :D.

Not exactly cute ... more like done, exhausted yet happy :)

After refueling (rice, tomato & tuna followed by dessert of rice, apricots, apple and banana ... yep long run super hunger :D ) and taking bath ... I promised my mom to take her out for an Aperol Spritz in the afternoon sun. I took the athlete's version - Aperol with sparkling water, no wine, no prossecco :)

And some food action, photos of today's dinner, I ate about half of the risotto and had a salad not pictured here :) Food at Seiser Alm Plaza is really delicious!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where There Are Downs There Always Come Ups

Admitting I am in trouble when I am actually in trouble is not my strong part. So here I am saying that I was in trouble and I hope I am out of it :) On Saturaday morning I headed up for what was supposed to be an easy 10+ mile run on the roads and trails that I have already done several times here in Alpe di Siusi. Less than a mile in the run my calf muscles started acting up like towards cramping, any uphill incline and I had to walk, otherwise it would really hurt. I did little over 14 km (little less than 9 miles), but it was all suffering, being very upset that I cannot execute what I was easily doing all the previous days. It is mentally tough when you cannot perform as you performed just a day ago :(

After discussing the issue with The Coach we agreed I would relax for the rest of the day. It was raining anyway, so there was afternoon nap and sauna involved :) At least I could spend more time with my dad not leaving him on his own going for the afternoon run. Sunday morning I woke up really rested and looking forward to my morning run, taking it really easy. Unfortunately, the calf issue still persisted. What was upsetting was now my cardio was OK, on Saturday I was clearly tired after the full week of altitude training, but now I wanted to run and I felt the f***ing calves every single step of the easy flat 3.5 miles. Hmmm, very upsetting! So I got back to The Coach and some running friends and of course Googled the issue :D The suggestions were up magnesium, salt, hydration ... that's what I did and we went for a hike with my dad (see the previous post). On the hike the legs were totally OK, thank God!

Dad left in the early afternoon and I was off to treat my calves - I realized that my Compex Runner actually has anti-cramping program, so I applied it (oh, it takes 40 minutes whereas most of the other programs are more or less half an hour). After Compex I did self massage with warming emulsion to the troubled muscles and I also took a nap and I finally set for an evening attempt for run. There were tiny signs of tiredness in the calves, but I stayed on the flattest road here in Alpe di Siusi and also tried to consciously use all the other muscles to relieve the calves as much as possible. And it worked!!! Oh what a relief! I was the happiest person coming back from that run. See, where there are downs there are also ups :)

And that finally makes me come back to today's running, because as with the mental and training stuff, also literally when you run down, you have to run back up :D I was supposed to do a tempo run this morning and I wanted to take it to lower altitude and on flatter surfaces. Basically the only option I found in the Alpe di Siusi Running Park tracks was the Seis-Völs/Völs-Seis. As you can guess from the name it goes from one town to another and back. Yes, you can choose where you start, but given the calf situation, I did not want to start uphill, I wanted my legs to first warm up before I push them in the uphill section (way back). Also took some change with me, so the worse case scenario was taking the bus back to Seis if my calves start acting up.

Arriving to Völs, very beautiful views!

Breathtaking again!

Cannot stop admiring the nature here :)

Please, can I have one of these in the park I run :)

What a blessing half way in the run ... while up at my hotel it was 11 degrees Celsius, here it was 18 and sunny!

Altitude profile of my run :D (here is the Garmin Connect link)

Did some strength training after coming back and then I needed fuel! Ate the eggs first and then rice and fresh fruits and raisins. My body is just screaming for carbs here :D

Ups and downs also consider weather. I was super hot in my running tights and tshirt in the first run of the day. When I was getting ready for my afternoon run, the clouds were all around and it looked like damn cold weather outside. I planned to do 8-9 miles so took my hydration backpack, long sleeved tshirt and very light Nike track jacket and gloves (my hands tend to get very cold and the evening runs have big temperature drops). Fortunately I also added the Nike Aeroflot vest in my backpack... As my final climb to Panorama was to 2 100 m of altitude and after that it was basically lot of downhill, I was glad to have all the clothes. Felt so excited for finishing the same route 15 minutes faster than on that upsetting Saturday run!

Looking back at the issue, I have to admit that 95 % of my runs back home are pretty flat, I would say totally flat if I compare them with what I do here. So all these uphills and downhills took the toll and apparently the calves were the ones who were the less ready for the challenge.

Windy downhill cloudy selfie while running :)

 Garmin altitude graph and map from the afternoon run :) (Garmin Connect file)

Any experience with muscle cramps at altitude?

What were your weekend runs / races???