Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Five: Injury Time-out


I still shrink from the word, as if it were "Beetlejuice". Say it three times out loud, stop running and call me in the morning. My hip/groin niggle has not improved in the face of daily physical therapy and reduced running volume and intensity. As a result, I have further reduced volume and intensity. Here's the weak:

Wednesday: 75 minutes on the treadmill

Totals: 7.13 miles, Avg HR 130, weight 199.7

The weight number was good, getting me back below the mental milestone of 200 pounds (or 14 stones, 4 pounds). Reducing the suds has helped offset the lack of aerobic exercise. I am going to follow Dr. Phil Maffetone's "Two Week Test" diet to determine how my body handles various sources of carbs, and try to reset my metabolism to be more fat-focused. We'll see how that plays out in the coming weeks.

I still have to baby my hip when running. It is beginning to loosen up as I run, but that only lasts about a half an hour; then I start to tighten up again. I feel as if I could easily blow it out if I were to trip and have to engage the fast twitch muscles to save myself from falling. So I end up shuffling along, wondering if I am still doing my fitness any good. I am signed up for the Harmony 10K in Grass Valley this Saturday. It is unlikely I'll be able to race it; just another training race.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another Bucket List Race: Sun Mountain 50 Miler

Yet another race for the bucket list, the Sun Mountain 50 miler look absolutely gorgeous. Gotta put this one on the docket for 2015 maybe? So many beautiful courses, I'm beginning to get the sense that I'll be more satisfied running a new race rather than repeat a race, despite the opportunities to improve my times. I'd rather find new and spectacular venues like this one. Check it out:

Sun Mountain Race from CuziFilms on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Four: Ouch, My Hip Hurts

Week four did not go well. My delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from the Zombie Run continued to bother me well into the later days of the week. In addition, I felt like I had pulled my groin; I had sharp pains throughout my right hip, which wouldn't loosen up as I ran, so most of the plan went out the window, and I tried to fill in the activity with a few days on B, my Bianchi Pista Via Brera. Here's the week:
Tuesday: 45 minutes of walk/running
Thursday: Bike to work
Saturday: a short bike ride and then 80 minutes trail running with Twirly
Sunday: two hour bike ride with Twirly
Totals: 7.63 miles running, avg HR 121, 29.5 miles biking
Obviously, distance running alone is horrible conditioning for flag football. My body hurts more this week than after AR50 or CIM. The groin continues to require special attention, and I find myself babying it constantly. I reacted to the slow recovery by incorporating Coach Jay's myrtle routine daily. Hopefully I will find some strength before the Harmony Run 10K at the beginning of June.
My chiropractor is opening a new office which is much closer to me, a huge plus. I need to get some ART treatments to get this hip back to 100%. I also plan to begin monthly massage sessions from now until the NFEC 50 miler in December. My muscles are beginning to recover more slowly; I can tell my muscular endurance has suffered in the 6 weeks since American River, although my cardiovascular endurance is still pretty good.
When I decided to take a break and start my training cycles over, I did not anticipate this much discomfort. Use it or lose it, as they say...

Cougar Hash House Harriers, Run #5

The many symbols of the hash house harriers
Twirly and I were invited to run with the Cougar Hash House Harriers in Nevada City the day after Run For Your Lives Zombie 5K. We met Cougar HHH founders, Makie and Peter Ohler, at a craft beer dinner at Matteos last winter. Upon learning I was running, they excitedly invited us to join them for a hash. I had heard the term before, used to describe what I would have called a relaxed, cross country beer mile. And in essence, that's a hash. Running, with beer. Sometimes during, always after. Throw in some symbols and a vocabulary for fun. If you become a regular, you'll eventually get a nickname (or, hash name).

On the true trail, photo by Makie Ohler
Along the ditch trail, photo by Makie Ohler
The hash house harrier concept began in 1938 when a group of British ex-patriots organized a Monday night run to rid themselves of the "weekend's excesses". From wikipedia:

"At a hash, one or more members ("hares") lay a trail, which is then followed by the remainder of the group (the "pack" or "hounds"). The trail periodically ends at a "check" and the pack must find where it begins again; often the trail includes false trails, short cuts, dead ends, back checks and splits. These features are designed to keep the pack together despite differences in fitness level or running speed, as front-runners are forced to slow down to find the "true" trail, allowing stragglers to catch up."
The true trail

I have no idea, maybe turn yourself around?
Also described as a drinking club with a running problem, hash house harriers are now found across the globe. The Cougar HHH was founded this year, and we were excited to finally have a local club.

The split
My legs were toast from chasing 5K runners at the Zombie run the day before, so Twirly and I opted for the shorter "Turkey" course instead of the full length "Eagle" course (~3 miles vs 5+ miles). After the run, we enjoyed snacks and beer in the shade and discussed Hash history and protocols. As it was Mother's Day, Twirly and I had to "fuck off" early, and we were ceremoniously dispatched. And then we were dispatched again because we couldn't take a cue.
We're looking forward to the next time our schedules allow for another hash. This is definitely a club that would have us as members! 
The best symbol of them all

Friday, May 17, 2013

Race Radar: Gorge Waterfalls 50K

Yet another race on my bucket list, the Gorge Waterfalls 50K in Oregon looks like a beautiful run. It sells out quickly, so I'll have to be paying attention this December when registration opens. Check out this video of the 2013 race:

Gorge Waterfalls 50k - 2013 from Project Talaria on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Race Report: Run For Your Lives 5K

When I learned of the Run For Your Lives 5K series, the first thing that came to mind was:
How cool! I can sign up as a zombie and get a novel speed workout.
Unfortunately, there was no NorCal venue in 2012, so I would have to wait until May 2013 to get my stumble on. The race was conveniently timed to be about a month after American River 50 Miler, so I signed up. I tried to convince Twirly and others to join me, but the novelty was lost on them.
To be part of the Zombie Horde required a five hour commitment. Two hours for make-up and general zombie transformation, and then three hours on the course, chasing participants down in order to infect them. Each runner got three flags of the football variety, and whomever crossed the finish line with at least one was considered a survivor and got a finishing time and survivor's medal. Those who returned flag-less were given a finisher's medal indicating that they were in fact, infected.
Zombie's received an infected finisher's medal (I ended up running almost 6 miles during my shift), a beer ticket and a t-shirt. Spectators were allowed, and Twirly joined me for the day just East of Clear Lake, although she failed to see why or how zombies had become so popular. She dressed in her brightest, rainbow-iest outfit and declared herself the zombie anti-dote.
In the ZTC awaiting transformation
I had vacillated on my costume in the weeks before the event. I wanted to be comfortable, but memorable. Complicated outfits like business suits and scientist garb were off the table. I considered life guard, but my 25 lbs of excess weight precluded a shirtless option. I also did not want to have to buy clothes which I was going to trash afterwards, so that left me staring into my closet the night before. I picked out some shorts splattered in paint from the boat yard, and a golf shirt from the 2010 US Open. My father and I had volunteered at Pebble Beach that year, and I had an extra uniform shirt which was nice and lightweight. A golfer I would be.

Waiting for the paint to dry
We arrived at the event just as the fourth wave of runners was starting. There were a few who had finished already, as a new wave of runners started every 30 minutes. We figured attendance must have been thousands by the end of the day. I entered the "Zombie Transformation Center" and began the change. My clothes were shredded with a serrated blade, and make up was applied via air brush, spatula and brush. The final touch was a spattering of blood. It was messy, but fun. Eventually the horde was divided into 14 groups and spread around the course.

Freshly bloodied

As each runner was given three flags, we were instructed to allow them to keep at least one until the later zones. I was in zone 9, which meant that any runner with two flags was fair game. We were allowed to take their last flag, but advised to offer it back to them so that they had something to run for as they neared the end. My zone had about 18 zombies, and three of us were chasers.

It was a hot day, and water quickly became the focus for both zombies and runners alike. The course only had two aid stations, and the two bottles of water provided to each zombie quickly went dry. We sent someone to the aid station to pick up a few gallons for our zone, and the rest of the day went pretty smoothly. The stumblers would act like gates and funnel the runners towards the chasers, who would wait until the runners had passed before running up behind them.

Think flag football for three hours.

I had a blast chasing people of all ages and shapes. I even got my groan down pretty well, for if I didn't groan, they assumed I was another runner behind them and it was too easy to rip a flag off their belt. We all agreed that three hours was a long shift; two hours would have been perfect.

I could tell that most of the runners were not "in training". There were the obvious zombie fans; the goths and emos that had come out not for the exercise, but because there were zombies. Then there was the enormous contigent of stoners. They could run for brief stretches, but ran out of breath quickly and became apathetic. The runners in the crowd set a pace and did not stop. I saw five of them, maybe. Mostly, the runners were groups of overweight friends, but they all had a good time running when necessary, and as long as they ran, I chased. A few were too fast for me, but mostly, I would catch them and take their flag.

I was exhausted by the end of my shift, and it was obvious I had hurt my hip/groin. My limp resembled a stumble, and my chase only lasted a step or two. When I returned to the Apocalypse Festival to find Twirly and start drinking beer, the pain had gotten worse. I needed a shower and food. There was a water tanker truck providing a forceful blast of water to remove mud from the runners and make-up and blood from the zombies, which felt awesome in the heat of the afternoon.

Feeling undead at the finish, sporting bling
Once I was cleaned up, fed and had a couple beers in me, we agreed it was time to go. My legs cramped in the car on the way home, and I could hardly walk the next day. As I write this four days later, my quads and calves are still extremely sore, and I have come to the realization that I probably pulled my groin...

I guess distance running is not the best conditioning for flag football.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tamapla Headlands 50K Training Week Three: Zombies and the Cougar Hash House Harriers

Twirly joined me for a Hash on Sunday
Week three of my training for August's Tamapla Headlands 50K was the most novel chunk of training I've had this year. I managed to bike to work twice (Thursday was "Bike to Work" day in the East Bay), and volunteered at an obstacle 5K where I was part of an obstacle: the Zombie Horde. It was a cross between a three hour game of flag football and a fartlek session. I felt like a kid again; the next day I felt ninety years old. The week wrapped up with a hobbled hash house harrier (HHH) run with the Nevada City based Cougar Hash House Harriers. Lot's of variety, lots of new niggles.

Here's the week:
Tuesday: 60 minute tempo

Wednesday: 60 minutes at 9:00 effort

Saturday: Run For Your Lives 5K (3 hours as a Zombie)

Sunday: 45 minutes with Twirly and the Cougar Hash House Harriers

Totals: 21.79 miles, avg HR 137, weight 202.8

Two weeks into my weight loss attempt, and I have gained MORE THAN SIX FUCKING POUNDS.
Severe measures have been tabled, amongst them the infamous beer exclusion. It is a little-known fact that for every beer considered but not consumed, a fat cell is sacrificed on the altar of the liver. So after Sunday's HHH run I decided it was time to kill some fat cells and take a hiatus from the suds. Other items on the table include salads for lunch everyday, and more activity. I'm considering a standing desk at work, but I need a doctor's recommendation in order to request one.

Feeling undead and old
Speaking of doctors, my zombie horde duties at Saturday's Run For Your Lives 5K left me needing a refill on my ibuprofen prescription. My right hip adductor and psoas, which have been speaking out of turn since March, were not happy in the car ride home, and on Sunday morning I was not sure I would ever run again. My knees ached, my feet hurt. My IT bands were pissed off, and my back and arms were sore in places I'd forgotten about years ago. I implored my coach for a reprieve in next week's plan, and he provided an option I think I can pull off. He also said, with a wink, that I was too old to be running round like a kid. He is right, of course, but even running 50 miles hadn't left me feeling old. So, I have a new goal/aspiration: cross train my way into a level of overall fitness capable of helping me fight this aging feeling. I want to be able to pick up a basketball game without going to pieces the next day. More biking and strength training is in the docket.

Twirly helped me get up the motivation to participate in the Hash, and we both enjoyed meeting some new people and  stretching the legs, although after about a mile and a half I was toast. My legs loosened up a little at the start of the run, but began revolting at the amount of downhill the hare had put at the beginning of the run. My quads were simply shot after all the cutting, juking and jiving on Saturday. We took the three mile option and beat most of the runners back to the beer...

I'll post reports on both Run For Your Lives 5K and the Hash in the next few days.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

One Step Beyond

This trailer is five years old, but it showed up in the Daily News at this morning, and the timing is somewhat serendipitous. Just as the running Gods encouraged me to sign up for the American River 50 Miler, signs are beginning to appear for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc!

One Step Beyond - Documentary- Trailer... by unpassodopolaltro

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Two: Sweep L.A.!

Week two saw a small increase in volume, and noticeably sore muscles after about an hour of running. I took an optional day off on Friday, and just plain skipped a 90 minute workout on Saturday and a 45 minute workout on Sunday. Twirly was in town and we sailed across the Bay to AT&T Park. We picked up some friends for an afternoon cruise around the Bay and then returned to South Beach Harbor next to the ballpark to tailgate on the boat and then got to watch the San Francisco Giants BEAT LA in the bottom of the tenth inning on a walk off home run. Our section, in the bleachers, was full of Dodgers fans. It was very satisfying. The G-men went on to win Sunday as well, sweeping their rivals in three one run games.
The week:
Monday: 60 minutes @ 9:00 effort 
Tuesday: 45 minutes on the treadmill
Thursday: 60 minutes @ 9:00 effort
Totals: 18.50 miles, avg HR 138
So, a weekend spent on beer, baseball and sailing did not do much for my race weight goal. I won't see a scale until Saturday morning before the Run For Your Lives Zombie run, so I have a few days to count calories, cross train and try to hit every workout on the schedule.

I'm unsure, at the moment, what my costume for the zombie run should be. It has to be comfortable enough to run in for three hours, but I also want to wear something that will be memorable.  
Crazy scientist zombie? Maybe.
Ultra runner zombie is too obvious.
Business man zombie would be too hot.
Lifeguard zombie?
Hmmm. Something in the middle. Got any ideas? Leave me a comment!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rise and shine

This video incorporates footage I have seen in other places with some I have not. The end product is one of those goose-bump inducing rushes that makes me want to go for a run immediately.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week One: Getting Back On That Horse

Enough of this resting! It is time to get back to the meditation of training. With 18 weeks to train for the Tamalpa Headlands 50K, I have enough time for a legitimate training cycle. The first four months of this year have been filled with 4 week cycles, so I am looking forward to seeing what kind of improvements I can make given the much longer macro. And I need to lose some weight too, so my weekly logs will include some metrics on how that endeavor is playing out.
Here's the week:
Tuesday: 45' @ 9:00 effort
Thursday: 60' MAF test
Saturday: 60' after too large a lunch
Totals: 16.57 miles, avg HR 138, weight 196.2 lbs
Saturday was a disaster. We had family in from out of town, and I foolishly had a huge lunch and a couple of beers before my run, and ended up feeling just like I did in the later miles of AR50: sloshing belly and bloated. I ran/walked my favorite training route and tried to enjoy being outside.
My niggles are coming back already! It is as if they were simply lying dormant, waiting for an inkling of effort so they could bloom like spring wildflowers after the first rain of pain. This endurance training is quite the process. Use it or lose it, right?
My weight is a problem. Fortunately, I have enough time to get back down to a reasonable race weight of 180 lbs. It will take a lot of discipline though, and I have to use all the tools in my bag to get it done. Calorie counting/food logs are necessary, but a pain in the ass to maintain. I should be weighing myself daily, but I'll only have access to my scale once a week, if that. Must focus.