Thursday, April 30, 2009

Midweek update

Just looking at my training log for this year, and realizing: It's the end of April, 4 months into the year, and I'm at 406.29 miles on the year. That's easily on track to break 1000 miles again for the year. Wonder if I can read more than 100 books again, too?

Coming up this weekend: The Reno Rock 'n' River Half Marathon. I had originally signed up to do the full marathon, since it seems like a really cool course - all along the Truckee River, first west through Reno and Back, then east to Sparks and back. I dropped back to the half, though, because I wasn't getting the miles in, and with 4 other races in 5 weeks, it just felt like too much.

So do I have a goal for the half? I wasn't going to worry about it, just see how I feel and play it by ear. I've been feeling pretty strong, though, and feel like I'm in a better place than I was at this time last year. So I'm going to try to hit the goal I missed at this same race last May: 1:30:00. I'm going to set my watch to 6:50 pace, and try to hold it through as long as I can. If I blow up at some point, I won't feel too bad - but it's worth a try. Did a tempo run this morning of 3 miles at race pace, with a mile warmup and a mile cool down, and it felt pretty good. So now I'm on a little mini-taper - I'll rest tomorrow, do a short 30 minute easy run on Saturday, and be ready and rested on Sunday, with "coiled spring" my mental image for myself.

Happily, two members of Team Library Dork will be running the 10K (Amber and Dave) and I think Chris said he might come and cheer us on. So awesome having a team...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Running from the Devil

Running from the Devil: A Novel Running from the Devil: A Novel by Jamie Freveletti

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't read much of the "thriller" genre, but picked this up because there were some references to ultrarunning in the author blurb. Freveletti is a runner who has crewed on ultras, and got the idea for this book while working on one. It's the story of a scientist/distance runner who's on a hijacked plane that goes down in the jungles of Colombia, and has to use her scientific knowledge as well as her running training to survive a crazy mess of cartel intrigue, government rescue missions and the jungle itself. Good suspense, hinted-at then slowly revealed twists.

View all my reviews.

And if anyone out there is interested in reading this, let me know and I'll try to get this copy to you...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Escape from Prison Hill

This morning was the Escape from Prison Hill trail half marathon, which is the first in the 4-race High Sierra trail half-marathon series and my second race in five straight weekends racing. The race was scheduled to start at 7 AM, so I had to get up pretty early and leave Reno at about 5:30 to arrive in time to pick stuff up, get organized, then stand around and freeze. Pretty chilly morning - it had snowed yesterday in Carson City, and there was still a dusting on both sides of the trail for much of the race. I eventually opted for shorts, a long sleeve shirt under a short sleeve, and gloves. Decent choice; I could've been warmer for the first few miles, but didn't really need the long sleeve toward the end.

Managed to see the one person I knew at the whole event, and got to hang out with Gretchen for a few minutes before the start. The start was delayed about 15 minutes, which was good - there seemed to still be people arriving at 7:00. But after a guitar solo Star-Spangled Banner, we headed out.

Check out the elevation profile - the "Escape" is really two big hills - or rather, over the same hill once, then back over from the other side. I'd run the first half of it in a relay a couple years ago with Chris, so I was pretty ready for the early miles. I felt good, walked when I needed to, and didn't feel like I was getting in the way (like I did two years ago.) As we passed the relay hand-off spot, though, I was in unknown territory, not sure what was next...

THAT was a serious hill. Walked pretty much the whole thing, keeping pace with a couple people near me who were still running it. One person passed me on the hill, but after we crested the top, he didn't seem to speed up much, and I flew past him on the downhill. And what a downhill it was, too - soft dirt made it feel like you were walking on the moon, bounding along and sinking into the puffy soil. There were a few uphills sprinkled in to keep you honest, but if you kept momentum into them, they weren't too bad.

At the bottom of the hill, the course ran along the river for a ways, and I was prepared for a flattish run into the finish. I wasn't ready for the last little hill, about a quarter mile up to a dirt road, and it almost killed me. Had to walk a little up to it. After that there was less than a mile left, and I set my sights on the one person I could see in front of me - a guy a ways ahead. I pushed it to get pretty near him at the finish, but then he peeled off and didn't even go through the chute - headed off to the parking lot! Not sure what that was about...

After I finished, I quickly grabbed my camera from the car and got back just in time to grab a shot of Gretchen pounding down the last hill to the finish:

And then we hit one of the greatest perks of this race, the breakfast burrito bar!

And waited for the awards. I thought I had done pretty well, but I was in a REALLY crowded age group. I don't have the official results yet, but I think I was something like 24th overall, and 9th in the Male 30-39 AG. Here's the board where the tags were posted:

I'll post better results when they become available. Until then - had a great run, a great morning, and am looking forward to another race next week!

Results finally emailed out. Looks like I was 23rd overall, 20th Male, and 10th in my age group.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scheels Hop-A-Long 5K

Since yesterday morning's planned 20-mile long run got cut down to 5 due to me still feeling under the weather, I had the energy to head out for a 5K this morning. The Scheels in Sparks was hosting another race, like the Spark-a-delic 5K they did last fall. Slightly different course, due to construction, bu still pretty flat and fast.

Half of Team Library Dork (slowrunner77 and High Altitude Dawg) were doing the Daffodil Run 5K up in Grass Valley, so I met our other member, Amber and a friend of hers, Ben, out at Scheels, got registered and warmed up a little. We all gathered across the parking lot from Scheels by the Best Buy, kind of heard race instructions, then before we knew what was happening, an air horn blew and we were off. Boy, everyone started fast - I think they were startled by the horn more than anything. We all settled into our paces and got down to business.

I was thinking I'd try to run about 6:30 miles, and see if I had anything left at the end to push and try to get under 20:00. Looking back at my splits, that fast start gave me a 6:11 first mile, then I settled down for a 6:32 second mile. A few people passed me in the first mile, and I tucked in a little ways behind the third place female, who was hitting a perfect pace for me. Apparently I picked it up in the last mile - my pace was 6:21, and I passed a few people back. I was intentionally not looking at my time until I was pretty close, and was surprised to see that I was heading to finish around 19:00. Pushed as hard as I could through the finish (but apparently not as hard as someone in front of me, who barfed all over the finish line) and got myself through in under 19:00 - 18:58.

Grabbed some sports drink to refuel, and waited for Amber and Ben, who came in right around 26:00. As we recovered and chatted, they posted the results, which had me down as 11th overall and winning my age group, and Amber 2nd in hers! Unfortunately, by the time they gave out the awards, they had amended the results to put me in 2nd for my AG as well, and 12th overall. Oh, well - still pretty happy. Brought home a medal and a $10 Scheels gift card. Cool morning.

Results have been posted, and they are WAY off on my time - they have me at 21:51. That's over three minutes off what I had!? Don't know whether I should contact anyone about it or not...

Friday, April 17, 2009


I've been really good lately. Looking back at my training log, I've been keeping to a solid training schedule since early February. After last weekend, though, my body had had enough and decided to get sick on me. Nothing too serious, just the basic low-level phlegmy sinus headaches I usually get. The kind that my doctor has me treat with Mucinex and "Vitamin T" - Time. I didn't bother him with this one.

This little illness coincided with my wife and 7 year-old son being out of town, leaving myself and my 4 year-old daughter. I was unable to sneak out of the house for my early morning workouts, not being comfortable leaving her alone. So, I just gave myself a 4-day break from running, only doing my core workouts in the afternoons. My legs were feeling a little twitchy by yesterday afternoon, like they wanted to get moving.

I think I'm 80% over it now, so with my wife back in town, I did a normal workout at the gym early this morning. My normal upper body/core routine, then 5 miles on the treadmill - increasing pace each mile for the first 4, then dropping back on the last. Felt pretty good. Sometimes I think running the sickness out actually works.

I need to get one more long run in this weekend before a month of races every weekend starts. Actually, there's a 5K this Sunday I'm thinking of doing, maybe as part of a long run, or maybe just by itself. We'll see. At any rate, glad to be back in the game.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Socks, laces and customer service

Had a few experiences with new (to me) products recently, and thought I'd share.

First up: Socks. I've been using Smartwool socks for years now, and have had no complaints. The only blister I've had with them came at the end of a 24 mile trail day in brand new shoes. Still, a couple friends had been talking up these Balegas, so when I say them at Sports Basement (at the finish of the Presidio 10) I thought I'd give a pair a try.

I've worn them a couple times now, on the treadmill and on a long street run. And what can I say? They're pretty good socks. Just a hair thinner than I like, but that mostly depends on the shoes. I did get a blister on my long run, but that was more a function of the shoes than the socks. Probably most serious technical running socks are pretty dang good these days, and These are a great example. I'm not gonna run out and replace all my socks with Balegas, but if I need a slightly thinner sock, I'll keep them in mind.

The other thing I picked up at Sports Basement was a pair of Yankz. These are the elastic laces that replace your normal shoelaces and make shoe tying a slip-on, yank-'em-tight thing. I put them in my new shoes, which are now my outdoor shoes (as opposed to me treadmill shoes) and have worn them on three or four runs now.

What struck me about these was that the elastic is much more tight that I had imagined. In fact, once you slide them on (pop them on, really) they don't need much tightening. Actually, they don't seem to get much tighter, even if you cinch them more. Once on the road, they seem to hold pretty well on flattish roads, but I didn't have as much luck with hills. My feet seemed to creep forward on downhills and not feel as stable on uphills. What I think I'm going to do is put the Yankz in my gym shoes, so I don't have to worry about lacing them early in the morning, and keep regular laces in my road shoes. Maybe if I were a triathloner, I'd want them in my race shoes for a faster transition, but otherwise, no.

On another note, I had a really positive retail interaction the other day. I wanted to try a different recovery drink (been using Muscle Milk after hard workouts for awhile) and had heard good things about Recoverite from Hammer. I ordered some online direct from the Hammer website, got an immediate confirmation email, and a shipping confirmation later that night. I was a little surprised at the length of the shipping list - they had included about 15 different samples, booklets and other items of swag. The delivery came FAST, in 3 days - which was good, because I had just run out of recovery stuff. So Saturday morning, I got to try a Hammer bar before my run, some Heed and a Hammer gel during the run, and Recoverite after. Actually, the bar, heed and gel weren't my favorite, and I was a little creeped out by the cult-y feel of the literature that came with it all, but I'm going to give Recoverite a good try here.

Catching up

I've been kind of a weekend warrior with the blogging - not as much with the running, but I don't think I've had a weekday blog post up here in a while. I've been keeping up a pretty good schedule - Tuesday intervals, Thurday tempo with an easy day Wednesday, and a Saturday and Sundays either long runs or easy runs. For example, last Thurday I had a fun tempo/progression run that I called a ladder - the tempo profile looked like this:

Each of those "steps" was a mile - 7 total. It was hard, but doable. I still weirdly enjoy the speed work - after this cycle that I'm on, I think I'll try to do the same cycle, but a little faster.

I've got a bizarre array of races coming up in the next month. Here's what I'm looking at:

4/25 - Prison Hill Half Marathon
5/3 - Rock 'n' Reno Marathon
5/9 - Run Amuck (2.5 miles x 2 - relay) - um, in a jogbra...
5/16 - Silver State 50/50 Half Marathon

And next week, on the 19th, I'm thinking of running about 10 miles to the start of a 5K, then the race, then about 9 miles home. Should get me closer to ready for that marathon in 3 weeks...

To that end, I stretched my long run out a bit yesterday and did 18 miles. Wouldn't have felt too bad except for two things: a blister forming on my right little toe, and a serious need for a potty break around mile 13-15. The blister is popped and will need some moleskin, and I took care of the other issue at a fairly well-lit gas station. I actually felt pretty crappy for the rest of the day yesterday, but after a little 4 mile loop this morning, I feel myself again. Should've refueled better.

This'll be a weird training week, due to my family being in and out of town. I'll try to keep a little more up to date on the blog here. Got a few product reviews coming up, too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The team at the track

Got all of Team Library Dork together for a track day this morning - although my legs were feeling a little heavy from yesterday's trail run, I joined Chris, Amber and Dave and stuck it out for a "pyramid" set of 1200, 800, 400, 400, 800, 1200. Fairly consistent times:

1200 - 5:10
800 - 3:22
400 - 1:35
400 - 1:35
800 - 3:29
1200 - 5:14

Pretty happy with that. Ran a set of stairs, 5 bleacher flights, and then a 100M sprint just for fun.

Found a decent way to hook my camera pouch to my water bottle, and had my camera with me. Here's a self-timed team shot:

And a nice shot across the football field of Amber running one of her intervals:

Awesome day. Rest day tomorrow - looking forward to that...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Running the letters

I've been needing to stretch out my weekend runs, as well as get out on the trail a bit more, to prepare for a couple trail half marathons and a marathon coming up. To that end, I went out this morning for a decent run up in the Peavine foothills above north Reno. I call this basic route "running the letters" because it goes above both the big white "R" that Reno High School students put on a hill in the west part of the run:

and the "N" that UNR students maintain to the east of it.

The whole route looks like this:

I started out just before the sun started lightening things up, at about 5:45. By the time I got to the end of the pavement at the top of King's Row, it was light enough to see my footing on the rocky road. Some pretty steep uphills for the next couple miles, and I had to walk a few times. After I started up running again, and crested one particular hill with an awesome panoramic view, I got a little distracted and took a pretty good fall. Caught myself on my hands and rolled, but ended up with a solid rock hit to my left thigh. That's gonna bruise.

Pretty soon I got back to familiar trails, ones that I've mountain biked on a lot. Coasted the downhills back to Evans Creek Canyon, and on the way passed the only other people out this morning - three guys and a dog, all outfitted ultra-runner style with Nathan vests. Cool to see other people out, probably training for the Silver State 50/50.

Cruised back through Rancho San Rafael, would through some neighborhoods back home. Ended up doing the 12.35 miles in just under two hours, and I feel pretty good. Nice morning!