Wednesday, July 31, 2013

High Intesity Training vs Moderate Training

Once again I have found interesting information found over at Specifically: training harder does not lead to gains as reliably as training moderately. The following graph sums it up nicely.

 Why Running Harder Won’t Help You Get Faster
Recognizing this trend in my own training, albeit on a yearly cycle instead of quarterly, has provided a new perspective on my training effort. I think I may be able to stem the tide of injury in the future, as a little knowledge goes a long way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Fourteen: Feeling Like a Runner Once Again

Back to back weeks of modest volume have me feeling good about my training again. The ramp up to 30 miles a week has been a long painful ride this time around, and I hope to maintain the volume straight through to December and The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler.
Here's the week:
Tuesday: 45 minutes on the treadmill
Wednesday: 45 minute walk
Thursday: 3 hour hilly trail run
Saturday: easy 45
Sunday: easy 45
Totals: 31.18 miles, avg HR 136, Body Fat % 19.1
It is good to see my body fat % coming down. One percent every two weeks will have me in good shape come autumn. The coming week should be exciting, as I am pacing Coach Ken from Running Stupid in the San Francisco 100 on Saturday. I'll be helping Ken try to go sub-24 hour by running miles 50-75 with him. I am enjoying cutting my teeth on pacing duty; I get all the race day experience with none of the fees or swag. Ken has said that one of his goals is to drop his pacers, and my goal is to not be dropped again!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pacer's Report: 2013 TRT 50 Mile - Wind Sucking Walk of Shame

"I may regret this, but I happened to be on ultra signup at midnight last night, and registered for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50"

That was the text message I received on New Year's Day from David as he nonchalantly goaded me: "Want to pace me?"

Marlette and Tahoe Distract from the Single Track
The course is one of the prettiest in the country. A fifty mile loop containing three lollipop loops, the views are spectacular; it is a west coast bucket list race for anyone who is paying attention.

I was on the fence for most of the summer due to injury. David offered me an out a couple of times, but my recovery was coming along, so I kept the option open. As race day drew near, he admitted that if he had to choose one race for me to pace him, it would be the Pine to Palm 100 in September. His anxiety about 100 miles was eclipsing the upcoming TRT 50, and he was redefining the race as a supported training run. His relaxed goals, combined with my injury finally abating in the week leading up to the race, convinced me that pacing him the last 20 miles at elevation would be a good idea. Not quite a piece of cake, but not too difficult, I lied to myself. Twirly placated me by biting her tongue.

Diamond Peak aid station party
Twirly and I arrived at the Diamond Peak aid station, the 30 mile mark, around 10 am, just in time to see the leaders of the 100 mile event go through. We set up a chair and umbrella and I got ready to run. Not expecting David to reach our location until after noon, we socialized and cheered runners as they arrived. I saw Victor Ballesteros looking strong and Bryon Powell looking like hell (they would both go on to drop out of the 50 mile and 100 mile, respectively). Other familiar faces trickled through in varying states of fortitude. Tony Nguyen (aka Endorphin Dude) was nearby and provided entertainment for spectators and racers alike.

This crew had a sign that said "next loop we'll be naked"
The hose before the climb
David was texting us pictures and updates from the course, and I revised his expected time of arrival as necessary. He showed up at ten after twelve, looking hot, hungry and bright eyed. I grabbed his hydration pack, bottle and bandanna and ran to fill them with ice and water while Twirly helped him with his drop bag supplies. Within a few minutes, we were slamming smoothies and getting hosed down in preparation for the grueling climb up to the top of the ski area. Roughly 2000 feet in two miles on loose, sandy terrain made for the most carnage of any spot on the race course. The hill was littered with runners clustered in the sparse shade. The 100 milers would have to do it again at mile 80, which is why I will likely never do the TRT 100.

David and I set a brisk hiking pace up the road, talking about his race thus far. A few racers were coming back down the hill towards us, intending to drop out rather than continue suffering up the black diamond ski runs. David's watch read 37% grade at one point, and I began feeling the altitude trying to suffocate me as I trudged along. We reached the steeper upper section of the ski run and David held a steady and purposeful hiking stride. Slowly he slipped away, and by the time I crested the climb, he had gapped me by about two minutes. Fortunately, the Bull Wheel aid station distracted him long enough for me to catch up.
The solace of shade

The course levelled out, then began descending, continuing south on the Tahoe Rim Trail. We clipped off some good miles in this section, running in a small train. Views of Lake Tahoe were a challenging distraction while cruising through picture postcard Sierra single track. As we neared the Tunnel Creek aid station, I felt the familiar rumblings of GI issues. Fortunately, David wanted to take off his shoes and socks to dry out his feet, so I had time to visit the facilities. After filling hydration packs, bottles and bandana with ice, we were off again, this time just the two of us.

Feeling the altitude
The course continued south along the TRT while cresting Herlan and Marlette peaks. The ridge offered spectacular views to the east and west, and thunderclouds were forming as the weather began to turn. David continued to run strong, and easily gapped me on ascents. He had a spring in his step as he power hiked, and I knew I was holding him back. As we rounded Marlette Peak, I let him go. I kept a steady pace and caught up to him at the Hobart aid station, where he was tending to his needs. I refilled my bottles and hat with ice, and set out while David was sponging off. I knew if I did not get out in front of him my day of pacing would be over.

I managed to hold him off for about a mile, after which he once again began to gap me as we climbed to Snow Valley Peak. "Go ahead, you're killing it and I'm just holding you back!" I said. He offered sympathy and reassurance, noting that he had been training hard all summer and I was coming off an injury and a sea-level training base, before he disappeared around the next turn. At mile 42, I had been dropped; liberated and humbled in the dust, I just kept making forward progress.

With eight miles to go, I took stock of my condition. I had not run more than ten miles since American River 50 in April, and my legs still felt good. I hiked up to the peak, astounded that my heart rate was over my MAF rate just walking! I continued on, running the flats and hiking the ups, enjoying the stellar views of Lake Marlette and Lake Tahoe below.
I almost set up shop right here.

The Snow Valley Peak aid station was manned by a Boy Scout Troop from Carson City. They had posted entertaining and motivational signs along the trail, letting the runners know how far they had to go, and how awesome they were for being there. The views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains left me speechless at times. Not that I had anyone to talk to. I yo-yo'd with a woman and her pacer for a while, but her incessant groaning and negative attitude created a black cloud over what was otherwise a beautiful summer afternoon. I pulled over and ate a Picky Bar, allowing them to pass by.
But managed to keep moving
I took a spell in a chair while I ate some aid station fare at Snow Valley Peak aid station, watching motivated 50 milers prepare for the final descent to the finish. I ended up chasing a Jenn Shelton wanna-be back out onto the course, and she also promptly dropped me. As I ran down the hill, I realized my stomach had stopped emptying; it sloshed with each step. I ran what I could, but the trail wasn't douche grade, having just enough rocks and overgrown grass to force a mindful foot placement. 

After a few miles of a full belly, I pulled over to pee, and found a nice Newcastle Ale eluting from my bladder. Having nothing on the line made it an easy decision to stop running and start drinking everything I had. I walked the rest of the descent (fully fantasizing about running it in full sometime in the future). I kept texting Twirly along the way and once David finished (11:12 - 19th man, 27th overall), we made plans to meet at the Spooner Summit aid station about a mile from the finish. 

Dropping out of a race as a pacer?!? Actually, I think this was the best way for me to drop from my first race. I had nothing on the line, and my runner was in awesome shape and didn't need me. I had nothing to prove and no one to support, yet the last few miles of that run felt shameful. Running keeps dealing out the humility. At least there is the promise of pride for balance.

A few friends have made the point that being dropped was the best thing I could have done for my runner. It is a huge confidence boost to outrun a friend with fresh legs. I have to admit it has ignited a fire inside me; now that my injury has healed, I need to get back into race shape.

Four weeks to Tamalpa Headlands 50K.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Thirteen: Five Weeks to Race Day and I Feel Fine

Ten weeks since my injury at the Run For Your Lives Zombie 5K, and I can finally say that I have recovered. I put in a modest volume this week, capped by pacing David at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler. My injury no longer hurts, but remains tight and needs specific attention (i.e. rolling, stretching, massage and ART).
Here's the week:
Tuesday: 60 minute tempo run
Thursday: 60 minutes at base pace
Saturday: 5:20 pacing at TRT 50
Totals: 31.86 miles, avg HR 147

Diamond Peak ski area, during TRT 50
The 19 miles on Saturday was a huge confidence booster. Despite sucking wind at elevation and getting dropped by David (who went on to a top 30 and took 19th male finisher), my mechanics felt good and my hip and groin held strong over the rolling, sometimes technical terrain. I have no unordinary residual soreness even two days later. Participating in a race was just what I needed to jump-start my motivation and get back into the swing of things. David has been training hard since American River 50, and his hard work paid huge dividends last weekend. I need to focus, commit, and put in the time so that my experience at The North Face 50 in December is as quality as David's performance was at TRT.

I'll get a Pacer's Report up in the next couple days. Until then, see you on the trail!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

15 Seconds of Fame

I found this video of Timothy Olson's 2013 Western States 100 via Eric Schranz and It contains some good footage of the course, and at 2:07 is my 15 seconds of fame giving Timothy a high five as he enters the Michigan Bluff aid station.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, by The Oatmeal

I have been a huge fan of web comic artist and Internet phenom "The Oatmeal" for years, and he happens to be an ultra runner. He finally published a comic which MUT runners can relate to, and I highly recommend you read it, especially if you have any questions about running long distances, and why it is done by so many.

Check it out here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Twelve: Enough with Distractions, Get Back to Work

Injury can cause despair. Not just the runner's despair that comes from taking running off the table (versus uh oh, I hurt my body, maybe I shouldn't be doing that), but a desperation that can erode other facets of life. Old, destructive behaviors rear their head, and bad habits become habits once again. I have been caught in this vicious cycle before, and recognized the cycle beginning again with this groin injury. Fortunately, this week marked a turn towards health, both physical and mental. Residual soreness from modest runs is finally abating, and my gait feels smooth enough to begin building up the volume and tempo. The heart is all that's holding me back, and everyone continues to tell me it will rebound quickly, once I return to training in earnest.

Here's the week:

Tuesday: 45 minutes @ base effort

Wednesday: 35 minutes treadmill

Thursday: 15 miles on the bike

Saturday: 60 minutes in the foothills

Sunday: 45 minutes @ base pace with Twirly

Totals: 19.85 miles running, avg HR 146, body fat 20.2%

Enough with the distractions, I get preoccupied and I am left with nothing to show but a little exhilaration for my time and energy. I need to get back to racing weight, something that will pay dividends. Focusing on racing weight means daily measurements to keep me accountable, and using body fat % as the metric instead of weight. Setting short term goals of 2% reduction per training cycle should have me back down to 14 % by December, to be in good shape for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler. Higher volume and better lifestyle choices will help, as will the strength work I have been doing to rehab my injury. Keeping those routines routine will make this all a piece of cake.

Mmmm, cake.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Eleven: Building a Base and America's Cup 34

Week eleven finally felt like a good week of training. The mileage is slowly returning, and my muscles are protesting, but my injury continues to improve. Every time I begin again I am amazed at how uncomfortable building a base can be.
Here's the week:
Tuesday: 45 minute power hike
Thursday: 60 minutes at base pace and 11 miles on the bike
Saturday: 85 minutes easy
Sunday: 16 miles on the bike
Totals: 17.92 miles, avg HR 154
Biking with Twirly is helping flush the legs, and my weekend long run is testing my hip. Progress is happening! I received more Active Release Technique treatment from my chiropractor on Tuesday, and plan to hit the masseuse this week to stay on top of the knots and scar tissue.
Yachtie Disneyland
Sunday's 60 minutes were swapped for a trip across the bay to watch the first race of the 34th America's Cup. Twirly and I brought our bikes on the BART train and wandered around the AC facilities on Pier 29 before watching the race from the finish line. These new foiling catamarans really fly!

I have been recruited by Coach Ken from Running Stupid to help pace him in the San Francisco 100 miler in August. It will be three weeks before the Headlands 50K, and 25 miles motivating Ken to a sub-24 hour finish would be a great last long run. Hopefully my recovery timing works well for that effort.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tamalpa Headlands 50K Training Week Ten: Western States 100 and a Hash House Run

After two and a half months of fitful training, week ten brought the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Always inspriational, volunteering at mile 55 of the WS100 led to some of my biggest volume weeks of 2012. Hopefully my physical therapy and strength work will allow me to springboard back into a worthy training volume. With eight weeks to Tamalpa Headlands 50K, I have some serious work to do.
Here's the week:
Tuesday: easy 30 minutes
Thursday: 10K with David in the heat of Mountain View
Sunday: Hash House run with Twirly
Totals: 13.10 miles, avg HR 149, weight 197.2 lbs

The mileage is still embarassingly low, and my heart rate reflects a significant loss of fitness. My weight is stable, but hovering 25 pounds over my desired race weight of 172. If I look at body fat % instead, which is a better indicator of health, the math says I'm headed in the wrong direction. I need more miles.
On the positive side, the runs are becoming more tolerable. I even felt good on the Hash! The pain of my injury is slowly replaced with what I would call "feeling weak". Armed with more stretches and strength exercises, I hope to put in a training effort at the 50K, with my focus shifting towards TNFEC 50 Miler in December.

Monday, July 1, 2013