Little sleep again last night but all the years of insomnia have prepared me for this day. I had 2 choices- to drive down to 5500ft elevation and run on a flat trail through condos in the muggy heat, or drive up to 9000ft and run on a moderately rolling dirt road in 50 degree temperatures looking up at the Continental Divide and following a pristine river with no people... What would you do?
So all of this was between 8500 and 9200ft elevation. First 8 was uphill and jogging but it ended up being quick considering how high I was (and no, not THAT kind of high). I ran by HR and held 140-150 and averaged 7:17 pace. That alone is solid.
Then 8 miles with a net elevation loss in 44:XX. I tried to just run by PE with a progression in HR from 160 to 170, this became easier because it got rolly in the last 2 miles. My LT is 178 so I never got within 5 beats of LT, this was barely a tempo run and felt much like marathon effort, which it turned out to be. Averaged 5:35 per mile for the last 8. I wanted to, and thought I would, hurt a little more but I never really pressed. I saw a few mile splits and became complacent with the pace. Below is the Garmin data. The last split (lap 17) was about 3 feet. Lap 1 was 2 miles and lap 2 was me stopping to get my Garmin to do lap splits. Huh?
Note: there is no pace conversion for altitude unless you are from sea level and racing at altitude. Jack Daniels says, and if anyone knows for sure it's him, that an athlete living and training at 8000ft can expect a 5" per mile conversion (if anything) going to sea level. It has to do with acclimation. An athlete doing a short (~4 week) training camp at high altitude can expect more of a conversion once they go back to sea level, but a fully acclimated athlete will not. Steve Jones and Alan Culpepper have both told me the same thing.
One suggestion has been to run long downhills in order to stimulate my CNS (central nervous system) and my race specific strength, which are both important aspects of running. Today was with this in mind. If there is an aspect of altitude that hurts you it's this. In order to run fast for a long time you need oxygen. Since the amount of oxygen being pushed in to your blood stream is limited you can't hold the same pace for as long when you're high and you simply can't strengthen the muscles or teach the CNS appropriately. When you drop to sea level you have the oxygen but the muscles are not trained to move at that specific pace.
pm) 4 miles jogging super easy and slow.