Running

ATA Colossal Vail 50/50 Nov 14 2015

I registered for the ATA Colossal Vail 50/50.  This will be my 3rd attempt at 50 miles.

The first time I tried the 50 mile distance I had a naive nervous confidence that I could handle the distance.  Then I DNFd at 40 miles.

The second time I was determined, I had the training down and even had a successful 50k training run.  I had to downgrade to the Marathon distance.

This time its different.  After 2 unsuccessful attempts– the distance is way more intimidating.  I’m healthy, training is going great, but can I figure out how to make it through the inevitable dark places?  Can I get my nutrition and hydration right and if not, can I recover?

The course sounds interesting and I’ll get to run in the dark — assuming all goes well and I don’t DNF.  That will be interesting.  Running in the dark sounds cool but I have a hard time remembering things when I’m at an aid station.  It would be very disappointing to forget to grab my lights from my drop bag.

It always is cool to have a race on the calendar.  It raises the intensity of training and it puts a major goal on the horizon.

E

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Speed work

Every now and then I find it tough to continue running. I’ll go out on a long run and I just feel like walking.

It’s not that I’m tired, I just don’t feel like running. All of my runs tend to be Long Slow Distance running – I just go out to be outside and have some fun.  But after awhile, it just feels like a good day to go walking.  Its all mental, I want to run but … I want to walk.

Adding speed work to the mix seems to ‘reset’ my mind.  Getting my heart rate up for a max effort does something to the mind to positively change my attitude about distance.  Perhaps its like racing. LSD runs have no real goal other than complete the run.  With no objective, the run just kind of peters out.

A race though is a RACE. I’m there to beat the clock, beat the distance, beat the runner in front of me and not let the guy behind me pass.  Speed work has the same intense type of goal setting – I’m going to cross the distance hard.  And then do it again.  And again.

For days after the speed work I can still feel the intensity.  My mind and energy level gets renewed. My speedwork is simple. I drive to a local paved trail and run 3/4 mile repeats. 3/4 mile simply because that’s the length of the trail.

  • Run 1 direction, jog back the other way
  • Carry your water bottle.
    • I used to leave my bottle at my finish line.  I ended up getting distracted worrying about the bottle  – would someone take it? — And Yes someone did take it but I was able to recover it  🙂
  • I drive to a trail.
    • I’m trying to reset myself and treat it somewhat like a race.
    • Fartleks just don’t seem to have the same intensity for me.  The preset ‘course’ of speed work lets me feel more like racing.
  • 3/4 mile is a bit far.
    • You want to be able to run the whole distance at a steady hard pace, the shorter the distance the easier it is to sprint!
    • But my trail is 3/4 mile so 3/4 mile repeats is what I do.
  • Gives me an excuse to buy light weight flats.
    • Not really going to use racing flat style shoes during an Ultra but I can for speed work.
  • I’ve taken my kids to the park when I’m doing speed work.  Since I’m just going back and forth over the same ground, they can goof around while I’m playing  🙂

E Neon trail

Stout Canyon Road, Duck Creek Utah Area

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Every now and then I get to spend time in the Duck Creek Village, Utah area.  Of course, when I’m there I try and find interesting places to run.  On my last trip I ran Stout Canyon Road (Forest 063).  This is a nice 9 mile forest service road, generally down hill From UTAH-14 to US-89.

Towards the beginning of the course you will run through forest impacted by the 2012 Shingle Fire.  The area is partially regrown and not ugly, though you have to appreciate the fire damage for what it is.

After that you run through typical Utah forest and eventually into sparse cabin property.  A nice 18 mile round trip.

  • Non Technical
  • gradual incline/decline
  • No cell-service
  • very little traffic
  • Can be muddy
  • No big payoff, though you do get a nice view of the red rocks.

Ed

Labor of Love 50 Miler (ok, maybe just a Marathon)

Labor of Love 50Mile (Or maybe Marathon) Race Report

Just before LOL 2015 Race Start

Just before LOL 2015 Race Start

Saturday was my second attempt at 50 Miles. I had my strategy down, had my training down…

Joyce with Calico Racing always puts on well organized events.  She knows many of her runners by name.  Aid stations were every 2 miles or so and nicely stocked for a road race (though maybe a bit sparse if you are used to ultra aid stations).

The course is a road course about an hour from home.  The starting line is around 4,500 feet, about 2,000 feet higher than Vegas.  Not that much elevation but I need to set up my excuses for race performance  :-).

Starting temp around 60-70 with a high in the low 80s.  Not particularly hot for me but hotter than it has been  (More set up for excuses).

The course is an 11 mile out and back with some repeat sections to get to the magic 26.2, 50k, or 50 Mile depending on the race.   Its about a 5-6 mile rise, then a steap descent (for a road race) for 3 miles and then more climbing.  The marathon has about 2,000 feet of climbing (4,000 overall for the 50 mile course).

Asthetically the course is nice, scrubby desert ‘forest’.  The landscape doesn’t change much but the road has enough bends in it that the terrain doesn’t get monotonous.

LOL 2015

Ok, back to the race.  The race had about 250+ runners.  80 toed the start line for the Marathon and beyond distance (13 of those were 50 milers).

I set a very slow 14 minute/mile goal pace, which would give me plenty of lee way for the 15 minute/mile cut off.  Did a decent job of keeping my pace down, I was running 12-13 minute pace and on the uphill section to boot but I kept my pace down.  Yay!

The 5-6 mile climb was ok, it wasn’t that steep but it was never ending.  My legs didn’t feel as fresh as they should have been.  The climb was slowly doing its thing to me and then the Sun started to do its thing to me as well.  Not much mind you, just slowly and relentlessly trying to stop my forward motion.

Did the extra lap at the top of the course and was able to figure out that there were 2 50 milers behind me at the 13 mile mark.  I was a little more tired than I wanted to be, but this was the start of the downhill section and I had time in the bank so I should be able to recover.

But around mile 18 was the big climb (the descent on the way up the canyon).  I mostly walked up the climb, but even that was too intense for what was going on in my stomach.  By the time I crested the hill my ‘health’ was fading.

This is a picture of the descent.  You can see the road off to the left of the picture

This is a picture of the descent. You can see the road off to the left.

I made it to the mile 23 aid station and was able to sit down for a bit.  Despite nausea, I knew I could complete at least marathon distance and so trudged on.  That was not a fun 3.2 miles but I did it.  I crossed the mat and downgraded to a marathon.

I then went over to the ultra aid station to get a soda and was told that they were trying to save the soda for the ultra runners.  Ouch.  I knew I should have gone to the aid station before downgrading.  🙂

So What went wrong?

I expected problems going into the race.  About a month before the race I did a 50k training run with no problems.  But a little more than a week before the race I ran into nausea problems doing a 20 mile run.  The difference is tempature.

During the winter I can run 10+ miles without water but during the summer it takes me 60-80 ounces of water to cover the same distance.  Over the past 2 weeks tempatures have climbed but I’m not acclimated to it yet.

My theory is I was taking in more liquids than my body could handle.  When I added the last climb to the heat, higher elevation, and the miles my stomach finally rebelled.

Oh, and of the 13 or so starters, there were only 7 50 mile finishers so I wasn’t the only one who downwgraded to a shorter distance.

E

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I mailed off my entry today to Calico Racing’s Labor of Love 50 Mile race!  This will be my second attempt at 50 miles.

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I’ve run this course as a half-marathon before.  I was recovering from a torn calf muscle (ouch) and so I dropped from a marathon down to a half.  If you ever want to ‘podium’ in a race, sign up for a medium-short distance in a primarily ultra event.  I believe I finished 3rd in my age group but the field was really small since the focus was on the ultra-distances.

Whatever, this is a nice course and hopefully the weather will cooperate.  I think I have my pace down and I think I know some of the reason for knee injuries.  The biggest concern is going to be nutrition.  Hopefully even if my nutrition is messed up, I’ll be able to recognize the problem for what it is and tough it out.

E

Ed’s 50k Red Rock Canyon Run 3/19/2015

I had some PTO time to burn up so i took Thursday off to do a 50K long run.  Never mind that I was still recovering from my Marathon a while back and hadn’t run for 2 weeks.

I mapped out a a nice route.  From Red Rock Station (NV159 & I215) to NV160 (NV159 & NV 160) is 15 Miles.  Then to make it a loop instead of an out and back, I went a bit east on 160 until I hit Fort Apache and then took that back to I215 and followed I215 back to my car

Ed’s Red Rock 50k Route

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This is a pretty nice part of town and there were a few people out for their morning run or bike.

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After a little bit you get into undeveloped desert.  This whole section runs through Red Rock canyon.  Very pretty place to run.  No burros were on the road today though I did see 1 on a hill.  I was excited to see 2 coyotes run across the road.

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NV159 has a nice wide shoulder.  There are very few large vehicles on this section so you should feel very safe, even when it gets busy.  As you get closer to NV160 there will be more large vehicles as there are some Gypsum mines/plants.

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My last marathon was at the Red Rock Canyon loop.  I ran by the entrance and exit to the loop but that wasn’t part of my route today.  Which was fortunate.  The loop has more elevation change than the route I mapped out.  I believe I started around 2800 feet and peaked out around 3600 feet and bottomed out around 2600.

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I finally made it to NV160.  NV160 is a busy road with a lot of large vehicles moving pretty fast.  Fortunately the side of the road is a wide packed dirt shoulder.

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Fort Apache @ NV160 probably isn’t the best road to run on.  Very narrow paved shoulder and the gravel shoulder has several obstructions.  At one point, there is a blind curve and no gravel so you have to run on the road.  What makes this more harrowing is the heavy construction and gravel truck traffic.  Maybe the weekend traffic is safer.

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By the time I got to Wet and Wild water park the road was fully improved with sidewalks.

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Part of the reason I went this direction was because there is an urban trail that follows I-215.  I drive by it all the time and a trail that I haven’t run on always seems to call me.  Plus running a city street with traffic lights stops every mile isn’t the funnest.

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One of the signature items on this urban trail is the Town Center pedestrian bridge.  By the time I got to the bridge I had to debate if I really wanted to climb the switch backs or simply walk across the road – I took the bridge.

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I was able to complete this run with no acute pains and no nausea! Somewhere around mile 20-25 I ran out of legs so that may be a problem for a 50 miler.  And I don’t think nausea was too far away.  But this run was definitely a win and it really boosts my confidence for longer distances.

Calico Racing Red Rock Marathon 2015

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The 2015 Calico Red Rock marathon is my first race since recovering from my leg injury.  In 2014 I injured my leg during Calico Racing’s Twilight Red Rock run, which is the same course, just in the dark.  I “ran” the 5k option of the race with my kids.  I was training for a 100k so my mileage was higher than normal.  I could ‘feel’ that an injury was coming, but I had to run with my kids!

My legs seem to be recovered and I’m back to my normal mileage – though slower than in the past.  I intend to run a 50 mile race this year and need to be able to run these longer distances without injury – If I can’t complete a Marathon with healthy legs, how can I complete a double marathon?

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So I set out to run this race nice and slow with no thought to pace.  The course is a 13 mile out and back, climb for 6 1/2 miles and descend for 6 1/2 miles then run (walk?) back.  The half marathon starts an hour later and does the “return” leg of the marathon.

Since the start is uphill, keeping pace down isn’t too difficult – although it’s still tough to keep pace down when people are passing me.  But the wonderful downhill.   How can you not open your legs up and fly down the mountain?  The half marathon runners are spread out across my downhill.  It’s just so much fun to fly by someone, it just feels like you are showing them how awesome an athlete you are.  Never mind that I was at the back of the pack and nearly every other full marathon runner had already passed them.

This was the second time I ran this race.  I knew I needed to keep my pace down on the downhill.  But I didn’t and I paid for it on the return trip.  Not sure how but my left ankle is now swollen and I have a slight twinge on my right knee.  Over extending?  It’s my normal reoccurring problem.  So my return trip was mostly walking back.

If my goal was to race, this would have disappointed me.  I had the cardio-vascular strength tocontinue running but it was hurting my ankle and knee.  So I just had fun listening to my iPhone and staying fast enough to stop anyone else from passing me.

There isn’t a nicer on-road course in the southwest for either distance.  It’s challenging with the hill climbs, but it’s not a mean climb.  The road is still open to traffic, but it’s one way traffic and the entire 13.1 miles of the course is coned off (That’s a lot of work! 13 miles of setting cones and then 13 miles of picking them up!).

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As for my results, I finished in around 5:15.  I had fun but I did have more injury than I wanted in a lead up to a 50 Mile.  Fortunately I have some PTO time to burn this month.  I’ve mapped out a neat 30 mile course to try.  Perhaps getting a few more really longs run in will help my diagnosis some changes before the 50 Mile race I’m eyeing gets too close.

Las Vegas 100

So I’m thinking of running a 100k race in October – Las Vegas 100. I know, I DNFd doing a 50 Mile. However the race falls during a good time and they don’t have a 50 mile option.

First the course. It is a loop course in a park. When I first started thinking about Ultras, loop courses seemed boring. Perhaps loops are boring, but after running a 50 mile race I see a lot of advantages. The race advertises that the loops are 10, 7, and 5 miles long depending on the loop. But really, the loops are zig zaggy in the same desert lot so it really is 100k of mostly the same scenery over and over again.

So what are the advantages?

* There aren’t many Ultra races within 5 miles of my house. I can do this race with the only expense being the race entry fee and supplies.

* I saw how much work it is for my race crew (AKA Wife). In a point to point 50 mile race it is a long day for the crew, especially when she isn’t into racing. With a loop course, the aid station is always in the same place.

* The course is at a park. While I’ll be mostly running in the desert, the park is large, grassy, and has duck ponds (and other animals). My extended crew can picnic and play at the park.

* After awhile, the scenery doesn’t matter (I hope). It’s me versus the race.

* Loops = more people to talk to? In my last race, as the field spread apart, there wasn’t anyone around.

How am I going to avoid 2 DNFs in a row?

* Pace Pace Pace.  I’ve taken to wearing a heart rate monitor again.  I’m going to try and keep my heart rate down below 160.  Probably in the 140s.  Still trying to figure it out.  Regardless, the HRM will keep me dialed back.

* I’ve been running with a light total knee compression wrap.  It seems to be working.  It also helps to remind me from time to time to work on running mechanics.

* Caffeine!  Not sure how I’m going to do it yet, but hopefully caffeine will keep me perked up at the end.

* Training.  I’m trying to get my weekly mileage up to 50 miles and I’m more serious about the training.

Now I just have to find a pacer.

Ed

Rainier To Ruston 50 Mile 2014

R2R Race Report

Rainier to Ruston 50M was my first attempt at 50 Miles.  The course was a downhill point to point course with about 20 miles of trail and about 30 miles of paved trail. This is a very fun course with the whole distance being very runnable.

Just before the start

The start of the race was a bit disorganized, not bad, but a little crazier than I’m used to.  Driving to the starting line, we nearly turned around before we got to the start due to lack of signage.   Much of the confusion is understandable. I’m used to races set in rural areas or mountain trails in the middle of nowhere.  Those RDs mark the course during the week and get everything set up the day or night before.  This race was on a heavily used urban trail and ran through city parks.  The RD must go crazy trying to get a 50 mile course up in time for us.

My ‘plan’ was a 12 minute mile pace for a 10 hour finish.  Figured I might drag at the end but still be able to make 12 hours.  We were off and quickly I ran into my first strategic error (second if you count the goal pace).  Turns out there are trees in Washington.  I’m used to running in the desert southwest where I can always see the sky.  My Garmin lost signal under the canopy of trees — so my primary tool to rein me in during the start of the race wasn’t very useful.  Without the feedback of the watch, and with the wave still tightly packed, I probably was running 9-10 minute miles.

The first 3 legs of the course are primarily trail.  Some of the relay runners were nervous about the ‘secluded wilderness’ advertised on the website but these are the best legs! (Assuming it hasn’t been raining) This was a very pretty trail that you could actually run on.  Some roots are there to try and place you in the dirt but I was able to get through unscathed.  There were a few muddy sections to scramble around but it was a dry year for the course so it wasn’t too bad.  This section could be very challenging in a wet year.

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After the trail sections, the course moves onto a nice and active urban trail.  From this point on it was like running a ‘supported’ run out in the community.

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Navigating the course was easy; although I spotted some runners heading off in the wrong direction in 2 spots so you can get lost if you try.  Some of the city portions can get a bit sketchy – especially if your pace starts falling off.   I was cheered on by some homeless guys later in the race as I ran under a freeway overpass.

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I really enjoyed the course, but I struggled the whole way with my pace.  It didn’t help that my left knee was killing me.  By about mile 39 I lost the desire to go on.  It was a combination of exhaustion and nausea that probably finished me – though I didn’t realize how much the exhaustion hit me until 2 days later when I noticed I had 2 black eyes.  I kept on going until about mile 41, search and rescue was stationed there and my wife and her friend also had walked down the trail to that point to cheer me on.

I sat and talked for a half hour trying to rally but that wasn’t happening.  I ended up DNF’ing at 41 miles and 11 ½ hours or so.

Perhaps with more experience I could have rallied and gone on.  I didn’t notice the nausea.  I’ve been nauseas on runs before but this felt different.  I just didn’t feel good.   While I was being driven to my car I fixed my nausea problem  :-).   My pace had dropped off to somewhere around 20-25 minute/mile pace but perhaps with caffeine and an understanding that I was going to take 12-14 hours and not 10-12 hours to finish I could have combatted the fatigue.

But those are all …could have dones… They didn’t start to hit until a week after the race.  I was pleased with the distance I went.  I am starting to plan my next 50+ mile attempt.

Key Learnings:

  • I figured the ‘easier course’ would compensate for the longer distance.  I had run several 50Ks, but they were intense courses.  -Nope – Miles is different than intensity.
  • Pace.  Argggh. –Maybe I should have spent more time ‘resting’ at the early aid stations.  That would have helped me get away from the pack that I was running with.
  • My left leg – Grr.  I wore an IT strap above my knee.  I think it worked – or rather it hurt worse when I tried to run without it on.
  • Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps seem to work.  When my legs got sore, taking one of those eased the pain.
  • Around mile 20-30 my shoes felt like they were a half size too small.   Not sure if that’s just my mind finding something else to worry about.
  • I’ve never had problems with socks before.  But after a while my socks felt a little like sand paper.  I even changed socks at mile 20.  My feet were fine after the race so maybe it was all in my head but it will give me a reason to buy more running gear.
  • Caffeine!  10+ hours running – I need to add caffeine to my nutrition about 8-10 hours into the course.

Aside from the DNF, I had fun on my run.  I need to figure out my stupid left leg and make some other changes to my strategy and try again.