Saturday, June 28, 2008

McCarranathon - Run 'round Reno

Well, I finally did it. Something I've had in the back of my head to do for a few years now, and this morning, I did it. I ran around McCarran.

Reno has two freeways that bisect it - I-80 running east-west, and US395 running north-south. With the addition of McCarran Boulevard, a ring road that runs all the way around town, Reno is a pretty easy town to get around.

Back in 1999 or 2000, my wife and I were trying to figure out how far it was all the way around McCarran. This was before internet-based mapping sites like Gmaps Pedometer, and it was hard to figure out from a paper map. We had a convertible, though (my wife drove a Miata at the time) and it was a nice night, so we went out for a drive. Turned out that all around McCarran was around 23 miles. I always thought that it would make a great marathon course, with the addition of a spur to the start/finish area. (It wouldn't, of course - it's a fairly busy street and all the intersections that would require closure or traffic control would be a nightmare. That and the two gigantic hills...)

So, I needed a long run to ramp up to the ultra in a few weeks, so I figured this was the perfect time for it. I left at 3 AM, and basically tried to keep it slow and steady. The first light didn't peek out until about 4:30, and the few "moon over Reno" pictures I tried to take didn't come out very well. I did get this, though, from near the top of the major hill, around mile 18 (that spike on the pace graph):

Still some haze in the air, but a lot better than it has been.

And here's the stats:

I did walk one section - the big hill between mile 16-18. But, I figured that walking the hills was going to be my strategy in the TRT ultra, so it was probably a good thing to do here.

OK, I'm losing interest in typing. Gotta lay down on the couch for awhile...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Non-ultra songs

The Western States 100, scheduled for this weekend, was canceled due to forest fires and smoky air conditions. I think it was totally the right choice, but I sure feel sorry for the 400+ people who were trained, ready, and in some cases, even up at Tahoe already, acclimating to the altitude. This post is in honor of them.

The TRT 50/50/100 that I'll be doing next month doesn't allow headphones, to comply with the USATF blah blah whatever... I don't really mind, with or without is OK with me. I only really listen to music on the treadmill at the gym, anyway. The other morning, though, a song came on that I realized would have been a TERRIBLE song to have on a mix for an ultra-marathon, especially at the beginning. "Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go - I wanna be sedated." Kinda made me laugh. Surprisingly, that song had a really good tempo for the pace I was running at the time, though. Any other songs that would be inappropriate for an ultra race mix? All I could come up with was the Beatles' "Long and Winding Road." Anyone got any more?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Limbo miles

Since I did my intervals Tuesday morning, and don't really need to do a tempo run for the next few weeks (my next race is an ultra, and I don't want to do a 12 minute mile tempo workout), so I decided to try out Nitmos's limbo runs. Of course, with the smoke outside, I had to do them inside on the treadmill, so it was pretty easy to control my speed. Made it into less of a pacing exercise and more just a good, solid run. I started out with a 9:00 mile, then did miles at 8:30, 8:00, 7:30 and 7:00. Cooled down with another 9:00 mile. That's what the treadmill was set at, anyway. Here's what Lumpy said:

Doesn't quite match what the treadmill said, even though I calibrated the footpod on the exact same treadmill using the same pair of shoes and everything. Weirdly, even the time was off - I started the watch timer about 7 seconds after the treadmill, but the watch caught up and passed the treadmill readout about 2/3 of the way through. Hmmm... Made a pretty chart, with the heart rate dislpay, though...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Officially smoky

Wow, glad I didn't was too lazy to go for a run this morning:

Stay inside: Washoe County issues Stage 2 air pollution alert

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Some - some serious residual soreness from the long run this weekend. Felt good to let the legs work again a little bit. There's still some soreness, but not as bad. Sure am glad that I had an indoor workout planned today, intervals on the treadmill after a gym workout. It's been really smoky here in Reno because of some Northern California fires. Here's a view down our cul-de-sac - Doesn't really do it justice, though. I can actually see particles hanging in the air between my driveway and the corner of the street. The worst was on the way to work yesterday - I usually have a nice view up to Mt. Rose, towering over Reno. It was a clear day, but because of the smoke, I could barely make out the mountain. Yuk. Hope that clears up a bit before this weekend...

I did a 3 x 5 minute set of intervals, with a warm up and cool down. I feel like I should be doing one more set almost each time I do the speedwork, but can't quite push myself to it. I suppose it'll come, though. Not that worried about the intervals right now, mostly building distance for my next race. I'll be more concerned about them when I'm back on a specific program for a fall marathon.

(Wish the scales were individually customizable; that pace line doesn't look very impressive when the pace goes all the way up to 1:10:00 per mile...)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Meadows to Spooner

One of my favorite trail runs this morning - a section of the Tahoe Tim Trail starting at Tahoe Meadows (which used to be called Mt. Rose Meadows, don't know why it's changed) and Spooner Summit. (Funny - Spooner Summit was the lowest point of the run.) This is part of the trail that the Tahoe Rim Trail ultramarathon will me on in a few weeks, and I definitely wasn't the only one out for a training run up there. Saw a big group of 5 going the opposite direction that I was, and got passed by another guy while I was dumping stuff out of my shoes. (Note to self: gaiters.) (Another parenthetical comment: Sorry about the crap map. Go to the Garmin Connect page for this run and you can zoom in and stuff. I hope Garmin blog-friendlies their software pretty soon...)

The last couple of times I've run this route, I've done it with my friend Chris. Chris is fast. He takes it easy on me, but I still push myself too hard trying to keep him in view/not embarrass myself. Today I got to run my own pace, which you can see here:

My trail running system is: walk the uphills, jog the flats, let it out on the downhills if I feel like it. It worked great today. Only felt the altitude (up to 9000 feet) on the uphills, when I was working hard even for a fast walk. Kept it to 10-12 minute miles for the first nine miles or so, including camera breaks (those big spikes on the pace line.) Slowed a bit on the big uphill section in the middle, but sped up again coasting down to Spooner. I think I'll stick with that plan for the race up there.

A few photos for the day:

Starting at Mt. Rose Meadows... Sorry, Tahoe Meadows. Six AM, a little chilly and windy, but that soon went away.

Still early season up there, and some snow left around. Most of the patches were like this, just a couple of careful steps over, but there was one later on that I got lost on and had to tromp around in the scrub to find the trail again...

There was one set of deer tracks along the whole first half of the trail this morning. Couldn't possibly have been the same deer all the way, but it kind of made me smile to think I was chasing a deer along the trail.

This could be one of my favorite places in the world. Click to enlarge, it's worth it. Marlette Lake in the foreground, Tahoe in the background.

Just another beautiful section of trail...

Oh, shoe report. First trail run with the Asics 2120 trail shoes. They performed just fine. I can't really rave about them; nothing special, but neither can I find any fault with them. Pretty solid. I did get a whole bunch of crap down inside them, so I think I'll augment them with gaiters, but outside that, they're good shoes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Went for a nice 5-mile loop this morning, leaving before it was light and getting home a little after dawn. Really nice time of the day - long-sleeve shirt weather, and no-one else out. Well, almost no-one. About a block from my house, just heading out, I rounded a blind corner and almost ran right into two big guys walking along the sidewalk. Now, I'm 6'4", 195, and maybe it was just the element of surprise, but these looked like big, mean guys to me. After I squeaked "Oops - sorry" and kept going, I realized that I could probably outrun them, anyway. Gave me a nice little scare, though. Wish I had been wearing the heart rate monitor; it probably would have had a nice spike to it. If you look close enough at my pace, you can see where I had to slow to get around them - right about the .2 mile mark. Then I went faster for a little while...

Wore a new pair of shoes this morning, too - I'm planning a long trail run on Saturday, and didn't want my first day on my new Asics 2120 trail shoes to be a 25 miler. When I first tried these on, they felt like they fit a little shallow - like there was a lot of cushion, but not so much upper. After wearing them around for a couple of days, though, they feel pretty natural. Standard fit, firm but not stiff, and they seem pretty durable. Little worried about how the plastic midsole is going to hold up to rocky trail, but I assume they've tested that... I'll know more after some good trail use this weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More heart rate fun

I was still a little stiff yesterday from the Saturday effort up at Lake Tahoe, but got to the gym for a good treadmill workout this morning. Got the heart rate monitor working for an interval session, too - I had been curious how it would look. Well, here it is:

About what I expected - heart rate climbed steadily during the intervals, and recovered less each time. I've really got to do some reading to decide if I want to include this as part of my training, or if I'll just use it as a fun tool to compare where my fitness is. (Today's workout was a 4 x 4 minute set of intervals at 6:30 pace with 2 minute jogs in between.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lake Tahoe Relay

Yesterday was the Lake Tahoe Relay (actually, the 44th Annual DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay, as it said all over everything.) I headed up to the lake with friends Amber, Chris and Peter, and his kids, Sean, Hayes and Rocky.

(A preface - I'll put some pictures in here, but for a whole bunch more, check out my flickr set of the race. Do a slideshow; it works great...)

We started at 7:00 am - still a little cold at that point, especially when you were just standing around waiting for your turn to run. Hayes took the first leg; he took us out of South Lake Tahoe and a ways around the south side of the lake.

Hayes tagged Peter, who got probably the hardest leg - up the big hill to Spooner. He charged it, though; through the tunnel at Cave Rock, through some beautiful scenery, and up to the junction at Spooner, where he tagged his 10 year old son, Rocky.

Rocky took an easier downhill section, which was still over ten miles long. He trooped it out, and did a great job. I don't know if he was the youngest runner, but I didn't see anyone else his age who ran a whole leg...

Just outside Incline Village, I took the tag from Rocky for leg 4. Somehow, I got the longest leg, but it wasn't very hilly, so that was nice. It WAS pretty urban, though, going through Incline, King's Beach and Carnelian Bay. It was also getting fairly hot at this point, but I made it through ok. The views were worth it...

Near Carnelian Bay, Sean took over from me and ran a good section to Homewood. Getting even hotter now, and Sean got a good dump of water on him at one of his stops. Thanks, Dad...

Chris took the tag at Homewood:

And ran a really good time despite some stomach cramps. He passed an amazing amount of other runners, or "bogies" as he had us calling them...

Chris's leg included the "hill from hell" that's a feature of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, and he handed off to Amber just before Emerald Bay. She had some downhill, some uphill, then A LOT of downhill before a long flat finish. I didn't get a good shot of her with the scenery of Emerald Bay, but here she is grinding some miles out:

Amber had out last leg: we finished in 11 hours and 25 minutes. I think we look pretty good, for all that!

Couple more pictures that are kind of emblematic of the whole day: Spent a lot of time in the truck shuttling back and forth around our runners. (Thanks, Amber, for letting us use, the truck, by the way...)

And a lot of time hanging around waiting for our runners to show up where we had stopped.

But all in all, a really fun day. Hanging out with friends at Lake Tahoe and getting a good run in; what could be better?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nice morning

OK, so Wednesdays are cursed - I just can't seem to get out for my easy run on Wednesday mornings. So, instead of hitting the gym and treadmill for my tempo run this morning, I went for a little spin around the neighborhood. I'm going to call it a mini-taper for the race I'm doing this weekend - the Lake Tahoe Relay, with friends Amber, Chris and Peter, and his kids. I've got the 4th leg, a 12.3 mile section from Incline Village to Tahoe City. I'll run harder than my normal long runs, but I don't think I'll go all out - I haven't run at that altitude yet this year. We'll see how I feel, though... Look forward to lots of pictures from that...

So just an easy 5k run this morning, one of my favorite routes near home. One difference - I finally got to try out the heart rate monitor with the Garmin 405, and it worked great. Really easy to hook up; much more so than the footpod. (No calibration.) Still learning about heart rate training, and I'm not sure what to do with the data yet, but it's nice to have. As you can see below (if you click to enlarge) my heart rate stayed around the 150 bpm mark, which is about 80% of my max. Good place to be, but I'm curious to see what it looks like during an interval workout...

Also figured out a couple of things on the watch from peeking around in the Garmin forums. My lap speeds seem accurate, and the Virtual Training Partner gives you a good idea of where you are versus your goal pace, but on the main screen, the current pace display never seemed to be very accurate. Turns out, if you wear the footpod and have it set to display speed info from that instead of the GPS, it is a lot more instantaneous and accurate. Weird, but nice.

Finally, Google Street View just did an update that includes Reno! Here's where I entered Rancho San Rafael on my run this morning, right about mile one:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Running history: Bend 1

Continued from More running history...

After my freshman year at UPS, I spent the summer working at Sunriver Resort near Bend, OR. I worked at one of the golf courses there, and pretty much mountain biked everywhere. I remember one of the first times I took a "long ride" - I was so proud that I had gone ten miles that I called my parents to tell them about it. By the end of that summer I was riding into Bend and back on the dirt trails, a 40 mile round trip.

I liked the area enough that I transferred to the Community College there and spent a couple years getting an AA transfer degree. After that, I transferred to the University of Oregon in Eugene, but spent summers back in Bend. It was during these years that I developed athletically, biking and inline skating in the summer and skiing and snowboarding during winters. At one point, I decided that I should start running, simply to streamline my workouts - I was to the point where I had to go for at least a 3 hour mountain bike ride in order to push myself at all. Running would be a more efficient workout, or so I thought.

I had mountain biked enough that I thought trail running sounded like a good idea, so I drove myself out of town to one of the places that I usually biked to. Gave a cursory stretch, and took off. I figured I'd run one of my shorter loops; since I'd driven out to the trail instead of riding, I should be fine. Of course, I had a rookie's sense of pacing: flat out. I couldn't understand why I couldn't just run fast the whole way. I was wheezing within half a mile. I think I walked back to my car and drove home, figuring that running wasn't for me.

A few weeks later, a friend took me out for an easy run around town and showed me how to pace myself. Once I figured that out, I got out for a run or two a week around town.


So, after a sick half-week last week and a couple of lazy weekend days (wife out of town, just me and the kids) I'm trying to get back on my training schedule. Which is, basically:
gym and speedwork Tuesday
easy run Wednesday
gym and tempo run Thursday
combo of long run/easy run on the weekend days.

I was excited this morning because I finally synched up the heart rate monitor with my Garmin last night, and had a good set of intervals planned to try it out. Headed for the gym early even for me (about 2:30 AM - I know, I'm insane...) and managed to collect my water bottle, recovery drink, towel, footpod and heart rate monitor. I left my ipod thinking that was just too much stuff going on. It wasn't until I got to the gym that I realized that even though I had all the accessories, I'd neglected to strap the actual watch to my wrist. Considered for just a second going back to get it, then went and had a great, but unrecorded workout. Did 4 x 5 minute intervals (6:30 pace) with 3 minute jogs in between, a warm up and cool down for a total of 5.62 miles in 45 minutes. It was one of those good workouts where I'm pushing myself, but it never feels like I'm not going to make it. Maybe I'll remember the watch tomorrow...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Back at it

Wow, that virus thing that's been going around really laid me out. Two days of shuttling from the couch to the bathroom. Pleasant, I know - sorry. Feeling better now, though, and got out for a run this morning, finally. One of my favorite routes, about 5 1/2 miles.

Beautiful morning, but a little windy. It's usually calm in the morning, then windy in the afternoons around here, but it was already breezy at 5 this morning. Perfect temperature for short sleeves, though. Nice easy run, averaging just under 8:15 pace. I'm really liking the Garmin's Virtual Training Partner - most of my routes start uphill and finish downhill, so I fall behind a little, then blaze past near the end. Kind of fun. Here's the mornings chart:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Took off for an afternoon run on Sunday - wanted to get up into the hills and get some trail miles in. It was in the 80s and a little windy, but not too bad. I was about 1/3 of a mile up the hill near my house when I decided that I wasn't feeling up to it - legs felt heavy, felt a little light-headed. Decided to turn around at the creativly named Lake Park and come back home a slightly different way. As it turned out, it was exactly one mile and 8 minutes...

I felt OK yesterday, which was my rest day, so didn't think anything of heading out for my workout and treadmill speedwork this morning. Went OK, only did two intervals of 6:00, but I've been going faster (6:30 pace) so I figured I just need to work into the faster speed.

Started feeling a bit nauseous on the way home, and crashed out on the couch for awhile. After I got up and showered, I started feeling really bad. At the point now where I'm running back and forth to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, trying (or trying not) to hurl. Yuk. Hope this blows over quick...