Monday, December 27, 2010

12 Days til Bandera...

It's taper time....and I need it!  I went out for a 15 miler on Sunday and was dragging myself along.  Today was a rest day and then it's all mellow running and rest days from here on out.  I need to allow all my aches and pains to heal up so I hit the start line refreshed and ready to roll.

I'm thinking about a goal time and I'm settling somewhere in the 11:15-11:45 range.  I chatted with Nick Clark, who set the course record (9:16:57) there last January, and he agreed that a sub-12 would be a realistic goal for me.  My plan is to run as much of this as I can.  I will let the rocks dictate when I walk, but I have not trained for hiking at all, so I know running will be more comfortable.  My hope will be to get through the first 50K loop unscathed before the real race begins during the second.

For fueling, it's no surprise that I've settled on an EFS liquid shot plan.  One 6 oz. shot (400 calories) mixed with water in my 20 oz. handheld.  I will plan to drink one bottle every 1.25-1.5 hours.  I also stumbled upon these cola flavored PowerBar Gel Blasts.  If you haven't tried them yet, you need to.  All that Coke goodness packed into a portable treat.  There are nine chews in a pack and each one provides about 21 calories.  I plan to eat 1-2 every 30 minutes starting on my second loop.
Energy Gel Blasts

Monday, December 20, 2010

3 weeks

Bandera is less than three weeks away.  I'm entertaining thoughts about my taper, but feel I need one last week of higher volume before I kick that into gear.  Last week was all about getting in long runs.  I don't have any scientific reason for what I did, but just felt like I wanted to get in a series of 10+ mile runs with a 30 mile run in the mix.

On Saturday, I went out  for the 30 miler on the local trails.  James joined me for the miles 4-10.  You know someone is an incredible friend when they go for a flashlight run with you at 5:30 in the morning with the temperature no higher than 14 degrees.  Around mile 10, we parted ways and I kept cruising while wishing the sun would rise and start to warm me up.  When it did, the sun lit up every branch and blade of grass that was covered in ice crystals.  Sure wish I brought my camera.

On Sunday, Tanya & I took advantage of the almost 60 degree day and went for a 5.75 mile trail run together.  I was moving slow from the previous day's run, but she was cookin'.  I was working hard just to keep up with her.  Fortunately, by mile 4 she started to get tired and slowed down to a more comfortable pace!  I continued on for another few miles after she made her way home.

On a different note, the Tejas Trails folks recently announced that the Bandera 100K has been named the USATF 100K Trail National Championship.  The race was already part of the Montrail Ultracup Series that awards four spots to Western States.  I think when you combine the two, I'm going to see a bunch of really fast people there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The IV method

All summer I felt like I was venturing out on these epic trail runs almost every week.  It seemed easy to rack up the miles while exploring in the mountains.  But now I'm running more than I ever have, and I haven't once left the immediate vicinity around my house.  Long runs, short runs, fast & easy runs...everything has been from my doorstep.  I'm not complaining, there's just nothing remarkable to write about these runs.  So here's a bunch of random stuff from the last few weeks:

  • Last Saturday, I put in a 40 miler on the HR trails in order to test my fuel plan for Bandera.  I call my plan the IV method because I'm shooting for a steady drip of calories instead of the quick shot my stomach doesn't care for when I pound a gel.  On this run, I poured one bottle of EFS liquid shot in my 22 oz. handheld filled with water and drank it over 1.5 hours.  I also ate a gel at the 1.5 hour mark.  I carried in my pack a second bottle and polished off both on my first 20 mile loop.  I followed the same plan on my second loop, but this time the 1.5 hour gel caused my stomach to tighten and cramp, so I think I'm going to go with a bottle of EFS every 1-1.25 hours and skip the gels.  If you haven't tried EFS diluted in water, you're missing out on a nice treat.  The stuff is mellow and smooth going down.  400 calories per flask.
  • I was pleased to pass through the troublesome miles (28-36) with no issues at all.  By mile 35-37, I was feeling really good, but I could tell my stomach was empty.  I had this hollow feeling.  Not a bad feeling, more like something was supposed to be in there.  I wasn't hungry, but was left wondering if that would need to be addressed at some point beyond 40?
  • At mile 13 on Saturday, I kicked a root and after several windmills with my arms, I hit the trail arms & chest first.  Thankfully I had layers on, so I didn't cut anything up.  I did create a minor dust storm that filled my mouth and eyes with dirt.  Later that night I was still picking mini pebbles out of the corner of my eyes!
  • Sadly, this was my second fall in a week.  The prior weekend I hit the dirt at mile 1.7 into a 20 miler and wasn't so lucky in the cuts and scrapes department.  I still managed to get in 15 miles despite the run never clicking for me. 
  • My other goal for Saturday was to run a consistent pace for both loops.  My first loop was .2 miles longer than the second, but I came in at 3:06:xx for both loops.  Felt pretty good about that.
  • I'm coming up on 1100 miles in my old Asic Gel Trabuco's, who still look fantastic in their old age.  They were my first trails shoes bought in early 2009.  I never spoke highly of them because there's no toe protection when I would kick rocks.  Now they're more comfortable to me than slippers.  I'm going to continue to wear them for shorter training runs until they bust apart.  Maybe 2000 miles??
  • I'm coming off my biggest month of mileage (Nov) with 307 miles.  Last week was my biggest week ever at 87.
  • I just booked a cabin for the LT100 weekend in August.  Thanks to Leila D. for the tip about looking in Twin Lakes.
Lastly, a huge congrats to Patrick for absolutely rockin' the Hellgate 100K on Saturday.  He finished in 3rd place overall.  Unreal!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ad Nauseum

Please raise your hand if you're sick of me talking about my flashlight. Okay, everyone can lower their hands now. Last time...I promise.

I found this velcro strap lying around and decide to see how it worked at holding the light on the back of my hand. It's awesome. I found that when carrying a handheld bottle in one hand and the light in the other, I struggled a bit when it came time to fiddle with other things (zipper, gel, bio break, etc). The picture makes it appear bulky & uncomfortable, but it's not at all. It also helps my arm to keep a more natural running motion while the light stays focused on the trail.

I'm really glad I figured this out now while I still have a lot of dark running ahead of me.

Another thing I learned last fill my bottles with hot water when heading out for a long run with temps in the low 20's. I filled up both handhelds with two scoops of EFS powder and hot water. Heading out the door at 5:00 am, I carried one bottle while having the other stashed in my empty hydration pack. At first it felt a little funny to have heat in my hand, but it took a good hour in the frigid temps for it to cool down (at which point the bottle was almost empty). When I took the second bottle out about 1:45 into the run, it was still hot. This may not work for everyone, but the warm grape drink was actually pretty tasty.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Novel Idea

I was out on a long run over Thanksgiving weekend and thinking about how I've responded to the question, "why do you have to run so far?" I've been asked that a few times (okay, maybe once), and it was difficult to put into words why going beyond the marathon distance is appealing. Most people can accept running 26.2 miles, but start talking 31, 50, 62, or 100 miles, and it seems you lose them.

So here I am on my run of several hours, and I start thinking...

I like to read. If I were limited to novels of no more than 100 pages, just think of the loss of character & plot development that would occur. When an author is afforded as many pages as needed to tell their story, they have time to weave some masterful tales. Then I thought about some series: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter. What if the authors stopped after one book? If someone asked me why I liked a particular story, I'd probably say that it was a kept me on the edge of my was a satisfying use of my time...I learned something....I was entertained.

In a similar way, running long distances provides that time and space for the run to develop. You go through a lot and see & experience much along the way. The plot (and sometimes cast of characters) grows with every twist and turn...much like a good story. When it ends, everything I said above could be said about a long run. It becomes much more than a jog to stay in shape. It's an adventure that keeps me excited to see what's around the next corner.