Tuesday, August 25, 2009
(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.
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.
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!