Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Doctor's Office

...held nothing of great importance for me. The good news is that there was nothing obvious on the xrays of my tibia. Xrays can't pick up muscle and tendon damage, and rarely do they pick up stress fractures. But I suppose it offers added assurance that I don't have a compound fracture of my leg...Yeah...

The doctor told me to rest, and if that I run, the injury won't get any better. He also said it won't get any worse. I wouldn't break my legs running, it would just be a nagging pain. Okay. I knew that too. Weird advice.

He prescribed me physical therapy, but it turns out the place is open 9-5pm Mondays through Fridays. How convenient for someone who (thankfully during the economic crash) has a job that takes up 10-12 hours of my day. So I won't be going to get PT anytime soon.

So that leaves me where I was pre-appointment - crosstraining with cycling and swimming, and doing Sunday runs with TNT. I'll increase my ibprophen intake to a regular dosage of 1 every 6 hours and switch it out with acetimetaphene for workouts (don't want to kill my kidneys! one problem is enough)

Hopefully within a couple of weeks my leg will heal. I remember when my knee was hurt, I thought it would never get better. Then all of a sudden, it actually healed. I'm waiting for that moment with my leg. Until then, I will be bonding with the bike, and drowning my self pity in an over-chlorinated pool. At least I'll be maintaining race shape for when I am all healed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Round Up

Pardon the intermittenedd posting, as usual. Being injured from running has left me less than enthusiastic about running...so my posting will lean toward the cycling and swimming parts of my workouts. Tomorrow I have a Drs Appt. That will hopefully give me a better idea of whether or not this pain in my calf is a fracture, shin splint or compartment syndrome ... I am at a loss for what it is, I just want it fixed.

Anyway. This weekend was enjoyable.

Saturday - 50 miles on the bike, a new PR. My butt hurt at the end, but overall it was a good workout. Makes me enthusiastic about a century ride in the near future.

Sunday - I tried to keep it slow and easy at TNT practice, but as a coach, I feel obligated to make sure all participants are doing well out on the course. I completed the 16 miles doing half walking and half running. I hit the 7 minute/mile mark for about a mile at my peak, but that was evened out by a 16 minute/mile pace with the walkers. At the end of the day I tallied 16.74 miles at an average 14 min/mile pace. Nice and easy for me. To get the heart rate up, I added a 45 min bike ride when I got home...

Like I said, tomorrow is the Dr. Apt. Hopefully I'm looking at only a few weeks of rest before getting back to my normal run. I will report back soon...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Learning to Love Not Running

Not really. There is nothing to love about not running for me. I like it. It's fun. It's relaxing. But when you throw in an injured right leg, the activity becomes a painful chore. One that I have limited to 1-2 times a week

My crosstraining has been all right.
Monday - Swimming
Tuesday - Running
Wednesday - Aquajog and stationary bike
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Outdoor cycling

My plans for Saturday include many biking miles and some swimming. Sunday will be 17 miles with the Team in Training folks, but I need to take it easy.

Monday I'll be in the doctor's office figuring out what the heck is wrong with my leg. I've got a pain on the medial side of my shin/calf where the bone meets the muscles and tendons. I don't believe it's a stress fracture because the pain is vertical not horizontal. So that leaves either shin splints (Medial Tibial Syndrome) or Compartment Syndrome. I'm hoping for the less serious former diagnosis.

But I'm not sure what else they can do for me. I have been icing, resting for multiple days (rest = not running) at a time, using Kinesio tape and taking Ibprophen. Maybe they can crank up the painkillers. If its a tendon problem, PT isn't going to make a huge different I don't think. It's sort of an area of the leg you can't stretch or strengthen. You can stregthen the muscles around it, but I swear my leg muscles are huge enough, thanks.

So that's that. We'll see how it goes...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Choo Choo

That's the sounds of the CrossTrain.

Been keeping off my feet for the most part to let the tendon in my right calf/shin heal up. Lots of swimming and biking, and only a bit of running. Heading out to the beach this morning for the TNT'ers longest run of the season, 15 miles. I hope my leg doesn't hurt too much.

After that, I'm going to stick around and do a couple of loops along San Vicente Blvd on the bike. No swimming today. I'll save that for 5am tomorrow morning.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two AR50 Photos

Tiny, official photos of the race are starting to be posted:


Bridge at Mile 12-ish



Finish Line - look at that smile

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Forever Young

May the Good Lord be with you down every road you run
And my sunshine and happiness surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true
And do unto others, as you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever young

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

American River 50 - Race Report - Part 3 (Full Recap)

It’s taken me a couple days to write this recap. Without having expectations set going into this race, I didn’t really know what I was up against. And it’s a good thing, because I’d have probably been more nervous. But the American River 50 was a wonderful race! We had a good experience, a good race time, and I’m really thrilled to have completed an official ultra event. To me its just more proof that limits are subjective, and with the proper preparation, you can endure any distance.

Here’s the recap of the experience. I’m sure I’ve left stuff out, but you won’t notice it’s there. I haven’t seen race photos posted yet, so I apologize for these generics. They are of the American River area, but not of this race specifically. I’ll post race photos when I get them.

Onto the recap!

There were no mile markers along the course (thankfully, because really, I didn’t want to know exactly how far we still needed to go), so a mile-by-mile account of the race isn’t going to happen. I’ll try to describe the different sections of the race, my perception of where we were, and what my feelings were at that point in time. Saturday went by in a blur, and it hasn’t gotten much clearer, but here is what I remember:

Starting Line
Sentiment: I turn to my race partner and say, “It’s been a pleasure running with you these past four months.” And here we go.

Unlike massive marathons, the AR50 did not have a fanfare start. No per-race psych up music, no gathering, not cheering. Just 700 crazy people standing in the middle of the cold (50 degrees) and darkness (5:45am) somewhere northwest of downtown Sacramento. It’s a quiet neighborhood around Cal Poly University. We park the car on the side of the road, hop out, drop off our drop bags and stand by the heater. 10 minutes before the race starts (gun time 6am), they make an announcement – Get over to the start line, it’s a five minute walk.

We walk down the bike path along the river. There it is, the starting archway. Inflatable. Blue. Small. The race starts in 4 minutes. I retie my shoes. No time to stress out or worry, just time to go. Then all of a sudden it’s go time.

Miles 1-8
Sentiment: We’re at the back of the pack. And, how do all of these people know each other?

We start slow, purposefully. It pays off (more on this later). It’s hard to run in the dark, but easier to maneuver on the bike path than on our usual route in Santa Monica. KP and I trade work stories for the first 50 minutes. They go by quick. Then we stop for a bathroom break at mile 5.5. (Right under the bridge!) There is a guy in line who seems to know EVERYONE in this race. He calls out to them by name as they run by. They all enthusiastically answer, “Hello!” or “Hey there!” Makes me feel happy that this is such a communal sport, but also a little weird and out of place that I only know one other person.

Guy West Bridge near the start line

Miles 8-15 (or something like that)
Sentiment: Discovering the Aid Stations, and running over the Bridge

Most marathon aid stations will provide gels and some oranges. At TNT practice we are treated to pretzels, skittles and chips. The AR50 aid stations set a new bar for sustenance. The spread was amazing – cooked potatoes and salt, chips, pretzels, Oreos, marshmallows, pop tarts, brownies (my favorite), fruit, gels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pancakes, Advil, salt tablets and probably more stuff that I didn’t notice was there. The aid station at mile 8 (where we first really saw all the goods) put me in good spirits. I guess packing all those bars and candies was unnecessary.

Just after the aid station we cross over the river. The sun is coming up and there are shadows of the bridge rails on us. It was an “I wish I had a camera” moment. I spent the next three hours uttering “This is beautiful” and “Wow, look at that view” over and over again. I’m surprised KP didn’t hit me for saying it some much. Maybe she was trying to conserve energy.

Bike Path along the river (First 24 miles)

Miles 15ish-26ish
Sentiment: That’s a big hill.

Somewhere before the 26 mile mark (I think it was around mile 18) we had to climb a pretty big hill. The aid station was sitting on top of it. All those volunteers staring down at us. (Note: Most of the stations were positioned at the tops or bottoms of hills, making it hard to run into them. You had to earn your way to them instead). Little did we know that this huge climb would be puny in comparison to what lay ahead. What a gorgeous view though. We were overlooking a dam along the river. It was so peaceful and pleasant to be out there. The sun was up but the weather remained cool. In fact, I ran the entire race in a long-sleeved shirt.

Between here and the next drop bag, I alternated between loving the single track trails through the woods, and hating the open pavement that brought us pretty close with civilization. We’d spend 30-60 minutes going through the woods only to emerge neat some suburban downtown area that only served to remind me that the rest of the world continued on with their lives, operating as though 10am was the beginning of their day and not the middle of some crazy race. Thankfully we skirted this busy section of roadway for a mile or so before heading back into the wilderness.

I started getting a little hot and thirsty as we approached our drop bags. I was distracted a bit by the inflatable archway and set of balloons in the middle of nowhere on our path … until I read the balloons and realized we’d hit the marathon point. Technically, from here out, we’re in ultra territory. I appreciated the small gesture of balloons for the celebratory mile marker, but knowing we were just over halfway done started to become a little daunting. Just over half a mile later, we cruised up a rolling hill and then down into another set of inflatable arches – Beal’s Point.

Mile 26.8
Sentiment: The half way finish line – party time!

The first drop bags were at Beal’s Point. Running down into this park area was great. It was a party atmosphere as though this was the actual end of the race. People sitting around eating and drinking. Bag attendants running and getting you things (your bag, some water or soda). Everyone was upbeat and friendly. We had crossed the marathon point at 4hrs and 40mins, so it was just around 11am when we came into the park. We knew that the trails were coming up, so we hung out for a bit. Grabbed some water and soda, along with other snacks, and spent 5-10 minutes resting. I called my parents to tell them we were 27 miles in. After that, we took off.

Folsom Lake - Site of the first bag drop

Miles 27-34
Sentiment: Into the woods. Watch out for rocks. Where are we? New territory.

The uphills and downhills of the trails start to present themselves. The first set of mini switchbacks came around mile 28. I had to do a bit of unscheduled walking. They evened out quickly as we made our way along the side of some monstrous dam-like piece of metal. Couldn’t tell what it was. Didn’t care. Cared more about the upcoming hills. Things get really hard really fast. The rolling hills and switchbacks of the course turn into all out hiking-only ascents and descents.

New lesson, hiking/running uphill is much easier than hiking/running downhill. You can really blow out your quads if you aren’t careful on the downhills. Getting your footing along the rocks is really tough, especially in sneakers. I opted not to change into my trail shoes at the halfway point, and I stick by that choice (no blisters!) but I did get some dirty feet out of it.

Half of the hills we climbed had makeshift steps built in. At one point, KP pointed out how ridiculous this seemed for a running race I agreed. . It’s more like extreme hiking, and for road racers like us, we aren’t used to adjusting our strides lengths so frequently. But at that point, we can’t change the course, so we just kept on going.

Getting beyond the 30 mile mark was a big deal. It was new territory. New feelings – not all of them wonderful, but they round out the experience and make the finish that much more worthwhile. Someone once said nothing that is easy is worthwhile. This race was very worthwhile.

We hit up a couple more aid stations along the way. The demographic for the race skewed toward older men between the ages of 30-50, but the field of participants was just as varied as a marathon. KP and I were definitely on the younger end of things, and as women, we were in an even smaller minority. So any time we entered an aid station people cheered us on even louder. They kept saying, “You look great!” and “Good work.” The confidence boost at that point worked, but you have to wonder how much they are lying. Can we really “look good” 6 hours into a race, covered in dirt, sweating and shuffling along? I have to thank these people for their support…and their tact.

Miles 34-47
Sentiment: Is it Sunday yet?

Feels like we’ve been running for a long time. It’s hard to look at my watch, which reads 6 or 7 hours, and think, man I’ve got 3-4 hours left to go. At the same time, I also think: Everything has an end. Bad days at work come to an end. Runs end. These moments are fleeting. Remembering that helped me focus on the fun I was having and not the fatigue that was inevitably starting to wear me down.

My legs are tired and although I think I’m picking up my feet, I get caught on a couple of rocks here and there. At one point I stumble and I am able to break my fall by catching myself on a bush … a pricker bush. Oh well, only a couple scratches. KP has her headphones on, and while I opt keep mine in my bag, I fill the time by singing songs in my head. From my playlist, a couple lyrics keep going over and over in my head. (These songs as a whole don’t describe how I feel, but the lyrics seem to spark something in me)

“Defiant to the end we hear the call. To carry on, we’ll carry on…”
– My Chemical Romance

“I've had a little bit too much. All of the people start to rush, start to rush by. How does he twist the dance, can't find my drink, oh man, where are my keys? I lost my phone. What’s goin' on, on the floor? I love this record baby but I can't see straight anymore…? – Lady Gaga

“When all you got to keep is strong, move along, move along like I know you do. And even when your hope is gone, move along, move along just to make it through.” – All American Rejects

“Hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell” –All American Rejects

I sing these same lyrics over and over in my head for about an hour or so. That last song by AAR made me laugh because it was the exact pace that we were running, so every step sort of fell in line with the song.

The second drop bag was at mile 40.1 Rattlesnake Bar aid station, but the stations were so stocked that we bypassed grabbing our bags.

As I mentally sang the songs, I kept an eye on the trail. We’re running along the river, about 50-100 feet up at any given time. It’s a steep edge. Watched my step. Finally made our way down to the base of the river, and out of the woods. Three more miles to go. That feeling, “Wow, we’re really going to do this” hits me. I love that feeling. Happens every race. It’s reality settling in.

Miles 47-50
Sentiment: The longest, steepest 3 miles that ever existed.

Please refer to the elevation chart in my previous post. Yeah.

Dear AR50 planners,
WTF?
Love, Emily.


I say this without exaggeration: I cannot remember a steeper climb that I have had to scale by foot. I almost bent down and used my hands to get up that hill. KP had a good idea. She started calling out points up ahead and saying, “Okay let’s run to that sign, then walk.” We’d walk to another point, then pick something else, and run to that. We were probably completing 30 second run / 1 minute walk intervals by this point. And every time you got to a turn and thought you had reached the top, there was another hill ahead of you. More or less, this was a 2.5 mile climb with a .5 mile mixture of flats that leveled off. We past a group of (mostly guy) runners who cheered us on while berating themselves – they claimed we were better prepared because we’re women and can stand childbirth. Well, I’ve yet to withstand childbirth, but it’s looking a heck of a lot easier than this hill.

Finally the hill crested into a slight downhill. The pink ribbons that marked the trail disappears, and we ran toward the end of the road. There was no real distinct mark to tell us where the finish line was, so I asked a couple people walking by. “It’s around the corner!” they told us! KP found some untapped energy and took off. I stayed steady and enjoyed the final minute of the race. The final .2 miles were flanked by course support. I jogged/shuffled through and saw the finish line. Smiled for the camera, crossed the line, high-fived KP and finally stopped moving. 9:55:23, just a shade under 10 hours and under a 12 minute mile pace. Sweet.

Overlook Park - The Finish Line Area - yes, we climbed from the base of that river

The End
Sentiment: Burgers, Bags and Buses

We had to wait for our bags to come back from their drop points. We also had to wait for the bus. I got my pricker bush hand cleaned by first aid, did some stretching, called home, ate a veggie burger and bought a shirt. All that I really remember, though, is doing a lot of sitting and not moving. That was probably the most exhausted I’ve ever been. Just generally worn down. But a feeling of accomplishment accompanied it and tempered the soreness.

On the bus ride back I got to sit with a guy named Jim Magill. Little did I know this man is the two-time 100 mile champion of Tahoe Rim (another ultra). He was the friendliest and warmest guy! We talked all the way back on the 45 minute trip, so much so that I lost my voice for the rest of the night. He encouraged me to do some more trail races and gave me some great pointers. He also pointed out that KP and I qualified for the Western States 100 (a very prestigious race, lotteried), but I don’t see that in my immediate future.

From the bus stop at the finish line, we drove back to the hotel. We were back at 7pm. Long day!! KP picked me up some dinner while I iced. Ate and slept kind of uncomfortably. Your body doesn’t really know how to lie down after so much movement. Also, I didn’t realize how much you use your abs when you run! Mine were pretty sore for the night.

The creakiness of lactic acid in my muscles stayed with me through the morning, but I was able to bike and swim Monday and Tuesday mornings, and that has helped tremendously.

So What’s Next?
That is a question I haven’t answered yet, even to myself. I’ve got my eye on a 50K (31 miles) later in the summer, maybe. Maybe a marathon later on. Nothing I’ve committed to. Right now I am focused on recovering (legs especially) from the race, and getting the TNTers to their own finish lines in San Diego, Seattle and Alaska this summer. We’ll see what the calendar brings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

American River 50 Miler - Race Report - Part 2 (Photos)

Official race photos are not posted yet, but the Sac Bee had some posted (all photos are courtesy of the paper)


Guy West Bridge - The Starting Loop


The Bike Trail - The First 24 Miles


Hazel Ave - Trails


Folsom Dam - The First Climb

American River 50 Miler - Race Report - Part 1

The first of what might be two or three parts to the American River 50 Mile Race report.

It's been about 26 hours since we finished. The soreness in my legs (and shoulders and abs and feet) are a good reminder of what we have accomplished.

Crossing the finish line in 9:55:23. Hiking up and down trails that were, with no exaggeration, some of the steepest terrain I've ever had to scale. Getting to see how beautiful the American River is. And getting to eat brownies, oreos, soda, chips and potatoes at unheard of hours in the morning. It will all be very memorable.

I expect to post a summary of the experience soon. But the UConn game is about to start and I'm too tired to multitask. So for now, take a look at the course and elevation profile according to my Garmin. See that big incline at the end? Yeah, there will be paragraphs devoted to that little Everest and the course directors who chose to end the route on a high note, literally.




Friday, April 3, 2009

Time to Go!

I am sitting here surrounded by Google Map print outs.

Hotel to Airport.
Airport to Hotel.
Hotel to Dinner.
Packet Pick Up to Hotel.
Hotel to Start Line.

And now it finally hits me that it's really time to run this race!

All of my updates from here on out will be either short blog posts or my twitter feed (see the righthand sidebar to follow).

I'll be up in Sacramento by this afternoon, hopefully sleeping well (yeah right) tonight, and then by this time tomorrow, 6ish miles into the race. I don't believe there are website tracking capabilities, but here is the link to the race page:


American River 50 Miler

We've done what we can do. I have faith in the process. I'm as ready and as rested as I can be. Training runs are enjoyable (and a hell of a lot shorter), but now it's time to go have fun. All day fun.

Also, I'm going to eat two breakfasts today.

Happy travels, and I'll recap on the other side of the finish line.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Packing: Round One

Drop Bags for Miles 26.8 and 42.


The Beginning of the Gear Pile
Vaseline (big jar), One of three water bottles, Visor, Knee Brace (just in case), Kinesio Tape, Hydration Pack


The Medical Pile
Wipes, Electrolyte Powder, Vitamins, Electrolyte Pills, Exedrin, Soap Stuff, Vaseline Sunscreen, Immodium (just in case)


Part of the Food Pile
Chocolate PB Pretzels, Cheese Crackers, Starbursts, Lifesavers, Granola Bars, Sports Beans, Gatorade Single Packets, Trail Mix. Still to be bought - PB Sandwich stuff

Weather Outlook

A look to the skies....

Saturday's weather up north: Sunny and 71 degrees
Sunday's weather: Rain, rain, rain

The race is on Saturday. I hope the storm isn't premature.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Round Up

The final weekend before race day was a busy one ...

Saturday: 4:45am Alarm
Up and att'em for the annual Great Race of Agoura Hills out in the Malibu area. On my drive over there I realized that this is my third year attending the race ... which, in turn, made me realize that I've been out in Los Angeles for almost three year (two and a half right now). That was a little weird.

This was the first time I'd be supporting the racers instead of running the course myself. With a sore right medial tibia (shin splint) and the AR50 a week away, I thought it best to rest and coach instead of run the full, hilly course.

Here are some snaps from my phone. It's a beautiful, beautiful area. A lot of celebs live up here to get away from LA. Who can blame them. The place is made up of horse farms, hiking trails and green, rolling hills.




I jogged about 4 miles that morning. Up and down the final hill. Our team had some amazing times, and more importantly, some amazing finishes for first time racers. It's really exciting to help people realize that they can run road races and compete alongside people they assume are "real runners."

After the race, I made the long haul over to the gym for a couple hours of swimming. I arrived right in the middle of the Aqua Aerobics class and ended up sitting around in the hot tub for 40 minutes before being able to get into the pool. The shriveled prune I was after waiting so long in the hot water swam for about 90 minutes and completed 3200 yards. I'm realizing more and more that I enjoy swimming. I'm looking forward to building it into my recovery time next week.

Sunday: Alarm 5:45am.

Out to Santa Monica for Team in Training practice. 12 miles for San Diego Runners, 10 for Alaska and Seattle Runners. 8 for the Halfers for all races. Sky was overcast and the weather was cool, but all in all it was a nice practice. I jumped around from group to group, trying to run with everyone that I could at some point or another. We've got a really nice group of people running this season. And, bonus, my leg didn't hurt as much as I thought it might. My 5-dixie ice cup a day plan will be in effect all week, and I'm anticipating full leg health at the starting line on Saturday.

Sunday Afternoon: Target, Apple Store, Misc. Shopping

I dedicated Saturday afternoon to race and travel prep. Had to go to Target to pick up some items:

1 Large Duffle Bag - for traveling on the plane and for the gym
2 Small Duffle Bags - drop bags for the two stations. Will contain, food, clothing and other camping-like gear.
Vaseline - travel size so I can take it on the plane without checking my bag. For chafing and blisters.
Headphones - Nike now makes sweat-proof headphones. Yeah, we'll see about that...
Wet Ones - Wipes because I will probably trip and fall at some point, and I will need to clean off the dirt.
Snyder's Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels - For Mile 39 drop bag. There's motivation in them snacks.
Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate Chewy Granola Bars - I love chocolate late in the race.
Lifesavers - Hoping they live up to their name.
Market Pantry Cheese Squares - Generic Cheese Itz. Cheaper. Probably just as tasty. And salty.

These items will be accompanied by the food I buy up in Sacramento - PB Sandwich, some trail mix, some Starbursts and some Soda.

I'll be packing in mini sessions all week, and will go over the final list later on. For now, back to the ice cup, resting and visualizing that finish line.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Off to Work

The good kind of work!
As if there was such a thing as sleeping in on the weekend...

I'm up and off to the Great Race of Agoura Hills 10K to jog the course and help out our TNT Team. Then it's off to the gym to do some swimming. I ran 4 miles yesterday to shake off the cobwebs, and my right leg is a little sore. It's kinesio taped up, iced, Tylenol-ed and ready for today. But I'm being super careful because it needs to be ready for next Saturday!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taper Weekend - 12 days Until American River 50

Having to really pay attention and monitor my training sessions and monitor my energy is kind of a pain in the neck. But for all of the tapers I have completed in my running schedules, this is the one I am taking most seriously. Because if I get to that starting line with aches, pains or lethargy, they aren't going to get much better over 12 hours of running.

Last week was all about squeezing in cross training gym time. Aqua jogging, swimming, biking and elliptical. I think I tallied 8 hours of workouts over the week before heading into weekend workouts. And despite that amount of time I spent in the gym, my legs felt pretty good Saturday. The low impact workouts were doing some good stuff for these creaky knees.

Saturday's run was a quick 12 miles down in Santa Monica. It took us a bit over 2 hours, and afterwards I didn't really feel like I did anything - meaning, I could have gone for another 20 (if forced to!). I took that as a good sign - the taper is working. After the run, I met up with my friend Brett, who was in town on business. We did the short Runyon Canyon hike and went out to breakfast. Another 3 miles of walking, and half of it uphill. I woke up a little surprised at how sore I was from the inclines.

But those were nothing compared with the Westridge Canyon run Sunday. 7 miles in the Santa Monica mountains. Moderate hills (nothing like Pt. Mugu in Malibu, but enough to get you breathing heavy). The schizophrenic weather produced a rainbow, a clear shot of the ocean and downtown (at once), heavy rain, fog and blue sky. All in the course of three hours. I love that trail. It's nice to get above Los Angeles and away from the people/traffic/smog/billboards of the city.




Today, Monday, has me resting. Tomorrow I'll be back at the gym for a swim/bike/run workout before work starts. The days are winding down, my nerves are starting to wind up. It's going to be a fun and nerve-racking experience up in Sacramento!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Promised Post - Many Updates

Once again my delinquency in not blog posting must be stopped. Here is the post that will do it! Below, you will read what has gotten me busy enough to suck away so much of my free time. But first…

TNT MARINA DEL REY

After KP and I ran our first 30 miler a couple Saturdays ago, we had to run a 20 miler the following day. Our normal TNT Sunday practice was moved south to MDR. So we got up a little earlier and ran from Santa Monica to practice – approximately 11 miles.
Practice down at the Marina was beautiful, as you can see in these photos taken by our web captain Marvin.






With the team, I ran another 8 miles. I stuck to some of the groups than ran 11-12 min/mile paces because by that time, my legs were feeling pretty leaden. It was good training, though. I imagine that’s going to be a familiar feeling when we get on the race course in Sacramento.

After practice I jogged the final mile to brunch at Tony P’s Dockside Café Eggs never tasted so good.


LAST WEEKEND RECAP

On Saturday we finished our second and final 30 mile training run. This time around, we didn’t have to run a 20 Sunday. The schedule suggested it, but we decided it wasn’t necessary. Good thing, too, because my knees were really sore afterward. The long run went well. Hit up the gas station for a soda again midway through. And once again, Dr. Pepper was a lifesaver. Very refreshing, and very sugary.

I guess completing two 30s is as much confidence as I can give myself before this race. The schedule doesn’t recommend doing any more (and I’m not really jumping up and down to get any more training runs done). Now that those are “money in the bank” as they say, its time to focus on tapering.
Sunday turned into 11 miles with TNT in our usual spot. I walked about half of it with some of the walking participants. As always, it was nice to see some new faces and hear about others’ lives. Every has a different story – what they do for a living, how they started running, why they came to TNT. Storytelling makes the time go by.

Sunday brunch was great – reunited with two of my teammates, Brett and Lindsey, as well as my current teammate Maia. Got to hang out with them for a little before heading back to the valley.

THE GYM

Once I was on the road back home Sunday, I kept driving past my exit and over to Glendale. I signed up for 24 Hour Fitness membership, specifically to use their pool for aqua jogging. And I’ve been a member for only 3 days, but so far, I think I’ve gotten my (birthday present) money’s worth…

As we are in taper mode for this week and next, and because my “good knee” is now sore, I’ve taken time off from running since Sunday. In it’s place: Aqua Jogging, Stationary Bike, and Elliptical. For the past three mornings, and one more tomorrow, I have gotten up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to drink coffee, get changed, and go to the gym. I work out for 1.5-2 hours in the pool and on the low-impact cardio stuff. After that, a shower and off to work, which happens to be only a couple miles away.

I am really liking the schedule. Getting into the pool at 5:15am to jog is oddly enjoyable and relaxing. It’s quiet. There are a couple people there swimming and doing aerobics. But for the most part, it’s calm. Meditative. Admittedly I am tired from getting up so early. But it’s put me back on my schedule of going to bed earlier. I don’t plan on keeping such a strict schedule (wake up / gym time) after the race. But for now, I’m digging it.

So pool workouts and low impact stuff for the rest of the week. Taper run of 12 miles Saturday and a mountain run Sunday will complete week 17 of the schedule.

I’ll try to be more diligent about posting next week!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brief Weekend Update

More on these later...but for now...

Last Weekend: 50 of 50 miles completed. The 20 on Sunday were a challenge, lead legs and all. But running down the marina was beautiful. Pictures to follow this afternoon.

Yesterday: Another 30 mile run completed! The last peak run of the training schedule. I wasn't sure I'd ever get to this point, but here I am! As prepared as one can be for the unknown distances ahead of me. More on this run, too, later.

This morning: I'm about to take off for TNT practice. The longest distance for today will be 10 miles for the San Diego runners. I expect to get somewhere between 10-12 miles running back and forth along the route with them. A lighter back-to-back than last week. Good thing, because my knees are a bit sore.

And after practice - a reunion with summer 08 teammates Linds and Brett for brunch!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

30 of 50 Miles Completed for the Weekend!

The first longest run of the training program is complete! 30 miles today with KP over in Santa Monica and Brentwood. We completed the run in 5:26:43. We started at 5:30am and finished right around 11am. Most importantly, for me - my knee survived!

The run was not without pain, for sure. My knee was hurting between miles 18-22. It was at this same point last week (24 miles) that my knee started to hurt a lot. We were at the exact same point in the route. The dread zone.

I contemplated turning around, but the appearance and disappearance of the pain was too unpredictable. I thought it might fade, which it did. The catalyst for the pain relief? Caffiene. At mile 21, we stopped at a corner Chevron. KP had a coke, I had a Dr. Pepper. I'm not a soda drinker by any stretch - I don't think I've had more than 2 cans of soda in the past 3 years. But in need of sugar and something non-fruity (I was getting sick of lifesavers and starbursts), I downed about 12 oz of soda.

Magic. Pure magic. My blood sugar rose, bring my pain tolerance and spirits with it. The remainder of the run (still 9 miles to the end!) went much, much better than those middle few.

After the run, I drove back, grabbed some groceries, called home and ate three bowls of cereal. I've been snacking all day, but my appetite waxes and wanes. Tomorrow we have 4 hours of running to do, or about 20 miles. Of those, 8 will be with our Team in Training group down in Marina del Ray. I'm excited to get back our there with the runners! I'm probably going to take it real easy and run with some of the groups I don't usually get to chat with. The other 12 miles we'll get before practice, or I will do on my own after practice. Either way, it's nice to be back in the swing of things!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Top of the Mountain, Sort Of...

Tomorrow is the longest run I've ever done. 30 miles. I'm nervous, but not for my endurance. More for my knee. I am wearing the brace today. Ran two short runs (3, 4.5) this week. But basically stayed off it. It feels good, but then again, it usually feels okay until I run long distances. I really hope this is the end of the semi-chronic pain for good.

We'll see.

In preparation for the run, the car will be stocked with pretzels, Teddy grams, Go Lean bars and Kashi chocolate-cherry granola bars. Gatorade for during the run. Endurox for after the run. We will hit the cars as aid stations three times before finishing the route.

My pack will be carrying electrolyte pills, starbursts and maybe a pack of shot blocks. Electrolyte-enhanced water as well.

Wearing long sleeves, shorts and a visor. Knee brace, kinesio tape. Weather will be from the 40s to 60s. Sunrise around 6:30am (about 6 miles into the run).

Nervous, yes. But excited too. I'll twitter immediate results post-run, with a longer blog post to follow.

...


And then another 20 miles on Sunday if my knee holds up. If not on the ground, then aqua jogging in the pool.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More About Kinesio Tape

My fingers are numb from holding a dixie cup of ice, making this post much harder to type...

But I thought I'd share with you my spiderman-esque web of leg wrapping to which I credit the reduction of swelling in my knee. (That sentence was not grammatically correct, I know). This stuff is Kinesio Tape.




Again to recap - my wonderful teammate Liz (who is a Physical Therapist) hooked me up with Kinesio Tape, this magical stuff that purports to take away swelling and improve circulation to injured areas. I had no choice but to be optimistic that this tape would work because I was that desperate.

Liz taped me up last Sunday, and I immediately felt a difference. I kept the tape on for four days (until last night). I knee was feeling much better.

Last night I went over to Marina Del Rey for strength training with team (which was a lot of fun. The Spectrum Club gym is unbelievable! I wish I lived closer!). Liz reapplied the tape (see pics above), I was sore through the training session but iced when I got home.

In the middle of the night I woke up with shooting pain in my knee. I fell back asleep, and woke up in the morning with no pain at all. Not even a twinge. Must have worked something out over night.

I was able to run this morning. Only 4.5 miles. Not the 9 I was hoping. But after icing just now, the leg is feeling pretty good.

Saturday is our longest run of the training schedule - 30 miles. I think I'm going to make it thanks to this tape and a Neoprene knee brace. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm going for a walk

I was able to complete 24 of the 27 miles of our long run saturday before my knee gave up. It just hurt a little too much so I turned back early. Sunday my knee was sore and I manned the water stop at practice with two of my teammates. Monday and Tuesday I have totally taken off from running. This morning I planned to try and run three miles, but my knee is still bothering me.

One of my teammates Kinesio-taped me up on Sunday and that has done wonders for the swelling. All of that swelling is basically gone. But there still is a bit of soreness around my kneecap and patellar tendon. I'm going to Strength and Conditioning practice down at Marina Del Rey tonight where I'm hoping to aqua jog and get re-kinesio taped. I bought an aqua jogging belt at lunch yesterday and I'm itching to try it out.

Since I'm not running this morning, I'm going to go for a walk. It beats sitting around and at least I get to listen to my ipod for a while before work. There is something very drab about going to work without the prospect of getting to move around for an hour before or after I'm at the office.

So a walk this morning, some upper body lifting tonight, and maybe some pool work. Still trying to heal up for Saturday's peak work out - 30 miles.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why Runners Usually Make Great Employees


Through Twitter post from @just_finish (who was linking it from @virtual4now), I discovered a great article that says a lot of things about running that I really agree with.

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a century or the Ironman triathlon, one thing you quickly find out is that there’s no room for bullshit out there on the pavement. You either do the work or you’re screwed. Politics won’t get you to the finish line. It doesn’t matter who you know or how well you can work the system. When you’re out there, every weakness bubbles up to the surface and stares you in the eye. Lack of preparation, lack of motivation, lack of dedication will all come back to bite you in the ass. there’s nowhere to hide. They will all find you and jump up on your back to stop you dead in your tracks. The choice becomes this: Do you let them stop you, or do you accept them and keep going?

The title "Why Runners Usually Make Great Employees" is an argument I will neither defend nor attack. But the discussion the article lays out to support the claim really hits home for me.

Take a read if you have a moment.

Congratulations!

Congratulations to TNT West Side member Eliana for receiving a $20,000 donation today for her fundraising efforts. That's AMAZING. Certainly the biggest one-source donation I have heard of in all my seasons with the program. She's definitely in the running, if not leading, the race for the highest fundraiser in the nation!

Week Four of West Side training is approaching fast. Sunday's run will have us completing 6 miles down in Santa Monica. Rest up for a wonderful Sunday morning run at the beach!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Knews...

Quick knee update - it's feeling great today. Minor, minor twinges here and there, but nothing bad.

My job occasionally requires me to do a little manual labor, like carrying around storyboards and pinning up panels (surprise, I'm not yet the CEO), and today I had to do a lot of crouching. The knee didn't even protest!

I love it. I'm excited to get back to running tomorrow morning. So excited, that I've sort of exhausted myself for today.

So I'm looking at the routine training regime, 9 miles tomorrow at 5:45am. Cross your fingers it goes off without a hitch ... or twinge.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attacking the Injury

"Good things come to obsessive compulsives who fixate"
-Igby Goes Down


I write this now with a week's perspective, approximately half of the time it takes for one to recover from a common/nagging running injury. Okay, so falling face-first on cement is not exclusively a running injury, but at least if I think of it as a two-week setback, I don't go totally crazy.

The pattern of last week probably shines a big bright light on my relationship with running...

Saturday: 27 miles. Tired but wonderful.
Sunday: 13 miles. THEN I FALL. And then 5 more miles. I don't feel the extent of the fall then as I would in the coming days.
Monday: President's Day. Maybe I'll go for a bike ride. I do. An extremely painful one. 10 unenjoyable miles. Knee hurts.
Tuesday: Knee can't be that bad. Let me try running. 2 miles of moderate pain. 15 minutes of reluctant ellipticalling. 10 minutes of frustrated upper body lifting.
Wednesday: Disabled List. I'm out. Knee hurts.
Thursday: Still out. Knee progress.
Friday: Still out. Knee feels better.
Saturday: Normally long run day (20-27 miles). Time to experiment. 14 miles on trails. I made it! Moderate pain toward the end caused me to cut short the 18 mile plan. But I'm feeling a little more sane.
Sunday: 14 miles is looking like less of a good idea. Knee is swollen right on kneecap. Pain is localized and annoying. Walk 2.5 miles at Team in Training Practice, then I stop. Knee hurting a lot. Wonderful physical therapist and teammate Liz evaluates the injury, offers sympathy and advice. Ice, rest, leg lifts, and Kinesio Tape that we can't find on a Sunday morning.

Decision time. I get home from practice and make up my mind that I need to attack the injury with rehab of sorts. I spend my Sunday doing the following:

Contrast icing: 20 minutes icing, 20 minutes in hot shower, 20 minutes icing.
More icing: About 6 Dixie Cups worth. All through the Oscars.
The Stick: I roll out my quad and IT band because they feel oddly tight on the injured leg.
Foam Roller: Again, I really roll out my IT Band just to make sure it's not tightening on me.
Elevation: I sit upside down with my leg up on my table to drain the fluid.
Recovery Food: Blueberries, Salmon, Emergen-C Joint Health Packets x2.
Bending: Liz suggested that the fall may have reawaken (not her word) the scar tissue in my knee from The Great Kneecap Dislocation of Oct 2000. So between icings and during an episode of House, I bent my knee back and forth for full range of motion. Snap, crackle, pop...and I'm not talking about the cereal.

I'm an intense person and I was able to channel that into the rehab yesterday. Now, one day won't cure the knee, but I do get to report that: IT'S FEELING BETTER!! Definitely not 100%, more like 85%. But it's the best it has felt in the past 8 days. My range of motion is back with minimal pain. The local pain area is a smaller one. My quad feels looser, too.

The immediate goal is to be able to run next weekend. The next goal is to complete both our 30 mile training runs two and three weeks from now. The ultimate goal, still, is to race in 5 weeks.

So the plan to meet these goals is: Intense rest and ice for the next two-three days. I'd like to run 2-3 miles on Thursday as a test run for Saturday, but I have made my peace with forgoing them if necessary in order to keep the knee healthy and working. I've also stacked the cupboard with blueberries and canned salmon...which I'm not planning to eat together, but will consume them (and almonds!) throughout the day.

Will I make it through this injury? Of course. Will these protocols minimize my sideline time? I will report back this week.

I live you now with a picture of the puzzle I did this week that distracted me from not running. (Image: paizo.com)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sidelined

Try, try, try again.

After my fall on Sunday, I thought I’d brush it off and be okay. But I woke up on President’s Day, a day off from work, to find my knee really banged up and in a lot of pain. My attempt at biking 30 miles turned into 10 slow and painful ones and I got 5 miles out on the route and then decided to turn around.

I tried running Tuesday. Two miles in I knew I couldn’t do more. I then tried the elliptical. That wasn’t any easier. I resorted to spending 10 minutes lifting free weights for my upper body.

I took Wednesday, Thursday and today off and I’m getting a little stir crazy. My routine has slipped a little as I’m waking up around 5:45 instead of 5:15 because I’m not out running. Therefore I’m staying up a little later, in bed by 9:30 instead of 8:30pm. I’ve been icing and taking Advil very diligently. My knee is feeling much better than at the beginning of the week, but there still is a quarter-sized area of internal pain that is nagging right to the inside of my kneecap.

If all goes well today with ice and rest, I might try 3 miles tomorrow on the park trails. I hope the soft surface takes some of the stress off my knee. But at any signs of lingering pain, I’ll be stopping. Forgoing a week of +60 miles is a real bummer . It won’t take me out of the race of course. As long as I rest up and recover, I should be right back on track soon (next week is a taper week to easy back into training before our 2 peak week so 70 miles)

The rest this forces me to take is probably a good thing overall. But all in all, I’d rather be running…

Image: Pilotrock.com

Sunday, February 15, 2009

TNT Week #2 Recap & Ultra Training Update

If it weren't for the view of the Pacific Ocean, the palm trees and the million-dollar apartments along our route, I'd think we were Team In Training Nova Scotia. Man, it was cold this morning! Okay, 39 degrees isn't even freezing. But SoCal residents, a group to which I am now (mentally) half-committed, have waif-thin blood a little tolerance for the chill that has blanketed the city.

Okay, enough about the weather. It was cold. But sunny! And about 60 people came out for week two of Training. Four miles up Pacific Palisades Park and San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica. Before we got started, one of our Honored Teammates, Laura Maloney, spoke to us about her battle with cancer. As if 3 years of remission isn't enough of an acheivement, Laura is going for her Triple Crown (Marathon, Triathlon, Century Ride) with Team - and the marathon is the final event on her list!

The four miles went by quickly. Some groups may have sped up a little too much for a LSD run (not a drug-fueled run, a Long Slow Distance run), but I think overall it went well.


Poor, poor posture



The Group Along the Boardwalk



California at its Nicest



Go Team!


Some shots from week one courtesy of web captain Marvin.

Although I am there to support, encourage and help the participants, I needed my own help this morning. About half a mile into the run I slipped off the sidewalk and faceplanted. The first fall of the season, I knew it was coming! I scraped my knee very superficially. What hurt, and continues to hurt, is smacking my kneecaps on the concrete. Yeah ouch. I didn't hurt too much at the time, nor did it set in until I got home after breakfast. I'm sort of limping around this afternoon and evening. Its probably a combination of lots of miles (see below) and falling. Either way. I'm happy that I get off work tomorrow!

Post-run breakfast was also well-attended. And I'd liken the pace with which I ate my breakfast sandwich a sprint. Three bites, and I was done! But it was all with reason...

---

End of Week 9 Ultra Training. This week was a tough one. The first of the build/peak phase. Saturday's 27 miles was a personal best for distance for me. I have never run that for intentionally. After the last two Disney Marathons, Mom and I did walk 3-4 miles around the parks, so technically I have been that far. But to run until the watch hit 27.00 was pretty cool.

I was moderately hungry all day and treated myself to drunken noodles and two sushi rolls for dinner. I may have burned my taste buds off after the noddle dish, but like the run, the pain was worth it.

This morning the alarm went off around 4am once again. Kelley and I met up to run before practice. We were shooting for about 3 hours today (or 18 miles). We ran 10.5 before practice, going along our usual route which, in the past month, we have traversed enough times that I feel like I know every crack in the sidewalk. I logged about 4 miles at practice, and then Kelley and I ran to breakfast to get another mile in. My friend Liz, who also ran Alaska last summer (and ran a 3:50!) jogged back with my from breakfast to the cars, just over a mile. So by noon I tallied 17.3 miles in about 3 hours.

I've iced my knees, taken Motrin and snuck in a 2 hour nap that was way over due. I was considering some Chinese food or Pizza for dinner, but I think I am going to find something better to eat my fridge. Maybe some takeout tomorrow. Tomorrow's easy bike ride is also up in the air pending how my knees heal after the fall. I would love to do some cycling just to give my legs a break from running (sub biking out as crosstraining for a run this week), but I'll see how I sleep tonight.

And the best news as this week winds to a close, I'm sleeping in tomorrow! No 4am or 5:15am wake up call. I think I'll snooze until 7!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ultra Training Update

Okay, the first of three promised posts is the easiest one. It goes against my delay-of-gratification life philosophy, but sometimes you have to give in. That’s built into my philosophy, too.

Work is slow right at the moment, so I dropped down and did 10 push ups next to my cubicle. No, my coworkers didn’t see me. The cube does have mini walls. I’ve been doing a little more weights work in recent months to compensate for a lot of the long distances that have been cutting down on some of my muscles. I use the pullup bar once a day at least ... I can do one pull up from a slight jumping start. I'm working my way up to one hanging pullup....someday...

Training is going really well. I hit a bit of a wall a couple weeks back. Exercise and work and life got my very irritable. I guess that’s to be expected for long term training programs. Not all of it will be great. Some runs are tougher than others. Some weeks are tougher than others. But you remember why you do it, and keep going.

So I’ve come back out of the fog. I’m still a bit tired. Last week was a taper week that topped out around 45 miles for the 7 days. This week is the beginning of our build/peak phase. It consists of a 26 miler Saturday and an 18 miler on Sunday in addition to normal midweek miles. So that brings us to 68 miles this week, give or take a tenth or two.

I did a tempo run in lieu of an easy run on Wednesday because I ran on the treadmill and figured that would be an easier workout. Next week I will hit the treadmill again (good for resting weary feet), but will probably take it easier.

I’m noticeably hungrier. I do eat a lot more at breakfasts – I eat two of them. Eggs and Breads, then Cereal and/or Oatmeal. Lunch is a sandwich, salad, soup or other company-provided meal. Dinner is salad and fruit, sometimes eggs, and sometimes cereal. I’ve supplemented these meals with snacks like cereal (notice a trend? Right now I’m into Cheerios), almonds and hot chocolate. Still sucking down 3-4 cups of coffee in the AM for both pre- and post-workout caffeine.

I’m 11 weeks into the training schedule. It does feel second nature now. I refer to my 9 mile morning runs as “back pocket runs” because they are convenient and familiar. Ramping up the weekend mileage will soon take its toll I’m sure (the week before I went into a fog, we ran two weekends 24/18 back-to-backs). But I know now what to prepare for. Even though the intensity of the LSDs isn’t high, 4-5 hours of running on Saturday and 3-4 hours on Sunday does add up.

So 7 weeks until the race!! Starting to look at hotels, flights, etc. I can’t believe that its this close. The closer we get to it – the more surreal it all seems.

Following this weekend’s peak workout, I have Monday off from work. Dare I commit to sleeping in until 7am?? I bet I will. That, and a little Wii Tennis cross training.

PS. I’m getting more and more into Twitter, so check the sidebar once in a while, even if I haven’t posted. I’m usually more diligent about the short stuff.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm Still Here

I have fallen off of the blogging world for a stretch of days ... but I am still here ...

New posts soon:

-Gels and Goop to get you through training
-TNT Week One - Practice Recap
-Ultramarathon Training Update

It will be a plentiful week of posts, I promise. Until then, I'll be twittering mini-updates on the righthand bar.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mental Endurance


Sunrise over the SF Valley


Woke up to my phone alarm this morning and did what has become an unthinking maneuver – I hit the snooze button for 5 minutes. Since today is a rest day – no morning Cliff Z-bar, no shorts in 40 degree weather, no quick news scan before hitting the road – I took advantage of the extra time I have this morning. To drink coffee, to read, and to write.

After last weekend’s sessions totaling 42 miles, I expected my legs to be shot for this weekend. Darwinism came through for me, for the most part – I adapted pretty well. My 9-mile Tuesday run was one of the fastest I’ve ever done for this training regime. I took it easy during Wednesday’s 5-mile slow jog, and enjoyed it a lot. Yesterday’s 9-mile run was not that enjoyable, however. I think the miles finally got to my legs. My feet were sore, my body was a bit tired, and I just kept thinking, “This is almost over, right?”

Training my body to run when my mental endurance wears out before my physical endurance is one of the biggest challenges about running long distances. You have to make a conscious decision to continue with the workout (barring physical injury, of course) and set an example for yourself that says, “Even though I feel tired, I am going to do what I set out to do.” Exceed the limits you think you have for yourself. This little mantra works in sports and works in life.

On the other hand, I believe that exercise, sports and hobbies is general should be fun. And when they cease to be fun, that’s when you should stop doing them. But I reconcile that philosophy with this particular running hurdle because I have chosen running because it’s a mental challenge. I get enjoyment out of surpassing my own expectations, and if I were to stop my workouts when they get tough, I’d never make any progress.

This weekend is a flip-flop for the long runs. Because of Team in Training Kickoff and a haircut appointment on Saturday, I’ll be doing 18 miles broken into two runs (6 before breakfast, and 12 after lunch). Sunday’s pre-Super Bowl run is 24 miles with Kelley over at the beach. Little things like grocery shopping, writing fundraising letters for high school also populate the to-do list; those, and installing the Wii my dad surprised me with. Whether I will have the energy to play Wii tennis after these workouts remains to be seen.

Image: laist.com

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday's Training and Food Review

Sunday plans were shifted around and I got the chance to sleep in! Well, 6:45am sleep in. Slow and steady waking up, having breakfast and heading out for the second long run of the weekend. 18 miles along the soggy trails of the nearby park. The rain really did a number on the dirt, which was much softer and thicker than normal. My legs appreciated the forgiving ground as I made my way up and back twice along the route.

42 miles of running this weekend made me pay more attention to what I was eating. The pace I'm running at is not fast. It's a 5 on a 1-10 scale of speed (and, being a "5" I don't even have to define whether 1 or 10 is fastest on that scale). But, being out there for multiple hours still requires some form of calories. Here's a quick review of some of the products I have used in the past, and which I'd recommend for endurance events.

GU

Gel packets filled with frosting or pudding-like substances. Flavors ranging from fruity (strawberry, orange...ect) to desserty (chocolate, mocha, vanilla). Most runners refer to these gels as Gu, whether or not they mean that actual Gu brand, or another - Hammer Gel, Honey Stingers, Clif Shots any some other almost-liquid energy gels.

The pros of using a gel are many. They are easy to carry. They require no chewing (which is a benefit when you are so tired that you don't want to waste your energy moving your jaw -- this is how I felt in Alaska). They come in a variety of flavors.

I don't use gels anymore, though. The high fructose content is GU and Clif Gel specifically can upset my stomach. My body doesn't want to digest that stuff. I've used Hammer Gels, which don't contain fructose. They are okay, too. But overall I prefer the challenge of having to run and chew at the same time. I think there are better fuels out there.

Clif Shot Blocks

These gummy squares are a favorite of a lot of my teammates. And on occasion, I eat them too. They are a cross between hard jello and a soft gummy bear, and like the gels, they come in many flavors. Strawberry, Cranberry and Lemon-Lime are my favorite. Margarita and Pina Colada are not.

The pros of using Shot Blocks are their calorie content (200 per package), their texture - if you like gummy things, and their sweet flavor. I find they they usually provide me a good shot of energy 5-10 minutes after I take them. Sure, that might be psychological. But I think the sugar has something to do with it, too.

The cons are that they can get stuck in your teeth for a couple of miles after you take them. Now, this can be a pro if you are looking to distract yourself from the run. But if you took one that you didn't like (Pina Colada, for instance), you are stuck tasting that flavor for a while. Be careful, and with all of these products, find something you like.



Jelly Belly Sport Beans

Made my the Jelly Belly company, these little beans come in packets of about 10-12 and in a bunch of flavors - Cherry, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, Lemon-Lime, Fruit Punch. The packets themselves are a little bigger than gel packets, and each contain 100 calories. Jelly beans are my go-food when I am running long. I usually carry 3-4 packets of them on me.

The pros of these beans, for me, are they they don't upset my stomach at all, and I digest them quick enough for them to be an effective boost of energy. My favorite flavors are orange and lemon-lime. I think the watermelon one has a weird aftertaste, not unlike expired poison. They taste slightly salty, too, which balances out the shock of sweetness.

There are drawbacks, however. The first of which is the fact that they only deliver 100 calories per pack, meaning you have to carry more of them than some gels. Also, after taking 3-4 packs in one run, the sweet taste tends to get a little gross. Combine that with drinking something sugary like Gatorade, and you'll never want to drink sugar drinks again. These beans, too, challenge you to chew when you'd rather not be. But they are less prone to getting stuck in your teeth than the Shot Blocks.

Real Food

I know many endurance athletes prefer real food over "running food," and for the most part I agree. But when you are challenged to carry the food with you on a run (as opposed to having it there for you at an aid station), sometimes you just having to go with what's most portable.

My favorite real foods to eat are peanut butter cracker sandwiches (the little Ritz ones) and pretzels. I eat pretzels by the handful when they are available. Mild, dry and nonthreatening to the digestive track, I think pretzels are the perfect running food. Peanut butter is up there, too, and the fat content in it is a plus for ultra running (you start burning more fat when you run out of glucose in your blood around 20 miles), but because it's heavier as a substance, it can challenge your stomach a little more. Both snacks, however, provide a little salt to an otherwise sugary running diet. I'm okay eating M&Ms, Skittles, Starbursts, too. During the second Goofy race, I devoured two mini chocolate bars like my life depended on it.

I avoid bananas, oranges and grapes (upset stomach), and I've never been a fan of trail mixes even though I like the saltiness. Complex carbs like (running food) Clif Bars are usually an end of race treat, not a mid-race one.

Most importantly, I get a lot of calories and electrolytes through liquids - I use electrolyte powder in my water, and I sip on Powerade, Gatorade and sometimes Accelerade to keep my body going.

My reviews are not meant to be hard-and-fast recommendations. As with all nutrition advice, you have to figure out what works for you. And it's taken me a couple years to find out what my body responds to best. Some people can eat 8 Gu gels during a marathon. Others can't even look at it without a stomach cramp. The key is to experiment well before race day. Use your long runs to try out new foods, and pick the one that helps get you to the finish line.

Today's a day of rest on the workout side of life. I'm waiting for my appetite to really kick in after the weekends events. I hope the lunch they serve today at work is tasty (it usually is).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

70 Days Until the American River 50 - 2009

This morning's run marked a return to long runs in Los Angeles - I haven't done a really long run here since December. Any wishful hopes that the rain would hold out for our 4 hour run were dashed at 4:30 this morning when I looked out the window to see sheets of rain waving over the asphalt. I hoped the weather in Santa Monica would be better. But an hour and a half later I arrived to find it worse than in the valley.

Nevertheless, Kelley and I took to the dark and damp stretch of Palisades Park, cruised up and back twice along San Vicente in Brentwood, and logged 24 miles in 4:35:54. The pace was comfortably slow and included walk breaks for five minutes after every twenty minutes of running. What does one talk about for 275 minutes? Stuff. More specifically? Everything.

Living in Los Angeles provides opportunities for endless speculation about the entertainment industry and celebrities; speculation that ranges from academic (will the 'paris hiltons' (Perez coined that lower-case label) of the world fall out of media coverage because of the economic crisis makes people not want to look at them?) to judgemental ("I hated that movie"). Also on tap, playing sports as children, what makes a good Team in Training coach, and how running long distances isn't a crazy thing.

We were done by 11am, and the rest of the day has played out quietly. A walking trip to Trader Joes for pizza, lettuce, more blueberries (!) and some almond butter. A calf massage thanks to Brett's Christmas gift to me. And I have watched some TV.

My legs feel fine right now. My socks were wet moments after starting the run, but my toes did not really suffer. The bottoms of my feet are a little sore. I'm moderately hungry, but not ravenous. Quads, hams, and back feel fine. Tomorrow's training session, long run part #2, will be out on the horse trails, so the soft surface will be a comfort on my feet. We'll see if my legs can stand up to the challenge.

SIDE NOTE:

I do want to take a tangential turn for a minute and tell you about the documentary I watched this afternoon. On a recommendation from website Cinematical I taped the film "Dear Zachary" about a month ago when it aired on MSNBC. I never got around to watching it until today...

There are few movies in the world, and even fewer documentaries, that so profoundly demonstrate the extreme wickedness and extreme goodness that exists inside of people. I tend to watch movies with a detached, clinical eye. This film sucked me in past that, though. At one point, I dropped the spoon I was eating with, out of sheer shock.

For those who don't know the story, there is plenty to be learned from googling it. If you have 2 hours, see this film. It will break your heart, but it will also remind you that there are some amazing people in the world, and their influence can outlast evil.

A Taste of Ultra Training

Saturday, 4:30am - Up and getting ready for a long run. 24 miles out in rainy Santa Monica with Kelley. Thankfully, it will be done by 11am, and I'll be ready to eat a lot of cereal, and maybe some froyo from Bigg Chill!

A recap of the run, and some more insight into the upcoming race (73 days away) when I return.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goofy Challenge - Race Report - Full Marathon

Here it is! A summation of the culmination of my ruminations on running! A recap of the full marathon at the 2009 Goofy Challenge. After I set the stage with some short thoughts on the hours between the half marathon and full marathon, I’ll give you brief mile-by-mile insights into how the race went. And these mile markers will be accompanied by a couple of photos I managed to snag from the professional website.

Moments after the half marathon, Mom and I returned to the race to recover and get some food. (See photo of eggs and salsa in previous post). Upon returning to the Polynesian, showering and changing, we went to the Kona Café on the second floor of the hotel for lunch. Mom got a steak salad and I chowed down on fish tacos.

We probably should have taken it easier than we did, but we had plans to go to the spa, to the parks, and to dinner in our short time there. So after lunch it was off to the Grand Floridian Spa where I got a manicure, and she a pedicure.

Then, to the Magic Kingdom. Walking between rides and attractions tallied 3.5 more miles on my legs. So 16.5 for the day, and a bunch more soon. Dinner was at the Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. Mom got salmon and pasta, while I chose salmon with Brussels sprouts. We split a fruit cobbler for dessert.

Off to bed, and 3am came too quickly! I suited up in my shoes, shirt/bib number, shorts, watch and hydration pack and took the monorail to the start line. I was fortunate enough to run into my teammate from Los Angeles, Javier, at the race. We was running with TNT and in honor of his mother. We hung out for the hour preceding the race (no Race Retreat Packet for me this time) and split off into our corral just before the race began.

Starting Line: It was a little too cold! I was shivering and trying to usurp body heat from other runners without looking too sketchy! I was in corral B, but probably could have dropped back one (to C) because I knew my legs would probably not sustain the sub-4 hour pace this corral was meant for. Fireworks went off and off we went!


Mile 1: Everyone is running really fast! We start outside of Epcot and do a 2 mile loop around before heading into the park. It’s really dark, hard to see. I can feel the nervous energy of the group, but I keep my pace.

Miles 2: Coming over the overpass into Epcot. I look down, the race leaders are on mile 4.5, passing underneath us. Wow.

Mile 3: We’re in the park! They aren’t blaring the upbeat techno music they were last year, but it’s still pretty awesome. The ball is purplish blue, and I look around is awe at how cool this all is. It hits me that I’ve got 23 miles to go!

Mile 4: Still dark out. Corrals A, B and C merge with the rest of the group (D-H) right outside the park gates. We won’t see any more parks for another 5 miles.

Miles 5-6: It’s a quiet stretch along the highway between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom (MK). The weather is holding at a nice, cool 50 degrees. I’m comfortable, a little warm. I can feel the tiredness in my legs like weights around my ankles. But I am enjoying this way too much to care. In my head, once I get to mile 7.5, I’ve gone halfway in the Goofy Challenge.

Mile 7-8: We are closing in on the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). I know my Mom will be at Mile 9, so I feel like I am coming toward my first break in the race. Disney has also put plenty of music and water stops out. People are jogging along, having a good time. The tiredness is my legs is starting to wane. I don’t push myself because there are plenty of miles left.


Mile 9: There’s mom! She waves, I stop for a moment and tell her I’m halfway there, although the people standing next to her must think I’m crazy because Mile 9 is not really halfway. I tell her I’ll be a over at mile 13 in about 40 minutes. From here, it’s a breeze – we’re soon entering the MK. I think the sun is coming up now, too.

Mile 10: We’ve just passed the Contemporary Hotel. All of the employees and many supporters are cheering for us along the side of the road. This is were it gets good. The entrance to the MK is just up head. I run over the timing mat and think, Dad, here’s another email for you (he was getting my chip times reported to him).


Mile 10-11.5: This is why you run this race. Down Main St. Through Tomorrowland, Fantasy, and through the Castle! The music is people, the people are cheering, the characters are waving and high fiving you. All of those hours spent running tempos, intervals, speedwork, hills and lactic acid runs pay off here. To enjoy this without breathing hard at all.


Mile 12: Okay, we’re out of the MK. But Mom will be up ahead shortly. I hope she has pretzels.

Mile 13: She has pretzels. And they are good. I stop and tell her that, although I’m on pace for a 4:20 time, I will probably slow up a bit once my legs get tired. Other than that, I feel great! I’ve been taking in calories every 20 minutes or so. Endurolyte pills, powerade and jelly beans. My stomach is holding strong, no problems.


Mile 14: We run past the golf course and along a trail that leads us to Disney’s Processing facilities. It’s the place you don’t see when you vacation here normally.

Mile 15: I know that the Animal Kingdom is coming up. This means that for the next 11 miles, I will get to run through 3 parks. The first 14 miles only held 2 parks, so they backload the race. My legs feel better than expected and I naturally fall into a sub-10 minute mile pace. Although the bottoms of my feet start to hurt because of the concrete and asphalt, I feel strong enough to push a little.

Mile 16-17: The Animal Kingdom is awesome. They have drummers, singers, dancers and characters. Everyone is cheering. One performer invites us all over for cocktails after the race, provided that we bring all of the ingredients. This prompts me to gag a little – the taste of sweet powerade is starting to wear on me a little. I run past Expedition Everest and realize that, relative to all of the miles this weekend, I’m close to finishing.


Mile 18: The song at the mile marker is that “Shout!” song. As hoards of people, now 3hrs and 10 minutes into the race, run by, they throw up their arms every time the guys says, “Shout!” And I think to myself, this is what defines a marathoner … or at least the people I like to run with. After hours of running, climbing humidity and a world of discomfort for some, all of these people are willing to dance around, sing and have a good time.

Mile 19: Along the highway from AK to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios), there’s another set of loudspeakers. The song that plays is perfect. “Think of the presents you've brought / Any merry little thought / Think of Christmas, think of snow / Think of sleigh bells Here we go! / Like a reindeer in the sky / You can fly! You can fly!” I hum this to myself as I pick up the pace. I still feel really strong, and I’m now running below a 9:30/mile pace.

Mile 20-21: It’s an out-and-back here, a small loop right before the next park. There’s a Beatles cover band playing “She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah” but I don’t find them all that motivating. What is motivating is seeing all of the people on the other side of the road (both times) on the out and back. Lots of TNT shirts. Lots of high school marching bangs.


Mile 22: About to enter the final park, and from here, we never leave the resort area. This means there will be cheering supporters everywhere. Most of all, I’m excited for the candy. They hand out chocolate at Mile 22. I grab a mini dark chocolate bar and a mini chocolate bar. They taste better than anything!

Miles 23-24: We run through DHS, through their costume shops and around the riverside walkway to the Swan and the Dolphin hotels. I passed a guy who was running and juggling. So at least I beat the juggler.


Mile 25: The final waterstop volunteers are calling out, “Final stop! 1.3 miles left” And feel like picking it up some more. I’m all smiles from here on out. Waving to the cast members who cheer us on. I take in the Epcot view once more, and have a fleeting moment of sadness – the race is almost over! I can’t believe it! But that passes, when I remind myself of the food and vacation ahead of me.

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Mile 26: The Gospel Chorus sings us closer to the finish line. I’m running a sub-9 pace. I’m grinning ear to ear because this it the moment I take in that I am completing the Goofy Challenge!


Finish Line! I don’t see my mom, but that’s okay. Hands in the air! Chip time of 4:15:38, a bit faster than I expected!

Across the line! I feel like I can run 10 more miles! (This bodes well given the upcoming AR 50). After getting my medals, snapping a medal picture and downing a couple muffins and bananas, I find mom at the exit.


We head back to the hotel (and then off to the parks!) to celebrate the day.

Over our time at Disney, we walked +34 miles and run 13.1 or 39.3 miles. We dined at some of the best restaurants on property (lots of seafood), and had one of the best views of the park from our room that we’ll ever have.

All in all, it really was a week of glory.


*As you will now note, the title of my blog has changed to focus on upcoming races. The address will remain the same.