Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seattle Ghost 2008 Race Report (aka There's always next year)

The short: What started as a 50k, ended up turning into a half-marathon with about 7 miles extra credit.

The long: It was a morning of high hopes, but should have had lowered expectations. The idea of me pulling out a 50k or marathon distance after getting back into the running game in 3 weeks is something that only movies are made of (think Run FatBoy Run).

I got up at a fairly decent time and headed to Seward Park to get there for the early start at 7am. This was my third time at this race and it was my first attempt three years ago as my first jump to doing a 50k. Seems that after three years, you'd think I would have eventually hit that number. 2006 - I dropped after passing the half-marathon point. 2007 - I finished the marathon distance and opted not to do the 50k since it was my first double marathon weekend (2 marathons in 48 hours). For 2008 - I would try and get those 31 miles in as best as I could.

So, after the usual talk about the course by one of the best RD's around (Scott Krell), a group of us took off at 7am. I ran for a bit with my buddy Stan Nakashima, but he was running at a clip that my weenie legs couldn't keep up with. I let him go ahead and made a pitstop (for a race that is considered a fat-ass/low-frills event, the number of bathrooms along the course is quite remarkable.) The pitstop was a blessing, since that mild "rest" actually got my running mojo going and I was feeling very good and very comfortable running through the course for the first half. Running on the soft-surface trail next to the waters of Lake Washington felt very liberating. I saw my Marathon Maniac cohorts, always a pleasure to see them in passing, feeding off their positive vibes. I was right on pace, hitting about sub-12 minute miles. Then something odd happened after passing the half-marathon point, my left quad was starting to seriously bug out.

I thought that maybe I could walk it off. I proceeded to walk the entire Seward Park loop, about a 4 mile lollypop loop before returning to the aid station/start/finish point. I was moving at 15 minute miles at this point and thought that I could continue for the rest of the course. I had moved for about 17 miles and figured I could go for the remaining 9 miles to do atleast the marathon distance or if I could run again, finish the 50k.

After another mile of walking, my quad was screaming. There was no shutting it up without stopping. I had to take a hard look at myself and re-evaluate my objectives. Do I suck it up and keep going, even though I could mess myself up more? Do I wave the white flag and live to fight another day? In my head, I thought, "I was able to finish a killer course like White River with little training, why can't I keep going now?" Then I realized that I was better conditioned to handle a course like White River back in July. I've been deconditioned for several months and actually convinced myself that I could pull myself through a flat paved 50k. I cut my losses and opted to have my results down as finishing a half-marathon (actually closer to 14 miles since I did the longer out-n-back) plus close to 7 miles of extra credit. So I went for about 19-20 miles today. But hey, this marks the longest distance I've done now since my original stress fracture injury. That counts for something.

So, a nice freezing soak in the waters of Lake Washington to aid in the recovery (others followed my lead soon after) and some excellent aid station & post-race food that whups the Seattle Marathon's stuff, hands down. Chicken Soup, Vegan Chili, Vegitarian HotDogs, Boiled Potatoes with Salt Dips, Candy, Coca-Cola, Water, Gatorade, etc. Always kick-ass!

The amusing things that came from this event:

- Maniac Ray "McGyver" Shaw snagging the hotdog that I made up for myself (yeah, we all cracked up once I realized what just happened)
- Shawn thinking that she was done, then finding out she had another Seward Park loop left to complete a 50k. She was ready to start boxing someone, yo! :-)
- Watching people get use to the chilly Lake Washington waters. It's always funny to see people do that shiver-shake the moment they get in.
- Scott Krell's Scotty Dog trying to eat three sugar packets without anyone being the wiser. Good thing my "no-no, bad dog!" senses were tingling at that moment.

A kudos for those that ran this course to completion and an extra kudos for those that are doing their best with trying to handle the Northwest Triple. Good luck at the Seattle Marathon guys! And to Maniac Monte: Hope you get through your 100th Marathon tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Everyone

Have a Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's all about technique...

Technique. You hear about it everywhere. Athletes hear about it the most and are constantly reminded to make sure their technique in whatever they do is as flawless as possible. But why? Why is technique so important?

Technique is defined as "The procedure used to accomplish a specific activity or task."

My experience with changing the procedure to accomplish a specific task was an interesting one today.

A fellow co-worker had given me some tips and advice on my workouts with the Concept2 Rower - an ergonomic rowing machine. In a former life, she was apart of a rowing team down in Texas and is looking to get back into it. After my first time rowing 2,000 meters, she told me what I needed to tweak out with my technique to be faster/stronger/better. So, today I did exactly as she told me. Push off with the legs first before pulling on the chain. Make your movement one fluidic motion. Make sure the chain stays roughly straight and don't go over your knees. I focused on these things as I started to row, row, row...and it worked!

My time the previous rowing session was going about 2:15-2:30/500m with the way I worked before. Today's time with those simple tweaks: 1:92-2:02/500m and I was not getting the same arm strain that I was the last time. I was able to complete a 2,000 meter row in under 8 minutes, shaving off 90 seconds from my previous time.

Although I was a bit jelly-legged (I was warned this would happen too and it's a sign that you did it right), I felt great! Added bonus, that quad strain that I felt was eased greatly after doing this workout!

In all sports, we're coached to move a certain way. Sloppy effort equals sloppy results. During my 10+ miler on Sunday, I felt better on that run than previous runs. Reason: Eric was coaching me on - SUPRISE! - running technique. Little changes to the way I move my legs, how I plant my feet, my body alignment, etc. All of those little changes gave me bigger gains. I felt more comfortable. I felt less sore. I felt like I could go on longer, even with my lack of a bigger aerobic base due to being sidelined these past few months.

When I was doing triathlons, the same thing applied. With better technique, I cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. I was able to ride uphill and not have to get off the bike and push it like a car with a dead engine.

So what's the point? You have a good technique and you can equalize the field of competition. I've seen guys on old steel road bikes beating dudes on $5000 triathlon bikes made of carbon fiber. Guys were the same size and had the same VO2. But the road bike dudes had better riding technique. I've seen ladies in their early 50's deadlift 200 lbs barbells that guys in their 20's couldn't do half the weight and the guys looked more "muscular".

Whatever you have a passion to do, learn it well and learn how to do it right everytime.

The Joy of Massage

My wonderful wife gave me a helping hand and aided my massage of my left quad. Seems a few days ago, I mildly strained it with doing dumbbell squats (52.5 lbs in each hand). And since then, the muscle is still pretty tight and has a deep ache depending on how I move my leg or if I even tense/flex the quad. But the achey feeling does go away during my runs, so this won't sideline me for Saturday. However, I think I'll look into getting a sports massage or a deep-tissue massage after the Ghost. It's been some time since I've had an LMP turn my muscles into melted butter.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Before I forget...

10.60 mi @ 1:57:28

Very good long run! I think I'm ready for the Ghost!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dogs don't run...

Well, my dog doesn't...or rather she chose not to run yesterday as I had hoped.

I had woke up a bit later than expected, so running with the group was out of the question. I needed to do about 16-18 miles VERY SLOWLY. I had decided at the last minute to take the family dog with me. Well, our puggle pup decided that after two miles, she wasn't going to take it anymore and proceeded to trip me. Over and over. I wasn't too happy about that and decided that the run would have to be bagged. So after walking her for the remaining 2.5 miles (we were that far from the car), I was glad to take her home and just take that morning as it was.

However, despite that long run snag - the training plan went well. This is what I've figured will work with my work and homelife schedule:

Mondays: Rest
Lunchtime - X-Train during my lunch (weights, rowing, etc)
Evening - Group Runs of 6-8 miles (Although they're supposed to be "easy" runs, they feel more medium or marathon pace for me at the moment)
Wednesdays: Lunchtime Runs @ Work from 2-4 miles (Could be easy/recovery runs, could be tempo/intervals, could be just good powerwalks)
Thursdays: Repeat of Tuesday
Fridays: Repeat of Wednesday
Saturdays: Rest or Alternative Long Run (if I can't do a long run on Sunday for whatever reason or if's just some place too good to pass up.)
Sundays: Long Runs ranging from 12-35 miles, preferibly sticking around 18-20 miles weekly.

I followed this so far this past week and with the exception of Sunday getting botched, it went well. I'm still pretty confident that I'll hold up for the Seattle Ghost in two weeks. As long as I'm conservative on that day and take an early start, I should be able to complete the distance (not to mention giving myself a serious shock to the system) in the cutoff time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Officially Sponsored! *happy dance*

To my suprise yesterday, a package was waiting at home in a BIG BOX from SOLE.

I'm right now wearing the really cool black t-shirt and flexfit cap with the company name and logo on them. (Pics to come later...maybe. Black is definately slimming!) And it goes well with the red sports flask they also provided! They even threw in an extra pair of heat-moldable footbeds for my regular shoes too! Thanks to SOLE and especially Claire from their Marketing Dept who was nice enough to offer this to me!

I'm no Dean Karnazes by any means, but I hope to be a positive representative for SOLE! I'll definately write up how the footbeds (and my foot) hold up after my first race since my stress fracture sidelining me and for my subsequent races after that (including my goal of doing the Cascade Crest 100).

So far, it's been a month since I've been using them and the experience is positive overall. The tendons in my right foot rarely (and I do mean RARELY) bother me during my runs now. The original pains I felt have diminished greatly and the support I get now is phenomenal. I'm also able to maintain better form, despite my muscles still needing better conditioning (which will come with time and training).

The only difficulty I'm experiencing in relation to using the SOLE footbeds is trying to adjust my laces of the shoe since the arch of my foot goes up in the sweet spot and the current lacing system I have doesn't work as well as it should. However, that's simple user error on my part and I simply have to find a better lacing method to make the shoe fit better. The other thing I have to learn is to STOP JAMMING MY FOOT IN THE SHOE! Cramming/Jamming your foot into your footwear can cause a minor shift in the footbed placement and you'll feel weird when standing in them. Slipping them on gently always works best.

Things learned so far this week:

- On a group run, figure out where exactly everyone is going and then go at your own pace - not theirs. I got smoked and slowed considerably after two miles in a 6+ mile easy run due to running a faster 8-9 minute pace versus a 10-11 min pace that my body can currently handle better. (6.43 miles in 1:06:17; traffic light stops - boo!!!!)
- Make sure you don't forget your workout clothes. Due to no running clothes, I did a 2 mile powerwalk on the treadmill in my jeans and a spare t-shirt. I had the speed set to 4.0 MPH @ 2% incline, so yeah - I got sweaty after the first 15 minutes.

I also think I figured out a good running/workout schedule for myself, but I'll see if it's successful after this week is up before I disclose it.

Happy running all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Soup Nazzie - Volunteering @ Ron Herzog

Another race I participated in without putting in a single mile of running. Wanting to be apart of something in some way, I volunteered again at another event - a 50k in Granite Falls, WA (just outside of Everett). The task I agreed to: Manning the Start/Finish aid station, makin' soup. Yeah, I was going to be the Soup Nazzie.

The previous night, despite waking up 5 times in a row - I felt remarkably refreshed. I figured that I'd help out and get some running miles in since I missed a run that week. Hit a Starbucks along the way and got some coffee for everyone (which only a handful of folks actually drank - must get a "Coffee for all" sign next time.) After some scary driving in the darkness that is late autumn, I found the race site. The one thing I've always hated about running these things or helping out at these things is trying to find the places at night. I'm always paranoid that I'll miss a turn or get lost and end up somewhere like in the movie Deliverance.

After finding the site, I saw that things were already underway. Shawn and tc were getting things in order, registering folks and trying to bring order to the chaos that goes along with being in-charge of races. A pretty warm morning, we figured things were going to go well for most folks.

After the first set of runners left for the early start, a few of the faster folks hung around waiting for the regular start. Well, with all this waiting time, people talk...about weird stuff. You stick a bunch of ultrarunners in the same place and you get the most oddest and inappropriate conversations...that I won't get into here and will leave this post relatively PG. Haw-haw! :-P

Once the regular starters went off, we pretty much chilled for a bit. Our other volunteer (Jess Mullen) was going to be running the aid station around mile 8 and since the course forced people to run virtually uphill for the whole way there, she had plenty of time to drive over and setup shop for those runners. But soon, Jess, Shawn, and tc all took off to their respective places and I was alone. Just me and my propane stove...until a green Saturn rolled in fast and out popped Linda Barton with a late start (but still a pretty fast finishing time being tardy!)

Still, there was plenty of time before I had to play Soup Nazzie, so I figured it would be a good time to get a run in of atleast an hour. Ya know, get a feel of the place. That's when the sky opened up and decided to dump on the whole place. Call me a fair-weather runner if you will, but my t-shirt and shorts that I packed in the car were not going to cut it for this amount of wet.

So, with my main plans of running during the downtime being shot, I pre-occupied my time with my new issue of Runner's World with David Goggins on the cover, my Nintendo DS, and checking/readying the supplies for soup. That's when I started to be a dorky nag about things.

When I was done hooking up the propane tanks to the stove and the smaller tanks to the portable heater, I realized what was missing:

- Four D batteries for the heater to operate the fan (but that wasn't too bad to not have since the heater itself worked.)
- No matches or lighter for the stove (yeah, it didn't have any kind of starter built-in).

"Okay, how do I light the burners?", I thought to myself. Then I saw that the heater had a small pilot light that would pop out when you started it up. I used a wooden stirring stick that was provided with the Starbucks coffee I bought earlier and used that as a way to get some fire for the stove.

Now that the stove was working (well, slowly at first), I looked at the soup that was donated. My first thought was, "OMG WTF?" We had 30 runners and we had 6 cans of various chicken soups, 5 cans of various beef veggie soups, two cans of tomatoes, and one can of chicken cream chowder...HUH????? The registration was to bring TWO CANS and $25 for the entry. The point of the cans was to have a really good surplus leftover so we could donate it to a foodbank. We also had vegitarian runners out there and they were going to have the choice of either beef or chicken??? I also knew that we were going to run out of one and people would barely eat from the other if I cooked up both Beef and Chicken soups. I then also noticed something spoons. No bowls. No scoop. Oh boy. Time was ticking by quickly at this point. It was 4 hours since the regular start and people would be showing up wanting warm food, especially after running in the cold rain for 2+ hours.

tc and Shawn showed up just in time and had the rest of the stuff needed for soup. It was the big oops of that day. Then as the first and second runners came in, they had to go without any warm goodies. Both vegitarians...and both guys also failed to bring in cans of soup themselves. (NO SOUP FOR YOU!) Thankfully, a majority of the folks were meat-eaters and slammed down that chicken soup (and some even enjoyed the beef!).

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. As for me, I originally felt like we weren't as well organized as we were at Baker Lake. Looking back, I think that feeling was more attributed to the fact I didn't have everything I needed at the start at first. Mistakes happen and it wasn't something that would take down the event. I was just my typical anal-retentive self, but I always want to make sure that things go well during these events. I personally think it's my best quality as a volunteer, to care enough to want things to go 100% well and that everyone is taken care of. Hopefully, I didn't alienate myself to my friends in being so anal-retentive.

Now that's over, I wonder what the next race is that I'll lend a hand at? Will I ever RUN any of these races? Only time will tell. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A run of change

6.2 miles in 1:01:12, flat and feeling good at the end...and then I came home just in time to see this...

Barack Obama wins the Presidential Race and is now going to be the 44th President of the United States!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pushing past the edge

8, maybe 10 miles. But I was thinking 8.

But somehow, with some patience and a little help from my friends (well, one friend - Thanks Rob), I ran almost 14 miles (13.68 mi) in 3 hours exactly. A very slow pace of 13:09/mile, but all the miles and time - total quality.

Best thing of all, the only thing that hurt was the good kind of hurt in my calves and hamstrings. My stress fractured area was a non-issue. *BIG CHEEZY GRIN*

This run has shown me a few things:

1.) With enough patience, I can go long...not fast, but long.
2.) Doing the Seattle Ghost Marathon or 50k at the end of the month looks more doable.

Totally looking forward to tomorrow and beyond. Totally.