Yesterday I did my last hard workout before Masochist. After Superior Sawtooth, I had big plans of incorporating quality speed-work into my weekly training in hopes of making an honest effort at racing again in five weeks. I've never been the model of consistency when it comes to speed work - I should have known it would never last. The first few interval and fartlek sessions left me very sore, achy, and a feeling of "on the verge" of injury. I quickly altered my training plan and replaced the shorter speed sessions with more longer tempo runs and "climbathons" as I like to call them. Yesterday was a climbathon workout.
The workout goes like this: 1M warm-up at the bottom of Cheat Mtn (not the Cheat Mtn; click icon above), then slowly get into the tempo aspect of the run by pushing moderately hard on the first climb, solidly running the downhill, then really starting to push with the second climb - running almost all out toward the top, then running the final downhill hard. It's essentially a progression run. Does it work? Can't hurt I figure and the workout seems to incorporate the key ingredients needed for Masochist - much more than doing 200m repeats on the track.
The run was going fine and at the bottom of the final sustained climb I passed an old beat-up Chevy Blazer at the first switchback of this very rugged road. This beater had no back glass, huge dents in the sides and back, tons of rust, no rear-view mirror, and no side mirrors - to say that it wouldn't pass inspection would be an understatement. The driver joked a little when I ran by and his girlfriend asked if I wanted a ride. I just smiled and told them to check back at the top of the hill. They slowly drove off, forcing me to breathe their exhaust for longer than I liked and I figured that I had seen the last of them. Oddly enough, I kept catching glimpses of them ahead in the next turn and they were getting closer as the intensity of my effort increased.
In the middle of one of the upcoming switchbacks, the guy had stopped to apparently relieve himself and I passed them once again. They quickly shot past and I again hoped they were long gone. No such luck. At this point I was half-mile from the summit and running hard. Right near the top, I silently crept up on them - taking full advantage of their lack of mirrors. As I popped up at the driver's side at the top, I believe he got a pretty good scare as he let out a few expletives and told me I was like "an Injun" or maybe he meant "engine" - I don't know? As I quickly accelerated to attack the rocky downhill, I yelled to him, "Hey man, let's race to the bottom!." I should have chosen my words more wisely since there's not much a redneck likes more than a good race (look how popular NASCAR is).
The dude reved up his fluttering engine and it was on. I had a short lead from the start, but he was gaining fast. We approached the first sharp switchback with tons of loose rock. I bombed through it, knowing I could gap him here. I accelerated on the straight-away - nearly out of control into the next switchback. I glanced back; a gap of 50 yards is what I see. No letting up now. I put my head down - legs burning from the pace and the pounding. I continued at break-neck pace for probably another five minutes before looking back. No sign of the Blazer. He was broken and the race was won.
As I glided back down the mountain to my truck, there was no medal or applause waiting for me. The simple satisfaction of racing down a beat-up Blazer was prize enough. Another great run for the memory bank. . . I think I am officially insane.