Friday, February 22, 2008

No news is good news

I haven't blogged in about two weeks, which is weak. But writing about, let's see . . .a four year-old's runny nose, or my wife's haircut, or my contemplation of whether or not to shave my legs again just don't seem to carry the exigency I want associated with my blog. Not that post titles should read like declarations of war; it's just that we're in a nice little aerobic state, plugging along. No news is good news.

But let me catch-up on some minor things. I got my first acupuncture done about a week ago. It was pretty interesting listening to the therapist narrate her work, the cause-and-effect of some of her procedures. While she stuck me with needles, she also massaged. I think this is a little unusual. Most people get either stuck or rubbed, but not both simultaneously. Having filled-out some paperwork beforehand, she had some ideas on what she would address. In short, she worked on my hip, my lungs/immune system, and, I think, my hypothyroidism. The first thing she looked at was my tongue. She determined I had some kidney deficiency. She said the body's joints are related to kidney health. She said there wasn't enough time to address everything. Obviously, she would recommend I make another appointment to see things through. I want to get my wife over there and maybe even my kid. The therapist said she totally recommends acupuncture for kids, but for younger kids, the needle-work is superficial, without breaking the skin. She said the results can be just as effective.

I liked the massage a lot, too. On the previous day, I had done a pretty solid hr+ on a very soft surface, which kinda banged up my feet. I still have a little plantar strain that occurred on Boney Mt. She worked that. She also massaged my stomach. I thought this was interesting; she said therapists rarely do that. Here I am week later with a very odd gastrointestinal "bug." Maybe she released something. Anyway, good stuff. My hip feels good and I was able to really log some good longer runs last week before getting kinda sick on Monday with this stomach flu thingy.

Since she's an ultra runner, it was handy to discuss my possible aspirations to chew on some big off-road mileage. She didn't see anything with my body that might justify this apprehension I'm having. She noticed some hip issue, but said she's had vertebrae fused/back surgery, etc.; she just has to be really conscious of recovery/maintenance. Sounds good to me. I'd like to complete a 50k in 2008. That's a good start.

The training has been strictly aerobic. All of my runs have averaged about 147BPM. It's been odd, sometimes nervously checking my HR to make sure I don't get too high. . .
And there will be those sections of a run where I decide to ramp it up, perhaps I'm going to be late for an appt., so I'm suddenly outside my "zone." To my relief, the avg. HR is still well within the "zone." It makes me wonder. If I keep it nice and aerobic for a good 1/2hr and then throw-down a little tempo, and then back down to aerobic, my HR will probably be high 140s. So that's still an aerobic work-out despite the 15-20 min. when I'm up and out? This attention to such detail is just new to me, so pardon the curiosity/skepticism/ignorance tea party. As I've said more than once, I've never been coached, but I've been an athlete all my life. If the technical science is that good, I want to definitely better on the fitness that enabled me to lay down 1:32 1/2 marathon on my own without the science, without a HR monitor. This aerobic training I'm doing for a month at least should, according to some experts, make me stronger and faster, at least give me the capacity to become those things.

I'm going to start mixing up the terrain a little. I've been staying flat recently to make sure my HR stays low. I think I can start hitting some trails again and working on other aspects of my conditioning. I'll keep it aerobic, but for a day a week when I do need to start charging "it" a little.

Speaking of charging it a little, I went down to see the XC nationals men's open race. My son and I caught the end of the women's open and I did catch a glimpse of Beth, who was under the weather. Props to her for toeing the line with those gazelles. The men's 12k race was great for about 6k; that was when Ritz made his move and crushed the rest of the guys, including Ryan Hall. The top nine qualified for world's in Ireland, so Hall's 5th place is all good. When we were leaving Fiesta Island we saw Hall heading-out for another run. What a life. Live and train at altitude, win the marathon Olympic trials, qualify for xc world's. . . . Interesting note on the Mission Bay xc nationals. The last time it was held at Mission Bay was 1972. The winner there went on to win the gold in the Olympic marathon. Guy's name was Frank Shorter. Nice precedent. Can Ritz repeat the feat? He came in 2nd in the trials. I'm McLovin the American racing program!

I've got to say, even though I've already said congratulations, big props to Mr. Walsh for his insane dedication, infectious spirit and the recent fruits of his labor. He's the real deal. Guys like him add a lot to this discourse community, this life-style. We all need to remember that life is so so short. People like JW don't have to be reminded of that. Everyone, keep up the HR and seize 2008!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Day off

Friday was a day-off from going to work. But there was "work" still to do. No, I'm not talking about getting in a 1.5 hr work-out, or hitting the weights. That would have been perfect since a little Friday afternoon hit of endorphins always makes the end of another a week nice and mellow, a little more reflective.
I am massively grateful for every moment I have here, alive. That's what I'm talking about! But with a fairly quick assessment, I understand I can improve. In other words, there are issues that keep me from being as alive as I can be, beaming with a certain "it" energy. This death of sorts may be any distraction we have in our lives that hinders our being. Alive. So despite the sunshine, another fine Southern California afternoon (three free Gu's to anyone who can identify specifically where this picture was taken - before reading any further!), there's a layer of smog. Before I complete the big metaphor, the image here might represent what I'm talking about. It's a beautiful sunny day, but there are some elements that hinder beauty from reaching full term. There's smog. And there's a cage that sucks aesthetically. Back to the metaphor, one needs, somehow, in one's own life, to get rid of one's own pollution. Either way, it's a me problem (a you problem) where my personality needs a shower, or I'm being a victim. You and I can always be stronger (more flexible, fast, resilient, peaceful, etc.)

I've got some nice slick ones, flaws I should have marked as "BioHazardous." If I haven't paid a professional to "help," then I'm not going on and on about them here (so no worries). Athletically, one flaw I have is my scant recognition that "science" might enhance my training. I certainly look at data, but how much and how closely represent the blur I envision when I start to talk about science. Is that my cage?

Maybe it's what separated Armstrong from Ulrich, both supremely talented (maybe Ulrich more). Or Roger Clemens from a pitcher who never used performance enhancing drugs (allegedly, but unbelievable - i want him to go down if his numbers come up crap). I'm not implying Armstrong used drugs. The comparison to Ulrich simply refers to Armstrong's documented campaign to rewrite those records during which he was meticulously meticulous, and Ulrich's less scientific methods.

I am not coached, but have read casually and have always been athletic. Perhaps it's just my perspective (it's my life), but there's a lot of accessible health and fitness information being consumed on a daily basis by the culture at large. Watch Oprah (or look at her TV numbers), or cooking shows, or even reality shows (The Biggest Loser, etc.), and that's just a little sample of TV. Magazines, the web, the best sellers, it's the wave. If you're going to analyze us at all based on what kinds of things we consume for entertainment/information/education - you have the trend. The fat white male is out: Bring on Hillary and Barak. Look at the numbers, man!

On top of that, I have read multi-sport stuff (how about that sport being largely responsible for the boom in accessibility of training research/science), and other related things (Blogs!!), which have given me even more information than the typical typical white guy. But still, I'm not coached, don't have a power meter and simply don't prescribe to that approach in general. Which brings me to a quick note on my workouts since Mission Gorge. Last Sunday was big in terms of giving me a little test and marking the end of that crazy, kinda lame, build-up training-wise. The test was successful. Given the "conditions" I like my finish time and I recorded numbers; a pro gave me some quick feedback on what to do with those. Now I can get back to just working on some very real aerobic training. To summarize a lot of what I've been reading in this tight Blog community I've found, it's very important to get fit at lower HR before one gets fit at higher HR. I've never really looked at it like that. That's better than, "you need a good base." Seems smart despite the science! There's my science. Do I get an honorary degree or something? I want to be smart, so I'd better get smart. In the end, this particular focus on HR is such a nod to efficiency.

So, since Sunday I've weathered having trashed legs and gone for a few runs on flat courses (grass and urban trail), keeping my HR between "those numbers." My avg. for the two runs were 148 and 146 respectively. I'm excited to see how this "period" (4-5 weeks) goes numbers-wise.

Those of you who got lost, remember I said that I did not work-out yesterday, but still had "work" to do. . .

I took my 4 year-old to Disneyland and walked (with a fast 4 year old, or pushing a stroller) for about 6 hours. It was great! And the rides were cool too. That's my kind of "work."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mission Gorge

Sunday's race was gnarly. I knew the weather would be less than ideal, but must say for a one day wind and rain, it was fugly. Saturday was pretty nice and today was clear blue sky. Sunday was a nasty little February mud froth. I got to the site at around 6:45. The wind and rain were consistent, but I figured, fine, should negate any overheating, could be refreshing, maybe I'd find a field of tulips and, and. . . the rain had obviously been there a while, so it was a mud bath. As one bather put it, the first hill out of the gate was a slip-and-slide. No kidding.

I got killed on the first two miles. The ascent was so quick and the footing so bad, it was hard to get going, catch a breath, even feel that great with mud everywhere and wind and rain deep in the grill. Cut to the saddle where the race, for me, started and things got wacky and quick. For the record, I didn't see anyone fall, which was surprising because the footing was so bad. The descents were pretty tricky, finding ground, staying moving forward, not falling, pushing, suffering. I was able to battle some guys getting up to the steps, which turned-out to be a nice hike, HR staying steady high, climbing into the mist up S. Fortuna. I mentioned to my wife (she knows I'm a big fan) that I was waiting for some orcs or urukai to emerge from a misty mountain top; by mile 4 the race was on. By reaching the summit, a benevolent stranger (a volunteer) reminded us that we had just a few more tiny ascents and then it was all down and flat from there. This was encouraging and really fun. I hit the last climbs pretty well and absolutely bombed the big hill going down. I passed whoever I could see and then the trail reached the bottom and wound through a creak, which was epic. It was fun catching guys, sitting on them and then getting a pass. The final 1-2 miles were really flat and I started to suffer a little there, too. I crossed in 1:25.
Avg HR: 173
Max HR: 183
The official results are here.

I look forward to some spring races. Like I said in my last post, my training has gone from, "Oh look, I'm hitting it again after a long lay-off" to "I've got some gnarly races in the next month I'd better be ready for." Now, it's back to some quality low intensity, fat-burning encouragement. I'm getting some great feedback from some great athletes. I'm going to work very hard on getting my body in tune with my mind which is simply always in compete or die mode. I move to 40+ next Dec.; now there's something to look forward to ;-/. Please note there's some serious poo poo going on in that AG. Unless there's some kind of misprint, a 45 year old went 6:09/mi. and won Sunday's race going away. Sick. Anyway, I'm getting old, but certainly don't intend to act like it. It's time to step it up a notch, lose weight, go long and as one of my current favorite philosophers likes to say "Do today what they won't, so tomorrow you can do what they can't..." I hope everybody's training and racing are going great! Later.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Eve

Tomorrow is Super Bowl XLII. It's also the Mission Gorge trail race, a 15k that ought to wake us runner's from our early morning drowsiness and get us ready for a nice relaxing day of chili, cold beverage and (hopefully) a watchable football game. For the record, I think the Giants will win.

I don't have the same anxiety today that I had before Boney Mountain. I think the name says it all along with this. Knowing I had a big day of climbing, and the mileage involved (and the training I'd done), and the drive at 4:30 am to get there, I had a little more on my mind. I want tomorrow simply to stay dry enough for us to have a blast and get a chance to hang-out afterwards and soak it in, not soak in it.

The Garmin will be out in force tomorrow hopefully helping gather some data I can use to get ready for some races this spring. This has been an odd training period leading up to the race mid-January and tomorrow's 15k. If you've been reading this brand spanking new blog, you know that I'm throwing myself at the trail. Because I am coming-off a year-long injury to the hip (I'm still not sure what the diagnosis was/is - I had everything from ITB to a lot of tightness. I had an x-ray done. The report reads early formation of an osteophyte - bone spur - but the orthopedic said I'm perfectly fine), the training has been unstructured for sure. I've just been excited to get back to training/running, so this fall/winter has seen me not fully committed to "base" work, but simply working-out, though I definitely wasn't hitting the track. To then get myself in shape to run these early season trail runs has been a little frantic. Keep in mind, I did not know how frantic it was at the time. I've thrown-in some tempo work, etc. To make a long story short, my HR is not where it needs to be. So, I'm gathering data, might get professionally tested, and look to ramp-up more efficiently this spring. There's lots of racing latter in the season. Check this out.

I'm looking forward to my first acupuncture in a couple of weeks. The gal doing it is an ultra-runner/triathlete, which ought to suit my goals just fine. Is ultra my goal? Maybe. It all depends on my body. If the hip can hang, turns-out to be no big deal, then I will climb the sky.
I'm experimenting with some bone food and trying to lose more weight. Clearly, I'm going to pay close attention to my body as another way to make me more efficient and fast and healthy.

I'll end with my feet. I love my feet. I just replaced the Adidas sandals I lost this summer. I had them for a couple of years and they rule. I remember the Adidas sandal from my soccer days in high school and college. My feet will be grateful of the purchase. They're spoiled. You should hear me grill a spa's receptionist about the reflexology therapist's credentials!