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.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hitting the reset button - Oregon 100 Training, Week 1

Well, I can't say this is a genuine reset, but definately a rebuild. My main focus is on the Oregon 100 (aka Hundred in the Hood) as my A-priority race in late September. At the moment, I'm rebuilding my base after a bout of being ill with some kind of flu bug that really messed me up. I'm still HR training, but found some defects that I think I've remedied, so hopefully things will get even better as the weeks progress. Anyway, here's the first week of training I've done...

March 3rd - 2 Miles on the treadmill, first mile as a warm-up. You can tell I was trying to get back into the swing of things and not very well.

March 4th - 4 Miles easy, outdoor run. This was the start of when I figured that something was up with my Suunto T6. Rainy day run, but I felt really good.

March 5th - Ran 6+ miles with the group. Had about a 20 minute head start to finish with them in the end. I thought I was doing okay until after I got the HR data. More indication that something was up.

March 7th - First long run day. 14 miles of hell. My body was cooperating at first, but the HRM wasn't after about 6 miles in, giving seriously erratic readings. I eventually went old school, running about every quarter-mile and checking my pulse on my neck to stay within my HR zone. This was also the longest run I had done in a VERY long time. I realized that you need to run long frequently to be able to maintain your form and endurance level. This includes teaching your muscles to retain glycogen more efficiently while burning fat and teaching your endocrine system to not rebel against your own body.

The 7th was also the day where I had to effectively "break" my Suunto T6 in order to get the battery out of the back. Whomever designed this thing was on crack. I used a Dremel to wear down the plastic slot and fashioned a hole that would fit a regular flathead screwdriver and was able to open it easily without breaking the rubber O-ring seal. After replacing the battery, I filled the newly created screwdriver hole and slot area with glue from my glue gun and smoothed out the area. It is still retaining its water-proof design and now I can replace the batteries quickly without any headaches.

March 8th - My legs and body were really tired from the previous day, but I knew I had to do something to get those 8 miles in. Time on your feet is extremely important, so I opted to take the dog out for an 8 mile walk. This was the only time where my HR stayed in the fat-burning aerobic zone this week. But I'm glad I did that purposeful walking. My HRM didn't go crazy and I was very efficient in my walking, even with the dog. This is a good thing during the 100 miler since EVERYONE WALKS, but those that walk with purpose versus just doing the death march have a better chance of finishing.

Total miles this week (including the miles from the calibration of my device on Monday at the track): ~36 miles! (Right now, I'm REALLY enjoying my rest day today!)

Next week's projected mileage: ~42 miles. The weekend back-to-back long runs are going to be on the Mt Si Ultra course from Tanner Rd to Rattlesnake Lake and Cedar Falls (16 miles on Saturday) and then from Rattlesnake Lake to Cedar Falls (8 miles on Sunday). These two runs will essentially replicate the "hardest" parts of the Mt Si Ultra course. The last time I trained on the course like this a year ago, I had stopped at Rattlesnake Lake. This was a bad move since I could have sucked it up and kept going instead of dropping out @ Rattlesnake since I had it in my head that the final 4-5 miles to the turnaround aid-station was too far for me to do. Doing these two runs should psych me up a bit more. Familiarity can make things easier on the mind and in these events, it is more mind over body.