Monday, February 21, 2011

116 mile week (well sorta)

Tools of the trade during a 4 hour night run

Technically it's correct I did have a 116 mi week. There are 168 hours in a week (24x7=168) and if you started my week at the start of the Holiday Lake 50k and ended the week 165 hours later at 3 a.m. on the next Saturday, I covered a total of 116 miles.

I recovered pretty well from Holiday Lake... took a couple of easy and short recovery runs the two days after HL and resumed normal training right away. Obviously from a total weekly volume standpoint I'm in a good spot with my training and with 6 weeks to go until Umstead I'll try to keep the total miles about the same but also try to take at least one run of 35-40 miles and some more good back to backs.

I decided not to run the Pilot Mountain Marathon on 2/19. I really hated to miss it but my younger son had a big weekend of AAU basketball with an important parent/coach meeting to discuss tournaments and do some planning. I didn't want to miss the meeting so I opted out of Pilot Mtn. SO instead I decided to do a night run on Fri night-Sat morning. I did the run solo around my neighborhood. Couldn't talk anyone into joining me. I did five 5.1 mile loops covering 25.5 miles with a running time of 4:10 (which included 4 bathroom breaks, re-filling hand held bottles, a clothing change) Since I will likely be running into the night at Umstead I thought it was important to try a night run. Began the run at 11 p.m and finished up at 3:10 a.m. I really didn't get sleepy at all. With a big pasta meal around 7 p.m. I was worried about my stomach but it really wasn't a problem... guess "everything burns in the furnace"(Once a Runner quote.) Wore a headlamp just to get used to it but really only turned it on when cars went by so they could see me and I could hop up on the sidewalk or front yards. Decided I didn't really want to find out if the driver was drunk or just coming home late! Got pretty quiet between 2 and 3 and with a nice full moon shining down on me it was kinda nice.

After the night run I was pretty wasted most of the weekend. My legs were fine but took until Monday to feel normal again. I didn't run a step the rest of Saturday and Sunday. Although I did walk for over an hour each day. I did a nice 20 mile run today (Monday) thanks to an unexpected Presidents Day holiday. Averaged 8:23 per mile on an unseasonably warm day. Started the run in a thin long sleeve shirt and finished up shirtless (okay no laughing at the thought of my untanned, strapping, 5'9" 130 lb frame running barechested on a February morning)

I decided to do my training log online daily rather then do summaries in the text (Can be found on the right column of the blog)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dig the Pain

Photo of start/finish banner courtesy of Jenny Nichols (probably Brock actually)

I have never listened to an IPOD while running like some runners do... but that doesn't mean I don't hear songs in my head from time to time while running. This past Christmas I bought myself a present (even wrapped it and put it under the tree).... It was the latest CD by Chicago bluesman Charlie Musselwhite. Musselwhite is one of my favorite living harp(harmonica) players. He plays Chicago style blues but heavily influenced by his Mississippi Delta heritage. He plays much like "Little" Walter but now and then you can hear a bit of "Big" Walter which is more the style I play (or so I'm told). Anyway, I was listening to his CD "The Well" on my way up to Appomattox to run the Holiday Lake 50k++ and somewhere about 23 miles or so I couldn't get the tune Dig the Pain out of my head.
Can't let it go
Can't hang it up
I dig the pain too much
I pay a price in misery
It looks good to me
You tear me down
When you build me up
You know I dig the pain too much
I feel the pain
Don't need no crutch...
Ya know...
Tired of suffering
Tired of pain
Don't expect me to explain
I'm overwhelmed by your touch
I dig the pain too much!

It's been said that in ultra running you just have to "embrace the pain" when it inevitably comes during your run. I'd hit a bad patch somewhere around 22-24 miles and when I felt that discomfort of the effort, the tune started playing in my head and it wasn't so bad. I guess it was the song and possibly a double shot of Clif Shot gels that got me to feeling good again. I don't think "embrace" would have worked quite as well as "dig" for a blues tune!

As I took the 3 hour drive up to the Holiday Lake 50k, wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't plan to taper at all and had taken a 4 hour mountainous run last Sunday but by Wednesday my nagging knee pain was very evident. I'm not sure exactly what my problem is.... feels a bit like IT trouble but bottom line is I get sporadic very sharp pain on the outside of my knee and my whole left leg feels like it's going to collapse. Sounds a little similar to what Anton Krupicka mentioned in his Rocky Raccoon race report: "Over the course of the rest of this loop my knee would worsen to where it would spontaneously give out on any downhills" So I cut Wednesdays run a little short and didn't run at all on Thurs or Fri. Very unplanned. So went into HL not knowing how my knee would act but also feeling unusually rested.

Holiday Lake is a really nice setting for an ultra. Deep in the Virginia woods with somewhat rustic cabins, bunkhouse, bathhouse and dining hall. I picked up my race packet and milled around, ate the pre race pasta and hung around for Horton's pre race entertaining breifing. I saw a lot of familar faces from Masochist but didn't really know any of the folks assembled. I was shocked when Horton asked for all the first time ultra runnners to stand and it seemed like it was half the room. I headed back to my room in Appomattox around 8:30 p.m.

I didn't get the greatest nights sleep but not sure why. I wasn't nervous or anything (other then concern about my knee). I was up at 4:30 and did the usual what do I wear when the start will be in the low 20's and the finish in the 40's. After much internal debate decided to go with tights rather then shorts. I just don't really like being cold, so I wanted my legs covered. As we sang the national anthem, prayed and all that jazz I found Rick Gray in the crowd and figured I'd follow him out since we are of similar abilities and age. I leap frogged a bit with Rick early and joked with him that I couldn't let him get too far ahead since last weekend he had run Uwharrie and I had "only" done 4 hours at Pilot Mtn.

The course was hilly but nothing terribly tough or long. So very very runnable and the single track sections weren't overly technical even for a somewhat newbie trail runner. Pretty much the whole day I didn't get into a good rhythm and felt a little choppy. The trail wasn't rough but with the rising sun in my eyes, frozen rutty sections I just didn't feel real smooth. I got to the two loop turn around before expected and realized I should be able to get under 5 hours unless I fell apart on the second loop. There were two female runners ahead of me and I figured a couple of "old guys".

On the way out on the second loop I was running much of it alone but probably the best section in terms of feeling really comfortable and smooth. The runners coming in from their first loop were all inspiring with everyone encouraging one another. So great to see Jenny Nichols heading in with a big smile and a shout out. She was in control for sure. As I stated above, somewhere around 22-24 miles or so I hit a bad patch and really felt terrible. I thought, UH OH, this could be a long day. But some fuel and songs dancing in my head got me back on track. With maybe 5 or 6 miles to go Bethany, 3rd overall female, caught me and we ran together a bit.... she hoping no girls caught her and me hoping no one with gray hair might go by. She really pulled me along until I took a spill with a couple of miles from the finish. I was fine, just muddy and aggravated that I'd made it 31 miles without a fall but couldn't make it in without a dive and letting Bethany pull away. The last few miles I felt really strong and felt like if needed I could have run further or cranked it up a bit. Finshed in 4:56 (about what I expected) and was 48th place, chicked by 3, and behind 3 50+ year olds. My knee hurt now and then on the second loop but it held up well. Maybe I put the knee issue behind me???

Very much enjoyed the post race atmosphere. Great fun to cheer on friends and strangers that either have big time relief on their faces or joy. Highlights post race were seeing Rick Gray slip in under 5 hours by 15 seconds with his wife screaming and Horton hooping it up and then one of the younger mothers finishing with her 3 children running in with her, and of course the joy on the faces of every first time ultra finisher. AMAZINGLY there were 305 finishers out of 317 starters!!!!!!

One final observation. After I nibbled on some food and drink at the finish I walked over to my car to put on dry clothes and "clean up" a bit (if that is possible after 5 hours running in the woods without a shower to do the cleaning)... well I looked in my rearview mirror to check my nose and I had dried choclate Clif Shot gel caked all the way around my mouth! Yikes, I bet that was impressive. I hope next time that Rick, Tammy, Jenny or someone will say dude go clean up no one wants to talk to you looking like that.

So now to decide do I actually try the Beast and run a 50k the week before Umstead AND do that crazy Hellgate thing? Nah that is absurd....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quote of the Week

"The one thing that separates ultra runners from other contributing members of society, and other athletes, is the ability to forgo all reason, logic, judgment, and fear and jump into the arms of certain pain solely on intuition and ambition"

-Hal Koerner (after the Rocky Raccoon 100)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Training Summary 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

View on the way up Pilot Mtn 2/6

I had another solid week of training this week. Nothing spectacular but feeling stronger. Did not get in back to back long (over 20 miles) because of my weekend family schedule but got a total of 84 miles which included a 4 hr. run and 3 others of approx. 90 minutes or longer. My 12 year old son had a basketball event to attend from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. on Saturday so met up with my friend Chuck on Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. and we did 16.5 miles before work. Then met Tom at 5 a.m. Saturday morning for 10 miles. Had planned on getting in two hours on Saurday a.m. but hard rain and 32 degrees cut it short. Friday's run was also in a "wintry mix" so can only make me stronger.

Rocky single track on the way up (good practice for "the loop")

On Sunday I headed back to Pilot Mtn for the third weekend in a row. And did nearly 4 hours alone. I did the same loop as last week and got to the summit 3 minutes faster and finished the run in 3:58, which was 4 minutes faster then last week. I tried to run more like the seasoned mtn ultra runners and ran faster then I normally would on a 4 hr. run on the downhills and flats and walked the steep uphills and while fueling. Seemed to work well and felt stronger late in the run. Another beautiful day to be running in the mountains. Very muddy and sloppy but bright and sunny.
This is what my dog was doing before and after my 4 hour run (and probably during)

I'm planning on running races the next two weekends but don't plan to taper or run them super hard. I'll just try to get solid runs in the 4-5+ hour range. Holiday Lake 50k is this upcoming weekend (will be great to see and hang out with the VA and TN folks)and that run will be actually 33.2 miles and then the following week is the Pilot Mtn marathon which I am now very familiar with.

I've gotten a bit more serious with my veganism. For me a plant based diet just makes so much sense.... I began eating this way for my health but it has become much more then that. As much as caring about myself it's about caring for others, concern for humanity, concern about the earth and its creatures. (would be nice if it helped my running as well!!)
I'm not really much of a cook but tend to fend for myself in terms of preparing the food I want to eat. One joy I have in between long weekend runs is cooking up loads of food. I was shocked yesterday when I got home from Pilot Mtn. I was half expecting my wife to complain that I was gone for six hours but she had cooked up some black beans, onions, mushrooms, tofu scramble and it was all ready to be wrapped in a tortilla with guac. Just what I needed. Then in prep for the Super Bowl we cooked up some turnip greens... added in mushrooms, onions, cabbage, celery over quinoa. Sometimes it's just hit or miss... last week after a 4 hr run outing I wasn't sure what we had to prepare but found some pinto beans and lentils and put those on to cook. And I just cut up what we had around.... onions, green onions, mushrooms, green pepper, bok choy and served that along with the legumes over Couscous (good change up from the usual brown rice)....

Training Summary 1/31 - 2/6

Monday 1/31
AM Easy 6 miles in Vibram Five Fingers

Tuesday 2/1
AM 10 miles generally easy pace

Wednesday 2/2
AM With Chuck and Tom, 13.5 miles at 8:34 pace. Knee was hurting again late in run. Iced it after, stretching IT, foam roller

Thursday 2/3
Complete rest day (concerns about knee)

Friday 2/4
4:30 AM 16.5 miles fairly easy but in light rain, sleet/freezing rain

Saturday 2/5
5:00 AM 10 miles with Tom in cold rain. 32 degrees and steady rain. Planned on longer.
PM 6 real easy miles

Sunday 2/6
AM At Pilot Mtn 3:58, same loop as last week. Improved by 4 minutes and felt fairly strong late in run.

Total = 84 miles