Thursday, August 19, 2010

DP in the desert, yo!

So, I was reading in Daniel's Running Formula last night about tempo runs--yes, I have such books, but for some reason, I rarely browse through them. Anyway, he, this legendary coach, made a point of stressing that tempos should be on more or less flat, evenly surface, and windless terrain. I thought to myself, Dang.

My tempo last Tuesday (which I haven't written about til now, sorry ... maybe what comes next will suggest why) didn't go so hot. Well, no, it was hot; I ran in the early afternoon, on Cemetery Rd, the same stretch I used for my first tempo. But I intended to go 5 miles, and only managed 4. It might have been because I went out too hard--I don't really know, the miles aren't marked--and the wind was bad. During the first mile, I ran straight through a bona fide dust devil, sand whirling all around me, and held my breath. Then, mile 3-ish was pretty much all up hill, though relatively gradual. The footing everywhere in the Basin is sandy as all get out, at least in (unexpected) sections, and full of rocks that can test an ankle. To cut this sob story a bit shorter, I called it off after 4 miles feeling tapped running back into the wind, uphill. No juice to be squeezed. God-lessly awful. Not fun.

So, today, I wanted my tempo to be extremely funner. I drove to more level terrain (check!), Aqueduct Rd, just before 7 pm--when it was COOL (how reasonable!)--and parked at Walker Creek. I got out of the car, opened the doors, and blasted The Strokes, as I half stretched, half danced in full view of gorgeous mountains and dangerous volcanoes. (I was really shaking it out! It was a dance off, and the challengers were the Mono Craters and my elbowy, distorted reflection in the Jeep!) It made think about how fun the old locker room days in college were--terrible as the music often was--or just those days of rollicking company, period. That's another drawback to training alone.

Anyhow, even before the warm up, it was off to a good start. A success, even. Never mind that my legs felt pretty Cemetery, though I'd tried to leave that behind. I guess that's what 60-ish miles in the last four days can do to you.

My warm up was indeed heavy, stiff, and I'll admit, I had a few doubts. But what-ev. I lay down some short strides and set out at a brisk clip. But not too fast (YES!). And the best part of Aqueduct Road is that it works with you. Dances with you? No, that may be going too far. But it does bend in and out of the wind, as you run roughly parallel--this is key--to the mountains (though one of those bends is at least a mile, and you can see all the way to the other side, which is intimidating, because it looks so freaking far). This way, you don't suffer for too long in the Santa Chilla always rolling down those glacial canyons. And it went fine! Just fine, considering my legs. They continued to warm up and by the time I finished my solid 27 minute tempo I'd almost forgotten about how rough the road was. Almost.

At one point, I chased a mountain quail. It skeddadled straight down the track for about a minute, before taking flight, finally, in a puff of dust. Why? Cause I was gaining on it ... ha! Then on my return, coyotes sang out from the hills. Probably dancing up there, too, old Wiley. To The Strokes?

Here's what I've learned, in the end: I must try to be both Roadrunner (or quail) and Coyote! I'm sure some interpretation argues they're of the same ego, anyway.

3 mi, 21 min, warm up; ~ 5 miles (or who knows) in 27:11; 3 mi, 21 min, cool down

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