Wednesday, July 28, 2010

23 Days to Go - A River in Egypt

Haven't run.  Leg hurts.  That pretty much sums it up.  I'm holding off on the doctor visit hoping that the constant icing and rest will help things.  The pain has subsided a little, but it seems to come and go haphazardly.

Mostly I'm trying not to think about it.  Trying not to think about what it would mean if I can't run.  If I don't think about it long enough, won't it go away?

This is supposed to be a dial-it-down week, I just wasn't expecting to have turned the knob down all the way.

So let's talk about something else.  Favorite variety,  dark chocolate peanut or peanut butter M&Ms.  Discuss.

Monday, July 26, 2010

25 Days to Go - To Be or Not To Be

This is a replacement post.

I had a post beautifully written in my mind about having fun running, enjoying the great outdoors, getting in ~25 miles on trails in a reasonable time (under six hours for me), having renewed hope for Leadville...and then Bam!  (Madden chalkboard graphic if you please.)

Sudden pain in my shin.  In one particular spot.  And not a little bit.  Not good.  It has lasted since Saturday and only occurs when I put weight on it (rather inconvenient for running I must say).  I'm praying this is just a minor setback, but we shall see.  Never the less it put a dark cloud on what otherwise would have been me glossing on about the joie de vivre that comes from running.  You know, because that is pretty much all I ever write about.  :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

30 Days to go - Encouragement received

Hey thanks everyone for the great comments and encouragement.  It inspired me to go and run .6 miles today!  OK just kidding, except about the .6 miles part, thats another story.

There was a lot of great advice in there, and it is appreciated.  I should note that I actually have been taking the Hammer Endurolytes, though not consistently enough.  That and its always hard to tell how many to take, and if I should take them while doing other salty/electrolyte-y things?  /shrug.  I'm gonna try the more is better approach and see how that works.  The experimenting seems to be the thing to do.

Though experimenting will require more running...I guess its time to get after it!

What are you experimenting with today?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

32 Days to Go - Top Ten things I learned from a DNF at the North Fork 50.

This post may seem strangely similar to one you may have read before. 

To better service your varying levels of interest in this blog, I will give increasingly more verbose accounts of what happened at my North Fork 50 mile race.  My top ten lessons learned are at the bottom.

Race Report, the short-short version:

Ta Da!

Race Report, the short version:

I started the race.
It got hot.
I got sick.  A lot.
I was so slow I didn't make it past the 50k time cutoff.
Ta Da!

Race Report, the long, long version:

My first attempt at fifty miles.  I tried not to think about the whole concept of what I was doing.  I almost think that is a better approach, ignorance is bliss and all that.

I got up at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning for the drive up to Pine, CO.  My distrust of Google maps resulted in me driving on some crazy dirt roads with 15% grade in the middle of the night which at least kept me awake.

I got to Pine Valley Ranch Park a little before 6am which was just about perfect.  I started getting ready.  I had gotten the gear ready the previous night, but my normal pre-race freakout causes me to throw every piece of running related gear into my car, "just in case."  Be prepared and so on and so forth (yes I was an Eagle Scout...).  As I looked around I had my usual out of place feeling.  Some people LOOK like ultramarathoners.  I am not one of them.   I sort of felt like I stuck out, but I'm getting used to it.

Does anyone else have just plain ridiculous conversations with yourself prior to things like this?  Here's an example of one (of many) for me.

Freak-out Self:  Where should I wear my race number?  

Mildly Illogical Self: Uhh on your shirt.

Freak-out Self: But what if I have to change my shirt, because it so salt encrusted that it is rubbing raw wounds into my cheest?

Mildly Illogical Self:  Uhhh on your shorts.

Freak-out Self:  But I've never done that before, what if the pins rub into my leg and cause me to bleed profusely, that may impair my hydration?

Mildly Illogical Self: Uhh on your hat.

Freak-out Self: But what if I have to turn my hat around.  Then I will be violating the rules for displaying your number, and I might get kicked out of the race, and then I will sit on the side of the trail and cry, and people will be disturbed by the big, strange guy crying on the side of the trail, and what about my number, should I fold it up into a small square before I pin it on like all the uber guys, or is that too pretentious, like I actually know what I'm doing? or what about-

Mildly Illogical Self:    Shut your yapper!

Right.  So I finished the preparations.  Made three additional trips to add more stuff to my drop bag, "just in case"  (and of course I used exactly one item from my drop bag the whole race).  And got to the line.

First Ten Miles.

The first ten miles went pretty well.  As referenced in some really nice race reports from fast people, the opening section was a tough climb.  A lot of power hiking was involved.   I was feeling very good, but I was determined not to go out too fast.  "Start slow, and get slower" as I have heard it said.  I resisted the urge to pass people (mostly) and felt like I had a good, slow pace going.  

The course was tough.  Several miles of uphill, followed by several miles of downhill, rinse and repeat.  There was some shade, but there were also some really long sections through exposed burn areas.  I had chosen to leave the hydration pack in the car and just carry two bottles.  Big mistake.  Because the longest stretch between aid stations was 5.8 miles I thought this would be sufficient hydration.  Not so much.  Also  I wasn't really used to running with two bottles, so though I got a good bicep workout, it didn't feel comfortable.

During the first ten miles I kept a good pace through the second aid station.  9.9 miles in about 2:15.  This is really slow, but it was pretty much within the parameters of what I was trying to accomplish (don't kill yourself early).  

At the second aid station they had bacon.  No really.  Freshly fried bacon.  I don't know about the nutritional value of bacon while ultrarunning, I haven't done the research.  But my mind thought something like, "bacon is salty, you need salt, eat the bacon."  So I did.  It was good.  I've never eaten bacon while running.  I like new experiences.  I kept running.  As a side note, the twisted knee I suffered while cooking bacon the day before the race, was not a problem.  Bacon won't keep you down.

So I kept running.

Second Ten Miles.

Did I mention it got hot?  The accuweather for Pine, CO said it got up to 102 degrees.  I'm not sure exactly how hot it was on the trail, but it felt rather warm.  I started to feel...not so good.  I ate some more stuff at the next aid station, (PB&J, chips, Mountain Dew?!?) and kept going.  I started to feel worse.  I started puking all over the trail.  Repeatedly.  Hey it was a new experience, heat sickness and vomiting while running.  I like new exp....uh yeah.  Needless to say I wasn't moving very fast.  My whole hydration/nutrition plan went out the window, (actually more like on the side of the trail, but you get the idea.)  I was feeling pretty light-headed and was not moving quickly at all.  I spent a lot of time thinking of all the things I would rather be doing at that moment than running that race and feeling like that.  There were no wrong answers to that question.

If I had thought I could drop I probably would have.  But with the way the course was laid out, I knew I would have to sit at an aid station for many, many hours, or somehow stumble my way back, so I kept going.  My nature is such that I would rather push through the pain for six more hours than inconvenience anyone so there wasn't really an option.

The second ten miles took me nearly five hours.  Ugly.

Third Ten Miles.

I knew my race was over.  I needed to be to the 50k mark in 8 hours and 15 minutes, and there was no way I was going to make it.  That was pretty tough to deal with.  I was also feeling bad because one of my pacers, Mr. Try Running had come all the way from Denver, and was waiting for me, wondering I'm sure, whether the previous day's bacon injury had done me in, and I knew I had wasted his time in coming down.

I switched to water and Gu, and an electrolyte tablet or two when I thought about it in hopes of keeping some liquids and calories down.  This worked a bit better, and eventually the stomach revolt ended.  I got back to doing some running, and despite getting lapped by the fifty milers who were twenty miles ahead of me (ouch), managed to keep moving forward.  Finished the last ten miles, was reminded that I needed to get off the course, and did the final waddle of shame.   9:35 or so for 50k.  I didn't quit, but it was still a DNF.

Can I just say, having to run into the finish, and not getting to run through the finish chute to the line is kind of a stinky feeling.  I've done it twice now.  It only gets worse.  Especially when the people hanging around in the area are like, "Oh yeah someone's finishing! Oh wait, he's dropping/missed the cutoff, oh yeah, stop the clapping, kill the band, just look away or something..."

So finally we end with my top ten lessons learned.

1.  Bacon, Mountain Dew, and Giant pickles aren't on most people's nutrition plan for ultras, for a reason...
2.  I don't like the heat.
3.  The heat doesn't like me.
4.  Ginger candy doesn't help my stomach, unless you count the "good feeling" you have immediately after emptying your stomach contents on the side of the trail.
5.  Basically I'm constantly dehydrated during these things, and need to figure something else out.  Do they have IV things you can run with?
6.  Next time, I'll pass on the blisters, kthxbai.
7.  Isn't it bizarre how it only takes about twenty-four hours to go from despising all things running, and promising/planning to never run again, to feeling like you can go do that same race you failed at, right away?  Is that psychotic?
8.  Also, I don't like the heat.
9.  The only hallucinations I had all day were that mountain bikers were coming up behind me and were going to run me off the trail.  Oh wait, that wasn't a hallucination...
10.  It could have been better, it could have been worse.

So that makes me 0 for 2 on ultramarathons thus far.  Someone kindly suggested that, "you will get it in your next race", but they had no way of knowing my next race is Leadville.... but then again why not try?  (Don't answer that.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

39 Days to Go - Giving into the urges

Hey I tried something new today.  I ran.  Amazing.  I didn't even forget how to do it.

Thus since I've had two runs in the last nine days, and the knee is still recovering, naturally I signed up for a last minute/impulse 50 miler.

I had really been wanting to get one in, just to have the mental confidence that I can go that far.  The longest run I've had in training so far has been 40 miles, and that had some mental toughness boost that came with it, but...I'm just feeling like I need a little more.

Thus I signed up for the North Fork 50 mile trail race.  Somewhat  like the last ultra I tried, this one tries to play down the difficulty, and even suggests it is a good choice for your first ultra.  OK.  Whatever you say.  It basically is fifty miles of trail running, with approximately 7200 feet of elevation gain.  It is essentially half the distance and half the elevation gain of Leadville.  Of course it never goes above 8600' in elevation, so you don't quite get the altitude sickness and pulmonary edema risk that you get with the race across the sky, but I feel like it should be somewhat similar.

 (funny this looks like my heart rate after 10 yards of running)

     It is also looking like I might be joined for the last 19 miles by one of my pacers for August, Mr. Try Running.  I normally try to avoid running with ridiculously fast people like him, because it makes me sick to my stomach, especially when they are all humble about it.   However in this case I will make an exception.  As long as he is willing to pack a satellite dish and portable refrigerator with chilled beverages during the Leadville run.

I'm a little hesitant about running that long of a run only five weeks before the main race, but I would be trying to do a long run anyways, and hopefully some success here will build up the mental toughness quotient.  Hey, I might go crazy, make the cutoffs, finish the race, and even be able to call myself an ultramarathoner.  That would be pretty kewl...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

40 Days to Go - Running? pssht

I used to run every day.  Now I run, no days at all.  It is a pretty good plan.

The knee is still attached to my body.  Thus things are going well.

I think I might run this week.  Seeing as the next two weeks are supposed to be my highest mileage of the thirty-two week training plan I have been on, I probably should go at least a couple of miles.

Who knows, maybe I should just run a race?  That would be perfect freak-out logic.  Knee hurting?  Not sure if you should be running at all?  Sign up for a last minute race!

Works for me.

57 miles two weeks ago.
3 miles this week.
Therefore, 70 miles this week should do.

Who else is in?

Friday, July 9, 2010

42 Days to Go - Less is More

Let's just get this over with.  I haven't run in six days.  No really.  I had my Sunday and Monday following Pike's peak running tagged as days off, and then on Tuesday, I started feeling some aching in my knee.  Not good.  Sort of feels like the overuse stuff I have had problems with in the past, albeit in the "good" knee this time.  Thus I haven't done anything, besides icing and such.  I'll probably go ahead and test it out today, but it does not bode well.  That being said I'm still planning on getting in 30+ miles on Saturday, ha.

On a much more exciting note,  Hardrock is on!  Check out live progress for, what seems to me, one of the kewlest ultras out there!  As of this moment, Scott Jaime is leading the way for the men and churning some serious mileage!

Also, if you need your fix of strangeness and bizarre motivation, you should probably go here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

44 Days to go - The Other Side of the Mountain

Was all that I could see.

Hey.  You know that whole thing about being freaked out because there were only fifty odd days until "the" day?  ROFLCOPTERZ!  That was nothing compared to how I feel with only 44 days to go!  Seriously.  The psychosis has already set in.  And it is only going to get worse.  Here are the characteristics of an individual who is going through "pre-first 100 miler, at Leadville, at elevation, with very little training, and questionable sanity to sign up, and never having finished an ultra, and not being very good at running in the first place, pre-race craziness" looks like (and I haven't even started the taper! LOLROFLCOPTERZSPINAROUNDONFLOOROFWORKPLACELONG

51 Days to go - ponders buying every piece of running gear known to man, just in case they might "need" it
50 Days to go - buys a bunch of it
49 Days to go - gets informed by a pacer that the pacer is being deployed out of state and won't be able to pace
49 Days to go + 5 minutes - pulls self off floor and says, "that's nice",  cries a little, on the inside, in a manly, blubbering sort of way...
48 Days to go - Runs up and down Pike's Peak with one of the pacers, decides running really isn't for me...again
47 Days to go - Checks the training plan, just to see exactly how many weeks behind the plan they are; throws up in mouth
44 Days to go - Returns from blog silence to post another rambling miasma of freak-out craziness.

(The next parts are speculative, seeing as I haven't got there yet...)
40 Days to go - Ultra blog reading and research reaches a new pitch, decides herbal remedies are the route to a sub-30 hour finish and replaces every stick of Body Glide with balls of bat guano.
30 Days to go - gives in to urges and signs up for a fifty mile trail run two days before Leadville, "just to make sure I can run that far."
25 Days to go - Mental state devolving;  decides that a couple two hundred mile weeks would do wonders.  Actual running: two hundred yards.
20 Days to go - puts in a bid on Ebay for Michael Jackson's hyperbaric chamber to do elevation acclimation.
15 Days to go - Full taper madness and the ultra freak-out coalesces.  Runner is found hiding in the trees behind his house, with various flavors of GU smeared on his body as war paint.
10 Days to go - coma.
5 Days to go - Runner finds peace and tranquility.  Mostly by recreating scenes from Man vs Food reruns.
1 Day to go - Accepts the ridiculousness of the task and prepares to run the race.
0 Day - Alarm clock has multi-level meltdown and runner sleeps through the start.