Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mt Olympus run report, Last 2 weeks of training, also, now being coached by Karl Meltzer, also, ran another 10k

Last 2 weeks have been pretty light as I expected.

The Mount Olympus run to the summit a a week and a half ago was significantly harder than I thought I would be (the last 1.25 miles apparently has an incredible 2300' of pure gain) so I just did the one climb on Sunday. The whole thing was about a 7 mile round trip, but since it was on such horribly steep and technical hills, running nearly the entire thing still gave me about a 20:00/mile climb for the 3.5 miles up. I did the easiest portion (first 2 miles, with only 1500' of gain or so) in under 30:00, though when I say easiest, that means that a 14:xx/mile pace put my heart rate at a 180 average. After 2.25 or so, the trail quickly steepened and I had to take my first walking break after 2.3 or 2.4 miles and 1800' of climbing when I came to a slippery rock slide at about a 40% grade, that when run on, would cause me to slip and slide backwards. After I walked that, I got to some more runnable portions, but soon ended up in a huge boulder section where each step would require a several foot climb, so I had to hike my way through that part as well, which lasted a surprisingly long time and dropped my pace to something ridiculous like 50:00/mile for a little bit. After I finally finished with that section, I got to run some more on a horribly steep and technical portion on which my pace was like 25:00/mile while RUNNING (partly due to the intense difficulty, partly due to my fatigue from not knowing how bad the last bit was and going out too hard). Basically, it took everything I had to even run to the saddle at that point, at which point I got to run a little more and then scramble until I got to about 100 or 200' from the top, at which point, I decided to skip the last super steep scrambling section (it looked really dangerous) and turn around. I took the downhill really easy to recover and still had to walk through the boulder sections and rockslide, which were apparently totally unrunnable in either direction. All in all, this was a great run and I'm going to have to do it again and try to go for a faster time by not starting out so fast.

Other than that run, I've had about 45-50 mountain miles/week (according to a new system I've developed in conjunction with the Daniels Method of logging mileage via a point system, this would correlate to roughly a similar effort of 70-80 miles/week on flat at sea level) over the last 2 weeks, so while it sounds low, it's actually not bad training.

Most importantly in this post, I'm now being coached by fellow Salt Lake City runner Karl Meltzer. Karl holds the world records for both most 100 mile wins in one year (6, back in 2006 or 2007) and most 100 mile wins in general (26). He has also set course records at races such as Hardrock 100, San Diego 100, Wasatch Front 100. Karl is most distinctive on incredibly difficult courses and has 6 wins at Wasatch Front and 4 at Hardrock, probably the 2 hardest 100s in the continental US and on top of that, he knows what it takes to maintain good footspeed while training for long runs (he was dropping 10ks minutes faster than me at my current age), so while he only really does 100 milers seriously right now, I feel that Karl will still help me to develop the whole package with my running.

I went running with Karl for the first time today and we did a nice 12.3 mile jaunt through a moderate-difficulty - but very high elevation trail - going from 7600' at Mill Creek all the way up to the peak of the Canyons ski resort at 9700' with some downhills along the climb to be made up for and then a nice gradual descent back to 7600' (haven't looked at my GPS statistics yet, but it was easily over 3000' of gain). Most of my runs tend to peak around 7000' and I've only been above 7200' a couple of times this summer, my max being almost 9000' at Olympus, so when I started to get above 9000' or so, breathing became extremely difficult and the effort level felt incredibly strenuous even on a flat, so I was pretty glad to finally hit the peak after 70+ minutes and 6.2 miles of pretty high intensity. We ended up doing the 12.3 in 1:58, which correlates to 9:35s, which probably sounds ridiculously slow for all you road guys, but I actually considered this to be an extremely good trainer for the upcoming St George Marathon in October. Effort level wise, I felt like I did the 2 hours at an average intensity not too far off from how I race in a marathon (though the marathon is typically run at one pretty constant intensity and this was basically all over the place). Since we were done after 2 hours, I was just slightly sore after we finished but am better already now, later in the day, so this run won't affect my ability to perform this weekend at Cascade Crest. Oh, and, Karl said he probably would typically do this run in 2:05 or 2:10, so I guess having a young gun there breathing down his neck the whole way made him have to push a little harder. :)

One other quick thing... I raced some small little 10k on Saturday. I got a free entry and the prize was $100, so I had no reason not to do it. Unfortunately, a few other fast guys wanted the money so I ended up getting 2nd. The course was really tough (out and back with a 2% grade average uphill first half that was fairly rolling and just not fast at all). My first half was an unbelievably slow 19:00 or so and my second half was a fairly lazy 17:50. I led for the first mile (which according to the course markers I ran in 5:19), but according to my watch, I was only at .9 and by the mile 2 mark, the course was back to 1.99, so they obviously just put it in the wrong place. The guy who eventually won passed me with a lot of gusto after a mile and just opened up a lead from there. I don't know why he started so slowly, but I remember looking back around a half mile and not seeing anyone within 150 or 200 feet. Apparently, something clicked though, and he just sped up a lot and had about 45 seconds on me by the half. Since it was an out and back, we passed each other and he looked really smooth and I knew he wasn't catchable, so I just got somewhat lazy in the 2nd half and didn't run as fast as would've been possible. In all, since I made sure not to go out super hard and die in the 2nd half, my heart rate just averaged 182. My tempo workouts are run at somewhere around 178 or 179 if I'm really running it perfectly, so it was basically just an ever-so-slightly harder than normal tempo run as far as my body was concerned, which is definitely good to have done. Anyway, I finished a minute or so back in 2nd in 36:50 with a pretty big margin over 3rd (like 2 minutes I think) and got nothing but a medal that says "2nd place" and doesn't even list the race or anything. haha...

I'm taking the last 2 days before Cascade Crest completely off, despite already feeling well rested. There's not really anything I would be able to do at this point that would help my race on Saturday. The work is already done and I think I'm ready to run a good race. My body is pretty healthy, I've strongly improved my hill running abilities, I'm well-acclimated at elevations exceeding the highest point of the course, and my nutritional strategies and general racing tactics have significantly improved since my last 100. My last 2 50s have been much more consistent throughout the race than my last 50 prior to my last 100 and I also got to run a not insignificant 62 miles as a pacer at Badwater, so I think I'm pretty well prepped. While my overall mileage leading up isn't as high as it has been in the past, I've been running for a longer amount of time on a daily basis at a similar or higher effort to what I'd have been running at on roads and "trails" (if I can even call them that anymore after experiencing a summer of running in Salt Lake City), in Baltimore, so in reality, I've done the equivalent of higher mileage training than what I've done in the past. Since Cascade Crest is such a difficult race (course record is about 20 hours), my #1 goal is just going to be to finish without hurting myself, though I think with my strong performance at the very tough Mt Disappointment 50, despite going in with a painful sprained ankle, and my solid training in general, I think sub-24 is doable and I have this idea of beating my 100 mile PR (despite the course being MANY hours slower from either of my other 100s) in the back of my mind. Who knows... Breaking my PR would require a nearly perfect race, so we'll see if I can manage to put the pieces together with effort levels/pacing and nutrition this time. I think I can.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2 1/2 weeks until Cascade Crest Classic 100

I haven't really thought much about this race yet since Mt Dis was 3 weeks before it. I originally signed up for Mt Dis intending for it to be a warmup for CCC, but I've realized that 50 is a pretty optimal distance for me, so I didn't quite put in the same training I'd normally do for a 100 and focused on being fast for a hard trail 50. That being said, I think I avoided becoming overtrained this time, so I'm probably going to be in far better shape to run a fast trail 100 miler than I was in my previous 3 100s. So yeah, I'm intending to keep it that way and not get over-trained in the last couple weeks.

I'm planning on a big day on Sunday, probably summitting both Mt Olympus, which boasts a super steep 4000' climb up to 9026', and Mt Nebo, the highest peak in the range, at 11928' with a 3800' climb. The 2 mountains are fairly separated, so I'll run one, drive to the other, and then run that one. Like my other really long climb runs, the goal will just be to run the whole thing without stopping regardless of pace. Oh, and since I've found that hitting the 185-190 heart rate range climbing up a mountain is rather painful, I'll try to keep my heart rate from hitting higher than 185 :).

I'm also finally getting my trailwork done on Saturday by helping out with the Wasatch Front 100 trails for 8 hours... That ought to be a long day. haha...

After this weekend, I'll probably use a strategy similar to what I did before Mt Dis: lots of super hilly runs that tax me but aren't longer than 10 miles and then a good taper for a week or so with almost no running.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mt Dis >> 8700' of gain

My Garmin says it's 14395' and my Garmin has seemed very accurate for my trail training here in SLC, when comparing to gains that I know exact measurements for. I was obviously pretty skeptical and figured that the trees threw it off, but I zoomed in really close and only found a handful of unrealistic looking little jagged spots in the profile, which I would expect a whole bunch of if it was inaccurate. I'm sure 14395' is still an overestimate, but everyone seems to assume it's at least 10k' and I'm willing to bet it's somewhere between the 2, probably around 12000'. The problem with their profile online is that it's way too broad. They basically just calculated the elevation at a handful of points that are pretty far apart and took the net between each point, which doesn't account for the rolling nature of the course all, so it's got to be off by a couple thousand feet. That's my 2 cents at least...

Note: Click on the images to see the entire things... For some reason they're getting chopped off on this page.

Their profile (not very accurate looking, says 8700 feet):

My profile (more realistic looking, says 14395'):
Note that mine shows up at about 47 miles. I forgot to restart it a couple times when going out of aid stations (I kept total time on a watch on my right arm and time running on my Garmin so I could see how long I was stopped for, but forgot to start for up to .75 miles a coupel of times, for a total of 1.5 to 2 miles missed). Also note that the one thing I've found inaccurate with my Garmin is that it sometimes straightens out what I've done on a very curvy course such as this one, so the distance is very often estimated a little short, which should make up for the other 1 to 1.5 miles.

Also note that miles 2-5 were modified a little bit this year, explaining the discrepency between them on the profiles.

Race Report: Mt Disappointment Endurance Races: Hal Winton 50 Mile/USA Track & Field So Cal 50 Mile Trail Championship

A few days ago I ran the Mt Disappointment 50 mile trail run, which doubled as the USA Track and Field Southern California Association 50 Mile Trail Championship. Coming into this, I had read on a number of other blogs and heard from a number of people that Mt Dis was just about the most miserable 50 miler imaginable since it's a race that has the tendency to get very hot, runs through some very steep terrain through the San Gabriel Mountains, and has a lot of extremely technical footing. I had also heard that the name is very fitting: a lot of people go into this race seeing the slow times and read the course description on the course website (which makes it sound a bit more tame than it actually is) and think they should be able to go in and beat almost everyone and are extremely disappointed when they run 12 hours instead of the 9 they hoped for. Fortunately, I was happy with my results and it was only a very very slight disappointment for me since I finished in 9:03:33, 3 minutes and 33 seconds off of my goal of 9 hours.

Going into the race, I was incredibly anxious. I had pretty solid training, having run quite a bit in the Wasatch Mountains, heat-trained in a sauna for a bit of time, and done some serious track workouts and tempo runs, which have certainly boosted my lactate threshold and pain tolerance. Unfortunately, 9 days before the race, I sprained my ankle fairly painfully while doing one of my last couple serious mountain runs in Utah. For some reason, it couldn't seem to get better and it actually hurt quite a bit the day before the race, so I was really nervous about running at all. I took the entire week off leading up to the race except for a single 1 mile barefoot jog on Monday (which was supposed to loosen it up, but actually made it a fair amount worse). I was hoping that I'd wake up on race morning and feel fine, but when I woke up, walking hurt. Going into the run, I thought I was screwed and was thinking about DNF before the race even started.

As the race started, I started off down the road at a quick pace, a fair amount of soreness radiating through my left ankle and through my shin and foot. The first 6 miles or so were on a road, while the last 45 were on a trail, so I just hoped that the softness of the trail would make me feel better when I got there. Since the race started and finished at the top of Mt Wilson, the first 9 miles or so were entirely downhill with a several thousand foot drop. I was using my Garmin Forerunner 305 with heart rate, so I just focused on keeping my HR around 160 at the start. With a good downhill, despite the relatively high elevation (5650'), this meant sub 7:00 miles for the road section. I knew this was ok since my heart rate was sticking around 160, but it still kind of scared me to go out that fast in a 50 mile race. Fortunately, a lot of other people were running at a similar pace at the start (I did 5 miles in 33:45 and there were probably 20 people in front of me).

Once we hit the trail after the first aid station, which I didn't stop at for more time than it took for them to write down my number, my ankle felt better - for about a half a mile. 6 miles in and BAM. My ankle was weak and the downhill was steep, turny, and technical and all of a sudden, I sprained it again. I screamed loudly, hobbled in pain for 30 seconds, and, all of a sudden, just got super pissed about the whole situation and basically said to myself, "I don't care how bad my ankle hurts, I'm not letting this screw with the one super difficult hot trail race I have this summer to put on my Badwater app for next year", so I just mentally decided to ignore it. Of course it still hurt and I was absolutely unable to attack the technical downhills, which provided lots of room for people to fly by me, but sometime between mile 6 and 15, I literally succeeded in blocking out the pain and it didn't really bother me much the rest of the race (other than the fact that I was intentionally extremely timid on the technical downhills to avoid hurting myself yet again, which probably cost me 20 minutes throughout the entire race, but saved me a lot of pain and a potential DNF).

About 10 miles in, we cut back off the trail and started climbing up a dirt road. We ascended somewhere around 200 feet before arriving at an aid station. I had made up my mind pre race that I was going to waste absolutely as little time as possible at aid stations, so I blew by it, taking just enough time to grab my "heat hat" ( ), get rid of my single, which was already starting to get hot, and grab a very quick bite of food. Leaving the aid station, we hopped back on a fairly non-technical and wide - but steep - trail that ascended a net total of 1600 or 1700 feet before arriving at the next aid station a few miles ahead. This first serious climb wasn't so bad and I was able to re-pass most of the people that passed me while I was timidly descending the technical downhill on my bad ankle. Arriving at the top, at mile 13, I spent no more than 30 seconds at the aid station and blew through as fast as I could.

We had a quick descent at this point before ascending again, running about a mile of flat trail (the only flat section in the whole race), and then descending a short bit. After this descent, we started a serious climb around mile 18. Climbing a net gain of 1200 feet (though it was rolling, so there were some downhills that also had to be made up for) from 18 until 20 in somewhere around 100 degrees was enough to start a headache for me and after descending into the Red Box Aid Station at 21 miles, I didn't feel super great. Fortunately, I put some chocolate milk in a cooler that made up my drop bag at Red Box, so I drank it and wasted about 5 minutes sitting there letting it settle. The protein and milk fat were absolutely great and helped me feel full and satiated, but my headache was still there. I had forgotten to pack a couple advil just in case this happened and the aid station volunteers were not allowed to give out any sort of medications, but some random woman who was standing around waiting for a runner to come through heard me asking for advil and gave me 2. I ended up wasting another 5 minutes in the bathroom, so I lost a total of 10 minutes or so in Red Box before I finally got back out. Unfortunately, I had eaten a bit too much in this station, so I had to go slowly for a little bit to keep the food from coming back up (heat + full stomach + running = vomiting... haha...). The advil took a few miles to kick in, so I ran incredibly slowly and lost probably 10 minutes off the pace I should've been running on the steep downhill between 21 and 25.

Around 25 miles, my headache started to clear and a few local California runners in the 50 miler (Rob McNair, a 2:37 marathoner, and a friend of his, whose name I forget) caught up with me, burning their way through the downhill, so I struck up a conversation with them and ran with them until the aid station at 26.2, exactly a marathon in. We split the marathon in 4:05, if I recall correctly. Overall, we had gone downhill to this point, but there had been plenty of significant uphills and some serious and technical terrain, so I felt that the split was pretty solid. Rob kept telling me "Stop caring about your time, you should just be happy to finish a race like this," but by 26.2, I was starting to feel pretty good again, so I kind of ignored what he was saying and just kept shrugging off how hard the finish was going to be. I continued with Rob for another 10 minutes (his friend didn't stop at the aid station and we had taken about 2 minutes to eat) and decided to take off ahead of him since he wanted to walk a fair amount on the uphill from 26.2 to 30. I put in a nice jog-like pace up the 1000 foot climb and kept my heart rate around 172-175 the whole way up, right in the lower end of what's considered my "threshold zone". At one point, I couldn't keep my heart rate below 175 and knew I was going to start building up too much lactic acid, so I walked for about 30 seconds to lower my heart rate, but ran the entire uphill other than that.

I had been in 17th place at 26.2, but leapfrogged up to 12th between 26.2 and 30. 30 to 31.8 was a quick 2 ish mile loop that ended back at the same spot before continuing on down the trail and one person just a couple minutes ahead of me dropped in this section, so I ended up being in 11th place going out of the mile 31.8 aid station.

Mile 31.8 to 41.25 was the most worrisome section of the course for me. I knew going in that this was going to be a tough section since 32 to 35 was downhill, but 35 to 41 was a 2000' climb in the heat of the day without a single bit of shade. I was carrying 2 water bottles the whole race (one with water, one with HEED) and popping 2-3 salt pills an hour, 3 at this point now that it was pretty darn hot, but I was pretty sure that water would be an issue at this point. There was some icewater at mile 39 (not an aid station, but a tent with a chair and a cooler), but in the heat, I didn't think 2 water bottles would be adequate for 7 miles. I tried to ration it, but by mile 37, I was pretty much out of water and had to keep my effort really low between 37 and 39 to keep from sweating out too much and getting dehydrated. By the time I got to 39, I was getting pretty dehydrated, but I drank an entire bottle while I sat down for about 4 minutes at mile 39. I felt sluggish going out of mile 39 and it took 5-10 minutes for me to start feeling hydrated again as my body processed the water in my stomach, but I started feeling like I could have a good finishing kick when I got to mile 41.25.

I wasted another 4 minutes there eating some pizza and drinking a bunch of Mountain Dew (for a total of 20 minutes wasted in the bathroom or at aid stations eating food) before continuing down the last big descent of the course. At mile 41.25, I could see the entire finish of the course: a 1600' descent in 4.25 miles, followed by a massive 2600' net climb in the last 4.5 miles (the majority of that happening within maybe 2.5 miles). I tried to just not think about it, but looking out over the canyon realizing I had to descend one mountain and then climb another, the sheer magnitude of what the last 8.75 miles contained was pretty overwhelming.

The trail from 41.25 to 45.5 was pretty darn technical, but I had just been told by a volunteer at the aid station that there was "almost no way to cover the extremely difficult last 9 miles or so in 110 minutes", ie I couldn't break 9 hours, and I wanted to prove her wrong, so I flew down the ridiculous mountain trail as fast as possible. I got to mile 45.5 at 7:47:00 and was out by 7:48:00, having just taken the time to pop a last 3 salt pills, eat some pringles, and refill my bottles. Leaving the station, someone said it was "possible, but very difficult" to make this climc in 72 minutes. The first mile or so wasn't so bad and I made decent time on the climb. However, at about 46.5, the climb just got ridiculous. It took everything I had to never stop to lie down or just sit on the side of the trail. I was moving very slowly, but I still passed 10-15 middle-back-of-the-pack 50k runners/hikers and 2 50 milers in ths section and no-one passed me. However, I still couldn't quite get up fast enough and ended up being able to hear people at the finish as I watched my watch pass 9:00:00. 3 1/2 minutes later I finished and immediately sunk down in a chair. I ended up in 8th place overall and 1st in the 19-29 age group, plus I apparently broke the 29 and under course record. The top 2 guys were right around 8 flat (world-class runners Guillermo Medina and Troy Howard, the latter of which recently posted an incredible 26:01 at Hardrock 100, the 3rd fastest time on the course, which is almost certainly the hardest "legitimate" 100 miler in the world). The results haven't been posted yet, but it sounded like 4 of the other 5 runners ahead of me were within 14 minutes of me. Last year, my time would've been good for 4th place, though apparently this year was probably a little faster (maybe 5-10 minutes) since the beginning of the course was slightly modified from the previous 2 years due to some sort of permit restrictions, but it's probably still safe to say I would've finished top 5 against last year's field. As for the USATF standings, I'm not sure how I ended up, but I know that only US runners who are members of USATF were elgible, so I'm willing to bet I was top 5 in the USATF standings. As soon as I find out, I'll post it...

I am obviously a bit disappointed that I finished so close to 9 hours without breaking it, especially since I know that my ankle probably cost me around 20 minutes and my headache around mile 20 cost me about 10 minutes, but I'm still pleased with how I finished, especially since I could've used my ankle as an excuse to not push myself. I probably could've spent a little bit less time at aid stations, but 20 minutes stopped overall, including a bathroom break, isn't too bad over 9 hours. My nutrition was pretty much spot on during the race: I consumed about 20 salt pills and ate 6 gels (4 non-caffeinated power bar gels and 2 caffeinated hammer gels with 25 mg caff. each), about 30-40 pringles, 3 PB&J quarters, a Nesquik chocolate milk, a handful of gummi bears, 2 cups of Mountain Dew, 2 cups of sprite, 9 bottles of water, and 6 bottles of heed. Calorie-wise, this is somewhere around 2500 calories. Since my body processes somewhere around half of its calories from fat when running an ultra, this calorie intake was probably pretty close to ideal. 3000 would've been about perfect, so I was pretty close.

Albums listened to:
1. Believer - Gabriel
2. Cynic - Focus
3. Cynic - Traced in Air
4. Sanctifica - Negative B
5. ZAO - The Funeral of God
6. Gorguts - From Wisdom to Hate
7. Living Sacrifice - The Hammering Process
8. Living Sacrifice - Conceived in Fire
9. Martyr - Feeding the Abscess

I had 2 iPods, the death metal one, and the inspiring music one. The DM one was supposed to be used for the 2nd half only, but my "inspiring music" ipod meant for the first half randomly wouldn't work, so I had to listen to the DM one the whole time. haha... I spent the majority of the time listening to music, but the battery didn't quite last the whole way and I spent a little bit of time not listening to music.

Lessons learned:
1. Carry Advil.
2. 160-170 is a good heart rate range for a 50 miler and I can let it climb to 175 for a pretty long period of time on steep hills without screwing myself over.
3. In Cascade Crest 100, I'll try to keep it more at 155-165 and typically keep it under 170 on the climbs since 100 miles is still MUCH harder than 50 miles.
4. Ultras truly are all about confidence and mindset. Even if you are hurting, a little confidence and a positive outlook can take you a long way.

Ok, I think that's about it... Overall, I definitely did not enjoy this race as much as some other ultras (ie American River 50) due to the difficulty, but I think with more mountain training, I'll have the ability to really run well here, so I'll probably be back for more next year (despite the fact that I claimed at the finish that I would rather have any single body part surgically removed than have to run that hard of a 50 mile course again)

*****In case you're thinking about doing this yourself, here are my 2 most important pieces of advice:
1. Train in the mountains. Hill training will not be enough for a good performance in a race like this. I had LOTS of incredibly difficult mountain runs covering as much as 3000' of gain within a few miles and I still felt that I could've been more prepared for the finish. You will need VERY long extended climbs in your training; try to find something where you're going up steep climbs for 30 minutes plus or you're going to get rocked.
2. Train for the heat. If you have a sauna you can use, spend time in it. You don't need to actually run in it; just being in the sauna will help you with your acclimation. While you're in it, drink lots of water and eat salt for 2 reasons: a. to get your stomach ready to handle things when all of your blood is being diverted to your skin to cool you, b. to keep you from getting dehydrated, duh. If you don't have a sauna, run when it's hot out. Don't wimp out on training, it'll only hurt you in this type of race.
Rating the difficulty:
Heat: 4/5, it can break 100, but not by much. It's a little humid, but not terrible.
Technicality: 4/5: the rocky parts are tough, but there are some dirt road sections that have good footing (unfortunately, those are all incredibly hilly)
Hilliness: 4/5: They estimate around 8700 feet gain and loss; I need to check my Garmin when I get home, cause I bet it was a little more than that... Overall, even if it was like 10000', it could still definitely be worse.
Overall: 5/5, not from one individual factor, but from a combination. It's not like Badwater where the heat alone is enough to destroy you or Hardrock, where the elevation is ridiculous enough to give you problems, but it's bad in a number of ways, so it's overall an extremely challenging race.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Training, weeks of 7-20-09 and 7-27-09

The last 2 weeks have been incredibly light, mileage-wise.

The week of 7-20 was a bit unintentional, but after barely sleeping all week surrounding Badwater and spending a bit too much time in the sauna prepping for Mt Dis, without taking salt and probably getting a little bit dehydrated, my body was incredibly fatigued all week and I couldn't run all that well, so I had my lowest mileage week of the year.

Monday 7-20: 0 miles: Felt like crap, rested (maybe related to 20-26 minutes a day in the sauna for the last 4 days?)

Tuesday 7-21: 7 miles Was going to do a good track workout, ended up doing 1.5 warmup, 2x2 in horrible splits (11:30 range) with unbelievably high heart rate (up to high 180s, where as I can normally do 3 2 milers in about 11:15 keeping my heart rate in the 170s), so I called it a day before I hurt myself and just did another 1.5 cooldown very slowly. The fatigue and dehydration was the culprit I think.

Wednesday 7-22: 0 miles: felt like crap, rested

Thursday 7-23: Super easy 8 mile, avoided hills as much as possible, still over 8 minutes a mile

Friday: 12 miles Deseret News 10k plus long warmup and cooldown (about 3 a piece), felt like I wasn't affected nearly as much, but still split poorly and didn't run the kind of time I expected (35:08)

Saturday: 0 miles: woke up and felt like garbage, legs hurt worse than after most marathons.

Sunday 0 miles: legs were still a little sore, definitely could've run, but didn't want to push it with Mt Dis coming up.

Weekly total: 27 miles, but you know what, doing more would've been stupid. I felt sick (headaches, sneezing, coughing) and I was totally fatigued, so training hard would've set me back a lot.

Week of 7-27-09: This was a low mileage week as well (41 miles), but there was a lot of running that directly prepped me for Mt Dis and I covered an unbelieveable amount of elevation, so I'm actually quite happy with it. Doing anything very high mileage would've been a bad idea with the race coming next weekend and it would be too late to get much benefit from high mileage training anyway. What I focused on was mountains and confidence building runs. My energy levels seemed to be back, so while I had taken off the sauna training after last Monday, I started it again this Monday at lower levels (15-20 minutes a day at what I believe is ~185 degrees, enough to get some benefit, but not enough to mess me up)

Monday 7-27-09: 6 miles: Super super high intensity tempo on trails, was actually about a mile of warmup and a mile of cooldown sandwiching 4 incredibly intense miles. I threw in one of the steepest hills, covering only 5 or 600 feet of gain, but doing it at an average of 30-35% grade, hitting as high as 50%. I'm usually just happy to run the whole thing without stopping, so I was putting up 14:00/mile with a heart rate in the low 180s for most of the hill until the very end which levels to an easier 20% grade, which I ran pretty hard. I ran really hard for the rest of the run and managed to average in the 7:40s/mile, which sounds slow, but is still quite fast for a run with this much gain (about 1200 feet total in 4 miles). Average HR was mid 170s, max was 191 (pushed REALLY hard at the end), total gain: 1200 feet

Tuesday 7-28-09: 6 miles: 1.5 warmup, 1.5 cooldown, 3 miles of increasing pace on a track. Decided not to push the track workout hard at all compared to normal this week. Splits were 6:12, 5:46, 5:10. HR got to 181 on the 2nd mile, which is about 4 or 5 BPM higher than it should've been, but not nearly as high as the previous week and I've found that I can sustain higher heart rates for longer periods of time lately, so it wasn't a big deal. I hit 188 on the last mile, but I would've expected at least mid 180s at that pace, so it didn't really scare me to get that high.

Wednesday 7-29-09: 6 miles: Total quality run here despite the shortness: 5.5 in 72 minutes plus a quick cooldown. Sounds slow? That's because I covered 2350 feet of gain and loss, literally just running straight up a mountain and back down. That corresponds to about 43000 feet of gain over a 100 mile course. Hardrock, the hardest legitimate 100 miler in this country (not counting Barkley, which isn't really a real race) has something like 33000 and I'm willing to wager that the trails I did this on are WAY more technical than any part of that course (consider that in my slowest portion of the descent, it took me roughly 15 minutes to do a single mile since the course was so treacherous). I never stopped, walked, or anything, which doesn't sound all that impressive, but when the ascent takes 40 minutes and my average heart rate during that period is somewhere around 175-180 (well above 180 at the peak, where it's the steepest), I felt like that was an accomplishment.

Thursday 7-30-09: 9 miles: I decided up to up the ante from Wednesday and did 7 miles with a 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown. I scaled 1 500 foot mini-peak, went down the backside, came back up, and then linked over to hit the same ascent I had done the previous day. Total was nearly 3000 feet of gain, once again never walked, which I was very proud of. However, that seemed to be a bad idea since I rolled my ankle fairly badly attacking one downhill and just kept running through it, which has made it somewhat sore for a couple days. Oh well, lesson learned, and at the very least, it built a heck of a lot of confidence for me.

Friday 7-31-09: 2 miles: Jogging pace, ankle was pretty sore, total gain: 100 feet.

Saturday 8-1-09: 7 miles: 75 minutes, 2200 feet of gain, high effort, ran a well groomed but steep trail the whole way except for one portion of descent that was so miserable that 1 mile took 20 minutes. I ran the whole way except a couple sections of the downhill, which could've caused me to fall off a cliff if I ran them (doesn't sound fun). While running a part of the downhill that I shouldn't have been running, I tripped on a rock, scraped the crap out of my right leg, splashed my perpetuem bottle open all over me (mostly my face), and literally flipped and rolled, so I'm lucky I didn't get hurt too badly. I stopped my watch and sat there to collect myself for a minute or 2 and carefully finished the descent before tempoing the finish back home as hard as I possibly could. Max HR 187, broke 185 on 3 different portions of the run.

Sunday 8-2-09: 5 miles: easy, did the loop around the outside of the neighborhood, which unfortunately still has at least one huge hill no matter how you run it, total gain: 700 feet.

Total: 41 miles, roughly 9500 feet of gain, about 8750 of that coming within 23.5 miles (Mt Dis is 8700 feet in 50 miles, so this is a major confidence booster). Overall, low mileage, but some extremely high quality. If I was doing all road running this week and spent the same amount of time at an equal effort level, I'd have done roughly 70 miles, so I consider this to be the perfect amount of running the week before my race.

Mt Dis 50 is coming up on Saturday and I think it should go well. I'd love to finish this in under 9 hours and I think it's definitely possible, but we'll have to wait and see. Times in ultras are extremely dependent on how hard the course is and I hear nothing but bad things about this one, so I don't want to get my hopes up. Only one person (Jorge Pacheco, who has the 2nd fastest time ever at Badwater, and the 2nd fastest ever trail 100 time, 13:16) has broken 8 hours here (he did a 7:42 last year), though some people with comparable marathon and 50 times to me have broken 9, so I think it's possible if I race well. Part of this race for me will be in experiment in blocking out what my body tells me and listening only to what my GPS/HR watch says. I've actually had a lot of success with it in training lately where I'll start to feel like crap going up a big hill, look down at my watch and see that my heart is still going at a maintainable rate and I can actually convince myself that I don't hurt as much as I know I do and keep going without lowering my effort. I have the feeling that that sort of mind-set will come into play a lot over the last 19 miles (with gradual 2000 foot climb without shade from 31 to 40 and a nasty 2000 foot climb in the last 5 miles), so if I can keep my mind from breaking down at all, I think I should do well. I'll just blast some good angry tunes from mile 31 onward and hope it's enough. :)