Monday, May 30, 2011

Western States training Runs

You know I dream of Western States 100 right?

So far, I have qualified to enter the race and have been in the lottery twice – not made it in yet. Third time may or may not be a charm. I guess we will find out in December.

Anyway, as part of my TRT training, I decided to partake in the Western States training runs. I would get back to back long runs, and I would get some solid hill training. Plus, I would get to see part of the course that seems to draw me to it.

Day one: The plan 30.6 miles. Runners met at the Foresthill Elementary School, Because of snow in the high country, the course had to be changed. The bus dropped us off at a place called Drivers Flat, where we ran down to the river – probably dropping 1000' – then we joined the WS course and worked our way back up to Foresthill. A lot of climbing. Some descents, but mostly climbing. From Foresthill we then went up to Michigan Bluff, then turn around and back to Foresthill. I did manage to miss a turn adding an additional mile or so. I think my favorite part was crossing Volcano Creek twice – in both directions it came after a pretty long descent (and was followed by a pretty long climb) – so I took the opportunity to soak my quads, it really did seem to calm down their anger. The crossing needed a rope to get across, and the current was pretty violent, but it was a lot of fun.

It doesn't look much - but it was a pretty treacherous crossing

I really felt strong toward the end. Only thing was the cold, it started raining in the last mile, and this warm blooded body of mine that has just started heat training really suffered! I finished strong.

Day Two: The plan. 19 miles. Basically follow the WS course to Rucky Chucky which is about 16 miles, then a 3 mile climb out up to where a bus picked us up and took us back to Foresthill. Seemed to be mainly descents today, (well at least until the climb out). I definitely started to feel the effects of yesterday run after about 10 miles and my pace dropped of quite substantially. There was one spot on early on, a particularly nasty rocky gnarly descent, when I just threw myself down the hill in an effort to gain some confidence – I didn't fall, so perhaps that's what I should do. I did enjoy the views as I worked my way down to the American River – it looked so small from 3000 ft. When it came to the climb out I got a second wind, and ended up finishing strongly.

Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed both runs, and having now been on the course, nothing has been done to dampen my enthusiasm, I still really want to do the Western States 100.

I have said before, as someone who typically runs at the back of the middle of the pack (or the front of the back of the back),, when it comes to power hiking up hills, I am decidedly front of the middle of the pack or even back of the front of the pack – I am very proud of my hill climbing ability

Lunchtime heat training or hill repeats or speed work in 90 degree weather at Umstead, or skipping round the Angle Breaker trail at Jordan Lake especially in the heat, really helps to prepare for this kind of thing.

Enjoy some pictures:

Heat training with Jimbo

With The Boogie 50 just around the corner, and the heat now returning to North Carolina, it is time to acclimate to the temperatures that have been known to beat the best at the Boogie. In fact yours truly totally bolloxed the Boogie 12 months ago.

Here's how I train for the heat… do I really need to do a disclaimer here? OK then…. Blah blah blah, risk of death….. blah blah risk of pain….. blah blah blah… I don't know what I am doing or saying…. Blah blah blah, seek medical advice… blah blah… blah YMMV DYOFR, and above all, just remember DBFS.

Right, now we have that out of the way. Here are my thoughts:
  1. I don't "beat the heat" – I "meet the heat" (If you want to "heat the meat", I say, "yes please, medium rare"). I know many people who train through the summer for a fall marathon, by running early in the morning, then of course wonder why there marathon attempt falls apart 20 miles in and they are totally dehydrated and suffering early signs of heat exhaustion. So yeah – I run in the afternoons. I avoid the shade. A treadmill run in an air conditioned gym doesn't get me acclimated.
  2. I don't run for pace. I run by perceived effort. As the weather heats up, my pace will suffer, I am not surprised to see my pace 1, 2 or even 3 minutes per mile slower than I can normally do in cooler weather. It doesn't matter. As I acclimate, my pace will pick back up. I normally notice that this is true if we get a cool spell, or once we get into the fall temperatures, I suddenly find myself going much much quicker. Forget tempo runs, and running "x miles at goal race pace" – I think in terms of "y minutes at easy/medium/hard/maximum effort". I genuinely believe that running in the heat has a notable effect on endurance
  3. Electrolytes are important – I read about them, experiment, study different products, and come up with something that works for me. I don't assume that because I was doing x, y, and z at the end of last summer, that I will need to do the same again this year.
  4. If I start getting dehydrated, or feeling the early signs of heat exhaustion, it is time to stop. (This is what happened at Enoree)
  5. This one makes people go "LOL WTF?!!" I have a 30 minute commute home – I drive home with no a/c, in fact I turn the heat on full blast. Last year the hottest I got my Explorer too was 130oF, best so far this year is 120oF. There is no better way to make 95oF feel cool. I only do this for a couple of weeks – I am not sure there is much benefit after that, because this combined with the "meet the heat" runs gets me acclimated pretty quickly.
  6. I experiment with different ways to cool off during a run. I have yet to find anything better than ice. Drink some ice cold water/sportsdrink, it seems to cool the core quite quickly, ice around the neck helps too, ice under the hat, ice water poured over my head are all pretty effective ways of pulling down the body temperature. This year I will wait until I feel acclimatized before I experiment with this.
That's all there is to it

A 5k is like a 100 mile run – well kinda

I haven't run a 5k race for about a year, and even then, I just ran it for fun, with no time target.

But since sometime in the fall, where I did a 5k training run and managed to get it under 24 minutes, I have been thinking I would like to do this in an actual race. Now the training run could best be described as "gravity assisted". Mile 1 was mainly downhill. Next ¼ was flat, then about ¾ is uphill, then downhill apart from the last 0.1. Anyway, I was very pleased with that.

So now I needed to do it in a race, it will be a good PR. I think my actual race PR is about 27-28 minutes – so yeah, here's a good opportunity to really smash a PR.

Moncure Panther Prowl, just up the road from home. I left the house about 30 minutes before gun time – and was all registered and ready to go 15 minutes later. There was a fairly good crowd there, a mixture of "obvious" athletes, students and fun runners and walkers. Being as I was planning on running as hard as possible, for once, I lined up just behind the front runners.


Pace smart Jimbo pace smart – I stayed at that pace that is not quite a sprint, but is almost unsustainable. Lots of people were ahead of me – but I was ok with that. I decided that I would like to "race for place" too. Many of those ahead of me were school students, and I knew that they would drop off fairly early. Pace smart Jimbo. Pretty soon, I was picking one runner after another off, as the saying goes, "steady pace wins the race" (actually, is that a saying? If not, it should be). But it was starting to hurt… had I gone out too fast?

1 mile in, there was a water stop – I declined – many didn't and I picked up a few more places. This race was an out and back, so I could count the people ahead of me as they came the other way. I was 7th; 5th placed male at the turnaround. Wow. After the turn was a steady climb for a short while – now was the time to race. I started to narrow the gap on 6th place, then she stopped and started walking. Yay – up to 6th. 5th place wasn't that far ahead, but he was slowly pulling away on the ups, I would gain some back on the downs.

Think Jimbo… you need a plan. Now in the last mile. Push a little harder, I was gaining now on the ups too. But I don't need to pass him yet, because that would just take too much effort, I am absolutely red-lining now and my heart is going to beat right out of my chest. Time it right Jimbo… I am just 10 feet behind him….. time it right. The finish line is in sight…. Not yet… not yet, there's a tiny downhill just ahead, about 100yds from the finish… then…. Ready… ready… yeah I can do this… ready GO! Sprint for the finish GO GO GO. 6 or 7 strides later I am in 5th place. GO GO GO GO! Then NO NO NO. SHIT. I am done. 50yds to go, I am totally out of steam, I am drastically slowing down, my legs are giving out. I actually signal the guy I just passed to come on by, he didn't. Looks like he was done too. I just jogged to the finish, and crossed the line in 5th place. The looked at my watch – 23:34. Wow, totally thrilled with that.

So – my point. Comparing a 5k to a 100 miler. Here's my analysis:

  1. They both hurt
  2. Legs decide they don't want to operate
  3. Puking is never out of the realms of possibility.
  4. Smart pacing is everything.
  5. Just after the start you regret even entering
  6. Occasional fleeting thoughts of quitting
  7. The finish is incredibly satisfying.

The big difference – everything lasts just 1/60th as long. And if that were true for finish times – I should get ready to run a sub 24 hour 100. LOL WTF!

A side note – I think my average pace was around 7:38 or something close, which is right around the same pace Ian Sharman maintained at Rocky Racoon. For 100 miles in 12:44. Incredible.

Recovery is swift. Later that afternoon, I run a 6+ mile run at Jordan Lake.

Sunday is the Cary half marathon (how cute[LOL/WTF etc etc]). I am going to try for a second PR in one weekend. Hmmm, that didn't go quite as well. 5 miles in I am beginning to feel the effects of the hard effort the day before, and the heat has kicked it up a notch, and there is a good level of humidity, and fairly soon after that I give up on any time goals and just run for fun. Somewhere around mile 11 some guy had collapsed and the EMT's were working on him – he looked in bad shape. It was pretty warm, throw in some dehydration and some over or under training, and you can see how it can happen. So I slowed down even more. I crossed the finish line in 2:21 or so. Then had a beer

Blogging from 35,000 ft

How cool is this? Onboard Wi-Fi, the 21st century is pretty cool isn't it?

Pointless post.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Time for another PR

Not sure why, but since my DNF at Enoree, I have not felt that anything was going right with my training, and general preparation for TRT. Everything, and I mean everything has got to be done to better my chances of that big fat shiny buckle. Last week, I did think I was getting back to basics, with plenty of lunchtime runs at Umstead and some good Jordan Lake runs, but just as I was getting into the swing of it, I needed to travel for work.

I need a boost in confidence – so for the heck of it, I decided to run a half-marathon on the hotel treadmill. Not only run a half-marathon, but beat my PR of 1:58:40.

Oh yeah, a quick word about my PR – this was at the Cary Inside Out Sports Half, probably 3 years ago. My official time I think is 2:02:xx. Yes, I cheated with my watch; I stopped it when I went to use the portajohn half way round. I guess that is cheating isn't it?

So, really, I have never run a sub 2-hour half.

Time to change that, and erase my cheating for good. (Feels good to confess)

So, armed with a bottle of orange Gatorade, a bottle of water, and MP3 player full of punk rock I set the treadmill in motion – it would only go for an hour, so I would have to reset at 59:59.

To keep me honest, I posted my intention on Facebook, there is no backing out now that it is public

I took the first mile fairly easy, about 9 minutes. Then I started to ramp up the speed a bit. As my average pace increased, I decided to target 7.1 miles for the first hour – having 6 miles left for the second half made everything a whole lot easier to figure out. To get there, I kept the 'mill at around 7.0mph, but threw in a couple of minutes from time to time at 7.5 – yes, I was doing speedwork. I hit 7.1 exactly on the hour, the reset took about 4 seconds, and I was away again.

Once I was approaching 9 miles total, I knew that the PR was in the bag, it was just a question of by how much. I was targeting now a time of under 1:50, with a couple of miles left – I figured 1:49 was a possibility if I picked up the pace. OK, so I have to try and beat it by 10 minutes. One mile left: GO! I ramped the 'mill to 8 mph and hung on for as long as I could. One thing I learned during this last mile was the amount of sweat made the belt slippery, which was kinda tricky. (So was updating my status with miles to go so that some FB friends could keep track of me).

YAY! Mission accomplished. 1:48:33.

Still no word from sponsors, so I am not going to say what helped me through, and what I was wearing. You see how this works? I would have mentioned the stuff I used, and both the people who read this blog would have been so impressed, and decided to run a treadmill half, that they would have flocked to their local running store in droves and bought your products. But NOOOO, you continue to ignore the kool kidz at the back. Your loss (and mine too).

Then I had a cheeseburger and a beer

Here's a picture of me on the 'mill.

Note, that being as Hampton Inn provided me with the treadmill -- I decided that they can get some publicity. See how that works potential sponsors? :)




Thursday, May 5, 2011

Enoree Passage 40 (25 for me) and a few words that begin with "D"

Downright depressing

I had a tough time at last weekend’s Enoree Passage 40, which turned into a 25 miler for me. Ugh.

I think the big problem was of my own making, but caused by the weather. My big mistake was not carrying two handheld water bottles or wearing my hydration pack. And I really should know better. I am however also blaming my lack of heat acclimation too. With 5 miles between aidstations, I know it will take more than hour, and I do know that I need 30-40oz fluid per hour when it is hot and humid. So why did I just carry a 20oz bottle? Dumb eh?

So, back to the race itself. It was ran on gorgeous trails, a 20 mile out and back, some moderate climbing, and some moderately technical trails, but mainly flat and mainly runnable. It is also the location of one of my best ultras ever – last year I had a very good solid race, finishing in about 8:20. I am of course (in my ever so humble [dumb] opinion) in better shape than this time last year – with PR’s for 50k, 50 mile and marathon in the last few months, I figured I should be able to PR for 40 miles too. Wrong!

Miles 0-10 went well, at 10 miles I was a hair over two hours – nicely on target for my PR. From 10-15, even though I lost a little time – the heat started slowing me down, I was still on target. 15-20 was where it all started to go wrong. Just a couple of miles out from the 15 mile aidstation, I was nearly out of fluid, I rationed my last couple of ounces to make it to the 20 mile aidstation, but by now, I guess the damage was virtually done. A mile out from the 20 mile turnaround, I actually found an empty Gatorade bottle that had been left by a fisherman, and thought that I could perhaps use that to supplement my handheld for the rest of the race. Arriving at the turnaround, I slammed as much fluid as I could handle in an effort to quickly rehydrate, and then headed back out on the course. Over the next 5 miles, I really started to suffer – muscle cramps, fatigue, and it became really easy to talk myself into stopping at 25 and getting a ride back to the start, which is what I did.

In recent months, dehydration has pretty much done me in on three races, Hinson, Javelina and now Enoree. Something I am learning is that once it hits you, it is very difficult to recover from. Perhaps if I had sat around for a couple of hours, I may have got back my mojo as I rehydrated, but once you reach that point, mentally it becomes difficult to talk myself into continuing.

For a variety of reasons (sickness/injury/taper/recovery etc) over the last few weeks, I have not done enough shorter runs, which is really how I get my conditioning and keep in shape – it was these types of runs that have helped me get all of those PR’s. I think [too much]. But anyway, over the next few weeks or so, I plan on “going back to basics” with my training.

Anyway – Enoree is a wonderful race, Terri Hayes' races are truly terriffic, and I look forward to redemption on the course next year.