Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Summary for 21-27 March

Back at It!


AM 1:00; 7M; 117Ft; 143Av Hr; 2.5 on eliptical, 4.5 on bike path... no pain!


AM 1:22; 10.1M; 799Ft; 143Av Hr; My classic out and back on the wonderland trails.  Heart rate was noticeably higher than it normally is on this run… I was still tired from the crazy mountain bike ride on Sunday I think. 

PM :30; 3.9M; 117Ft; 139Av Hr; Barefoot run on Kitteredge Fields.  Heart rate was still higher than normal and my calves were sore. 

Massage: Nice to get back to massage with Marcus Allen, I had some good soreness to work out from biking. 


AM 2:03; 14.14M; 3,064Ft; 142Av Hr; Return back to Green Mtn.  I ran from campus at lunch in my first time back to Green in a while.  Felt great, but sore. 


AM 1:40; 10.49M; 1,955Ft; 136Av Hr; Ran with Levi and Aaron from the house, EGF, Panorama, Flagstaff to Green Mtn Lodge and back.  Nice fun, relaxed run with friends.

PM :30; 3.5M; 103Ft; 145Av Hr: Barefoot at Kitteredge; Great to be running barefoot again.


AM 1:52: 12.06M; 2,274Ft; 141Av Hr; Took advantage of a day off work, drove to the trails north of Eldorado Canyon, into Eldo canyon and back.  It was great trail running weather. 


AM 1:32; 12.02M; 771Ft; 142Av Hr; Wonderland with barefoot 2M at Casey Jr High.  Still pretty sore hence the flatter run. 

AM 3:33: 20.5M; 5,562Ft; 143Av Hr; MY 1st “TRIPLE PEAK RUN”!!! I met up with Levi at my house for a perfect day of long trail running.  We ran down to EGF, up panorama, Flagstaff, Greenman to Green Mt. 
Green Mtn 8,144ft (a while back!)

Levi had a little spill on Panorama and bruised his knee.  Down Bear Canyon where I filled my water bottle in Bear Creek and Levi continued down to Mesa Trail and back to my house, due to the sore knee and being that he is just getting into the longer trail running.  The trail up Bear Peak from Bear Canyon is awesome… very scenic, rolling then followed by the short steep ascent to the top.  On my second ever Bear summit, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the view and experience.  I plan on getting up Bear during the weekdays more often. 
Bear Pk, 8,461ft (also a while back)
Bear.  Not my pic, but shows how awesome the peak is!

From Bear I ran south towards Shadow Canyon where I got the idea of bagging South Boulder Peak, the highest peak in the park (8,549ft)
South Boulder Peak, 8549ft.  The least stunning peak, but higest.

Due to the fact you don’t lose much altitude from Bear to the turn for Shadow Canyon, it was a relatively easy 3rd peak to climb, despite it being the tallest.  It was very cool to see South Boulder Creek and Gross Reservoir, something I haven’t seen from Green Mtn.  Shadow Canyon was long and steep, thus slow.  There is a lot of great thick foliage on this trail.  Back to Mesa Trail I ran into Geoff Roes and Joe Grant, I ran with them for a mile or so and then headed home.  I was toast the last 3 miles due to a big first week back on the trails in nearly a month (due to some injuries before Nueces, a taper, and then my tendon issue the last two weeks).  I also felt my Achilles feeling a little irritated the last 4 miles too (thought it was chaffing).  My 1st Endurance EFS once again worked very well keeping me from bonking or dehydrating (electrolytes).  Once home, I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st Endurance Ultragen recovery drink… delicious.       

A great first week back at it! 

I am and was very anxious to do some great training on the trails.  My race in TX was a great start to the season, coupled with it being spring and having to spend some time in the evil gym doing alternative training, I’m ready to roll on the trails!

 A coach wouldn’t have let me “roll” as I did this week. My heart rate was a bit too high for the running I was doing early in the week, plus I was sore for most of the week as well.  Bottom line I forced it a bit and on the big climbing long run, my Achilles got a little sore, so I will take a day in the Gym on the elliptical Monday.  Patience (I’ve said this before).

Weekly Totals

93.7 Miles
14 Hrs
14,762 Ft Climbing
141.5 Av Hr

Here is a little tune one of my students told me I should check out... it sneaks onto repeat in my brain frequently while running. 
Any interpretations on the meaning of the end of the video?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Last Two Weeks

Things have not gone exactly as planned the last two weeks…

Saturday after the race and Sunday, besides being obviously flat and tired, my legs, joints and body had no real "sore spots".  The lack of  soreness and stiffens was surprising, as usually I have at least one problem area for a few days after a big race. 

Monday my right foot started hurting. 

For the first few days I sort of ignored it, as I was confident it was just a bruise on the back and outside portion of my foot.  Well, that wasn’t the case, it got worse and by Wednesday and Thursday I was having a hard time walking without a serious limp.  I was just so excited that the body felt great, I was ready to do some easy running and I felt the suspected bruise would just go away. 

As it has been the case a few times already this year, with a little visit to Marcus Allen, the problem was identified correctly.  This time, the recovery would be a little longer than a minor muscle strain or irritation.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Marcus until Friday after the race.    

On the first lap of my race, I rolled my right ankle.  After gingerly jogging on it for a few minutes it slowly went away and I didn’t think about it again.  When I rolled the ankle, I strained my Peroneal tendons, which run down and around the outside of the back portion of my foot.  It was time for some alternative training. 

Sunday: 3.5M; Flat; Easy; Little jogging in Austin.

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 20 Minutes; Flat; Easy; foot starting to hurt. 

Wednesday: 40 Minutes; Flat; Easy; felt great, but foot continued to hurt.  Funny thing is that it hurt more after running walking around than during the run.  Was sure it would go away.

Thursday: 60 Minutes; Flat; Easy; Felt great again, but foot bothering me. 

Friday: 25 Mile bike ride from campus, up Boulder Creek Bike path west, up 4 Mile Canyon, Gold Hill Road, to Gold Hill (town), down Sunshine Canyon, back to campus; This was an awesome ride.  I pushed pretty hard, out of frustration with my foot and not being able to run, and made the 13ish miles to Gold Hill in just over 1:30, just under 10 miles an hour.  My heart rate was thumping the whole time. 
On the way down I saw the fire, I didn’t know about, by Four Mile Canyon, pretty crazy.  Also exciting was doing 12 miles in about 30 minutes… 1:54 MILE, that was pretty thrilling for a distance runner, especially an Ultra guy!  I think I hit just shy of 38 Miles Per Hour on my mountain bike!  Right around 2hrs for the total ride. 
The Loop I Biked
Left Hand Fire

Saturday: Skied at Vail, did my favorite side-country, East Vail Chutes, oh yeah!

Top of Clifs at East Vail Chutes 

Looking Back Up Cliffs @ East Vail Chutes
Sunday: Off

Monday: 2 Miles; The foot didn’t hurt walking around, so I gave it a try after two days of no running… I got to 1.7 miles and it started to bug me.  Frustrating walk home. 

Tuesday: Back to the bike.  25 Miles down (east) Boulder Creek Bike Path, to S.Boulder Creek Bike Path, Bobolink section, Marshall Rd, single track trails by community ditch and back.  Another hard effort ride with 25 miles in 1:40. 
Foot still sore.

Wednesday: Aqua-jog.  Aqua-jogging is pretty lame, but I refused to lose my running specific fitness!  At the CU gym/recreation center is a lap pool and a diving “well”.  The diving well is 12-14’ deep pretty big and always empty.  I put on my floatie and did laps for an hour trying to keep running form and heart rate up.  The lifeguard enjoys country, I don’t.  
Foot getting better, but not ready.
The Aqua Jogging "Track"

Thursday: Aqua-Jog hard workout.  While on a houseboat on Lake Powell with a number of my former MSU teammates a few years back, we figured out we could Aqua-Jog with no floaties, as it was way to hot and there were no trails to run or floaties.  Your form goes to hell, but your hear rate goes up, which is tough to do Aqua-jogging.  I did a routine in the pool for 95 minutes of 2 laps easy, 1 lap harder, 1 lap no floatie then repeat 4 or 5 times.  This worked out pretty well.
Foot getting better, but not ready.

Friday: 2 Miles… foot not better; Aqua-Jog lameness for an hour, with country music;   hour thirty mountain bike ride with 3 other couples.  We biked at Hall Ranch outside of Lyons on great technical single track.  Good day of cardio… but not running. 
Foot getting better but not ready.
Hall Ranch (summer)

Saturday: Off; My foot didn’t hurt at all, but I decided to wait until Monday to try again.  Couldn’t get myself to go to the indoor pool on a Saturday and when it was 70 and sunny, so I played Frisbee with friends.  

Sunday: 35 Mile Mountain Bike Ride on Single track!  3,500Ft climbing; 4:30, 4:00 on the saddle; My friend Chris invited me on this epic Mtn Biking adventure with his friend Dave.  We started at Heil Ranch just outside of Boulder, biked to Picture Rock Trail, then into Lyons, to Hall Ranch, around Hall Ranch and back the same way.  This ride was killer.  It felt a lot like my long trail runs. With the exception to a few extra steep climbs, I could talk and was having a blast.  The down-hills were superb.  By the end my hands were toast, my back was very sore and overall I felt pretty exhausted, mission accomplished.  Dave and Chris are great athletes and preparing for the “Transalps” multi-day mountain bike ride in Europe. 

Monday: The moment of truth…. 2.5 miles on the elliptical (I wanted to be able to stop if my foot bothered me AT ALL), 4.5 miles on the bike path; Foot felt fine!  Aside from the frostbite on my foot from over-icing and not wrapping the icepack when I iced a few times, I didn’t feel any pain in my foot.  My legs were toast from the bike ride Sunday.  It was a very anxious run today, but I was/am very happy to be back running.  

It has been a very challenging two weeks since the race, but this last week has been relatively productive with the alternative training.  I’ll be patient this week, but I think next week will be back to par.  This strain was related to the trauma of rolling my ankle followed by 40 miles of trail racing, not from mal-training, so I don’t expect to see this injury again or a need to change my training approach.       

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

USATF Trail 50 Mile National Championships/Nueces 50 Mile Race Report

Nueces Endurance Trail Run

                                           50 mi Trail Logo
                                   2011 USA 50 Mile Trail Championships

My second Ultra and 50 mile trail race was dynamically different than my first, The North Face (TNF) 50 Mile Championships, last year in December. 

The Lead-Up

Preparing for the TNF 50, I primarily had a marathon training base with a little bit of trail running here and there with a two week hiatus of ultra specific training leading up to the race.  For Nueces on the other hand, I had a pretty solid 2+ months of trail ultra specific training base with just a few down weeks for some minor muscle strains.  
Preparing mentally and logistically for TNF 50, I was in a state of fear, excitement and a lot of uncertainty.  I studied results, splits, the course maps and the blogs of top ultra guys in the months leading up to the race.  I knew where the race aid stations were, their names, distance between them, how many GUs I’d carry at all point on the course, you get the picture.  For Nueces, I really only looked at the map a couple of times and Thursday night before going to bed, I jotted down a quick plan for race nutrition on the back of a scrap piece of paper.  During the actual race, I really had no idea how far aid stations were from each other or distances from the start or finish of the loop.  At one point I couldn’t remember if the course was 17.6 miles or 16.7… after some quick math I realized 16.7. 

My main goals for the race were to A) Win B) Break 7hrs and C) Break 6:45 if things were going well.   It wasn’t until the third lap that I realized sub 6:30 was a realistic goal and subsequently goal “D)”.  The math for the splits to go sub 7hrs was figured out after the start of the race. 

This preparation plan for Nueces, or lack of, wasn’t exactly by design though.  My first son, Felix, was born January 14th, just 7 weeks before the race… do I need to say more?  At work, the two weeks leading up to the race were the busiest and most stressful I’ve ever had.  The Monday after the race the office would be audited/inspected (once every 3 year inspection).  Just really crazy times at work and home.  
When I flew to San Fran for TNF 50, I rented a car, picked up my race packet downtown and was at my own hotel room by 3pm.  For Nueces, I flew to Austin where I would begin a circus of a road trip.  Mark Schwitau picked me up and we began the drive down to San Antonio during Friday afternoon traffic.  We had dinner, and visited the Feist family in San Antonio, which included jumping on a trampoline, swinging on a tree swing, playing a little kick ball and eating an amazing dinner (thanks Zefe!) before Mike Feist, Mark and I headed to Rocksprings (3hrs away), the site of the race,  at sunset.

Less than an hour into the drive from San Antonio, Mark’s car started to shake and rattle.  We checked things out on the side of the road, but couldn’t see anything wrong.  We pushed on and maybe 5 minutes later the tread of one of the tires ripped off.  On the side of the highway we realized that the spare tire’s rim was seriously bent and the tire was pretty flat.  We couldn’t find the jack.  We waved down a friendly Texan and got a jack.  Filling up the full size spare on the bad rim with a borrowed pump, we discovered the tire would only hold minimal pressure before the bead would start leaking air.  No repair shops were open (it was after 7pm by this time), just a Walmart where we could at least purchase a new tire.  Mike Feist ( a 3:43 1500 meter runner, yeah, that is sub 4 mile pace!) gave a call to his buddy and the super hero of the trip, Matt, who has a ranch with a barn he built by hand that has a “tire put-er-on-er and take-er-off-er” machine only 10 miles away.  After being blown away by his awesome home-made massive BBQ, he single handedly put the new tire on the good rim, and fixed the old rim with some hammering and banging.  Matt really is an amazing guy.  Thanks for saving the trip Matt. 

We were back on the road to Rocksprings, not sure what time it was, but it was within 8hrs of the race start.  Once we got close to Rocksprings, I realized I had no idea where “Eagle Ranch” was or how to get there.  With a little smartphone action, we had an address and navigation running… to the middle of nowhere and a dead end.  More smartphone and directions giving an arrival estimate of 1:30AM to the "real" Eagle Ranch.  At 1:30AM we pulled up to the camping area and surely woke half the racers getting our sleeping pads and sleeping bags out.  I didn’t sleep at all in the car and shortly after getting into our bags, the wind went nuts, it rained and my alarm went off at 4:50AM.  I didn’t sleep Friday night and traveled, with a little stop at the Feist house, for 16hrs total hours.  
Time to race. 

While shuffling the contents of our car on the side of a highway when we got the flat, I must have left my NB MT101 running shoes, along with my racing shorts on the side of the road.  I ended up wearing my Newton Trail shoes and women’s racing shorts to race.  When I jogged up to the start I had 2 minutes until the gun went off.  I re-tied my shoe and was off.

The Race

I had no idea it was so dark at 6AM in Texas this time of year, as it gets light nearly an hour earlier in Colorado.  I didn’t get much to eat in the morning, some fig newtons, a bar and an apple an hour before the race.  My stomach was not feeling as it should.  I was pretty much out of it for the first few miles due to fatigue and such.  Within a mile or so, Dave James and some college aged runner (apparently a 14:30 5K guy?) broke away from the front pack right off the bat.  I was running behind Steven Moore, Jason Bryant and a younger guy in MT101s (the shoes I was supposed to be wearing), so 6th, for the first couple miles.  I felt that the pace was a bit slow for my liking, but as my body was all out of whack, I wasn’t sure what was going on and I didn’t want to lead in the dark on trails I have never seen, not to mention my unfamiliarity with the course map. 

We went through the first aid station at 5 miles in 45 minutes, so 9 minute miles.   Just after the aid station is where I left the pack. I wanted to be running a bit faster for the given terrain.  It was getting light and I began a long mission of tracking down Dave James and the college runner. 
The course was more challenging than I expected.  While I heard this part of Texas had a lot of rock, I was still surprised at the technical aspect and footing of the trails.  The climb from the first aid station was no kidding a trail Joe, the race director, made for the race the year before.  The trail was steep and rough to say the least, with police tape to more or less mark certain sections.  There were always (see the course map) sharp turns and numerous U-Turns, one road crossing with about 30 feet of ankle deep water and another 30 foot river crossing  with around shin deep water, two long wooden bridges over 50 feet in length that oscillated as you ran across… each lap.  There was also a fairly significant climb half way through the loop with a lot of small climbs and descents.  Talking to Joe, Jason and Steven, the course is pretty comparable to Bandera, so a good trail race for the technical aspect and somewhere around 1,800-
2,000ft of climbing per lap I believe.    

My quick math on the scratch paper on where to stage my First Endurance EFS liquid shots wasn’t thorough.  I had Mike Feist with two 4 serving containers at one aid station (Mike was instrumental in encouragement, aid, hacks, etc...!)  and a drop bag with two more at another aid station.  I wasn’t thinking and picked up one EFS bottle too early at the end of my first lap and had to carry both until a few miles later I dropped it while taking my long sleeve shirt off, which I didn’t realize until a few miles later.  I ended up taking two Hammer Gels (not a big fan of these) to make up for losing the 4oz bottle. 

Overall the weather, on the other hand, was better than one would expect for this part of TX in March: partly cloudy and in the 60s.  The kicker was that it was pretty windy, like gusts 20 to 30mph, but I’d take that over a hot 80 degree day. 
At the second aid station I got a “5 minutes back from the leaders” hack.  I was feeling all right, but not “good” like I did early at TNF 50.  As I usually am in races, I was by myself.  Another oddity about this race was that I had some difficulty totally focusing mentally on the race during the second half of the first lap and part of the second lap.  I was thinking about songs in my head, Felix, work, etc…  I got a mixed report at the next few aid stations, but overall I think I was around 5-10 minutes back from Dave and the other guy on the first lap.  Talking to Dave afterwards, I believe they went through the first lap in 2hrs or maybe a touch faster and I clocked around a 2:10 on the first lap. 

The second lap I began to gain some mental focus and started to feel pretty good.  I became obsessed with catching Dave on this lap.  I began to get reports that the College guy was still 8+ minutes ahead, but that Dave was around 2-3 minutes ahead of me. Dave kept good pace and at times I began to have negative thoughts creep into my head.  I started to think that the College guy will have to have a bit of a blow up on the last lap for me to catch him and that I would have to work very hard to catch and stay with Dave.  It wasn’t until just a mile or so before the end of the second lap that I finally caught Dave.  
Start of the 3rd lap, Dave James right behind me

Right off the bat, Dave explained how fast they had gone out and his disappointment in doing so.  We chatted a bit and then came through the start and finish area.  Dave found out at this point that the College guy had dropped out.  I won’t lie, I was pretty happy to hear I wouldn’t be hunting down another runner.  My second lap was at about 2:06, so I had run pretty fast to catch up to Dave.  After a good minute the wrong way (2 minute mistake) after the start/finish area, Dave and I got on course and got to work.  It was only a mile or so before I was back to running solo. 

Ultras and Massive Positive Splits

While I have only run two 50-mile trail races now, I am a pretty firm believer that one does not need to “die” on the last 20, 10 or even 5 miles in a trail ultra 50 miles or less in length.  A lot of recreational marathoners believe the last 10K you should expect to slow way down as well and that isn’t the case if you are smart and well prepared for the race.  I believe the same is true for 50 milers.   I WON’T make this blanket judgment for 100-mile races, as I have no idea how that will be for me personally and furthermore, I haven’t tapped into the opinions of elite 100 mile runners.  
Anyways, on the third lap I was determined to not have a significant slow down and to keep the pace as best as I could.
Overall the body felt good on the last lap with no real hot spots or specific pain above and beyond regular fatigue.  A little ways into the 3rd lap I started to consider the possibility of breaking 6:30, but I didn’t have a great feel for how the last lap and fatigue would play out considering the lead up to the race.  I started some of the mental games of getting anxious to get to a particular aid station, hill, landmark, etc… 
At the last aid station I was told I only had 2.2 miles to go, I quickly looked at the watch, which read 6:11 and change.  After figuring out I could break 6:30 if I finished strong and averaged no slower than 8-minute miles, I went as fast as I could on the relatively technical finish.  I discarded my hat and water bottle a mile to go and I’m certain my face was ridiculously strained with full effort.  Rallying into the finish with only shoes, socks and shorts I was over joyed to see 6:28:26 for an average pace of 7:46 a mile and approximate lap splits of 2:10, 2:06, 2:12.

2nd Dave James (Inov8) 6:43

3rd Jason Brant (La Sportiva)6:51
Jason Bryant

4th (1st Master) Steven Moore 7:00

Liza Howard was the first woman in 8:09       

I met and exceeded all of my goals and expectations on this race.  I had fun, got to meet cool people like Dave James, Jason Bryan, Steven Moore, David Brant, Tania Pacev (USATF), the La Sportiva team captain, Jeremy Pade, amongst others.  This was also my test race with EFS by 1st Endurance, and it ended up being a huge success.  I plan on using 1st Endurance products for all my training and racing. 
Finally I got to share the race with two great buddies, Mark and Mike and Mike's family Zefe, Sevile, Olivia and Ellie.  
Mark, Mike and I drove to Austin shortly after the race, where we enjoyed a long night of celebration and fun. 

I was very happy with my race at TNF 50 for a d├ębut and likewise, I am very happy with how things panned out on this first race of the season.
Texas "Hill Country"