Saturday, September 26, 2015

Run Rabbit Run 100 And After

It has been a crazy busy week and I will get into that later... I haven't really wanted to write about Run Rabbit Run 100 because basically I am not sure what to write about... Just the good parts, include the rough spots (there were many), or not write about it all.  I'll just start and see what develops...

Going into the race I felt solid. Better than I have for any 100 that I have ever run. I had zero doubts in my mind that I was in shape to run it and even better, make a go of racing it. On a confidence level of 1-10, I was at an 11 and that is an awesome place to be. But it wasn't false bravado or wishful thinking... one look at my training log for the past three-four months and seeing not only the focused and precise work that I accomplished, but the fact that I was able to keep it together made me realize just how strong I was.

This was also one of the most enjoyable tapers for a 100 miler that I have ever had. With all of the solid work behind me it was just fun to know the "hay was in the barn" and my last two weeks of taper runs I could just enjoy and have some damned fun for a change.  I did have one day that I really felt like crap and I guess that was the Friday which was two weeks out from the race... I just chalked that up to taper blues and knowing that I had been there before just chose to ride it out as I knew that feeling like shit was just a step on the path to feeling better.

I also went into this race super relaxed.... so relaxed the few days before that I was concerned that maybe I was TOO RELAXED. But once I got up to Steamboat and saw friends and knew it was happening the appropriate level of excitement and enthusiasm entered the mix of emotions.

I love this race and I won't go into all of the reasons why as it is for all of the same reasons that I fell in love with the race last year.  It all still holds true.

This was also my second hundred, and second time running this race without crew and pacers and I have to tell you that makes it a lot of fun for me. It's a mental game of sorts when you are getting close to an aid-station and planning out exactly what you are going to do when you stop rather than knowing what someone is just going to hand to you. Plan the stop, get what you absolutely need, don't waste anytime and get the hell out of there, and the volunteers are so awesome at this race, they make those fast stops easy to do.

So the race... Obviously it went well... but it wasn't until the return trip from Spring Creek back up to Dry Lake that I discovered, or at least got an idea of how well I was doing, so that was mile 73 or so I think. I was heading up as my buddy Paul was heading down and we passed and he told me that I was in the top ten. I thought he was delusional. I knew I was further along in the pack than last year, but top ten? What?

Anyway... the race... Mt. Werner... it sucks.  I won't go into the rain and sleet on the way up as it was really kind of neat. But damned that hill is steep and I still haven't figured out how to manage it. I also can't decide if it is a good feature to have so early in the race or not. On one hand if you are smart it DOES slow you down... on the other hand, if you are not smart, well, I can see it destroying someones race in the first hour quite easily. All I know is that it hurt going up and it felt like my calves were going to just rip apart a few times as it is steep and my bio-mechanics just don't do well climbing that fast on that kind of grade.

But I made it up and made it to Long Lake and I guess I was on time or really close to last year. To be honest it sort of felt like I was possibly slower but I was not sure. When I noticed that things were really different was in the run down Fish Creek Falls where I was alone 98% of the time on the trail without anyone around me. Last year I really slowed down through here and I bet I was passed by 20 runners at least. Not this year.

Olympian Hall, which was really one of my first splits that I was trying to make. I think I made it there in about 4:40 which was about 40 minutes faster than last year I think. Got in, got out and headed out for the next 20 mile loop which I was kind of looking forward to if for no other reason just to get it done, get back up the hard road, get back to Fish Creek Falls and back into the woods.

Last year when I ran it, I started up Fish Creek Falls trail right at dark. So one of goals was to be ahead of that this year and I was. It was also in this section that I got to see one of the coolest things ever that I have seen in a race.

I was just above the falls proper and the sun was setting on the flat horizon in the west, so directly behind me and at the same level as I was. The orange cast of light from the sun behind me colored everything in front me, bathing it all in this amazing glowing vibrant shade of orange. It was mind blowing and just so beautiful. In all of my years in the mountains even I have never seen anything quite as magical as that and if any memories linger with me from the race it will be that one singular image I am sure.

I made Long Lake for the second time in about 12 hours and 15 minutes give or take. It was cold so I carefully selected layers and exactly what I would or should need for the rest of the night and got out of there. I did spend a few minutes to joke with and flirt with Jenn Shelton some who helped me with my bag and that was fun for me.

This race had two modes too it... the first half where I was running but constantly checking with myself to make myself relax and to measure if I was going to hard or not, or if I needed to back off or not.... Again, I knew that I was doing well enough and around mile 28 had figured out two things... either I was having a great day or I was heading towards an epic blowup and there was no way to tell so I might as well keep going.

Now comes the second part of the race and things getting tough... My allergies kicked in when I got to Steamboat on Thursday and I took a 24 hour Claritin. I should have packed one for Friday afternoon but didn't. As a result I started to get a lot of drainage which had a huge impact.

See, starting around hour 13-14, I started puking. Nothing would set on my stomach. My fuel, gels, any solid food, anything. It would all come up. The drainage was hitting my stomach and my stomach would rebel so a lot of puking during the night.

I tried to temper it by eating bland solid food at every aid station. Mashed potatoes and ginger ale were my food of choice and it would set long enough I guess for things to absorb some but after a while it would come up. Hey... I was in in the military, so I know how to puke I guess. I never felt sick, but would start feeling it wanting to come up and then wait until there was no other choice for it to come up, let it fly, then get on my way... I managed it. I also switched to straight water which did allow me to keep my hydration right... trust me, I did keep checking it every time I peed.

So the running mode of the second half was completely different... instead of having my foot on the brakes, I kept pushing myself to put the foot on the gas. I kept telling myself if you can run this section then you better damned well run it, and obviously that is what I did.

When left Summit Lake the second time I really wanted to make the math work to finish in under 25 hours. Goal wise, I was no longer even on the CHART in regards to my expectations and I was just winging it. But I knew the math and the terrain would not allow it to happen. Why? The section between Long Lake and back to Mt. Werner has a lot of damned climbing in it on the inbound and it just ate me up. Well, no, it didn't, I had a faster split all the way in from Summit Lake to the Finish than last year but I could not make up that amount time no matter how hard I tried and I did try.

Just as I can't decide if Mt. Werner at the front end of the race is a good idea, I am pretty sure that I don't like the idea of running down the Mt. Werner Service Road for 6.5 miles to the finish at all. It just hurts and it was probably in the section that I did the most damage to myself.

I gave up two places between Long Lake and Mt. Werner, I could not hold these guys off and about halfway down the service road, I looked back and behind me were what looked like ten guys bearing down me.  No! Not the F today! I told myself and I kicked it into high gear, and by high gear I mean sub 7-minute range or as close as I could hold it the last three miles. I was not going to give up another spot and if any of these guys were going to catch me they were going to have to break something in order to do it.

25:14:44. Just call it 4.5 hours faster than last years time. In reality I was looking for a solid 3 hour difference.  In EVERY regard expectations were greatly exceeded in this race. No regrets, no what-if's... nada.

I told Melissa when I got home that I wanted to get a belt for that belt buckle and actually wear it. Those who know me know that I NEVER wear my buckles as I see it as kind of gauche really, but anyway, this one I want to wear as symbolizes so much to me, not just the race but whole entire summer of training, consistency, trade-offs, being smart when otherwise I might not, and then the execution of the damned race, even with all of the puking...

A week later and I still don't have the belt... This buckle will rest along with the others.... :)

Recovery wise this has been the strangest recovery week ever. The first day was nothing but pain. I almost could not go to sleep Sunday night. But Monday I was busy working all day and night which I think went a long way in loosening things up. I have also pounded a ton of calories this week and have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep every night so each day is better than the previous.

Tuesday I will go to the track for our last track workout as a group.... No structured running for the rest of the autumn... now it's time to rest, recover, and just reflect on what has been such as awesome summer of running.

Photo Credit: Steve Bremner

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Save Money - Make Your Own Fuel

We are between "tasks" on our Aspen Rec Center contract today and I don't have any clients scheduled so... I have the afternoon off! Taking the time to pack and get things ready for Run Rabbit Run 100 this weekend.

To get ready, one of the things I need or needed to do was to make a couple batches of "fuel" for the race.

Over the years I have used many different products. Pepetuem and Heed from Hammer, Carbo-Pro, and even some custom-made-to-order stuff that was okay. Personally they all work for me... well, except for Heed but that's another discussion. What DOESN'T work for me is the damned price of it all.

So over time, since 2012, I have been working on and making my own fuel. Originally it was plain Carbo-Pro mixed with diluted liquid Gatorade of either orange or lemon-lime flavor. Then I started mixing the Carbo-Pro with powdered Gatorade (again orange or lemon-lime flavor) in varying ratios. Then thanks to Lucho, I bought a 50 lb bag of Maltodextrin from which I have been using forever now.

The last change to the formula happened last summer when I quit purchasing MAP by the bottle and started mixing FundAminos into the concoction. I made that switch only because this way I don't have to carry and take 5 MAP every hour. Not to mention that fishing out 5 MAP every hour and taking them while on the bike can be a challenge. Instead it is just part of the mixture now and in the end Fundaminos are cheaper than MAP too.

This stuff works and is dirt cheap and I figure it costs me pennies to the dollar in overall cost compared to what I used to spend. And remember... this mixture got me through two series of Leadman - not mention all of my races this year. Well, except for that damned Power of Four 50K but that day I just wanted to eat normal stuff, and that was only thing that made that day endurable... ;)

The mixture is quite simple. I used to mix two scoops of maltodextrin to one scoop of Gatorade but I tweaked it to personal preference and now I mix three scoops of maltodextrin to two scoops of Gatorade which makes the real ratio 1.5 to 1. 

Maltodextrin on the left, Gatorade in the Center, and Fundaminos on the right. That is the Rubbermaid tub that I mix and store it in and a tub will usually last me 3-4 weeks of training.
The Fundaminos I add 1.5 scoops of that to every six scoops of scoop of maltodextrin to four scoops of Gatorade.

As I mix it. Three scoops of maltodextrin on the left to two scoops of Gatorade on the right with the 1.5 scoops of Fundaminos in the center. I will add an additional three scoops of maltodextrin and then two scoops of Gatorade to complete the ratio.
I just keep adding more to that ratio and mix it as I go with a fork. In the end the color in the tub should be fairly consistent.

Then I just do the same process again but this time using orange flavored Gatorade in a separate tub.

When it comes to race time... or any training run exceeding two hours I do the following... I drink 1.5 scoops mixed with water per hour and have one gel per hour. My personal preference in gels for the past two years has just been orange and chocolate Gu. If I were really industrious (read less lazy) I'd use my maltodextrin and make my own gels but even my frugality has its limits. As for preference of Gel, these are what I like and works for me... your tastes and preferences might be different. And THATS okay... :)

Really, this is all I race on... I put the fuel into small snack sized baggies and carry them with me when I have to and refill the bottles with those and water every two hours.
I drink approximately one bottle per hour with one and half scoops of my mix added to that. What I really do is every 15 minutes I take 2.5 sips out of my left handheld, and then 2.5 sips out of my right handheld to keep things even. Every hour on the top of the hour I have one gel. That gets me about 280 calories per hour, every hour. And like I mentioned, every long training run or race over two hours this is exactly what I do. Period.

30 baggies of mix for this weekend's race. 30 hours of fuel... I won't need that much though... ;)
This is actually something that I have wanted to write about for some time... With what everything costs nowadays... anywhere savings can be found is good. Because after all, the more money you save the more race entries you can pay for or buy more shoes, right?

Hope it helps!

P.S. As a side note, I do usually have other things on the course like this weekend I will have other treats packed in my drop bags. But those are treats and things to look forward to if I start to struggle. I do not rely on them for fueling or count them as a part of the plan. Sometimes I have extra things but most times I don't. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last Minute Packing

Hoka Stinson ATR's on the left, the older Stinson Men's Trail Shoe on the right... The red ones are so much better. It's the first time I have ever been displeased with a Hoka product after four years of running in them.
When it comes to getting ready for trips I am one of those people who pack the very last minute and not a second before. I have never figured out if it is because I am lazy or just so damned efficient that I don't need to start putting all of my shit in a huge pile days or weeks before going somewhere.

I vote for efficient....

Maybe it was because once upon a time I was on world-wide mobile team and always had my stuff packed and ready to go for the most part and when it was time for me to go, I went. Maybe it's because I keep all my things in order already - so pulling it all together to go somewhere is not a chaos inducing exercise. Maybe it's because I have done this so many times for races, vacations, business trips, hunting trips and so on that I am just a pro at it... who knows... I just never feel the pressure to pack prematurely.

Less than a week before Run Rabbit Run 100 and the only thing I have really done in prep this past week is to FINALLY decide on which shoes I am going to wear. Really, that's it. I am going to wear the older version of the Hoka Stinson Men's Trail shoe. Last year I bought two new boxes of them and have kept them in the boxes until this week when I broke one pair out.

I am not a fan at all of the new Stinson ATR's that Hoka put out the last year or so. To put it simply, they suck. The older model is a much more robust and supportive shoe compared to the new model which is so scaled down... read, "they really skimped in putting that one together." I have run in the Stinson ATR's most of the summer and I can tell you two things... the upper sucks... and the mid-sole sucks too... it used to be I could easily get 400 miles (usually more) out of a pair of Stinsons, now... maybe just around 300 before the midsole collapses to the point that running in them is a sketchy proposition. I don't even get to wear out the outer-sole out anymore!

I toyed with the idea of running in the Hoka Challengers as that was an awesome shoe for me for both the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, and the Leadville Silver Rush 50, but I just can't commit to them. I like the idea of running the race in a lighter shoe but I don't want to sacrifice foot protection either... I know the Hoka Stinson Men's Trail will get me through it as that shoe has proven itself time and time again for me. It isn't the Challenger's fault that I don't have the same level of trust, it's a good shoe, just too unproven for over 50 miles for me to be comfortable with. Anyway...

Packing... I'll get it done... sometime... this week. Today I start supervising a remodeling job at the Aspen Recreation Center which will last a few days. It is a contract that the startup company that I am working with/for has. It isn't a big job but it is definitely a complicated job. It will be fun to do that and it will take my mind off of race stuff. I'll still have time to pack too...

Looking ahead... I priced out a snowboard/boot/binding package yesterday that will be awesome for this winter. It's a bit pricey but it will be worth it. I have some friends who are trying to get me a snow making job for the early part of the season. I want to do it because it is an evening/night job and it will give me my daytime to write, work with clients, and do other work for the startup. Timing wise, it will work as both my business and the startup are going to hit critical mass in about four months...  It is really good money, and the bonus is you get an annual pass out of the deal. It's damned hard work though... But I think it could be a fun adventure to do at least once though. :) I want that pass!

Easy ten mile run this morning with some folks, five tomorrow... then just an easy four mile shake out run on Tuesday morning... I'm bouncing back pretty good and am really excited to get up to Steamboat next week. It's going to be a blast! :)

P.S.-  I think Hoka might have fixed the problems with the Stinson ATR's in the newer Stinson model the Stinson 3 ATR but I have to get my hands on an pair to be sure.

P.S.S. -  I started reading John L. Parker's new book, Racing the Rain last night and so far it is as completely awesome as both Once a Runner and Again to Carthage are... if I could just write like that...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Training is Done

Running up Maroon Creek Trail early this morning.
So even though this was my first week of tapering, I am officially calling today the end of my training for Run Rabbit Run 100 in less than two weeks.

More by accident than design... I've logged 310 miles the past four weeks. 80, 100, 80, and 50. This week would have been 60 but I gave up a day (In the end I am sure it did more good than harm! ) to volunteer for the Grand Traverse run yesterday.

When I designed and planned everything out in the beginning of July, I knew what the mileage for each week would be and I had a specific plan in place for what I wanted the end results of each week to be... The "accident" if you will which isn't anything horrible, is just I never added up the total to see what the overall volume of these past four weeks would have been.

I hit some low points the past three weeks but there was never a point that I felt I could not bounce back. Everything proved out rather solid last Tuesday morning on the track anyway... the speed and the strength is definitely there, but so was the fatigue which is evident in my low HR that last hard two mile segment.

This week is a light 30 mile week to start unloading fatigue and there is a fair share of that to get rid of. But all in all I am confident for my preparation this summer for this race.

Goals... Eh... I can't say I have one for certain... Finish it... just run the damned thing the best I can... come in under 29:43 and get another big buckle and beat last years time... anything more than that and I will be pretty happy. I've thrown some numbers around in my head but then I consider the course and the distance of that course and I think there are just too many variables to get any expectations dialed in with any great precision. 

Pretty excited to get up to Steamboat. The trees are starting to change here in Aspen this week but just a little bit and I am guessing since RRR100 is a week later this year we will see a lot more color in the run.

Regardless, I just plan to have fun and enjoy it all. :)