I have a friend that rides a road bike, a lot. He also rides a mountain bike but his "thing" is biking on the road. He occasionally races, he trains a lot - covering hundreds of miles each week. He eats well, he recovers well. He loves to bike as much as I love to run. We hang out frequently and often talk about training, biking, running and life.
One thing that is different with us is how we measure our training. He measures training by hours. I measure it by miles. Each has merit. Each gives results that bring satisfaction, data to review and journeys to remember.
One thing I have noticed more with my running schedule and subsequent logs - is that I go into each week with a rough mileage goal for each week. But by weeks end I often look at the hours and minutes and then compare with previous weeks.
Due to a 6 week long break from running due to a very frustrating ankle sprain, I have only been running for 12 weeks since. With 2 weeks to go until the Pikes Peak marathon - my running miles and running hours will drop off as I start to taper. But looking back at the past 12 weeks this afternoon, I have noticed something......
Without going into too much data overload - as I started back running, for the first 7 weeks I gradually built up my miles each week and with that the hours also built up. At the end of 7 weeks I had just run a 40 mile week, having run 5 times and it took me about 6 hours, 20 minutes.
Week 8, I added another 5 miles to the weekly total - but the time to do this went to up to 9 hours, 11 minutes. An almost 3 hour increase difference. The next week I added 5 more miles, the running time increased an additional hour. For the remaining weeks from then till now, I have been running 45 to 50 mile weeks with running time being between 9 hours and 10 1/2 hours (aside from one "easy / recovery" week).
Why the bump up in hours? Simple answer is increased vertical running. In the past 5 weeks while running 25 times, my average distance has been 9 1/2 miles, it's taken me an average of 1:52. (Certainly has not been speedy running). I have also run up over 47,000'. That results in the extra time on the trail.
Why post all this info? Because I am looking for an excuse as to why yesterday it took me well over 4 hours to run 20 miles on Pikes Peak and be frustratingly almost 15 minutes slower than I wanted to be. Yesterday I wanted to be speedy, I wasn't. Yesterday I ran for a longer amount of time than I thought I should have. I was frustrated. I felt okay, I had enough fuel and fluids. The weather was perfect. The trail wasn't too busy (for a Saturday). I just didn't achieve what I not only wanted to do, but thought I was capable of doing. I was a little defeated - especially mentally.
My lesson that I learned: running up Barr Trail to A Frame and back is hard, it is over 5600 feet of climbing and Pikes Peak never takes a day off from being unrelenting. I learned and relearned that any amount of confidence I may have going in to the race needs to be tempered with a huge and healthy dose of respect for the mountain. Not to mention that the race has another 6 miles and 2200' of going up and down more than I did yesterday.
I have some confidence that training will pay off, along with being mentally prepared, running a smart race, being properly fueled and hydrated will all contribute to some measure of success on race day. Each finisher will have one thing in common, running the race requires completing roughly 26 miles. One thing will be different for almost every runner: time taken to complete. I'm just hoping that the 46 hours of running, walking and hiking during training over the last 5 weeks pays off.
I have no idea how long that will be for me - earlier last week I was thinking great things, but after yesterdays run - a slower time than last year is possible. Come race day - who knows. I guess that is part of the adventure and journey and that journey is guaranteed to take me a while, hours and hours.