Monday, December 6, 2010

Nov 29- Dec 5

This week went pretty well.

Nov 29-Dec 5

M- 75 min, 10 miles
40 min, 6 miles (16)
T- AM 17 min warm-up

10 mile progressive run (56:10)

15 min cool down

PM Run 30 min, 4 miles (18)
W- 80 min, 10 miles
29 min, 4 miles (14)
T- 70 min, 10 miles
42 min, 6 miles (16)
F - 41 min, 6 miles

S- 20 minute warm-up

Workout 2 X 3200m (10:44, 10:40),

1 X 3000m (9:38), 5 min recovery run

20 min cool down (11)

S- 152 min, 19+ miles

Total: 100 miles

These are the weeks where I'm really glad that I keep records of my mileage and times. I used to be very opposed to this because it mostly just meant more work. The other reason was that I would worry too much about constant improvement. However, there are a lot of benefits to keeping track of where you are in your fitness, especially when you are doing the same loops and out-and-backs and track workouts. It gives you a reference point to see how far you've come and how quickly you've gotten there. And where most observations in running can be seen qualitatively (muscle definition, fatigue, level of effort, etc.), it is nice to put down numbers to add some clarity to the ritual.

For example, today I am doing 6 miles in the AM and 6 in the PM. I noticed on my morning run that even though I felt pretty fatigued from the 20 hilly miles I did yesterday, I was still averaging around 6:50 miles. This came as a surprise since I felt so tired, but numbers don't lie.

As for the track workouts, I'm still chipping away at my times. It's not so much that I'm getting a lot faster, I think I'm just gaining more control over my form at high speeds, as well as dealing with the discomfort of lactic acid build-up.

There is still a large part of me that wants to go for a 40 mile jog in the mountains on Saturday's. But for now the big race on my schedule is Mad City 100K, which consists of ten loops of a flat 10k course in Madison, WI.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Hello All,

I wanted to wait on a few solid weeks of training before writing again. Here is what has been going on the last few weeks for marathon training. There was one day I took off opportunistically in order to reset the schedule to a Monday-Sunday week rather than Sunday-Saturday.

November 7- November 13

S- 64 min, 9 miles

M- 61 min, 8-9 miles

T- 20 min, 2.5 miles

W- 75 min, 9 miles

Workout 10 min (2K) warmup, 3 X 2000m (6:38, 6:31, 6:23), 9 min (2K) cooldown

5 X 800m (2:43, 2:40, 2:39, 2:38, 2:35), 400m slow jog cooldown

T- 55 min, 7.5 miles

F- Workout warmup 20 min, 3 miles at 5:13 pace, 3 miles at 5:33 pace, cooldown 20 min

S- 90 min, 12 miles

Total Miles: 70

NOV 4- 0 miles

November 15- November 21

M- 89 min, 12.5 miles

40 min, 5 miles

T- AM Run 30 min, 4 miles

PM 30 min "portuguese warmup", workout fartlek 40 min @ 1 min on 1 min off

W- 32 min, 4.5 miles

45 min, 7 miles

T- 78 min, 11 miles

F- Run 20 min, 2 miles

Workout 20 min warmup, 3 X 1600 (5:04, 5:03, 4:57), 3 miles at MP (5:35, 5:25, 5:20), 20 min cooldown

S- 50 min, 6 miles

S- 104 min, 16 miles @ 6:30 pace

Total Miles: 94

These track workouts are really sending me into that fatigue I feel after a few 25 mile days in a row. Its all a very different kind of pain while its happening, but once you get home and lay on the couch.... TIRED IS TIRED! I'm finding it really exciting to see how far I can push myself, and even though the track is somewhat monotonous, the miles fly by really easily.

The biggest change to my schedule from earlier in the year is the long run. Although its a little bit shorter, its way faster than I'm used to running for long periods of time. Last Sunday before I flew to Florida, I partook in a grueling 16 mile run at 6:30 pace, of which the last 4 miles were right under 6 min/mile. At peak condition I wouldn't normally find this too taxing, but I'm nowhere near that point right now :) After that I boarded the plane, luckily receiving an exit row seat for the 5 1/2 hour flight.

This week has been a little weird. All of the running on pavement has been bothering my calves a bit and I took off a day in order to let them heal a bit.

As for this morning, I entered a 4 mile race to get a feel for exactly where my aerobic threshold is. I finished the race 2nd overall in a time of 21:04. The last half mile I let off the gas a bit and probably could have finished under 21 but I'm not really upset about the race since its the first race under a marathon that I've done since sophomore year of college.

Now I'm off to stuff as much food into my stomach as my body will allow, then go for a swim in the Gulf!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A few weeks gone by

These last few weeks have been pretty interesting. I have recently recruited a coach to help me with my first "true" marathon. Since I started running seriously, I have mostly been interested in ultramarathons. However, there has always been a nagging sensation to put a really solid effort into the marathon. And after a few weeks of attempting to put a schedule together I finally enlisted the help of a local high school coach, Matt Ellis. So far I am very excited to try these workouts and to feel fast again. Last week we did 6 X 1000m at 3:10 pace and worked our way down to 3:00 pace by the end.

Its funny how radically different track workouts are compared to the usual long-distance runs I'm used to. Where there is usually a dull, aching sensation in my legs, it is now replaced by a fire in my lungs and a lethargy in my limbs that can only come from complete oxygen debt and a build-up of lactic acid. Where I usually take small but confident steps, I now take awkward, loping strides to maximize the distance I can travel. For these two exercises being in the same sport, I'm not sure they could be any more different.

Another activity I've tried in the last week is acupuncture. While I've heard a lot about its healing effects and its ability to relieve stress, I've never actually met anyone who has had it done. Last thursday I traveled with my roommate to join in on a session and found it to be amazing. Although I didn't feel the relaxing side of it (moreso, it feels like the needle is burning your skin), I did feel infinitely better the next day. My muscles felt in tune with each other, and I felt energized and in sync. I'd definitely recommend this treatment to anyone suffering from constantly achey or tight muscles (in my case they were both).

Lastly, I just signed on to become a Coach in Training for the Team in Training group based in Tacoma, WA. If you don't know what Team In Training is, it is an organization that works under the Leukemia and Lymphoma society to raise funds for research. Groups of individuals sign up to run a marathon and raise money for the Society while training. Check out the link here if you are interested! Other options include triathlons, century bike rides and hiking adventures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Racing and Writing Again

I have to be honest. I actually avoided writing on this blog for several months because it reminded me of how much I wasn't running. It's difficult to transition from running 130 miles a week to absolutely zero physical activity. What caused this? Well, in a word... arrogance. Yep, after rifling through dictionaries and thesauruses, that is still the word that best depicts my attitude towards running and my body this season.

I began the season by moving out to Colorado Springs in the dead of winter. It was tough getting out the door everyday when beginning the season in sub-zero temperatures. But as the year progressed I was up to my desired goal of 110-120 miles per week. More importantly, I was having a lot of fun. My first run resulted in a CR even after slipping and sliding all over the course (which actually resembled a mud trough). I then placed 2nd at both the Salida Marathon and American River. It was at this point, I think, that my attitude toward running changed.

I've been told by many people that in order to run with the best runners, you must first consider yourself to be their equal. This saying holds a lot of merit if you are racing. In training it can be dangerous. After American River, I was running 130 miles per week regardless of lack of sleep, illness, how many hours a day I spent on my feet at work, etc. It was 130 mpw no matter what. I was convinced that the more miles I ran, the better I would do in races. After all, I was running Western States and was eager to finish well. But after running at the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler, I began feeling a little more sluggish in day to day activities. I slept more, ate less, I didn't have that natural fire burning inside to go run in the mountains everyday.

As this feeling began to grow I began ignoring the important things outside of running such as yoga, stretching, relaxing, etc. The main focus became hitting the mileage number I had alloted for the week. And after a few weeks of this routine, I was toeing the line at the Blue Canyon 100k. I still think I raced well there, but the effect that race had on my body was crazy. It was the anvil that broke the camel's back. Three weeks later, I ran at Western States. DNF. At Vermont, I ran the first 50 miles well, but the last half was atrocious. I actually had to hold my pacer's hand to avoid collapsing. At Leadville, I promised to pace for 50 miles and could only run 36.5. My runner actually ran faster when I wasn't pacing him. With that, I was done with any and all racing plans for the year.

It's easy to see what went wrong. Too much of a good thing can be bad. As the season progressed, I became too worried about numbers and figures and forgot why I loved the sport so much. Getting out of the door to run became a chore rather than something to I enjoyed. And as with anything you are passionate about, it's easy to become frustrated with something you enjoy when you're not performing to the best of your ability.

After a month of solid rest and relaxation, I started running again. Moving to a new area (Washington) was definitely a good move. I have new trails to explore, as well as two amazing friends to run with every day. I also think the move to low altitude was good for my body. So far, I've kept all of my runs under two hours, and I'm listening to my body rather than fighting with it.

I also ran my first race since Vermont on Saturday. It was the Point Defiance 50k, and I'd only been running for 20 consecutive days since taking time off. Anyway, I went into the race thinking I'd just shoot for a sub 4 hour. When the gun went off, I tried to keep myself from bolting forward with the front pack. But the excitement of running a race was too much, and I began to pursue the leaders after the first mile. Pretty soon a new friend of mine caught up (Mike Lynes) and we led the race together for 26 miles. In the end, he fell back to help some runners who were lost and left me to finish the race alone in a time of 3:40:12. I can't say I felt great the entire race. In fact, I felt pretty awful for over half of it. But I can say now that I haven't lost the strength and stamina that I gained this season. Combined with a renewed sense of respect and devotion to the sport, I think this base phase will translate into an even more successful season next year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A story my father wrote....

This is an email my dad sent to the family after spending a weekend at our cabin in Vermont. Enjoy!

So, I went for a run...

Or a lumbering trot, stopping to walk every several yards because,

since the knee surgery and weight gain, "that's how I roll." I was

feeling good, as it didn't take me long to get warmed up, and I was

running more than walking, It was going to be a good day.

I remembered that there had been two Rottweillers on the route to

Landgrove road, so I mentally prepared myself to freeze, have the

owner come out and release me. But today there were no dogs, just me

and the trail. How could this get better?

After the first mile, I managed to pick up two deer flies. They

pestered me buzzing and diving, but there were only two, manageable I

thought. Like a typical Vermonter, I have learned to use my hat as a

weapon, at least to keep a few deer flies at bay.

I'm not sure what happened next, as the two deer flies were joined by

several bees. I could tell because the sound was different. I turned

around and saw an entire armada of bees coming at me. So, deer flies

were fine, but I soon found myself sprinting faster than I thought

possible. And, every time I looked back, there seemed to be more

insects, now in a variety of sizes, pursuing me. I really don't know

how I managed to provoke the swarm, I don't remember even seeing a bee

before the altercation and subsequent chase. They must have been

Africanized, because these bees were crazy, relentless, possessed.

So now I'm running as fast as I can, and I've taken my hat off to swat

and run, something between a cartwheel and pirouette. It must have

looked interesting, as an elderly couple in a passing car almost

slowed to a stop, rubbernecking, the woman's nose pressed against the

window to see the show. I was running and thrashing with the hat,

leaping, running and thrashing, until I just ran out of gas. The bees

chased me several hundred yards. They were pissed and in attack mode.

My heart was racing, and the thought occurred to me that, given my

ample size and lack of conditioning, I might be risking a heart attack

if I kept going.

So, I thought, keep running and risk cardiac arrest, or stop and

fight, and risk multiple bee stings. No good options. Shit. I stopped

running, grasped my hat, and said to myself, "come on bitch, let's do

it." The bees were all around me, dive bombing and trying to land, but

I was spinning and thrashing, and pumping my legs, like on Flashdance.

No part of my body was still, or assailable as long as I kept moving.

I managed to kill two bees, and for some reason, I thought the rest

would get the message and retreat. This did not happen.

The fight continued for what seemed two or three minutes, and finally

I killed the last attacker. I counted twelve bees around my feet, and

four deer flies, who had joined the assault when they thought the bees

had the upper hand. I was out of breath, exhausted, but victorious. No

stings, my pride intact.

I did, however, take a different way home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vermont 100 and other thoughts

Well, this last weekend was rough but I'm glad I stuck with it and finished. I'm still not sure what problems are occurring with my transition to 100 milers this year, but I am sure I need to go back to the drawing board after this one.

The problems for this race started on the Thursday before the race actually began. I raced from work to catch my 4:56 PM flight to Chicago, where I'd connect to Albany shortly after landing. Of course, with my usual luck I was delayed and missed my connection into my final destination. Unfortunately the only flights they had going to Albany were either booked full or arrived too late for me to make the pre-race meeting. Needless to say, Friday was extremely stressful and offered little opportunity to relax or even sleep.

I arrived at my house around 10:30 PM, ate a massive plate of spaghetti and tried to catch about 4 hours of shut-eye before driving to the race meeting. There I met with Julia Hutchinson, the race director, and got all of my vitals taken before beginning the race. I'd like to say here that Julia and the entire Vermont crew were very accommodating and understanding during this whole event. They are a solid group of people and I'd recommend this race to anyone who's looking for a laid-back but well-aided 100 miler.

To my surprise, even after jogging over to the tent to take my vitals, my blood pressure was 115/85 with a pulse of 50. I love going down to sea level. I also took a personal assessment and found that despite all of the crap I'd been through the last two days, I actually felt pretty good. I was ready to start this race. I gave my mom and sister a hug and walked over to the starting line.

The gun went off and the usual group of suspects launched forward. Among them, Neal Gorman (with an impressive finish at Western States), Michael Arnstein, Kami Semick, AJW, etc. My plan was to just stay with them until it got light, as Andy knows this course better than most. And this plan worked pretty well. Once the light started to peer over the mountains, I decided to let myself go and see how I felt through the halfway point.

Once I had opened about a 50 meter lead on 2nd place, and a 200m lead on the chase pack, I heard rustling leaves and breaking sticks to my right. Looking over, I saw a 300-400 pound black bear eating raspberries in a ditch alongside the road. Oddly enough, I wasn't too worried. I simply started to walk and clap and say "Hey Bear!" and then announced to everyone else that there was a bear right next to the road. Noone else saw it. By the time I looked back to where the bear had been, it was sprinting into the foliage.... an odd start to the race.

Just after this encounter I began to feel a brilliant burst of energy that kept me running up the hills and loping down them. I made it to the marathon mark in about 3:38 and took another assessment of where I stood in terms of pace. I realized that I might be going a bit faster than I should and decided to back off a bit. Meanwhile, cruising through the aid station, I forgot to take S! caps and didn't have any in my pouch to ingest. Thus began the gradual deterioration of my body.

Right around mile 40 I was still feeling good but was starting to have some fatigue issues similar to the ones I was having at Western States. I attributed this to a low point in the race (everybody has them, right?) and just tried to keep one foot in front of the other. Just after this, AJW caught up with me and we exchanged a few pleasantries. He pushed a bit past me and I managed to hang on through camp 10 bear in just under 7 hours. He jogged up the mountain, and I realized I had lost several pounds since my weigh in that morning. I decided to sit in the shade and chug some water and gatorade before heading out. I also tried to eat a bit of melon and watermelon. This just made my stomach turn over completely and I had to lay down to prevent myself from puking. In total, I spent 33 minutes in camp 10 bear aid station. Not only that, but I didn't get rid of the nausea. I walked up the hill and began jogging as quickly as I could without puking. This nausea continued pretty much all day, no matter how many S! caps I took, no matter what kind of food or drink I ingested.

The aid station at mile 60 is preceded by a large (for Vermont standards) hill. Even though this would be something I could sprint earlier in the season, it was a definite walker for me. At the top I felt so exhausted and nauseated that I dragged one of the rubbermaid containers from underneath the table and just sat down for a good 20 minutes. At this moment I realized that today would just be about finishing. I'd already failed to finish one race this season, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself DNFing two consecutive races. So I stood up and began trotting down the hill into Margaritaville. Here, I sat down for another 20 minutes and just about fell asleep (something I've never been able to do). Looking back, I should've at least had a margarita .

It was 8 grueling, nauseating miles to where I'd find my pacer. This race was pretty special because I had my high school cross country coach pacing me for the entire 30 miles. We'd both found ultra-running independently, so it was nice to finally talk to her about it in person.

When I got to the aid station, I sat once more and tried to binge on fluids such as gatorade, water, ginger ale. Once again, nothing settled my stomach. So after about 20 minutes of sitting, I sat up once more and began to make a dent in the remaining 30 miles.

Riva, my pacer, was pacing for her first time. But she was amazing. She wasn't demanding, but rather motivating. She was also great at reminding me to eat and drink, even though I sometimes refused.

We made it to mile 77 fairly well. At the aid station I sat once more and drank some broth, applesauce, and 2 gels. This settled my stomach better than anything else had. Broth is definitely something I will stick to in future races. And with that we jumped back up and began the next 11 mile stretch. After walking a few short hills, we settled into an astounding pace of 7 minute miles. It was great to feel "fast" again and this brightened my mood a bit as well. It looked like things were beginning to turn around for me when I started feeling an odd sensation in my left quad. The only way I could describe it is to imagine the shooting pain following every nerve that coursed through my leg. Not pleasant. This also continued until about 6 miles left.

At the 88 mile aid station I choked down some water, salt tabs, and a little bit of food (what exactly, I can't recall) and we set out into the last 12 mile section shortly before dark. I was pretty happy for the sun to go down. I knew that this race would be different than the other 100 milers I had done simply because I had a really good headlamp. This monstrosity from Black Diamond is not recommended for runners because it is so heavy, but I'll risk a slight neck cramp for the ability to see 300 yards ahead of me! Anyway, the next 6 miles went by without anything too exciting happening, other than the complete inability to run up hills. I kind of expected that though and wasn't too upset about it. But right as we were entering the last half mile before the aid station I was overcome with such feelings of exhaustion I actually held my pacer's hand to guide me. Its funny looking back on it now, but I was very upset about it at the time. We walked it in and there I laid down for another 20 minutes. Frustrating.

After ingesting several cups of broth and water, I sat back up and waddled a quarter mile before settling into my fastest pace of the day. The remaining 6 miles were hell but I was just trying to get them done as quickly as possible. At the finish I gave my pacer a hug, as well as my parents and sister. Then I ate a burnt grilled cheese and soaked my feet in the kiddie pool before passing out in the car on the way home.

As of right now, I'm just relaxing and taking a few weeks off of running, even moving for that matter. I either work or sit on the couch. It's nice having extra free time right now, but at the same time I find myself slipping on a pair of racing flats just to walk around the house. I'm full of energy, and the hardest part of this break is just making sure I've taken enough time to recuperate and heal. If all goes well I'd like to maybe run a 50 miler in October. Other than that, I think the real fun will be learning to explore the mountains again, rather than making every day a "routine". I hope that time will come soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

It may be time for a little break

Western States did not go well.

I think this past weeks events have been a clear sign that I need to take a short break and heal. I have been pushing myself pretty hard since december, and although I felt great leading up to Western States, once the gun went off I didn't feel a single spark of energy coursing through my body. No matter what I ate (caffeine or not, sugar or protein or fat) I still felt like each step could potentially be my last before I collapsed. This lack of energy also made me extremely clumsy in the snow and rocky terrain. The combination resulted in me falling down and rolling my ankle several times over the 55 miles I did complete. At the Michigan Bluff aid station, I finally decided to call it a day. I feel I still could have pushed on and made it to the finish in sub 24 hours.... but felt it was a better idea to save the ankle and see if I could recover before Vermont next month. I'm hoping I'll be rested enough to have a good finish there. After that, it would be nice to take a break from 100 milers for a while.

In the end I'm still happy with the week because I spent a lot of quality time catching up with my family and friends. It was truly a treat to be in their company. I just hope next time I can deliver a solid performance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pre Race Appraisal

There are several things that annoy me about tapering for races. It's a natural thing to do for any big race, but it is a very frustrating process to say the least.

I have been in Squaw Valley for the past week and have been tapering for the last two. The first week involves the ultra low energy and never ending appetite. I don't mind the food issue, eating is something that makes me very happy. But no matter how many times I encounter that fatigue infested, sleeping 11 hours a day, dragging myself through 6 mile recovery runs, kind of week, it always worries me and makes me dread the race coming up.

Then you get to the second week, which is the most toughest in my opinion. Its filled with ample energy that makes you bold and eager to test your speed. You sleep less, eat less, and exercise less. This, to me, separates the body from the mind which have been working in sync for the last few months. It seems unnatural to drop down to running only 30 to 45 minutes a day because I'm used to running for 4 hours.

In the end, though, I've learned to appreciate these weeks because they leave you eager to race and keep your mind from exploding with jitters and pre-race anxiety.

Altogether I feel strong and ready for a good race.

Best wishes to all the runners tomorrow. I'm excited to see how the Pearl Izumi guys do (Nick Lewis, Nick Clark, Ian Torrence, Josh Brimhall, etc.), and I really love their sponsor's rogue deal that has sweetened the race for a lot of the top runners. Apparently $2000 is being given to anyone who breaks the CR regardless of course. Good luck guys! And of course, I wish I could be a spectator to see the showdown at the front of the pack. Good luck to those guys, they know who they are.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blue Canyon Trail Race - Western States Heat Training

If anyone has seen the race results for this race, you already know it was brutal. For those of you who haven't, here is an in-depth explanation of why only 5 people finished the 100km and 3 for the 50 miler.

I flew into Burbank airport on friday night at 8:06 and was picked up by my long time friend Jon. As we drove up to Santa Barbara I explained that the race would be hot, with forecasts in the low 90s.

I got into Santa Barbara at around 10:15 and met up with Robert Gilcrest (race director) and began organizing the aid station supplies into the truck. We then proceeded to drop these containers at each of the aid stations in the backwoods of Santa Ynes and the Los Padres National Forest. At this time, the temperature was in the low 60s and there was quite a bit of wind, enough to where I put on a jacket. This was soon to change.

We successfully stocked all of the aid stations and made it back just in time for me to change clothes and get some food in my stomach before the race started. Yes, thats right, I was going to run this 100km race with 18000 feet of elevation gain on zero hours of sleep. Eh, a lot worse has happened before some of my races, and to be honest I felt pretty spry considering the amount of lifting and carrying I'd just done.

As we started the race, the temps were still cool but after a few minutes of running my body adjusted. I realized almost right away that my headlamp was, as in all my races, not powerful enough, and I ended up trailing a man with a searchlight on his noggin for about half of the first climb. After that I began to pull away from the group and I was alone for the next 11.5 hours.

I had forgotten how absolutely beautiful this race was. After the initial climb you are treated to a 4 mile downhill that hugs the steep mountainsides as you pound your way down. Around one of the corners I got a bit of video of the sunrise and even stopped to get a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Its these moments that make me glad I do what I do. Running on trails has offered me so many opportunities to reflect on how beautiful nature is and how lucky I am to be able to enjoy it.

Right after the 4 mile downhill you are then corralled into a section of steep downhill single track. This area is one of my favorite sections of the race due to its rolling nature and exposed trail. It was still moderately cool so the exposure allows you to take in the surroundings and also to see how the competition is stacking up. I looked to my side at the trail I'd just run and saw Maria Petzold about 200 meters back. Seeing as how this was the first 8 miles of the race I didn't really think much of it and settled back into my rhythm.

Last year I read an article about this race called "Boom!" In the article the writer, Zach Landman, used the word, Boom, to describe the manner in which you are subjected to massive uphills and downhills without any warning. Even this year I felt that way.

Right after this short section of rolling and rugged singletrack the trail juts upward and climbs for a few miles before hitting another jeep road. Once there you make your way down the jeep road to the dam. It was on this section of jeep road that the sun really started beating down on us. The temperature, once in the low 60s, became a sweltering, scorching unknown. I had no way of knowing what exactly I was dealing with out in the canyons. As I went through an unmanned aid station after the dam, I packed my water bottle with ice and grabbed a handful to rub on my carotids to keep the temperature. Seeing no gels, I took an assessment of where I was fuel-wise and found that I had 4 gels to last me about 2 hours. Not bad, but I'd be hurting if it took any longer.

The sun just kept getting hotter and hotter. I've never really experienced anything like that before, even living in Texas. I finally deduced that the rocks were now absorbing the heat from the sun and reflecting it back up toward me. This meant it was only gonna get worse as the sun got higher in the sky. On this next extremely rugged and rolling section of uphill, I ran out of water. Luckily the aid station was only about 10 minutes away. I reminded myself once I checked in to drink an extra bottle of water before leaving. Also, I found out that there were no gels. I now had 6.2 very hot and hilly miles to survive on just S! caps and water. Great.

This section is basically the same as the last, with a steep singletrack section that leads to a jeep road that goes downhill to an aid station. This turned out to be one of the harder sections for me since I had no fuel. As I made my way up the last few steps to the road, I felt my head begin to swim and my legs begin to buckle. I think now that it was both a combination of dehydration and lack of carbs. At this station I inhaled a bag of goldfish, two gels, some jelly beans, a full 20 oz ice cold lemon lime gatorade, and then proceeded to fill my bottles and stock my pack. I was only going to be running two miles to the 100km turnaround, but I wanted to be sure I'd be able to gain back some ground on what I'd done to myself earlier. Also, this race has a way of making 4 miles take forever.

I reached the turnaround without many problems and began to count the minutes between me and my closest competitor. Surprisingly only 8 minutes behind was Maria Petzold. As I passed I said "Good job" halfheartedly and only got a cold stare back. I'm still not sure if she was trying to intimidate me or she was just very focused, but I got the feeling like the day could end with her as the victor.

Reaching the aid station again, I wolfed down another pack of goldfish, another 20 oz gatorade, and a full bottle of water. After I stocked my packs and bottles I shot up the mountain, eager to gain a little breathing room between me my pursuer. I think I worked quite well because as I made it to the next aid station and met my friend Brooks, I asked him to yell when she came by him. As I ran over the mountain I never heard anything. This gave me a little bit of confidence to start running my own race again. I even stopped to douse myself with murky, lukewarm stream water. Its crazy how that sounded so enticing in the moment.

Basically I just maintained the same strategy for the rest of the race. At every aid station I would pack my shirt with ice, chug a gatorade or whatever else was available, and eat as many gels as my pack would hold between the stations. This worked especially well on the last large climb (6 miles and 2000 feet of gain). I think this is where I began to eat away at my course record from last year. In the 2009 race, it took me approximately an hour and a half to do this climb. This year it took me only an hour. I think I also gained quite a bit of a lead on the competition as well.

The next 7 miles were the only thing between me and the finish line, considering the last 2.5 miles after that are all downhill and runnable. The only problem was the fact that every single hill and canyon look the same when you're that far into a race. You are literally unable to distinguish where you are and as the hours seem to take forever its impossible not to get discouraged. I remember at one point thinking that I was on the last hill only to see the aid station tent about 2 miles away... then proceeding to scream "F*%#" as loud as I could in frustration.

As I rolled through the finish line I thought that at any moment I'd snap out of one of the many hallucinations I had that day and I'd be right back at the top of the mountain. Luckily enough this was real and I was greeted with ice packs and cold towels and most importantly, a beer. After speaking with one of the volunteers I found out that the Start/Finish area was marked at 95 degrees and the 100km turnaround on top of the mountain was 103 in the shade. I can only imagine what the exposed areas of the canyons were.

Final tally: 5 people finished the 100km. I finished 53 minutes ahead of my times last year, and Maria was 31 minutes behind me. Of the 18 others that DNFed the 100km, 15 dropped to the 50 mile. Of the combined 25 people that ran the 50 mile, 3 finished. 2 people were air-lifted out of the race. And my friend and future WS pacer won his first ultra by being the toughest SOB in the 50 mile category. Congrats Man!!!

I'd also like to congratulate and give my support to Maria Petzold, who is a phenomenal runner and someone I think will make a great impact in the sport very soon.

With this race out of the way, there is nothing between me and a great race at Western States now. I feel that this race was key in my preparation for the upcoming race and now I can look toward it confidently.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Upcoming Race

Hello all,

Sorry I've been off the blog for a bit. Good news though, I'll have a race report to post by Monday. Today I'll be flying to Santa Barbara to take part in the second annual Blue Canyon Trail Race (100km for me). Brooks Williams of Colorado Springs will also be joining me hoping to win the 50 miler, thus winning his first ultra. Its gonna be a hot day, with forecasts of sun and temps of 91 degrees. Also, this course will offer around 18,000 feet of elevation gain in the 100km race, and just over 14,000 feet for the 50 miler. For anyone who reads this blog, I strongly suggest attending this race next year. The aid stations are very well supplied, the course is challenging and beautiful, and the Race Director is one of the nicest people I've met. Check out the website and see if you're up for the challenge.

Anyway, the plan right now is to go under 11 hours. Brooks' goal is to go sub 9, and with the starting times being a few hours apart, we plan to "pace" (more like race) each other to the finish line.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2000 Miles

Yes, this week (Friday, to be exact) I reached the 2000 mile mark. This is a huge milestone in my training, considering I put just about 3000 miles on my legs over the entirety of last season. At this pace I'll hit 5000 by the end of the year, something that has been a secret goal of mine since the season began. Since American River, I've been trying to keep the miles per week consistently higher and more technical. Here is what I've been up to....

April 12-April 18

M-AM 4 miles, 35 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 4 miles, 29 min (Sante Fe Trail)

T- 6 miles, 48 min (Sante Fe Trail)

W-AM 6 miles, 43 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe Trail)

T-AM 6 miles, 40 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 6 miles, 42 min(Sante Fe Trail)

F- 12 miles, 97 min (Garden of the Gods)

S- CRUD ~12.5 miles, ~110 min (Rampart to Waldo Canyon)

PM 6 miles, 45 min (Sante Fe Trail)

S-12 miles, 100 min (Barr Trail up to 9K from Memorial)

TOTAL: 80.5 miles, 10 hours 31 min, 7:50 min/mile

April 19-April 25

M-AM 10 miles, 76 min (Garden of the Gods)

PM 6 miles, 44 min (Sante Fe Trail)

T-AM 16-17 miles, 128 min (Garden of the Gods)

W-AM 6 miles, 43 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 4 miles, 26 min (Sante Fe Trail)

T-AM 18 miles, 158 min (BARR)

F-AM ~16-17 miles, 132 min (BARR)

S- CRUD 14 miles, 129 min (10" snow @ palmer)

PM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe Trail)

S- 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 6 miles, 43 min (Sante Fe Trail)

TOTAL: ~110 miles, 14 hrs 23 min, 7:51 min/mile

April 26- May 2nd

M-AM 18 miles, 147 min (Door, GoG, Rampart)

PM 6 miles, 41 min (Sante Fe)

T-AM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe)

PM 14 miles, 102 min (GoG to the SCAR)

W-AM 6 miles, 41 min (Sante Fe)

PM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe)

T-AM 6 miles, 44 min (Sante Fe)

PM 6 miles, 44 min (Sante Fe)

F- 6 miles, 45 min (Sante Fe)

C2 Yoga, 60 min


S- 6 miles, 47 min (Sante Fe Trail)

TOTAL: 130 miles

May 3-May 9

M-AM 10 miles, 78 min (GoG)

PM 6 miles, 47 min (Sante Fe)

T-AM 10 miles, 78 min (Sante Fe)

PM 6 miles, 40 min (Sante Fe)

W-AM 15 miles, 123 min (GoG)

PM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe)

T-AM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe)

PM 8 miles, 75 min (SCAR)

F-AM 17 miles, 154 min (713 trail)

PM 4 miles, 27 min (Sante Fe)

S- 22 miles, 214 min (Rampart, Waldo, Long's Ranch, BARR)

S- 19 miles, 166 min (GoG, SCAR)

TOTAL: 129 miles

May 10- May 16

M- 6 miles, 46 min (sick)

T- 6 miles, 41 min (sick)

W-AM 6 miles, 41 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 6 miles, 40 min (Sante Fe Trail)

T-AM 10 miles, 66 min (Sante Fe Trail)

PM 6 miles, 41 min(Sante Fe Trail)

F- AM 15 miles, 117 min (High Drive, I hit the 2000 mile mark right as it began to snow at 8200 feet, a miserably cold run actually)

PM 6 miles, 40 min (Intemann)

S- CRUD 18 miles, 183 min (Trail 313)

PM 6 miles, 42 min (Sante Fe Trail)

S- 15 miles, 117 min (GoG)

TOTAL: 100 miles

These last few weeks have been amazing for quite a few reasons.

I've been fortunate enough to have locked down another solid pacer for Western States. This new friend, Brooks Williams, also has quite a gift for finding new trails that offer not only massive vertical gain but a great deal of scenery too. Together we discovered a way to run from Woodland Park to Colorado Springs in about the same time it would take to drive.

I've hit an average of 106 miles per week since January 1st, with recovery and build-up weeks added in. I know that this average will only get higher as the season progresses, and this realization has bumped me up a few notches in the mental game.

And lastly, I broke the course record at the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler while training through the race (6:52:05). This is a sure sign that my fitness has reached a level it has never been before. Below is a picture of Ryan Burch and I at the finish line. Ryan finished with an impressive 3:05. I'm excited to see what he does at Jemez. Hopefully I can make my way out there to be a spectator.

I still have a lot of miles left before the season is over, and quite a few races mixed in there. Next up is the Blue Canyon 100k. This race is 3 weeks out from Western States, and will be a great test to see if my legs can handle the climbs and descents. The 100k has 18k of elevation gain on a 66 mile out-and-back course. My hope is that its also hot so I can get a little bit of acclimation.... seeing as how its snowed here two days ago.

I've noticed quite a few people are posting their favorite tunes on their blogs, so I'd like to follow suit and give you one of my favorite songs to listen to (in the rare event that I run with an Ipod).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

American River, and unexpected goals

Sorry its taken me so long to write this.  There really isn't a reason for the procrastination, im just lazy.

This race was number one on my list in order of importance.  As I've stated in previous posts, I really wanted to hit a target time of 5:50 to qualify for the selection pool of the 100k world team.

The day before the race I got a chance to see the starting line, as I was staying at the Comfort Inn approximately one mile from the start.  I also jogged/walked about 4 miles around the area to get my legs moving after the car ride from San Francisco.

The next morning, I walked with my parents over to the start and stripped off my sweatshirt and jacket.  As I've been told (and have read on many blogs), this race usually starts out pretty fact.  I'm not sure if its the excitement or simply peoples' preference to go all out on the paved, flat section.  Something about this race makes people shoot out of the starting gate like their ass is on fire.  I had been told to run my own race, and that is what I attempted to do for the first few miles.  Until mile 4 or 5, I was hitting what I thought to be around 6:40 pace.  As I began to converse with two runners next to me, I learned their goal time was sub-7 hours.  This worried me a bit and I gradually increased the pace until my stride was as long as it could be without being labored.

Just as we passed through the first aid station, I met up with Mark Gilligan (founder of and began to talk with him about nothing in particular.  I also missed my parents.  It turns out they were having trouble not only finding the aid stations, but getting into the parks that charge $10 every time you enter, regardless of how long you stay.  The day was cool and cloudy though, and I didn't need any more gels this early in the race.

After a few more miles I finally caught up with what I thought to be the lead pack.  I found out moments later that this was a chase pack, with ranks 2-8 chasing the leader Michael Buchanan.  He was 4 minutes ahead at the half marathon.  Mark, being the helpful person he is, gave us constant updates on his whereabouts.  As I had predicted, he had just gone out too fast and the pack was gaining ground with every step.

At around mile 20, there was an unexpected uphill and then back to flat ground.  After this section, Geoff Roes had to make a pit-stop, and shortly after that there was about a half mile section of single track.  It was at this point that I made a surge, or I guess just kept the same pace.  Everyone else seemed to slow down a lot (which Anton Krupicka also mentioned about his 2008 race) on the single track section.  The pack also spread out quite a bit, and I ended up gaining about a 200 meter lead on Mike Wolfe and Max King.  I kept this lead until the marathon mark, where I also passed Michael Buchanan, passing the marathon mark in a new PR of 2:46:??.  Coming through the aid station I felt awesome.  Maybe it was just the excitement of taking the lead or the 2X caffeinated gel I took moments earlier.  Most likely it was a mixture of the two.

At this point you venture off of the road to rolling single track.  After less than a mile, it was obvious I had the wrong idea of what rolling single track meant.  I had imagined soft, rolling hills and pristine trails that you often see in California and the Pacific Northwest.  This was a little bit more technical, and also had steeper hills than I had expected.  Not that it really mattered, but as I began to bound up the steep, short and rocky uphills, I started to feel little twitches in my hamstrings.  This was a feeling I've had only once before and I knew that some serious pain was on its way.  Just as I had predicted, on one of the steeper hills I tried to hop over a large rock and my hamstring instantly tightened up to the point where I had to stop and stretch it out.  I then walked for about 30 seconds and tried to run down the hill.  This didn't work so well and I was forced again to stretch it out.  This is the point where Max King ran by and I simultaneously saw my sub-5:50 goal disintegrate.  First to third in a distance of 2 miles.  After about 5 minutes of jog/hobble/walking I made it to the next aid station and gulped down a gel and 3 S! caps.  I new it would only be 20 minutes or so for them to start working, but I had already lost my mental charge from losing two spots.

Here is where I will divert from the race report a bit, and mention something I had learned just before this race.  My mom had mentioned reading the blogs of Tim Parr and Duncan Callahan, and saw their strategy of staying positive even when things look their worst.  This can be done in plenty of ways.  Mine was to just remember why I had come to this race in the first place, all of the miles I had put in, and just to keep my mind focused on the fact that I really love what I'm doing at the moment regardless of how much pain I'm feeling.  To put it succinctly, "Laugh the pain away."

This strategy worked until I could feel the effects of the S! caps, and soon after I was back at 7ish minute pace.  After a few more miles, I could hear the cheers from an aid station, and I realized that I was only 30-45 seconds away from an unknown runner ahead of me.  As I made my way through the station, I switched water bottles with my parents, and then set out to catch the mystery runner holding spot #2.  Mere seconds after the hill next to the aid station, I saw Max walking up the remainder of the hill and this was the point where I knew I had a solid chance for 2nd place.  Geoff was long gone in my mind (and in actuality), but if I could piece together 8 more miles, I was a shoe-in for Western States.  This wasn't my original goal, but it became a driving force in these final miles.

I was still intent upon finishing under  5:50, but as the next corner became an immeasurable distance to the next aid station (the sign said 2.8 miles, but i think it was more like 4), I realized that goal was gone once again.  As the negative thoughts began creeping into my head, I decided to run the race as if Max were nipping at my heels (he very well could have been, in this race its impossible to see more than 100 meters behind you in most places).  This helped my pace, but also caused me to look back about 50 times while climbing up the final 3 miles.  Once the road leveled off I saw Mark again and he started yelling.  I traded shirts with him so I could finally get a picture in an Ultrasingup jersey at the finish line.  Crossing the line, all of the pain and emotion seems to melt away.  You're left with the notion of accomplishment and sheer joy.

Anyway, I think the race went really well despite missing my goal time by 6 minutes.   I still feel there are 6+ minutes out there somewhere on the course, but I'm not losing any sleep over my performance.  Not to say I could have hung on to Geoff for the whole race either.  He is a very strong runner and I'm certain he would have done whatever it took to win the race.

I've been given an opportunity now to run one of the most prestigious and competitive 100 milers in the world, and I think that qualifies as a pretty good consolation prize.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Big Miles Before American River

Here are the last two weeks of running lined up together:


M- AM 72 min, 10 miles

T-  AM 63 min, 9 miles

W- AM 91 min, 14 miles @ 6:30 pace

     PM 41 min, 6 miles

T- 140 min, 18 miles

F- AM 43 min, 6 miles

     PM 43 min, 6 miles

S- 115 min, 15 miles

S- 75 min, 11 miles

TOTAL: 95 miles, 11 hrs 23 min, 7:11 min/mile


M- AM 66 min, 10 miles

     PM 42 min, 6 miles

T- WORKOUT, AM 8 miles @ 6:40, 8 miles @ 6:30

                      PM 8 miles @ 6:40, 8 miles @ 6:30

Actual:  AM 8 miles (50:38), 8 miles (49:37)

+ 2 mile warmup and 2 mile cooldown (28:12)

PM 8 miles (50:28), 8 miles (50:01)

+ 2 mile warmup and 2 mile cooldown (29:36)

Total speed workout miles: 32

Avg min/mile during workout: 6:16.75

Total miles run: 40

Avg min/mile total: 6:28.09

W- AM 46 min, 6 miles

     PM 44 min, 6 miles

T- AM 89 min, 12 miles

     PM 42 min, 6 miles

F- AM 96 min, 14 miles

     PM 42 min, 6 miles

S- CRUD, 168 min, 17 miles

     C2 Yoga, 75 min

     PM 40 min, 6 miles

S- AM 139 min, 16 miles

     PM 48 min, 6 miles

TOTAL: 151, 18 hrs 42 min, 7:25 min/mile

So, I've been off of the blog for a brief stint.  Mostly, I had nothing to write about.  The week after Salida was a bit boring with mainly recovery miles. This week was quite a bit different.   Originally, I had intended for the weeks to be somewhat similar mileage-wise (somewhere around 130).  But two days after Salida I felt some muscle soreness that told me I might want to back off a little before proceeding to the serious training.  So, after a full week of recovery I was ready to start my last week of high mileage before American River.

This week was not only going to be high mileage, but also quite experimental.  I had been given advice from several people on how to train for this race.  Some said long tempos would do the trick.  Others said high, consistent mileage is the key.  I also heard a few people tell me that quality is the biggest factor.  What I ended up with was a mixture of all three.  

On Monday I decided to get in a solid 16 with my roommate to start off the week well.  There isn't too much to add to that, other than I felt great from the lower mileage week.

Tuesday was a mixture of craziness.  It was my day off of work and I had chosen to do my big workout for that reason.  Seeing that it was warm and sunny outside, I changed my plans a bit to avoid driving to the start of my workout and ended up running 2 miles to warm up.

Once I got to mile marker 31.5 on the Sante Fe Trail, I took off my jacket and knotted it into the handhold on my water bottle, setting it next to the marker.  I had originally wanted to do 

the first of four 8-mile repeats at 6:40 min/mile.  The first mile was on pace, but felt way too comfortable.  I began to lengthen my stride and without much more effort found myself hitting the 2 mile mark at 12:50.  Even though this was much too fast, I still felt great and decided to keep up the effort for the rest of the way, hitting 8 miles in 50:38.  At this point I caught my breath and took a gel and a swig of water.  The next round was a bit faster (49:37) and by the end I was desperate for a drink of water.  Reaching down to my jacket for my water bottle, I noticed it was no longer there.  Someone had actually taken the time to unknot my jacket from the water bottle, and just steal the water bottle.  Cost of jacket: ~ $100.  Cost of water bottle: ~ $22.  This will rack my brain for weeks, months, maybe even years. So, after the second 8-mile jaunt I ran home 2 miles, empty handed, and took an ice bath and a nap to prepare myself

 for the next workout. 

Running back out to the start, I met my friend Harsha at the mile marker.  He was going to run one of the 8 mile time trials with me and it felt great to have some company.  So we set out at a comfortable pace.  However, by the second mile the pace had increased significantly and Harsha's left hamstring was starting to bunch up.  I learned shortly after this that he had already run for 2.5 hours that day.  He told me to go on, and I made my way to the 4 mile turnaround point.  Coming back, I saw Harsha again and he joined me for the last 3 miles or so to the finish.  On the way we met Larry on his bike, and he paced me the entire way back to a time of 50:28.  Setting out north for the last 8 mile split, it began to rain and I tried to stay as close to Larry as I could to avoid the cold rain.  At this point I could feel my body start to become indifferent to the discomfort I was feeling.  I felt the same at 7 minute pace as I did at 6.  As I noticed this, I began to push harder and harder.

By the time we made it to the 4 mile mark, the rain had increased and it was getting windier by the second.  Harsha met us there and I took a quick sip of gatorade before heading back alone.  As I entered the final mile the rain turned into ice pellets and I hammered a 6 flat mile to get to my rain jacket as soon as possible.  I crossed the line in 50:01.  After quickly putting on my jacket and retrieving my water bottle (this one didn't get stolen) I ran home very awkwardly, being pelted by freezing raindrops the entire time.  Being in my apartment for only about 10 minutes, I heard my neighbor exclaim, "HOLY SH*T!!!".  I ran outside, and to my amazement saw a winter wonderland.  About 2 inches of snow had fallen in that short amount of time.  All I could do was laugh.  What an interesting day....

The rest of the week went by very well.  I had a few longish runs on my own and one with CRUD in another blustery, frigid outing.  And to cap off the week, I finished a 16 miler with a new friend named Peter Maksimow.  He is new to the Inov-8 team, and will definitely be a threat this year at Mt. Washington.  Check out his profile here.

Altogether, I think this week went very well.  I managed to rack up a personal record for the amount of miles run, as well as getting in a very solid workout in preparation for American River.  The key points for success were: I had 4 runs that were 1:29:00 or higher, a 40 mile workout, ran 151 miles and scheduled in 7 recovery runs. If I can manage to recover well this week I believe I will be a very dangerous competitor in this race.