Monday, July 28, 2008

Running with Londell, considerations..........

Yesterday I ran out at Afton with Londell, he saw my post on Saturday that I was heading out there and offered to go out there with me, it was nice to meet him and he provided me lots of information that should benefit fit me for Superior. My thanks to him and I owe him a ride to a future outing.

One thing he made me aware of that I hadn't given any thought to was that for the 50, we start in the dark. Good to know now as that would have been a helluva newbie mistake. I guess I will need to get that lighting system worked out sooner than later. He suggested a headlamp on the hand and one on the head, made sense to me to have two lights and now I know that I have to work on running in the dark even if I think I can make the final cut-off pace. I saw Matt is doing another Afton outing on Friday, I might go out there and try to join him for a few hours but I am doing a half marathon with Karyn on Saturday so that might not work out. I think I will see how the week goes and what time the sun sets.

Back to Sunday, It was interesting to run for 3+ hours with someone else, I have not run with anyone other than Karyn for years and we only run occasionally, more this year than we have ever in the past. Actually she became an official trail runner as we ran in the river bottom on Saturday which we have done before but she wiped out for the first time. It was strange to see her diving forward, water bottle flying, and hitting the dirt. She was not hurt and got up laughing which I was relieved to see. I always run trails alone and never have given much thought to my wipeouts and what I would do if I broke something or was seriously hurt, I guess I figure I would muddle my way through.

I enjoyed running with Londell as it did make the time pass quicker and he ran a pace that was fine for me. I am not fast and he had run 18 on Saturday and I had gone 13 so we just ran at a fairly leisurely pace. It was also hotter than I had thought it would be and I messed up a few things as far with my planning on Sunday, nothing serious but I had meant to bring a PB sandwich as I wanted to try that on a longer run and see if it gave me any issues. I did wear my Camelback and actually finally figured out how to get it tighten downed so it was tolerable for bouncing and chafing. I also had on a single bottle waistpack and I carried my normal two bottles, so with all of that I was good for my electrolyte. Londell wore a Nathan and it looked like it had many advantages over my Camelback, front pocket, shoulder strap differences that looked like it would easy to wear (less bouncing and no chafing). He also mentioned the dual wastepack was a good idea. We talked about fueling for longer races, water hydration systems, Garmins, heart rate monitors, the terrain of Superior versus Afton. I told Londell, that I like the rocky, rooty sections on trails as they help me focus and get through boring stretches of just grassy hilly sections but the question would be for how long would I? We talked about many other things during the run making for a very enjoyable morning.

No decision yet for Superior but a few of my fall considerations are now off the board. We have a wedding on the 20th so Bohemian Alps and Rock Cut are off. Quad Cities on the 28th is also out as that is my daughters birthday so that wouldn't be a good weekend for me to be selfish over running. Besides, it would be on the roads and I am thinking I would prefer to avoid them if I can. So what to do for the fall, Superior is teed up with almost a perfect training taper with my western marathons. Otherwise, I can use those to build base, work on speed and additional distance in September and then do Glacier. I figure Glacier might be like Chippewa and if it is that wouldn't be a bad first 50 course or I could always wait until next year.

The only decision for this week is to save $10 and guarantee a spot for Superior or wait and risk not getting in. Decisions, decisions.............

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Afton to Superior?????????

Ran the river bottoms with Karyn this morning, she is getting ready to do the River City Ramble 1/2 marathon next weekend and I will run it with her. It will be a middle distance taper for me ahead of the Haulin' Aspen and for her, hopefully she will run her fastest 1/2 marathon of the year.

We discussed Superior and it does sound appealing, so my plan is two fold, run at Afton tomorrow morning for 5 or so hours as my final long run before HA and if everything goes great then maybe commit to Superior. If not, then the plan would be to run the HA and Grizzly marathons and if they go ok then sign-up.

So I am back to leaning towards doing Superior. The only things I wouldn't have going into it beyond speed is experience running in the dark and course familiarity. I can solve the first by running out at Afton after vacation as a final long run, I would plan on doing what Matt did a week or so back except my evening would be planned to be no more than 20 miles. Here is a link to his post on the results of his Fat Ass 100k and if you read a few others you should get the gist of his plan. I would go there after work on Friday and start running around 7 or 8 PM and then continue into the darkness, I would be able to check out my lights (of course I will need to buy some - advice welcome) and footwork for a few hours of running in the darkness. My backup plan would be to do it on Saturday but I think I need to try this if I am going to attempt Superior. It would give me a little confidence about running after dark on trails that might mimic Superior, the only difference is I know Afton so it would be somewhat familiar which leads me to my other issue running Superior which is course familiarity. Actually, I am probably ok with not knowing the course. I kind of like not knowing what lies ahead, it makes it more interesting except that my other fear in doing ultra's is getting lost. So I might be running a course I don't know, having gone farther than I would have ever gone, at night with lights, could be interesting.

I was encouraged about my current lack of speed by reading Julie's recent post about her second 50 miler (Voyageur), where she took 14+ hours. If she once took that long and is where she is now, why wouldn't I be willing to try a 50 and risk getting swept? Everyone has to start somewhere and I probably should quit beating myself up about my speed, I am where I am, the only real issue is, what am I going to do about it? I also appreciate the encouragement and advice from Londell and Steve as I contemplate my first 50.

So I think it all comes down to this, sometimes you just got to risk failing by getting to the start line, giving it your all and then let things take care of themselves.................

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Considerations update........

As I head towards my next set of events, I am contemplating what I should change or adjust based on the lethargic outcome at the Turtle Trot. I am still out of sorts so I do think it is just a bug or something. I wanted to run for 4-5 hours today instead I wobbled my way through 3 miles this evening although I think I felt better than I did yesterday. I hope to run stronger tomorrow or at least without feeling light headed or weak.

I thought about what I wrote yesterday and I have decided the only logical thing to do is to push the training a bit more, there were three things I said I wanted to do: work on speed, core and strength. I say the time to begin is now, I just need to do it with intelligence. I have been fairly consistent since ramping up the mileage for Chippewa so I do have some sort of long slow distance base, now I want more. So the plan for this week is to get working on the core. My core has been weak for years, ever since I hurt a hip down in New Prague. I have muddled through 10 years of injuries many of which probably relate to a weakened core and a few to ramping my distance too quickly or just being stubborn about running. So the goal is to simply begin core exercises this week and to continue to run during the week and make sure the strength is back and then add in 1 run a week of hills and accelerations. If the knee rebels, then I will adjust on the hills or speed workouts, otherwise, maybe I will rediscover the speed I once had or at least a little bit of it. The only problem with the plan is that I am 3 weeks out from my next marathon so I won't be able to get a lot of speed or hill workouts in until after the upcoming marathons.

On a different but related subject, what fall races am I going to do? Am I physically strong enough to get to through a 50? I think mentally I can and if not for fear of cutoffs I wouldn't sweat the physical. My list of 50's is shorter for the fall as Heartland is full, so I will be scratching it off the 2008 considerations list. If I am going to do a 50 this fall then it will come down to Glacier or Superior.

One thought on Superior, if I do attempt it then it would mean that I would try my first 50 at age 50 which somehow does seem appropriate. So, I was plotting out the cutoffs for Superior and if I understood what the website said correctly (see my table below), I would have 11 hours to make it to the last aid station without a light and 13 hours if I have a light and my guesstimate was that the last aid station would be around mile 43 so that would be either a 15+ pace or an 18+ pace. So depending on how tough Superior is compared to Afton and how the training goes in August, the 15 pace is doable and the 18 should give me some buffer. So if I do go for it, I think bringing a light would be a good idea.

I wonder how long I can wait for the sign-up for Superior, common sense would say wait until after the next set of marathons and make sure that they go ok, but then again you do save $10 if you sign up before August 1st.

Guess I better check in with the family and decide what to do...................

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Turtle Trot report.........

Some days go as planned and some do not, today would be in the do not category.

The Turtle Trot is always a blast to do and this marks Karyn's and my third time participating in it. Today I was hoping to do nothing more than beat last years time in the overall event and to go faster in the run and bike. The swimming goal is simply not drowning, I can swim I just don't train at it nor enjoy it. So unless the attitude changes this will be the only triathlon that I will ever do.

The day started out as it always does, Ben reviewed the course, the rules and identified the volunteers so that we all could thank them and emphasized that we were there to enjoy. We sang the national anthem and a neighbor said a prayer and then we were off to the starting line.

The 5k course is an out and back on a bike path, it has a couple of gentle down and ups but is not a difficult course unless it's hot and the weather wasn't bad probably mid 70's with some humidity. The bell sounded and off we went, my result for the 5k race was my worse ever time in a 5k - 31:06, ouch, ok, I don't do many 5k's but my best is a 20:48 (granted it was in 94), last year I ran a 27:42 at the trot and I didn't think I was in very good shape. I tried to go out hard but frankly the pace didn't seem too fast just hard, it turns out it must've been as I ran the 2nd half slower. How much slower, I don't really know as I didn't look at my watch but I know it was a struggle.

The swim is 1/2 mile swim that also is an out and back and it went ok, remember that in the Turtle Trot you can touch bottom if you need to. So I did my normal swim, some freestyle, some backstroke, run a bit and then repeat. I got through it and thought to myself as I was coming back that I am not sure I want it to end, it felt good.

The bike is 10 miles and is a double loop course with a couple of gentle downhills and uphills. For me, the bike wasn't good either, I started slow as I was messing with my Ipod, then I kicked it up and within a 1/2 mile my legs were rubber and I was struggling. I muddled my way through but my bike time was 5 minutes slower than the year before. Last year I remember the bike going well so I expected the same this year.

The good news for the day was that the problems I had were present on both the run and the bike, a quick summary - my legs and lungs didn't work. I had no energy. The bad news is that my time was 7 minutes slower than the year before. My analysis of the day is that I had an off day, I am not in 5k shape by any means but I don't think that I am that much slower than last year. My weight is probably lower, my mileage is higher but my speed training is non-existent as the tendinitis in my knee makes speed workouts a bad idea. So I will continue to work on marathons and ultras this year and then get the knee healthy over the winter and work on the speed, my core and my strength. Next year, with just a little work I can PR once again.

After the race we had our cookout and caught up with the folks we know from previous years and we got to talk to a few folks we don't know which is really the point for the day. Meet some folks, share a few stories and enjoy the day. Our thanks to Ben and Kirsten for another great Turtle Trot, hopefully we get invited back next year.

So to sum up the Turtle Trot , a disappointing day on the competitive front but a great day overall....................

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Making lemonade with Deer flies........

Ok, you might be wondering what's up with the title, well it's all about attitude. You know, is the glass half or half empty kind of attitude. What's that got to with deer flies, well, I was kind of getting irritated on Sunday with deer flies. For those that don't get to experience deer flies, here is a picture of the Deer fly (chrysops callidus) thanks to Wikipedia.

They are the only thing that can make my trail runs miserable especially in my favorite place to run, the eastern section of Lebanon Hills. I can tolerate poor weather, occasional animals and even mosquitoes but deer flies are the worst, they torment me regardless of how fast or slow I run.

On Sunday when I went for a mid distance run, suffice to say it was a Deer fly event, they followed me for the entire 13 miles. I wasn't too pleased, they bit my legs, neck and head. I was swatting and squashing flies the entire run. They are fast and darn persistent in their attacks. After I got home, I was reading some emails in the ultra email group and one of the guys started a thread about deer flies. He posted a link to his blog about his deer fly experience that had me amused, his name is Jamie and his blog is called "Maine Runner", take a look and enjoy it. Also in the email thread, there were many other suggestions, someone suggested something called a deer fly patch that attaches to your hat, the premise is that the flies will stick to it, it's kind of goofy looking and it may not be pleasant to remove but a handful of runners said the patches worked. Might be worth a try.

Well, today I went out expecting to run my 7 mile loop, it is one of my favorite loops and it goes right through the heart of deer fly territory. I told myself that they weren't going to get to me, I was going to zone out to some podcasts, soak in the heat, charge the hills and enjoy the shade of my favorite running loop. Almost immediately, a couple things didn't work out as expected, first, I realized I had forgotten my watch, no problem I had my Ipod with my Nike+ to track my time. So off I went around Jensen lake, and after about a quarter mile of running, my ipod died. The battery was dead, I must have left it on somehow as it has never died before and that includes both my 50k's. Ok, don't sweat, you are running your favorite loop, the time isn't critical, it's just going to be an easy 7 anyway. Then almost right after I started running again, I heard some sounds of machinery, I figured they were clearing out the trees that had blown down in the storm. Wrong, they were laying some kind of drainage pipe with a huge backhoe. Favorite loop closed. Anticipated run ruined. Ok, go to plan B, alternate route, so I looped back the other way and was thinking how I was dreading those d@!! deer flies and about then one went in my mouth, quickly I spat it out, (note to self, remember in deer fly territory keep the mouth tightly closed). Ok, not a good start on plan B, I proceeded to swat a couple more, squashed one against my hat and then swallowed one whole, I said to myself enough already, should I just give it up?

I decided not today, I wasn't going to give up on this run, instead, I started doing deer fly sprints. When they bugged me a bit, I would sprint ahead 100 yards or so. They chased, I slowed down, they attacked, I sprinted and I thought to myself, this could be my new conditioning drill. Deer fly accelerations, I can use these little buggers to get my speed back. Another thought occurred as I was doing my accelerations, deer flies might be nutritious, a source of carbs and proteins, maybe I should just incorporate them into my long runs as fuel. Yah, that was a disgusting thought. I played with them for a couple miles and decided that since I didn't have my watch I may as well just enjoy the park and explore some different trails, I decided to loop back to the middle section of the park and see how the deer flies where there. Normally on the western section they aren't too bad but I wasn't sure about the middle section.

So I headed over to it and took the outer horse trail loop, I like to run it occasionally, mostly cuz it has a couple of hills and it's different, the middle section only has a few miles of trails so it can get boring if you run it too often. As I headed up a hill. I thought to myself about how I should work on my hill training and this hill was a decent one, about an 1/8 mile long, it was steeper at the bottom and gradually leveled off. I decided to do some hill repeats, I thought about Julie Berg doing them for 6 hours at Hyland, I decided to go for 15 minutes, hey you gotta start somewhere. I usually go up hills well but am not good coming down so I figured I would work on my downhills. Of course I went charging up the hill until I got to the turnaround point and tried to run down hard but I was breathing too hard from the ascent to do anything else hard. I meandered back down and thought to myself, maybe that's my problem with hills, I charge up, get to the top and am too spent to charge down. So I walked back up the hill, got to the turnaround and tried to accelerate down. It worked better than the first one, repeated the process, I was getting faster each time down. Decided to quit after 5, only because I wanted to make sure that my tendinitis in my knees doesn't rebel and it was kind of hot and, and, ok, I don't have another excuse.

So the deer flies and a few other things helped me take an easy 7 mile run that was turning into a disaster and turn it into a decent run. I got in 3 easy miles, 2 miles of accelerations, one mile of hill repeats and then another easy mile to cool down. Not quite to plan but maybe I have found a workout that I will keep for the remainder of the deer fly season and maybe I should just always look for the opportunity when things don't go quite to plan................

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another race, blog header change...........

Ok, first the blog name change.

I decided that I am a former midpacker so that shouldn't be in the name anymore. Maybe one day I will be there again but I just couldn't in good conscious finish at the back of the pack of a 50k and keep that in my title, maybe it's my sense of engineering ethics, the name has to match the content. Although, some of the strongest runners I have ever met are at the back of the pack. If you ever doubt it, go run with them. Then again what is a midpacker? I mulled over calling the blog "Westy's Running --- A Back of the Packer Misadventures" but decided it had too many characters. I thought about calling it "Westy's Running Misadventures" but it didn't seem right, so I went for the easiest. This is after all my page, it captures my thoughts, plans and adventures, they only turn into misadventures once and awhile :-)

The other race I forgot to mention is the Rock Creek 50k, run in Lake Perry State Park - Ozawkie, Kansas on October 26th. I wasn't to sure about the course so I emailed them and they got right back to me. Here is their course description:

"It is a two loop course with about 4,000 feet of total elevation gain. After the opening 1/4 mile, it's all single-track. The trail is somewhat technical in nature but still very "runable" with several long section that run even faster. Each loop has four aid stations with an additional aid station at the start/finish area. If you have any other questions please let us know.

Sounds like a decent course.

On a totally random note, here is a great running quote (picked up from another webpage), at least one I take to heart as I think about going for my first 50 miler.

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” ----- Theodore Roosevelt


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Planning for the fall......

I spent a good part of the morning looking at fall races, I found a few that look interesting.

I found another race calendar that I think I had looked at before but failed to bookmark. It is at I scoured through the fall races, many were already on my considerations list but I did pick up a couple more.

One is in Illinois called the Farmdale 33, it is held on October 18th and I have added it to my consideration list. It is a good possibility and looks like a decent course. Not too hard but enough variety to be interesting and it would take care of Illinois in my 50 state quest.

I also added to my considerations list the Bohemian Alps 50k, it is held on Sept 20th in Nebraska but it looks to be on gravel roads.

Might be kind of hot and maybe a little boring. But it would take care of Nebraska in my 50 states quest. Kind of cool that Ultras count in getting to the 50 states, they may be my path.

The problem I am having is that I am trying to decide if I am mentally ready to go for a 50 miler in the fall. I still consider a 100 beyond comprehension (at least my comprehension) but I am starting to think that a 50 is doable.

It was a goal of mine at the start of this year but I didn't think I would get there this year. I did do a bit of thinking about a 50 when I was completing my 2nd loop at Afton, could I do a 3rd loop. I think I could have. I am sure it would have been a struggle but if I fixed the blisters that would have carried me through the first 5 miles, the next 5 would have been hard and the last 5, well they would have been the last 5 except I still would need add to 3.5 more (ouch) . Ok, still a bit for me but I will be coming off two marathons in August at moderate altitude so Superior is a possibility.

It got reinforced in my last post as Londell suggested I do the 50 at Superior and catch up to him on his journey to 100, good plan. Just thinking he would be ahead of me, would keep me moving forward. Steve thought Superior wouldn't be a good first one, I have run a little (ok very little) on the Superior trail. And considering what he puts himself through, if he thinks it is hard, what does that mean?

Well this is the fun part for me to think and plan about fall race possibilities. Last year at this time, I was struggling to get motivated to do a fall marathon and now I am thinking that I could finish a 5o miler. Kind of a nice change in the state of my running life...................

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Running milestones ........

I was looking at my spreadsheet where I track my shoes, yearly mileage history, plan my races and training and I noticed a couple of things, the first being the shoes I have worn, the second being some interesting stats. I will post about my love/hate relationship with shoes in a future post. For this post I wanted to acknowledge a few minor milestones, take a look at where I am for the year and speculate where I might be by year end. I know some runners may look at what I consider milestones and will laugh but for me I am happy to take a moment to think through them as I never considered myself a runner and still have issues thinking that I am one so allow me to soak these minor ones in.

My first milestone is the completion of a couple of 50k's, I have gone beyond 26.2 for the first time in my life and have now done it twice. I also love the fact that the local ultra running community is so encouraging. I wouldn't have done Chippewa if not for Wynn Davis giving me the confidence to try by simply answering an email and saying I could do it.

My second and third milestones will both happen over the next 2 to 4 weeks. The second milestone is that I will soon have logged 15,000 miles since I started running. I am currently at 14,944 so probably the week after next I will be there. The third milestone (not really a major milestone but an interesting observation) is that already in 2008, I am approaching my last years mileage total and if I continue the current pace, I will have my second highest mileage year ever and it won't surprise me if I break my previous record high mileage year. Another not yet a milestone but at least a trend in the right direction, my weight is down by 12 pounds from my January starting point, if I continue to train and eat sensibly I will end up at my lowest weight in 5 years, which corresponds to my lowest mileage year and my last knee surgery.

Here are my yearly totals:

For the sake of stats, I am ignoring my first year (1991 - 12 miles) as I only had 3 days of running.

Years Running: 16
Fewest Miles - 2003 - 491
Maximum Miles - 1997 - 1305

A couple of observations in looking at the numbers, I see three downward trends, the first is 1999, it reflects a low point that was the result of dealing with torn cartilage in my left knee. I started having issues in 98 and had the surgery in 99. I rebounded a bit until 2003, second knee surgery (right knee). The last trend was that my yearly mileage was at least 200 - 300 miles/year lower after 2003. I think that reflects things going on in my life and my general lack of a specific running goal. Without goals, I wasn't making running a priority. I did just enough to run a marathon or two each year. That changed last year when I turned 50 and decided to go for 50 states and has been further changed as I now have a little ultra fever. I think these two goals will carry me for many years.

Anther milestone that I expect to make soon will happen in August when I run marathons on back to back weekends. I have never tried this and don't expect to have major issues. The courses are out west and will be challenging (I think) so I am not worried about time, I just want to enjoy them. Another minor milestone will happen after my next marathon, it will mark my 30th marathon completed.

Other milestones that I am contemplating going for this fall include completing marathons or longer in 10 states (I will be at 8 states after August), running a 50 miler (thinking either Superior, Glacier Trail or Heartland - open to input if anyone has done any of these) and if not a 50 miler than I will try to do another 50k or two.

Long term goals that I am thinking of now, a 100 mile event (still seems a bit crazy but not as crazy as I once thought as I am starting to think I can do it) and one other lesser goal, I would like to see my ultra race count move beyond my marathon count.

So all in all when I look back at my year, I am into a decent running pattern with renewed optimism and goals. I look forward to the coming events, those that are already committed and those that I am still thinking about................

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Turtle Trot Triathlon is coming...............

One of my favorite running related events that I have ever done is the Turtle Trot Triathlon, my guess is you have never heard of it and that is ok.

It is an invitation only event, organized by the parents (Ben and Kirsten) of Amada, a soccer player that I coached, that consists of a 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike and a 5k run.

So go back a couple of years to 2006, my wife and I were asked if we wanted to participate in the Turtle Trot since they knew we both ran. We found it interesting but we weren't too sure about actually doing it. I had always kind of wanted to do a tri but I wasn't too excited about training for one. I struggle with getting my runs in, how would I ever fit in swims and biking?

Well, they kept asking us that summer, they said it was a low key event that was fun, family and friends. I said it sounded interesting but that I would probably drown as I wasn't sure that I could swim a 1/2 mile. I also had the excuse that our soccer team would be playing districts on the day of the event. Ben said don't sweat the swim, the lake level is down and I could touch bottom the whole way if I needed to. They kept asking and we agreed but only if our team wasn't playing districts that morning. As luck or fate would have it the team lost our game in overtime on Friday night so we were eliminated and now we were committed.

The race is held on the 3rd Saturday of July which is normally pretty warm (at least to us). Sure enough as we got there that morning, it was already in the upper 70's heading to low 90's. I was thinking that the 5k was going to be a bit brutal and I wasn't looking forward to the swim as Minnesota lakes can be real cold even in July, oh well, we were both committed.

As we got the instructions for the event, Ben gave us a little bit of a surprise, he said that for this year's event they were going to change the order. He said, it's his race and he can do that. He also said that the previous year they had a runner collapse and they didn't want that to happen again. So the order was going to be the 5k run, 1/2 mile swim and then the 10 mile bike. I was thrilled. I could run hard and then cool off and then cruise on my mountain bike for 10.

The race went great, I don't remember my time but I loved the three events together. I thought that if I had a different bike I could have gone faster, if I trained for swimming that would have gone faster, heck if I trained for a 5k that could have been faster then I thought should I do another tri? Ok that thought left quickly but I hoped we could do it the next year.

Sure enough last year, 2007, we got their email and signed up again. When we got there, Ben said the order would be the same as the previous year as no seemed to mind the switch and it just made sense. It worked out well again and I think I went faster but they did adjust the swim as they said that in 2006 it was short. So the swim took longer but my bike and run were faster.

We have a cookout after and get to catch up with each other. It's what running events should be, a nice gathering with friends and family. Even though the only folks we know are Ben, Kirsten and Amada and some of their family everyone makes us feel welcome. Too often I know that I show up, run the race and head out, basically ignoring my fellow runners. For me, it's my nature, I don't tend to initiate conversations but if someone talks to me I will talk to them, especially about running. This event is what it is all about, no one cares that much about time, you battle yourself if you choose, if you want to compete, you can, if you don't want to compete then participate. In the end it is participation that matters, time is relative but not overly important.

So we got our invite for this year's event and it said "Due to popular demand, we will be sticking with the run, swim, bike format" - I can't wait to do it again...........

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Afton, a few days after...........

The plan was to get right back into training, good plan, minor problem.

I felt good on my recovery run on Sunday, no real issues on Monday as we got a bike ride in except my blisters bugged me as I peddled and then I went for a run on Tuesday. I only made it a 100 or so yards when the minor problem occurred. I was running in Lebanon Hills western section (mt. bike entrance) which starts out with an uphill climb, kind of like a baby Afton hill, it's moderately steep but not that long. As I hobbled up the hill trying to protect my blisters, I got about halfway up the hill when I got kind of a jolt a pain in my right knee. I thought about just pushing through it as I figured it would probably go away but instead I decided to shut it down and give the body an extra day or two off. The knee issue is nothing much to worry about, just a by product of a little swelling carryover from Afton.

The nice thing about having had a few knee issues in the past is that I have gotten pretty familiar with knee pain and when I should run through it and when not to. Ok, my Doctor would probably say that running through it is a never a good idea but they aren't always right and I know that if the pain is temporary than it is ok to work your way through it. So how do you know if the pain is temporary, well if it goes down within a mile or so, than it is temporary, if it hurts for the entire run than maybe it wasn't.

So I will migrate to plan B, try to run a short distance tomorrow and if the pain level is low to moderate enjoy the run, if not take another day off. For the weekend I want to get in a couple of mid-distance runs so patience during the week is a good idea as I have a month to get ready for my next marathon.

So instead of running I figured I would think about it so I decided to re-read the reviews on the Haulin' Aspen Marathon (my next marathon) on (great website for researching marathons).

Here is an excerpt from one of the posts;

"This is an extremely challenging trail marathon, with a lot of climbing and challenging terrain-rocks (boulders), roots, tight turns, and steep decents (I found it almost impossible to 'run' these frequent portions). (Also a covered bridge and several narrow footbridge crossings). I would recommend against it as your first marathon event.

That being said it is also an immensely scenic course with beautiful vistas of the surrounding forest - esp. at the top of the steepest climb."

Will be interesting to compare to Afton.....................

From another post:

"The first approximately 4 miles take place in Shevlin Park with beautiful trails, a covered bridge, the sound of a rushing creek and young cadets standing at attention guiding the way at the turns. Miles 5-14 miles are mostly on a wide jeep/fire road. Miles 7-14 are going uphill and approximately miles 11.5 - 14.7 are a climb (2500 ft net gain). But as soon as I hit the aid station at 14.7, an absolutely beautiful single-track trail took me to the end (gradually descending with lots of fun, quick turns). Not technical, but plenty of roots/rocks to keep one focused......... But the best was the ice cold beer from Cascade Lakes Brewery waiting for me at the finish."

Sounds like fun..............

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Afton, one day after.....

I woke up feeling fairly good, the hot spot I mentioned yesterday was a blister on the inside side of my foot basically at the first metatarsal bone. My feet seem a bit swollen and I am still holding water in the hands and probably everywhere.

But since the damage appeared to be lite and I wanted to get to 50 miles for the week, I decided to go ahead and get in a recovery run. It went ok but I decided to only go 3 miles. The knees appear no worse for wear, the legs had some energy but the feet definitely are tender. I was quite happy to have only occasional left knee pain yesterday and I didn't wear a patella strap so that is good. Now if the right knee patella would stop aching, I would be able to pick it up. I am glad that the body has held up thus far with 2 marathons and 2 50k's.

Now I just need to get focused on getting back into some consistent training, work on the core and try to cross train a bit. With the two marathons back to back in August, I probably won't be able to see if the speed is improving but I can focus on my endurance and reducing the weight. My weight goal is to be <200 by September 15th.

I did make 50+ miles for the week so I made my goal, I need to consistently set goals and then challenge myself to meeting them.

Mileage plan for the week of July 6th
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 easy
Wednesday - 5 (3 fast + 2 easy)
Thursday - 3 easy & softball
Friday - off
Saturday - 12
Sunday - 10 + 20 bike

Total for the week - 35 miles

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Afton completed...........

Was it a great day, yes, was my time good, no. I made it through the hills and the heat of Afton without injury, that for me is an accomplishment.

This is the first time in years where I ran in heat without major incident. My time was 7:44 and some change, not a great pace, I ran the first half in 3:35+ so I dropped off quite a bit but I am ok with the effort. I had a hot spot on my right foot that made walking and running painful, my knees held up but ached throughout and I didn't get severely dehydrated. I did have quite a bit of hand swelling which concerns me, I was taking an S-cap about every 45 minutes to 1 hour and was afraid to take more. I kept thinking do I take more or fewer to deal with the swelling. I let my stomach rule, I only got queasy once and had no bloated, bouncy sensation at all. The one thing I had to deal with was the "Heed", I didn't plan enough of my Clif Shot Electrolyte and had to drink Heed for the first time. Not a good idea, I didn't like the taste and switched to just water and s-caps the last 6 miles. Along with the issue you aren't supposed to try something new on race day. OK, I have broken that rule more than once, and yes, I paid for dearly for doing so.

Afton is beautiful, I stopped on top of one of the hills and just took in the view. I love the challenge of the course, even if it's safe to say Afton 1, me 0. The volunteers were great, plenty of friendly smiles and lots of help and plenty of food choices. I did try a potato dipped in salt, kind of disgusting but I did have a decent stretch afterward, next time I will have to try the PB & J sandwich. I met Steve Quick, talked to Londell after the race and saw Phillip Gary Smith on the course but didn't chat with him. When I am running or waddling/shuffling (more accurate description) and not doing particularly well, I am not overly interested in talking. I passed him and another runner together and just wanted to get by and get through the stretch I was enduring.

My appraisal of how it went, too much heat and hills and not enough training on hills and heat. With the knees tender, hills aren't a good training idea and the heat well we haven't had any. My wife was amused with my training process for heat, for the last 10 days, I have kept the AC off in my car and the windows up to attempt to get acclimated. Did it work, maybe. I got through the day but I did walk the hills and I walked the stretches where I couldn't breathe that well from the lack of wind.

I was right in my pre-race prediction, a PR at Afton (yes, it was my first attempt at the 50k at Afton, so no surprise there) and I was able to beat my Chippewa time by about a 1/2 hour. Did I want a better time, absolutely, was I in shape to get it, No. I am gaining an understanding of pacing and fueling on trail courses that will benefit me on my marathons and in future trail races. I left Afton thinking no way will I ever do a 50 miler but by the time I got home, I was thinking maybe I would but I am leaning to next year so I can get my times faster and my weight lower, I still think the two go together otherwise it has to be my age, ability or training.

One final note on Afton, I ate a hot dog, some cookies and drank some Coke afterward, not a monumental thing for most folks but for me to eat anything after a race is a huge deal. Another advantage of Ultra events, free real food. And I would be remiss to not say a big thank you to John (great job as a first year race director) and all of the volunteers who put on a first class event.

Next race, the Turtle Trot, my kind of race...........................

Friday, July 4, 2008

Afton, less than 24 hours away..................

It is now just 24 hours from the start of Afton, the weather sounds like it may be a factor - sun and highs up to 84. So the plan will be real simple, show up on time and then take what I get and make the best of it.

I am still kind of tracking for my 50 mile week, although I wasn't able to run 5 yesterday, I had to cut it off after 3 as I was light headed and weak. Not quite the way I want to go into Afton but I think I was just a bit beaten up from the golf the day before. Yes golf, we had a scramble at work and I choose to walk the course versus a cart and I think I may have just gotten a bit dehydrated so I will work on pumping the fluids today. If not from the golf then Afton will be a bit harder but I think it will go fine. My plan is to run 2-3 today just to make sure all is well. So if I run 3 today, finish Afton and then do a recovery 4 miler, I will end up with 51 miles. I know for many that would be a light week but for me it will be highest mileage week in years.

This will be my second attempt at Afton and my first try at the 50k there. I ran the 25k back in 2005 although I had originally signed up to do the 50k but dropped to the 25k as I had sprained an ankle a couple weeks ahead it. The plan that year was to run Grandmas and then run the 50k at Afton but the ankle kept me out of Grandmas. For Afton, I had only been able to run a couple times on the ankle and didn't think it would hold up. That was a good call as I still remember having to walk many sections as the ankle wasn't holding up. So if my log book is right I finished the 25k in around 3:30, I say log book as I looked at the results on-line and they say 2:56 but they also don't list my age or have my first name right so I am guessing my time might be close although it's odd as I don't normally write times down that way. I do remember going into the finish area and thinking there is no way I could do a 2nd loop.

Ok sorry to go off track, Afton tomorrow. My point in looking backwards was to figure out how hard or easy I should go out. So after looking at the past, the plan will be to drop to the back of the pack, take my time, turn my hat around, work on my tan and see if I can run a consistent pace. The goal will be the same as any hot weather event, finish without throwing up. A modest goal but one I do appreciate.

I know that Afton will probably not be an easy day but I think I am ready and regardless of how the day ultimately turns out I will have fun as I will be running trails.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goals - revisited.........

Ok, remember my goal for 50 miles this week where I said forget it yesterday, I can say that post reflected a negative mood, so after a decent nights sleep and a more positive thought pattern that got energized after listening to a good recent song from the Eagles called "Get over it" on my way to work (For those that don't know the Eagles, they were a band from the 70's - yes I am old and yes I saw them a few times back then).

So, I decided to make another run at it by doing 7 today, if I sneak in 3 before work I am back on track or even 3 on Friday. It's a good reminder to only abandon a goal when it isn't a achievable, things like breaking 4 hours in a marathon and your time is at 3:50 and you still have 3 miles to go. Now that would be hard.

I had to remind myself that if my 50 miles in a week is important then I should step back, take a breath and remember there is always a third option. I picked that phrase up from one of my favorite books; Stephen Covey's - Seven habits of highly effective people (link to the wikpedia summary). It was about 13 years back that the company I worked for had us read the book and then go through 7 habits training. Now I had been through other work sponsored training events and suffice it to say that the "free lunch" was hardly free but this book struck a cord. Simple concepts that can be applied to work and to life and so of course they apply to running, things like "begin with the end in mind". Who has started training for any event without imagining the finish.

The Seven habits are:
  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Undersood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw
If you read the book it is amazing how any running program or a goal could be helped by them. Here is the way to apply them to running.
  1. Be Proactive - Plan your events, ask questions, plan your training, take personal responsibility for your training
  2. Begin with the End in Mind - I always visualize my races, right now I am thinking about the 2nd loop around Afton.
  3. Put First Things First - get your runs in, take care of your family, do your job
  4. Think Win/Win - if I run in the morning then I can do something else with.......
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood - listening always helps
  6. Synergize - work with others to achieve your goals (ok I am bad at this one)
  7. Sharpen the Saw - keep things in balance - cross-train
So if you are looking for a good non running read, stop by your nearest library and check out 7 habits, it's a great book for the long term.


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