Sunday, March 30, 2014

Things Are Starting to Click

It's been a cold winter - and my fitness hasn't been what I've wanted it to be. Of course, if I miss a day or two of running in a row I wonder if I can "get back in the groove" or how much conditioning I've lost. Do I have to start back with a 5K? Not having a regular running regiment in Nov/Dec means that the early year races are a good indicator of how conditioned the body is - has less mileage been beneficial - or detrimental? Has it remembered how to run?

Early indicators through the first 3 races of the season - Bandera 100K, Rocky Raccoon 50, and Cowtown 50K are that yes - it has weathered winter weather fairly well. Bandera 100K I improved by over 2 hours over 2013 even with IT Band issues that kept me gimpy for the last 15 or so miles. At Rocky Raccoon 50 I cruised over the roots and improved over 1:30 minutes compared to 2013. At Cowtown 50K this past weekend I nailed a 4:17 for my fastest PR at a 50K yet (it's roads - but I'll take it!)

The great thing about the races is that none of them I've really trained for. They have been more training runs than anything else. The main races of the year are the four Grand Slam races beginning in June. But it's been good to get an idea of how my running has improved. Now that the weather is warming - there's no excuse for not knocking out some serious mileage. In fact - the more I can be out in the sun to start my heat acclimization as it warms up - the better.

Week of Jan 27th 35 miles
Week of Feb 3rd 65 miles (Rocky Raccoon 50)
Week of Feb 10th 40 miles
Week of Feb 17th 55 miles (Cowtown 50K)
Week of Feb 24th 35 miles
Week of March 1st  30 miles
Week of March 8th  50 miles
Week of March 15th 48 miles
Week of March 22nd 107 (includes Moab 100 with 84 miles)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weeks Ending 1/19 and 1/26

Still being a fair weathered runner - and still complaining about it. You'd think as a trail runner I'd appreciate being outside, regardless of the conditions. However, I've decided that anything less than 40 is just too cold to run outside. Instead, I've been venturing indoors on these type of days to get some stairstepper and treadmill work in. If you think running 100 miles might be "boring" - try running 3 miles on a treadmill - or worse - 6+. Terrible.

This wknd was great - 70 yesterday and nearly 80 today. Never fear - it's supposed to be 35 tomorrow with a 35 mph wind. Treadmill anyone?

1/13 - 3.5
1/14 - 3.5
1/15 - 7
1/16 - 6
1/17 - 12
1/18 - 20
1/19 - none

1/20 - none
1/21 - 3
1/22 - 10
1/23 - none
1/24 - 6
1/25 - 16
1/26 - 15

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bandera 100K Race Report

It's been a long 6 weeks. Thanksgiving and Christmas are always busy time of year - add a mother having major surgery, bad weather, a team meeting, totaling your mother's car on the way to Utah, a hurt dog that has a lame leg, etc and it really felt like 6 months. Running was really put on the back burner, and for everyone that knows me that isn't something that I sacrifice. My running is mine and I don't compromise or apologize for it. Unless it has something to do with my family, my paycheck, or my running buddy Callie.

It was this 6 weeks hiatus from running - and really the lack of participation of any type of organized race since August/Leadville - that got me excited about running Bandera. That is if the weather was going to be good. Instead of signing up way in advance - I decided to wait and see if it was going to be wet or not. I know, hanging head in shame, this isn't the spirit of a true trailrunner. Last year I ran Bandera in high humidity and thick, sticky mud - followed by a cold front with 40 mph winds and freezing temps. I've been there and battled the elements. I did it. I finished. But I didn't feel like a repeat and honestly after 6 tough weeks wasn't sure I was even up for the mental challenge of having to persevere. So - I watched the weather and when it looked like there was a reasonable chance it wouldn't get nasty outside I signed up.

A few days before I made my way down to the Hill Country as I have a few hotels I support near the race location (HI Express Kerrville is a great option if you ever run this race!). I drove out Friday evening for the race briefing and to get my packet. Smooth sailing. I got all my gear together that night - pinned the bib on my shorts - and crawled in bed later than I should have only to find I couldn't sleep. I saw every number on the clock that night but must have dozed off sometime because I jumped up when I got my wake-up call at 4:50.

At the briefing, RD Joe mentioned that we needed to be parked by 6am for a 730am start to avoid getting in traffic - so I took this advice and was out early. This was a good idea - not just because I didn't have to worry about missing the start - but it gave me time to get things together. Yah I know - I prepped the night before and still needed almost an hour to get it together at the start. You'd think I would have it more together at this point as many races I've run - especially since I had no drop bags. Anyways - I strapped on my Nathan 020 - grabbed my hat, glasses, warm warmers, gloves, ipod and nutrition and made my way to the start.

It wasn't as cold as I thought - so there were no warm up miles needed once we started at 730am. Of course there were people sprinting up at the front - some with a legitimate chance of winning - some trying to avoid the single file line of the first climb - and some inexperienced endurance runners that get caught up in the moment and crash and burn early.

My race strategy was to run reasonably fast including the ups - without going anaerobic. I don't really know where my heartrate needed to be to accomplish this - so I decided to go off of feel. I completely ignored people around me and just did my thing.

The first climb - steep and rocky - was relatively easy and even though it seemed a lot longer than 5.6 miles to the first aid station (Nachos) I got there feeling really good. A quick top off of water and I was on my way over the much easier terrain to Chapas where I had an Ensure that I had been carrying. Amazing how ditching something that weighs prob 6 - 8 oz makes a huge difference on the load you're carrying. Everything was going smoothly through the first loop - breezing over sections that last year were so muddy you could hardy walk - cruising to a first 50K loop in 5:38.

By this time it was starting to heat up. Heating up being relative - it was prob in the low to mid 70's. Usually a runner's dream. However, the weather has been so cold this winter that 70 felt like 90. I doused my hat with water - reapplied sunscreen - and headed off for the first climb. It was hot and dusty and the cactus around me seemed appropriate. There was not a repeat performance of bouncing up the trail as I had just 6 hours earlier. No - this time it was slower and hot thinking constantly "how many people are going to pass me before I get to the top?" I kept looking over my shoulder - no one - but I knew they were lurking somewhere close. I kept moving. I finally made it to Nachos and re-plenished my handheld and my Platypus collapsible water bottle which I've really enjoyed using the last few runs and kept moving. Even though it was hot I was still running most of the time except some of the steeper ups. I knew from exerience in other races that I would rebound when the weather cooled off and to just stick with it.

Somewhere in the lower 40's - I felt pain in my knee. Awww - what's this all about? I tried walking and it felt fine - but when I ran it would start hurting. I remember similar pain from my very first trail run about 5 years ago. I tried stretching my IT Band to see if that would help. I started running - no pain - and then 2 - 3 minutes later it would start hurting again. Yup - a tight IT band with 20 miles to go. Great.

I made it to Crossroads Aid Station having power walked and jogged the very easy terrain between the previous aid station. I decided to take a few minutes and stretch - the first I spent any decent amount of time at an aid station. For some reason coke and fritos sounded good - so I shoved a handful of chips in my mouth and downed 2 - 3 small cups of coke. I left the aid station and immediately felt sick. Stomach cramping, nausea - just felt rotten. Wha? Was this going to be my first official throw-up during a trail race moment? I have no idea why I decided I should go to the bathroom - but before the steep, rocky climb I decided to duck behind a tree - which fortunately made all the difference in the world. I stepped back on the trail feeling great - and started jogging - and then the knee issue again. Ugh.

Up and over the rocky hills and back down to Crossroads again for the 2nd time - it was finally dark enough to need a headlamp - and nice and cool. I took off again - running until my knee hurt - stopping and stretching - running - stretching. After a while I decided I would just practice my fast-walk. I did this at Leadville where I was walking faster than most people were running. I walked as quickly as I could and occassionally would run - but before I felt any pain I would start power walking again - then run a little bit. This seemed to be a good combo because I wasn't having to stop and stretch at all.

The last stretch from Boyles aid to the finish has 2 steep, rocky climbs and descents - along with a few miles of relatively flat gentle terrain - which is pretty much a summary of the whole course in 5 miles. I ran the last part of the downhill all the way to the finish - knee pain and all - to finish in 13:17 which was a nearly 2 hour improvement from the year before.

Bandera was a really good race for me. Since I hadn't run much over the last few months it gave me confidence that I am still a distance runner. I still have what it takes to run 60+ miles in a decent time. It also highlighted that I need to incorporate stretching into my workout schedule. As my running improves and I'm able to run much further into races - and as I work on my climbing - I have to get better at keeping the legs flexible. Better to learn that now rather than at Western States. I was also mentally engaged in the race. I was constantly aware of my heartrate/perceived effort throughout which is why I felt great and even though my IT band wasn't cooperating. I was also able to work through problems rather than beating myself up.

I finished with scratched legs from the Sokol but with no blisters. Today my legs are very sore - particularly the quads - but that's to be expected. Overall - a great way to start turning 40 - a great way to start 2014 and a lot of positives to build on in the upcoming months before Moab 100 in March and Western States in June!

Week Ending January 12th

Too cold and windy to run many miles. Fair weathered runner.

1/6 - 30 mins on stairstepper/30 mins on treadmill/upper body weights
1/7 - none
1/8 - none (birthday - ate too much - should have run)
1/9 - none
1/10 - none
1/11 - 62 miles (Bandera 100K)
1/12 - none (recovery)

Total - 65 miles

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week Ending Jan 5th

Time to ease back into running after an off and on December!

1/1 - 10 miles
1/2 - 45 min stair stepper/15 mins treadmill @ 10% grade
1/3 - 10 miles
1/4 - 10 miles
1/5 - 0 miles - cold weather wimp

Total - 30 miles