Tuesday, December 07, 2010

North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Race Report

Hard to know where to begin on this one. As most of you know I started out dreaming of doing the 50 mile course and later made the switch to the 50K. Needless to say, this was a good decision and I learned a lot about myself and my body that will help me prevent what happened at this race in the future.

After a long 2 - day car drive, that had some setbacks in the form of a flat tire and a closed mountain pass, I hopped on the shuttle bus around 5:30 am and arrived at the starting line area about 6:15 all ready to go. This left me standing around, slightly under dressed in the dark for about 40 mins until my 7:00 am start. I lined up at the start right up front because I intended to set out at a fairly good pace and didn't want to get behind too many slower runners on the first climb (which turned out to be not an issue as the first climbs were up wider fire roads not single track). I ended up flying through the first 8 miles (1400 ft of climbing and 1400 ft of descent) in 1:11:05. I remember thinking that I had planned to be through this point 1:40 and tried to slow my pace down on the next climb, but I think the damage had already been done.

After climbing another 6.2 miles and 1700 ft I reached the Bootjack aid station, what I had figured would be the relative half-way point being that it was just after the largest climb of the day even though it was at the 14 mile mark. I had intended to hit this aid station at 3 hrs, but ended up coming in at 2:23. This had me worried at this point, but after grabing some food, refilling my water bottle, and re-tightening one of my shoes (knowing that I had a big downhill coming up) my legs felt really good so I set off down the Bootjack trail at a comfortable, but brisk pace. I had seen both Michael Owens and Erik Skaggs come into Bootjack at the same time as myself (although they were racing the 50 mile). Michael continued on and Erik dropped. It was my first real run in with any of the top 50 milers, but there would be a few more before I was done.

In my planning of my race strategy, I had entirely underestimated the next section of the course, which I figured would take me around 1 hr. After 2,300 ft of downhill and 1100 ft of ascent in a span of 5.8 miles my legs were really feeling the effects of the hard pace I had put out early in the race. I did not expect the hills to be as drastic in their grade as they were. Many were too steep for me to run and a few of the sections were covered in stairs. I ended up taking 1:20:05 to get through this section, but also lost most of the good feeling I had in my legs only an 1hr earlier.

It was near the end of this section that I was caught by Uli Steidl. He was at this point off the front and was suffering a little. I asked him how he was doing when he pulled up on me and he looked at me and said, "I'm done, but not yet finished." as he pointed over the hills toward the area we knew the finish waited. Being charged up a little by the run in with last year's 50 mile winner and former White River 50 mile course record holder, I started to feel better and held pace with Uli for a mile or so before he left me on a short section of road that descended to the Old Inn aid station, where I saw him leave just as I was getting in. At this point I was not feeling good and knew my legs were deteriorating quicker than I wanted to see. I briefly thought it might be wise to drop at this point in the race knowing I had 12 miles left and a good chunk of climbing to do. However, Uli's words came back to me and I vowed to finished the race even if finishing strong was not looking likely.

I wish I could say that Uli's words carried me in unwaveringly to the finish line, but by the time I reached Muir Beach @ mile 22, an aid station I'd seen before at mile 8 (feeling great at that point), I had made it up in my mind that I needed to drop. My energy levels were ok, but my legs were just shot. I looked up and could see the 1000ft climb that awaited up a very muddy slope and just said it wasn't going to happen. I went up to the aid station official and told him of my intention to drop and he asked me what was wrong. I told him my legs were shot and I didn't think I had it in me to finish and I asked him if there was a way to get a ride back the start finish area where my dad would be waiting after he finished his race. What I heard back was not what I expected. He said, "I'm not going to let you drop just yet." I didn't think I was hearing him right and had mentally already checked out of the race and was trying to get used to accepting that I would not be able to finish. I tried to argue with him for a second and he just made me sit in a chair and drink about 20 oz. of coke and some saltine crackers. He then told me to start walking up the climb and if I still felt the same way in 15 min to come back down and he would let me drop. Reluctantly, I started out up the climb at a walk (which most people were doing as the ground was extremely muddy and the hill steep). I didn't feel any better. My calves were thrashed and my extensor tendon in my left foot above my big toe was hurting as it had since about mile 18. I looked down at my watch and it had been over 15 mins. but after I looked back down to see how far the aid station was, going down did not look appealing at all, so I kept going up.

About half way up the climb, I heard someone come up on me. I turned to look and heard someone say "Hey." before they kept on, at a running cadence up the climb that I had considered not runnable. It took me a few seconds to realize it was Jenn Shelton giving chase in the women's 50 mile race. After a few more minutes of climbing she was out of sight and I was left to hike the rest of it with the other runner. Once I crested the top I actually sat down on the side of the trail for about 15 seconds to try to gather myself together and as I was sitting there (which felt so good) I realized that while I was sitting down that nothing was really hurting at all. This gave me some confidence that although I was hitting an level of muscle fatigued I have not yet experienced before, that I was not doing any damage that would indicate I was injuring myself. I also realized, while I didn't feel any better since the aid station where I had made my mind up to drop, I didn't feel really any worse. I then got up and proceeded to slowly jog my way down 700 ft of downhill over about 1.5 miles to the Tennessee Valley aid and see how I felt there.

I made it in and grabbed a handful of chips and some oranges and ate those trying to think of what I was going to do. It was not 45 secs at that aid station before Uli's words came back to me, "I'm done, but not yet finished." I was definitely done and I had pulled into this aid station @ 5:43 which was close to where I was hoping to finish the race, yet I still had a significant climb and 5.8 miles till the finish. I was physically and emotionally defeated, but I mentally made a choice, in part because of Uli's words and in part because I was catching a small glimpse that I might actually be able to finish which is by far more appealing to me than dropping out, but I did not think it possible at the previous aid station. I left that aid station resolving to finish even if I had to walk in.

First thing out of the gate was the last 700 ft climb which I took mostly at a hike. I slowly made my way to the last aid station which was 2.7 miles out from the finish and mostly downhill. I only managed a 10:50/mile pace for this last section to finally finish back where I had started 7:09:01 earlier. The course ended up being 32.3 miles on my garmin and this length was corroborated by some other reports I read from the 50k race so it looks like the course was at least an extra mile long.

The lessons learned at this race were many, but the few that stand out to me right now are as follows:

1. Start out and stay on pace for the full race...I started out way too fast trying to push a time goal and paid for it. In ultrarunning nothing comes easy or without effort so don't plan on a race without some struggle in it.

2. Course knowledge is very helpful...I had looked over the course profile and the aid station charts quite a bit, but still ended up underestimating the difficulty of the course...a mistake I hopefully won't make again.

3. Make a commitment to finish regardless of time, unless you are seriously injured. The very fact that I considered not finishing, mostly at first because I knew it was going to be a bad time and my legs were toast, tells me that I didn't come in mentally prepared to see it out to the end. Uli Steidl gave me a new perspective that tells me even if it's not your day, stick it out to the end. Many top names dropped that day after they were out of the chase. I don't judge them for that, but I gained much respect for Uli because he didn't.

4. Don't travel 2 days straight in a car in the winter right before a long race...enough said.

5. Keep your expectations grounded and realistic. Don't underestimate yourself, but don't assume you're in top form just cause you feel decent...I came into this race expecting to race a faster race than I did in September, but I obviously was not in the condition to do so. I don't regret trying to run this race hard, but I know I could have done better if I had tempered my early race excitement. If I would have looked at my training leading up to Cle Elum in Sept. compared to the training leading up to this race I would have realized I had a much better base coming into Cle Elum and should have adjusted my time goals accordingly.

All in all, I feel like I had a satisfying experience and really had my eyes opened in a lot of areas. Sure, I'm super disappointed about the performance, but I'm happy I finished and was able to learn and grow from the experience. I owe a big thanks to that aid station official for seeing that I could still continue on to the finish even when I had mentally checked out and could imagine myself making it. Thanks for all your encouragement, everyone. I'm looking forward to a some rest until I start back into some training Jan. 1st. I'm also planning on coming back next year to the Headlands to compete in the 50 Mile race...and this time I should be prepared in all the ways I wasn't this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov 21-27, Change of plans 50K not 50 Miles

The weeks runs:

Sun, Nov 21 PM - Interpretive Center Via Westside Ascent Trail, Mixed street/trails

Time: 02:39:08
Distance: 16.34 mi
Elevation Gain: 775 ft

Ran with Barry to the top of the Interpretive Center. Probably was a mix of 60% road 40% dirt/gravel road and trail. Low 30's and snowing for most of the run. Felt pretty tight at first. Legs finally loosened up around mile 8, but I never felt fresh, which I suppose is normal for a first back to back weekend. Rolled the dice a little with my tendon by using the f-lite 195s, but they worked out great and my tendon must be healing up. I just couldn't bear the thought of running all of the road in something with a larger heel and as thick as the MT 101s. inov-8 f-lite 195s.

Mon, Nov 22 - OFF - Lap Swim 20 min.

Tue, Nov 23 PM - BSS - Pathway - BSS, Street Running

Time: 00:28:11
Distance: 3.33 mi
Elevation Gain: 10 ft

Ran a quick shake out run after work. Temps were dropping fast and was around 12 degrees when I left. Supposed to drop significantly below zero tomorrow. Felt decent considering the mileage I put in last weekend. I'm just going to run easy for the next couple of weeks and be at full strength for the NF 50K. Dropped down to the 50K yesterday and will take a shot at 50 miles next summer. Inov8 F-Lite 195s.

Wed, Nov 24 PM - BSS - Henry Home - BSS, Trail running

Time: 00:42:26
Distance: 4.48 mi
Elevation Gain: 492 ft

Ran to mom and dad's then did the beginning section of the cell site road twice. Temps were in the single digits and there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Felt alright once I got going...hard to get going in these temps. Inov8 F-Lite 195s.

Thurs, Nov 25 AM - 2010 Baker City Turkey Trot 5K+, Road Race

Time: 00:22:36
Distance: 3.37 mi
Elevation Gain: 20 ft

This year's Turkey Trot was a great success...tons of people came out with the temps in the single digits to run or walk this race. Felt alright, but didn't have much to give the last mile. Not unexpected considering the mileage I put in last weekend and the fact that I haven't run this fast (6:42/mile pace) since at least September on any given run and that the roads were completely iced over...I'd love to have tried Inov8's OROC 280's out in these conditions. It was good to see most of Baker's runners come out to run/support this. Inov-8 F-Lite 195s.

Fri, Nov 26 - OFF - Lap Swim 45 min (good swim session on this day).

Sat, Nov 27 PM - Water Tower, street running

Time: 00:40:18
Distance: 4.20 mi
Elevation Gain: 289 ft

Ran w/headlamp. 22 degrees and 3 in. of snow on the ground. Felt alright, but not yet fresh or fully recovered. Going to take next week real easy to be fully recovered for the 50K and then take most of December off running to give my body a chance to recharge. NB MT101s.

Totals for Nov 21-27:

7 runs (I had a few short warm up/transportation runs in there that I didn't list in the rundown)
33.72 mi
05:09:31 h:m:s
1,595 ft Elevation Gain

Well, as the title of this post shows, I decided last week to drop my race entry down to the 50K instead of 50 miles. I was initially really bummed out to do this, but had received some great feedback from ultrarunner Yassine Diboun, as well as my parents and wife that it might have been just a little too much to try to squeeze in this year. I guess I figured I could have carried a little more fitness over from my first 50K in September and the PDX Marathon in October, but it seemed that I instead struggled getting back to full health after hitting these first time milestones rather than being able to use them as base for a 50 miler. I'm now looking to make my first bid at a 50 mile race @ White River in Crystal Mountain, WA which takes place in the later part of July. By that time I'm hoping to get a large enough base under my belt that I will be able to actually race the distance rather than just survive it, as I would have been left to do should I have gone through with the 50 mile race this next weekend.

I'm starting to get excited about racing this 50K now. It is very similar to the 50K I did in September even down to the 6,500 ft of elevation gain. This course is supposedly more runable than Cle Elum with the terrain being mostly fire roads where as Cle Elum was nearly 100% rocky/rooty/muddy single track. I'm thinking this should translate to a slightly faster time than my 6:00:42 at Cle Elum, but I think with this much elevation gain, you have to be conservative initially anyway. I'm hoping for a 5:45 as I feel stronger both mentally and physically than Cle Elum, but I'm really just going to have fun and see what happens. Thanks for following my training the last month or so...I probably won't post a training update for this next week, but will post a race report when I get back. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nov 14-20 - 2 Weeks Out

First the rundown for the week:

Sun, Nov 12 AM - Auburn - 17th - H St - Pathway, Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:32:44
Distance: 4.38 mi
Elevation Gain: 27 ft

Ran with Jack (dog). Took the first .5 mile as a warm up then put in about 3.5 @ around 7:00-7:15/mile pace then last .3 was easy cool down. Wanted to mix up the type of running I've been doing with something a little different and was feeling a little too tired to do something longer again today. Hoping that with some shorter runs I'll be up for back to back long runs this next weekend. Ran with the Kinvaras because I thought it might be easier on my tendon in my foot. Seemed good on that front, but the arch support (although still quite minimal by most standards, I'm just used to no arch support) in these shoes irritated my left arch, also they are a little too cushioned for my liking. It's a good thing they are light because otherwise I'm not sure I'd use them at all. Not sure where their niche will be, maybe long road runs, but I wouldn't pick them again for this type of run. Saucony Kinvaras.

Mon, Nov 15 AM Lap Swim

45 min, 1.25 miles. Jumped in midway on a ladder with Bob and Paula. Did 400 (6:30), 500 (8:00), 400, 300, 200, 100 (@ 1:15). Felt good and was probably the hardest swimming set I've ever done at this point.

PM Cell Site Rd - North Overlook, Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:43:50
Distance: 3.99 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,172 ft

Didn't have much time today to run longer, but felt pretty good on this run even with all the vertical. Legs felt average on the climb, but felt really strong on the descent. Warmer today in the low 50's which was a nice change. Tendon was practically a non-issue today which is a great sign as I haven't really been talking any significant time off and yet it still is getting better. Right hip was a little sore I'm sure from using the Kinvara's yesterday. They are just too squishy a shoe for me I think. I'll have to use them carefully and sparingly in the future. NB MT101s.

Tues, Nov 16 Pm,
David Eccles - Indiana - 17th, Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:53:01
Distance: 5.65 mi
Elevation Gain: 181 ft

Ran with Dad and pushed Zach in the stroller. Felt alright. The road sure puts out a larger stress on the muscles, that and wearing minimalist shoes. Test ran in Dad's Terra Plana Evo's which felt really good, much better than the Kinvara's did 2 days ago. Looking to go longer and higher tomorrow if I recover well enough through the night other wise might take tomorrow as my only day off for the week. Terra Plana Evos.

Wed, Nov 17 AM, Lap Swim

30 min, .8 miles

South Interpretive Center Ridge Route, Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:45:48
Distance: 4.69 mi
Elevation Gain: 815 ft

Ran with Dad. 40's and very windy...probably 30-40 mph on the ridge. Was feeling pretty tired today and will probably take tomorrow off or maybe run short (under 30 min). Good little climb up to the ridge and then rollers after that. Descent was good technical practice as well. Was nice to get out. Got dark on us just as we were finishing around 4:40 pm. NB MT101s.

Thurs, Nov 18 OFF AM, Lap Swim

25 min, .68 mi

Fri, Nov 19 AM,
Vista Heights - Freeway Overlook, Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:32:13
Distance: 3.50 mi
Elevation Gain: 399 ft

Ran in the dark at 5:50 AM. I was hoping to start the run at 5:00 as this is the start time for the NF 50 mile, but was hard to get going. I usually don't run in the mornings so this will be a new discipline that I will try to do at least once a week. 24 degrees and dark...ran with a headlamp. NB MT101s

Sat, Nov 20 AM,
Elk Creek - Cell Site - Elkhorn Ridge - Elk Creek, Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 03:57:58
Distance: 23.00 mi
Elevation Gain: 3,639 ft

Long run today with dad. Probably a little more than I should have put in, but wanted to get in something comparable elevation gain wise to the NF 50. Pretty cold today in the mid 20's starting out and then between 25-35 degrees throughout the day. Wasn't feeling tops, but managed to get in the distance at a fairly decent pace of 10:20/mile. Legs are a little sore and tired, but I'm going to try and get out tomorrow for at least 15 miles. NB MT101s.

Totals for Nov 14-20

6 runs
45.20 mi
07:25:37 h:m:s
6,172 ft Elevation Gain

Although not part of this last week's running I wanted to mention that I did manage to get in my second long run yesterday (Sunday):

Time: 02:39:08
Distance: 16.34 mi
Elevation Gain: 775 ft

Well I'm now two weeks out from the NF 50 mile race. Still not sure if I'm capable of finishing this distance, but that is part of the mystery of doing an don't really know what your capable of until you give it a shot. This weekend really took me to a new place of what I thought I could actually handle physically and mentally. I've been really pushing the envelope on what would be considered smart to try to squeeze in training and racing wise for my first year of running and I can feel the effects of that. Yet, I am constantly amazed at what our bodies are capable of handling and know for sure that we don't tap into our full human potential nearly enough. What I love about ultrarunning is that not only does it teach you your limits, but it also allows you to be surprised by your capabilities. This mixture of harsh truth and unexpected surprise builds character and keeps things interesting. Till next week...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nov 7-13

Sun, Nov 7 PM Vista Heights - Sports Complex Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:46:22
Distance: 5.25 mi
Elevation Gain: 403 ft

Decent little run to try to get back into the swing of things and see how my feet were doing after the weekend. My left arch was feeling better, but my right peroneal tendon was still sore on my right foot. Slowly, but surely these little aches and pains will work themselves out, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to ramp up the mileage like I need to for the 50 miler yet...we'll see how the rest of the week goes. Raining and 40's. VFF Flows.

Mon, Nov 8 PM OFF, 30 min Lap Swim

Tue, Nov 9 PM
Ag Shop - Cell Site Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:52:03
Distance: 4.43 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,353 ft

Ran this route nice and easy to see how my feet were doing and if the MT101's would help with the tendon issue on my right foot. Good news was that they helped a bunch. I think the 10mm heel lift on these shoes, while not liking that spec much in the past, might really help me keep running for the next few weeks and give my tendon a break. Run was nice and I ran it at a really casual pace most of the way. Started to snow heavily about halfway through and I ended up being a little cold with only shorts, my heavy icebreaker and gloves. Good to feel like I can do a run like this and still recover my tendon...if I can get in some consistent running the next couple of weeks, I may just be crazy enough to try the NF 50 miler. Just found out today that Dave Mackey is going to be there in addition to Tony Krupicka, Geoff Roes, and all the other top names that are going...will be super competitive and a real unique opportunity to watch. NB MT101s.

Wed, Nov 10 PM -
Vista Heights - Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:38:09
Distance: 4.01 mi
Elevation Gain: 398 ft

Ran up Vista Heights and around town late at night. Temperature was around 30 degrees and ground was frozen. Felt ok. A little sore from yesterday's decent, but not bad. Looking to run a little longer tomorrow...we'll see how that goes. NB MT101s.

Thurs, Nov 11 PM - Virtue Flats
Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 01:28:53
Distance: 9.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 726 ft
Ran with Dad and the dogs out at Virtue Flats. Was feeling a little sore initially and tendon in my foot was a little tight, but everything loosened up as we got going. A few good sections of climbing. Was a little muddy in spots, but we were still able to make decent time up and around the hills. NB MT101s.

Fri, Nov 12 OFF - 30 min, .9 mi Lap Swim

Sat, Nov 13th PM -
Elk Creek - 4 Corners - Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 01:39:55
Distance: 10.94 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,335 ft

Ran up Elk Creek with Dad. Fairly nice weather @ low 40's and no precip. Road was dry until we got into the timber and then there was some snow, ice, and mud mix; fully runable conditions though. Peroneal Tendon was tight for about 2 miles and then by about mile 4 I didn't even feel it until I was done...this is a good sign as it actually felt more sore near the end of our 9 mile run Thursday. Felt pretty good most of the way on this run and pace was good @ 9:08/mile especially since we weren't really pushing. NB MT101s.

Totals for the Week of Nov. 7-13:

5 Runs
33.80 mi
05:25:23 h:m:s
4,216 ft Elevation Gain

This was an encouraging week as I thought last week my hopes of putting in any significant mileage were pretty much non existent. Although this week doesn't represent the type of mileage I was hoping to be putting in by this time, I'm feeling better at the end of this week than I was at the start of it and this is a good sign that my tendon on my foot might be coming around. I'm planning on keeping steady runs in the 4-8 mile range the beginning of next week and then hitting a back to back weekend of long runs in the 15-25 mile range (probably around 3 hours each run, the distance will depend on the amount of elevation gain). Depending on how I recover from this upcoming weekend, I'll know whether my body is up the task...I know that if it is, I'll be shooting for a completion oriented pace as opposed to the sub 10-hour pace I originally had in mind, but the experience will be well worth while.

I felt good on my run on Saturday and enjoyed getting out into the more wintry conditions at the higher elevations. The change to winter though often dreaded is actually a nice change of pace for now. It is so nice to get up in the mountains and beats running in town any day. The running gets so much more simplistic and the time flies up in the mountains...I look at my garmin much less and just enjoy the run.

Have a good week everyone.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Oct. 31st-Nov 6th

Sun, Oct. 31 OFF

Mon, Nov. 1 PM High School - Cell Site Via Cell Rd Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 01:06:53
Distance: 6.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,471 ft

Ran with Trevor and Tanner to Mom and Dad's drive way and then met up with Mom and Dad and the dogs for a run up to the cell site. Felt decent most of the way, but the outside part of my right foot started to ache a little and by the time I got down and felt my foot I could feel that creaky tendinitis felling that I've experienced before with my Achilles tendon. Looked it up and sure enough there is a tendon group called the peroneal tendons that run through the area that is sore. Not sure what to think lately...I was just feeling like I was getting over the hump of recovering from Portland and resolving any IT band irritation and this popped up. I didn't really have any warning that this tendon group was even hurting before the run and I had taken the day off yesterday. I'm just going to take it day by day and see if it will heal with some easier running. Inov-8 F-Lite 195s.

Tue, Nov 2 OFF - 22 miles on Road bike

Wed, Nov 3 PM Run to Pool Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:18:40
Distance: 2.08 mi
Elevation Gain: 0 ft

Ran with Dogs to pool to test out my feet to see how they were recovering. Tendon on the right foot felt surprisingly strong, but arch area on my left is giving me some troubles still. Barefoot.

Thurs, Nov 4 PM XC Practice #45
Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:33:42
Distance: 4.05 mi
Elevation Gain: 19 ft

Ran to high school and then around pathway. Stopped and played a game of ultimate medicine ball (like ultimate frisbee) then put on another 2 miles getting back home. Still feeling the arch on my left foot, however, I did some tinkering with my foot strike and it seemed if I shifted my foot strike slightly forward from what I was doing that the arch felt better. I need to watch this and see how it goes. VFF Sprints.

Fri, Nov 5 PM
State XC Course Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:28:13
Distance: 3.13 mi
Elevation Gain: 19 ft

Ran the State XC course the day before the race. Nice course, felt alright, but for some reason, my feet are still not recovered...what a weird week. VFF KSOs.

Sat, Nov 6 OFF

Totals for Week of Oct. 31st-Nov 6th

5 Runs
15.84 mi
02:31:12 h:m:s
1,508 ft Elevation Gain

Man, this was a hard week for me. Just as I started feeling good, my feet started to act up on me. I've never had any significant foot issues since I started running, but I did run the marathon in my Five Fingers and then probably tried to ramp up the mileage again too quickly after Portland even though I was taking a more tapered approach to the re-entry phase than I did after my 50K in September. All part of the learning process. What makes things most difficult at this point is deciding whether to pull the plug on the race that is in 4 weeks. The conservative thing to do would be to just cancel my race plans...and I may have to if I don't see a big improvement this week as it is probably just too much to try to fit in in a short amount of time. I was really excited about this option could be to see if they will let me transfer my 50 mile entry down to a Marathon entry (which my Dad is doing) and that way I could still race and see some of the course as well as the runners that I was looking forward to seeing. I'll post my decision as I reach it. Have a good week!

Monday, November 01, 2010

First week of real training after PDX

I thought I'd blog each week on how my training is going for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile trail race that is coming up this December 4th. The first two weeks after the marathon were mostly filled with rest, some lap swimming, helping out with the Cross country team and slowly easing myself back into some shorter runs.

The weekly totals for those weeks are as follow:

Oct. 10th-16th, PDX Marathon week:

2 runs
29.44 mi
04:08:21 h:m:s
1,020 ft elevation gain

...this was basically just the Marathon and then 4 days off and a short warm up run with XC team at their meet in Milton Freewater.

Oct. 17th-23rd:

5 runs
18.11 mi
02:30:32 h:m:s
799 ft elevation gain

...biggest run was 6.16 miles on Saturday up Vista Heights and then to the Water Reservoir. This week was mostly about feeling my body out and see how my legs, especially the IT band was going to react to some longer runs. Did most of the runs either barefoot or in my Luna Sandals. I think almost every run the IT band was tight after about halfway through...I wasn't worried too much though because I knew I had plenty of time and it was get better slowly.

Now on to this week which was the first week really back to some normal sense of running for me. I'll use my running log format which I keep on Garmin's website (this also saves me the work of typing most of this twice :) ). Let me know if this is too much info or if it is interesting to see the process for these weeks. I could just post a weekly summary like I did for the two previous weeks if the individual run breakdowns are too much.

Sun, Oct 24 PM Night run w/Jack Activity Type: Street Running
Time: 00:31:53
Distance: 4.06 mi
Elevation Gain: 83 ft

Ran in the dark with Jack. Felt good for first two miles and then felt low on energy. Leg still not 100%...I'll just have to wait and see. Kinvara's worked out alright, I'll slowly rotate them into some of my runs and see how they break in. Saucony Kinvaras.

Mon, Oct 25 OFF

Tue, Oct 26, PM
Sam-O - Spring Garden loop Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:35:32
Distance: 4.15 mi
Elevation Gain: 25 ft

Recovery day. Legs are still not fresh. Knee felt a little irritated around mile 3. Was going to go up vista heights, but bagged it and will save for another day. Not sure how long this is going to take, but I need to wait it out before I push up the mileage again. Saucony Shay XCs (Racing Flats).

Wed, Oct 27 Mixed run - Warm up - Speed Work - Vista Heights Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 01:00:35
Distance: 7.68 mi
Elevation Gain: 413 ft

Ran a warm up at XC Practice and then did a speed session on grass infield. 20 length in 10 minutes barefoot. Then cruised over to post office to meet up with Barry for a quick climb up Vista Heights to the top of the dirt road. First day where I actually felt somewhat decent. Hope this is the start of the upward trend. Inov8 F-Lite 195s were really great. Not the best feeling on the road, but felt superb off road up the Vista climb. Super light and extremely comfortable. First run in them with no socks and had zero issues. Love these shoes and really look forward to future products from this company. Inov8 F-Lite 195s.

Thurs, Oct 28 OFF

Fri, Oct 29 PM
Vista Heights night run w/Barry Activity Type: Street Running

Time: 00:45:45
Distance: 5.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 400 ft

Good little run with Barry. My legs are starting to feel better each day. I still need to make sure I give myself plenty of good rest/easy days after some of the longer runs as I build back up...but I think it is slowly happening. Ran up Vista height to the top of the dirt road and felt good all the way. Got some big dreams for the future as long as I can keep if fun and stay healthy. Modified MT100s worked pretty good, especially on the dirt, but will have to be tested further to see if they are suitable for longer runs as my mod job wasn't the best and I didn't account for the forefoot being stiffer because of the rock plate and therefore compressing less than the mid to rear of the shoe which made it feel a little more uncomfortable near the end of the run. Zeroed MT100s + 1.11 miles Barefoot.

(Note: this post refers to a shoe where I cut the heel off the shoe to make the forefoot and heel height the same, like it is barefoot, if you have any questions about this feel free to ask).

Sat, Oct 30 AM Elk Creek - Water Shed Loop Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 01:20:13
Distance: 8.76 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,180 ft

Ran with Mom, Dad, and Barry. Felt really poor the first 20 minutes, probably from too big of a breakfast right before and knee (IT band) didn't loosen up till after a few miles. All in all, I'd say that this was my first run that I felt somewhat back to form. Now just need to rest and recover for a couple of days and then see how I feel as the next week progresses. 195s were perfect. Inov-8 F-Lite 195s.

Sat, Oct 30 AM XC District Meet Activity Type: Trail Running

Time: 00:11:36
Distance: 1.24 mi
Elevation Gain: 77 ft

Just ran a little around the course as I watched the meet. Legs were definitely tired. Soft Star Ramblers.

Totals for week of Oct 24th-30th:

6 Runs
31.05 mi
04:25:37 h:m:s
2,177 ft elevation gain

This was a good week, both mentally and physically. It showed me I can finally get back into a few longer runs without any real issues coming up which is progress.

On the list for this next week is a run in the 2 hr + range...I'm thinking probably Marble Creek to the Elkhorn Crest Trail as the mostly likely candidate (3,600 ft elevation gain - 6.6 miles up 6.6 miles down - it would be a killer half-marathon to put on next year :) any takers?)...might even see some snow. Hopefully mileage is up in the low forties, but this might be difficult as it is the last week of Cross Country and I will be traveling to Eugene for the State meet on Friday and back on Saturday, so those days might be hard to get a run in. I might be able to squeeze some shorter runs during the off ours (earlier morning or night). All in all, I don't have specific weekly mileage goals other than really getting in some long runs that will give me the confidence to know my body is up for 50 miles. I'm guessing my peak week might be in the 50-60 mile range. I suppose I'll know around the 3rd week of November whether I will be at that point or not, but I'm mostly just going to enjoy the nice cool fall weather and the joy of running in the mountains while they are not completely covered in snow, however, I'll be running in mountains in the snow through the winter as I don't want to be confined to street runs only like last winter...we'll see how it goes as the snow starts to stack up.

Wow this was a really long post...probably a record for me. Hope it is of interest to some of you. Have a great week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Portland Marathon 2010 Race Report

Well, I feel like I've finally recovered from the Portland Marathon this year. At least recovered enough mentally to write this post. It was a great learning experience and I will not forget the training advice and limits that this race imparted to me.

First off, it taught me the hard lesson of doing too much, for too long, and racing two races of large caliber very close together. I started out the day feeling pretty good. It was raining, which was expected from the forecast, but that was not enough to get my spirits down. I mentally had my mind very much around this race as it was going to be 2 hours and 30 minutes less time and 5 miles less than my trail ultra 3 weeks earlier. What I didn't know, at least fully, was that I hadn't let my body recover like I should have from the 50k. I was so pumped at having finished the ultra, that I jumped right back into running the week after logging 6 runs and 28.23 miles with 2,300 ft of elevation gain right after I had done my first ultramarathon...not smart. I didn't feel the wheels starting to come off until a week and a half before the PDX Marathon when I just started feeling very tired and wasn't recovering from what were normally, harder, but not extremely hard runs for me (8-10 mile runs). What really tipped me off, was when I went for a 12 mile trail run with 1,600 ft gain and 1,900 ft decent the Sunday a week before the marathon as my last long run. I felt great on the run and ran it at a very quick pace for this type of run 9:12/mile. However, as soon as the run ended, the outside of my left knee started to tighten up in addition to my left hip feeling sore. For any longtime runners, you know this is the unfortunate sign of an IT Band issue. It wasn't better the next day, so I took a few days off and did a few runs in the 2-3 mile range without issues and hoped for the best at the marathon. Well, at about mile 8 or 9 the knee started to slowly deteriorate. I just told myself to keep things easy and smooth and was hoping it would maybe go away, but it turned out that I just ended up dealing with the extreme discomfort of an irritated IT band for about 17 of the 26.2 miles of the race...not the way I wanted to experience my first marathon. All in all, it was the most painful running experience I've ever endured and this is not how it should have been. If I would have taken more time to adequately recover from my 50k (for which I felt great for at least 90% of the 31 miles, quite unlike my marathon), I'm sure my body would have been more than up for the challenge of the marathon and the experience would have been much more enjoyable. However, the lesson learned is invaluable so I don't view the race as a failure.

It rained the entire race and my feet were soaked from mile 1 forward. I opted to run in the Vibram Five Finger KSOs (see the picture above) instead of my Luna Sandals because of all the water and that I hadn't quite gotten my tying system for the sandals down pat before the race. The VFF worked great, other than the fact that I hadn't really run a long run in them for over 2 months, so that combined with the water resulted in some pretty bad blister issues on the inside/arch area of my right foot.

I came in at 3:38:18. I am very happy with this time in lieu of the difficulties described above. I was shooting for a sub 3:30, but it was not meant to be. I had no issues with my endurance or energy, but my legs were not recovered to handle the mileage at the pace I needed.

The picture at the top holds some special meaning for me as it will from this point forward mark a moment of pain and discomfort that I will remember, not for the pain, but for the errors in training, expectations, and thoughts of running fast, yet not giving rest my body needed. I also will enjoy the fact that my friend and brother-in-law Barry Spooner was pictured to the left of me in this shot. It was at mile 21.3 and we were both feeling rather poor at that point. Barry had started out at a much quicker pace than myself and I did not catch up to him until around mile 20.5. We ran together, mostly in silence for about a mile and a half before if became apparent that Barry was hurting a little more than I was and I continued on around a 8:30 ish/mile pace to complete the race. Too his credit, Barry pushed on to finish 7 minutes later than myself coming in at 3:45:18.

My thoughts surrounding this race continue to develop, but right now I am focused on resting and recovering completely and then honestly re-evaluating where I am at physically and mentally and deciding whether I'm up for a race I have sign up for on December 4th in the Marin Headlands outside San Fransisco, CA. It is The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship race. I'm not sure about 50 miles yet (or the expected 10,000+ ft of elevation gain), but there is only one way to find out. This is a pretty big race as far as ultras go and some of the ultrarunners that I really admire are going to be racing in the 200 runner field that I'm signed up in. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my decision regarding the race and how my training goes leading up to it. It will be a quiet next week or two though, as I plan to take it very easy and let my body fully recover before hitting a short mini training cycle of about 3-4 weeks of good mountain running with a few long runs in the 20's. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I've been up to.

First post in 5 months, wow! The picture to the left describes much of the last five month, although not in a lot of detail. This was at Alyssa's sisters wedding in Twin Falls, Idaho last month and is representative of out summer...on the road, have fun with family and friends, but staying very busy...maybe too much so.

Being a Dad these last 6 months has been a great experience, one that I'm sure will still continue to evolve with time.

Other than my new Dad responsibilities, I've been busy learning how to become a runner, with my first trail run in April in Sisters, Oregon at the Peterson Ridge Rumble 30K. photo here

Next the Baker YMCA Triathlon in May, this was my 3rd triathlon as I did two last year. I'm still a struggling swimmer, but it's coming along
Next was the Elkhorn Classic, which was great. We were in the best cycling shape we had ever been in and did very well. Here are a few pictures:

With my brother Stephen.

Since the Elkhorn, I've been doing a lot of trail running (40 to 50 miles a week for most of the weeks here in the mountains around Baker), helping coach high school cross country and just recently (September 18th) finished my first Ultramarathon (longer than a marathon) which was a 50K (31 mile) trail race in central Washington. It had 6500 ft of elevation gain and took me 6 hrs and 40 seconds (6:00:40) to finish which gave me 20th place out of 98 runners. I was very happy with the race and it was my major athletic goal of the year. Here are a few pictures of the race...the start here (I'm in a red long sleeve on the far left)...creek crossing around mile 22 here ...what it looked like most of the day here.

Anyway, as you might have guessed by my chronicling of the year thus far, I have ventured into the realm endurance sports and am really enjoying it, especially the running. I always thought I was too big to be a runner @ 6' 5" and 210 lbs, but since this last January I've dropped down to 180 lbs and feel very good running, even long distances. I've been really interested and actively experimenting in minimalist/barefoot running since I started last August...but that's another post for another time.

Next up, is the Portland Marathon on 10/10/10 which I hope to run in my recently acquired Huarches Sandals (purchased here). I'll be sure to post a race report on how that goes.

I'm sensing that this blog is going to evolve, as all things do. I'm anticipating it to be a mix of writing about my running and other adventures along with thoughts on many of the various subjects I've touched on previously. I think it was too much to try think of truly thoughtful posts every time in the past and so I will resort to more routine postings about happenings here in Baker and hopefully a good thought will come through here or there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Running, Running On

So, I've been an MIA since September (I could of sworn it was only a couple of months since I blogged last). What in the world have I been up too, you might ask? Well throughout the last few months I've been mostly working, running, going through the adoption process, and trying to stay positive through it.

More on running. It has been a key factor in reducing stress and keeping me healthy (I think from even a lot of the sicknesses going around, but I've got no data to back that up). I think we've possibly moved past the major cold part of the winter which was probably the toughest part of my short running career so far. I can see how winter can be a big struggle for many people. However, if I got myself out in it, things changed and I realized that there is so much that goes on in winter that I never picked up before. Manly, that the natural environment is in a largely in a state of rest, which contrary to our American perceptions, is probably an important activity.

Running will continue to be an important part of my daily activity, with a few races that I'm looking forward to running later this year.

In regards to Alyssa and I's adoption process we are continuing to run onward. It is quite the process and can be thoroughly discouraging at times. We are still waiting to hear about a potential third committee that we were selected to go to, but other than that, no news.

Spiritually, things haven't been particularly revelatory, but I feel a subtle growth none the less. I don't feel that I know anything more, but that I am actually willing to admit I know less, which I supposed is potentially the growth. I think it is the letting go of my need to know and have answers that might be of more value to me now. Don't get me wrong, knowledge is not inconsequential, but it has often been co-opted by blinding self-confidence in me instead of wrapped in humility and compassion.

Just some thoughts of this day. Hopefully this a return to the practice of blogging for me. Take care everyone.