Monday, February 27, 2012

Rocky Road 100 – Race Report

All of the nervous planning paid off; Coach Jeff  knows, friends know and I know that the mileage up to this point is not where it needed to be for a 100 miler. I expected to struggle and setting up a good first half was critical to completing this race.

Lap 1-6 (15 miles) lap 7 (10 miles)
Lap 1 (1-15)   - 3:04:27
Lap 2 (15-30) - 3:25:49
Lap 3 (30-45) - 3:40:43
Lap 4 (45-60) - 3:56:56
Lap 5 (60-75) - 4:54:02
Lap 6 (75- 90) - 6:11:26
Lap 7 (90-100) - 3:41:36
Total Time: 28:24:59 

Essential Gear
Shorts: Patagonia Long Hauler (they have been my “go to” since Bulldog 50k)
Shoes: Altra Lone Pine (1-15-had to chg b/c I had not added the velcro to use gaiters), Saucony Peregrines (held up well and surprisingly nimble for the remainder)
Headwear: Headsweats Race Cap (mid day), Buff (2x – morning and night), Oakley Radar (my Crowies..just make me look like I know what I am doing and keep the sun out)
Cold/Night Gear: Peal Izumi Arm Warmers, GORE Windstopper Gloves. Manzella Gloves (light), Wells Lamont Work Gloves (from Walmart $9 bucks – they are awesome and vent really well), BlackDiamond Storm Headlamp, Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
Nutrition/Hydration: Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus Bottle (Review), Hammer Gels, Hammer Perpetuem Solids, Aid station food (especially soup), Hammer Endurolytes (1st morning), SaltStick Salt caps (afternoon-end)

Miles 1-45 
These first three loops were my best. I ran with an avgerage heart rate of 121 bpm and just let the race come to me. I was in a flow like Bruce Lee with nun chucks minus the “whaaaaa!” sounds. I remember coming into the start/finish aid station at mile 45 and feeling really fresh (probably endorphins), there was not a speck of salt on me... things were just coming together. By keeping my heart rate low I was able to take in plenty of fluids and fuel well so I never had the chance to hit the wall.
Adam W and his lovely wife swung by to support at mile 30. I had actually never met him but we follow each other on and see each other's training. It was kind of him to come and support especially at this point because my crew had not arrived. It was a huge mental boost when he let me know I was well ahead of my “expected” splits.
It’s a mental battle to stick to the plan (low bpm for 60 miles) especially when I had to lower my heart rate and walk downhill sections. My male ego still wants to just stick it to them, but ultras are all about keeping yourself in check and doing what you know you can do rather than what you think you can. I also avoided the iPod; I know myself too well and if “Eye of the Tiger” or “Welcome Home” (Radical Face) came on...charging uphill was inevitable and my plan would be a thrown aside.
Sam was at the start when I was got to the start/finish at mile 45. She has crewed for me at some big efforts American River 50 (Report) and other successful finishes Bishop High Sierra 50 (report) and rescued me from the rain at 2011 LA 26.2 (report). It was certainly a plus to have her there. I trusted her with full authority to pull the trigger on the race if she thought I was pushing too hard or risking injury. If she said stop that was the end of my day.
Also a co-worker Courtney swung by to support. I have gone on a few training runs with her and she understands how committed I am to the sport and the ultra-running community. I think she was more impressed with the fact runners were throwing down cups of chilli then heading out to run than the event itself. Again it was a huge mental boost to have them there.

Mile 45-90
GPS data is off because I forgot to turn it off when I left it at the aid station. The blister recap is pretty simple. The first loop I did not wear gaiters and had to stop a few times to remove pebbles from my shoes. Loop 2 I changed shoes to accommodate the gaiters but I did not change the socks. Loop 3, finally changed the socks cleaned my feet a little but it was too late. Loop 4, mile 60, the blisters arrived in style.
Health-wise I was “so money” (swingers) and felt solid; nutrition was good, no cramps, no chaffing, just blisters. At this point in the race my family arrived to the start/finish line as well. I saw my crew, parents and brother with his family. I was unfortunately too busy popping blisters to really let them know how much it meant that they were there. I set off with my first pacer, Chris G into the night. 
The race was taking a huge mental toll on me since I was concerned with my caloric intake and hydration so much more than I would be in everyday life and then still running around. Chris was essential to keeping my mind in it and kept me moving. He helped me keep my food intake on a schedule since by this point I was exhausted and could not muster as much energy as wanted too nor stomach everything I needed in order to keep going. My plan had been to really save myself for the night and now the blisters had pretty much taken my plan and shredded it. I was still running but I was definitely not pushing the same intensity. I felt the little baggies between my toes popping then warm, then stinging...that sequence took the heart out of me running very hard. I did manage to run through the loop with Chris and the cold had not really hit me by that point.
After a loop Chris bid farewell and my second pacer Al T. joined me for a few hours. I would have liked to have been closer to being done, but my feet just did not move well. It was one of those times that everything just hits the wall. I was not in a depressed state nor was I as melancholy as I thought I would be, but I was disappointed because Al came out in the middle of the night to help me out and all I could do was hobble and hallucinate. Yup, hallucinate. I started seeing snakes slithering away just out of my headlamps reach, also I kept hearing noises and seeing back shadowy things moving up behind us only to turn and see nothing. I was pretty tired. Al left early in the am and I had to cover 5 miles on my own to reach the start/finish aid station where my Sam awaited. In that stretch...
I tripped over my own feet and had those flashbacks like "fight club".  One minute I was in one place then I would be 50 yards ahead, I am certain it was a blend of sleep deprivation exhaustion and easily the longest 5 miles of the race.

*note: you know I mentioned hearing noises....turns out some neighborhood kids were throwing water balloons at runners and apparently even set up trip wire., next year I will be prepared and probably run with my cell phone.

Miles 90-100
I know that I mentioned it before that Sam was their crewing and her help was indispensable in this race. She was making sure I was eating solid foods whenever I could and helping not only me get through but other runners and aid station workers as well. I think she really stepped up huge by helping me the last 10 miles. I was pretty much a mess of a person with hamburger feet and not the most pleasant chap around.  I grunted a lot and she was very supportive and showed an unusual amount of patience with me. As many of you know we get meaner as the hours wear on...not on purpose but the body just has to let it out.  I did get to the point where I had to ask her not to ask complicated questions are you feeling?...because I felt I was simply not processing them fast enough, yes or no questions only. We got through it and finished it up.

Took me a lot longer to write this one because what is said on the trail stays on the trail. I ran the first 60 and survived the next 40, but the truth of the matter is I could not have done any of it without the support of my family and friends. Coach Jeff was right, I did bite off a lot and got lucky that I finished because my training was not there. I will defintely try to remedy that next go around. Still plenty of room on the shelf for more buckles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rocky Road Endurance Run 100 - Pre-Race Prep

First of all let me start by saying I signed up for this race in error. It is local and I am on the email list. So when I saw it open for registration I jumped on it right away. This was approximately October. Having just PR’d at the 50 mile distance I was feeling pretty awesome. We were in 2011 and race “next year” did not register in my brain the right way I thought it would be 2013, not 2012. But, regardless I am going to give it a go and see how long I can hold on.

I know that my training is not optimal nor the quality that it should be to “race” this event. I am not sandbagging or fishing it is just the truth. I think this mis-fortune sets me up perfectly for having to run a smart (not my forte). I simply cannot afford to be stupid about this one or I am going to be in a world of hurt. There will be approximately 11 hours of sunlight then it will be 13 hours of darkness.

The course is a loop course with aid stations every 2.5 miles. The course will do a 7.5 out/back (6x) then a 5 out/back to complete the 100 miles. The only cut off is that runners have to start the final 10 mile loop by noon on Sunday. Because there are no hard cut-off stations I do not have to plan around those and instead get out of my own way and stay smart. Run through the night is going to be the goal and make sure the day sets me up to do just that.

Feb 18 - Sunrise 6:32 am - Sunset 5:37 pm
Feb 19 - Sunrise 6:31 am

Best Case (Final Numbers)
1 – (15) 3.25 hours / 13 min Pace  
2 – (30) 3.25 hours / 13 min Pace – 6.5 hours
3 – (45) 3.75 hours / 15 min Pace – 10.25 hours
4 – (60) 4.25 hours / 15 min Pace – 14.5 Hours
5 – (75) 4.25 hours / 15 min Pace – 18.75 hours
6 – (90) 5 hours / 19.5 min pace – 23.75 hours
7 – (100) 2.5 hours / 15 min pace – 26.25 - 27 hours

Nutrition will be the same as training. Hammer Gels, Hammer Perpetuem Solids. Endrolytes in the morning and in the heat salt stick every hour.

My actual plan is going to be a calculated plan based on measurable effort. I know everyone plans on going out slow and then staying strong but we all know what adrenaline and racing with the pack does. Also I have fallen a few times to running other peoples race pace rather than my own. Thus the idea, courtesy of the UltraRunnerPodcast (Lee McKinley Interview), is running the first 30-40 miles within a heart rate zone.  My avg heart rate is 143 bpm over the last 30 days for all runs. So knowing that “perceived effort” is just too shadowy a measuring stick I am going to stick under 140 bpm. This will assure an even effort regardless of terrain.

1 – 3 (1-45 miles) HR under 140 bpm regardless of pace.
3 – end (45-100) go hard at night, avoid vomiting, turn on the iPod loud, smile a lot. (just sayin)

The lower bpm should help avoid GI issues and allow me to digest fuel and liquids in the first half thus not going into a bonk or be too broken down for the night section. Also, I am having a few local friends, Chris and Al, come out and night and hit the trails with me which I think will help…hopefully a few more people can come and we can make it a crew. Also I am going to discuss all this with Coach Jeff from since he knows his stuff, knows my training and will pretty much be the green light or help me work up a new plan.

For Sure Gear:
Bib: # 88 (ps 8 is my favorite number…queue the twilight zone)
Shoes: Altra Lone Pine (Saucony Peregrine/Altra Instinct – back ups)
Patagonia Long Hauler Shorts / NF Better than Naked Shorts
Moeben Sleeves (warmers) / Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves
Ultimate Direction Water Bottle
Ultimate Direction UNO Waist Pack
Salomon XT Wings 10+3 Vest (review coming soon) if raining
Oakley Radar Glasses
Gloves (few pairs – pacers may need some)
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp 2x (waist and head)
Headsweats Visor
Buff 2x (night running and as bandana during heat of day)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tagged - Revealing Blog Time

So I got tagged by Stuart from the Quadrathon blog so I figured what the hell, a little non-running personal stuff blog post is in order and what a fun way of sharing. So here are the rules.

  1. Post these rules.
  2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
  4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  5. Go to their blog and tell them you've tagged them.
  6. No stuff in the tagging section about “you are tagged if you are reading this”. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.
11 Random Things About Me:
  1. I went to an all guy boarding school for my first three years of High School with the intention of being a priest.
  2. I always look for security cameras and exit doors. You just never know when you are going to have to make a mad dash.
  3. I find it relaxing to play chess against myself when studying or writing. It exercises my honestly muscles…there is no point in cheating and there will always be an AHH Ha moment.
  4. My first sports related purchase was a BMX bike..DYNO VFR Black with Flames on it (yeah I was a badass). I mowed lawns, pulled weeds and learned to trim trees for that sucker.
  5. I strongly dislike telephone calls and have been known to play HALO or FIFA during them. Sorry longer than 5 min and my mind is gone.
  6. I have a gnarly caffeine tolerance. Yesterday, 8 am I had a 7 shot Americano and took a 20 min power nap at lunch.
  7. I love learning and discussing random subjects from philosophy to running shoes with anyone. Even as a kid I would talk religion for hours with Jehovah’s Witnesses, they knew not to knock on my door or we would be there for hours.
  8. I wet shave like an old man. I love my safety razor (think 1 blade old school), mix my own shaving cream in a cup, and use Pinaud Clubman or Old Spice Aftershave (current rotation). Since wet shaving I have the closest shave, smoothest skin and I smell like a barbershop. I cannot imagine ever going back to mach anything….and over time it’s cheaper than dropping 30 bucks for a 4pack of blades that are done in a month.
  9. I park far away from wherever I am going. (1) I don’t like my cars being door-ed (2) If I need to make a getaway I don’t like whoever I am getting away from to know what they are chasing. (I know it’s weird ma bad)
  10. When I am with a lady friend I open doors and I walk on the street side of the street. Its old fashioned but whatever, just something I do.
  11. I tell every girl I have dated that I can’t dance; it’s a lie. Mea culpa.
And now to answer Stuart’s questions:
  1. Finish this sentence; “Revenge is a dish best served…” elsewhere. I am no longer a big fan of it; I don’t lease limited head space for free.
  2. If you could invite anyone who would you invite to dinner, (alive or dead) and why? –deceased cousin Jesus, there was a conversation I should have had with him that I never did and that bothers me to this day.
  3. If you could run a race anywhere in the world, which one would it be? UTMB – Chamonix, France. 100 miles around Mont Blanc, perfection.
  4. Sum up the bare foot, minimal running, normal shoes argument in a sentence! The shoe industry invented your problem, lack of shoe industry will fix it.
  5. Early morning, middle of the day, in the evening? When is the best time? (run) When I can, middle of the day, most alert least likelihood of getting run over and good heat training.
  6. Do you really read all those magazines you subscribe to, please be honest? Yup, UltraRunning, Trail Runner, Backpacker, Golf, Golf Digest, The New Yorker
  7. What’s your favorite race distance? Right now… 50 Miles. It tests you and you feel like a total badass at the end.
  8. What does your family/friends think about your running etc – Family think I am off the reservation, but they see me smile and that’s what they care about. Friends think I am nutz till we run together and they see that during training I am pretty mellow and I just like sharing my exp. with them so they don’t make the same mistakes.
  9. In the style of “Jeopardy” please answer this question “yes, at least twice a day, Alex” that one is a secret
  10. We all have our “Achilles heel” mine is my ITB, what’s yours? Right hip/ hip flexor…road running throws me off and I got to get sorted out before big efforts
  11. Stretching; do you…should you? –not at the start, I warm up for a few miles then stretch. No sense is stretching cold muscles.
1.    Favorite post-race meal?
2.    One piece of non-essential equipment that is a must (can’t be shoes, clothing or garmin)
3.    Favorite Endurance Athlete and why?
4.    What would be your goal or ideal race (anywhere in the world)?
5.    Why did you start being an athlete?
6.    What is the one thing you will always lie about? (white lies no confessions please)
7.    Greatest athletic achievement?
8.    Guilty Pleasure… (clean…. Ex: TV show, a gossip mag, etc.)
9.    Facebook or DailyMile for fitness updates?
10. Giants or Patriots?
11. Favorite running quote or running mantra and why?

And now the lucky recipients, going to take them all from Daily Mile.
- Brent C - Running Canuck 
- Geoff - Slow Twitch Journal
- Adam M - Running Spark
- Jeff C - Blog
- Smeltedfeet - Blog
- Tara - RunningwithFrenchie 
- Citizen S - Blog
- Kim D - Blog
- Adam W - Blog
- Maya - Blog
- Gordon - This Running Life