Monday, May 28, 2012

Adding to the Shoe Repertoire?

After using my Vasque Mindbenders for much more mileage lately, I've noticed my big toe seems is not getting the room it needs to expand on the medial side of the toe box.  I think this is either due to the Mindbenders straight last, or the fact I just have fat toes and no toe box can contain them.

I have found some trail shoes from Montrail that all employ a semi-curved last, and I'm going to see how those all end up performing.  Orders have been placed through Amazon and Running Warehouse, and arrive this week.
  1. Montrail Masochist II
  2. Montrail Fairhaven
  3. Montrail Badrock
The Mindbender had done an exceptional job of transitioning me into 'real shoe' footwear (Vibrams are not real shoes, according to the majority of people). I'm hoping that at least one of the above shoes fits the bill, potentially for when White River comes along in late July.  I'll post some reviews on these suckers once I get the chance to run on them later in the week and into the weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sun Mountain 50K Race Report

I get a a forest campsite slightly north of Mazama, Saturday afternoon. I'm set up by a creek, completely out of cell phone service. Peaceful, quiet, and surrounded by the beauty of the Methow Valley. I'm sure there are words to describe it, but I'd rather just throw in a photo.

Does this need a caption?

The 50 milers started early, and the 25 and 50K's go at 10:00 a.m. My initial goal is to take it slow from the start, but there is a bunch of single track at the start, and the last thing I want to do is end up behind the handful of overzealous 25K runners who start to burn out 3 miles in on the single track (pretty much me, two years ago). Get in with the top quarter of people or so? Sure.

I push it to get by some people that aren't moving too fast, but fast enough, and settle in. Thus begins a climb to the first aid station that is a gentle uphill, but I'm able to run it. What a difference a year makes, as last year this climb killed me. So I maintain a steady climb, and don't stop. One guy, sans waterbottle, and a lot of hair, comes roaring by. Regardless of the race he was doing, he was moving. I can't help but wonder how one gets that fast.

I stay with a runner for awhile and we have some good conversations on ultras. How to train for 50 milers. The Western States 100 lottery. Training plans. Long runs. Back-to-Back (B2B's) long runs. I eventually leave her about a mile before the 8 mile aid station, and at this point I'm starting to feel a comfortable groove. Fill up at the aid station, grab a gel, back to some flat forest road peppered with cars, families, volunteers, and kids. I make sure to give some kids high-fives, because it reminds me to keep this fun (and I'm a dweeb). As these races progress and people spread out, I'll have plenty of lonely running, so I try to take advantage of the populated parts when I can.

Running Tip: Carry a handful of these in a plastic bag for EVERY RACE. You'll thank me later.
I have got to go. Not go fast, but go. Last aid didn't have a porto. I'll hold it to the next aid, maybe they'll have one there? Downhill begins. I like downhill. Bowels don't like downhill. This may have to happen sooner than later. More downhill. I'm starting to pick up my speed. This probably needs to happen at the next fork in the road. I'll go down the trail when theres a fork, head the way you're not supposed to go, find someplace serene to do work. I'm content with plan B. More downhill. Crap. This has got to happen now. Thick forest single-track, and nowhere with an easy exit. Can't wait. I pull an immediate left into some less dense forest, bushwack about 30 or 40 yards through some shrubs, find a tree, and do work.

Back on the course. I cruise into the second aid station at mile 17 and I'm feeling pretty good. My legs are the least tired they've ever felt at this distance, and I'm happy about that. I'm saving them for the Patterson Lake hill climb over the last 6 miles. There's a brief climb up to Sun Mountain Lodge that involves some power hiking, and eclipses to the roar of the lodge's air conditioners and fans. I run through the parking lot, and have a couple guests tell me I'm crazy. (My stay last night was 12 bucks and I fell asleep to the sound of a creek. Yours was how much?)

Cloudy, but pretty nonetheless.

Nothing interesting is happening now. Legs are doing alright. Stomach is fine. The course is rolling. I'm rolling. Plenty hydrated, as I'm still sweating hours in. Eating enough. One guy passes me after mile 20, but he's moving so fast there is no way I'm catching up to him. Time to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Methow Valley. It's me versus the clock now.

A patch of dirt road and then the final aid station before the climb. I meet up with someone I met at Yakima Skyline, who is doing the 50 mile, and we get the time from a volunteer. 6 minutes to 2:00 p.m. I've got 66 minutes to run a little over six miles. About half is all uphill, but I think its only slightly over 1,000 ft of climbing. My legs are tired, but I want it. I want to break five hours. Bad. Water filled, gel gulped, and two salted potatoes down the hatch. Move.

Patterson Lake Hill? I'm not sure of the name, but we ran up and down it.
The last half mile.  My legs are toast now. As they should be at the end. I'm happy with it, I've run my race the right way for once, not overexerting myself too early, and just now getting dead legs. Pushing with all I've got left, through the trees I can now see spectators and some giant blue inflatable thingy. The finish. I'm happy with what I've done. The clock comes into view.


I've just missed breaking the five hour barrier. Crap. I mean that quite literally. It was the crap. If I hadn't crapped, potentially would have broken five hours. I finish with a chip time of 5:00:12 and good enough for 12th place. I shake the Race Director James Varner's hand, and thank him for the good course. I wish I could say more. Like how much I appreciate what he does, how much I love this sport, and what it's meant to me, but every breath is precious at the moment, and I'm slightly discombobulated. Moments later I sat down with some running friends, had beer and pizza, and got back on the road. Content.

Pre Race Meal: Apple (FIBER), Two Granola Bars (FIBER), Almonds (FIBER).
Pre Race Music: Funeral for a Friend, Saves the Day, Chevelle, Bush, Finch, Chemical Brothers.
Post Race Food: Pizza, M&M's, Pale Ale from Methow Brewing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sun Mountain 50K Pre-Race Thoughts

Third year in a row going to Sun Mountain. I'm better trained this time, but I won't be running with a taper. My goal is to pace this run more than others, with the intent of an even split.

I don't plan to engage in some restaurant-food-fueled, hotel-room-bed, pre-race stay (as I have in the past). I'm heading out Saturday morning, and I'm taking the first forest camp site I can find near Winthrop/Mazama. I've got my tent, sleeping bag, pen, paper, and a couple books. Total independent hippie camping trip. 

I've had a bunch of thoughts swimming through my head recently. I think part of me expects these competitions to clearly sort everything out. In reality, I'm probably going to end up tired, ready to scarf pizza, wash it down with a IPA, and get back on the road.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Training Checkup

Empty a day later. Crap.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote down some goals and observations of my training. I figured I would elaborate on them in this post.


1. Increasing mileage
45 mile weeks were the norm, and that wasn't going to work. 70 miles a week will be the consistent bar now. Throw in the weekly 'long run' of 20-30 miles, preferably with at least 4,000 feet of elevation gain, and then reevaluate fitness level in three months.

2. Diet adaptation
Fundamentally, eat minimally processed, real food. From there, I know my way around a kitchen. Pots, pans, cutting boards, and knives all get daily usage. My diet has never been much of an issue, but it does need adjusting and I know how to do it (and make it taste good at the same time). Slightly less protein, slightly more vegetables and carbs, but maintaining consistency on my fruit and fat intake.

3. Lowering body weight
Currently getting low-ball offers on Craigslist.

Specifically, muscle mass in upper body. I used to wear a 42R. A year ago, it was a 38R. I wore said 38R to an event this past weekend, and it was slightly too big. So I'm making progress in this area, but still have potential to shrink.

Sets of cleans, dead lifts, and snatches are no longer done once to twice a week, as they were five months ago. I now do one or two 20-30 minute sessions of light weights and core exercises as my cross training (all high repetitions).

4. Pacing 
I am the king of going out between 2-3 hours, and then coming back in 3-4 hours for my 50K's. There is no excuse for this. It's not like I'm getting a flying dive off a block. It would be quite the experience to run something closer to an 'even' split in my next race.

5. Walking speed
I have not practiced, and certainly not perfected, my walking pace. It will take some serious work, as when I tend to walk, it's slow and plodding. The ability to walk up hills briskly, and efficiently, is invaluable. This will be incorporated into training.

Potential Issues

1. Improving Baking Abilities (see photo at top of post)
Sugar. Flour. Butter. Oats. Peanut Butter. Chocolate Chips. Cinnamon Chips. Raisins. Baking Powder. Salt. Eggs. Vanilla Extract. Milk. Cinnamon.

All the above are in my pantry and fridge. Various ingredients combined in various proportions to produce more than the sum of their parts. This could become a problem.

2. Injury
Tripping over my own feet? Overuse injuries that I haven't had yet? You just never know.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Running in Spokane

The majority of my spring training runs in Spokane occur on three main trail sites.  The South Hill Bluffs are full of blooming wildflowers.  Riverside State Park has it's raging river from all the snow melt.  Iller Creek Conversation Area (my elevation training run) has now seen the snow melt, and offers great views from the 'Rocks of Sharon'.  

Wildflowers blooming on the bluffs.

Evening run on the bluffs.

Riverside State Park, Bowl and Pitcher area.

'Big Rocks' or 'Rocks of Sharon' looking out on the Palouse.

Another view of the rocks.

Rocks are part of the Iller Creek Conservation Area.