Monday, May 17, 2010

95 days to go - No Dumping!

Hi friends,

How's your running going lately?  Well, I hope.  Mine is going pretty well.  In fact my training went so well last week that I skipped absolutely nothing.  I was supposed to run forty miles, and I merely dropped the zero (nothing) and ran four instead.  Pretty sound logic don't you think?  Yeah me too.  Thats what the upper respiratory crud will do to you.  At least when you're not on a streak run, and don't have the same compulsion to push through the burning lungs and throbbing head.  Ahh the good ol' days.  So I ran once last week.  My rationalization is that it was an unplanned taper week in advance of the marathon in NoDak land that is coming up in four days.  Rationalization is nice.  

The marathon?  I know everything could blow up, and/or I could come in with a time slower than Mario Lopez, but I'm not really worried.  I guess having done a bunch of 20+ mile runs leaves me at least feeling like I can cover the distance.  Also the elevation profile for this very" mountainous" run, doesn't inspire much fear...

I think the gross elevation gain is about 3'.  Seriously.  Naturally great cross training for leadville me thinks.
At any rate it should be a fun training run.
Goals would be:

  1. Have fun.  
  2. Have fun watching my sis finish her first marathon! woot!
  3. Finish in under five hours?  (Crazy talk with my "ultra" pacing of late.)   
  4. Not get swept away by the infamous Fargo wind.  

Good times.

Thus with nothing to report from running last week, I will go back to the previous weekend where I did get in a five hour long run which I would like to entitle, the "Tour of Colorado Springs"
The intrepid tale?  Well I ran.  I took my time.  I even took pictures!  (I'm aspiring to be more like HT, but it would help if I set my camera phone to use a resolution higher than 100x80 pixels..)
The route was to run (between soccer games) from Cottonwood Creek park, to Palmer Park, run around in Palmer park, and then back to Cottonwood Creek park via the Homestead trail.  Now it is a "trail" but it is not lovely Colorado single track.  Its a paved trail which is intertwined with suburbia and park systems, and the like.  There are some nice views of the city...

And I was hoping to cover about 25 miles or so.  Well as is apt to happen these days, the "or so" jumped up and I didn't exactly get there.  For starters there was the now infamous "Double D".  Being a fairly popular trail, with regular walking and bike traffic, the threat of having to stop to take care of one's business on the side of a public trail with no cover was not exactly appealing.  However as you may have experienced, the call of nature can sometimes come with urgency.  Fortunately I was able to complete the dastardly deed seconds before a couple taking a romatic stroll came around the corner in direct viewing.  The laugh about it later moment, came only a few steps later, just after I started running again when I passed this sign.

Apparently I may have been violating city ordinances.  Oh well.

I did continue on, and normally I would have been obsessing about times and distances, but I decided to poo poo that... (sorry) and just enjoy the darn run.  I stopped and took pictures.  I hit up the local gas station for a cold gatorade.  I cut the thing short, and just tried to enjoy being outside and covering some distance on my own two feet.  What a blessing!   I think I need to do this more often...

Besides, on this day I was all about following the directions I found on signs...

Friday, May 7, 2010

106 Days to Go - Hi friends!

I think I'd better start running.  No really.  I may have to take a couple of training runs to get ready for 100 miles.  I've heard that is good advice.  I'm thinking about trying it out.

So in actuality I've skipped a couple runs lately.  Either that or rationalized that chasing five and seven year olds around a soccer field for a couple of hours = about four miles of speed work.  :)

Things have to change.  Now is crunch time.  It is time to put in the work, log some serious miles, and see how this highly tuned -err sleek, aerodynamic -uhhh run away 18 wheeler of a running machine is going to hold up.

My thought coming in to work this morning was that I think it would be a great idea if the CEO picked out a day (Monday me thinks?) to stand at the door and greet people as they come in.  You know a "Thanks for coming to work today, you're going to do a great job, thanks for all the hard work you're going to put in." type of thing.  I was thinking I might have to do it myself seeing as I'm not sure the CEO will find time...

But then again, why not right now?  So.  Consider yourself welcomed.  As you are heading out for your run today, just visualize me standing there with a warm hand of friendship (not sweaty, just warm), saying ":Thanks for lacing 'em up today!  You are going to have a great run!  Thanks for putting in the effort!"  OK would it be a better visual image if you pretended I look like Ryan Hall?

Monday, May 3, 2010

109 Days to Go - Top Ten things I learned from a DNF at the Greenland 50k

Well, where do we begin with this race report? 

In some ways I am a bottom line sort of guy.  It was a DNF for me.  Period.  No ultra finish, no nothing.  I almost resist saying anything more than that for fear of it sounding like an excuse.  However I guess the additional detail is part of actually giving a race report.  Thus here goes some excessive verbiage constituting a 2010 Greenland 50k race report.

The first thing that happened on this very interesting day was that I woke up and it was nice outside!  It had just snowed the previous night and a couple times during the week, and with the forecast calling for rain and snow, I was prepared for the worst.   I think I brought enough different clothes and shoe combinations to run everything from Badwater to that ultra in Alaska where you have to pull your own sled.  Anyway it was clear and cool, and I immediately ran into my friends from over at Happy Trails.  They are such amazingly nice people!  It was a pleasure to finally meet Mrs. HT and chat a bit and get a picture in (of course!)  They both had amazing races with Mr. HT putting in a blazing 2:10 for the 25k and Mrs. HT right behind him snagging a third place AG.  As my seven year old would say,  "That is smoking with gas!" (it means really fast!)

First Lap - My race?  Well as I mentioned I was trying to finish in six-ish hours.  This would allow me to finish in time to make it back for the chil-runs' soccer games.  This meant I was trying to do around 12:00 minute miles for the whole thing.  Oh by the way THAT WAS AN UTTERLY RIDICULOUS GOAL.  :)  I did the first lap in just under ninety minutes which was faster than the pace I needed.  I was also pushing hard the whole way to make it in that time, and about half-way through the second lap, the wheels were coming off in a hurry.

Other race reports by uber, experienced, ultra, trail runners describe the Greenland course as "easy" and "no hills" and the trail was "in great shape".  To my thinking the course was "intense" and had "some epic climbs" and with the initial warm weather was "one gigantic swamp".  Of course I'm guilty of a little bit of hyperbole.  That said however, I'm not sure if you are aware of this but, running on trails is different than running on a treadmill.  Strange.  Go figure.   Of course I kid a bit, but it was challenging for me and led to a few different "lessons" I will mention.

Second Lap - The second lap took 1:46 and I pretty much knew at that point that there would be no six hour finish and nothing close to it.  This was tough to take mentally.  At one point after starting the third lap, I stopped, turned around and started walking back, stopped again, had an audible conversation with myself, and continued the third lap.  It was hard continuing knowing that if I was going to keep my soccer coaching commitment that I would not be able to start the fourth lap and thus not finish.  But ultimately, I continued on with what I could do.

Third Lap - The third lap was pretty much a disaster.  The aid stations were out of Gu by the time I came by on the second lap.  This was not good.  I was planning on using GUs for almost all of my calories.  There were some other foods, but I didn't wan't the sugar of M&Ms and eating pretzels just resulted in a big wad of white flour in my mouth.  Washing that down with warm, melon-flavored Heed was not a pleasant experience by the time the third lap was underway.  Thus considering I estimate I expended 9-10,000 calories in the three laps, and had consumed less than 1,000 I wasn't feeling too energetic.  I was doing Endurolytes at a two/hour pace and that seemed fine, but there was some cramping on the third lap so I was probably a bit dehydrated.  More lessons.

The other fun that started kicking in on the second lap and was consistent on the third lap was an excruciating shooting pain in my foot when I was running.  I believe this was from P.F. Kang the Conqueror (plantar fasciatis) acting up but it made it a bit of a challenge to keep running.

The other interesting part was the mental challenge.  Let me tell ya (stated in a Southern accent) that was the toughest part.  I went through some pretty rough, dark places mentally.  At some points I was writing in my mind the email I was going to send to all my potential Leadville pacers telling them to cease and desist any training they were doing because I was quitting running immediately.  In fact several times I decided and verbally announced I would never run again.  Ever.  It is a bit strange, but I look back on that now and I say to myself, "I want to face that again!"  Why would someone want that?  I don't know, but I'm kind of yearning for that challenge (anyone know of any trail 50ks close by in the next week or so?).  Being at that point of questioning everything, doubting, hope passing, dejection, for some reason I want to face that mental challenge again, and do a little better.  Make myself a little tougher?

Ok gotta wind this meandering diatribe up.  The third lap lasted 2:15.  The excessive mud that seemed like it was everywhere for the first two laps started to dry out a little bit on the third lap as the weather got cold, and windy, and at one point started to snow.  I finished three laps in 5:31.  That is the longest amount of time I have ever "run", and I believe I covered just over 23 miles.  I did not walk through the finish chute and that was pretty tough.  But, Lord willing, maybe I'll get to toe the line again in the future.  Do I get to count any miles for the three hours of soccer ref'ing and coaching that followed?  :)

It took me about a day to get to the point of thinking maybe I should try running again, ever.  By Sunday, as I was sitting in church listening to a sermon, I was already plotting which race I was going to sign up for to try and "redeem" myself.  At this point I'm just trying to focus on the good ol' lessons learned.  As teh wifey pointed out, this is all one big experiment.  I don't know what is going to happen in the future, but I'm going to switch on the bunsen burner and keep burning things, (and hopefully I learn from all of my mistakes.)  Thus without further adieu my Top Ten Lessons Learned from the 2010 Greenland 50k.  Many of them are common sense things, things I already knew in my mind, that anyone would know, that my coach teh wifey has reiterated a thousand times, that you find regularly in fortune cookies, but sometimes you have to learn them the hard way...

  1. Trail running is different than road running, treadmill running, or any other form of "normal" running.  Is this course entirely uphill?  Oh no, there are the quad-busting downhills as well...
  2. I may have to eat more than four Gu's to keep myself running for five and a half hours or more.
  3. Melon flavored Heed, warmed in a hand-held bottle makes me want to puke after a couple of hours.
  4. Normally inspirational music like "Pump up the Jam", (stop snickering) has no effect after four hours of slogging through mud.  Other than to make me so upset at whoever created that musical abomination, that I imagine tracking them down and, uh, sharing my feelings.
  5. There is no mud, wind, switchback, or rocky trail setting on my treadmill.  Too bad, otherwise the mill might be a good way to prepare for trail running.
  6. I may, in my more lucid moments recognize that I have little to no chance to finish something crazy like Leadville, but it doesn't mean I won't try, I think.
  7. Having a plan only means that you have something to change when every assumption you made is blown out of the water.
  8. I may feel bad at times, bad stomach, exhaustion, abhorrence for mud etc., but those times will pass.  As will, hopefully, the desire to curl up on the side of the trail and die.
  9. Ultras are cool.  In what other race can you feel like a failure when you only make it 23 miles?  I like facing down those demons.  At least I do later, you know, after the race is over.
  10. I love running on trails and seeing the wonders of God's creation!

Thanks for all the encouragement.  See you on the trails.  Or at the Godfather's pizza buffet...either way.