Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paleo Diet - Training Update

I have been feeling different while doing the Paleo Diet. In a nutshell it means no dairy, no grains, no processed foods, no sugar, ok to honey on occasion and lean meat, lot of veggies and fresh stuff. Honestly, it is just treating your body better and not throwing so much crap into it. In the short period of time that I have been on this program I have felt cleaner. I am not sure of a different way to say it. Before I was eating anything in front of me that tasted good and now that I am paying attention to what I put in my body I can feel when something simply does not work for me or makes me feel weak or sluggish. Performance speaking I am not sure if it is better or not because I have not experienced it during a heavy training cycle yet. I can tell that I am leaning out a bit and a touch more defined in the major muscle groups, not cut, just more defined. 

Training wise I think that I am mentally feeling better. I want to attempt a 100 miler next year. I know that it is double my longest distance and that it will require an almost monk-like training to complete but I think I have it in me to push to that edge. Who knows, I may finally get that “ahhh ha” moment of enlightenment all these ultra runners get. If there is a time to go for something different why not now, why not today ?


Monday, October 24, 2011

Rock’n River 50 Race Report

Equipment Used
Patagonia Long Hauler Shorts: ever since racing with them at Bulldog 50k I have preferred them, especially when I know there is a lot of smooth trail or road.
Brooks Tech Tee (running warehouse) + InknBurn Tech Tee (roadID snagged it…DANG IT!!!) – I changed shirts at the 27 mile mark.  The salt loss on the shirt was starting to chafe.
Sox: Injinji + Nike – the extra miles at start got sand in my shoe and it was game over for clean feet after that
Pack: talked to coach Jeff of PRS Fit and decided to change to a 1 liter pack, used the Hydrapak E-Lite Vest. (Review coming soon)
Headgear: Hammer Headsweats Visor (1 st half), then Buff and Oakley Sunglasses (buff helps me keep cooler in the later part of the afternoon)
Arms: Perl Izumi Arm Coolers (soaked at later aid stations)
Shoes: Newton Terra Momentus (green goblins) – the whole way through

Hammer Heed: half heed/water mix – half straight water
Hammer Gel: 30 min intervals
Hammer Endurolytes
Coke/ Pepsi (just tasted dam good at the aid stations)

China Bar – 2.5 mile
I was one of the lucky runners who ran took the scenic 2 extra mile route. Runners had to loop around the parking lot head down the street first left then right onto the trails. Unfortunately, many of us missed that quick right and kept going “to the end” and then hit the river. Normally you would just call it experience. What was frustrating was that many of us inexperienced runners “ran-scared” the first section of trail trying to make up time. Many of us were running up and down hoping one of the runners coming down would point us in the right direction, which never happened. I turned off my GPS and reset it thinking that the whole field would re-start…no such luck.

During this tour of the banks I met a man from WA State. He told me about regaining his health, being off of a lot of the meds he was previously on and he had driven all the way down to earn that fleece jacket (12 hour).  I am not sure if he passed me at some point but no one from WA State came in after I did.  I really hope he passed me because that sucks to have your goal blown up because of inefficient course markings. We hiked around the banks of the American River walking over rocks (not able to run) and then up a huge hill to the aid station.  The aid station volunteers told all of us that everyone had extra distance on their Garmin GPS did little to help, we were pissed. For this section of the race through Granite Bay I was mentally in panic mode. 

Rattlesnake Bar - 9.1 miles
Up until this aid station I ran scared.  It was me and my chart versus the Garmin. I needed to get to Rattlesnake Bar in the window I had set regardless of the extra distance covered.  The adrenaline made me run harder and put out effort that I would not have otherwise expended. I was charging up single track rollers and just felt super strong. Looking back on it; I ran the trail section way too fast and did not hydrate enough. My water pack was maybe 1/3 empty and I had run 6.6 miles as if this was trail 10k. It was stupid and I would pay for it later. These reckless charges are always a double edge swords; on one hand you could blow up your legs, but on the other you bank time that you may otherwise not have. I met with my crew/pacer Berto at this point. He was trying to get me to calm down but I was still in the panic mode. This was a quick stop and back to the trails, water a few gels and I was out.

Horseshoe Bar 11.9 / Granite Bay – 18.4 miles
During this stretch my vigor started to fail me and the sand from the banks of the AR started to rub me the wrong way. My right forefoot puffed up and I was certain of some blister action. I started with the Injinji sox, but because sand got inside of them when we trekked by the river I had to change. My mistake at this point was not taking a minute to clean my feet well then put on the new socks. I just shook off the sand, quick sock change and got going. I really should have taken a few minutes to fix my feet on this one.  Later in the race taking out phantasm pebbles caused full leg lock cramps. I also took off my visor and went to my mid-day set up which is a Buff and sunglasses. I like this set up because the buff holds water longer and still protects against the sun and the sunglasses for glare and to keep my head up.  When the sweat hits the lens I know that I am slouching and it is just an external reminder to keep strong.

Beal’s Point – 23.3 miles
Up to this point I looked pretty good at the aid stations, not going to lie. My time was slowing but the panic was also subsiding.  I felt that I was settling into the splits I intended to run the whole day. Nothing hurt (yet) and I was still very much enjoying the trails and running with packs of people. No offense but I hate this aid station, sorry Beal’s. This is where I DNF during the American River 50 ultra a few months ago. I definitely was fueling with that memory to get me here. Once that fuels burned off the wheels came off.

Negro Bar – 27.7 miles
Sunrise - 35.1 miles
William Pond – 41.9 miles
I am going to lump these aid stations together because they are the cut off stations. During ultra-events the cut offs are meant to motivate runners and keep volunteers from staying out there all day. As a runner you definitely want to respect their time and make sure that you are giving yourself some room and not cutting it too close. It really comes down to being on time… or you are pulled from the race; simple as that. I hit an emotional and physical wall after Beal’s Point. You would think I would turn on the Billy Badass at this point because I know the course, but the long stretches of bike path just wore on me. I no longer had the distraction of beautiful single-track along a river. The course turned into a grind. My legs shut down and would cramp if I tried to get anything out of them. I was paying for the initial energy expenditure and not cleaning my feet at Granite Bay.  I kept feeling pebbles and rocks in my shoes only to discover there was nothing there. It was especially frustrating when I could feel the skin between my left foot toes swell up and not being able to do anything about it. I would bend or stop to check my shoes and my foot would contort.  All the toes would bend inward making the calf tight, pulling the IT band and immediate crippling cramps would ensue from the hip on down.  After a few of these any ankle side to side movement was out of the question.

I was very fortunate to have a pacer for this race. It is unusual to have a pacer during this particular race because it is considered an “easier” 50 miler.  For me, I was scared of the cut offs from the moment I signed up.  My previous 50 finish was 15+ hours and shaving 3 hours in 5 months seemed impossible.  My pacer was my old college roommate berto. We both happened to get into the ultra-scene around the same time; he has a really calm demeanor and also is consistent as heck.  We were actually talking about nutrition…he remembers to eat based on where he is not the time on the clock…yeah I thought the same thing! 

He helped me get out of the first slump (and the later ones too); Negro Bar was one of the worst when my buffer started to shrink. We had a 45 min padding against cut offs, then 30 min, until the last aid station where we beat the cut by 13-15 min. I think every ultra-event you have peaks and valleys but a pacer helps so much. When I asked him what he was doing on Oct 15, his immediate answer was, well I am pacing you are the 50, right?

He travelled 23 miles with me...Survivors “Eye of the Tiger” blasting my ears off....we got from one spot to the next.  At one point we resorted to running the sunny parts until we got to the shade of a tree.  It was also really helpful to have him because he set a pace I could keep for longer than 10 seconds.  A few times I wanted to go quicker and really gain some ground but he would reel me in.  That really helped because had I done what I wanted I may have finished and also the cramps would have made driving 8 hours Sunday to be at work on Monday impossible.

At aid stations he would take my pack and fill it up quickly. All I had to do was stuff my face with whatever I could get down, soak my Buff and sleeves and get going. Having quick transition times at the aid stations was key to this race. As the day drags on you want to stay and soak in the positive vibes from the volunteers. But every minute there is not only a minute lost on course but it also makes it harder to find the will to keep on trucking.

There was a couple I remember distinctly. I was trading spots with her husband (guy with white desert hat and black Camelbak). I would see them at the aid stations when I would arrive since we were both roughly running the same time. I got cramps right at the station after I changed socks and she really kindly offered salt tabs. I thanked her for the offer and declined since I had some. Later in the race I saw her running back onto the course wishing me well and telling me her husband was cramping up. Another aid station (closer to the end) a young kid, no more than 12 or 13 was running backwards as well looking or his dad. All along the route I was connecting with fellow runners, 2 that DNF with me at the AR50, another guy who told me to keep my head up, and even one guy I recognized from his finishing picture from UltraRunner Magazine just to mention a few.

I think I have just been spoiled with cool experiences but ultra runners seem to genuinely care about other runners. We all know what it takes to finish and that some days its better to bag it and fight another day then to go blaze of glory status, since that would most likely be very detrimental to your health.

Finish – 50 miles
After Negro Bar my legs were cramping the whole time. I became very comfortable with the fact my legs would twitch in funny ways. One time I had to stop and Berto had to massage my calf until it loosened up. Not ashamed to say my eyes were tearing more than once. 

The last push to the end was the sweetest though. We were running and another runner and her pacer caught up to us. Berto says, relax you have enough time to cover the distance. Her pacer said to would too if you were cranking out certain miles/min and you're not.  That sort of lit a fire in me. He was right, if we were going to beat the 12 hour cut off we had to make a move and make it fast before the temps dropped and the little motivation you have goes down with the sun. Berto and I set a pace and cranked out what in hindsight were dead slow miles, but at the time I felt like Billy the Kid running away from a bank I just robbed. Before the sun set I crossed the line, exhausted at 11:37:53 and earned my fleece but more importantly I I did not let my friend/pacer Berto down, nor all the friends and family back home who never doubted *cough**cough* that I could finish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rockin River 50 Pre-Race Write-Up

What can I say, the race is 5 days away and I am nervous. Since my last 50 miler, my consistency has vastly improved and I have even slimmed down a touch. I have been eating a lot healthier and transitioning slowly to the Paleo Diet. I feel that I can mentally get to the end, but physically I am having doubts. And when the brain and body are not in sync there are problems. I am not comfortable with the shape I am in; the lightness is foreign to me. I remember other runners dealing with weight loss in different ways. For me it is bittersweet. I remember being fit and then loosing it to laziness and circumstance. But at my peak fitness I was a cyclist who flew up hills and I was all about feeling powerful and bold. But now that I am getting closer to being “fit” I question the way I am supposed to feel. I feel light but not strong, efficient but not powerful.  I am not sure that my quads will be able to take the downhill and that my upper back will not lock up.  I have the tendency to raise my shoulders and after a few miles the energy spent being tense takes its toll. I am hoping that I can get my brain and body in sync and just feel like smooth….fat free, non artery clogging, good for the planet butter.

The equipment I am going to be using is a 1.5 liter Salomon XT Skin Advanced pack. I was going to go with one or two handhelds and the Nathan #28 vest but I have not trained with them enough to feel confident about that decision and there are stretches that I could go as over an hour between aid stations and i don't want to risk something untested.  I had some issues with my trusty Salomon Skin Pack…the pockets tore b/c of gels moving around so I cut water bottles, taped the edges and slipped them in as protectors.  Now it feels like they will hold, it is weird with the crunchy plastic noises but I like the pack so much I would probably sow new side pockets if they ripped.  The thing just works for me and a little Spaniard named Killian (just saying).

Here is my time chart.  The cut-off for the race is 12 hours…3 hours and change better than I did at Bishop :

(Blue: Amazing!!, Green: Ideal, Red: Cut-off racing)

My friend Berto is going to pace me. He is also an accomplished ultra-runner. He shaved off a ton of time on his Bulldog 50k run and is consistent and strong as they come. I will def be looking to him for some guidance and “alternative” fueling...just kidding. He was my roommate in college and saved me from starving both on and off campus and even helped pull me up from under a truck (don’t ask); so I definitely have a lot of faith in him.

Equipment will be as follows (top to bottom):
Headsweats Visor
Oakley Sunglasses (because I like em)
iPod Shuffle
Salomon Advanced Skin Pack (review) (1.5 liter)
Salt Stick dispenser (3 pills)
Endurolytes (3 in dispenser 12 in pack)
Hammer Gel (go down easy)
Hydrapak Soft Flask 5oz (I always start with this one in the beginning save the environment hommie)
Buff (in pack)
Northface Shell Jacket (fact: I have worn it to a concert..folded it up and placed it in my back pocket no problems)
Advil/ TUMS/ band-Aids (in Altoids box in pack)
inkBurn Tech Tee -it is comfortable and it looks cool as hell.
Pearl Izumi Arm Coolers (white) they match better with the gear and I have used them on long runs
Patagonia Long Hauler Shorts (used during 50k, they are 80s styling, roadie type shorts but they have been good on long runs)
Shoes: Newton Terra Momentus (green goblins…maybe retirement after this run)
DirtyGirl Gaiters (them pebbles will get-cha)
Newton or Nike Sox (they are what I train with)

Drop Bag Contents
Hoka OneOne Mafate Shoes (I may need the extra cushion 2nd half b/c there is more road)
Newton Sir Issac (again depends on how I am feeling…if I need to make up time…rollin newton)
NorthFace Cardiac Shorts (just in case)
Tech Tee
Moeben Sleeves (black)
Extra sox
Ultimate Direction UNO waist pack (if my back goes its plan B and it saved me at Bishop)
Ultimate Direction Handheld (again..Plan B in case the pack messes with me)
Northface Better than Naked Jacked (if I leave the pack I will do this and the UD stuff)
GU, Cliff Gells, Ginger Candy

And there it is…prep complete now just need to run 50 miles.  No problema.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of doubts; about my running, fitness, diet and even my long term goals. The last two months have given me not only lots of freedom, but also a lot of time to reflect. How far can I go? How much can I learn? What am I really made of? Can I achieve what I think I can? What do I ultimately want?

A few years back I faced very different circumstances. I thought I was ready to get married, have kids and start a family; a few pairs of shoes and a few lbs later that sounds like the worst idea ever. I understand now that although I was “ready” it was not the “ready” I expected for myself. There are certain variables that no one can control, but there are others that with a little planning and some hard work will exponentially better your life.  Among those was my health.  Mentally I was a lifelong athlete, but physically I was an unfit mid 20s former athlete. Today, I am still working on making that mental picture match the physical one. But I cannot help but wonder if this path is “right”.  Does it really matter?

I do not have all the answers but I have never been afraid of seeking them either. My path has led me to this endurance lifestyle. This lifestyle has introduced me to great people and wonderful sources of information. I have read blogs and books on what it takes to really go the distance and achieve. Every account says that it takes heart and mental fortitude to keep going. I think the source of our desire to push to the limit is human curiosity. Curiosity is defined as the “desire to know something” and what better thing to know than the self.

So I will continue to seek the limit and push just that little bit further, not to another limit, but instead to satisfy my curiosity…the desire to know something…something about myself that I did not previously know.