Friday, August 28, 2009

All Banged-up

The race direction finally posted results. I'm 54/335, meaning I KILLED IT.
Almost a week to post results? Wow. I guess I'm new to the program. Well, don't want any of that program. Actually, a good race. And it's so cal.

Speaking of so cal, how about that weather. F an A. Been hitting the beach since I'm a little banged-up. Nuff said. Fall semester starts next week so I'm sorta getting all ready for that bath. Pretty volatile. Matt, you're teach x number of classes. Matt, you're teaching x + 3 number of classes. Things are better. But I still need to get my shit together. Tough when you LOVE your job but feel it's just a little too unpredictable. Sounds like my running career.
Just livin it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bulldog report

(I decided to write-up my report even though results have not been posted. At least I can't find them and since the event website doesn't have them, I'm pissed. It's Tuesday. I finished 2:35ish? Slow for sure, but the report hopefully tells more of the story. Unbelievably weak race organization. Errr.)

3500ft.+ elevation gain

Since I haven't run a lot of trails this year with a lot of climbing, Saturday's race was a nice refresher. The Bulldog track is located in the Malibu Creek State Park, and consists of a ~15 mile loop that basically runs you about 3 miles to the foot of Bulldog road. At that point runners begin the climb to the ridge (the top); the course then roller coasters the ridge with some nice views of the Pacific, islands, the coast line, etc., and then the trail descends back down toward the valley floor, runs along a camp ground, makes one more little climb and then it's back to the start/finish. So, 50k runners do that twice. No thanks.

I have to stress (not because I want to hide my mediocrity beneath layers of excuse) that I did not train at all for this. What I do know is that I've kept myself active and I think I have an aerobic system that's got some credibility. Of course, for a race like this, climbing, descending and overall all strength/speed are terribly important.

My longest run during this last training cycle was 10 miles, on the tready. I did back to back days of 10 miles on the tready (during a solid heat wave we were having here in so cal) and proceeded to develop my shin splint. Both those runs were ~8:00 min mile avg HR 138. Although I did some 2-a-days in which I logged maybe 12 to 13 miles, I just did not run long enough. But I knew this. The injury plagued me this past month, so no news there. But I did stay active which is a big key.

So despite not having any real "training" to comfort me and give me much confidence, I figured I could keep things easy, suffer through some climbs and see if my aerobic system could give me a little juice to finish this thing respectably.

This was fun. The 50k starts at 6:30am and the 25k at 7:30am. So there is a little drama about parking. The 25k runners can't check in until 6:30 and according to the website shouldn't arrive at the parking lot before that time either. On top of that, the road will close at 6:30 temporarily when the 50k starts. Confusing? I was. The website goes on to emphasize carpooling. "Three things runners should be aware of on race day: 1. Carpool 2. Carpool 3. Carpool. The email/website goes on to suggest people find some carpoolers via email. By emailing your request, you're given the contact info of others, etc. I ended-up calling a guy from SD and just sorta said maybe I'll see you at the Alberton's which is about 5 miles from the race start.

To recap: Parking is limited, so park at the Albertson's and carpool in. Kinda dramatic.

When I talked to my contact, Kevin, he got the same feel from the race director's email and said he was going to get to Albertson's by 5:30ish. I could see where he was going. You wouldn't want to miss the carpool and if there is no parking at the race site, you have a 4-5 mile hike/run to get to the line. Yikes. Well, 5:30 at Malibu Creek State Park means I have to leave San Diego around 3:30. I slept well, starting at about 9:30, but awoke before the alarm went off. So, I was up at 2:45am getting ready to roll.

Met Kevin at Albertson's. Nice military guy. He drove us. We did our share in minimizing the environmental impact despite the fact that there was a ton of parking. I could have driven-in, later even and been fine. Oh well. You live and you learn. Had plenty of time at the race start to fuel, warm-up (ran for 5 minutes) and take multiple shits. Nerves? Nah. I've been eating a lot of oatmeal with added chia. You might say my fiber intake has been epic as of late.

The Race:
Off we went. The weather was perfect. We had a good cloud cover through-out so cal last weekend so it kept temps way down. No doubt this helped a lot. I can summarize the race course this way and the pics might provide some clarification too.
We started running down a little paved road until the pink arrows indicated "trail." So it began. The first ~3 miles are flat/rolling through a nice little creek area, fairly well-worn path that took us eventually through the MASH television show's set.

I used to like the show a lot when I was younger, so that was cool. At about the 3 mile mark, just past the MASH unit (which I might've used at around mile 10) the runners hit Bulldog road. This begins the climb that lasts more or less until mile 9. As you can see from the graph, the next 3 miles are straight up, but the ridge trail is really rolling and beating you up. It was really tough. That 3 mile climb to the first peak has some very steep sections. If I had trained hard for such climbing I could've run it (based on the race in Vegas last year after working with Trevor), but I did a lot of hiking on this section. A lot.

Now, granted I wasn't trained for this kind of running (for any for that matter) but I also wanted to stay out of the "deep end" and not ruin myself. I refrained from so much oxygen debt especially considering the nature of the race. This early huge climb was really tough. You're in the midst of this first climb at like mile 4-5. Still a lot of running to do. This was going to be a progression run, start easy, finish strong. Hilarious I thought. This climb negates the whole "run" part of progression run. Bummer. By mile 6-7 I was starting to hurt pretty good. Even though I hiked much of the climb, I was just tired. Of going up. I wanted to run.

By mile 10 we started to descend. The descent was brutal. Very steep. I hadn't run much descent in my "training," of course, so this was wicked tough. My knees were getting worked. I usually FLY down hill. Not today. I was really struggling. Bulldog road up and the descent are hard-packed fire road. It was dirt, but it may as well have been paved. After all, it was built for a f*cking car.

The descent got a little better as I started to bomb it, letting myself just fall. It's easier on the knees if you just sorta let yourself go, but no technical nature at all to the course (btw, I like technical courses). Finally, a pink arrow directed us off the fire road onto a single track. Beautiful. Now I got going. I had a lady behind me who was descending quite well, so she got on my heels and started yelling at runners ahead of us, letting them know that we were coming. I had new life. The "trail" as opposed to the dirt "road" was bliss. I was moving well, I was fueled pretty well and I could smell the end.

Although there is a little climb toward the end, this was single track and I made pretty good work of it. I passed a lot of people here and toward the finish I continued to pass people and actually talk to them. People suffering could not believe I had the heart to ask them about their shoes. I love shoes, so I was doing a little research. I finished strong with 7-8 min miles toward the end, but overall I was slow.

During the suffer-fest between mile 3 and mile 11(?) I was not only hurting, but gettting tired. I might have been too light on the gu administration. I carried two bottles (water and Perpetueum, which is a fuel) so I figured I was good, but I think the 2:45am wake-up might have had something to say about my fatigue as well. Of course, the fact that this was the longest, hardest run I'd done since February says a lot too. Having said all of that, I was stoked to finish strong and kinda relish the progression I'd sought at the beginning.

I have to stay healthy, so I can train. As for the shin splint on this run, nada. The nature of the shin splint is that it doesn't bother much during a run, but afterwards and beforehand. I felt great during and afterwards. Yesterday (Monday), I hit the treadmill for an easy 30 min. before hitting the pool and jacuzzi at the gym. Today I can feel my shin splint. Trail running (good). Road/treadmill (bad).
Going up and down has shown me the way to recover from this injury. A guy at the race said he had success putting on a compression sleeve after runs. Ice, he said, doesn't work. I tend to agree. If I continue to have problems, I will get some compression socks/calf sleeves. I could've used those for the ride home. Disturbing 3+ hour drive home from N. Los Angeles. Yuck. Even north county SD was disturbing. Way too many idiots/cars/etc. Oh well. The ride almost ruined me. My right leg was super soar. Logistics were terrible.

But I had to get home because I was going to a wedding that afternoon of a good friend. The best part? We were having a couple of brews before the wedding, just he and another dood and I. That's the groom in the picture. The wedding was on a cliff. At the reception, I got picked to be in this Stone IPA add.

Feeling great.

And I think the ice bath I slammed between getting home and heading out was key!
So it's back to the grind-stone. I need to pick-up the training, more dirt, mountains (what I can find) and recovery. I think my attention to recovery played a big key in completing this race. I was so undertrained specifically, but I had some general fitness and I was recovered. Bottom line: you have to get the job done.

I love this Rod Dixon quote I found: "All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal." That says it all.

Lastly, best time of the year is here! better weather, baseball playoffs, football (yeah, I'm back on the American sports bandwagon), more beer, more races . . .more good times all around. Get out there and suffer!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A race

I swear, I'm sitting here watching Thomas the Tank Engine, another day off. Weather is perfect, some clouds and cooler weather in southern California for the day or two.

Just banging around the net, waiting to go for a little run and then pick-up my son from school and then goof around. I came across this about a minute ago. The guy is All Over the Planet, killing it, seemingly a very singular life of these particular times. He's in the barrel like MJ in his time perhaps. I don't have a term yet to describe him (he's not a cultural icon, nor is he super star). Of course, my point-of-view has as much to do with such a nomenclature as does Lance's star-ability. He's just killing it, podium, 100mile mtb mash, hanging with Frank Ghery, having a new baby, chilling with other random information/sports/entertainment players, smiling, sharing, surviving, advocating yada yada. He is killing and resisting trend.

Tomorrow I head to the little mountains of Malibu and run a trail race. I'm glad I'm going despite the fact that I am pretty heavy and slow right now. Looking back, I haven't raced since December of 08. I had a fun 08 trail running, running a lot and finishing in Hawaii. I had a pretty solid cold that plagued me from (off and on) November to February(?). But the race in Hawaii was good (finishing 10th in my agegroup of a fairly fast race -- Max King won it). The trip was great with wife and child.

But then the new year despite a fairly nice healthy list of trail goals has been kinda odd. I started-off the year with a little leg strain working with Trevor. Still fighting the cold, I got into a nice little program that had me running a lot, fairly hard, hitting hills, etc. Between the cold and tough program (going a little too hard I'm afraid), I broke down. I stayed active, but really just cruised (trainer, elliptical or running). Seeing the writing on the wall -- my wife was studying for a test, which she passed and proceeded to register, study for and pass the subsequent (final) test for that certification (she's a doctor of psychology now) which occurred at the end of July -- I pretty much relegated much of 09, at least the spring and summer, to training.

How has that gone? A lot of discourse with the usual suspects and doing a lot of aerobic training. That went well for about 2 months, but then I developed a shin splint about 3 weeks ago. Training adjusted for that. In the last week and a half, I did get into some trail running, shuffling up Cowles mountain a couple of times (1.5 up +1500ft up) and getting in a few other runs without HRM, just running and feeling the shin a bit, but getting better (alwasys feeling better on up and down than on flat). Then at the beginning of this week (Monday) after a hard trail run, I was working-out and strained my groin. Took Tuesday and Wednesday off, ran 2 miles yesterday (haven been actively recovering) and here I am, watching Thomas the Tank Engine (great stuff).

I'm going to run about 2 miles today. Then I'm going to play with Jack, eat something yummy and fall asleep spooning my boy.
Believe it.

Getting ready to wake-up early and go to a race is great even if I feel out of shape and dull. Mentally/psychologically it's exciting. I have zero strategy other than finding some carpoolers at an Albertson's near the park because of the little parking drama. I was going to run the 50k when I signed up 2 months ago. I'll have to run that in the next couple of months because that's my goal. I can't wait to be in shape and run one of those. The training and goal race are lining-up (just stay healthy!). Instead of the 50k, I'm running the 25k (one loop instead of 2). I am taking the camera on the run. Should be an epic track. I'm going to go nice and easy. Actually I do have a strategy: progression run.

I have faith 09 will turn-out to be a great year running-wise. Philosophically, I'm much more comfortable. I just have to get the rest of me together.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dog Daze

This morning I ran 8 miles on a dirt track (that had 1000ft. of elev. gain) and pushed the pace a little (last mile ~7:00). The leg felt pretty good, which was a big reason to push; I'd already decided to run the 25k next Saturday, but this is confirmation. I should be okay, slow, but okay. I just haven't run enough at all to have any expectation to go very hard. Of course, at least I'm running. I'd signed-up for the 50k (2 loops of the track I'll run), but that will have to wait. Running 31 miles would definitely not be ideal for the leg even though I am (HOPEFULLY) on the mend.

Then I have a couple weeks to get ready for my first xc race. JW sort reminded me of that series which was on my list way back when my expectations for 09 were bigger than my world could afford. So a 4 miler in Balboa Park should be very nice. If I can get this injury in the rear-view, I can continue to build aerobic and speed and definitely race more this fall. Actually, that's when a lot of stuff goes down here in So Cal. So, for sure 09 can still be a very productive year. Again, the goal is to get the 50k done.

Part of keeping all of this on track is the more balanced approach that I'll have. I've been lifting a little more and doing other cardio work-outs because of the injury. Saturday I did 45 minutes of water running which felt like I was just chilling even though I worked. I pushed it, but it was fairly easy, which is good I guess.

I also met-up with a PT on Sunday. My wife and I got a good deal on 6 sessions with some SDSU kinesiology grad. Cool guy. Young. We'll see how that goes but either way, the goal is just to learn some of the "tricks" of the trade. For instance, keep your feet off the ground when you do these, which engages the core, etc. My focus is the core and overall strength. I should benefit for sure along with my wife. Win win.

Last week, climbed Cowles Mt. a couple of times, did some water running and a little trail today. I'm ready for a 25k w/~3000ft. up! It should be good.

EDIT: I strained my groin today grappling! F%ck! Hit the jacuzzi at the gym and fired some jets at my package which, well, had mixed results. Time for beer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eating the injury

My approach to this little shin splint has been almost reverent. Almost. I took a few days off originally, then just did some weights and walked a little, iced pretty regularly, applied Traumeel pretty regularly, pretty much wrote off running any 30 mile trail race anytime soon. . . then I went for a little trail run last Friday (a new one I will frequent a lot!), did a little 30 mile bike ride Saturday. . .took Sunday and Monday off . . . did a nice 30 minute trail run near work, and then today ran (slowly) up and down Cowles Mt., 4 miles, ~1700 ft. of climbing in 90 degree heat.

The shin splint is there sometimes though not when I run (which is one of the characteristics of the bastards). All in all, it's a little discomforting but I think I'm just going to continue to work on it --- I mean run. On Saturday I did a little water running, but not enough. I am going to ramp this up A LOT. No pavement. Just water and grass or trail.

As for the race next weekend, I think I can manage 1 loop. Will see. It's a bit of a drive and the whole process (getting this little nagging injury) has been a drag. But I'm coming. I have a vision.

As for the French vision I alluded to in my previous post, hey, a guy can dream. But realistically, if I'm dreaming like a champ, then I have maybe a bigger TV or more opportunity to lay around the house and watch the event from home. My brother-in-law pretty much set me straight on the bike ride on Saturday. But the more significant part of that post, of that goal, is the fact that I have goals in mind. I have a lot to overcome and I will post about it soon. The issue revolves around things we can't control. But then again we do have choices and we can always choose how we'll deal with the "valleys" of our journey. I'm lining-up some choices. Of course getting fit is of the up most importance. Eating right and exercising. We always have choices.

A little bit of food from the daze:

Mediterranean fish (halibut) and Israeli couscous

Greek salad and salmon burger

And for the record, I hope GZ has an epic race this weekend. I'm going-out on a limb: top 10. In any case, the guy's approach has been top notch. Kill it, Hang Nine!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Really Off my Ass

I had a great time watching the TDF this year. Regardless of whether you like or don't like Lance Armstrong, the guy brings "game," and if you're not sure what that means, then you don't truly like sports, haven't competed much, or just have zero taste for human drama. No need to get into the specifics of the race, or the racers -- that's better while sitting on a stool and throwing back brews with nothing but time and sunshine to spare. I just really liked the general event aspect of it, a world event that takes place in beautiful spots in more remote places on the globe than where I frequent. This might hint that my anthropophobia is in full swing.

So I started thinking about what I was going to do about being so "inspired" and all that. You probably know where this is going. My wife and I "talked" about going to France in 2006 to see LA's last Tour. Yeah, I was caught-up. But I didn't go to France. So, I'm watching this Tour and all the killer drama and scenery are flooding my senses, I'm directing a great play, I'm playing the lead, things are going great. Then, with the Armstrong/Contador volcano having already erupted and killed everyone else, talk turns to Radio Shack, and I just thought, holy shit, this is getting better. I need to be there to watch this war unfold -- Armstrong with a "full year" of training (though I don't think he can win it again unless someone has a "spill" or something), the Schleks ready to bear fruit we can eat, and the supreme Alberto Contador Velasco winning huge race after huge (stage) race. Whatever you do, don't deny his talent. Huge ego, once in a generation type of athlete (I'm afraid) against another once in a generation type of athlete.

Plus it's France. I guess it's worth noting that I don't necessarily have the $$ to fly-off to France to watch a bike race. But it's France. It's the tour de france, a bike race that travels across beautiful coastal and inland countryside with big junkets into the mountains that ends in Paris. Paris is cool. I've been there and I want to go back to Paris at some point: this seems like a good point at which to go. Too, people should have goals, big goals. Going to France for the tour starring the ensemble cast is a big goal.

I have to pull that off. I have to go to France next July (I will also hand-write that somewhere but change it to "I am going to France next July"). In anticipating the journey, the thought crossed my mind to change the title of my blog to Ballooning Over Paris (my wife bought the print about a year ago because she likes it. I like it too, but liked it a lot more watching the tour this year, the final stage concluding along the The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, another huge win for Cavendish, Columbia Slip-Stream dominating the front of the peloton). The print would be my header image and I was ready to go. Paris is a scene. And the print is cool. The idea that I would be somehow ballooning over Paris myself has a great ring to it. It speaks to a feather-like life light enough to engage in that kind of competitively classic delight. Great times, lots of smiles and lots of exercise. Like I want to one day float up mountains, I want to float over Paris with my wife and kid and watch a truly great race. Better racing for sure and better drama than this year. Everyone's cocky. It's awesome.
However, I have another goal, or set of goals to reach that takes precedence. I'll elaborate on that soon. I may still go to France, but I have to get silly redefined and crazy entrepreneurial. As for training, still not 100%, which definitely makes it tough to run 50 miles a week. And I need to be on some hills climbing, which just isn't happening. I am not worried. I will throw-down in 09. None the less, I sure run a lot of mountains vicariously through GZ. His blog is like the mountain running forum. Great stuff. I saw Lucho getting jiggy with it on the trail too. He's getting smarter and smarter by the day: scary.

And I gotta say I recently went to the Pads game with TG and JW and it was off the chain (yip i said off the chain). Keep it real.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Off my Ass

No, not referring to my condition after some 22oz curls. Instead, I finally did a little footwork today, meaning I ran -- really "soft" -- on a little incline, walked occasionally, did my little core routine afterwards. No pain. The icing and rest have been key (and thanks for the feedback I got re: my leg).

I hope I can make the starting line on 8/22. But I have to be healthy. And I will be because I'm getting smarter. I took about 4 days OFF. Nada. But I had put in some big weeks (for me) leading-up to this injury. The rest (days off) turns-out to be essential to absorb that work. I like Tim's analogy.

Do you ever feel like you're surrounded by the best and worst things in the world simultaneously? What in the world is one supposed to do then?

I have work to do!