Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Steep Ravine Trail Marathon

The stars aligned last week, and I found myself signing up for the 2013 Steep Ravine Marathon only five days before the event. A planned long run/scout of the course of my upcoming 50K dissolved due to logistics, and my friend Torrey suggested I join him in Stinson Beach to run the marathon as an organized training run. I am comfortable using organized races as tune-up races, but I do not have a lot of experience training in a race. I was curious how I would feel without a taper that week, and if I could dial back my effort amongst a full field of runners. 

Twirly drove us across the Bay Sunday morning, and we got to Stinson Beach with about 45 minutes to kill before the half marathon/marathon start. The weather was clear and cool, with a gentle breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean. The grassy park at the finish area was soft mud underfoot, like workable clay, and I wondered how wet the trail would be as I zipped up my gaitors and assembled my gear. I packed a couple Vespas, two Roctane Gu's and two ViFuel gels, along with S!Caps, Sportlegs, Nuun and Ibuprofen. My nerves settled, replaced by a mellow adrenaline rush. I got one more kiss from Twirly and joined the assembled runners on Arenal Avenue, in front of the Parkside Cafe. Wendell, Coastal Trail Runs Race Director, gave runner instructions through his trusty bullhorn. Nervous laughter rippled through the crowd as he warned we would be cursing his name as we ascended the stairs out of Steep Ravine.

Without much fanfare, Wendell counted us down, and we were off, headed towards the Dipsea trail head.

Steep Ravine steps
The course follows the Dipsea trail from Stinson Beach to the top of Cardiac Hill, where an aid station greets the runners and serves as a junction, of sorts, for the various distances offered, from the seven miler to the 50K. The crowd stretched out as we climbed the 1400 feet to the aid station, hiking the stairs single file and running some of the smoother terrain. Torrey quickly gained ground on me and began passing other runners when he could. The leaders of one of the other race distances came bounding down the steps, forcing our freight train to derail every so often, but we stayed on track and did our best to alert those behind us whenever a runner would appear. As we gained the ridge above Steep Ravine, I joked with some runners around me about taking the infamous 'Swoop' shortcut on the return trip. I did not get as many laughs as I had hoped, just a lot of huffing and puffing.

A gorgeous morning in the Headlands
Warm sunshine and vistas of the California coast and San Francisco Bay awaited once we cleared the forest, and the trail became really runnable. Runners had spread out, and the opposing traffic became lighter as we neared Cardiac. There was quite a congregation at the aid station. I was feeling great, and ready to attack the descent through Muir Woods, so I kept on trucking.

Cardiac aid station

With fresh legs and my Hoka One One's, I bombed down Cardiac Hill. I passed quite a few runners picking their way down the technical trail, and carried my momentum onto the smooth sections below. I opened my stride, and clicked off three good tempo miles as the course left the Dipsea Trail and followed a fire road towards Muir Beach and the Deer Park aid station. I saw the leaders of the marathon coming up the hill along this stretch, and recognized some faces from the Footfeathers clinics I have attended. It was good to see people charging the hill. I took a little vicarious punishment from them, as my coach had counseled me to keep it mellow on the climbs, and I intended to do just that.

Looking over Muir Woods towards the Tiburon Peninsula and Mt. Diablo

Coming into Deer Park, photo courtesy of Amanda Silber
At the Deer Park aid station, the course crossed Muir Woods Road and sent us on an out-and-back along the road, winding through the floor of Frank Valley. This section of trail was single track, winding through tall grass. The large half marathon field coming back towards me on this stretch made for some interesting crossings on the narrow trail, which occasionally crossed Redwood Creek on wooden bridges. A couple of the bridges would flex like a trampoline as I ran across them, and whenever there was someone coming the other way, the resonance of the bridge would get out of sync with my stride. I could see someone blowing out a knee or even getting bucked off the bridge as I negotiated them.  Torrey came running back towards me, looking strong about a half mile in front of me. The turnaround was tight, as I arrived in the middle of a pack of four or five runners. We shuffled around each other trying to cross the turnaround mark before heading back the way we came, six and a half miles back to Stinson Beach.
I cruised back through the Deer Park aid station without stopping, as I was still well stocked with water and fuel. The Vespa had gotten me to the turnaround, and I had a Roctane there. I took an S!Cap every hour, and a dose of Sportlegs every two hours. I kept a steady, mellow pace as I hiked up through Muir Woods towards the Dipsea trail, even managing to pass a few 50K'ers along the way.

Dipsea mile marker
I rejoined the Dipsea trail and picked out a few landmarks along the way, such as halfway rock. As I ran through the section called "the rain forest", I was passed by a sprightly old fellow who sprang up the trail. His feet barely touched the ground, it seemed. I watched him pull away on the rocky, root-strewn trail and made a mental note to try and ensure I can run like that in twenty years.
The rain forest

Feeling no pain
My second trip through the Cardiac aid station was almost as fast as the first. I crested the hill and saw Mrs. CK, whom I enlisted to snap a pic of me before I began the long descent back into Steep Ravine and Stinson Beach. I was really happy with how strong I felt as I charged down the hill. The stretch of Dipsea trail between Cardiac and the floor of Steep Ravine is one of my favorite in all of the Marin Headlands. Smooth single track takes you from exposed, sunny chaparral to moist, mossy, fern-lined switchbacks and steps. In mid-summer, the steps can be slick with dew or rain, but on this day they were dry, and I used a trick learned from my coach to descend the technical staircase. I skipped my way down, passing more 50K'ers, some of whom remarked on my technique.

Two miles to go to the beach

"I just skip 'em" I said, to which one replied, "yeah, I'd like to skip them altogether!"

Your first view of Stinson Beach as the trail exits Steep Ravine
Soon, I was at the floor of Steep Ravine, with only "Insult Hill" between me and my first look at Stinson Beach. Most of the runners around me were doing the half marathon, which meant they were on their home stretch. I did my best to keep pace with them on the rolling terrain as we re-entered civilization. Once again, Torrey came running towards me, this time about three quarters of a mile in front.

I cruised into the finishing area with so much momentum, I almost ran into the finishers chute. Race officials managed to get my attention and direct me to the aid station, where Twirly was waiting, ringing a cowbell and cheering. I dropped off my sunglasses, as I had not needed them much, and took a Vespa along with a quarter of a PB&J sandwich. I checked my water bladder and realized I had not been drinking enough, so I drank some electrolyte. I got another kiss for good luck, and set out to do the entire course all over again. I had run the first half in 2:30, and told Twirly I was shooting for a 2:45 second lap. I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the half marathoners coming down the trail towards me as I hiked up the hill. To be honest, I was having a hard time believing I had to do it all over again myself!

Visibility was stupendous from the Ocean to Oakland
I hiked more of the climb the second time, but still managed to pick off a runner here and there. The runners coming down the hill were mostly half marathoners, and I encouraged them all to finish strong as I grunted up to the more runnable section.

I cruised into Cardiac for the third time, and stopped briefly for some Coke before bombing down the hill again. Once I cleared the aid station, I had two or three miles of solo running. I still felt good, but tired, and was glad that my ankles were holding up to the downhill running. As I neared the Deer Creek aid station, the overall leader of the marathon, Penny MacPhail, comes running up the hill towards me. She later told me that she had run with a side stitch for the entire race. She must have wanted to get it over with quickly, as she shaved 3 minutes off the previous course record, which she had set the year before!

I was still running alone on the out-and-back, kind of spacing out, when all of a sudden I was on the ground. The narrow single track was a worn groove in the grassy valley, and I had hooked a toe on a clump of grass or something. As soon as I hit the ground, my right calf cramped, and I sprang to my feet. I took an extra S!Cap and regained my stride, hoping it would loosen up, which it did over the next mile or so. My hands were caked with mud, and my arm was bleeding, but I wasn't hurt, and still had my legs, so I kept charging the little single track to the turnaround, seeing Torrey once again. It seemed he still had just about three quarters of a mile on me, and I showed off my bloodied arm as we exchanged high-fives mid-trail. I finally ran out of water as I ate my second Roctane Gu about a quarter mile from the Deer Creek aid station, and stopped there to have my bladder filled and get some more electrolyte.

The aid station volunteers offered to clean up my arm, but I told them I wanted to keep the blood for the post race photo opportunity, which they appreciated. I grabbed another PB&J square, thanked the volunteers and began the hike back up to Cardiac.

The half marathoners and 25K'ers were mostly finished, so the opposing traffic were either marathoners, or running the 50K. We encouraged each other and shared our discomfort as we passed each other, and I made decent time, albeit a bit slower than the first lap. Once again, I did not run as much of the runnable terrain, wanting to keep it mellow and save what I had left for the big descent to the finish.

At Cardiac the fourth and final time, I lingered. I had a few cups of electrolyte, a graham cracker PB&J square, a couple pieces of banana, and some pretzels dipped in peanut butter. I could have stayed there eating for another fifteen minutes, but I could smell the barn, and it was almost all downhill from there!

Obligatory self portrait

Running my favorite stretch again, I yo-yo'd with a couple of 50K runners. My energy level was awesome, and I took the steps fast. I felt like a kid on the playground, and almost got a little sentimental about it being almost over! Fortunately, Insult Hill took care of that problem, interrupting my gleeful descent with just enough of a reality check to get me focused on finishing strong. I cruised back into Stinson Beach at a sub-seven minute pace, and placed 7th overall, 3rd in my age group. My time of 5:25:43 was only 8 minutes off my time through 26.2 at Bizz Johnson, and this course came with 6500' of climbing, so I think I am showing some improvement! I love this stuff.

I have got to stop my watch! Finishing photo be damned.

Bloodied but still feeling strong!

I cannot say enough good things about Coastal Trail Runs. They put on the Bizz Johnson 50K, which was my ultra debut last year, and this race continued their tradition of stellar organization. The volunteers were extremely supportive, the aid stations were well stocked, the course well-marked, and the weather was awesome. I would have preferred to run the original course, as it had a lollipop loop instead of the long out-and-back, but the course changed paid off in that the runners interacted and supported each other much more than we would have otherwise. I got to see Torrey three times, which probably won't happen in two weeks at the American Canyon 50K. He's way too fast for me!

All in all it was a great run; I paced myself well, my fueling strategy worked well and kept me going. Hell, I even got my first fall out of the way! I feel really prepared for my 50K in two weeks, and I'm excited to see what I can do on that course.

And now, the details:

Monday, January 28, 2013

American Canyon 50K Training Week Seven: Two Steps Forward, No Looking Back

Stinson Beach

Week seven was a volume PR, I ran over 60 miles. A couple visits to my new chiropractor helped work out the niggles midweek, and my weekend back-to-back runs culminated in Stinson Beach for the Steep Ravine Trail Marathon, which lives up to it's name with hundreds of steps carved into the side of a... (wait for it)... steep ravine! My body continues to amaze me as I push through discomfort in search of more endurance. Sunday night brought some gnarly cramping when I sat long enough to get stiff (e.g. in the car on the way home and while elevating my legs post-shower), but I could walk relatively normally and my ankles felt looser than they had in weeks, as if 27 trail miles was just what the doctor had ordered!

Here's the week:

Tuesday: 90 minute hill workout on the treadmill

Wednesday: 45 minutes on the treadmill, 8:30 pace

Thursday: 90 minute tempo (7:48 pace)

Saturday: 90 minutes easy

Sunday: 5:25:43 - 7th at Steep Ravine Trail Marathon

Totals: 61.16 miles, 7605'/7428' (does not include treadmill hill workout), avg HR 142

My previous chiropractor moved her practice to the South Bay last fall, and I had not found a replacement until a Facebook friend invited me to a stress fracture seminar last week at Innersport Chiropractic in Berkeley. They have ART practitioners, they accept my insurance, and they could not be more conveniently located, so I made an appointment for the day following the seminar.

I met with Sandy Baird for a session on Wednesday, and another on Friday. The therapy included ART, Graston Technique and some prescribed core strengthening exercises. I liked the facility and atmosphere, and Innersport's connection with Cal athletics and local endurance events give me the confidence that they have the 'know how' to keep me running. I plan to continue twice a week ART with Sandy through Way Too Cool and as needed building up to American River. Having a good physical therapist will make the increased training load more comfortable, and as I venture into the unknown, I need a good supporting cast.

This week felt like my training has broken through to the next level. My niggles are reduced, in spite of putting up my biggest weekly volume to date. 36 miles over the weekend left me satisfyingly sore, but not hobbled. The marathon was an awesome training run for the American Canyon 50K, having 50% more vertical and less mileage. My fueling and pacing went well, and my biggest issue is a potentially lost toenail, which I am surprised has not happened yet (it is only a matter of time, or miles). I will post a race report on Steep Ravine, so watch for that post in the next couple days. It should be a good read, as I got a top ten, and suffered my first fall on the trail, finishing a little bloodied, but in good spirits.

This week is a forced taper, of sorts. I have my annual birthday ski trip to Tahoe this weekend, and Coach Tim has graciously given me all four days to ski and celebrate with no running on the schedule. However, he dropped my base pace by thirty seconds for my mid week maintenance runs, which will be enough discomfort to see me through the weekend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

American Canyon 50K Training Week Six: Faltering Fortitude, NFC Champions and a Way Too Cool Run

Week six saw my first falter since last summer. By Sunday my motivation, confidence and eagerness had dissolved into a puddle of self-pity. After hosting a poker game on Saturday night which lasted until the early morning of Sunday, I skipped 90 minutes of recovery jogging, resulting in a tremendous amount of self-loathing.  A symptom of over-training, perhaps, or maybe a self-proclaimed vicious cycle brought on by an apathetic Sunday spent with my ass glued to the couch watching the 49ers and Ravens fight their way into the Super Bowl. Either way, I need to go for a run! Here's the week:

Tuesday: 90 minutes at 9:00 effort

Wedesday: 45 minutes at 9:00 effort

Thursday: 60 minutes at 9:00 effort

Friday: 45 minutes at 9:00 effort

Saturday: Way Too Cool training run, 4:00 race sim (12:00 pace overall)

Totals: 46.33 miles, 5221'/5157' elevation gain/loss

I left my HR strap at home the previous weekend, so I had only pace and effort to guide my workouts. Wednesday's run was in complete darkness at Redwood Park in Oakland, and I realized as I stumbled along, that one really good headlamp would work better than the cheap headlamp and cheap handheld LED flashlight I was using. I had to hold the flashlight low and level to provide enough contrast to see the relief of the trail, and not being able to swing my arms symmetrically was weird.

Too early to feel any pain, yet
My long run on Saturday was a blast; a local club (Folsom Trail Runners) held an organized training run/meetup on the Way Too Cool 50K course in Cool, California. The entire course was marked for the morning, and five options were available: 8 miles, 12 miles, 20 miles, 23 miles, and the entire 50K. All routes began and ended at the Cool Firehouse, which is the start/finish for the race. I was joined by David (who is beginning to leave me behind on the long runs) and Torrey (who has always left me behind, be it a long or short run). We opted for the 20 mile route, which began on the 8 mile Secret Mine Loop (just as the race does), and then followed a truncated, 12 mile version of the lollipop loop on the back three quarters of the course. The three of us stuck together on the Secret Mine Loop, which was mostly frozen mud in the early morning. The trail looked like it could be shoe-sucking, slippery mud for miles on race day, especially with 1000 runners tromping through the rolling oak woodlands. Hopefully the ground will dry out before then and we will have minimal rainfall at the beginning of March. After the 8 mile loop, we stopped briefly at the car for some refueling and then set out for 12 miles in the river canyon. David and Torrey began pulling away from me as we descended down to the Quarry Trail, which follows the Middle Fork of the American River.
Rolling singletrack

Long downhills are becoming my Achilles Heel. While fresh, I feel like I can bomb with the best, but after ten miles and a few descents, my ankles become so sore that the rest of my run is spent cautiously picking my way along the trail. Hesitation saps my energy, and any proprioception I felt I had when fresh goes out the window as I fatigue. I'm afraid I might sprain an ankle, or fall. Maybe some Vitamin I will help, but suppressing inflammation is no way to get stronger, so I have resisted resorting to meds thus far. Next weekend's long run is shaping up to be the Steep Ravine Trail Marathon in the Marin Headlands. This race was not on my schedule, but David is unavailable to run the AC50K course (which was my plan), and Torrey has signed up for Steep Ravine. So, lacking the desire to run for 5+ hours alone, I decided to run an organized trail marathon as a training run! With over 6,000 feet of elevation change, it will likely require some sort of pain management to finish in a respectable time. The course is two circuits of a half-marathon each; the halfway point should be an interesting test of my determination.
Yummy, but deep, singletrack
Secret Mine Trail
Despite my joints feeling no worse for the wear on Sunday morning, I tried to enjoy some football with Twirly instead of the back-to-back on my schedule. Good thing the Niners won, but I gotta nip that behaviour in the bud; back-to-backs don't work if you don't do them!
This monument marks about one mile to go in the Way Too Cool 50K

The details from the Way Too Cool training run:

Monday, January 14, 2013

American Canyon 50K Training Week Five: Running in Sabino Canyon and GCGP Awards (or: One Medal and a Funeral)

Rest In Peace, Uncle Russell
What a whirlind week five was... My coolest uncle passed away on Tuesday morning, prompting an unplanned trip home to Tucson for the memorial service on Saturday. While that provided an opportunity for an impromptu family reunion and much waxing philosophical about mortality and memories, it also made for a disjointed week. I skipped 45 minutes on Friday morning to spend more time in bed with Twirly before my flight (no brainer). My long run on Saturday was an out-and-back in Sabino Canyon, jewel of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The low temps in Tucson were only a couple degrees warmer than Nevada City! And at 26 degrees, I am not sure there was much difference (although it was a "dry" cold, lol). Sunday I flew home to California and managed to slip into the Gold Country Grand Prix awards ceremony in time to receive my third place age group award.

Awards ceremony

2012 Grand Prix bling

Here's the week:

Tuesday: 45 minutes at 9:00 pace

Wednesday: 70 minute tempo (8:00)

Saturday: 3:30 in Sabino Canyon

Sunday: 60 minute recovery jog

Totals: 35.91 miles, 6148/6033 elevation gain/loss, avg HR 145

Uncle Russ was a Navy Veteran, a long haul trucker and a civilian contractor for the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was opinionated, and would let you know how he felt, especially if you held a contrary viewpoint. However, he was willing to agree to disagree, and if he felt heard, would not bludgeon you with rhetoric. He developed lung cancer-induced pneumonia in early 2012, which was too much to defeat. Fortunately, he did not suffer long, having been diagnosed this past New Year's Day, and passing away January 8th. He relished life, and was quoted on Thanksgiving counseling my sister's room-mate regarding her decision to adhere to a vegan diet: "if you can't eat the good foods you want, what is the point in living." He will be missed greatly by our family, and is survived by his daughter, granddaughters, sister (my mother) and my siblings and me.

So dry you can't see our breath, but it was COLD
I got up early on Saturday before Russ' memorial service and set out into the cold with my father for my long run up Sabino Canyon. Dad jogged the first miles with me as we warmed up in the brisk air. Thoughts of Russ forced me to soak in the experience of running with my father, trying to commit every step to memory and live in the moment while I tried not to think about his own inevitable passing. Then we parted ways as I hit the trail and climbed steadily up the eastern side of the canyon on the Phoneline Trail towards Thimble Peak while he stuck to the road along the canyon floor and cheered me along. The trail was rocky and technical and I picked my way at about 12:30 pace, figuring I could make the return trip at 10:00 pace, using gravity to assist me. I paused occasionally to snap a pic as the sun rose and illuminated the desert around me, and the trail leveled off after about an hour, affording some steady running for a spell.

Looking up-canyon, trail is on the right
Sabino Canyon is a favorite spot from my adolescence in Tucson. Vivid memories of a backpacking trip my father and I did when I was 15 years old came flooding back while I ran. We hiked for three days from Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the west side of the Catalinas, over Romero Pass and down through Sabino Canyon on the very trail I was running; we got caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of the second day. My father likes to recount a moment when the skies opened up and lightning lit up the mountains surrounding us, and my eyes became wide as saucers (he uses his fingers to splay his eyelids open as he tells the story). The highlight of the trip was Hutch's Pool, a deep crack on the bedrock where Sabino Creek created a deep swimming hole. Years later, I would hike there with friends toting a cooler full of beer and steaks for a weekend of delinquency (can you imagine hiking five miles with a full cooler?!?).

Thimble Peak, right horizon
Good morning, Tucson!
Phoneline Trail traversing the left side
 The miles slipped away from me as I recounted these memories along the way, and before I knew it I was running through a campsite full of small children; a couple families worth of backpackers were surprised to see me as they cooked their breakfast and drank coffee around their campfire. I ran another couple miles up into the east fork of the canyon before a quick pit-stop (thank god for the foresight to pack TP) and then turned around for the return trip.

Three horizons, one shot

Thimble Peak silhouette looking up-canyon

Looking West

Upper Sabino Canyon
On the return trip, I realized that the trail was so technical, it was like playing hopscotch! There was no way my fatigued ankles were going to carry me at 10:00 pace, even though I could have crushed it if I were fresh. I picked my way back down the trail, and called my father to let him know I was running a bit behind. I did not want to be late to Russ' service, and I was about 15 minutes behind schedule, so I had him meet me at the trail head instead of running the last mile back to the house.
Headed home

Thimble Peak silhouette

Russ also rode motorcycles, and was a member of the Star Touring Club in Tucson. The club met early on Saturday to do a memorial ride, led by my younger brother, who rode Russ' bike wearing his colors. This was the first funeral in a long time for my family, but only the tip of the next generation's iceberg. Tears flowed, and awkward silences punctuated the afternoon. By the time we all moved to a local restaurant, the mood had lightened a little, and people began to feel somewhat normal. A surreal trip, to be sure; Russ' memory will live on.

After only 40 hours, I got back on a plane Sunday morning and flew home. The silver lining was I received an unsolicited upgrade to first class for the Phoenix to Sacramento leg!
Camelback Mountain, from Sky Harbor tarmac
San Francisco Peaks and the Mogollon Rim

Lake Tahoe, looking picture perfect from the plane
Now, I am thrust back into the daily grind, and my maintenance runs midweek are becoming ten milers... Four weeks to American Canyon. I think I'll be ready.

I invite comments regarding loss and memory. Have you experienced flashbacks to forgotten memories while running? Had to get a long run in during an emergency trip home?

Sunday's details:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

American Canyon 50K Training Week Four & Footfeathers Clinic

The Pirates Cove section of the Marin Headlands
Week four of AC 50K training was one of those "lost" weeks. I missed two hours mid week, but made up about an hour and forty minutes on the weekend. What resulted was a decent introduction to the back to back long run. Back to back runs on the weekends are a staple of the ultra runner. They really boost the time spent on your feet, and give you lots of experience running on tired legs. I felt the effect of a strong foundation of  base miles the second day, as my muscles outlasted my ankles and hips. More cross training and core work are on the horizon...

The week:

Monday: ~3 hours back country skiing with Twirly and friends

Saturday: 3:45 hilly run in the Marin Headlands

Sunday: 96 minute recovery jog

Totals: 29.51 miles, Elevation gain: 5,446', Avg HR 127

Tenessee Valley, with San Francisco's Sutro Tower in the far distance
Saturday's run in the Marin Headlands was spectacular, and once again provided a downpour to make things interesting. I drove to the Tennessee Valley trail head after attending a Footfeathers clinic on training for ultra distance races. Tim always puts on an entertaining forum, complete with anecdotes and plenty of laughs. Topics included periodization, heart rate specific training strategies and theories, training volume and specificity. It provided me some more insight into the method behind Tim's madness. And there was food.

I was able to snap a few photos during my race simulation long run before the rain began. My schedule called for 3 hours of practice racing. "Moving constantly, efficiently, eating and drinking" was the goal, although I began with 50 ounces of water when I should have had 70, and I stopped to take pics along the way (not likely during a race). The biggest lesson I learned was that my muscular endurance is good enough to outlast my joints if I bomb technical downhill too hard! I used Vespa again, and it looks like one every three hours will be a good consumption rate. I started bonking around three hours and ate an additional ViFuel instead of wasting a Vespa on 45 minutes of running. I refueled with a new drink, Cytomax Fruit Punch, and I think I have found a new favorite recovery drink!

Pirates Cove without my mug

Mount Tamalpais
The run ended up being 3:45 and bit over 18 miles. I was pretty wrecked at the end, but got in a 9 mile recovery jog on Sunday, thus beginning four months of back to back runs in preparation for American River 50 in April.

Here are the details from Saturday's adventure:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 - Year in Review

My third year of running is in the books, and I saw some significant milestones along the way. Most importantly, I managed my first full year of training, running every week on the calendar. I also completed four new distances: 15K trail race, half-marathon, marathon and 50K ultra-marathon. In addition, I set PR's at every distance I have raced, 5K through 50K. I competed in the Gold Country Grand Prix Race Series, taking third among Men aged 40-49. Ultimately, I tested myself, developed strategies to push through my limits and began finding success in endurance. I have to say it was an incredibly nourishing year of running.

So many metrics… Where to begin? 2012's training log is full of memorable runs, races and numbers. I have numbers for every aspect of my training, but I also have peers that eclipse every single number I can throw out there: total mileage, miles raced, epic adventures. However, I know better than to compare myself to others; I race against myself, not for the glory of defeating fellow competitors. In the end, I must own what I can and admire the rest...

Here is 2012 in numbers: 
  • Total miles run: 1374
    • Average week: 26.42 miles
  • Total miles raced: 156.94
  • Elevation gained: 94,988'
  • Avg HR: 138
    • Total calories burned: 146,223 (about 42 pounds worth!)
  • Longest run: 31.54 miles
  • Avg run: 6.19 miles
2012 mileage showed a 234% increase over 2011
My mileage total was more than double my total from 2011! So much for the 10% rule, eh? While my 2013 goals do not rely on numbers to measure my success, I am curious how much farther I can run in one year. Training for 50 milers will bump up that total, but I plan to take a month off after American River. My intention is to keep 2013 under 2000 miles. Can you see how difficult it will be for me to focus on aesthetic goals in  2013?!?

There are many ways I could illustrate my training, but the one I find most useful is the TRIMP score. TRIMP (TRaining IMPulse) equals heart rate zone x time, and when graphed, provides a useful visual aid to assess over training. You can calculate the factor by the mile, workout, by equipment or activity, and it will continue providing a gauge of how hard you've been working, and provide a guide to injecting rest days and weeks into your schedule.

Daily TRIMP - a great way to judge your workout intensities
I am totally a stats geek. Tables and graphs are my favorite way to interpret data, thus my log is full of bar graphs and line graphs. I'm even considering some pie charts. Here are a few of my favorites:

Weekly mileage with a 3 week moving average to smooth out the niggles

Weekly TRIMP makes it easy to see training cycles

I just like to see the year this way. Probably a throwback from Nike+

And so, 2013 is off to a good start with the base I have developed over the course of 2012. My schedule has a good mix of iconic ultra-marathons and trail races, along with a healthy dose of volunteering and novelty 5K's. Once again, Twirly and I will be volunteering at Western States, and doing quite a bit of sailing a other R&R for good measure.

What are your goals for 2013? Got any big races on your agenda? Leave me a comment, and have an EPIC 2013!