Tuesday, November 23, 2010


That was the blurry view out my living room window tonight. It might look bleak or even painfully cold, but I really love running in the snow, so it was exciting for me to see. Fresh powder is so much fun to run in that I even seem to forget how cold it is against my uncovered legs (though I always remember the cold later when my legs sting for a good while after the run, thanks to never running in anything other than short shorts, no matter what the weather is like and no matter how many layers I'm wearing on top). In any case, I looked out my window in the middle of what was being called a "severe blizzard" and just decided it was time to go for a run. I had no idea how far I was going to go; I just ran. I often find that a nice snowstorm is one of the few times that I can go out and run and focus purely on the enjoyment of it without letting my head get caught up in all the numbers associated with what should be a simple run. In the end, I had a blast, never ran harder than what I could hold for 50 miles given even moderate fitness, and only looked at my watch once or twice. Part of the run was on pavement, but the ever increasing unplowed snow on the roads (6" at the start) made everything feel like trails. The actual trails were amazing; no-one was in sight, I didn't need a headlamp due to the reflective nature of the snow, and I meandered through a relatively gentle rolling course that allowed me to focus on the enjoyment of it all. How far and fast I ran was irrelevant. I had fun and that's what mattered.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good long-ish run on Saturday

I ended up deciding that the run I had planned was perhaps a bit overambitious, so I cut back from a 4 hour planned loop to something around 2 1/2 hours to make sure that I didn't suffer from it too much over the following few days. I ended up running a quick warm up of about a mile followed by a straight ascent of Brighton ski resort from 8750' to Catherine Pass (almost exactly 2 miles up to 10250'), a drop into Alta ski resort around 9400', a rolling rise back to just above 10,000' while running to and through the desolate Devil's Castle, a drop back to 9300' and a circuitous loop back to Cecret/Secret Lake (I think it's actually spelled "Cecret") around 10,000', another drop back to 9300', and reclimbing back to Catherine Pass and a quick 2 mile drop back to the base of Brighton. The total gain with all the rolling was somewhere in the mid 5000's, so it was a very strenuous loop for the seemingly unimpressive 12 miles. I felt pretty good most of the way, but I started to feel a bit sick going up to Cecret Lake and felt pretty crappy on the final 1000' climb to Catherine Pass from Upper Albion Basin. Surprisingly, I seemed to recover well on the final descent and finally picked up some momentum again, so I ended up feeling pretty good afterwards.

I brought along my camera and took a couple quick video clips en route, so here's something I uploaded from it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA6s9F_bLT0 . Pretty bad quality, but you can still get a few glimpses of how amazing the running up there is. I'll probably be back up tonight or tomorrow to continue to get the last bit of running I can squeeze out before it gets dumped on. It will probably snow up there sometime this week, but hopefully I can continue to get some decent running in for a few more weeks, as there's not usually major snowstorms in the until early November. After that, I'll take my training down to upper mill creek, lower mill creek, and finally the bonneville shoreline trail, basically all winter long.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More good runs + pics from the trails

I've been gradually upping my running lately, and my body has been responding nicely. So far, the best I can do without getting that run down/sick mono feeling is to run 2 days on, 1 day off, but I can usually lift weights in my off day, so I'm managing to be pretty active without any noticeable side effects. Since I am very bad at holding myself back on shorter days, I'm mostly focusing on running moderately long-ish, or what I would define as such right now, (usually around 90 minutes), especially at high altitude. I've been up to Alta and Brighton quite a bit (looping between the 2 over the ridgeline between Big and Little Cottonwood a handful of times) and have had plenty of interesting experiences, such as rounding a switchback to see a black bear 20 feet in front of me, almost stepping on a porcupine, and getting lost in the dark due to a blatantly mismarked trail sign in Brighton. The proof of that one:

Thanks, whoever made this sign. (The trail to Alta/Albion Basin follows right next to Dog Lake on the left, as I finally know now).

For my short term plans, I'm going to shoot for a pretty long run on Saturday. Distance-wise, it won't be all that impressive (maybe a little under 20 miles, based on my estimates), but I expect it to take 4 hours or so due to the 8000'+ of gain (3 major climbs of 2000', plus some additional smaller stuff), all between 8500' and 10700'. This is undoubtedly a bad idea based on the fact that my body isn't quite 100% yet, but I won't have another chance to do this run without snow until next July most likely, so I'm taking the opportunity. I also just signed up to run a local 10k mountain race on the 30th. I guess it runs 1500' up a mountain in the first 5k and 900' down the other side in the next 5k. I think it's a pretty low key race, so hopefully I can avoid getting beaten too sorely without really killing myself. It's all below 7000' and never above a 13% incline, so it should be very runnable the whole way.

In more long term plans, I'm getting very gung ho about running Leadville next summer and having spent plenty of time at high elevation lately, I finally understand the DNF rate (which is around 70%). If you don't train 2 miles above sea level, running that high will absolutely crush you. I've spent the majority of my running time above 9000' (with most of my runs hitting at least 10000') and I'm still finding it to be quite a task to maintain a running cadence while traveling uphill, even at a moderately shallow 10% grade when I get close to the 2 mile elevation mark. I've bounced around a number of ideas for the Spring, but for the time being, I'm leaving it pretty open since most of the races I'm interested in have pretty late registration deadlines. I'll be running as many local low key shorter distance trail events as I can over the winter just to refuel that competitive edge. Right now, I'm very pleased with any running at any pace or effort, but as a rather competitive person, I'll want to make sure I'm racing competitively again next year, so I'll make sure to mix in lots of little 5ks and 10ks to win as many goofy prizes as I can while retooling that leg speed on the trails.

That's all for now. As a closing thought, here are a few more pictures I took about 10 days ago while running the trails between Alta and Brighton (one of which I'm definitely moving to next summer, by the way...):

Albion Basin (Alta):

Me in Albion Basin:

A rugged and nearly unidentifiable section of trail (fortunately, it's usually a lot better than this) at Catherine Pass:

Overlooking Lake Catherine with atrocious lighting (sorry, I couldn't quite convince the sun to move for this one):

Overlooking Lake Martha like a total hippie:

Slightly blurry Lake Martha:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting back to things

I've been running again for about 2 weeks now. I've been focusing on keeping it pretty easy (both in terms of effort and miles, especially miles) so far, but I have had the chance to throw in a few big climbing days. Yesterday, I hit up Alta and ran through Albion Basin from the Goldminer's Daughter (8500') to Germania Pass (10500') then back down through Collins Gulch. The altitude was pretty tough, but it was still a lot of fun.

A nice picture from one of the trails at Alta:

Unlike when I tried to run a month-ish ago, I have some moderate amount of speed in my legs once again. I ran a 5:39 mile without killing myself in my 3rd run back. No, that's not fast at all, but a month ago, I was so sick that even 8:00 pace was much harder than this 5:39 pace was a week ago, so this is a good sign. Obviously, I'm going to be horrendously out of shape after basically not running for 2 1/2 months, so I'm glad that I still have some speed left. A few days ago, I hit a moderately technical 4.8 climb and descent of Ensign Peak from downtown (1400' of gain/loss) at 8:30 pace. Once again, 8:30 pace doesn't sound super impressive, but this is actually quite a tough climb with a few super steep sections that really slow the pace, so this is something that I'd maybe hit at 7:45 pace in absolute peak fitness. 45 seconds per mile slow is quite slow, but at least now I'm starting to just feel like I'm a bit out of shape rather than sick.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beards and fu manchus.

I've been biding my time slowly and my official training cycle for April 2nd's Philadelphia 100 starts in 2 1/2 weeks now that I'm feeling healthy, at least in day to day life (took a lot longer than I originally anticipated). What have I been doing with all my running time, you may ask? Well, for starters, I grew a wicked sick beard:

Since I couldn't spend ALL of my time just bearding around, I just today decide to one up the beard with an even wicked sick-er-er fu manchu (which I shaved in a matter of 3 strokes to look even more white trash, I might add):

Considering that no matter how hard I train at the art of facial hair growing, I will always be vastly inferior to the gentlemen in the following pictures,

I have decided that I would be better off focusing on training for long distance running events.

So, I've basically spent the last 2 months sitting on my butt letting my body finally get over mono and am ready to run again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New schwag that I'll get to run in soon enough

I'm especially psyched by the pair on the left. For anyone that knows what they are, I bet you're wondering how I got them. :) I haven't run in them yet, but they seem even better than their predecessor. If I feel good (and I'm sure I will running in these) for the last half of August when I get to start running again, I'll be signing up for Hellgate on the 1st of September, at which point, I'll be 2 weeks into my slow build from 35 miles a week to 150 miles a week, which will end with just enough time for a quick taper before the first and only race of the year that I'll go into with adequate health. Time to get pumped.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2 weeks until training begins again, most likely.

Tomorrow will mark 3 weeks of absolutely zero physical activity. My energy levels are really starting to come back and I'm starting to be really jittery as a result of not running. I've put on 5 pounds in the last 3 weeks and am ready to use it as fuel. The big key now is to make sure I'm truly 100% better from the mono before I start doing stupid things again. My plan is to not race until at LEAST December at this point and I'm still playing it by ear rather than having stupid calendar-based goals. That being said, I'm forcing myself to wait at least 2 more weeks to ensure good recovery. I am going to be very closely monitoring my health over the next 2 weeks and if it continues to look good, I will start doing a VERY easy 5 miles a day 2 weeks from tomorrow (Monday the 2nd). I feel that I was very close to being over mono when I started running again in January, but I went a little too hard everyday, keeping it from fully healing, and when I started pushing the tempo runs as hard as possible in Feb/March, it started the regression. This time around while rebuilding, to ensure that nothing bad happens, I will be focusing on keeping my heart rate low (under 160) until at least October and not really doing much tempo work until I see what happens for next summer's racing schedule. Nothing is set in stone, but future runs I have in mind are the Hellgate 100k, Rocky Raccoon 100, Mount Cheaha 50K, Moab 12 hour, Desert RATS 50, and Old Dominion 100. Given good health, Rocky, Moab and Desert RATS are for sure and the others (especially Hellgate, which I have to decide on in 1 month due to registration) will be a bit more up in the air.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The future.

I found out today that my body never fully got over the mono I had in December. I was pretty close, but once I started upping my mileage and then attempted to race the 2 big races (which went extremely poorly, I should add), my body started to shut down again, so my health is fairly poor right now. My sports medicine doctor and I have devised a plan for recovery. I'm taking the next 3 to 4 weeks off and then I get to start up again with a whopping 5 miles a day. However, I get to up my mileage 10% per week, which will give me really big mileage by November/December after a long steady build. I'm debating one potential race in November, but I won't know if I'm going to run it until several months from now. I really have almost nothing else that I'm considering running until Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. I am determined to be VERY fit, have the kind of 100 mile race that my marathon and 50 mile performances indicate I am capable of, and I have come to realize that the only way to run well for 100 miles is to run more than everyone else training for the race. I've experimented with fairly high mileage prevoiusly, getting as high as 135-140 miles in a week, but I've always run it at way too hard of an effort to run that much consistently. Before my health plummeted, however, I noticed that if I would simply stop running so HARD everyday, I could do a heck of a lot more mileage and consistently pound out 20+ miles in the mountains over and over. So, the bottom line is that once I start running again in a few weeks, I'm going to start into the biggest overwork of my aerobic base that I've ever done. I suppose my blog won't be particularly interesting in the next month or 2, but one of my goals with that big mileage is going to be to do something of 30-50 miles as a trainer almost every single weekend, starting in around 2-3 months, so that ought to be an entertaining read I would hope.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Training in Death Valley

(A view from Zabriskie Point last Thursday, when entering the valley, click to view full image)

Since getting that hydration cleared up, I went down to Death Valley to train on the course with 20 year old veteran Nickademus Hollon (www.nickademus.org), who set the age record for the course at 19 last year. After a series of unforunate events (revolving around repairs of absurd maintenance issues in my new condo) kept me in Utah until this past Friday, I ended up driving out to Death Valley and getting there late Friday night. After camping out in Panamint Valley (part of Death Valley's protected area and the 2nd valley of the Badwater course, from mile 60 to 90), we woke up early Saturday, spent the morning and early afternoon hiking around the valley and exploring old mines, and then went running later in the afternoon.

After having a morning of moderate physical activity, running seemed like a moderately enjoyable activity, but not like something that I was really craving. Nevertheless, I started out at the top of Towne's Pass at 4956', 60 miles into the course, and ran the first 9.5 miles down the pass solo until I met up with Nick just before mile 70 of the Badwater course. Despite it only being around 95 degrees, I had fully drained a bottle and was probably already somehwat down on water, so I grabbed a new bottle, drained it in the next 4 miles while we were running, and continued on. While it wasn't particularly hot, it was surprisingly humid for being in the desert, and it wasn't entirely comfortable to run in. When we got to Panimint Springs, 14 miles in, I took a quick bathroom break, and we were off on the neverending climb out of Panimint Valley to Darwin.

Before writing more, I should mention that shortly into the descent from Towne's Pass, I looked up and realized that I could see all the way to the mountain region marking the finish of the course, the Sierra Nevada, 75 miles in the distance. Such an idea was incredibly overwhelming, so on the way up the Panimint grade, I found myself thinking more and more about how excruciatingly painful 135 miles was going to be and it got to me mentally for a few miles around 20 miles in. Fortunately, Nick's mom Marina was there to forcefeed me with gels, m&ms, and cookies (which is always a good thing on long runs) and give me water, so I quickly bounced back.

This sort of mental low is a little uncommon in training, but it's something that ALWAYS happens in runs over 50 miles, so it was good to experience that in training on a 30 miler and now remember going into the racing season how it was just a mental low that quickly went away.

I am feeling physically prepared for the strenuous Western States 100/Badwater double I have coming up. Most importantly, I am mentally prepared for it. Western States 100 will not be easy, but I am doing my best to consider it a "warmup for Badwater" to make final mental preparations. Obviously, running 100 miles 16 days before running 135 miles is not the best physical preparation possible, but I will be looking to just barely squeak in under 24 hours to get the silver buckle without having to go any faster than possible. Yeah, yeah, my PR is only in the 22s, but I'm a lot more physically and mentally prepared than I was for any of my previous 100s. I almost had all the pieces put together for my last 100 and ran the first 75 miles on par for a PR before absolutely breaking in the last 25 despite it being a course somewhere around 5-6 hours slower than my previous 2. I know exactly which pieces were missing, however, and they have been corrected, so I am positive that I will be able to run strongly the entire way through WS100, get myself a Silver Buckle, and be fully fresh 16 days later when the race of a lifetime starts.

In the mean time, here's a nice picture from the Badwater course, taken while driving back home on Sunday.

The importance of hydration.

I've had an interesting combination of incredible and miserable running since I last posted. Shortly after my last training post, I underwent a period of fatigue and frequent nausea resulting from running and a total lack of speed, where previously slow paces (7:00/mile, which I can easily hold for hours) would kill me in less than an hour. I underwent a Vo2 max test and found (without quite peaking out due to feeling lightheaded and fatiguedwhile exerting myself) that I registered a 64.5 ml/kg/min (compared to 63.5 last year), so I am probably around a max of 65 right now. However, the test showed that I had very little ability to metabolize fat, which makes no sense based on how I train (and compared to the exact same test from 1 year previously, which showed that I was incredibly efficient at burning fat, requiring only a small percentage of my intake on long races to come from glycogen, ie eating food) and on top of that, I peaked out at a considerably lower work effort despite my higher Vo2 max (an increase in Vo2 is like upgrading to a more powerful engine). Basically, keeping with the car reference, I had somehow developed a more powerful engine, but had a very small tank.

Thinking about this, I could not possibly put the pieces together without factoring that something was physically wrong with my body. I had run as far as 50 miles in recent months with no more than 1000 calories consumed in that time, so based on the tiny percentage of energy coming from fat metabolism during that test, that particular run would either have been physically impossible or would've left my body literally and painfully tearing skeletal muscle from itself to feed my running, which had obviously not happened. The trainer suggested that perhaps I was a. sick, b. dehydrated, or c. anemic.

I went to a sports medicine doctor the next week and found that I was definitely dehydrated and had probably (but fortunately, temporarily) overstressed my kidney, based on abnormally protein levels in my urine (in addition to overconcentrated urine). Due to my dehydration, my kidney had been unable to filter everything out of my urine properly and it left fairly high amounts of albumin. Additionally, it seemed likely based on other testing that I was getting over some sort of flu, so I probably had a combination of factors affecting my odd test and horrible running while back home visiting in MN.

I had been maintaining a weight of approximately 159-161 pounds for awhile, which seemed a bit low to me considering that I was right about 160 3 years ago before I ever lifted weights (and I was very scrawny previously). I got as high as 175 while lifting 2 hours a day when I had a broken foot last fall, in addition to supplementing with lots of creatine, nitrous oxide, whey protein, and hydroxymethylbutyrate. I had since cut all of that out and stopped lifting basically entirely, but maintained considerably more muscle than I previously had, so the 160 number seemed a bit low.

Within 3 days of proper hydration, my weight rebounded to a constant 164 to 166, my symptoms of fatigue went away, and I was running much faster on all of my runs with no increase in effort. The bottom line is, if you're going to spend a ton of time in the sauna, running in the heat, and driving around in a car with the windows up and the heat on full blast, even in the summer, make sure you drink LOTS of water. You can't just weigh the same before and after your sauna session as you'll still pee out a good percentage of that water and eventually get dehydrated if you're not paying attention to your weight over a longer period of time.

Since rehydrating my body (which had been maintaining that low weight for at least 2 to 3 months), I have felt considerably more comfortable in longer runs, back to back long days, tempo runs, and overall increased mileage. In the last week and a half, I have hit 4 long runs of 16, 18, 20, and 30 miles (in that order), all but the 20 miler in 90+ degree weather, and all with at least 4000' of climb, felt extremely comfortable on all of them, and would be doing even more if Western States wasn't in a week and a half, with Badwater 16 days after that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Training over the last few weeks

Training has been going well lately. I've been getting in an unbelievable amount of climbing and my last big climb-oriented running consisted a 3.1 mile jaunt up (and 3.1 back down) Grandeur Peak (2800' of climbing the way I ran it) on Friday followed by a really high effort tempo run out of city creek on Saturday with an initial climb of 1000' and lots of additional rolling along the way. The important thing in all of this is to keep myself running and never hiking no matter how steep of terrain I'm on. When I'm running at 8000'+, already very fatigued, and continuing to run at inclines that can easily surpass 30%, it builds an incredible amount of mental strength (not to mention quad and calf strength) to keep going. Some of these peaks, especially Grandeur Peak and Mt Olympus give an incredible view when you reach the peak though, so it's totally worth it. Here are a couple shots from the peak of Grandeur on Friday (I've started running my big climbs with a camera in my water bottle hand-pouch):

(click to view full image)

Saturday's run, I had a pretty bad slam rocking the descent back into City Creek. There are lots of bikers on those trails, so at one point, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I had no oncoming traffic, tripped over a rock, and slammed hard going a little over 5:00/mile, cutting up my shoulder, hand, elbow, hip, and knee simultaneously. Lots and lots of fun that was...

Other than that, I've had a bunch of really high quality long runs, my favorite recently being a climb from the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon, on the road 4.5 miles up the canyon (climbing 1300 feet), then straight up the Mill D North Fork trail. I aimed to get up to Dog Lake, but there was a little too much snow to make a pass near the top and I had to turn around after 2200' of climb on that trail. For an idea of how awesome running in Big Cottonwood is, here's what the road looks like at one point:
(sorry, you have to click it to get the full image, not taken by me)

Up on the trails, you get some beautiful views like this:
(not taken by me)

Another on the road:
(click to view the whole image, not my photo)

Big Cottonwood is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to run, so I'm looking forward to all the snow melting up there in the coming weeks.

Beyond the long runs and pure climbs, I've gotten in some good speed and tempo work. I ran a half marathon a few weeks back that became a lesson in pacing and a good session of "how much pain can you endure". I went out way too fast, hitting the 5k in not much above 17 and started suffering when the big hills kicked in around mile 5. By the end, my legs were really destroyed and I ended up with a super slow 82 minutes. Even factoring a similar performance at sea level (converts to 78:xx), it was a pretty awful time for me, but I'll chalk it up to a poor job pacing and take the tempo workout it gave me (HR around 180 the whole time). Beyond that, I nailed a really solid 3x3 workout recently and just last night hit a flat 8 miles at 5:47 pace. Yesterday's run was fairly painful by the end, especially considering that 5:47s over that distance up here is equivalent in effort 5:35-5:40 at a lower elevation. Workouts like that show me the benefit of starting easy. In my recent half marathon, I went out at 5:30 for the first mile and that became my undoing by the end, but in yesterday's run, I started out in an easy 6:08 and just dropped the pace from there, which helped quite a bit for my ability to maintain the hard effort.

I'll leave you with a view of a mountain I'm craving to run as soon as the snow is gone. Mount Olympus has a straight 4200' vertical over 3.1 miles, no joke. This is the steepest and nastiest climb imaginable with an average gain of 25.6%, split into 2 miles around 20% gain and a last 3.1 at around 35% gain. The last 1.1 is absolutely BRUTAL, but I'm still looking forward to running this again.

(not my photo)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wildlife on today's mountain run!

I went out for something like 12 miles today with a pretty huge amount of climb (the total climb was around 3000', while the biggest climb went from 5000' to 5400' in the first mile and then abruptly steepened, climbing another 1100' to 6500' or so in the 2nd mile of the roughly 2 mile ascent).

A section of today's climb (not taken by me):

I expected the run to be very slow despite a pretty high effort level, but what I did not expect was to lose a fair amount of time in a stare-down with a handful of elk. 3/4 of the way up the biggest climb, I happened to glance over a ravine up to a peak about a hundred feet higher than where I was and see a massive elk staring down at me. Elk are generally not very aggressive, especially this time of year, but they can be, and it didn't really seem scared of me. It really couldn't have gotten to where I was very easily, but having a huge muscular animal easily capable of mauling me watching over me while running made things feel a little eerie. 3 mountain lions had been seen within a few miles of where I was just a couple weeks back, so my nerves were up already, and I paused until it eventually walked out of view. A few minutes later, 20-25 elk suddenly bound across the trail about 100-200 feet in front of me. A few more sauntered past and a few of them stopped and just started staring at me, apparently trying to figure out what I was doing on a fairly unused trail way back in the middle of nowhere. I just stood there for a minute or 2 waiting for them to move, but they didn't. After a couple minutes, a few of them started walking down the trail towards me, which definitely made me feel fairly uncomfortable. I shouted at them, but it didn't make them run off; it more just made them pause to reassess the situation. They continued back down towards me, so I eventually just grabbed a couple rocks off the trail, threw them in their general direction, and they finally turned and ran off with the other ones. I'm honestly a little unsure why they would just walk down the trail towards me at a leisurely pace. If they were being aggressive, I would've expected them to do more of a charge then a walk, but if they were particularly scared of me, they wouldn't have approached me.

Nice friendly looking elk (these things weigh up to half a ton...):

Another 15 or 20 of them ran past after the more aggressive seeming ones passed by, but none of the rest seemed to want to stop to look at me. Either way, I was a little spooked for the rest of the run and once I reached the turnaround point, I hauled it back down the trail as fast as I could (though, admittedly, that part of the trail was particularly rocky and tough and there were large sections of the descent where I couldn't break 10 minutes a mile since the footing was so treacherous). I'm really used to running a number of areas of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, its offshoots, and various trails in Mill Creek at this point, and it's easy to think you know everything about it really well, but after hearing about the mountain lions on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and having a bit of a frightening situation (even if it was me just being a little sissy), I've realized that I really have to be careful and pay attention to what's going on as much as possible when I'm out on these trails.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moab 100: a bit of an odd report.

As was clear from my last post, I went down to Moab with the sole intention of running a big PR for 100 miles. Having seen only this picture of the course: http://geminiadventures.com/24U.gif on the official website and not having found an official description, I was expecting a fast and easy desert loop where I could run somewhere around18 to 19 hours. I was quite shocked when I showed up, found out that picture was only relevant for the first and last quarter mile of each 5.37 mile loop, and that the rest of the course mostly looked like: http://twitpic.com/1bdoma , though it was typically much more uneven than this picture. The majority of the course consisted of slickrock or loose sand. Thinking about it, I very quickly realized I would not be able to run much faster than 21 hours on a course like this, so I immediately started debating whether or not to switch down to the 12 hour category and just run 50 miles or so (especially because the footing was awful for nearly the entire loop and I didn't want to risk injury at night). After a loop or 2, I comfortably settled into running with or around 3 guys from the Naval Academy (some of which I've had the pleasure of running or racing with before). 2 other 100 guys were way out front, and it stuck that way the entire time. Had I thought I could win, I'd have allowed myself to run a mediocre time and stayed in, but when the top 2 guys were still way out after 43 miles, I sat down for about 35 minutes to go to the bathroom again and make a few phone calls to get input on whether I should just switch and run 50 miles instead, and realized I was gaining nothing by running the whole 100. Sure, I'd get mental confidence from it, but running 100 miles for no particular purpose is quite detrimental on the body and could have potentially slowed down my progress in Badwater training an unacceptable amount, so I just switched categories, zipped off one more lap (once I actually started the lap, it was one of my fastest of the 9 I did) and then later just ran an extra 1.67 miles on my own to make it a total of 50 miles. My pacing for the 50 miles would've given me a 19:30 100 mile (low 18s had I not sat down and debated what do, which I wouldn't have needed to do), but despite the fact that my legs felt literally totally fresh even after 50 miles, I would've slowed down a lot at night due to the horrendous footing. In hindsight, I feel like I should be a little mad at myself now. It turns out the 2 front runners were both running out of their means and dropped out shortly after I left, so 2 of the 3 guys I was running with finished 1st and 2nd, while the 3rd had knee problems and called it a day after 54 miles. Hindsight is 20/20, but despite the fact that I feel like I could've hung with the top couple guys that finished, I still made the right decision based on the course. I didn't have to take any time off of training and was literally back at it the next day, not to mention that I got one heck of a Saturday long run in. I initially felt somewhat weak for dropping without any sort of injury or problem, but it stems from the fact that Badwater is simply so much more important to me than anything else on my schedule that I wasn't willing to risk the consistency of my training to run the same kind of time that I've previously run for 100 miles. That's about it. Kind of weird, but I'll take it long before I'll take a 22 hour 100 mile that puts me out of commission for weeks.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another good week.

I'm feeling reasonably ready for the Moab 100 right now. I had a good week this past week. Highlights would include a solid 15 miler at a pretty high effort level today and a very solid 2x2 mile on Wednesday with a relatively long warmup and cooldown. I did the intervals at just a hair over 5:00/mile (keep in mind that I'm at 5000' elevation), so I was really pleased with it. Today's 15 had somewhere around 2500' of gain with really difficult terrain for most of it and I ran it in 1:53, a really fast time for me for that particular loop. To put it in perspective, I have 14, 15, and 16 mile versions of this loop, and 6 or 7 weeks out from the Fall 2009 marathon that never happened (which I was expecting to run somewhere around 2:40), I hit the 14 mile version in 1:44 and the 16 mile version in 1:58, so I'm pretty close to where I was previously (also, I ran 10 miles at exactly 6:00 last night after skiing pretty hard for a few hours, so I wasn't 100% fresh). I'm just running an 8, 7, and 8 miler this week, so I'll be really fresh going in on Saturday. I'm still seeing this as a bit of an early season test considering that I have no idea who the competition is, but I'm going to run it as fast as I can. I should have a big 100 mile PR next time I post. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lots of running/skiing/sauna time on Sunday

Sunday was basically my last big day before the Moab 100. Karl had given me a 16 miler on roads on Saturday and 18 on trails on Sunday. However, the weather totally sucked on Saturday, so I kind of put my run off until very late. Still being a wet sloppy blizzard outside, I went to the gym and just put in my 16 miles on a treadmill, starting sometime around midnight, so I actually did the run on Sunday. I was supposed to be running moderately hard (but with enough left over to do a longer run on trails the next day), so I dialed in 6:40/mile and ran the majority of the run at that pace until cruising the last few miles in the mid-high 5s to finish at 1:44 even and a 6:30 average. I went home right away and went to bed, woke up, skied for 3 hours at the Snowbird Resort, came home, and immediately went out the door for my "18-miler". Feeling good near the turnaround of my out and back despite the incredibly sloshy conditions on the trail which often irritate my legs somewhat, I tacked on an extra 2 miles to make it a 20 miler. I ran the 20 miles with rolling hills the whole way and 3 very significant climbs (two around 7-800' and one around 500') and well over 4000' of total gain in a little over 2:50 for about an 8:30/mile average. An hour later, I jogged another 2.5 miles with Jess as a cooldown and finished everything up by doing some sauna time (sat there for 20 minutes at 175 degrees).

Oh, and the best part is that while coming back on the trail, I recalled that a FAMILY of mountain lions had been spotted on the trail I was running on and caught on a security camera in a parking lot adjacent to the trail several days prior. If I had remembered this, I would've taken another route, but it was too late to do that, so I just ran 4 or 5 miles through that area holding a sharp 2 pound rock in each hand in case I had a run-in, feeling incredibly sketchy every time a car drove by. I'm pretty sure I would've had a rather tough time defending myself against 3 mountain lions, but whatever, I felt slightly less afraid of dying while holding the rocks. haha...

Long story short, I did 38.5 miles of running, 3 hours of skiing (which is a very tough workout when skiing at Snowbird), and a decent sauna workout in one calendar day. Interestingly enough, my neck was slightly sore the next day, but everything else was fine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Moab 100? Why not...

I was planning on running the Antelope Island 50 in a few weeks, but the registration somehow closed despite the race specifically claiming not to have an entry cap. I had originally considered Moab 100 instead of AI50 to begin with, so I just opted to get in a good 100 mile desert trainer. I know that my base isn't "exceptional" right now, but it's still pretty good and I was definitely in the best shape of my life before I broke my foot on Halloween, so I'm not too concerned about the distance.

What are my goals? Well, first off, to run well the whole way without ever really regressing to walking. Second, I want to absolutely nail my nutrition. Third, I want to have as close to even splits as possible. Fourth, I want to win if the race (assuming it isn't more competitive than it's been the last few years). I should say though that if I hit the first 3 goals and a bunch of competitive people show up and beat me, I will still be very happy.

I'm planning to start out around 10:00/mile and just hold that pace. I will aim to take incredibly minimal breaks, eat lots of high calorie foods (donuts, cookies, etc) at the end of every lap, eat 2 gels per 6 mile loop, take 1 salt pill per hour (it won't be that hot, but I will take more if necessary), and keep a steady pace and effort the entire time.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Badwater. It's on.

I've been accepted into the 2010 Badwater Ultramarathon. 135 miles, Death Valley, July.

In other news, I've been hitting lots and lots of good running. Starting to get back into the "lots of long runs" style of training, but building up to it slowly thanks to Karl's awesome coaching. I'm doing 6 days a week, 1 day off, with 1 easy day, 2 moderate days, 1 hard day, and 2 moderately hard long runs (both on the weekend). Last week I hit 14 and 18 through very hilly mountain trails on Friday and Sunday with 9 miles in between, this weekend I hit 13 and 20 with 6 miles in between. Next weekend I'll bump up to 16s on both saturday and sunday, followed by 16/18 the next saturday/sunday. I'm doing a 50 mile the last weekend of march as well as one in late april, and probably one in may, and somewhere along the way, I'll be up to back to back 30 milers, which sounds like a pretty aggressive way to train my legs to be ready for long runs. On the "hard day" side of things, I hit that 13.1 trainer in 1:13:28. Last week, i somehow managed to hit 5 miles at a 3% decline (1.5% would account for the elevation, the extra 1.5 made it about 40 seconds fast) in 24:55. I hit the first mile in an easy 5:25 then upped the pace in miles 2-4 to 4:54, 4:56, 4:54. Realizing I could squeeze my way under 25 if I pushed it really hard, I pounded out a 4:43 last mile and finished up in 24:55. Not too bad. I was in the low 27s in 8 months ago for a 5 mile split in a poorly run and somewhat downhill 10k (with a couple legitimate uphills thrown in). I could've probably eked out high 26s at the time for 5 miles, but this was a nice surprise. I'm probably right around the shape I was in right before I got injured at this point and now it's just a matter of building my base over the next 4 months without overtraining.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Training back around normal.

I haven't really posted my weekly reports, but I've been getting in some really good running. I haven't done much of any speed work again yet, but I've gotten in some solid tempo runs. My most recent long day was 16 miles and I've got 16 and 20 in the same weekend coming up shortly, which should be pretty fun, considering that I've been running my longer runs pretty hard.

This past week, I was supposed to do a 12 and was allowed to run it fairly hard, so I decided to just tack on an extra 1.1 and see what I could hit for 13.1 on a treadmill. Given that I'm running at 5000', I put it downhill at a 1% decline, which, in hindsight, now that I've run the calculation via http://www.runworks.com/calculator.html, doesn't even completely make up for the 5000' fully. Somehow I managed to hit it in 1:14:28, which supposedly corresponds to 1:11:31 for an equally downhill course at sea level or 1:13:00 for a flat course at sea level.

Do I believe I can run a half marathon in 1:13? Well, it sounds unreasonable, but the treadmill I ran on was pretty high-end and probably pretty accurate. I definitely felt like I was hitting around 5:40s (I've done a handful of tempo workouts right around 5:40, so I know what it feels like) and I think it was pretty credible. I started to feel how fast I was going pretty early and wasn't sure if I was going to hold on, but I managed to do so. I've been feeling like I'm fully recovered lately speed and endurance wise, so maybe it's possible. I haven't raced a 10 miler or a half marathon in years, so it's hard to really say that I don't think I can run around 1:13 to 1:15 in race conditions. We'll see though.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm back in business!

My foot injury and mono are both 100% kicked. Training is starting to get really good again. I'm still consistently in the sauna as a means of prepping for 2010 Badwater and I'm sending in my application for that literally tonight. I spent a ton of time on it and I think it's about as good as I can get it at this point. Wish me luck!

Oh, and PS, I'm not doing Rocky Raccoon. It's simply too soon. I don't doubt that I could finish the race, but I wouldn't run a good time, so I'm waiting until late March to race again, at which point I'm either running the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler or the Moab 100 Miler.