HR Training + Oregon Trail

The Heart Rate Training book I’ve been reading suggested a simple track test to get a general idea of maximum heart rate. Warm up for a mile or more, run as hard as you can for one lap on the track, recover for 2 min, repeat 3 times. This morning, Ryan A. and I hit the middle school track near my home before 6 am in the dark, wearing headlamps to give it a try.

I knew my legs were fatigued going in, so I’m certain my paces aren’t as good as they’d be if I did the test on bouncier legs, but since the point was max heart rate, I’m not sure it really made much of a difference. The track was very loose, fine-grained sandy stuff that made for a difficult push off. It was also kind of uneven. I think I’d have ran faster on the asphalt. Here’s how the test went:

Warm up: 1.33 mile – 10:38 pace. Ave HR: 161 Max HR: 189
.25 speed lap – 6:46 pace. Ave HR: 157 Max HR: 177
2 min recovery: 11:09 pace. Ave HR: 175 Max HR: 185
.25 speed lap – 7:14 pace. Ave HR: 180 Max HR: 198
2 min recovery: 16:05 pace. Ave HR: 163 Max HR: 185
.25 speed lap – 6:56 pace. Ave HR: 172 Max HR: 191
2 mi recovery: 17:04 pace. Ave HR: 164 Max HR: 188

I figured my max would show around 200 – 215, so it’s not far off. I did notice that when I recovered better (and walked the whole thing) the next interval went better than the one where I tried to jog part of it, since my HR stayed high and I had less steam for the speed lap.

After the track session, Ryan and I headed over to the Oregon Trail for some trail miles in the dark. I wiped out pretty good today. My legs were just not lifting the way they normally do, so when one of the zillions of volcanic rocks poked it’s head up, I went down. Lots of dirt on my clothes and scratches on my right knee, but no blood today.

We got 7.42 trail miles before heading back to the house. It was fun. We talked about an ultra book we’ve both read and about the recent viewing of the Western States 100 movie, Unbreakable. Good fun!

I also had the chance to try out Ryan’s two handheld bottles. I’d just purchased two Nathan ones this week for Christmas gifts for Wayne and I and Ryan suggested I try his older Nathan one and the other one was Ultimate Direction, that he prefers, just to see how the fit varied between the two brands and to compare the valves on the top which are different. I was really thankful to try them both out side-by-side before I took off the packaging on our new ones. I think I’ll be returning mine for sure and getting the easier bite valve model. I liked the fit too. Thanks for sharing, Ryan! That was helpful!

While on the trail, I also tried to keep my heart rate at 155 or under. Turns out, that means I have to walk like a snail on the uphills, but then felt pretty awesome on the flatter sections. My ave HR overall today was 155 and I finished with a final kick, feeling awesome. I really think that’s the range I need to stay in as I continue training for my 100. Hopefully with some of these ideas, I’ll be training smarter and therefore, hopefully racing smarter too in March!

I plugged my numbers into this cool online calculator to find my zones.


From the data gathered in the past week it would look like this:

Easy: 111-128 (brisking walking) (up to 52% of Max)
Aerobic: 146-163 (jogging) (52% – 64 % of Max)
Anaerobic Threshold 163-180 (going hard) (76% – 88% of Max)
VO2 Max: 180-198 (all out)

After looking back at some of my past races or harder efforts yesterday, these zones do seem pretty close to what I was expecting. I think the biggest lesson for me, is that I need to not let my HR get anywhere near 180 or I tend to have a much harder time and often bonk. For the 100 miler I’m doing, keeping the range even tighter at 155 is likely a very smart strategy to keep me going and going (so long as I’m up on my hydration, fuel, etc. as well.) This will be fun to test out over the next few weeks and see if it yields better overall results and less bonking on really long ones!

Stats: 9.92 miles. 1:51:25 time. 11:14 average pace. 236 feet elevation gain. Best pace: 5:07. Ave HR: 157. Max HR: 198


Bike ride to the track/Speedwork and Back

Wayne Jr gave me those saucer sized, heart-melting eyes when I told him I was going to ride my bike to the track today. I have such a soft spot when one of the kids actually wants to do something active with me that of course, I said, “Yes.” Less than a mile down the road, my 10 1/2 year old son (who even refers to himself as a “Pipsqueak” since he’s the same size as the average 7 year old), was huffing and puffing on his little, bitty bike yelling ahead at me, “My butt hurts, Mom!” “I know, buddy! It’s because we haven’t done this enough yet. Our bottoms will get tougher if we just stick with it!” Half a mile later, “My butt hurts Mom AND my legs are exhausted!” Me: “Dude, we’ve still got more than 3 miles to go to get there. Just hang in there!” Silence from Jr a half mile later. I peeked over my shoulder and he was a teensy little dot wayyyyy back there. I stopped. I waited. He wobbled towards me on his little bike, looking truly like a man who’d ran 100 miles instead of a one who’d biked less than 3. This became our pattern. I’d encourage him along, “Looking good, honey! Keep it up!’ He’d consistently reply with, “My buns, Mom! They HURT!” FINALLY, we arrived at the track – 5.2 miles to the gate from my front door. Thank goodness!!!!

Now on my bike ride to the track earlier in the week, I’d rode a comfortable, easy pace of about 11.3 mph. Today it was a whopping 7.9 mph! hahaha! I kept thinking my bike would tip over from having to ride so slow. But, I figured, “What the heck. I’m here to do a little preliminary track work and see how badly out of speed shape I’ve gotten during the winter and spring while I was focusing more on long distances and trail/ aka MOUNTAIN running. I’ve read that doing this type of training program is called periodization and this is my second year of doing things this way. Last year it really paid off in the end. All those mountains/trails/long distances built my strength, my muscle base and my endurance. By the time I started focusing on the roadwork/ speed and racing of summer and fall I was faster than the year before – MUCH faster than I’d been in the past. It seemed to be a good way of doing things for me, since it keeps things mentally fresh and interesting by changing up my focus throughout the year, while also allowing my bones/joints and feet to back off from the tougher road work/speed for a few months of the year, hopefully keeping my injury risk at a minimum. That’s the theory anyway. 🙂

So, here I am, on the cusp of a new marathon training season, smack dab in the summertime when shorter races are abundant to test my speed as I prepare for my “key” race of the year — the fall marathon. I’m feeling heavy-legged, a little chunky (trail running is very challenging, but requires more calories as you since you’re out there longer and moving at a slower pace – so I tend to put on a few lbs during the endurance season), and not at all sharp. Perfect! The legs and body are ready for the hard work to begin as I become a lean, mean racing machine! Or, at least TRY to become one!

My goal today on the track was simple. I needed a baseline number — a mile test — to see where I’m at right now. On my birthday last year – November 2nd, I ran a timed mile just for fun in the college parking lot near my home (at the time the closest thing I thought I had to a track in my area.) I did that in 6:50. That was about a month after my 4:20 marathon and right before I ran my 1:57 at Zeitgeist (a road half marathon with LOTS of tough,slow, long hills.) I was feeling fairly good, so that’s sort of where I was at the end of last season – and kind of a guide as to where I want to get again (or beat) by the end of this season.

I sent Jr off to play on the playground and I warmed up for a mile. I did some stretches and then I went for it. I ran a mile as quickly as I could on the track. The legs felt fatigue and heaviness almost from the start. The 12 mph winds were nice for keeping me cool, but felt like a challenge to run into on the back stretches of the track. I did the best I could and the Garmin shows it was 7:49 — nearly an entire MINUTE slower than the fall. Ok, baseline established. Get those fast-twitch muscles to work again, strengthen my legs and body and let’s see what I can accomplish this year. I admit I was discouraged by how out of shape I felt and how slow I ran. But, I’ll get it back. And, hopefully, even improve on last fall’s 1 mile time trail this year. I’d love to push myself hard enough that eventually I see a 5:59 in a mile trial. That may be out of reach, but if I shoot for the moon, I still will land among the stars, right? I really think a 6:39 is possible, though.

Jr came back as I was walking the first lap of the cooldown. He stood on the track and handed me my water bottle as I made the last 3 loops, just jogging lightly and chatting with a nice lady who was using the oval today, too.

After my 1 mile cooldown, Jr asked me to join him on the playground, so I did. We went through the “obstacle course” together. Note to self: I suck at the monkey bars bigtime – work on it!

We hopped back on our bikes and this time I did something different for the ride home. The first mile I led, just as I had on the way there, but when I’d look back, he was going slower than ever, just poking along, handlebars wobbling all over the place (while he scared his poor Mother to death, as I feared he’d veer right into the traffic.) I thought about my 50 miler. How, at some points, I’d be way behind my pacer and feel discouraged and how when I’d get in front I’d start to shine again. Maybe Jr just needed a little mental boost from being in the front. So, once he caught up, I let him lead. It helped! He went from riding about a 5 mph pace to an 8. Ahh – amazing what a little psychological boost can do for you when you’re feeling the burn!

Total workout:

Bike: 10.4 miles. Ave speed: 7.9 mph. Time: 1:19:11. Heart rate: 119. Warm/cool Run: 2.04 miles. 24:02 total time. 12:01 pace (walked some of the cooldown with Jr.) Speed session: 1 mile. 7:49 pace. HR: 170. Felt: Fatigue. Weather: 68 degrees. Sunny. 12 mph winds.


Third Annual Titus Van Rijn One Hour Track Classic

This was my second time to attend the Annual Titus Van Rijn One Hour Track Classic, put on by my awesome friend, Emily at the Nampa Christian Track. For those who’ve never heard of it, it’s an event that happens all over the US in the month of May. It’s a free event where every participant sees how many laps around a track they can do in one hour.  It’s very laid back and a lot of fun.  There are always grownups and children and people of all ages competing, chatting and in grand Titus Van Rijn form, celebrating their accomplishments after the event by drinking Black Cherry soda.

Last year I did 6.25 miles (or 25 laps.) My only goal this year was to beat my laps from last year.  My legs were pretty fatigued from all the hills and miles I’ve been doing in prep for the Big Horn 50 miler in June, so I knew even beating last year’s numbers would be a bit of a challenge.  The weather was also very warm out there – about 80 degrees with a 10 mph wind. This year, the crowd was smaller, but what we lacked in numbers we made up for in spirit.  The defending champion from last year, Ben Blessing, was there with an even better costume than last year. He had on a Santa hat, green short shorts, and crazy red, white and green knee socks. He also had something funny written on his chest about being “hot.” It was funny and made me laugh.

We all lined up at the starting line and Emily said “GO!” or blew a whistle. I can’t remember which.  I was thrilled to have three of my kids in the race this year: Rebecca, age 11, Wayne Jr, age 10 and Joshua age 9.  They were each proudly carrying a GU, feeling every bit like serious runners who were out for some serious competition.  My pal, Emily, the race director’s son, Deiter, age 9 was there, my pal, Davina’s son, Tanner, age 8 was running, my friend, Julie’s kids Kyle age 10, Sarah, age 13 and little Krista, age 7 were also running. There were a couple of other kids that I hadn’t met before, but I cheered each and every one of them as I made my laps. Some of our littler kids joined in for a single lap, too. My husband, Wayne, brought Savannah, age 4 and Anneliese, age 6 out on the track and they were smoking along, saying, “Look at us, Mama! We’re FAST!!” I high-fived them and told them they were looking awesome.  Davina’s daughter, Lyndie, age 5 and Emily’s daughter, Margie, age 5 were also looking pretty cute for a lap or so! It was a really positive atmosphere of family fun and exercise!

I enjoyed seeing my friends, Tina, Misty, Davina, and several other ladies out running tonight.  Ben had his competition with one very fast young guy, who I didn’t catch the name of, but who ran very strong in the early stages, before I think the heat became too much for him and he walked off the track.  Ben’s pal, John, dressed in a jacket, warm stocking cap and full tights, was struggling with the heat, as he was using this race as part of his Badwater training to help pace the mighty Ben in July. He’s been stacking up the miles lately.  I was wearing a tank and shorts and I felt hot. I told him I couldn’t imagine running in his outfit in that weather. He told me, “All part of my training!” Impressive! My buddy, Robbie showed up a bit late, sporting a very fashionable John McEnroe inspired white, terrycloth headband! It was awesome!  He was running strong and telling jokes as fast as his quick feet were moving.  I ran faster when he’d pull up beside me since the company was so enjoyable.

I ran steady and kept my pace just a hair under my pace for last year (9:36 last year.) I felt pretty warm and did have to stop for water three times and walk while I drank it. I also took in one GU. I felt tired, but comfortable. I think I could have gone on like that for another hour if I had to, which was what I was aiming for: controlled, steady and slightly faster than last year.  I achieved my goal, too! I crossed the lap line with 6.5 miles (or 26 laps) in 59:39 with 21 seconds to spare before the whistle.  I knew I wouldn’t make it another lap in that short of time, so I just stopped and threw my arms up in victory at that point, knowing I had achieved what I came out to do: Beat my laps from the year before!  I felt great!

Seconds later, Ben Blessing came grunting and gutting it out in the last seconds to once again, claim the title of Winner of the whole event! Congratulations, Ben! Great job! And, congratulations to every single one of the participants out there tonight! You rocked!

Emily did a great job of putting on another successful event! Every participant got prizes and she even had a drawing for gift cards from Shu’s. I won one! Woo hoo!

Everyone enjoyed a nice BBQ afterwards and all went home satisfied with another great race in the bag.

Stats: 6.5 miles. Time: 1 hour. Felt: Ok


Track Night

Man, I’d missed track night! I hadn’t been out to see everyone in months. Though the crowd was quite small tonight, it felt great to be on familiar turf, socializing and running with my friends again.

I haven’t ran with any of my “sole” mates (ha ha) since Orcas Island 50k on Feb 5th when I sprained my ankle.  I’ve been injured, so have had to turn down all of the fun longer runs recently.  Physically and mentally, I really have ached for that camaraderie and the push I get from my friends when we run together.

Tonight I ran with Billie a bunch. I love her to bits! She’s loads of fun and our paces are a pretty good match. It felt so good to see the miles fly by without effort (the way it only seems to happen for me when a pal or a few pals are along for the ride.) We chatted and caught up on all that’s gone on since our race in Feb.

Our buddy, Emily showed up for a bit, too and that just made my whole night perfect! The three of us girls chatted and talked shoes and pals and it was fantastic. I thanked Emily for sharing her Kinvaras with me last week and let her try out my Cumulus 10’s and Asics Hypergirl track spikes. It was like a grown up running girl’s dressup party! 🙂   My heart just felt so happy being surrounded by my friends again. I really missed them. And those pals of mine I haven’t ran with (yeah, I’m looking at YOU — I miss you too!!! I need to see you all again soon to fill up my happy cup!) 🙂

Stats: 4.57 miles. Felt: HAPPY, lighter than air, ALIVE!  Ave HR: 154