Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Totals

After I finished my run today, my monthly total for June was 301.6 miles. That is by far the most I've run in a month. It does help when you run 85 miles in one chunk!

In other news, I signed up for a 50K "training run" on the 10th of June. It is the Rattlesnake 50K near Charleston, WV. According to the website, the race includes "10 climbs totaling 5,000', 9 heavily stocked aid stations, gravel, dirt (mud if wet), sticks, bugs, snakes, deer, bear and Big Foot (if available)."

Yes, I have gone off the deep end, there is no saving me now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trail Training

Yesterday (Monday) was a "Saturday" for me and on the schedule was an extra long run for my 100 miler coming up in less than five weeks. I decided I needed to do 7.5 hours and I chose to do it on the trails up and around Kennesaw Mountain. It's about a one hour drive up there, so I didn't actually hit the trail until 7:30 AM. The temperature was already 80 degrees with humidity to match, so I knew right away it would be a long day. I was wearing my Nathan hydration vest filled with water and carried a handheld bottle filled with Gatorade. The plan was to do 2-3 hour loops or out-and-backs with "aid station" stops back at the Visitor Center and my car for restroom breaks, refilling my water and Gatorade, and grabbing something to eat. The first loop took me up and over the summit of Kennesaw Mountain. I was able to maintain a good pace on this loop, 13-14 minute miles on the trails around the mountain and 21 minute miles on the actual rocky climb to the summit. The rest of the time I stayed on the trails around the mountain. These trails are a good approximation of the terrain on the most difficult sections of the Burning River course. Some climbs and descents, a little bit of technical terrain, but no mud. I was able to manufacture my own mud though. I was sweating so much that the sweat in my shoes combined with the dust of the trails to make a nice muddy paste.

This also turned out to be a heat acclimation run. By the end of the 7.5 hours the temperature was up to 92 degrees and the heat index was a sweltering 102. I did slow down a lot but still managed to keep my pace below the average that I'll need to maintain to complete the 100 miles in 30 hours. (Actually the course is 101.1 miles so the pace required is 17:48 minute miles)

As far as other training this week, here is what I did:

Sunday - 4.99 miles in one hour - 12:02 pace

Monday - 4.98 miles in one hour - 12:03 pace

Tuesday - 10.16 miles in two hours - 11:49 pace

Wednesday - 4.9 miles in one hour - 12:15 pace

Thursday - 15 miles in 3:22 - 13:28 pace. 10 miles running, followed by 5 miles of power walking. I realized that my blisters formed after I started walking a lot during my 24 hour event. So, I'm going to add a 5 mile power walk to the end of a medium run at least once a week to get my feet used to walking long distances.

Friday - 3 miles in 36:15 - 12:05 pace.

Saturday - 8.32 miles in two hours - 14:26 pace. "Hill" workout on hotel treadmill. Alternated half mile runs with half mile walks up an incline.

Sunday - 5.57 miles in one hour - 10:47 pace. Tempo run.

Monday - 27.14 miles in 7:30 - 16:35 pace.

I plan to do one more very long training run at Kennesaw Mountain in two weeks. I was looking for a trail 50K to do as a training run and I found The Skyline Challenge in Virginia. I'm still looking at the logistics and it doesn't look feasible right now, but there's still a chance I might do it. (I can't believe I'm considering a 50K as a training run, this ultra running thing does strange but fun things to you!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Burning River Practice

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my work schedule had me in the Akron area all day on a Saturday. I thought to myself, hey, that's real close to the Burning River 100 course. So, I left a message on the race message board asking where I should run to get a feel for the course. I found out that ultra runners are awesome. Kurt responded with some recommendations, then said he would set up a group run with water drops for when I would be in town! There wasn't a big turnout since the Mohican 100 was that same weekend, but John (who will also be running BR as his first 100 miler) joined us for a 20 mile run on the Burning River course.

Kurt has run this race all three years, so he was a great tour guide. As I requested, we ran two of the most difficult sections of the course. The course is slightly technical, but not too bad, and there were some good climbs and descents, but nothing too rigorous. The worst part of the sections we ran was the mud. It was shoe sucking off mud. There were detours around the worst sections, and both Kurt and John assured me that the course should be drier by race day. Also of note were the stairs, there were at least three long stair climbs, the worst was called the piano stairs, because there were 88 of them.

This run also turned out to be a heat acclimation run. Temperature was about 85 and it was humid. I actually sucked my Nathan hydration vest dry in a 10 mile section. One thing I was happy about is that I am getting less tentative on the downhills. I know this because I did three full-on face plants. Fortunately the ground was fairly soft and not rocky so there was no blood, just a couple of bruises and lots of mud and dirt. Hey, you can't call yourself a trail runner if you look like you ran on a treadmill when you are finished.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is what I have done in the two weeks since my 24 hour race.

Monday after the race - 3 miles in 56:37 - 18:53 pace. This was mostly walking with short one minute shuffles mixed in.

Tuesday - 3.21 miles in 40 minutes - 12:28 pace

Wednesday - 3.87 miles in 45 minutes - 11:39 pace

Thursday - 7.37 miles in 1:30 - 12:13 pace

Friday - 3.79 miles in 50 minutes - 13:12 pace. Heat index was 105!

Saturday - 8.13 miles in 1:40 - 12:19 pace

Sunday - 3.15 miles in 50 minutes - hill workout

Monday - 15 miles in 3:10:16 - 12:42 pace

Tuesday - 4.48 miles in 55 minutes - 12:17 pace

Wednesday - 9.08 miles in 1:50 - 12:07 pace

Thursday - 4.58 miles in 55 minutes - 12:01 pace

Friday - 3.8 miles in 55 minutes - hill workout

Saturday - 18.53 miles in 5:23:26 on the Burning River course - 17:28 pace

Finally here are a couple of pictures from my weekend.

Kurt and John, my Burning River tour guides

Just one of the sets of stairs

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FANS 24 Hour Race Report

Sorry this is so late, but sometimes work and other stuff gets in the way.

I flew up to Minnesota on Wednesday the 2nd to spend some time with my folks and celebrate my brother's 49th birthday. I also managed some carbo loading and ran around the lake every day I was there. My folks, both in their 80s, are still very active and walk a couple of miles almost every day on the path that goes around the lake.

On race morning, my alarm went off at 3 AM, I got myself ready and drove to my brother's place and he drove the 2 hour drive to Minneapolis. I relaxed in the back seat, sort of dozing, but mostly just keeping my legs up. We got to Lake Nokomis a little after 6 AM, time enough to get a good spot to set up the tent, get our supplies out, and get signed in and weighed in. I had a chance to see Andy from the Darkside Running Club and we had our picture taken. My sister-in-law, Mary, was going to crew both my brother and me. I've never had a crew before, and let me tell you, it is great! Kind of like the difference between staying at a Motel 6 and staying at a 5 star resort.

We started out with a 1.6 mile out and back and then started the 2.4 mile loops. The temperature wasn't too hot, but it was a little humid, and I was already sweating after the first couple of miles. I kept an eye on my heart rate, and it got up to about 145 the first hour or so, but then settled down to an average of about 140. It didn't take long for the drizzle and rain to start and that was pretty steady until the end of the 12 hour race. The rain didn't really bother me too much, in fact it seemed to keep things cool and also kept the bugs away.

I really enjoyed this race especially during the day. As I've said before, my brother was running the 12 hour race and doing very well. He lapped my about every 1.5 to 2 laps and we exchanged a couple of words of encouragement and a high five each time. It was also great having Mary, my nephew Travis, and my brother's friend Ryan crew for me. I didn't have to stop to refill water and Gatorade bottles, they had full ones waiting for me after each lap. They were also ready with special requests such as food choices, dry socks, etc. My 50 mile split was 12 minutes faster than my 50 mile finish at Umstead in March, and that time difference is 100% attributable to having a crew.

I also enjoyed chatting off and on with people and offering words of encouragement to the front runners as they lapped me. I was impressed with a couple from Belgium and a guy from The Netherlands who had entered the 24 hour walk. I would pass them when I was running, but when I slowed to take a walk break, they walked by me like I was standing still. All three of them ended up with over 100 miles! Another guy I exchanged words with now and then was Tom. Apparently he has done this event several times, but had recently injured himself. Not to be deterred, he was completing the event on crutches! His initial goal was to complete a marathon, but when he reached that, he changed his goal to a 50K. He ended up with 32.59 miles.

Just prior to 12 hours the rain stopped, so I took that opportunity to go up to the community center to dry off and do a complete change of clothes. I got back down to the course just as the 12 hour runners were finishing up. My brother did an outstanding job and finished in second place with an amazing 83.69 miles. When I had originally set my goal of beating my brother, I was thinking he would beat his previous best of 71 miles, perhaps even do 78 miles. But the overachiever had to set the bar high, I had my work cut out for me.

A couple of hours later my stomach started acting wonky. I could still eat and drink but just didn't feel 100%. About this time the sun was setting, so I made the decision to walk through the night. I had already sort of planned on doing that, but now it was certain. I walked off and on with several people and that passed the time and made the laps go by faster. It was taking me about 50 minutes to do 2.4 miles and that included aid station and porta-potti stops.

My brother came back out to the course later that evening to relieve Mary and to finish out the night crewing for me. He did set the bar high, but now he was going to help me beat him. Things were continuing to go well, but at around 2 AM and 70 miles or so, I had to make a stop at the Med Tent. I had a blister forming on the ball of my left foot. When I first noticed it, I tried to drain it myself and change socks, but it seemed to get worse on the next lap. The doctors took care of me and sent me on my way. One of the doctors, Dr Dave, had run 66.62 miles during the 12 hour run, and then stayed up all night keeping his fellow runners on their feet.

There was another volunteer at the aid station that I have to mention. Mike Henze worked the entire 24 hours. In case you don't know, he was on the United States 24 Hour Team that competed at the World Championship last month and took third place. At around 3 AM I had the #12 dude in THE WORLD make me a custom peanut butter sandwich. I don't think there is another sport out there where back of the packers like me can mingle and share experiences with world class athletes in their sport.

Around sunrise, I caught up to Kelly, another Darkside runner. We ended up walking the last two laps together, and on the last lap we were joined by my brother and her husband. During the last couple of laps, blisters had been forming on the ball of my right foot. So I stopped at the Med Tent again to have Dr Dave work on my feet.

By this time we were in the last hour and they opened up the 220 yard out and back section. Now we could see everyone who was competing. I exchanged fist bumps with Zach Gingerich (he ran an unbelievable 13:23 100 miler at Umstead in March) who was hobbling almost as badly as I was. He had the race won with a 10+ mile lead over his nearest competitor, yet he was out there with everyone else sharing smiles and grimaces.

After the end of the race, there was a breakfast up at the community center. When I say up, I mean it was on a small rise, maybe 30 feet high. I actually had my sister-in-law drive me up there because my legs were toasted. (don't know how I'm going to handle the stairs the Burning River course has in the final miles!) My brother collected his second place award, and after sitting awhile I had to put my legs up. They weren't exactly cramping up, but they felt weird and sitting wasn't doing them any good. After the awards were given out, my brother drove me to the hotel where I took a shower, then laid in bed most of the day with my feet and legs propped on about six pillows. I did manage to hobble to the phone and order a pizza, but that was about all I could handle.

I flew back the next day and was moving slowly, but when I got home I did manage a 3 mile walk with little one minute "shuffles" mixed in.

Now, after a week, I am fully recovered and back to my normal running schedule, in fact, yesterday I ran 15 miles with a heat index of 105 by the end of my run.

Finally I'd like to finish with a couple of lessons I learned. Remove your fuel belt before spraying bug spray all over yourself. Ginger chews are lifesavers for your stomach. Do not do math in your head after being on your feet for 22 hours.

Well, looks like all systems go for the Burning River 100. I'm excited because this week I get to do a 22 mile training run on the actual course.

Now last of all some pictures from the race.

Awesome Crew Chief Mary, Super Speedy John, and Me

A picture of me with Andy, this dude had done Badwater, Comrades, and numerous other bad-ass ultras.

Kelly and me at the summit of Mt Nokomis.

All smiles at the start!

Hobbling at the finish. I've just been passed by Tom the Crutches Dude.

Trying to ease the pain in my legs.

The smile of the victorious sister :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Passed

Official results aren't in yet, but I think I ran about 85 miles. If its 85.1 or higher I'll give myself an A-. Full race report to follow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FANS Grading

I'm running the FANS 24 Hour run this weekend as a final test to see if I can possibly try a 100 mile race at the end of July. In order to pass this test, I want to be able to keep running and walking for the entire 24 hours with only short pit stops. I also want to see if I can conserve energy to last that long and keep myself fueled and hydrated for an extended period of time.

Ok, that's the passing grade standard.

In order to get a C, I need to run more miles than my brother does. He is a speedy guy, and even though he is only doing the 12 Hour run, this will definitely be a challenge.

To earn a B, I need to cover at least 80 miles.

To earn the gold standard A, I need to do 90 miles.

And, to get the A+++++ (that's FIVE pluses) I will cover 100 miles which will only happen in my wildest dreams and conditions are absolutely perfect.

Looking forward to Saturday, its almost here!