Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leadville training - Week of June 20th - 26th

Grandma's marathon weighed heavy on my legs the whole week.  I really wanted to get back to hills and trails - but I did not manage much.  I came to realize that I have 30 good days of training left for Leadville.  July 20th starts an 11 day family vacation to Yellowstone ... This is family time 1st and I will be thrilled just to maintain fitness, but look forward to doing a few runs at a bit of altitude.  By the time we get back it will be 18 days before we leave for Leadville.

So recovery was the key to the week, with the goal to be ready to pound the trails on Monday (see previous post)

June 20-26th (215#)
M 6 easy in PM on Wiouwash trail
T  8 easy in AM / 6 easy @ lunch
W 5 easy in AM / 7 easy in PM
TH 13 easy in AM / 5 easy @ Lunch / 6 w/ 4 High Cliff Hill repeats in PM
F 9 in AM w/ 1 mile of barefoot grass striders / 5 easy @ lunch
SA 18 w 3x5 minutes intervals @ 5k pace in AM / 5 easy in PM
SU 7 easy in AM

Total = 100 mostly easy miles, 1 weight lifting / core session + 3 wakeboard runs & 2 tubing runs (Sat / Sun boating fun with family)

Good running to all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Things Can Change a lot in a Month

The last time I ran the Ice Age trail (Glacial 50M area) was a month ago.  With the taper and recovery for Grandma's Marathon - It just did not fit into my schedule.  I feel like I lost a lot of training for Leadville for that silly marathon.

Yesterday I took 1/2 day of vacation to get a nice long trail run.  Temps were in the upper 70s, high humidity, with a good chance of strong storms.  I was a pack mule:  Camel back, handheld water bottle, 5 baggies of Endurox, 14 gels, handheld flashlight, a baggie of s-caps, cell phone and TP.

The 1st few hours I took my time and looked around at how the trail had changed.  I did not have a plan, I just wanted to enjoy a long run.  The trail is 80-90% dirt trail through thick trees (nice and shady), the rest is through fields of grass.  Immediately the horseflies were on me and they did a relay with all their horsefly friends to keep me company all day.

Immediately I was struck by how high the grass had become in the meadows.  I could just make out the line of the trail with shoulder to head high grass.  It grabbed my feet as I went along, hiding the rocks and undulation of the trail.  I think it would have made a great picture, a little head riding along the grass tops.  At one point a turkey picked up out of the grass about 5 feet away from me - followed by 6 or 7 babies.  I really did not know they could fly that young.
Butler Lake has a hand pump that I have run past 10 time and never thought of using.  I was looking to mix some Endurox, so I thought I would give it a try - What a treat.  After pumping for 3 minutes to clear the line, I found cold and great tasting water. 
I ran down to the Parnell Tower parking lot to refill my camelback - It is really nice that the trail has so many drinkable water sources - If you know where to find them!  I continued northward, but decided to turn around at 3 and 1/2 hours - That should get me done right at dark.    Around 4 hours, I started to feel really good.  I might have not been moving faster, but motion had become effortless.  I stopped at Greenbush group camp for more water ... rusty but cold.

My focus the rest of the way back was to run the best lines down the hills ... no matter where the rocks or roots.  With each hour the run just kept getting better.  I am learning the less I try to avoid rocks and roots (Doing the dance) the easier going fast down hills and the less I roll my ankle or hurt my feet and knees.

Before I knew it I was back at Butler Lake with a little over 7 miles to go.  I usually walk up the steeper hills, but I was feeling good and running almost everything.  5 miles to go the sky became angry, dark and rumbling like a good storm was coming.  As it started to rain lightly the horseflies intensified, looking for a snack before the storm.  It was dark enough that I really had to focus on the trail to see the rocks and roots.

I put the pedal to the floor, I really do not like being in the woods when the flashy stuff or hail comes.  I am sure I slapped my head 100s of times trying to kill the swarming pests. 

In the end the storm past without unleashing its fury and I made it back to the truck just before I needed to get my light out.  4 packs of Endurox = 1,200 calories, 10 gels = 1,100 calories, 15 s-caps, 3 potassium pills and 250+ ounces of liquid.

3:30 out
3:16 back in

41 miles - Man was that fun!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grandma's Marathon - A Thief's Story

The goal of this Grandma's Marathon was to hit a sub 3 hour marathon for the 8th year out of 8.  2010 saw me steal one at Milwaukee Lakefront with a perfect weather day and a tailwind.

2011 Grandma's Marathon had me becoming a habitual offender, I am starting to become a Master Thief.  It rained the previous 12 hours, including the whole bus ride up to Two Harbors.  As we climbed off the bus the rained stopped, and other than a few sprinkles, it did not return.  The temps at the start were @ 54F and 48F at the finish with a 10-13 MPH tailwind for 25 miles - Headwind for the last mile.

Although humid, it was another perfect weather day for this big horse.  I started out easy as usually - if it feels really easy the 1st mile it is actually right on target.  I was a little surprised to see a 7:05 gun time (6:59 chip) mile # 1, but much better to be 20 seconds slow than fast.

I just got into a grove and ran - Since I am a Big Horse (217#) - I would pull away from people on the downhills and they would leave me behind on uphills, but the plan was for an even effort, not pace.  Although my pace looks very even, my mile spilts or group of splits were all over the place with the topography of the course.  I saw as high as 6:53 and 6:59 and as low as 6:32 and 6:33.

Mile # 6 = 40:10 (6:42 pace)
Mile # 10 = 1:06:58 (6:42 pace)

Mile # 10 I hooked up with a group of 4 guys that I had been running ahead or behind - depending on the hills.  At this point I put a little more effort into the uphills and coasted a bit more on the downhills as I decided this would be my wrecking crew today.

1/2 = 1:28:00 (6:43)

There were 3 or 4 times that my impromptu crew would gap me either because I was hurting a little or a bigger uphill.  Each time I had to decide if I was going to push really hard to make up the 20-50 feet or let them go.  This is why a solid crew is great - They pull you through any roughish spots.  So I would push hard and snuggle up behind the crew.

17 miles = 1:54:09 (6:43)

Many of the miles I missed the splits - We were just rolling.  I ate gels 7-11-13-15-21-23 miles ... Hey this big horse needs a lot of fuel!

Around mile # 20 - 2 of the guys started to pull away as they picked up the pace.  The 2 I had been behind were still running an even pace, so I stuck with them.

Mile # 20 = 2:14:09 (6:42)

Mile # 21 the 2 guys seemed content to settle in behind a guy wearing a St Luke's racing singlet and slowed by 4-5 seconds per mile.  It was time to try break off and work alone.

The rest of the race I ran well - keeping a fairly even pace and hit close to maximum pain level.  Usually at this time I can take it to a different plateau of S&M enjoyment and ride the line between oxygen debt - Getting dizzy and tunnel visioned.  To me this is one of the most glorious reasons to run a marathon.  Today I could only get 98% to this Nirvanic plane of pain - So a good ending, but not complete bliss.

Mile 22 6:39
Mile 23 6:40
Mile 24 6:47
Mile 25-26 13:29

Final time 2:55:45 (6:43)
1st 1/2 1:28:00
2nd 1/2 1:27:45

So on a day when I was 50/50 at best to break 3 hours - I was blessed with the opportunity to run in near ideal conditions (For Grandma's).  I am happy to have run a very solid race and I feel it was really close to my current ability level.

It also re-affirmed that I love the marathon distance - No matter what shape I am in, I love the experience of mental and physical challenge. The pure joy of the masochistic challenge of the last 3-6 miles.

Now ... Back to Leadville training!

Good running to all!

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Grandma's Marathon - Final Thoughts

The last miles have been run, I am pretty much carbo loaded (Final weight is 217#) and only a few hours from jumping in the car to head north.  My thoughts this week?

I love the marathon distance! - In shape or out of shape, good weather or bad, it does not matter.  It is the perfect mix of cerebral and physical. 

In the beginning you get to constantly feel out where your red line is, but the reality is you will not know if you crossed it until late into the race ... as you start to crash. 

In the last 6-8 miles it becomes more physical, but still your mind has to be mentally tough to continue to push through.  Your mind has to become the master and your body the willing slave. 

I found out in Houston 2006 that if I can make it to mile 20, I can force the pace home.  Although my body screams stop, if I can take 1 more step, I can take 10, 100, 1 mile ... Sometimes the world is seen through a tunnel as your oxygen starved brain gets dizzy.  My mantra at times like this is "You can back down when you pass out".  I have no idea how close I have come to passing out in the past, but it has never happened ... yet.

Of course there are those special races - Rare and precious - Where you burn red hot the whole race, but the pain never appears.  When you ask your body for more, it does not object.  It is almost like you are outside yourself - I have had 2 such marathons out of 20+.

I have stated my goal of a sub 3 hour marathon for Grandmas, but my real goal is to cross the finish line knowing I have given everything I had to give.

Good running to all!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leadville Training Week # 11 - Grandma's Marathon Week

Taper has it's benefits - I have been getting a lot of odds and ends done around the house.  Getting to work early and I have a lot of energy.  Yet, what I am longing most for is a nice 4-5 hour trail run ... Hoping next week Tuesday to scratch that itch.

This week has been going to plan as it usually does marathon week.  Much lower volume with light speed workouts and striders.  Eating has been spot on and no beer.  The last 3 days prior to a marathon I only run one time per day - So that's a bit of a downer ... but that leaves an abundance of time for family fun.

Week # 10 in review
M  5 Easy in AM + Striders / 10 interval with 3x6 minutes @ T in PM
T 6 easy in AM + Striders / 5 Easy @ Lunch
W 6 with 3x3 minutes @ 5k pace in AM
TH 5 in AM + 1 mile at Marathon Pace
FR 4 in AM + 3:00 at mile race pace 30 seconds all out (West Aussie Carb Loading)
SA  27 with 26.2 @ Marathon Pace - 2:55:45 (1:2800 / 1:27:45)
SU  Off

*  No particlular Saturday beer goal - But I am guessing it will either be medium long or long run type numbers
Plan is for 68 miles Mo-Sa with marathon + whatever I feel like or not on Sunday

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Leadville Training Week # 10 - Taper for Grandma's Marathon

Why do I care to run a sub 3 marathon at Grandmas? 

Last year, April and May, I was in the best shape of my life, both for speed and ultra-running.  After the 24 hour World Championship race in May I was burnt out and basically took the rest of the year off from training.  By the Milwaukee Marathon, in October, I was out of shape.  I ended up with a perfect weather day = Cool + a light tailwind and stole a 2:59 (I sure did not deserve it)

I realized afterward that it was my 7th year in a row with a sub 3 marathon.  It is important to me for 2 reasons:  1)  I have to get into some resemblance of shape to break 3 hours and 2)  Some day it will take all I have to break 3.  I hope having this goal will keep me interested in running and training for years to come!

Taper has been going according to plan ... mostly.  Running is exactly to plan - Getting rested, but also trying to sharpen the little bit of speed I have.  Eating / Drinking was pretty good last week ... until the official start of boating season = Sunday.  Our family spent the day boating, followed by a camp fire.  Perfect day for drinking beer and eating less than ideal.  At this point I do not care, it was a great family day.

Week # 10 in review (220#) = (-2)
M  14 interval in PM with 3x5 minutes @ CV + 1 mile @ MP
T  9 easy in AM / 5 easy @ Lunch + 4 striders
W 12 easy in AM
TH  6 Tempo at Lunch - 25 minutes @ T
F  6 Easy in AM / 5 Easy @ Lunch
SA 14 interval in AM with 4x4:40 @ CV + 1.5 miles @ MP / 5 Easy in Afternoon
SU  6 Easy in AM

Total Miles = 82 with 3 speed workouts

I can not wait until I can re-boot the Leadville training!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grandma's Marathon - Getting your Taper On

This Big Horse is notorious for hating to taper.  If I am training well, I often run 130+ miles 3 weeks before the marathon, 110+ miles the week before and 80-90 in the week with the marathon.  For 50 mile races, I will usually have 120-130 miles total in the week with the 50 miler.

The other thing I like to do is to punish myself for falling down (See previous blog).  After I have a bad day(s) eating or take a few days off running, I love doing a series of really long runs, getting a ton of miles in a week, to bring my body back into rhythm.

Last week's 66 miles left me feeling sluggish and pissed off.  What I want to do most - Punish myself with some epic long runs (30+ miles).  But it is less than 2 weeks until Grandma's Marathon - Today is 8 days before the race, so taper is in order.

With my weight back up to 220# I am a long shot to break 3 hours.  So what better time to try something different ... a real taper.  The 66 miles last week was week #1 of taper, I will show restraint and only be at 75-85 miles this week (Its killing me) and will run < 40 miles pre-marathon next week.

Maybe a real taper is just what I need to get this fat, old body back under 3 hours.  All you skinny speedsters can laugh at how easy it is to run a sub 3, but do it weighing 220# and you will know how hard of work it is!

I may steal another Sub 3 I do not deserve or I may epically fail with a 3:15-3:20 ...

Good running to all!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Leadville training week # 8 & Week # 9: Balancing - Falling Down - Getting back up

My friend Richard and I have a saying: "It is not as important how many times you fall down, only that you get up one more time than you fall."

This big horse struggles with life balance - My priorities are:
1)  God
2)  Family
3)  Friends
4)  Work
5)  Training

Often the time and effort spent is in a different order.  Training requires a little different lifestyle and for me it goes best when I run every day.  If I take 1 day off it's OK - But 2 or more and I feel sluggish and it will take a week or more to get back in the groove.  Usually days off are days that are filled with either food or beer or both.  If you do not have food issues - God bless you - But you can not understand the struggle.  Those of you that do, are nodding you head, "I'm with you Brother". 

Falling Down
Memorial Day weekend we camped with 6 other families.  Volleyball, kickball, fishing and a lot more.  It was one of those weekends, if I was not running, I would say was near perfect.  Carefree time with family and friends, fun activities and a lot of eating and drinking.  I am running Grandmas June 18th, so it is a critical time to sharpen fitness and be in a good healthy rhythm.  I chose to golf  18 holes Sunday morning, I did not feel I could take more time away from family so no run.  I also chose to eat and drink too much and not drink enough water.  By Monday morning I was pretty dehydrated and we were in the last throngs of weekend fun, then tearing down camp - no run.  By Tuesday, I was just out of rhythm and lazy - no run.  If I were better at balance, a great weekend like this would not have to get in the way of training.  Instead, I end up feeling training guilt that taints my family and friend fun Nirvana.

At this critical time in training for Grandmas marathon, I fell down.  It will likely cost me a chance at a sub 3 marathon.  But I am back up and mentally ready to train hard for Leadville.

Week # 8 in review - Weight 220# +#5 (Boo! Hiss!)
M  10 w/ 4@ T AM / 5 Easy PM
T  10 easy in AM / 6 Easy Lunch / 26 Ice Age - Glacial Trail PM
W  8 Easy in AM
TH  8 Easy in PM
F  18 w/ 5x5 minutes @ CV in AM
SA 12 Easy in AM

Total mileage 103 miles - 50 beers - Camping fun weekend

Week # 9 in review - Weight 222# +#2 (Boo! Hiss!)

W 6 easy in PM
TH 6 easy in AM / 20 Wiouwash Rail Trail in PM
F 7 easy in AM / 6 Easy @ lunch / 15 hilly trail - 9 Mile Forrest Wausau PM
SA 6 Easy in AM
SU Off

Total Mileage 66 - 15 beers - FANS24 fun weekend

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 FANS 24 Hour Volunteer / Race Report

This was my 1st 24 hour race and where I ran the distance to make the 2010 US National Team.  The last 2 years I have had the privilege of returning to volunteer and watch the races unfold.  This is a great race and cause - to learn more go here:

FANS12 / 24 is a 2.42 mile loop around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.  In the last hour of the 12/24 runners can choose to run a 220 meter our and back - only full laps (long or short) receive credit.

The day started hot and muggy - Temps quickly into the mid 70s and by noon low 80s - I think it hit 86F and was sunny by 10:00am and throughout the rest of the day. There was no wind to provide any relief until 4pm a light breeze started to signal a better evening and night to come.  The night was pleasant with lighter humidity.

The weather took its toll early on many runners who suffered varying forms of heat exhaustion.  Many strong runners were forced to sit and get their bodies under control.  Everyone I spoke with was having a hard time eating calories, many just not hungry but there was also a lot of nausea.

In a day not made for record attempts - Many still pushed for their mileage goals.  Others quickly backed down and just tried to get what they could out of the day.  2 national class runners did what they could to stay on track for their record attempts:

Carolyn Smith - Fox Point, WI - Multiple time 100K US National Team Member - Was looking to break the women's course record and National Age group record she had set in 2010 in FANS 12 hour race.

Connie Garder - Medina, OH - Had come up @ .3 mile short of the 24 hour Women's record in the 2007 ultra-centric 24 hour race.  Rumor has it she want the record pretty bad and has made a couple of attempts recently - 2010 she ran 141 in the US championship race @ NorthCoast 24.  I would guess the only reason to come to FANS24 on MN would be to make a run at the record.  She was the best 24 hour runner (Male of female) in the race.

Somehow Carolyn stayed smooth and steady through the heat and humidity.  In the end she broke the record as she ran the 220 out and backs securing a new National Age group and course 12 hour record of 83.?? miles (I will update when they post).  She was also the overall 12 hour race winner.

Connie pushed as long as she could to stay on record pace.  Connie has shown before how great she is at the night time portion of the race, so we held out hope.  I have no idea at what point she knew it was not to be - Maybe 14-17 hours into the race.  We took her 100 mile split in right @ 17 hours.  I would have to say that I am impressed that she continued onward after knowing it was not a record day.  Many national class runners might have pulled the plug to fight for another day.  Connie continued until the very end winning the overall 24 hour race in 127-128 miles (I will update when they post results)

In the end the 12 hour run overall champ, the 24 overall run champ and the 24 hour overall walking champ were all women - WOMAN POWER!