Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reports forthcoming!

Thanks for all the replies (and views!) recently. After the race I was off to Chicago for 5 days with a 6th day spent back in DC resting and recoving from the long drive. I can't complain too much about a two day work week, but there's still a lot of unpacking and reorganizing to do. We're still unpacking from the move to the new place back in April, so with MMT in the books and free weekends (what are THOSE?!?!), I'm going to be busy doing stuff that's been put on the back burners.

A couple reports are in the works; I'm just trying to get a few pictures uploaded and organized as well as pulling my splits off of my HRM.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MMT is finally in the books

Just a quick post to report on my race this past weekend. In a nutshell, it went very, very well. I finished in 32:20:54, which is a PR by nearly 3.5 hours. I was one of the last few runners two years ago and followed up that performance with a disappointing DNF last year. Not sure how I can top this years race, but another 3.5 hour improvement is probably out of the question.

I'll get into specifics later, but this is a short work week (3 days) for me with lots of work to do. I'm heading out of town for Memorial Day weekend (it's nice to see you again, higher gas prices), so hopefully I'll have time to work on a report during some down time.

Here's the Reader's Digest version -

- Hot/humid day
- Three separate thunder storms with full on flash lightning, hail, and sheets of rain
- Trails turned to streams
- Chafing
- Happily picked up a pacer at mile 65 to run with me the rest of the way
- Dehydration and sore feet
- Chafing getting worse
- At 4am, waiting for the sun to come up, and trying to WILL it up
- Still moving at a good clip and ahead of 'schedule'
- If my feet look as bad as they feel, just cut them off
- Cats, cheerleaders, classic cars, donkeys, families out camping, and frogs are only a few things I saw out on the trails. Only the frogs were real.
- Did I mention chafing?
- Potato soup and grilled cheese or cheese quesadillas ALWAYS hit the spot.
- Running across the grassy field to the finish never felt so good; stopping never hurt so much.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What it all comes down to

No time to second guess my training and wonder what I could've done more of, could've done differently, etc.

This is it.

Over the past few months I have had a finish time in mind. I jokingly say 'anything under 36 hours,' which is the time limit. But seriously, I'll take anything under 36 hours. I made it with 15 minutes to spare two years ago and hope to greatly improve on it this year.

This years goals changed as I got stronger and finished training runs and races much faster than expected. My original goal was 34 hours, which I set back when I first signed up. Just cutting down my times at aid stations should be enough to take off 2 hours from my previous finish time. Cake.

But improvements of 30 minutes at Uwharrie and Bull Run Run this year got me thinking of a possible finish time closer to 32 hours. Seems do able, right? Not only shave time at aid stations, but move faster on the uphills and just keep moving in general. Simple.

What if?

What if I felt great and moved effortlessly over the rocks? I came into each aid station with a smile and left with just enough food in my belly to keep my GI tract happy. Feet moved swiftly with no pain or blisters. I had to come up with another goal.

I'm throwing 30 hours out there as my WAG - wild ass guess. What the hell! I have nothing to lose, right?

My GF created these nifty 'cheat sheets' with the splits from three finishers in 2005 when the course matched the one I'll be running this weekend. I'll have the running splits for a 30, 32, and 34 hour finish. I plan to use it more as a guide than an actual training 'tool'. If a 32 hour vs a 30 hr finish happens, then it happens. I'm not gonna roll into Moreland with a split close to that of the 30 hour finisher and jack myself up trying to get to Edinburg to keep pace (okay, I might). I'm just going to do my best to keep moving.

My race plan looks like this - keep moving forward.

This is what it looks like in more detail..

Everything up until Habron (mile 24.7) is a warm up. No need to push the pace up/down hills or pass anyone on the trails. If it happens, it happens, and I should expect to be passed by them again soon. There's plenty of roads in the first section, so I can pass until my heart is content at that point. Going out hard and being hurt barely 1/4 into the race makes for a long, long, LONG day, and I don't want to suffer any more than I am going to.

The next section over to Camp Roosevelt, Gap Creek, and then up and over Kerns to the Visitor Center will be the first gut check, with the out/back to Bird Knob the next gut check as you realize you've covered 56 miles. Saying you're "halfway done" is a joke. It's like trying to use your 50 mile finish time to predict your 100 mile finish; you just can't do that. This is where you have to buckle down and get your butt to Morelend. I'm sure it will be dark at this point, so continuous forward progress is essential. There will be a 1.4 mile road section that I hope I can run to gain some time without physically hurting myself too much. In previous years, I'v slowed tremendously going up/over Jawbone to Moreland, and I hope to there feeling somewhat fresh ready to start the last half of the course.

The half-way point starts at Moreland - gut check #3. There is so much talk of Short Mountain, where "bad people go to die". It can break you down mentally more than physically with it's relentless "short climb, ridge, little descent, repeat"-like trail. Get into Ediburg and you start to exhale. Break down the next section into 2 mile 'bits' by the trail signs you see along the way make it more manageable on your way to Woodstock, where you let out a little more air. Not too much, though!

Woodstock is a looong 17.7 miles until the finish, and the next 5 mile section to Powell's is gut check #4. It's hard to get into a rhythm here, so moving as quickly as possible is key and run when you can. It's similar to Short Mountain minus the rocks and ridge - short climb, ridge, descent, repeat'.

By Powell's, I'll be smelling the grassy field at the Ranch, but it's still too early to be thinking about the finish. The 2.8 miles of gravel road can kill your feet and feel like you're running over hot coals. At this point, it's breaking down the course by sections - get to the reservoir, get around the reservoir, get up to the Meneka Trail, get down to where the trail splits off toward Signal Knob parking, then get to Elizabeth Furnace.

If you've got enough time here and aren't chasing the cut off time, let out that last breath. You've got about 5 miles to the finish, almost the same distance from Woodstock to Powell's, but it's up and down. Cake. You've been doing this all day and are either on the biggest runners high or are going on fumes. Whatever fuels you, you're getting to the finish, and you can't wait to run across the field.

After writing that, I'm really excited to get out there to execute my plan. The training is done and now it's time to get out there and finish this damn beast.

You can keep an eye on the VHTRC MMT Page for a link to 'live' updates and splits. Remember, this isn't chip-timed, so updates will be when they can get internet service and get things posted. Keep an eye on runner #89.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Weekend Plans - CFE Cert; the secret to my so-called success (so far!)

I alluded to it earlier this week, but the reason my workout for this weekend is still TBD is because I'm participating in the Crossfit Endurance Run and Endurance Certification at Potomac Crossfit in Arlington, VA.

I've been following the website since the start of 2009, watching the videos, reading the CF Journal articles, and reading all the past blog posts archived up until April 2008. It's an interesting concept and I've added some of their workouts to my training for MMT in addition to the Crossfit workouts and body weight training I've been doing.

Many people have been surprised at my results this year, which started with my 9:32 finish, and 30 minute PR, at the Uwharrie Mountain Run (40 miles) in early February. At that point I wasn't doing the CFE workouts, but had been in the gym more than I had in the past and really strengthen my legs from doing as little as air squats, box jumps, and kettle bell swings. It also helped dramatically in my recovery after races and long training runs. I hobbled for a bit post run to get accustomed to walking in Crocs instead of darting over rocks in trail shoes, but felt no pain in my hips, knees, or ankles, nor did I have any muscle stiffness.

There's a 'four part series' of training runs that the VHTRC host that covers just about all of the MMT course. Of the four runs, which are a marathon or 50K distance each, I only completed one in its entirety. I wasn't feeling it in January, the run in February was the week after I completed the 71 mile Reverse Ring, and the last was a 50k night run. It was the third run, which was 28 miles, that I completed in just over 7 hours. I ran with a plan, which was to go out relatively easy, but steady, and tackle Short Mountain and Edinburg to Woodstock. I accomplished those goals and cruised into Signal Knob parking lot with easy and no soreness. The plan was similar for the night run since I wanted to compare my Short Mtn and Woodstock times to what I could run in the daytime. Since I wouldn't be on the next 5 mile section to Powell's Fort on race day in the dark, I didn't want to train on it at night, and dropped at the marathon mark.

I had no problem cutting these long weekends short. I don't need to be running a 50k every weekend or back to back 20 mile runs on Saturday and Sunday. When I did go long, I ran with a goal of running certain sections faster than others, or getting up to the ridge in a certain time. I wasn't out there just to slog along the course and get in the miles. I look at where I was on the wait list and how many people had to pull out of MMT for me to get in, and the number that have continued to drop out, most likely due to injury from over training.

Sure, my training hasn't been perfect, but it has worked so far. I PRed at Uwharrie, at Bull Run Run 50, and ran my 2nd fastest marathon (4:07) without training specifically for the race. My volume has been way down, but the intensity has been jacked up a few notches. I'm stronger than ever before and close to what I weighed in college after graduating almost 10 years ago. I will go into the MMT 100 miler down about 12 lbs from what I weighed last year at the start of the race.

I'm going to the certification with an open mind. I'm interested in the POSE method and learning more about it and the drills to improve on the technique, as well as the concept behind the CFE programming for endurance athletes - runners and triathletes especially. In the back of my mind I'm considering a return to the triathlon world this Fall with CFE as my main form of training - CF workouts 4-6x a week, plus some swim, bike, and run workouts from the CFE website. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Weekend, Review, and Final workouts

This past weekend I was lucky enough to join 4 other runners in an 18 mile jaunt in George Washington National Forest. I had been on these trails before, nothing new to me, but running some of them at night was new to me. I started off in the back of the pack and stayed there most of the night. I was in no rush as the group split, regrouped, split, regrouped, then split for good until the finish, which was 5.5 hours after starting.

I took it very, very easy and walked probably 2/3 of the course. I got in my climbs, I got in the time on my feet, I about polished off my 3L Camelbak (drinking at night is usually a problem), and I got to try out my new Drymax socks. It was my first real run in the socks, and my reviews are inconclusive. I've been a fan of the Injinji toe socks, but their anti-blister system was almost too good to pass up! My GF surprised me with a couple pairs before Bull Run 50, but this was my first long trail run where I could try them out. They promise that:

"Because Drymax socks stay dry, the skin stays dry too; therefore blisters normally caused by sweat or sweat vapor are prevented."

Apparently slogging through ankle deep mud and water isn't on the trails that these socks were tested on since I returned with wet socks, pruned feet and the skin on my heel peeling off where it was fulling intact before the start of the run. And their Extra Foot Protection -

"Trail dirt inside a sock is a bad thing; it can easily cause blisters or rib the skin raw. To help prevent dirt from getting inside Drymax Trail socks, we did not include vents. In addition, the Trail socks’ double welted leg has extra padding around the ankle. This extra padding protects the leg, and seals the top of the shoe to keep out dirt & debris."

I've had a couple black toenails since February (fall off already!!), but came back with so much dirt and grit on my toes that they all looked black/grey.

I love you, Drymax! And believe me, I've heard wonderful things about these socks and I want to like you, but maybe this was an off day for the socks. Better them than me. I guess they held up to their promise of no blisters, but this was an 18 mile walk fest, and who knows how they'll hold up to longer miles and more pounding. I don't have any more long runs on the trail planned until next week, so I'll probably stick with the Injini's and bring them along just in case.

After the run, I cleaned off with some Wet Wipes and crawled into the sleeping bag I had rolled out in the back of the CR-V. Quarters were cramped, but I got a lovely 3.5 hours of sleep before getting up and getting ready for some trail work. I was part of a crew that was to clear and re-blaze the section we had just run the night before, and there wasn't much work to do. We worked on Bear Wallow and Sidewinder Trail and a bit of Tuscarora before heading back to Elizabeth's Furnace picnic area and clearing some of the overgrown brush on the MT/Tuscarora Trail. It rained off and on and wasn't the best day to repaint blazes, nor were they in much need of a fresh coat, so we disbanded early.

It was nice to be out there caring for the trails that I've spent so much time on this year. I have my last couple weeks of workouts lined up and, weather permitting, hope to follow through. If not, I've finally got the erg set up and will hammer out a workout there as I did last night. It was quite the spit fest and "only" ten minutes (of pain). I'm looking to go Tue-Thurs this week with a couple TBD workouts Saturday and Sunday (more on that later this week), but nothing on trails is planned for either day. Next week will be interval runs on Tuesday and Thursday. No need to push it at this point. I plan on getting plenty of sleep even if that means going to bed before the end of any hockey game and just keep the nutrition in check. I haven't gone too overboard and have been able to maintain my weight for the last month. Packing and planning will take up the rest of the week as will doing my best to stay calm.

The past few months have flown by with one weekend left before the big race. Whether or not I'm ready, it will still happen, and I have these last few workouts to do to put the final touches on this years training...

.. and then it's time to get fat again!! woohoo!! Pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.. look out!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Heading to the mountains

I'm still in a bit of a funk, but I know some time on my feet in one of my favorite places should do the trick.

A handful of people are getting together tonight for an 18 mile run of the Massanutten Trails and surrounding area in the George Washington National Forest. The plan is get in some good headlight time, good time on our feet, and some good rocky climbs before the 100 miler in two weeks. Hard to believe it's almost here!

Once done, we'll camp out in cars or tents and wake up a few hours later to help a crew of Happy Trails runners clear those trails we just ran, as well as the rest of the trails that cover the MMT course. There are plenty of downed trees to be cleared off the trail as well as some trails to be re-blazed so they are easier to see. Not sure if anyone is planning on bringing a leaf blower or rock hauler, but if so.. thanks in advance!

I feel like I peaked at BRR where I finished the day with a great run and a great PR. These last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride with twists and turns; with a few stops upside down or while climbing to the top. I just can't seem to get over the top and enjoy that smooth, yet exhilarating drop. Maybe I'm in it now. Is this what it's supposed to feel like? I'm running well, as many have told me, and hope my training will suffice and carry me the full distance. There are bits of doubt creeping in that I'm trying to keep at bay. I need to trust what I've done on the trails and in the gym and just go out there and have fun.