Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mentally getting into the game

'Cause sometimes you feel tired,
feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.

But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse

-Till I Collapse by Eminem

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Good Week

I think that it is safe to say that I am confident in the rest of the year's races and runs. Two weeks since Mt Si and my workouts do have more quality and are alot smarter for sure. I am feeling better overall, but then compared to how I felt before 04/13, anything was an improvement.

The run that I had this weekend with the Balanced Athlete group proved how good things are going.

This long run was a bit different. It was close to 10 miles, but with a twist. Instead of just running 10 total, we ran for about two miles to get to the Ice Centre - the starting spot for the Kent Christmas Rush 5k/10k. Seems that in Kent, the markings for that race are still up on the street and Eric decided to have us do 1 mile intervals with a 1 mile recovery jog on the 10k course. So we would run the even number miles at race pace.

Now, I hadn't run "race pace" in ages since I don't have a pace set in mind for the races I run in. So I figured to make these runs tempo runs that would take me to what felt like I was near red-lining, but not keeling over like last time when I ran head-to-head with Reuben and being left in the dust after a quarter mile.

I was so shocked! Here are my splits for the interval times:

Mile 2 = 8:19
Mile 4 = 8:13
Mile 6 = 7:30!!!!!

Yeah, I focused alot on the last one and did my best to maintain effort. Seems that I found my groove after mile 5.

After we finished up, we had breakfast at Wild Wheat and then I was finally fitted for some new shoes (ran another mile in testing out the footwear). I have to give props to both Asics and Mizuno. They really improved their designs from the previous year and the pains and aches that I was expecting from the newer models didn't happen thanks to modifications in the shoe design and materials used. I decided to go with the Asics Gel-Kayano 14's. It's like running on clouds. My old Mizuno Wave Inspire 3's are now retired to short runs for now until they completely go. Looking forward to trying on the Brooks Cascadia 3's. Figured the Asics can be used on roads and some relatively compacted trails and the Cascadia can be used on trails like Cascade Crest and trail runs on Tiger.

Checking the calendar for the next few weeks, I'm smiling and hopeful for a repeat of the good week again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

YAYZ!!!! Oregon 100!!!!!

Thanks to ultrarunner/Marathon Maniac/awesome-babe Olga, a new 100 miler that will be coming up in 2009 might be the one to shoot for with this 100 mile ultrarunning virgin. Cleverly called Hundred in the Hood, it adds the total of 100 milers in the Pacific Northwest to 4...well, 5.

- North Bend-2-Vantage (aka NB2V) in North Bend, WA (May 24th-25th).
- Cascade Crest 100 in Easton, WA (Aug 23rd-24th)
- Plain 100 in Plain, WA (Sept 13th-14th)
- Bear 100 in Preston, ID (yeah, Napoleon Dynamite country!) (Sept 26th-27th...a Friday start, Saturday finish)

NB2V is a little bit different in that it's over 100 miles (108 miles), there's no cost - so it's put on in true Fat Ass fashion, and no cost = no awards/finishers bling/aid/support/etc. You want support, you have to bring your own. The Plain 100 is similar with one difference, you are actually PAYING to be self-sufficient on a 100 mile course and you only have one point to actually refuel your bottles/hydration packs/etc. If you want water on the course, better have a water filter to drink from the streams.

Hmm...with as many 100 milers in the NW now after the Oregon 100 gets off the ground next year, a person could do a true NorthWest Grand Slam by completing all 5 runs in a year. Although if the Bear 100 schedule overlaps with the Oregon 100 schedule...that would make for a very unusual race weekend where you would run on Friday, finish on Saturday, try and haul ass one state over, and then run another 100 miles within appropriate cutoffs. Although, that would also make for a very interesting story for the runner. :-)

In any case, in 2009 - I am determined to do my first 100 miler and finish it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Goal Revisions

Looking at my previous posts on my 2008 goals and my Mt Si Race Report, I have made some adjustments to what I hope to do for the rest of the year.

First thing, the 2008 miles for 2008 - forget it. I can probably get close or hit 2000+ miles for 2009 or 2010. But I'm not going to kill myself for a mileage goal for the year.

The sub-4 hour (well, the goal to hit close to a 3:30) - I'll just let nature take its course. It's better for me to build a really good base for 2008 that I can take with me into 2009 and beyond.

So far, this is what my training & recovery time has been since Mt Si:

- Week 1 -

Monday (04/14) - Cycled to Kent (~8 mile) in the morning for my commute. Strength training (heavy weights) and core work during lunch.
Tuesday (04/15) - 2 miles on treadmill in 23 min in the morning. 30 minutes of skipping rope during lunch.
Wednesday (04/16) - Repeat of Monday
Thursday (04/17) - Woke up later than expected to do AM workout. Did 32 minutes of cardio on elliptical machine at work during lunch.
Friday (04/18) - Woke up too late to ride to Kent. Strength Training and Core during lunch.
Saturday (04/19) - Rest (did some errands)
Sunday (04/20) - 10 mile long run in 1:45:44 with Balanced Athlete group, did 1 mile hard sprint/tempo run at mile 6.

- Week 2 -

Monday (04/21) - Cycled to Tukwila (~13 mile) in the morning for my commute. Strength training (heavy weights) and core work during lunch.
Tuesday (04/22) - 4.5 mile run in 40:33 during lunch.

The cycling mileage does not take into account the 1.25 mile ride from the King Street train station to my office in the morning, the 1.25 mile return trip, the 2+ mile commute I normally do from the Auburn train station to home and the 2+ mile commute to the Auburn train station when I don't ride to Kent or Tukwila.

This is what my weekly schedule seems to be morphing to:

Monday - AM Cycling, Strength Training & Core during lunch
Tuesday - AM Running and X-Training during lunch, Running during lunch, or X-Training during lunch
Wednesday - Repeat Monday
Thursday - Repeat Tuesday
Friday - Repeat Monday
Saturday - OFF
Sunday - Long Run

Hopefully if the weather can get better in the mornings, some of the cycling days will be replaced with running days...except for the month of May. May is Bike to Work Month and I'm dead set on trying to hit 500+ miles this year in mileage. I was REALLY close in 2006, but got sick the last three days of May and missed my goal by 3 rides. Ain't gonna happen this time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Da Tub

Well Nic, you wanted to see it? (pics courtesy of Barefoot Jon - Marathon Maniac #209)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Recovery and Portable Ice Baths

Thanks for the encouraging comments post-Mt Si. I'm doing my best to recover at the moment and build myself back up into better fighting form for the Redmond Watershed Preserve 12-hr run on May 17th (Ugh, wish the Cascade Running Club would get an or account for payments! Even Paypal would be better than mailing in the app!)

Anyhoo, as I said - so far, so good. Quads are not as sore, but my feet are still doing that knuckle-joint cracking sound, but that'll pass like it always does. I am more stoked on the next event and the training I'm going to stick to like glue.

King Arthur made a comment in my last entry regarding the ice bath I brought to the race, so I figure to let everyone in on the weird logic that filled my head for this idea.

After my experience at Mt Si in 2006, ice baths were one thing that would have been great to have. The Snoqualmie River is nearby, but not in a good way as everyone knows. Running that last mile to the finish, you see the pretty water looking all calm and cold...and you know that you just can't stop and jump in since you got a mile left to the finish line! After my first and so far only successful 50 miler, I was hyper-sore for 5 days straight and walked like a croquet hoop. It wasn't until after crossing the finish line at the Tacoma City Marathon in my pacing duties that I understood why ice baths worked so well. I jumped into the tub and soaked up the chill like nobody's business and I was fine in under 48 hrs.

Then seeing several pictures of various folks dipping in lakes, rivers, buckets, and storage containers - I figured that having something deep (and long) enough to soak in for races that were sans-ice baths but really need just made sense. Most of us are able to get through a marathon or a 50k without having to jump into any kind of body of water, unless there is a need to recover quickly (e.g. MultiDay/Back-to-Back races).

So the question was, how big of a container? I needed to get a good size storage container. The largest size I found for cheap was a 45 gal container with little wheels. It was big enough to sit in, but your legs couldn't stick straight out (you are mildly bent at the knees.) But it was a trade off. Any longer and I wouldn't be able to put it in my minivan without removing more seats!

Now that I had my bathtub container, I had under-estimated the amount of water I needed at Mt Si. I only brought 4 gallons of water and purchased 5 bags of ice from the local QFC. Thankfully, I was able to use the school's water via the custodian's closet that was open and I filled the tub up (well, OVERFILLED) with another 15+ more gallons. Ten would have been plenty.

Note to Shawn: I'm taking the tub with me for NB2V. I'm sure that after a 108 mile slog, people will look forward to jumping into an ice bath at the finish in Vantage. :-)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mt Si Ultra Race Report (aka Sucking Wind)

I'm not kicking myself nearly as much as I did yesterday, but it still is a letdown.

So what the hell happened?

The short story: I DNF'ed at mile 30 after having 27 miles of great running.

The long story: After weeks of bad mileage (0 miles to 25 miles per week) and trying to recover from a very stubborn chest cold, I still had a small bit of hope that I would be able to finish the Mt Si 50 Mile Ultra. I had a sound strategy for the event itself, from what would be in my drop bags, to the pace I was going to run & run/walk at. I even setup an icebath tub in my car for afterwards to help me recover.

This was the second time I did this 50 mile run. The first time was a year ago and I finished in 10:37. I wasn't planning on beating my PR, but just to finish.

We started out at 5am and due to my familiarity with the course, I helped a few early start newbies to where we needed to turn off at in the darkness. As the sun rose, the glory of nature really showed itself. It was a great day for a run of any kind. It was a great day to be outdoors.

I hit the first aid station/dropbag #1 point @ mile 5.7 and drank up some Pepsi and GU2O. I also slammed an Espresso Love GU and then headed to the next point about 4 miles away. Time - 1:04:51

As I kept going, I conversed with a few of the early starters to let them know when to expect the next aid station (which was the turnaround point). However, the race turned me into a liar. The spot where the aid station was supposed to be wasn't there! I look into the distance and see a runner coming towards me. I run towards him and he said that they were late and they were over a quarter mile from where they should be. Figures I would be getting some kind of extra credit miles. I got some water from the guys and walked them to the spot they should have been. So what should have been 9.9 miles into the run became 10.5 before I turned around. Time - 52:24/1:57:16

Since the course is designed as an out-n-back, I was able to return to my dropbag and get my bottles to continue on the course. The weather was nicely warming up as the morning progressed, so off went the gloves and long-sleeve. Slammed another GU along with some potatoes and thanked the volunteers. 14 miles and so far, so good. Time - 41:26/2:38:42

As I left the aid station, Eric Sachs showed up soon after and decided to push me for about 0.5 miles...literally. We all had a good laugh. Once back on the road for that brief mile, I stopped along the side to shake out the gravel that ended up in my shoes. I didn't wear gaiters this time, but I was thrilled to see that I didn't get any blisters in the places I did last year. I waived at all the relay runners and non-early starters as they came in the other direction. I soon headed back up the stairs to get back on the trail and to get to the next aid station. 20 miles into it, still feeling good and not feeling any signs of the chest cold, I was in good spirits. I loaded up at the aid station since it was going to be 9 miles to the next full station and about 5 miles to the unmanned aid station of just water and bananas. Time - 1:13:49/3:52:31

As the sun continued to shine down, I drank a bit more than usual, but I was still feeling well. After an botched hi-five to the Deputy who was controlling traffic, I got to the unmanned aid station at mile 25 and drank some more before heading up the 4 miles to my second drop bag. Time - 49:38/4:42:09

I checked my watch and realized that I was actually doing BETTER than last year so far. Not having soles covered in large blisters does make for speedier times on the course. As I ascended the mild 2% incline that lead up to the next aid station, I started to slow down WAY TOO MUCH about mile 27. It was like someone let the air out of the tires. I trudged my way up to the aid station and sat down. It was the longest 4 miles I ever had to do (or it felt like it anyway). Time - 1:01:41/5:43:51

I got some serious help from Jim Kirby (9 time winner of the race) who was volunteering this year due to injuries and I drank up some chicken soup from my dropbag along with a Starbucks DoubleShot and some water and Gatorade. After a 10+ minute sit, I got up and slowly shuffled my feet in a lame walk to get things moving again. I moved along for at best a quarter mile and then collapsed to the ground on my hands and knees. I just didn't have the endurance to keep going. I sat there on the ground for awhile, hoping that my composure would come back and I could continue. But after awhile, I realized that there was no way that I could push on for 20 more miles, even if the last 15 would be downhill. I just wasn't in enough shape to do it. So, eating some serious humble pie, I waived the white flag as I returned to the previous aid station to indicate my drop and begged for a ride back to the start where my icebath would be.

Due to the time I arrived, I had the chance to see the front of the pack finishers. They were all sympathetic and encouraging. Sometimes, it's just not your day in a race is what they pretty much said. But they did also say that having bad training weeks doesn't help either. Eric said that it was better to drop than to be in an ambulance. A VERY GOOD POINT. I had alot of time to soak in the icebath and think of everything. Although I lost out in getting a 50 mile finish this time, for the time I was out there - it was a good run and a gorgeous day to do it. Plus, the people there also made me understand why I do what I do. As I always say, ultrarunners are indeed salt of the earth people. Another thing learned, NEVER HALF-ASS YOUR TRAINING. I made a vow now never to do what I did and take better care of myself.

I have the Redmond Watershed Preserve 12-hr run in 5 weeks and I'm going to make sure I'm definately ready to stick that one out as long as possible and redeem myself.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Race, Another DNF

I won't go into details right now, but it wasn't pretty.

But I learned alot...ALOT.

Friday, April 11, 2008

For Sunday to remember

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC - 479 BC)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Menthol, Onions, H2O, *cough* repeat

Menthol - The stuff in cough drops and chest rub, note the, smell.

Onions - The thing that Shrek described himself as to Donkey, having layers (not to be confused with Parfaits...mmmm, parfaits). Used in lots of cooking things and has medicinal properties. Also note the smell.

H2O - Two hydrogen atoms binded to one oxygen atom. Somehow two elements that are gases form something liquid and one of the things that sustains life on this planet. Note the non-smell.

*cough* - The thing I keep doing, but not as frequently thanks to the ingredients above...but I still keep doing *cough, cough* said action.

Today will be 9 days of no running. I'm getting seriously twitchy, but it's all good. (Although I am getting really annoyed with those commercials on TV for New Balance and the whole "You miss running like a girlfriend" promotion.) As long as I can get enough of this chest cold out of my lungs, the better off I am for Mt Si on Sunday. Sunday is also proving to be good weather wise. The forecast shows sun with clouds and a highs in the 60's. For a 50-mile run, that's a good thing. Less things to have to wear and worry about. Still have some trepidations about running 50 on extremely low mileage compared to when I ran marathons or 50k's under low mileage situations, but there's a first for everything and this will be a learning experience for sure. Only thing I hope for (other than surviving in the cutoff time) is to recover quickly afterwards. I really don't want to think about the possibility of having to take a few days off of work because my body crapped out post-race.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Scaling Back & Gearing Up

Over the past few days, I realized that in order for me to remotely do okay for Mt Si, I have to get over this chest cold first. It's in its final stages, so alot of dry coughing & icky coughing is happening to clear out the left lung. Because of this, I've kept my running to nearly zero and have opted to focus on purging as much of this as possible until Mt Si since there isn't enough time to increase my cardio-endurance before the event.

I also told the family not to worry if they can't show to see me finish this one. The only race that I would really like them to be at is the White River 50 in July anyway.

For Mt Si prep, I have figured out what I need to do and where specific to my dropbags.

- Dropbag #1 -

* 2 Ultimate Direction handstrap bottles filled with Orange Gatorade
* Aleve (6 pill blister pack)
* GU Packets (Espresso Love flavor)
* Spare gloves
* Spare long-sleeve shirt
* Spare pair of Injinji Tsoks
* Large Garbage Bag
* Container of S!Caps
* DayQuil
* Cough Drops
* Quench Gum
* Vaseline
* Hot Hands instant hand-warmers

- Dropbag #2 -

* 1 liter Vacuum Bottle Food Container filled with HOT Chicken Noodle Soup
* Mexican Coca-Cola
* Container of Orange Gatorade
* Container of S!Caps
* Can of Starbucks DoubleShot Espresso
* Can of Chocolate Ensure
* Aleve (6 pill blister pack)
* Large Garbage Bag
* Spare Gloves
* Spare long-sleeve
* Spare pair of Injinji Tsoks
* 2nd pair of shoes (New Balance 719's)
* Vaseline
* Cough Drops
* DayQuil
* Hot Hands instant hand-warmers
* Cellphone

- In car -

* Warm Clothes
* 45 Gal storage container with bag of ice and jugs of water
* Towels
* Blister kit (needle, alcohol wipes, bandages, etc)
* Slim-Fast shake

- Before race -

* Eat good warm breakfast
* Wear headlamp till dropbag #1 is reached
* Drink 16 oz water & take one S!Caps suppliment
* Vaseline feet up and put on Injinji Tsoks and Mizuno shoes
* Dress appropriately for weather (reports show rain currently)
* Wear Hot Hands instant hand-warmers if temp feels too cold

- Strategy -

Since the name of the game is surviving, I have to learn not to push too hard because of my lack of good training miles these past few weeks. So the game is to run where I am able to, walk when I can't, and to do my best to keep moving until I finish.

* Pre-Start (0.0 mi) - Drink water and take S!Caps, carry no additional hydration
* Start to Aid Station #1/Dropbag #1 (5.7 mi) - Drink with provided aid. Stash headlamp into dropbag if light level is decent.
* Aid Station #2 (9.9 mi) - Self-supported aid station, drink some water and take another S!Caps before returning back to Dropbag #1.
* Aid Station #3/Dropbag #1 (14 mi) - Drink again with provided aid. Take UD bottles out of dropbag. Pack some GU packets and the Aleve to take on the course. Swap clothes and possibly wear garbage bag as rain slicker if necessary.
* Aid Station #4 (20.4 mi) - Possibly refill one bottle with drink from Aid Station. Eat some solid food if possible before going on.
* Aid Station #5 (24.3 mi) - Most likely going to pass this aid station unless I really feel the need to swig water or grab a banana. It's more important to get to the next aid station anyway.
* Aid Station #6/Dropbag #2 (28.9 mi) - The Super-Spot! MUST GET HERE BEFORE 12:30pm! (7.5 hours from Start) Drink up the hot soup in the dropbag right away. Drink up some Ensure and Starbucks DoubleShot. Share with other runners since it's unlikely anyone would turndown hot soup and super-caffine like Starbucks. Eat some aid station food, if desired. Fill one bottle with Mexican Coca-Cola. Pop Aleve if necessary (take some with along course for rest of time). Swap clothes and garbage bag rain-slicker if necessary. Swap shoes if necessary. Leave out can of Starbucks DoubleShot and Ensure on side of trail if the chance of getting back to drop bag on return is not within cutoff time.
* Aid Station #7 (34.4 mi) - Only 15.6 miles to go, time to HTFU! MUST GET HERE BEFORE 1:40PM CUT-OFF! Take some food and drink before leaving.
* Aid Station #8 (39.9 mi) - Only 10.1 miles to go, SUCK IT UP! MUST GET HERE BEFORE 3:00PM CUT-OFF! Since this is the same aid station as #6, the dropbag might still be here if I get back before 12:30pm (although I highly doubt it). Refuel & Refill with aid station drink and with stuff left on the side of the trail saved from earlier.
* Aid Station #9 (46.7 mi) - Only 3.3 miles to the finish! GO! GO! GO! Self-Supported aid station (and LAST aid station). Unless if there is a need to get some water or banana, just got to hang in there and take it mile by mile for the last three.

If I feel the coughing coming on too strong (hope to be done with it by Sunday), I'll be downing DayQuil and popping cough drops while out on the course. If things start to turn seriously south and I know there is no way for me to go on, I'll put my tail between my legs and drop on the course at a manned aid station and take the DNF.

- Post-Race Recovery-

* Drink down Slim-Fast shake
* Fill up storage container with water and the ice (or what has survived of the ice) to take immediate ice-bath to help with recovery
* Dry off and change into regular clothes
* Take Aleve if necessary
* Take care of any blisters
* Early night of sleep since I have to work the following day

So, to sum it up:

- Go Slow
- Go Long
- Go Safe
- Go Have Fun

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The hamster wheel turning - Creating a 24 hour run

I've started soliciting various individuals and groups on the possibility of creating a 24 hour run in the Seattle area. It's been years since anything like that was in Seattle and the closest 24 hour run is down in Longview, WA. So far, it looks like other folks are thinking of the same thing. Guess we crazies do think alike.