Friday, July 31, 2009

Resting

Been a bit quiet on the running front here - I've mostly been resting being lazy after the TRT. I did a little leg-stretcher run last week, then a good 8 mile trail run last weekend at the end of which I felt absolutely awesome. Strongest I've felt running in a long time.

I've also been slacking because I'm going on a week-long backpacking trip in Montana - leaving today, actually. I didn't see the point in taking a recovery week after TRT, starting up training again, then taking a week off to go hiking. So, after I get back, I'll start in to training again, with my eye on the Lake Tahoe Marathon in September. Back to speedwork and tempo runs, after all the long slow distance I was doing.

Keep running, everyone. I'll be back in a week or so...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Final thoughts on the TRT 50M

I got myself out for my short loop run this morning, the first time since last Saturday's ultra. While it did feel good to be moving again, my stomach was still a little wobbly from a bug that my son and I had earlier this week. But it did give me time to reflect on last weekend's race a little more.

First: If you were at all interested in the TRT ultra, or even ultras in general, GO READ Gretchen's race report. She took all the pictures I wanted to, remembered details I wish I would've, all while taking second place female. Awesome job.

Second: The race results have been posted. (Though, strangely, not yet on the website.) They reported my time exactly as I had it, 10:32:30. That put me in 13th overall (out of 96), 9th male in the 50M. SUPER happy with that. Pretty fun, too, to look at the winning times - in both the 50K and the 50M, there was one person who totally blew the field away. By over an hour in the 50M!

And finally: am I going to do one of these again? My mind kept coming back to two things this morning.

1) I think I acquitted myself pretty well out there for my first 50M - does that mean I should pursue it? I don't think I'd ever get to a point where I'd place in a race like this, so really I'd just be doing it for myself. And I think the 50M is a little longer than I want to be in the habit of doing.

2) After the Red House Loop, I was still feeling pretty strong - I looked kind of longingly at the trail back to Spooner, thinking what a perfect race it would have been if I had been signed up for the 50K. I'm glad I did the 50M, but I also think the 32 miler might be a little better distance right now.

So, I'm not going to rule out doing one of these next year. I love the trail, the area, the people... But I also may decide to focus on another distance of discipline. Sure has been fun out there, though.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More thoughts on the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs

OK, apparently my body clock is all messed up now - it's 2 am and I can't sleep. So: a few more thoughts that are running through my head.

One reason that doing the 50M was cool (as opposed to the 50K) is that you got to see most of the field go by.

In the 50K, you start with the 50 milers, and run up through the Red House Loop with them. You might get to see the back end of the 100M runners on Red House. Then you peel off and head back to the start, while everyone else heads up to Mt. Rose. 50K runners don't get to see most of the 100 milers at all, since they started an hour earlier and are up at Mt. Rose when the 50Ks are heading back to Spooner. (Last year, the leading 100M runner came through as I was sitting in the finish chute recuperating.)

With the 50M, though, you start with the 50K crowd and do up through the Red House loop with them. May have started picking off some 100 milers by this point. Heading up to Mt. Rose, you'd pass more of the slower 100 milers, then start seeing the faster ones heading back towards you. At some point, the faster 50 milers will pass you as well, heading back down. So you get to see most of the quick runners. Then, heading back to Spooner, you might start passing 50K runners who are taking their time with it. Pretty cool to see the whole variety of people out doing the event.

And let me stress: EVERYONE out there is pretty much a super stud. Even if you're basically walking the 50K in 11 hours, you're out there going 32 miles in a day. That's impressive no matter what.


Volunteers: Holy crap the volunteers at this event are awesome. Every aid station, I had someone RIGHT on me asking to refill my hydration pack, asking if I needed anything. The Hobart aid station was all outfitted like an Irish pub, complete with dartboard and a bottle of Jameson's for the braver (?) runners. Tunnel Creek was super organized, Mt. Rose was kind of a zoo, but in a good way. Anyway, I think events like this pretty much run on the backs of the volunteers, and a big thank you to all of them.


I ran without a watch. Felt kind of weird. It was useless to wear the Garmin, its 7 hour battery life (while recording) would barely have got me back to Hobart. I had planned to wear a cheap sport watch, but managed to leave it on my dresser. So I was checking time on the course with my cell phone. (Got no service except for at Spooner and Rose, but I had it set to vibrate anyway.) I was kind of embarrassed about pulling it out to check the time, though, so I only did when I thought no one could see... But it worked fine as a watch, and then allowed me to tweet my finish time while still in the chute.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

TRT 50M

I did it. Went about how I expected - maybe a little faster. I'm glad it's over.

Thanks to my father-in-law, I caught the shuttle from Carson City to Spooner at about 4:45 this morning. That got me there with the perfect amount of time to get my bib, wait through the port-a-potty line, get organized and head down to the start for the race briefing:



And at the crack of 6 AM, we got started. After the crowds thinned out on the first hill, I snapped what I though was kind of a cool shot of the trail marking ribbons:



Red was for 50K, blue for 50M, and yellow-orange reflective stripey for 100M (which was the same course as the 50M.)

I've been on and around this course enough now that I know what to expect - for the most part. First, some slogging up hills:



And then some great views:



Rinse and repeat. That pretty much describes the whole course.

Here's a couple of random shots from the trail:





OK, the one part of the trail I wasn't familiar with was the section from the Tunnel Creek aid station up to Mount Rose Meadows. I've run it a number of times from Rose down, but never this way. As expected, it felt pretty long - like usually happens when you're going somewhere for the first time. Didn't start seeing blue 50M bibs until I was almost to Rose, but then there were a whole bunch. So I wasn't too far back, but there were a lot of people out there in front of me. One of them was Gretchen, as always with a big smile on her face:



I was trying to keep track of how many 50M women I saw before her - I think she was in 4th at that point. Not exactly sure though - hope I didn't give her wrong info..

Turned around at the Rose aid station - it was pretty much a zoo up there.



I pretty much lost interest in taking pictures on the way back. Just set my sights on the next aid station, filled up with water at all of them, and took my E-caps - about 3 an hour. I was kind of a salt lick by the time I was done. Took a couple little tumbles and scraped up my hand a little, but mostly just got dirty.

From the Snow Valley aid station down to the Spooner trailhead is 5 1/2 great miles of downhill. I LOVE that part of the course. Like last year, though, I had a hard time getting the last 1 3/4 miles from the trailhead to the finish line over by the campground. Last year I was just spent, but this year I was fighting a side stitch (which I rarely get. I think I drank some energy drink too fast or something.) But I made it through the line as the clock read 10:32:30. We'll see how close that comes to my reported time.

Here's a view from a chair in the finish corral:



And the aftermath of my shoes and calves:


Nasty.

My ride hadn't made it yet, so I was hoping I could find Gretchen to say hi and hang out, but didn't see her anywhere. Another friend, Peter, was probably already out pacing a friend in the 10m, so I missed him too. Oh well. Hosed myself down, grabbed a burrito, and then my wife and kids showed up. So I got to scarf the yummy burrito in the car.

I'm extremely happy with the run today, but like I said, glad it's over. Still not sure whether I'll do another ultra, or concentrate on shorter trail stuff. But it's pretty cool that, at least today, I can call myself an ultramarathoner.

OK, I'm tired. Is there a beer around here?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ready

Sorry - been a little quiet here in the last week or so. I've been in taper mode - couple 5-10 mile trail runs over the weekend, and easy runs Tuesday and Thursday morning. Tonight I'll spend in Carson City at my parents-in-law's house, to catch the 4:30 ish shuttle up to Spooner for the TRT 50M. By tomorrow night, I'll have my second ultra under my belt. Looking forward to it, but also looking forward to it being over. Any nice thoughts and good juju anyone wants to send my way would me much appreciated - I'll be on the trail pretty much all day. If I had to throw out a goal time, I'd say 11 hours...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Barefoot media

Wired.com just put out an article on the barefoot running thing that sums it all up pretty well. Please read, if you're interested.

To Run Better, Start By Ditching Your Nikes

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Barefoot. Kinda.

So as long as I've been running seriously (about two or three years now) I've been reading "the literature." Runner's World magazine, whatever running books come out that pique my interest. As long as I've been reading this stuff, I've been hearing snippets and whispers about "barefoot running." Product reviews of the Nike Free or the Vibram Five Fingers, articles about how running barefoot cured back pain...

Then, just recently I read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. If you're a runner and haven't read it - well, do. it's a great story about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, and why they're such great distance runners. There's a lot more to it, though. He also justifies the title by delving into why humans were "born to run" - why our evolutionary success hinged on our ability to be better endurance runners than the large mammals which were our prey. And this leads into, of course why we were designed to run barefoot.

What this all boils down to is a feeling that running shoes themselves are what's causing runners to have injuries. All sorts of studies, the incidence of injuries skyrocketed after the introduction of the modern running shoe, etc. This all strays close to the feeling of a conspiracy theory - the recommended life of running shoes, 300-500 miles, is timed to coincide with new shoes being released. In fact most of the "barefoot running" websites out there have a pretty "conspiracy theory" feel to them. I think that's kind of how they like it, though...

But anyway, all this kind of made sense to me, the natural running thing. I haven't been plagued with many injuries, beyond a little hip imbalance last year. This, however, seemed like it was worth a try. So, on a whim, last week I bought myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I took them out for a mile run on grass the day I bought them, and they felt just fine. Waited a few days, and took them on a 3.5 mile run this morning, on a mix of pavement and trail. Got a little blister on one of my toes, but that's all. I barely even had to change my stride. I guess I'll take that as confirmation that I have a pretty decent gait. OK, I was a little slower - being careful - and had to lean a little differently on the downhills so I didn't heel strike. But I'll keep this up once or twice a week and let you all know how it goes...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

TRT Training 2

This is gonna have to be a shortish post, 'cause I'm tired.

Second of the two "official," supported TRT training runs today. This one was planned as a 26 mile run, but I did an extra loop that made it 50K, or 32. Actually, my watch read at 33 something, but stopped about ten minutes before I finished, so it actually should've measured 34 something. Here's the gap:



Anyway, drove up, got started running about 8. Took it easy up the first hills, was rewarded with views like this:



Had a great run up to the Hobart aid station, continued on to Tunnel Creek. Took off down the Red House loop with another guy (John from Marin.) Got a little confused down there ( I didn't remember one big hill) but were straightened out by another runner. Back up that crazy hill to Tunnel Creek, on to Hobart, and back to Spooner. More views:



I started noticing wildflowers, for some reason. Now, my 4 year old daughter is MAD for flowers, so I decided to take some pictures of them for her. They're over at Flickr, if anyone's interested.

Had a hot dog and soda at the end (thanks, race director David Cotter) and headed home. Had to stop for some caffeine on the way. Also ice - did a ten minute ice bath when I got back home. Since I haven't been able to find any compression socks for recovery, I did a homemade version - ace bandages wrapping my calves. It's super sexy. No picture, you'll just have to take my word for it.

So - ten or so mile trail run next weekend, and I'll consider myself tapered. Ready for the race.

Friday, July 3, 2009

June streak thoughts

Three days into July, and I've now taken two of them off. Feels kind of nice.

It actually wasn't easy to NOT run on Wednesday - although sleeping in was nice, my body felt weird not having moved in the morning. Even in the evening, I kinda thought "maybe I can get out and sneak a run in, keep the streak going," but I forced myself to stay in and rest. What do they say, it takes doing something for three weeks for it to become a habit? I think the daily run had definitely started to become a habit.

So overall this running everyday has been interesting. I think that it's a better idea for me to work rest days in - but in order to compare, I'll have to get back on my couple-rest-days-a-week schedule. I could feel some aches and pains starting to build up - nothing serious, just nagging. Hopefully forcing myself to rest will take care of that. I DO feel pretty dang strong after all those miles, though.

But were they "junk miles?" That sure was a lot of little 3-mile days. Some people seem to think you need less of those and more hard interval or tempo workouts, while others recommend lots of low-impact runs keeping your heart rate fairly low. Near the end there, I did give up my speedwork because it felt like i wasn't recuperating from those hard workouts fast enough.

Also, this was an interesting experiment to do in the month ramping up miles for an ultra - I felt like those little three-milers were just nibbles when I really needed more full-course meals. Of course I did get some pretty long runs in as well...

I'm glad I did run this June streak - one of my goals for the year was to learn more about myself as a runner, and I think this has taught me a bit. I'm also glad it's over, though, and I can move on.

Speaking of moving on, I actually did do a short run this evening - just under a mile. More on that in another post, though...