Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 393 Miles

It's a new monthly PR for me.  I pulled 393 miles for July.  Not too bad.  2006 miles for the year total.  Crazy.

Started my heat training cycle today as well.  It wasn't that bad until the last mile then I really felt the strain.  Annie went with me so it was fun having her along for company.

Enjoyed the day off yesterday... Melissa started watching Game of Thrones the other day and got sucked into that entire series.  I watched part of it last night.  I think they should have renamed the series to "Game of T*ts." Seriously... Not that I am complaining.  That "Mother of Dragons" is something else!  ;)

Ready to get up to Leadville this weekend and have fun.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Unscathed is the best word that I can think of to describe my state of being after the toughest two weeks of training in my entire life.  A 100 mile week followed by a 104 mile week, with each of those two weeks containing three long and challenging efforts of over 20 miles.   The last piece of the puzzle was the

Leadville from Mayqueen to Twin Lakes.
Lost Creek Wilderness, Climb to Hankins Pass, then Goose Creek, and then climb and descent out of McCurdy Park.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Almost There!

My view when I woke up in Leadville on Wednesday morning.  It is hard to bitch about having to do a 25 miler when you start your day like this, you know?
Pulled down a solid 100 mile week last week with three long runs in it.  Monday was a 20 miler sort of just around town'ish... Wednesday from the Start in Leadville to Fish Hatchery and the a 27.6 miler round trip on Pikes Peak Friday night. 

This week is shaping up very well also... Monday morning, super early and before the heat I did 20 miler up and down the Peak and then yesterday was a solid 25 miles from the Colorado Trail trail head by Mayqueen all the way into Twin Lakes.  With stops and everything along the way and not going at an all out effort, we managed to get there in just about five hours which is about where I needed it to be.  Once we arrived at Twin, both Lisa and I agreed that it was a good workout but we had a moderate enough of a pace that we were not trashed either.   Sitting at 55 miles for the week right now and I can honestly say that I feel tired but not overly beat up.

The next large outing for this training week will be the

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gutting it Out. Literally.

I was fortunate enough to be able to make a mid-week trip to Leadville on Tuesday which allowed for a long run on the LT100 course on Wednesday.  The plan was to run from the starting line on 6th and Harrison to Fish Hatchery.  My friend Lisa had arrived on Tuesday night just a few minutes before I got there and had found a great new camping spot in the area that we had scoped out over the 4th of July weekend.  My first thought when I arrived and got out of the Jeep was that I wished to hell I had my fly rod because the stream next to camp looked awesome to fish in.  Next time.

After getting my tent set up, we sat around and chatted for a bit and finalized our plans.. up at 6:30, leave camp by 7:30 drop a car off at Fish Hatchery then carpool back to town and start running.  Simple enough...

We were up at 6:30, we did leave camp at 7:30, we dropped the Jeep off at FH no problem but when we got to town a mandatory stop was in order.  Lisa needed coffee... me... I needed the coffee shop's er, uh, facilities.

My stomach was NOT happy with me at all Wednesday morning.  It could have been the burrito and a half that I ate at Pancho's the night before or it could have been the altitude, or maybe sleeping uncomfortably that night.  Whatever the cause it didn't get any better even after my stop at the coffee shop.  No bueno...

We started running and from the word go I felt done.  D-O-N-E, done!  I was really feeling the altitude and if you divided my digestive system into two halves, the upper from the stomach up and the lower from the stomach down... neither part was happy or enthusiastically agreeing to go on this run at all. 

I was quiet on the run and I think that was the first sign to Lisa that I was struggling a bit.  To be honest the only real thing that I can remember saying of value or of any importance was that when we hit the first boat ramp going around Turquoise Lake that I was stopping to use the facilities there.  But of course I had my doubts that I would even make it but fortunately I did.

This stop burned more than just time as I was sitting in the lakeside outhouse... too much damned hot sauce the night before I thought as I had an old Johnny Cash song going through my head.  I finally left and thank god the lower half of the digestive tract was starting to feel better.  Thankfully.

Of course by now it is getting warmer and we have to pass like 100 (really, 100 or more) kids from a local camp, hiking on the north shore of the Lake.  I still pretty much feel like shit... Lisa is on point, I am still not talking a lot but the one bright spot is that I don't feel like I need to worry about stopping AGAIN at Mayqueeen.  By now my headache (yeah I didn't mention that) is starting to die off as well.  So things are starting to look up.

We do stop at Mayqueen and refill our water bottles.  I tell Lisa that I am not feeling so great (it was obvious, she already knew) but that I was still enjoying the outing.  The key was going to be just taking it easy and hoping that I start to feel better soon.

We basically hiked the entire section of the Colorado Trail to Haggerman Road.  It was nice being in the cool trees and the creeks through that section are just beautiful.  Once we got to the road we were able to run to the switchback that goes up Sugarloaf with relative ease.  Things are still getting better.

It was at some point on the climb to the top of Sugarloaf where I finally felt right again.  Since we had sort of held back to this point (30 minutes behind schedule) I had plenty of go to run the whole way down the power lines and feel decent doing it and we had a great run on the hard road to the Fish Hatchery was well.    22.5 miles total for that day.

Would I call it a great training run?  No.  Would I call it a beneficial training run?  Hell yes!  This run required me to be patient for starters... patient with myself mostly for feeling poorly, not moving as quickly as I wanted to be moving and for having to lose time making multiple pit stops.  But more important than that, and I think this is a very important facet in playing the ultra game is that I had to be patient in waiting for things to finally right themselves and then enjoy the rest of the run.  I gutted it out yesterday and unfortunately in more ways that one!

Going to do an ascent/descent on the Peak Friday night.  It will be fun and thankfully cooler.  I am not feeling too beat up today either and that is with 50 miles under my belt by Wednesday.  I should hit 100 this week easily.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday - Big Week Number One

HR is over... congrats to all of my friends who finished.  Seems like it was a good year with a less than average wash-out rate.  Maybe next year I will be selected... maybe.  And HK winning is pretty cool.  To win both RR and HR in same year, man, talk about extremes!

Huge shake up happening at McVerizon this week... well, the changes go into effect on Aug 1.  Basically they are getting rid of our on-call rotations (don't clap yet) and putting us on 24x7 shifts... so... I might just end up working the night shift for awhile.  Gotta hand it to the company that rewards success, accomplishment and achievement with making their employees even more unhappy.

Mileage goals for the next two weeks... 100 miles this week then 100 miles the following week.  Of course the issues in the previous paragraph could influence next weeks mileage greatly.   I was able to get in 20.5 miles this morning.  It was slow and not exciting at all but I got it done and thankfully so as I have to do some unplanned work tonight.

Headed up to Pb tomorrow night to run up there on Wednesday.  Long run #2 for the week.  On-call Thursday night then another long run I think Friday on the Peak.  Cleanup and recovery miles on Saturday and Sunday then start it all again on Monday.

Picked up another pair of Hoka's today.  Officially retiring my first pair at 575 miles.  I am now set for shoes for Leadville and beyond.  Still hate the price but damn they have been really good shoes for me.

Had a great weekend away with Melissa.  Except for dinner on Friday night we did not leave the hotel or resort once until Sunday.  Easy runs over the weekend on the treadmill and lots of naps.  I can definitely see the benefit of a treadmill now as it forces one to run "a pace" and learn that.  Maybe running more on a treadmill will help me stop yo-yo-ing so much?  Doubt it  but it is an idea.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Another Dirty Little Secret

Two to three weeks before the San Juan Solstice 50 mile race I was beginning to get nervous.  The biggest reason for this was that I had not been able to spend much time this spring at elevations higher than 10,000 feet for any extended periods of time.  So I was scared about being at high altitude and running.  The second thing that concerned me was the heat.  Everyone knows how heat kicks my ass and this spring was no different.  Brooks and I ran a time trial, well, it was supposed to be a time trial on June 9th, a 20 mile jaunt that should have only taken a minimal amount of time. Well the opposite happened as it got hotter than hell and those 20 miles ended up taking about 2x as long as planned for me.  A really tough day.

So just as I embraced the Hoka's earlier in the spring to help in my running after suffering from beat up feet for so damned long, I decided to finally do something about the heat issue.  Inspired by local runner Simon Gutierrez whom I had read about doing a fair amount of heat training in his preparations for the Mount Washington Race in New Hampshire, and after a quick chat with him at a party I decided to give it a whirl.

If you want to read about the technical aspects of heat training, these were also very helpful and informative articles that helped to motivate me to take on this task.

Exercising in the Heat May Improve Athletic Performance in Cool and Hot Conditions, Study Suggests


Heat Acclimation for Runners

From the articles I gathered this much: (My Oversimplified 30,000 foot overview.)

1.  The body adapts to heat training very quickly with optimum results occurring after as short of a time as ten days.  Conversely, one can become "detrained" from heat training very quickly as well.
2.  How it works is that the body is overheated and because of that the blood is forced from deep tissue and organs to the surface of the skin to be cooled by the evaporation function of  sweat/perspiration.
3.  Because so much blood is essentially "out of circulation" the heart ends up more or less "dry-pumping" (my term) because there is not the usual volume of blood to be pushed out per heart contraction.  This dry-pumping then causes another biological adapation to the heat... Plasma volume expands.
4.  The plasma expansion then allows for more oxygen more or less to be carried through the blood stream.  In a sense... it is almost like blood doping but without needles, PEDs or anything.
5.  Two huge benefits are then derived from heat training.  The first, being able to function more efficiently at hotter temps and secondly, the ability to be somewhat better acclimated for higher altitude running.

That last sentence basically described a total win/win for me if it could actually work.  So on June 11th I began my heat training routine / experiment.  The one problem with heat training is that it does have such a short half-life so I had to basically sneak it in while at the same time tapering.  I still ran my regular daily training runs whatever they were supposed to be but I also would run a second Heat Training run everyday that lasted anywhere from 60-90 minutes, during the hottest part of the day at a medium to low intensity.  The heat training runs were not for running, the running was just the mechanism that I was using to build up heat.

How did it go?  Well, the first couple of days, or runs were pretty stinking tough.  For starters I felt like an idiot out there running in the middle of day in just about as many clothes as I would wear during the coldest winter runs.  Throw in the sunglasses and I could have been the Unabomber.   Lots of people stared, freaked out, offered me water etc... it was sort of entertaining.  To a point.  Everything felt really hard... it was crazy how hard it was to breathe even at slow speeds on easy terrain.

On the third day I noticed something.  It was subtle but it was there.  I was working during the day and I stopped to take my pulse mid afternoon.  It was down... low.  Several beats per minute slower than usual.  NICE!

The next big thing that I noticed was after five days of heat training.  I had ventured up to the Pikes Peak Summit to do a 3-2-1 run and Katie drove us up there.  When I got out of the car and started walking around I felt oddly comfortable.  I can't describe it any other way.  Usually at 14K I feel a little light headed at least... a little off but not that day.  100% comfortable.  And while my times running up high on the trail were not spectacular or fast, I was still very comfortable.  It was awesome!

In the second week, I did a run on Section 16, a regular run, not a heat training run and it was stupid hot out.  Upper 90's, and guess what?  Not only was I comfortable in the heat, I was almost chilled in the shady parts of the trail.  How crazy is that?

Now for the truly twisted part of this entire experiment... I actually got to the point that I was looking forward to my daily heat workouts.   Sure, some day's I would run them harder than I probably should have but it was still fun and easy.  I especially found it entertaining when after 50 minutes or so I would actually be feeling comfortable and cool while running.

It wasn't easy and I will give you that.  Each run I probably lost 5lbs of water weight and I am sure of this as I weighed myself before and after each run.  I also know that it took a lot out of me and I had to sleep a little extra to make up for it.  But damn it, the results were there.  The last heat training run that I did was three days before the San Juan Solstice then I completely laid up and rested.

I really have to say that I think it helped me in the race.  I knew it was hot, I could feel the heat but it did not crush me like times in the past.  I also felt the most at ease running across the Continental Divide, more so than ever before.  If I had to guess I would say that the heat training made my running pretty damned solid at all elevations under 11K, and still reasonable up around 13K. 

Of course now I think that I am completely detrained and given my druthers, I would rather stay and sleep at 10,000 feet or higher days/weeks before a big race at altitude. But in a pinch this did work for me, this time.  It was tough, it took time, and personally I think it was rather risky.  Not to mention all the fricken dirty laundry from soaking through everything everyday.  I will also go as far to say that I intend to implement another program like this before Leadville even....  I might start a few days earlier but I will run it up to the three days to go mark before the race and keep the efforts very low...  Unless I win the lotto before now and then and outright move to Leadville...

Typical Heat Training Ensemble.  Socks, two bottom layers, three top layers, wool hat, gloves and hoodie with the hood up and tied to hold in more heat.  I always wore my sunglasses for the perfect Unabomber effect.
So there you have it... how I sorta cheated the altitude at SJS and also got myself used to running in heat.   I will say that it was especially nice not wilting during the race when it got warm for a change.   All it took was some extra effort, creativity and faith that it would all pay off. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

July So Far (Again)

Deleted my original posting by accident and it is gone.   Damnit!

So a quick recap...

Camped in Pb the past several days.  Got in 91 miles last week.  Excellent running.

Lisa and her dog Hemi camped with us.  Lisa and Melissa kicked my ass playing Sequence time and time again.  We all had fun going on runs and riding around.  Covered everything from the start/finish to TL while we were up there.

The Hoka's are still great and I love them.  I got 538 miles on the original pair and plan to retire them today.  Thankfully I have a new pair and will more than likely have to get another pair before Leadville.

I figured out my training plan and weekly mileages for between now and Leadville.  I got in 91 miles last week and I have to say that I am feeling great.  Backing off a bit this week but the then hitting it hard for the three weeks after that.

I will write more later... short week this week as Melissa and I are taking the weekend to escape reality for a bit.