Orange County, CA
We were fortunate to have a quick weekend visit out to Orange County to visit our good friends, Todd and Andrea. We always have a great time with them, and the weekend went by too quickly. Unfortunately, the weather was as about as bad as it gets in sunny So Cal, with rain and cool temperatures 2 of the 3 days we were there.
But there's nothing to complain about, as we still had a great time with them, and did have a nice day to get some surfing in, which was one of my main goals.
Rain, rain, go away!
We used to live in So Cal, and I remember how the infrastructure just...isn't...built...for...rain. That is, the roads get slippery (noticeably so on a bike); bacterial levels get high in the ocean so you can get sick if you surf afterward (although I'll pay for that check when it comes in a few days, if it does); and the trails are caked in thick mud. Al fresco dining is ruined, and the coffee shops don't have the requisite character, generally. Everyone gets crabby, and doesn't know what to do with themselves.
Strangely, though, it was a perfectly welcome relief.
I went for a run a couple mornings in the rain and grey, something I rarely did while living there (I ran less, so I'd just do some sort of indoor workout or something else). Instead, I found it quite enjoyable to go for a run in the morning when it was calm and traffic was light. The people that were out in the rain were, as a percentage, more friendly.
So I did a couple of 1.5-2 hour jogs from downtown Newport to areas around the beach, Corona Del Mar, and Irvine.
This one's for Alex!
Sea Level Run Tests
But first: one of my goals was to do some sort of quick sea-level test to see how noticeable the extra oxygen density might be. So, the first morning I headed out to the track at Irvine, home of the UCI Anteaters.
This, however, happened to be the absolute heaviest part of the storm.
I decided to run 8x800 anyway, but used Lane 5 so as to avoid the worst of the puddles:
This meant I had to think about the staggered start lines and such.
First lap was OK, in the mid 2:30's. The same or a little faster than I've been lately, though not the fastest.
The rain picked up a bit.
I thought I'd be OK as long as I didn't slip or anything, but in the following laps, my shorts, socks, and shoes were absolutely soaked. I was easily 5, 10, then 15 seconds slower than my first lap, with times all over the place. I stopped in the middle and wrang the water out of my socks.
So the workout was absolutely worthless in terms of testing-the-fitness at sea level. This bothered me as both a runner, and a student of exercise physiology. Shoot.
In the afternoon of our last day, a few hours before we left, I hadn't run during the day yet. Todd said he'd be OK with a quick jog to the local high school track in Corona Del Mar. Then I could do a quick workout and he didn't mind waiting or stretching, etc. It was near sunset now, due to Daylight Savings Time ending, but the weather was absolutely perfect.
I ended up having about 20 minutes, so I just decided to do a 5k.
Everything felt awesome and I hit 5000m at 17:10. Holy crap (in my world, anyway). I wasn't dying at the end, and finished another 400m up at the same pace to make it an even 13 laps. Todd was timing as well and said he was impressed (very kind of him to say so) about clicking off tight 5:30 splits with regularity.
I was pretty stoked by this -- I've never even run sub-18 in a race.
Is this a PR? Does it "count" since I didn't pay money for it? Who knows. AK is running his own self-timed marathon, and I think it's an awesome idea.
In any case, it's the fastest I've ever run that distance, and it felt awesome.
I don't know where that came from exactly, but I felt like a few things were key:
1. I've been doing less mileage (planned and unplanned) and am pretty well rested
2. I've been stretching with some regularity, and some niggling pains are getting better (fingers crossed)
3. Sea level doesn't give you any speed that you don't have already, but it makes the speed you do have easier to maintain for longer periods of time
Regarding the last point, I realize I could also benefit from some occasional very short stuff (100m, 200m, 400m), because my leg speed in this case was the limiter, whereas my heart and lungs felt like they had a bit more to give.
Anyway, it was a memorable workout and a fun scientific test.
Now back home, where our motto might was well be "A mile higher and a minute slower!"
Next up is the FC Thanksgiving Day Run, so it's fun to do the short stuff for a change.