Monday, December 21, 2009

Pigtails Flat Ass Marathon Race Report

The short: Wet conditions on fairly flat gravel & paved trail. Finished the marathon in 6:13 (6:13:22 according to my watch).

The long: Since the Seattle Ghost, I tried my hardest to both recover and re-condition for this one. However, after some failures with getting my act together with my runs (17 miles the week after the Ghost, zero miles after that) and my strength conditioning (did some strength-endurance work with heavy weight, but not consistently), I knew I was asking to be punished by the course.

The race location was moved. Instead of it being in Renton, it was moved to Maple Valley. So the original turnaround was going to be the start/finish and we would run towards Renton along the Cedar River Trail until we basically reached the Renton border. Finding the race start area wasn't easy. Due to dark streets and lack of signs in the area, I ended up driving past where I should have gone. But common sense prevailed and I was able to find it well before the race was to start (I got to the race before Van 'Pigtails' Phan, the RD did!)

This race also had my wife and daughter in tow. It had been quite a long time since they were with me at a race. Since the race start was also the finish, I knew my ass would be grass if I didn't get myself to the finish line. No DNF allowed here!

As daylight progressed, things were much more the port-a-potties on the other side of the street and the parking lot. There was a good number of folks this year and the Maple Valley Food Bank was going to get plenty from the ultrarunning community this year since the entry is pretty much food donations and a minimum $5 fee to cover the insurance/permits.

While standing in the wet-wet-wet (a big F-U to the meteorologists who said it was going to be a dry Saturday!), everyone was ready to go. The course was in the shape of a "J" (or a funny upside-down "y" if you're doing the 50k), we would run for a half-mile down one access road along the river, turn around, go over the river, and then onto the actual trail where we'd be for about 12.5+ miles out and then back.

Closer to the race start time, Van tapped me to announce. Guess my loud vocal work at other events have given me a reputation to make everyone stand to attention. :-)

And as a simple 3-count, we were off and I was going to be punished for this one. I was in the back of the pack with folks like Michelle Barnes, Jenny Appel, and the ever cool hardcore marathoner, Bob Dolphin. Soon after we got past the bottom of the "J" and started on the longer part, Brian Pendleton caught up to me and we ran together to the first aid station about 5.8 miles away. Brian had been rehab-ing from a shin issue, so he wasn't going to go at a blistering fast pace. However, his non-fast pace did push me quite a bit more than I should have done. But in retrospect, I think it was necessary. We got to the aid station within an hour, which meant that if I could keep up everything, I could potentially get to the finish between 5-5.5 hours if nothing went wrong. However, I was shooting for closer to a 6 hour finish based on the Seattle Ghost time of 3:10 and the 14+ mile long run the week later also at 3:10.

After Brian went on ahead after the aid station, I drank some more soup (Thanks to Jess, Shawn, and Heidi for manning the aid station in the soggy weather!), put on my hydration pack I stuck in my drop bag and headed out. The wet never let up. Thankfully, it wasn't freezing cold and my body was radiating heat from all the activity. As I continued, I switched to a run 5 minute/walk 1 minute pattern until I got to the 2nd aid station. This one was unmanned and had just water and Payday bars. I chomped down on one and kept going. I was about 2.5 miles away from the turnaround and my time was around 2:40. I was very thrilled...until after the turnaround and I reached mile 15. After that, my quads and hamstrings seized. I didn't want to pop any Aleve unless absolutely needed. But after the gals from the Y-Run club passed me after they thought I was going to die, I decided to take three of those blue pills.

A mile or two of power-walking and the quads and hamstrings were feeling better. I got to the same unmanned aid station from before and was looking forward to the Payday bars...until I got there and saw they were gone. Like a drama-queen, I screamed out, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! YOU BASTARDS!!!!!!!!". That lit a fire under my ass to get to the last aid station and get something better than the GU's that I've consumed.

As I continued, I ended up running for three minutes and walking for three for my pattern. My calves were trying to cramp up, but thanks to wearing diabetic socks with the feet cut off (TAKE THAT EXPENSIVE ZENASH CALF COMPRESSION SLEEVES!!!), the socks pushed the cramping muscles back into place and I was able to continue on. Note: My calves were 100% fine after the race, my quads were the only things trashed.

About 1.5 miles away from the final aid station, Michael Cartwright caught me on his bike doing sweeping duty. I let him know that there was Bob Dolphin behind me still and one other person. He assured me that I wasn't too far away from the aid station and that lifted my spirits. Checking my watch, I realized I would be on target to hit 5 hours to the aid station and my 6 hour finish time would still be possible. I was also glad that it wasn't too far away for one other reason: The hydration pack ran out of water and I was fortunate to still have a bottle on me that was half-full.

I made it to the aid station and sucked down more soup. By this time, I had consumed 3 Aleve, 4 S!Caps, and 3 Tums Smoothies chewables. Any more pills in my gut and I'd be able to open up a pharmacy. The GU's I had on the course were not agreeing with me very well, so it was a welcome site to have some real food. I also got some mental relief talking to Jess, Shawn, and Heidi before heading off to finish (apologies to Shawn for playing "Party in your Bedroom" by Cash Cash).

I was nearing the end. 4.7 miles left and the 3 run/3 walk was still working for me. I tried to run a bit more, but anything past 3 minutes was only making me more beaten up. I caught Lorie Alexander from BC coming back to do her 50 miles (she's doing fifty 50 mile runs for this year to celebrate her 50th birthday, this race was number 49.) I gave her a hug and wished her well. As I kept moving, I noticed that the mile markers that the trail had (not done by the RD, but by the city/county) seemed longer, unless my math was just wrong. But thankfully, I eventually saw the finish line and I finally made it across hearing cheers and getting a big hug and kiss from my family. Family does make a race better, yes it does. For my efforts, I received another excellent finisher's medal from Van - a pink colored jingle bell made to look like a pig.

Oh yeah, I also gave *tc a kiss on the cheek and licked the crease in his face per Shawn's instructions. (Don't worry *tc, my wife isn't jealous. ^_^)

Laughter aside, I downed some more soup and did some socializing before leaving with the family. Post-race eatings with the fam after the race? Carl's Jr. and it was delicious.

Post-race analysis:

- Quads still feel beaten up, but not the hamstrings or calves. So doing the deadlifts & good mornings helped. I should get back into doing more squats though.

- Now that I've gone 26.2, I can use this as a launch point to get more quality long miles done that are much longer than 13-14 miles and feel less of the sick effects of being under trained for distances.

- Need to find alternative to GU's (unless the batch I have left is just bad).

Next event: Tiger Mountain Fat Ass on January 2nd. I'll do at least one 16 mile loop, but if things go right, I'll take another trip around the mountain range.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ghost of Seattle Race Report

The short: Opted for the half-marathon and was slow as hell, clocking in at 3:10:51

The long: After the bout of the flu and the chaos that was this past Thanksgiving weekend, I went into the event to just get as much time on my feet as I could have allowed myself without screwing up too much and to see my friends during the event. Doing the whole 26.2 miles was a mild pipe dream due to the fact that I hadn't had run anything longer than 12 miles and that my conditioning levels for strength were okay, but I was on the downside for aerobic capacity compared to before (should have gotten that flu shot when I had the chance.) I also decided to go a bit minimalist and run in my Crocs. I wanted to maintain my form as best as I could and there is no better way to do that then to run minimalist.

As I said before, it's the Thanksgiving weekend and I was busy as hell. Even though I had a 4-day weekend away from work, home and family took over like mad and I got just as little sleep as I would have during the work week. Rest is important and I gave it the finger.

On race day, I scrambled out the door in my cold-weather gear and got to the race location later than expected. No parking spots near the start/finish for me. Even though I was supposed to early start with everyone at 7am, I ended up 10+ minutes past. Lucky for me, Scott Krell (the RD) was cool enough to let me just keep my own time. Wasn't like I was going to break any records or BQ anyway.

So with Crocs on my feet, I set off along the trail. It was a cold and windy day, so with my construction bag/body-bag poncho I made up the night before, I was kept nice and warm while the winds that came off the waters of Lake Washington doubled as an invisible hill. The bag acted like a parachute when running into the wind and as a sail when the wind was on my back. Yin and Yang baby, gotta love that.

My feet/legs were feeling good for the first 8-9 miles and I was running at the pace that I'd be grooving at (sub-12 minute miles). However, my hamstrings gave out on me at mile 10 and I ended up practically slow walking most of the last 5k to the finish line. I tapped out and opted to take the half-marathon finish. Funny thing is that from the waist up, I was fine. I wasn't winded and felt like I had the energy to keep going. But from the waist down, those hamstrings weren't cooperating and a blister on my right foot (4th toe) wasn't helping things along, even after downing two AC&C pills to ease the pain.

So what did I learn? Well...

1.) My running form has improved, but it's not there yet for a longer distance yet.
2.) I need to run more and get my long runs longer and more frequent.
3.) I need to hammer on my hamstrings more. I've neglected deadlifting and other exercises that targeted the hamstrings.

I've got about a month before the Pigtails Flat Ass run, but I'm more optimistic about that one to finish it and do much better time wise on a minute per mile basis than I did at the Ghost.

Do I consider this a defeat? Nope, just another learning experience. I figured out my faults and will start beating the crap out of them before I test out myself again for the next event. Onward!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Food for Thought: "All the 'Cool Kids' do it!"

I had referenced this link on the CrossFit boards when someone posted up about CrossFit Endurance (specifically doing CrossFit and an ultra-marathon).

The article is more of a thought from Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins and it was addressed to the MMA crowd. However, his words go well beyond Mixed-Martial Arts and hits anyone who does any sport. Strength & Conditioning (or training for anything) is very diverse. Diversity is a good thing. What isn't good is to have the mentality of "My shit is better than your shit." Why? Because if you fail at any event, people can easily point to your program. Also, discounting other S&C programs isn't a good thing either. All programs have some type of value if you look objectively. But making sweeping statements about your program being superior over everyone else's just doesn't do you any good and makes you look like an ass. Also, if the program you used to train with didn't work for you, you have to face facts and consider that just maybe you may have flaws within your training (even if you were successful with it the first time using it, you might have gotten lucky!)

I've developed my own program specific to me. I'm experimenting with myself and I have no qualms with saying that if I succeed, then I know my program contributed to it. If I fail, then it's on me and also the program I made up - which I would then re-analyze on what went wrong and fix whatever needed to be fixed.

Questions are: If you fail at your respective sport, are you going to make excuses for your failure or will you point the blame at yourself and the things you did that got you to that failure? Will you actually learn from your failures and use that to fix what went wrong with your training or will you keep insisting that your methods are flawless and there is no room for anything else?

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mild Reset

Due to getting my ass kicked from the flu for over a week, I have to modify things a bit. Sucks too, since I was doing so well.

The first two weeks of Strength-Endurance training was going pretty well before the flu hit hard. I got up to doing 30 second rests in my 75 lbs sandbag clean & presses and my 150 lbs sandbag back squats. The clean & presses really messed with my CNS though and it took a few days for the feeling to pass with each workout. The back squats rocked and the combo of both workouts really reflected well in my runs, my speed picked up and so did my stamina during my long runs by a few minutes.

So what's up now? Well, I have to get back into the swing of things right. This means I need to do a benchmark test and see how much I can lift and then use that as my metric to continue the rest of time during this strength-endurance phase while still completing the Seattle Ghost Marathon next weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Next Phase - Strength-Endurance

After pouring over various resources, I've cobbled together the next session of workouts (but I'm still evaluating as I go).

As I stated here about this, I decided to follow the 50/20 plan (which is based on Density Training) but with some twists.

1.) Two workout movements picked. In this case, I chose the Sandbag Clean & Press and the Sandbag Back Squat.
2.) The first movement (Clean & Press) is done on Mondays and Thursdays, the other (Squat) on Tuesdays and Fridays.
3.) Based on Prilepin's numbers and Wiggy's thing about Heavy Weights+Volume+Limited Rest, there would be 3 reps per set and the weight used would start around 55-65% (but I'm going to increase this sooner, I'll explain later).
4.) Rest intervals are timed with a digital cooking timer I got at DollarTree (works great!). 60 seconds after each set, reducing the rest period by 10 seconds with each new workout until I hit 20 seconds. Once the workout with 20 seconds is up, the next workout of the same movement will increase in weight by 5 lbs and the rest time clock resets at 60 seconds again.
5.) All workouts are within a 20 minute window and it is to be done with as many sets as possible. Obviously, as the rest times decrease, the number of sets will. (Yes, this does train Power-Endurance/Work-Capacity also - so I might as well get the best of both worlds).
6.) Eventual goal should be 17 or more sets with 20 second rests.

So far, I've done one Clean & Press workout and one Squat this week. The clean & press was at 60 lbs (about 50% of my calculated 1-RM for the Military Press), but the weight felt too light and I did 19 sets. This is too many for the first time at the longest rest, meaning that I'm more durable and need more weight. I'm going to increase the weight to 75 lbs today and decrease the time to 50 seconds for rest. That should get my sets closer to 14-15 at most. The squat was done at 137.5 lbs (about 53% of my calculated 1-RM for the squat). I could tell I was a bit rusty doing the squat at first since I had not really done any weighted ones for nearly a week. But I eventually got into my groove and I hit 12 sets in the alloted time. This is much better and on target for the number I should have landed on for sets compared to the clean and press. But I think I'll also raise the weight as well on this one (just needs a slight amp-up in the intensity).

While this is going on, I'm still running on Tuesdays (typically intervals) and Thursdays (typically tempo/Steady-State) and Saturdays (Long). I'm also doing the 100 Push-up program and 20 Pull-up Program as well for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as well at home (pull-up bar is there). Yeah, I've got a great deal more volume than before with my schedule being:

Monday - Lunchtime Clean & Press, PM Push-up and Pull-up
Tuesday - Lunchtime Squat, PM Run
Wednesday - Lunchtime Rest, PM Push-up and Pull-up
Thursday - Lunchtime Clean & Press, PM Run
Friday - Lunchtime Squat, PM Push-up and Pull-up
Saturday - AM Long Run
Sunday - Rest

Also, I'm Greasing The Groove and practicing my one-legged squats (pistols) and one-arm push-ups throughout the day. My range of motion is gently increased for both movements, but it's going to be a long time before I nail both of them down.

Since I suck at pull-ups, I'm starting on Week -2 and doing a great deal of negatives. But things are moving in a positive direction. However, I'll repeat that week anyway to improve. The push-ups are not going so well. Seems that my 15 max push-ups aren't translating well to week 1 of the push-up program (failed in set 4 of the first day and failed set 3 on the second), so I'll be repeating that week for sure.

One thing I'm trying to figure out is where to insert the Max/Raw Strength workouts. I know that if I keep up with the strength-endurance ones, I'll lose some raw strength in the process. I also need to watch out for staleness too and switch things up. But I'm sure I'll come up with something. Edit: And I figured it out. After getting to the 20 seconds of rest, I'll do max/raw strength work (upper-body on Thursday, lower-body on Friday). This will get me 4 sessions of max/raw strength work during this cycle.

During this cycle, I've got a few events that will supplement my training mileage.

11/28 - Seattle Ghost Marathon (5th week of the cycle)
12/19 - Pigtails Flat Ass (8th week of the cycle)
1/2 - Western WA Fat Ass (10th week of the cycle), but this is weather permitting since last year's snowstorm killed the event and a few brave/insane folks decided to give the run a go anyway in the heavy snow.
1/9 - Bridle Trails 50k Twilight Run (11th week of the cycle)

There's also the Last Chance Marathon on 12/31 and the 1st Call to Run Marathon & Ultra the day after on my birthday. However, I'm not in the position to start running back to backs just yet...not until the next cycle anyway. ;-)

I'm also experimenting with my nutrition as well. Following the Carbohydrate Curve on Mark's Daily Apple, I've set Mondays and Wednesdays as low IF/Ketosis days - keeping my carb intake at 50 grams or less. The rest of the week, I'm ranging from 100 to 150 grams a day with maybe one cheat day depending on my mood. I remember when I went almost completely carbless and the volume of weight I lost. However, I was a weak bastard and didn't do enough strength training and didn't eat enough protein and fat to supplement properly compared to now.

So far, the first low day was tough. The second one (yesterday) was much easier to deal with. I purposely set it up on Mondays and Wednesdays due to my running on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I felt that I didn't want to screw myself up too badly since running taps more glucose stores than lifting. Like I said, so far, so good.

What I'm expecting will happen in the next 12 weeks:

1.) A significant increase in stamina. (This is already happening, based on my last interval run - I reduced my time by 5-10 seconds.)
2.) Recovery time will improve. Less time to suck wind = More time to keep moving in a race.
3.) Strength gains I made during the first cycle will maintain.
4.) Body composition will change further for the better (lighter, but still durable).

Half-way through the first week. Let's see where the rest of the cycle goes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And the weight rolls back!

The scale is cooperating now and I'm 1.5 lbs from my 235 lbs original weight when I started the Stronglifts 5x5 Sandbag program 12 weeks ago. w00t!!!!

Early this morning, a nice 9.2 mile run in 1:55. It has been a long time since I did a run in the morning and not have any food before going. Would have been a bit faster, but nature called and I'm so glad that there was a Wendy's along my running route.

Looking forward to chilling out tomorrow and officially ending this first cycle.

I'll post up the workouts for the next cycle. It's going to be intense!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Phase 1 complete

Today was the last lifting day...and I didn't bother.

I needed a few days to unload. I've noticed that is done in quite a bit of exercise training programs (whether they're for strength or running or whatever). So tonight, I'll do some lighter lifts, but not in excess of what is approaching my 1-Rep Max.

So my final numbers in the end come out to be:

Back Squat - 215 lbs (in a 5x5, which by 1 Rep Max calculators - 215 lbs matches my 5 Rep Max and my 1 Rep Max comes out to 259 lbs, which is above my current body weight!)
Overhead Press - 122 lbs (in a 3x5 set via barbell. My 1 Rep Max is calculated at 129 lbs, so I think I've exceeded this.)
Bench Press - 110 lbs (in a 5x5. Too easy though and I've already subbed for push-ups now since I'm lifting more weight via push-ups than by sandbag or barbell anyway).
Power Clean - 105 lbs (in a 5x5, but as I said before in my past post, I've done 130 lbs sandbag cleans and 122 lbs barbell cleans, so with more polished technique - I can do 150 lbs or better if I practice.)
Deadlift - 250 lbs (in a 1x5, but I really should head to a local CF gym to see if I can test my Max and get anywhere close to 322 lbs.)

Since I've never lifted before like this, I would have to say this is indeed a success - even with subbing/ditching some of the days (4 days out of 12 weeks).

After my 2 hour run tomorrow, I need to focus on getting ready for my Strength-Endurance phase. I think I've hammered enough of the details out, so I should be good. But it's always good to re-check your info too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


To those that don't believe that completing a 100 miles is possible for anyone:

Yeah, Amy Palmiero-Winters. She lost her leg in a motorcycle accident a few years ago and she's done tons of races, from various running distances to tri's. Now she can check off "Ultrarunning Champion" to that list as well.

So, what did you do today?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting into the next phase

I'm in the middle of week 11 and have one more week to go to end the first cycle of my training.

As I said before in my original plan description, the first cycle/period would be a strength-focused one. I followed the 5x5 plan but with a Starting Strength twist by ditching the supplementary exercises (no push-ups, pull-ups, planks, or crunches - all good exercises, but not in the Starting Strength program) and I swapped the inverted rows with power cleans. I still kept the 5x5 method over the 3x5 one simply because I believe that pushing past the 3x5 and doing two more sets of five would appropriately push me further without killing me. Thankfully, my believe paid off.

Another twist to make guys like Zach Evan-Esh of and Josh Henkin of Sandbag Fitness Systems proud is that I used a sandbag for pretty much the whole damn time (there were two sessions where I did use the barbell at home since I had days off and the sandbags are at the office).

Numbers-wise, here's where I'm at right now doing the 5x5 (these are not Max Rep numbers):

Back Squat: 195 lbs
Bench Press: 100 lbs
Power Clean: 100 lbs
Deadlift: 220 lbs
Military Press: 100 lbs (although I did do a 3x5 @ 120 lbs)

I have another week left. Unless I stall, I should be looking at:

Back Squat: 220 lbs
Bench Press: 115 lbs
Power Clean: 115 lbs
Deadlift: 260 lbs
Military Press: 115 lbs

Again, these numbers are not 1-Rep Max, but doing a 5x5 (or 1x5 for the Deadlift).

Also, I found an appropriate strength calculator for my 1 Rep Max and I was a bit ambitious using Ron Shaul's numbers at first. I'm confident I'll get there in the future, but for now this is what I found:

1RM Standard Calc:
240 lbs male


Squat - 258 lbs
Bench - 193 lbs
Military Press - 129 lbs
Deadlift - 322 lbs
Clean - 186 lbs


Squat - 316 lbs
Bench - 236 lbs
Military Press - 162 lbs
Deadlift - 370 lbs
Clean - 228 lbs


Squat - 431 lbs
Bench - 323 lbs
Military Press - 193 lbs
Deadlift - 503 lbs
Clean - 310 lbs

Since I'm a novice, I'm approaching the 1-Rep Max limits rather quickly and I can do some maintenance heavy lifting as the weeks go on to keep it or not lose a majority of it.

And yes, I'm at 240 lbs at the moment. So within the entire program, I gained 5 lbs. However, the weight gain seemed to have stopped after the 8th week and my body shape has changed quite dramatically. My waist is a bit smaller, I can see my abs more and my chest and back are much more broader. Arms are a bit bigger and my quads & calves (as always) are solid as rocks. Overall more dense and durable. So, even though my weight is moving in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go, I'm turning more bulletproof. My last few runs aren't beating me up.

Speaking of runs, my mileage isn't very good. Minimum mileage has been zero. Max has been 16 miles per week. Longest run has been 12 miles so far. However, I'm still confident that I'll still get through the Seattle Ghost marathon (or 50k, still haven't officially decided yet) on November 28th. Some of the reduction in miles has simply been due to not running mid-week. After my lifting the previous day, I just felt too tired to run the following day. I'm just a lame-excuse machine, but I plead the "listening to my body" amendment. But as I said, there is still time and I'm still confident that I'll complete the run.

One thing with my runs is that I temporarily abandoned doing any kind of hardcore speedwork (no CFE-style runs). My body wasn't tolerating them and my form broke down hard during them compared to just running easy, tempo, or fartlek style. It could also be a time-issue with when I do these runs since I noticed with myself that I do better with my runs that are speed-intensive if I do them as one of the first things of the day instead of the last things of the day when my body has been chewed through the daily grind that's life. But I'll probably re-incorporate them back in if I'm able to sometime down the road depending on how things go.

So what's next after Oct 24th and the strength cycle ends? The strength-endurance cycle begins. Now, this is where things get a bit tricky. I could have gone from doing strength work into doing power-endurance (aka Work Capacity) workouts like the ones you typically see with CrossFit or other similar workouts where you do task-based and/or go against the clock. However, it boiled down to whether I wanted to:

1.) Lift fast but heavy with little rest. A good example of this is a task-based workout that involves multiple sets of lifts, little rest between sets, and an increase in weight if you tackle that next workout.


2.) Lift fast as many times as possible, but not necessarily heavy. Good example of this is a person pulling off a Fran workout at the typical Rx'ed weight. A very strong lifter will treat that 95 lbs barbell like it's air and get through the workout fast and the only thing that could slow them down is either bad pull-up strength (which is not very likely) or if they do a "Heavy Fran" and jack up the weight of the barbell and/or load some weight on during their pull-ups.

So I had to decide if I wanted to increase my work capacity and do more in the same time or increase my strength and the endurance/stamina to lift heavy instead.

Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins put this down when commenting on Density Training here:

Density Training is very beneficial because, depending on how it's "tweaked," it can accomplish a fairly wide variety of goals at one time. Coupled with extra calories, it can result in muscle and overall weight gain. Used with high sets with low reps, brute strength can be increased.

If rest periods are kept short, strength-endurance is benefited. If a fair amount of reps are used (say, perform 50 reps of a compound movement in 20 minutes), work capacity and overall conditioning are increased.

I figured that for the moment, strength-endurance was more important than power-endurance. Added bonus, my strength-endurance work will make it more possible for me to do power-endurance work better & faster. Although this explanation does give CrossFit's methodology and design some sense since a great deal of their workouts are tied to Work Capacity and it seems that "doing more in less time" does promote better overall fitness.

So now that I know what to focus on, the workouts that I have to do are proving to be a bit tricky to plan. I already know to do Volume + Minimal Rest + Heavy Weight. The question is what workouts should I do? I decided that I should still focus on the basics. Taking a page from the CrossFit Strength-Bias program, I opted to focus on Squats, Deadlifts, and Overhead Presses. No bench press, no power cleans. I also decided to have Mondays still used as the standard strength days, basically following the same 5x5 template, but seriously extended out. So what does this look like?

Week A:
Monday (Strength) - 3x5 or 5x5 Squat, 3x5 or 5x5 Overhead Press
Tuesday - Run
Wednesday (Strength-Endurance) - 15x2 or 15x3 Squat, 15x1 or 20x1 Deadlift
Thursday - Run
Friday (Strength-Endurance) - 15x2 or 15x3 Squat, 15x2 or 15x3 Overhead Press
Saturday - Long Run
Sunday - Rest

Week B:
Monday (Strength) - 3x5 or 5x5 Squat, 1x5 Deadlift
Tuesday - Run
Wednesday (Strength-Endurance) - 15x2 or 15x3 Squat, 15x2 or 15x3 Overhead Press
Thursday - Run
Friday (Strength-Endurance) - 15x2 or 15x3 Squat, 15x1 or 20x1 Deadlift
Saturday - Long Run
Sunday - Rest

The starting weight will be at 65% of my predicted 1-Rep Max and my rest times will be 60 seconds. Each workout will decrease the rest time by 10 seconds. When I get to a 20 second rest successfully, the weight will increase by 5 lbs and the clock resets back to 60 seconds again. The strength part I'll do my best with, but I have a feeling that I won't progress but be maintaining more than anything...but who knows?

Also, in addition to the lifting, I'll be focusing on my push-ups and pull-ups at home (another reason why I ditched the bench press and power cleans). So while I'm doing this strength-endurance stuff at work using the sandbags, I'll be following and Similar to other programs that build strength-endurance like Recon Ron and even Grease the Groove (although GTG is meant to be done throughout the entire day, having access to a pull-up bar at the office is impossible...otherwise, I would have done that instead). So strength-endurance lifting at work, push-ups and pull-ups at home at night. The pull-up and push-up programs are only 6 weeks long (8 for the pull-up program for me since my test sucked and I could only squeak out one pull-up), but with the chance of any kind of setback, I can repeat a week or two during this cycle.

With my running during this time, I expect to be doing more volume due to various events from November to my "A" race in August (about 1 ultra per month). Based on my past performance, doing about one race a month gets enough aerobic conditioning in to where it has made me a bit faster at the same distance at other events. When I did my first 6 races in 6 months (four 50k's with a 50 miler after and then a marathon), my times were relatively improving compared to the difficulty of the previous event. When I didn't do as much volume, I suffered (my last two Mt Si ultra runs being a prime example of this.)

Crossing my fingers on this one! Let's see where this next cycle takes me!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Doctor Who Ain't Got Nuthin' On Me

I renewed my position as The TimeLord, keeper of the 4th dimension for the Baker Lake 50k again this year.

Some things were the same. Long drive from home to Concrete. Same stop @ Starbucks to get a coffee box for the race. Cold morning.

Some things were different. Brought my guitar and portable stove with some food to cook with (although barely played the guitar and didn't eat anything from my stove or practically nothing at the race except for a roast beef Subway sub). Had some company this time with Arthur who was racing this year.

Other different things: Lots more stuff! When I got to the campground, they had a few coffeemakers running along with music from an iPod docked in a speaker. There were pastries (cakes) everywhere it seemed. Someone else also had gotten Starbucks coffee too in a box like I did. Other folks that were helping out this year that I didn't see last time were Jay (Shawn's bro), Michael & Tamera Cartwright (Tamera was running this also), Steve Stoyles, and a few other guys that I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to.

A dark and cold morning, things were moving along very well. I have to say that this is probably the most organized I've seen races done in remote places. Usually, there is some kind of chaos. Things forgotten, things misplaced. Jay and Steve were working the check-in's in the dark. There was plenty of coffee for everyone. My buddy Stan Nakashima gave me a ton of produce from his farm (Thanks Stan!). Shawn and tc* were busy taking care of the last minute things on the course. Much better than last year for certain, I believe we learned from the last time.

Soon the early starters were getting ready and I sadly didn't have time to get my airhorn (the signal for last year). So with keeping time like last year, I had to substitute. In this case, my countdown ended up as:

3, 2, 1 - HAUL ASS!!!!!!!!!

Not quite the same punch as an airhorn, but good enough with my ability to project my voice thanks to years of vocal music training.

More check-in's and another countdown for the regular starters and the start was virtually empty of people as usual. Checking around the table, I was surprised to see the amount of cakes that Haggen Foods provided (20+, seriously!). I begged for us to do a Cake Walk, but that idea died quickly. Tried playing my guitar to kill time, but my fingers got seriously frozen from the cold. It was one of those days where if you were in the sun, you felt warm. You got in the shade, you were a frozen fishstick.

I got to run about 90 minutes before the first runner (Terry Sentinella - YAY TERRY!!!) came through and I got in a good 4 mile run along the trails. I noticed that I wasn't nearly as winded when it came to those rolling hills and my leg muscles were able to take the abuse without feeling beaten up. I was even able to run virtually all of the inclines with little difficulty. I can only assume that my strength training cycle of heavy lifting is responsible for this. However, I do notice that my aerobic conditioning isn't as good as it could be. I am confident that this will be remedied as I continue to progress in my training plan and move into future cycles that have more metcon and sport-specific conditioning.

I got back about 40 minutes before Terry showed up and was kicking myself that I could have gone a bit longer. Oh well, there's always next year.

About 15 minutes before the 5th hour, Terry showed up and won first place overall and first masters - a 2nd Baker Bear award for him. Funny thing is that the next several folks that came through also snagged Baker Bears for 1st Women Open & Overall, 1st Women Master, 1st Male Open, and 1st Male Senior all within 30 minutes of each other. Some of those runners had done other events a week before, especially the 1st Women (Shawna Wilskey) who WON 1st woman at the Hundred in the Hood the previous weekend! Yeah, she ran 100 miles a week before and then ran 31 miles more the next week, winning both 1st place spots for the women! Some people were built for speed, Shawna was built to make you eat her dust and like it.

As everyone started coming in, I was doing what I do best - playing the role of the timelord. However, this timelord got an upgrade and we were actually doing the timekeeping on a laptop this time, using an excel spreadsheet to enter the time in via keyboard macro. I tweaked out the form even further by making it calculate the start time against the time they came in - giving us a total time in hours and minutes. This was a great benefit for us and allowed the results to be posted practically the next day!

For the most part, everyone was pretty cool...except for two dudes. One guy who bitched about the course being about a half a mile longer than he expected and another guy who wanted us to adjust his time to match a 50k finish. Damn! Can't please everyone...although I was REALLY tempted to put DQ on their names. Maybe next year I'll be more brutal if someone acts like a dorkus.

Time eventually was winding down and towards the end, we had a few folks that were struggling to come in. Our final finisher came in just under 10 hours with an early start. He was given the Dead F*cking Last Baker Bear award. In these events, when everything is falling apart, sometimes the heart is the thing that pulls you through to the finish line.

After our final runner and sweepers were done, we tore down as fast as we could to get the hell out of there. I was there for almost 12 hours and up for about 15. Others were there for nearly two days. A nice place to visit, but you really don't want to stay around any longer than you have to. A final goodbye and Arthur and I were headed back south. Lots of chit-chat along the way home and I did enjoy the company for a change.

Another day of race volunteering done. I should have enough good trail karma now to complete 5 Cascade Crest 100's. :-) I kid, but I enjoy helping out (yes, even when there are some ungrateful people that always show up at races). Folks that really appreciate the help on the course, those are the people that I like. My buddies who work along side me at these things, always a party when we're together. Running, especially ultrarunning can be a very selfish thing. Helping out at events seems to balance things out a bit. It would explain why trail work is starting to become more of a requirement at races than ever.

Anyhoo, next event is November (not Ron Herzog, apologies to tc!). A nice 26.2 mile (or 31 mile, haven't decided yet) friendly fun-run we like to call the Seattle Ghost. It'll be my first event back in quite a long time. I don't plan on smashing PR's or anything crazy like that. I plan on getting some serious time on my feet, enjoying the camaraderie, and eating some of that yummy post-race food that completely trumps the so-called post-race food that the actual Seattle Marathon provides. Scott Krell's post-race food rocks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Body Talk

You know the saying, "Listen to your body." Well, seems that if you don't listen to your body, it might scream at you in return like a child's temper tantrum. Other times, it'll just throw the tantrum anyway, even if you are listening.

Case in point:

- Last weekend's long run of 12 miles. It was a night run and it was a 2 mile out-n-back repeated 6 times. The last round, I could feel the drain and my last two miles were reflecting a decline in performance and effort. The tantrum: FEED ME! FEED ME! GIMME CAFFEINE GOODNESS! Guess that's what I get for going out with water only.

- Skipped the two mid-week runs this week and chose to nap. The tantrum: SLEEPY! NO!!! NO RUN, SLEEP!!!! Looking at the last few days, I've been getting less sleep at night, so this is turning into a necessity for now. As long as I keep the long run though and maintain the strength-bias period, I should still be okay despite the mid-week run skips.

- My ability to zercher & front squat has taken a backseat to back squats using the sandbags. The tantrum: NO!!!! TOO HEAVY!!!! NOT GONNA DO IT!!!! OOPS-SIE! I MADE YOU DROP THE BAG!!! Seems my limit for now is 125-130 lbs to get into the zercher position. But the good thing is that I'm still able to do some kind of heavy squat and I'm at 140 lbs now, going to 145 lbs later this morning. Personally, I think that my 1-Rep Max for the backsquat might actually get close to 300 lbs...but we'll see if that's the case when I get near the end of the cycle. I still need to buy some heavier plates for home.

- My overhead press ability with the sandbag seems to have stalled out around 75 lbs where I can do a full 5x5 @ 75 lbs; all weight after that, I can do a 3x5 before starting to fail. The tantrum: SEE PREVIOUS TANTRUM!!!! WAH!!!!!!! Now, it could be the fact that it's a bag and not a bar. I think this goes back to the "Raw strength vs Barbell strength" thing that Rob Shaul talked about in a post awhile back.

- My clean could use some work (No body tantrum on this thankfully). But in the defense of cleaning a sandbag, I don't think I've seen anyone with 100% perfect form like you would have with a barbell (can you say CrossFit Slop?). The bag is awkward and there are multiple ways of getting yourself into position for it. Zach @ has a really good video here showing a good Power Clean example with multiple styles of sandbags - Military & the Josh Henkin bag.

Coming out the other side

Nearly done with this cycle and I've got 5 weeks to go after this week is over, YAY!!!

Trying to figure out what to program in for the next cycle is proving to be more difficult though. I'm limited in what I can do due to the equipment and time. It might end up being where I do two WODs in a day - one at work, one at home. However, we'll see what happens. I know I can't program it in the typical CF fashion since the week is setup so differently compared to a standard 3/1 or 5/2 format. But I'm sure I'll get something banged out in the next month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

6 down (almost), 50 to go...

With my last strength session for this week done, I figured it's time to put up what I've done so far on here.

I'm halfway through the strength cycle using the Stronglifts 5x5 program and a sandbag instead of a barbell (although I had to use a barbell when I was at home on 09/07 & 09/09 since the sandbag is at the office).

So far, so good. Typically, I use to lift no more than 15-20 lbs dumbbells in my past strength training routines. I wouldn't be able to lift anything heavier and I was doing isolating work. My numbers so far using sandbags and the 5x5 method:

Squat: 130 lbs (Bear Hug, Zercher, and Back Squat)
Bench Press, Military Press, and Power Clean: 80 lbs
Deadlift: 170 lbs

I have to admit though that the days that I used the barbell at home when I was on vacation was easier compared to the sandbag, probably due to the distribution of weight being so different.

Running wise, my volume is relatively low (practically 10+ miles per week for the first 4 weeks, past week was 16 miles) as well as the intensity for some of them. Although my runs for the first three weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays were CFE-based Stamina Runs and Intervals. I've been able to run on most days, with only one unplanned rest day, one rehab day (ankle seemed really twitchy and needed some TLC, massage, & Trigger Point Therapy @ home), and one 10 miler that went haywire and ended up being a 7.5 mile distance in futility. Thankfully, this is a strength-focused period and the running endurance that I'm rebuilding in the process is just gravy. Although I have to say, my ground speed is improving compared to what I was moving at before (sub-11 minute miles for tempo runs, sub-8 minute miles for speedwork, sub-13 minute miles for easy and long runs currently)...but I still have a very long road ahead of me if I want to recapture my easy/long pace of 9 minute miles, my tempo pace at 7:30's, and my speedwork at 6:00's.

As I said in my past post, I gained some weight yet my physique has changed to look more muscular and dense. Although muscular is good, the extra weight isn't and I need to work better at getting lighter. And getting lighter will require more nutritional scrutiny on my part. However, every single person that I've read up on that has been on Starting Strength and StrongLifts has gained mass. Comes with the territory I guess.

Six weeks down after tomorrow's 12 miler. Six weeks to go to finish off the cycle and 50 weeks till the next Cascade Crest 100. Onward!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Plan of Attack, The Weapon of Choice

A bit of history...

After several races where I flamed out along with various failed training plans that I either paid for or had designed without enough forethought, I had enough and needed to take charge of myself and my destiny.

Since my original Type II diabetes diagnosis a few years ago, I got into controlling the monster via dietary changes and exercise. Eventually, things led to doing triathlon and then into ultrarunning within a relatively short period of time. Back then, I had taken things more seriously and was diligently training, a great deal of traditional methods - for triathlon, I was using HR-based training plan with some strength training during the week. For the ultrarunning, the plan was emphasizing long-steady runs on a Sunday with some shorter runs during the week to maintain my aerobic base, also cycling daily for my work commutes and doing some basic strength training 3 x Week. This took me through doing 4 50k's, a 50 miler, and pacing duties at my first marathon all in a 6 month period.

Then, as goals shifted after a few successful races and I wanted to take on other challenges (namely, my first back-to-back marathon weekend), I modified my training appropriately, doing back-to-back long runs on the weekends, medium-distance runs during the week, and a good amount of cycling to work still with some mild strength training still. Although not all the mid-week runs happened, I did do the weekend long runs without fail...well, not 100% without fail. There were some second day runs where I felt like the crap of crap (yeah, sub-crap), but my body built up stronger and my two marathons in two days went through without a hitch.

After that, things stopped working. Looking back, a majority of it was lack of proper goal setting. Sure, I got some races done like White River and others during this time, but it was like driving on flat tires on nice smooth roads. The damage won't kill your rims as quickly, but over time - you're going to be stuck on the side of the road and thumbing for a ride.

And when things stopped working, I stopped too. Basically just running in things because they were there, even though my own fitness level decreased. I was still under control with my diabetes (blood work confirmed this at my last physical), but the passions for endurance sports were practically dead.


Then sometime in early 2009, I was ready to start getting back into the swing of things...until my company relocated me further away from home for my commute. After some mild employer-loathing and spending a few extra hours driving on the road just to make a buck, I got over myself and decided that there was no point in being all whiny and bitchy about the shit that life throws at you if you don't do anything about it. So, with my endurance-life, I'm doing something about it.

Well, as promised from a couple of weeks ago, the goals and the plan:

To help setup the plan, I needed goals. To have goals, I followed the SMART criteria.

Goals should be:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T - Trackable

I had to think about what I wanted and it had to fit the model. I also had to think of the importance as well. Also, I've learned that you need to have long-term goals and short-term goals. So, here are my goals:

Long-Term (6-12 months):

1.) Complete Cascade Crest 100 mile course within the cut-off time (32 hours) for August 2010 race.

2.) Complete White River 50 mile course faster than previous time of 13:49 for July 2010 race.

3.) Complete Mt Si 50 mile course (three attempts, DNF twice) and finish faster than previous time of 10:37 for April 2010 race.

4.) To reach Rob Shaul's Mountain Athlete requirements of having his athletes being able to:

- Deadlift @ 2xBW
- Squat & Bench Press @ 1.5xBW
- Power Clean @ 1.25xBW
- Military Press @ 1xBW
- 20 strict BW pull-ups
- 40 strict BW dips.

However, this is already being re-evaluated and I might be better off lowering the goals for now until I can see where I'm at (since endurance training does conflict with strength training due to the catabolization of muscle):

- Deadlift @ 1.5xBW
- Squat & Bench Press @ 1xBW
- Power Clean @ 0.75xBW
- Military Press @ 0.75xBW
- 20 strict BW pull-ups
- 40 strict BW dips.

5.) Get below 200 lbs. Current weight at 239 lbs, original weight when I was setting the goals was at 235 lbs. I'll talk about this later in the post.

Short-Term (0-6 months):

1.) Complete Seattle Ghost Marathon in November 2009.
2.) Complete Pigtails Flat Ass 50k in December 2009.
3.) Complete Western WA Tiger Mountain Fat Ass 50k in January 2010.
4.) Complete Bridle Trails 50k Twilight Run in January 2010 (the week after the Tiger Mountain 50k.)
5.) Complete the Pigtails Run and Yours Truly 50k double in last month of January 2010.

Yeah, I know. There really isn't much for the short-term. But this is still a work in progress and I'm an experiment of one. Edit: There's a crap-load of volume that I guess I'll be doing. But my plan was to do one marathon or ultra per month to toughen up my aerobic base while still training for Cascade Crest.

So, with the plan, after much research into my life after my diabetes diagnosis and checking various exercise protocols and methods, I eventually landed on a blend of things from various sources. Folks like Greg Glassman, Mark Twight, Dan John, Mark Rippetoe, Rob Shaul, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Pete Pfitzinger, Brandon Oto, Gant Grimes, Steven Low, Brian MacKenzie (yes, even BMack), and others have provided great influence on the plan I've developed for myself. Also, a good way to plan the future is to look at the past. Figure out what worked and what didn't.

This is what I've now understood:

1.) You got to have a specific goal set for yourself. It doesn't matter if your goal is to just look good and have a lifetime of health, be the world's strongest man, or to do a transcontinental run, without something to focus on, build an intelligent plan, and take action to get to it - you're going to be FUBAR'ed.
2.) Strength Training is necessary in any training plan since it keeps injuries down in your respective sport. Functional strength training has the most superiority due to the transferability to life and sports.
3.) Power-to-Weight ratios are in ALL SPORTS. The heavier you are, you've got to have the power to balance it out. This is why at every race I've been at, I've seen beanpoles being outran by hefty guys. In cycling, most guys that look like scrawny dudes are able to attack steep inclines compared to the larger, heavier guys. However, there are some large cyclists that are excellent climbers and it's due to their power-to-weight ratio being so high.
4.) Gym work needs to be useful to your sport and/or life. This goes back to #1 & #2. There's no point in doing an exercise in the gym if it doesn't help you out in your respective sport or in the real world.
5.) Train all energy systems, but you've got to decide what takes priority based on your sport/life/goals.
6.) Eat clean. Garbage in, garbage out.
7.) Recovery is MORE important than training. There's no point in hitting it hard every single workout if you can't recover from it so you can reap the physiological and psychological benefits from it. Use your recovery tools - SLEEP, MASSAGE, ICE BATHS, TRIGGER POINT THERAPY, etc. Faster recovery is also a good sign of physical health.
8.) Adaption takes time. There are no shortcuts and you need to have patience in yourself.
9.) Training plans are not dogma. Just as people change every minute of every day, the training has to adapt to meet those changes.
10.) Mistakes are fine to make. Not learning from those mistakes are costly in the end.

So, with that in mind, here is what my plan entails:

1: Strength Focus (12 weeks)
2: Secondary Strength Strength-Endurance Focus (12 weeks)
3: Power Focus (8 weeks)
4: Power Endurance Focus (8 weeks)
5: Sport-Specific Endurance Focus (16 weeks)

This is based on Mark Twight & Rob Shaul's setup. Past research has shown that periodization when preparation for an event does create effective results. Once when a person is at a particular level of strength/speed/endurance/etc, the goal shifts to maintenance. Since I'm virtually back at zero again, this will help keep things organized, focused, and rebuild what I had in the past (and adding some more than I had before).

Twight's original design is setup as 4-6 week periods:

1. Foundational Period
2. Strength Period
3. Power Period
4. Power-Endurance Period
5. Endurance Period

However, the original foundational period is basically doing GPP training. Funny thing is that in the CrossFit world, if you're starting out at zero - everyone points at either doing scaled workouts or doing Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Most who are solid CrossFitters have done better doing a Starting Strength cycle (or two) first and THEN going into CrossFit's GPP, their metcon capacity catching up quickly to their strength and gymnastics usually being the last thing that kicks in for most folks. Checking Rob Shaul's methods, he typically has most folks doing strength as the very first thing as well before progressing to other types of mixed-modal workouts.

Strength Cycle I

So, right now I'm focused on strength. The strength workouts are 3 x week (M,W,F) using the 5x5 program using sandbags at work (yeah, no barbell and doing these at work gives me a bit more free-time at home with the family). So far, so good, I'm 6 weeks in and although I've gained about 4 lbs during this time, my physique has changed dramatically and I've been lifting more than I ever had when doing my old strength training routines. Although, I'm going to have to find a way to add more weight to the sandbag without taking up more space in the locker that all the bags are located (I've got 150 lbs of sand at work and it's not going to be enough for my squats in another two weeks and I'm already past this weight for my deadlifts.)

On the days when I'm not doing my strength workouts, I'm focused on sport-specific work. This is based on Mark Twight's (picking another focus when not doing the major focus), Rob Shaul's (do Sport-Specific workouts when not in the gym), and Greg Glassman's (play and do sports) views. So I'm running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The mid-week runs for now are just to get some time on my feet and focus on having good running form. I'll move to having those Tuesdays and Thursdays to Tempo/Stamina & Interval runs, using some of the running WODs that Brian MacKenzie has posted on CrossFit Endurance. (Note: Although BMack and I don't see eye-to-eye on everything, he has some seriously creative interval and tempo/stamina runs listed on the CFE site. Much more variety compared to doing regular track work and that's always a nice change.)

On Saturdays, I am rebuilding my long runs. I'm a strong believer in "you have to train long to go long" and having this one long run day will help rebuild my aerobic base. Looking back at my past training, the long run was the thing that made the serious difference between being strong for an event versus falling apart at one. So far, so good. My longest run has been 10 miles and about a month or two ago, this wasn't even possible.

I've got a little over 6 weeks left before this strength period ends. Provided that I don't have any major setbacks, I'll be able to hit a majority of the strength goals in the early stages and then strive to get to Rob Shaul's requirements for the rest of the year.

Strength Cycle II Strength-Endurance Cycle

The next period is still a strength period, but with a twist. Instead of 3xWeek, it's 2xWeek (Mondays & Wednesdays), with the Friday to get acquainted with the other areas of focus (Max Strength, Power, & Power-Endurance). The strength progression will be slower with only having two days instead of three, but there will be progression. During the off-days, there will still be a focus on running just like before.

Update (09/17/2009): Like I said, the plan is constantly evolving. Checking CrossFit along with other sources, I realized I missed something that is really necessary in my training and that is strength-endurance. Just because you can lift a really heavy object once, but get seriously gassed afterwards doesn't help most folks. From the person who carries loads of groceries into their home to the dude at the construction site who has to load all that material and tools from point A to point B, those things all require a combo of both strength and endurance. This would explain why ruck running/marching in the military, mountain trail running/hiking, and wearing a weighted vest during runs and other workouts carries over well into regular running. But strength-endurance work (as Matt Wiggins put it):

Strength-Endurance = Heavy Weights + Short Rest + Volume

Most of the CrossFit WOD's that are done for time and involve weight (either bodyweight or external weight) fit this. A good example are workouts like Fran. I think that this is where CrossFit and other hybrid-based fitness programs bread and butter really come from more than anything. On T-Nation, an editor who went to a CrossFit cert makes mention of this:

...If someone trains to get strong in the traditional sense, not only does maximal strength improve, but strength endurance improves as well. If someone just trains for strength endurance, he merely improves his performance at his current level of strength. He can't improve his maximal strength without focusing on it.

As mentioned, CrossFit programming tries to mitigate this effect by scheduling periodic low-rep, max-effort days...

Now the argument of who's fitness program is the best? My answer: If you have to ask this question, you've got too much time to think of questions and you're not spending it on your "game". Bust your ass dude!

Power Cycle

After the second strength strength-endurance period is over, the next move is to the 8-week Power phase. Power workouts are aimed at increasing the rate of force production, the ability to activate the muscle fibers instantly in a coordinated manner. This generates max cardio stress (red-lining) within a short period of time. Workouts like Olympic Lifts, Box Jumps, Interval Runs, and Hill Sprints can also be considered Power workouts since it requires fast and explosive movements. The weeks will basically having a Monday strength day (heavy slow lifting), Wednesdays and Fridays being Power-Focused. The run schedule still being the same.

Power-Endurance Cycle

After the Power period is over, the focus moves to an 8-week Power-Endurance period. Power-Endurance is a mix of both aerobic and anaerobic sources. Everyone might be more familiar with this as Tempo work, Stamina work, or Lactate Threshold work in the running world. Hard and fast endurance efforts that last up to 30 minutes most of the time. The schedule does get a bit more flexible this time. Mondays are still a strength day, Wednesdays and Fridays get the Power-Endurance WODs (running mostly), while the off-days that are running on Tuesdays and Thursdays can be swapped with Power work. Saturdays will always remain a long run day.

Sport-Specific Endurance Cycle

After the Power-Endurance period is finished, we get into the final phase - the Sport-Specific Endurance phase. This lasts for 16 weeks and the main focus is running. After consulting Rob Shaul, he recommended that Mondays is left for "gym work", trying to maintain what was developed from the previous cycles. The rest of the days (Wednesdays and Fridays) would be a mix of Power and Power-Endurance WODs that are running specific or have enough transferability to running. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be easy runs or possibly continuing as they did before using CFE-style runs. Saturdays will still be a long run.


Please keep in mind that this isn't in stone, but just a guideline that I'm following. As things continue, if I feel the need to change things around if something doesn't fit, I'll change it. If I need to scrap something, I'll scrap it (it already happened for one strength day, I chose sleep due to the volunteering at Cascade Crest and being sleep-deprived for nearly 30+ hours after working two aid stations.)

However, I'm 6 weeks into this now and I am starting to feel stronger and more durable. As time continues and as things progress, I feel very confident that this training will work and eventually, I'll be able to be on a more consistent maintenance plan that will allow me to maintain the strength, speed, and endurance that I've gained AND allow me to further refine my abilities as needed when I set newer goals for the next year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hyper-volunteerism @ Cascade Crest

This past weekend was the Cascade Crest 100 race. Although I wasn't a participant in the event as a runner, I did what I seem to do best - help out those that do run.

The jobs - Aid station work @ Mile 23 (Tacoma Pass) and Mile 60.5 (Keechelus Ridge).

I wouldn't be the captain of the aid stations like I was at the 20th Century 100k event back in June, but I was going to bust my ass to make sure every runner was taken care of.

Saturday morning, I had a drowsy & wet start being 4am and driving through a mild downpour on the way to Easton. Thankfully, the rain stopped when getting past the Snoqualmie Valley. The runners and volunteers wouldn't need to breakout the rain gear this time.

I got to Easton around 7am after getting some Starbucks and gas, headed to the firehouse and got some breakfast with the rest of the runners and volunteers that were there. Lots of familiar people. A good who's-who of ultrarunning. Mark Tanaka, Andy Kumeda, Catra Corbitt, Christian Griffith, James Varner, Rod Bien, etc. Some that I've never met in person, some that I've ran with (or rather, got outrun by), but all of them that I consider friends and fellow brothers & sisters in suffering. I kept mental note of who was there since I knew I'd meet them again...and again.

After a few more introductions, I started lugging supplies into cars and trucks for the various aid stations that were starting early, mine being one of them. Before 9am, it was off to the first aid station - Tacoma Pass. I followed our fearless captain, Eric Sach from the Balanced Athlete with his wife Iliana in their car. Eric has been the aid station captain here for about 4 years now and knows the way all too well, driving along the washboard/pothole dirt roads like a rally car driver. My poor minivan was so traumatized!

We eventually got to the aid station location and setup halfway. Afterwards, we went for a nice run along the Pacific Crest Trail, heading southbound. A good ~60 min hike & run for me. I'm looking forward to next year to run the event and actually RUN up some of those hills with a bib number attached to me. Once everyone got back, the crews for the various runners showed up and with the help of some of the kiddies who came along, we got the aid station ready...almost.

One thing we didn't account for was a few runners (i.e. Phil Shaw) coming in faster than expected. We expected runners to appear at 2pm, Phil came in at 1:30pm! Thankfully, we got our act together and worked like a well-oiled machine (even with the wasps that kept attacking our aid station table). When you're at this aid station, you can see who looks good to go another 50 miles and who's going to suffer if they keep going. Good to know for next year. This aid station also goes very fast, since there is still daylight and there's plenty of time to get VERY TIRED later on. When the sweeper finally came in, we all jumped for joy and started the teardown of the aid station. I had the dread of having to drive along those evil roads again.

The things to remember: A tablespoon or two of Yellow Mustard can cure leg cramping/pain. Seemed to work for Randy Gierhke, the co-creator of the original Cascade Crest course. (Randy dropped later on in the race. Guess he should have taken my mustard bottle with him.)

After another traumatic drive along the roads back to the Interstate, we finally got back to the race start/finish and unloaded. It was still daylight and I had time to get to my next aid station, Keechelus Ridge @ Mile 60.5. I had originally downloaded my directions from Google Maps, but it got really confusing when you go down dirt roads with no signs anywhere. After climbing what seemed like Mt Everest in my minivan and getting lost, I eventually found the aid station.

What a site! High up, a 7 mile climb from Hyak. I was crossing my fingers that the clouds would be gone and we'd get a starry sky. Sadly, we didn't get to see the heavens that night. This aid station is where folks can come out looking like rock-stars or they're on their way to a death march.

The hurried pace from Tacoma was non-existent here at Keechelus Ridge. With our aid station captain Adam and fellow workers Cameron & Ondrej, we gave more attention to our runners that came in and I broke out the mini-stove to make up some cheeseburgers for folks (a little experiment to see who'd be up for burgers - seems that the mid to back of the packers ate them up...the elite to front of the pack...not so much).

Towards the end, we were getting VERY TIRED and the last few folks that came in did their best to continue. 4 people dropped at our aid station, two that had their crew come to fetch them. The two that were left, one had enough and was feeling ill (his vomiting when we returned to the start was a giveaway), the other drop...well, a mild injury kept her from going, but her attitude towards myself and the rest of the aid station crew was unnecessary. Keechelus Ridge is a non-crew access aid station for the most part due to the narrow roads. If someone drops, they typically have only two options: Go to the next aid station at Kachess Lake (7 miles away, downhill) OR wait until our aid station was done and we closed shop. The first option can get most folks to the next point within 1-2 hours depending on how fast they are. The second option at the time could take 4-5 hours. Plus, the human body can often times rebound if it keeps going during events like these. However, this particular runner shot all of us a dirty look when we gave her those two options. A look of, "What? You're NOT going to drive me down to the finish right NOW???" Needless to say, we had a very difficult time blowing this attitude off and eventually, the runner decided to wait it out until we closed shop.

Runs like this are hard, emotions are high, this is understood. But when you're out there running, be grateful that there are people there to make sure that you're able to eat, drink, make sure you got a pulse, etc. No one paid us to be there, so if we can only give you so many options - cut us some slack.

Anyway...aside from this one incident, aid station #2 for me went well and I learned how to cope with the lack of sleep again and being on my feet for extended periods of time. Perfect for training with future races and the next Cascade Crest 2010 run.

After a quick teardown of the aid station, I headed back to Easton to unload one final time and get to see some runners finish.

Hanging out with friends, seeing the triumph of the human spirit as various folks finished their 100 mile adventure, embracing life. This is why I'm so hooked on this sport and even though I've done less running in these things, sitting on the sidelines and lending a hand puts me in a special place where I get to see the joy (and the sadness) that comes with this thing we call ultrarunning.

...although, I do miss being the sweaty one crossing the finish line. But all in good time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blowing the dust off

It's been some time since I've updated this.

But life is always moving and always going forward, even if this blog isn't (which is cool.)

Training and races - I decided to scrub the rest of the races in the near future. So no Hundred in the Hood for me, my first 100 mile dreams will have to be on hold until 2010.

However, I am at the beginning of a new training plan that I designed, based mostly on Rob Shaul's Hybrid Program and design at Mountain Athlete. I won't disclose too much now since it's in the early stages and I'm on week 3 at the moment, but here's the skinny:

The program is setup using periodization. Currently, I'm on the beginning part, which is Strength Focused. When this period is over, I'll shift to the next one (to be disclosed later).

The week is setup as:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays - WOD
Tuesdays & Thursdays - Sport-Specific WOD
Saturdays - Long Run
Sundays - Rest

As I said, I'll go into more specifics later on.

Currently, everything is being documented on paper (yeah, the old fashion way). Seems that I respond better if the training log is in my face. I'll eventually copy the information here for sharing purposes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Green River Mara...16 miler.

Yeah, another DNF. This time @ mile 16. I was cruising along around 11 minutes a mile. Some faster, some slower, but generally at 11 minutes. I went by RPE instead of HR and everything seemed to be okay...until I started chaffing. My HRM belt was messing with me. My nipples were not feeling good against my shirt. My shorts decided to mess with me as well. Yeah, too much info, but you get the idea. All was going well until after the half-marathon point, then it went south.

Once I got to mile 16, I decided to bail simply because the fun run wasn't fun anymore and I didn't need to cause a monsterous chaffing incident with myself. I still have scarring on my chest that looks like that damn Suunto ANT+ belt.

So from now until I completely heal up or if I get the newer Comfort Belt, no more HR Training for me. Just as well, I want to go by feel anyway.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My So-Called Training Life

Since my office move further north, it's been a struggle when it comes to finding a groove for training. The longer commute times (from 23 to 45 miles one-way) have gobbled into my free time, so I've had to consistantly re-evaluate my training over and over. Also, not having access to things that I did from my previous office location (namely, an on-site gym) has also made things more challenging.

However, I do believe I found a decent groove to work from and I've been trying to make a go of it for the last month. This past week, it is improving.

Basically, it's going like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Sandbag Strength Training during lunch, 6 mile run in the evening w/4 miles at tempo pace or entire run as a fartlek.
Wednesday; Metabolic Conditioning workout during lunch (although I've missed a few of these sessions since I started), easy 3-6 miler in the evening.
Thursday: Sandbag Strength Training during lunch, Interval runs based off of time @ sprint pace or tempo pace.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Medium Run (unless its an event)
Sunday: Long Run or event

Funny thing is, I've done the sandbag training almost consistantly for the past month (thank you Josh Henkin @ Sandbag Fitness Systems for the Sandbag Fundamentals program!), the running...not nearly as much as I want. Mileage since my utter FAIL at Mt Si this year has only been: 4 mi for one week, 19 for another, 5 for the next, and 17 for the past week. It's going to be tough to build up to having a solid 40-50 mile week by the time the Oregon 100 comes.

However, I am hoping that I've been developing plenty of running karma due to my volunteering at races. This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of being the trail director for the Redmond Watershed 12-hour ultra. This kept me in the middle of the action the whole time. After 10 hours of being there, I then swept the big loop of the course and ran an overall 6 miles for that day on rolling trails. It was a good day for sure, better than last year's heatwave. I have a few more races that I'm volunteering for during the rest of the year, like the 20th Century 100k. Hope to build that trail running karma to where my races won't punish me severely!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Agony of My Feet: 2009 Mt Si Ultra Race Report

The score: Me - 1, Mt Si - 2.

So far, a best out of three fight - I've lost this one. However, as long as the race still is being held, I will continue to return and not only even up the score, but make my victory table very lopsided.

I went into this run with less training miles than my previous year and the previous one before that. However, I had more gumption (or so I thought). My only goals this race were:

1.) Finish.
2.) Finish in the cutoff.

Fail on both counts. However, I didn't quite fail on the lack of training (even though my miles were absolute crap.)

An early morning drive with the family to the race start, I had prepared for the strong chance that I was going to be aid-less from the Cedar River turnaround (mile 34.5) to the finish. In my second drop bag, I had packed my hydration pack and a large thermos of flattened Pepsi. I was going really old school, all the way to the Karo Light Syrup I had in a gel flask to consume for some of the run.

The "gun" went off just after 5:15am and I went at a VERY conservative pace (15-16 minute miles). I eventually felt my body warm up well and began to run 12 minute miles instead once I got on the Sno-Valley Trail. I ran a bit with Francisco, a first time 50 mile runner. I told him what to expect from Rattlesnake to Cedar River and back, giving him some tips from my training runs there and previous experiences. (Francisco finished in just over the cutoff, but a 50 mile finisher all the same.)

As I continued on the trail, I saw that I was making decent time. Just enough to make the cutoffs. When I got back from the first turnaround (9.9 miles) and to the dropbag point at mile 14, I started to feel some hotspots on my feet - my left more than my right. I took off my left sock and slatered some vaseline on the area and continued. I should have kept that damn baggie of vaseline with the popsicle stick on the course, cause I was going to regret it later.

When I got back onto the road (it always seems longer when you head back), I proceeded to cruise easy on the asphalt. My road shoes were doing what they do best, run on roads. Nice downhills and flats to really get your flow going.

When I reached the 20.4 mile aid station, those hotspots started to feel HOTTER. I should have asked for Vaseline or something at this point, but I was...stupid. I pressed on and things started to go further south for me.

I ended up doing more walking than running as I was trying to reach the self-service aid station @ 24.3 miles. My legs were sore, calves and hamstrings were nagging the hell out of me, but the hot spots were now big blisters and I had one on each foot. I began the hike up to the second drop bag at mile 28.9. This was the place where I eventually dropped last year. I was dead set on not doing that this year and finishing. Well, I did half of that anyway.

The hike/walk with mild running combo got me to my dropbag with a good 12 minutes to spare. However, my time got gobbled up quickly after asking for duct tape and proceeding to tape up my damaged feet. I should have read up more on my Fixing Your Feet book by John Vonhof. You should only tape up after draining those blister bastards.

I strapped on my hydration pack and filled my bottles with pepsi with the help of an aid station volunteer, then setoff to Cedar Falls. As I went past the crowd, I felt some confidence and started to run. The tape didn't feel too bad...until the blisters exploded underneath. It turned into the horrific pain that I had last dealt with at Dizzy Daze a month ago. But unlike Dizzy Daze, I had more distance to go for Mt Si and both feet were suffering.

I was at a slow shuffle, seeing everyone else passing me (although I did appreciate all their encouragement) and then coming back the other way. I eventually made it to Cedar Falls, over 25 minutes from the time I was shooting for. The aid station folks were still waiting for me and gave me a ride back to the start. I was so grateful for them being there, race course volunteers are very critical to making these events work and work well. All runners should always give thanks and also volunteer as well, giving back to the community that supports their habit.

In the end, I covered 34.5 miles and took a very LONG 8 hours and 50 minutes doing it before I surrendered to my blisters. Further than last year, but still no cigar.

Post-race: I had to take two days off from work due to the inability to walk (blisters had wrecked some of the tendons in my foot, causing severe inflammation), my nervous system was fried, and my endocrine system was heavily taxed. I do know that I can build upon this failure of a race and make the rest of my running calendar for the year before the Oregon 100 a better one for sure.

Things learned:

- Acetaminophen, Caffeine, & Codeine pills from Canada make for a very fast and effective pain reliever on the course (better than NSAIDS since it doesn't inhibit the muscle's ability to repair itself). In the USA, it's known as Tylenol 1 w/Codeine, however this version has caffeine since it's from Canada. It's composed of 300 mg of Acetaminophen, 15 mg of Caffeine, and 8 mg of Codeine Phosphate (a very low dosage). Taking two of those took effect in under 15 minutes and if it wasn't for those blisters generating new bits of pain every time I took a step, I believe I could have gone on.
- Brooks socks (the Burn model - yeah, "Burn") are good for anything below 13.1 miles. Anything past that for me, I have to expect problems.
- I need to boost up my base, which means that I need to run longer on the weekends. A 2-hour run might be good for maintenance, but I should learn to stay on my feet for 4-6 hours at a minimum. As Mark Twight from Gym Jones said, There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If I want to run long, I have to train to run long. There are no shortcuts.

Well, that's the story and I'm sticking to it.

Run happy & safe everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Tweak-Tweak here, a Tweak-Tweak there...

I'm still alive. Very busy, but still training. Starting to find my groove.

Basically, due to job office relocation (same company, longer commute), my training time has been gobbled up by the commute. So I'm left with doing short runs during the week (so no midweek long runs). But that's okay. I found that my body can't really tolerate that right now anyway. So it's going to be workouts during lunch (sandbag training for strength, some rope work, and some runs - hopefully it won't rain out there too often since I won't have any indoor facility to do those things), short runs immediately when I get home of 30-60 minutes, a long run on Sundays, and maybe a middle distance or short run on Saturdays.

I've also recalibrated my HR zones, going off of the Karvonen method for HR calculation (the Suunto T-Series HRM's seem to use that) and getting my resting HR from my morning averages (64 bpm) and my MaxHR from the Dizzy Daze run at the end (191 bpm), I end up with a completely different set of zones from when I did my metabolic test. I believe that my aerobic capacity has improved since then and my training runs seem to prove this as well based on the Training Effect that is being generated and my ground speed improving overall. I'll get into this later on.

Main focus: Dial into the Zones more and treat next week's 50 miler (Mt Si) as a practice in walk/run combos, hydration/fueling, pushing after mile 29 before Rattlesnake Lake, and then throwing the hammer down for the remaining 15 miles on the downhill to finish (hopefully within the cutoff).

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Dizzy Data

The data from Dizzy Daze is an interesting one.

After the hard run with Thomas in the 3rd loop, I walked pretty much everything at the end. My walking speed at 13-14 minutes a mile had my HR anywhere from 141 bpm to 150 bpm. If I pushed my walking pace, it went close to 160 bpm. But check out my EPOC/TE numbers, they're LOW. I'm hitting the high 1's to low 2's for Training Effect if this was segmented in separate runs for each loop.

In theory, I could start LOW for the 30-60 minutes of a run and progressively increase my HR (and therefore increase speed). This would generate a higher training effect, but only do it just a little bit. If I plan this right, I could start the first half of a race at a low EPOC/TE and gradually go to a higher EPOC/TE in the second half of a race. Negative split anyone? :-)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earning the shirt: Dizzy Daze Race Report

The short: Flat course of 3.2 mile loops around Greenlake. Wet, cold, muddy, blistered. Chose the Marathon distance, finished in 6:55:37.

The long: Originally, I was registered for the 50k. The race only had two options: 50k and 100k. However, a few days before the event, the RD (and fellow Marathon Maniac, Jonathan Bernard) had opened up a newer option - a marathon distance. This was a good thing for me. I could still participate, but not go nearly as long. It's nice when you have a bailout option in a race. If you're not feeling so good, you can opt to stop, but not be considered a DNF if you reach a certain designated spot to drop. If I was feeling good, I would continue to the 50k. If I was falling apart, I would do my best to hold it together until the marathon point.

My original plan was this for the run:

1.) Keep my HR within my aerobic range (around 138 bpm)
2.) Shoot for a finish no later than 8-9 hours depending on whether I choose to do the 50k or marathon option

The night before, I got two whole wheat Peanut Butter & Strawberry sandwiches cut and bagged up, my Nathan's hydration pack filled with 2 liters of water (opted not to run with hand-held bottles this time), two packs of Espresso Love GU, a pack of S!Caps for electrolytes, a pack of TUMS Smoothies, some basic pain-killers, my clothes, and my Suunto HRM ready to go for the next day.

I woke up around 4-ish in the morning and realized I wasn't going to make it to the 5am early-start after getting dressed and breakfast, but I could make it to the 6am start. I popped my vitamins and drank some Super Orange Emergen-C, drank some chocolate milk and headed out the door after getting changed into my gear. As I was on the road, I started having GI issues. Seems the vitamin C boost mixed with the chocolate milk in a bad way and I was suffering for it. I had to make a pitstop at my office on the way to the race course. Lesson learned.

I got to the race start, but since it was so rainy and dark around there - I had no clue where anything was. Thankfully, someone else showed up and told me where the start would be once the official start time happened. So, I started running at 6am exactly and ran into the darkness. As I was going, I found that I was running in the wrong direction. My friends who started earlier were coming in from the other direction! Oops! But I had already started and since it was a loop, there was no point in turning back around since it would be the same distance in either direction. There was a double-blessing in disguise going this way. Seems my GI issue from earlier wanted to come back to attack me once more. I saw a 7-Eleven in the distance (about a quarter-mile away) and I headed there to beg the clerk to let me use their bathroom. Thankfully, he showed mercy and that was the last GI issue I had.

I got back onto the course and continued with the mantra of Forward Relentless Motion. Heart Rate was doing great and I eventually finished the first loop in under an hour with the pitstop time at the 7-Eleven. I re-checked in with the RD and proceeded to run in the correct direction (counterclockwise). It was much easier this way since I was running against traffic and wouldn't get so spooked by cars.

Finished up my second loop and was on for my third. I was starting to struggle to keep my HR low, but staying on top of things. Then one of my Maniac buddies (Thomas Tan) had caught me in the middle of my loop. He had early started at 5am and was on his 6th loop. He was also getting really tired and achy (IT Band issues). I was totally cool with him running with me, but I warned him that I was going slow due to HR training. Seems that my body and spirit decided to break all the rules after that. I stopped focusing so much on my HR and proceeded to run more. I began to push the pace with Thomas coming for the ride. What was a shuffle at 13 minutes/mile became 8:30-9:00/mile and no stopping until we reached the end of the loop. I messed up my original plans, but I didn't care. I felt awesome moving that fast. It was very liberating. Thomas only had two loops left to do and was going to only go to the marathon point. With how soaked I was with finishing three loops, the marathon option would be my choice as well.

With 5 loops to go, I started to walk it all. Now when I walk, I walk with purpose. My stride and leg turnover is pretty decent (12-13 minutes per mile has been my best speed for fastwalking, I usually can hold a 14-15 minute per mile pace better). I found that I was able to complete each loop in about 47-50 minutes every time. This was a positive sign that I could complete the race in well under my 8-9 hour planned time. At this point, it was a mental game when it came to the loops. I got through the 4th and 5th loops easily. I even did a quick errand and got my friend's tiresled harness out of her car (yeah, I said tiresled - I need it for my training for the Oregon 100! Gotta develop that core strength!)

In the middle of the 6th loop, I started to feel alot of discomfort in my left shoe. The pain was relatively familiar. A rock? Gravel? After another series of muddy puddles and getting filthy, I sat down at the aid station to check my foot out. My shoe was empty. Small grains of sand, but nothing that would make me feel like this. I wiped out what I could and then continued on my 7th loop. The pain didn't go away though. I stopped again on a bench in the park and decided to take off my sock. That's where I freaked out. Somehow, all of those puddles of dirt had sand as well. The dirtsand-water got into the shoe and into the sock. I wiped a rather LARGE, putty-textured glob of sand off of my left foot and saw the blister underneath. The clump of sand rubbed so much and grew so large, it might as well been a rock. I wrung out the sock to see more dirty water, put it back on, and proceeded to finish up the run. I thought, "Okay, we're fine now. Can't get any worse." Wrong.

Ann Treason said one time about ultrarunning, "It hurts to a point, then it doesn't get any worse." Ann was wrong or I wasn't at "the point". A large bolt of pain shot through my left foot and I winced hard. That pain was extremely familiar and something I hadn't experienced in a very LONG TIME. The blister popped open and I had to finish up the current loop, one more, and a .6 mile out-n-back. This was the point where I knew I had to suck it up hard. I played alot of mental games with myself to focus on other things. I kept reminding myself that I'm almost done and just had one more loop left.

I hit the aid station and decided that I'd do my best to run some of the last loop. Run to the tree and walk. Run to the traffic light and walk. Run to another landmark and walk. Going around a loop over and over, you get familiar with how far things are due to passing by them so often. I finally hit the aid station to finish the last loop and it was time for the final out-n-back. For that, I shut everything off in my head and ran for it. I knew I could hold it together to do this. There was no dropping, especially now.

I came screaming into the finish in 6:55:37, a sub-7 hour marathon. The longest marathon I've ever done, but the only marathon where I've ever walked the most.

I hung around to recover, chatted with my fellow Marathon Maniac friends who were still running the longer distances (much respect to my brothers and sisters in suffering!), and was so happy to be involved in this. This was the kick in the ass that I needed. Despite all the training and all the focus on numbers, I needed this. The distance. The pain. The accomplishment.

My first race for 2009. I can say that I've earned my t-shirt and definately earned my self-respect to start wearing my Marathon Maniacs singlet again.

So, now I'm at work, feeling mild soreness and twinges. Have a Johnson & Johnson Advanced Healing Compeed pad on the blister I had to cut open (it got really dirty inside after it popped). But ya know what? I'm feeling fan-freakin'-tasic right now and I'm looking forward to the next event and my continued training.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dizzy Thoughts

I had a pretty decent run yesterday and thanks to my buddy Rob T. and letting me borrow his old ANT belt, I had better readings using my Suunto t6. The old belt I had I found had cracks in it, which would explain the erratic readings from before. I still need to work more on keeping my HR in check, but I was able to stay in my low-intensity aerobic zone (below 138 bpm) for 40+ minutes out of a solid 47 minutes. Most of the increases in HR were around 1-3 beats above 138 bpm, which is a good thing...but it could be better. So in 3.2 miles, I'm able to run about 47 minutes. Based on this, I can potentially finish tomorrow's Dizzy Daze run in about 7.5 hours if I run/walk the 50k distance and keep my HR completely within my fat-burning zone. However, I could also do everything in 6.5+ hours if I opt to stop at the marathon point. I guess I'll just have to see how much I'm up for it. I really only need to do enough to get my endocrine system to respond appropriately in time for the Mt Si Ultra (doing the 50 miler again).

Then again, I could just run the first 6-7 loops in my low intensity and then run the last 2 loops at a harder pace to finish sooner and see how the EPOC looks afterwards. I'm sure I'll figure it out by tomorrow morning.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Transmitter Death

I think my Suunto's transmitter belt is on its final beat (no pun intended). My last few runs have been just all over the place and despite understanding things like RF interference and cardiac creep (so not to be a slave to your monitor), it is seriously f&*king up like no one's business (drops from a steady 160 bpm to a steady 80 bpm while I'm running a fast pace isn't supposed to happen). However, since the previous owner had put a lot of miles on it (pun intended and a large dose of reality tossed in), I had to figure that this could happen. Just like buying a used car, you can't expect it to be exactly new. But unlike a used car, you can't exactly fix the thing yourself...even if you do have a soldering iron and experience with circuitry.

So what am I going to do? Well, I'll do my best to fumble through my training (as piss poor it's turning out to be) and I'll have to get a replacement strap. Good thing is that I can get a new Suunto Comfort Belt like what the newer T-series Suunto's carry and from what I've seen - the newer belts that all of the HRM manufacturers are coming out with that are similar in design (like the Polar WearLink Belt) and the belts are able to stay on better while transmitting at a higher efficiency. Thanks to my friend from up North who sent me a gift certificate to purchase one at a lower cost through Amazon. However, due to financial difficulties, I'll have to hold off on getting it till late April. It's going to make the next six weeks a bigger chore in training now, but c'est la vie.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Drain - Oregon 100 Training, Week 2

The only thing to sum up this week is...tired. I missed two runs as a result of needing more rest than I was scheduled for.

Tuesday's 4 mile tempo and Sunday's 8 mile second long run were scraped, leaving me with a 30 mile week this week.

Wednesday - 8 miles, weather was decent.

Thursday - 6 miles with the dog again. Seems she has way more energy than I do.

Saturday - 16 miles of trail and roads. I took a serious beating due to a combo of the weather and the conditions of the trail (slush, ice, and snow - lots of slipping).

I need to do my best to be more on-top of things with my training and get every run in and making it count.