Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Ups The Downs…

Yeah it’s that time again, so I’ll keep it short.

I looked back at the goals set this time last year, they and their results were:
• A sub 6:00 50km; eh nope, (but a new PR and a reduction of around 30 minutes down to 6:22)
• A sub 10 hour 50 mile; not even close (OMG what was I thinking!? 11:24 was my best effort)

On face value it doesn’t look so good but in reality it was actually a pretty good year. What you don’t see is the amount, even if you look really close, I have learned about this sport of running; like nearly everything it’s an ongoing process:

• I learned to respect the distance; I had my first DNF
• I found I could hear my body when it was talking (instead of screaming through an ibuprofen haze) to me; I managed to stay nearly injury free, (it was touch and go in the Spring for a while though)
• I trained smarter; covering less mileage than in 2007 and had better results; I picked up new PRs at the 5k, trail HM and 50k distances
• I made new friends both real and virtual and
• I ran new trails, climbed new peaks, saw new vistas and managed to get just a little closer to the horizon

So yes the main goals were not met and so they remain but so do I hopefully smarter, faster and stronger.

Happy New Year everyone, may your goals stretch you to new heights!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eeenie Meenie...

Alas there seems to be no Minie or Moe, and the Enie and Meenie are not quite right either. I have, over the last few weeks been scouring the ‘net looking for a suitable race for 2009 Fall/Winter but have come up short, well actually I have come up long!

The plan for 2009; two ‘A’ races of 100km in length, the first is set; Twin Peaks in February, that latter is wide open. The criteria are simple; (1) 100km (62 miles), (2) on trails, (3) run in the Fall or Winter, that is October through to the end of the year, (I’ll run shorter distances in the tail end of Summer but otherwise it is too hot!) and (4) it needs to be local, Southern California preferably, but at a push Northern California, and a real push Southern Nevada or Western Arizona. Training takes up too much time so disappearing for a three days over a weekend is just not fair on the family. So with that in mind I have come up with a grand total of nil!

The only two that fit most of the bill are longer, way longer, like 38 miles longer. And while I am planning to step up to the 100 mile distance; that was reserved for 2010. Going for it this year means, more training time, longer runs and more of them, they also need to be qualified for so that may mean extra races to get the right qualifying times and at least one of them will require me to put in some trail maintenance time, not that that’s a deal breaker; just another thing to consider.

The two races and some of their benefits/highlights and my concerns are:

AC100 September 19th
• Local; the finish line in Pasadena is about an hour from my home, the start is further away but I can car pool to it
• Very well established; this is the 23rd year, it’s a nationally recognized event and very well organized race
• Qualifying entry; a completed 50 mile race within 12 months of start date
• Entry fee starts at $200
• Some of the peaks skirt around the 9500’, that may present a problem given my trip to the area this summer

DRTE100 October 2nd
• Local; the start and finish are about 90 minutes from my home
• Inaugural year; should not be a problem but may become one if the organization is not up to par
• Unknown entry qualifications
• Unknown entry fee
• The route has lower peak summits but the race bills itself as having the greatest elevation gain of any 100 mile race in the US; 36,000’

Given the distance it’s likely that both races may require me to have a crew, even a minimal one and maybe even a pacer at the end which is another couple of things to organize, I will have a better feeling for the need of a crew and pacer come the end of February. So as you can see both have positives and negatives, registration is open for AC100 now and opens for DRTE100 on February 1st.

Decisions decisions…

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Be Alert; Your Country needs Lerts; setting Alerts in your Forerunner

A’ la my post from November about Forerunner features here’s a quick in between Christmas and New Years Day post about the Alert feature. There are four types of Alert; Time/Distance, Pace, HR and Cadence, I have used all four at times but this post will only review the Pace which is probably the most common one that I use and was certainly the most helpful in my recent speedwork sessions.

So first we need to get into the menu, to do this press Mode, scroll to Training, select (press Enter) Training Options and then select Alerts. Here you are faced with two options; Fast Pace Alert and Slow Pace Alert, this is very self explanatory but remember if you want to run within a prescribed range you should set both of them to create the pace window.

There are two ways to set them: based on your Garmin Training Center settings or Custom. The latter is easier on the fly and the GTC settings require that (a) you have entered all your pace ranges in and (b) you can remember them or have written down everything you entered. For this purpose I’ll focus on setting them on the fly.

With Fast Pace highlighted Press Enter and scroll to Custom Press Enter and the Alert Above becomes highlighted, Press Enter and a numerical drop down menu appears, select the pace you want, you’ll need to put either a “0” or press “>” to move to the second column. Once you have entered the required pace Select Done and press Enter, scroll to the Slow Pace Alert and repeat if required. Otherwise skip fast pace and just set only the Slow Pace, to do this just scroll down.

Once completed press Mode to back out of the menu till you get to the home screen and that’s it you’re all set. To turn them off go back to the Alerts menu and instead of selecting Custom simply select Off. Confused; click on the photos to make them bigger...yeah that means you have to actually come to my blog and get out of your reader! The alert itself is a series of chimes; not too loud but loud enough and different from the distance/lap alert if you have that set. I can usually hear them while wearing an iPod.

So there you go that was easy and now you have one less reason for avoiding that speedwork!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Geseënde Kersfees,Een Plesierige Kerfees, Rehus-Beal- Ledeats, Gezur Krislinjden, Milad Majid, Feliz Navidad, Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand, Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun, Selamat Hari Natal,Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!, Vesele Vanoce, Feliz Natal, Shubho borodin, Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat, Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo, Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!, Feliz Navidad, Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun, Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito, Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo, Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth, Pace e salute Rot Yikji Dol La Roo, Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Sretan Bozic, Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok, Glædelig Jul, Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak, Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast, Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!, Gajan Kristnaskon, Ruumsaid juulup hi, Melkin Yelidet Beaal, Rehus- Beal- Ledeats, Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!, Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad, Hyvaa joulua, Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar, Joyeux Noel, Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!, Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!, Bo Nada, Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!, Froehliche Weihnachten, Kala Christouyenna!, Juullimi Pilluaritsi!, Froehliche Weihnachten, Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri'cho o Rish D'Shato Brichto, Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar, Shekara!, Mele Kalikimaka, Mo'adim Lesimkha, Chena tova,Baradin ki shubh kamnaaye, Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!, Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!, Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket, Gledileg Jol,Selamat Hari Natal, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah, Jadidah,Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat, Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut, Ojenyunyat osrasay, Buone Feste Natalizie, Shinnen omedeto, Kurisumasu Omedeto, Mithag Crithagsigathmithags, Sung Tan Chuk Ha, souksan van Christmas, Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!, Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu!, Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto, Priecigus Ziemassvetkus, Linksmu Kaledu, Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar, Sreken Bozhik, IL-Milied It-tajjeb, Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa, Meri Kirihimete, Shub Naya Varsh, Merry Keshmish, God Jul, or Gledelig Jul, Pulit nadal e bona annado, Bon Pasco, Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu, En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!, Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo, Maligayan Pasko!, Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie, Feliz Natal, Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha, Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi, Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua, Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn, Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn!, Craciun Fericit, Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom, Buorrit Juovllat, La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou, Hristos se rodi, Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce, La Maunia Le, Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Nollaig chridheil huibh, Hristos se rodi, Subha nath thalak Vewa, Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa,Vesele Vianoce, A stastlivy Novy Rok,Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto or Vesel Bozic in srecno Novo leto, God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År,Maligayamg Pasko, Masaganang Bagong Taon,Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal, Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech!, Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan, Christmas Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Chuc Mung Giang Sinh, Nadolig Llawen, E ku odun, e ku iye'dun! and Cestitamo Bozic!

I think that about covers it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas come early!

How cool is this!

Last month I posted up a couple of shoe reviews onto Running Shoes Reviews. Each month they have a draw from the people who have submitted a review and last month I came second! I wasn’t expecting any prizes so I was delighted to get an email asking me for my mailing address as there was a box of free stuff with my name on it! Anyway last week it arrived inside I found the following: my handmade winners certificate, a water bottle (you can never have too many of those right!), some Hammer gels; yum, some Honey Stinger gels and some Sharkies both of which I have been dieing to try but have not seen in my LR or LBS! Awesome! So a big thankyou to Shoe Running, check out her blog and excellent website which is full of reviews and add you own and you could be a winner also!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Swap Beat Week 6 & Final Results

OK I really need to get this posted as if I don’t I’ll be a week behind! It looks like the Holiday Spirit has taken hold and everyone’s focus is waning.

I am sure the weather is impacting most folks as there seem to be storms and snow across a lot of the US/Canada and hold the front page I actually had to scrape a frost off my car this morning! And yes I can hear the sound of the world’s tiniest violin!

Of course this does mean that my local ski fields are being hammered and Mammoth, about 300 miles away, has had over 48” this week alone! So glad my wife and I are off for three nights in Las Vegas sans’ kiddies between Christmas and the New Year. Still downtime, with alternating energy sources coming from a large comfy bed, copious restaurants and massage table will be tough but I'll do my best to stick with it!

Anyway I digress and back to the matter in hand; the results. In the absence of Laura reporting in her results. and allowing that MCM Mama and Nikemom swept the board last week I have to invoke the “not two weeks in row” rule the winners slip down the position to Mel from m0mmymel, with Mediocre Pat and JKRunning tieing with a status quo, there are three prizes left on the Swag post so please post your want and contact the provider and you’re off. Given that actually uses up all the prizes it seems fitting that the Overall Winner should be announced; drumroll please….and the prize goes to: Nikemom! Congratulations, I will bundle up the remaining Nike swag and get that off to chilly NE asap!

And with that here endeth Swap-Beat, congratulations to everyone who took part, nearly everyone had an overall loss and hopefully you had some fun on the way!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twin Peaks 50/50

And so before you start to read, get a drink, or two, find a comfy chair and kick of you shoes.

I’ll spare you the preamble about leaving work at 4:00pm to find the pre-race packet pickup, Google maps were determined to send me down a No Through Street! After half an hour of driving around in circles I called the RD and we couldn’t figure it out so I gave up and headed off to my hotel.

I checked in and then headed straight to the start point so as not to get lost the next morning, it was about a 15 minute drive from my hotel, from there I popped into Dennys for some last minute fuel, with my tanks topped up I returned to my hotel, packed my drop back and sorted out my stuff, setting the alarm for 3:35am I turned the light out; it was 11:45pm, not quite the early night I had planned.

I woke at 3:30 and found myself in a timewarp where every minute seemed to be two on the face of the clock finally realizing I was possibly going to be late I jumped in my car and headed to the start line. Upon arriving I ran to collect my race number ran back to car, pinned it on my shorts, grabbed my UD vest, bottles, drop bag and other assorted bits and pieces jogged back to start line, dumped my bag, caught the last minute of the brief and with a muted whoop from the 20 or so 5:00am runners we were off. Fortunately it was an immediate uphill, I say fortunately because this allowed me to shake out and generally get my stuff together. I put my headtorch on the right way up, put my arm warmers on, I had just a Capilene shirt on and while it wasn’t warm it wasn’t cold. The previous night had had the brightest full moon of the year and while the cloud was quite thick it was also quite high and when it broke the moon threw shadows onto the trail. With my kit sorted out I passed by some runners and pushed on up the hill. The trail wound itself with multiple switchbacks and I was able to see the line of runners behind and it front of me as the headtorches bobbed up and down. I used my Fenix torch only when I ran, as rolling my ankle within the first few miles would have been annoying to say the least. I reached the first Aid Station which was still be set up and passed straight by it, I had no need to stop. Determined to not be a victim of cramps a’la last month, my race regimen would be a S-Cap, Hammer Anti Fatigue Cap and Energy Surge every hour and a gel or blocs etc every half hour; I had Hammer Gels for the first half and E-Crank for the second. I had two bottle of Ensure in my drop bag; my vest had Perpetuem and my bottles Amino Vital.

Around 6:30am it was light enough to run without a torch and I stashed them away. I reached the second Aid Station around 7:00am, my Garmin said mile 9 but the sign said mile 10 (in fact all the Aid Station/Garmin mileages were slightly off) The higher up I had gone the lower the cloud had become and at this point I was at 4500’, having started at 1250’ I was directed onto a single track path. Annoyingly despite having put it on the list I had forgotten to change the batteries in my camera and they gave out around Mile 4 so unfortunately I have no photos but it is trails like this one that reinforce my desire to be a trail runner and when the cloud lifted I was treated to views of pine and fir covered valley and mountainside. Of course the flip side is that I knew I would be walking up this trail later in the day.

I had been calculating my pace and knew that I was already behind schedule but I also knew that I would make up some of the deficit on the way down I was aiming to be at the next aid station at the three hour mark which would put me back on track for a just over 5mph pace which would give me a little less than an hours cushion for later in the day. The trail bottomed out around mile 13 and I wound my way along a riverbank, not unpleasant running the path was littered with rocks, from higher tides I assumed, and I seemed to be constantly rolling my right ankle, I was nothing to slow me down but was annoying to say the least. It was here that I passed my first 4:00am starters. I reached the 14 mile Aid Station which also had my drop bag after 2:45 minutes not a super fast pace but fast enough. I grabbed my first bottle of Ensure and consolidated my handhelds into one bottle, I had been drinking from both the even the load, I hadn’t really touched the Perpetuem at this point; something that I was going to regret in the not too distant future. With a wave and shout of thanks I left the Aid Station and started up Holy Jim Trail.

Holy Jim Trail, 4500’ of uphill to Santiago Peak. I passed a few more runners as I wound my way up the hillside, the cloud seemed to be lifting off the higher slopes and the temperature was fine. I started to drink my Perpertuem and discovered that it tasted decidedly funky! I had washed out the bladder previously with bicarbonate of soda and figured maybe I had not rinsed it enough, working on the basis that it was not going to kill me I drank from it for the next 14 miles chasing it with handheld. I plodded up the hill knowing that I was bleeding off time at every step but also knowing that I had to come down again and that I would regain some of the loss. The trail entered a gloomy wooded section and I passed some hikers and saw Catra Corbet and Andy Kumeda who were making solid progress, Catra would go on to take second place. I left the woods and came to next Aid Station, here I was told it was three mile up and three mile down loop and then back the way we had come. I turned up the trail and headed onwards. I saw the downhill turnoff on the way up. Out of the cloud I saw the masts and a downward runner told me the turnaround was just past them. A few minutes later I finally reached the summit. I took some Coke and pretzels and headed back down, on the way a mountain biker I had been playing cat’n’mouse with offered to take some photos of me and I gladly took him up the offer, unfortunately the lens was a bit misty! Six miles later I was back at the bag drop which was a planned mile 28 and according to my Garmin; mile 30, elapsed time 6:37.

I decided to ditch my UD vest, there was no point carrying what I wasn’t going to use. I had packed my Nathan vest in my bag and so I stashed my gel, baggies of Perpetuem and camera into it. I downed a bottle of Ensure to top up the tanks The weather at this point, while being a cool was not cold and the cloud was lifting, or at least it seemed to be lifting off the higher peaks, I kept my arm warmers on as I had most of the day and kept my gloves clipped to the vest but I paid no attention to picking up my North Face jacket; this was my fatal flaw.

A quick cup of coke and a bio break and I was on my way back up to Trabuco Peak, this section was hard going with one mile gaining 1250’ of elevation (a 1:4 gradient) and many of my slowest miles were here, mile 31 was sinful at 22:34. As I gained back the altitude I noticed the earlier lifting cloud has reversed and was coming down fast, along with it the wind was picking up; and the wind was cold: some video. I exited out of the single track and found the next Aid Station, grabbing the usual cups of Coke, I was directed to the next one some five miles away which would signal the start of the climb back up to Santiago Peak. There was a little more climbing and some nice downhill sections that I could run at a moderate pace. However it wasn’t until I was half in between I realized I had forgotten to refill my handheld, I carried on and when I got the next one I refilled my bottle and headed back up Santiago Peak.

And so the slog began. Several pickup trucks coming down the hill and asked if I was ok and in fairness I felt fine, I had no sign of bonking or cramps and while I had a slow pace I was making headway, I slowly climbed up the final section to the peak and was surprised to see the Hummer that had served as the Aid Station coming down. I was told that they were closing it, it was 30 degrees at the top and wasn’t safe. They wanted runners to turnaround here and follow the route back to the Start/Finish. I duly complied and it wasn’t until later when I looked at my Garmin data that I saw that I was only a 100-150 vertical feet short. I about faced and plodded back down what I just walked up. As I was going down so was the sun and the temperature by the time I reached the single track section the wind was whistling a gale and it was cold, really cold. I met two support runners sweeping up the trail and they asked me did I want a poncho…did I! Oh yeah! Never have I been so grateful for a $1.00 item of clothing! I was freezing, my teeth were chattering and I had a knot in my abdomen from clenching my muscles against the cold. I pulled it over my head, tied it around in a’la diaper fashion, pulled the hood up and pulled my visor down to stop it from blowing away, pulled my arms in and with my head down I gingerly made my way down, without any lights (because I had expected to have had finished before it got dark) in the wind and dark, doing my best not to go apex over tip of the edge!

I finally dropped onto the fireroad and headed back down breaking into the occasionally run but that just seemed to circulate the cold more, I was starting to freak myself out over back gnarly roots that took on the appearance of snakes! Not that a snake would be out in this weather! But you never know I guess! I met the Race Director Jessica who was driving up and she asked if I was ok, I said yes and continued on for another mile or so.

I rounded a bend and saw the bright headlights of a Jeep coming up the hill, the driver pulled over and with a quiet whir the electric window rolled down, she asked if I was ok, did I want a ride? I could feel the warmth pour out of the interior of the Jeep, how much further I asked, about 8 miles she said…I paused and got in.

There is some more to write about waiting to see if we found the drivers friend but she had been picked up earlier and taken down. We saw someone who seemed to be the last runners on the course and who were running in trying to get in under the cut off time; 15 hours

After a bumpy ride back down we arrived at the Start/Finish line which was being broken down and I wandered over to someone holding a clipboard. “#32 DNF” I said, he checked my off his list, I thanked him for his efforts as I had everyone at the Aid Stations during the day; it is a tough job on the best of days at this was far from one those. I grabbed my drop bag and with a cry of “see you in February” I headed for my car and the 100 mile drive home.

And so the aftermath; first the stats (all Garmin driven) I covered 44.38 miles, in 11:52, there was in fact 8 miles to go as the course was measured out at 52.5 according to the RDs race report published today and so conservativly it would have been another 90 minutes at best but probably closer to 2 hours. The elevation gain was 17,304, the loss 13,881 (the discrepancy is due to not making it all the way down). There were 51 starters, 22 finishers, a 57% drop rate.

The lessons learned. Well my hydration and nutrition plan worked well, as mentioned no cramps and no bonking, my fitness level; the required 11 hour finish started to fall off around mile 28 and by mile 34 it was irretrievable had I been stronger and ergo faster on the second climb of Santiago Peak I could have made better timing and with the last 10 miles of the course being downhill time would have been made up. The biggest mistake was simply a lost gamble against the weather and being caught in the open underdressed.

All in all and with reflection it was a great race, I got to see, albeit in parts, some new scenery and despite appalling conditions the organizers ensured everyone got down safe and sound and had as good a time as was possible. What was controllable they had under their control. Looking forward my legs feel tired but fine and I have succumbed to the usual maelstrom of germs that circulate in a household with children and have a cold coming on. Once shaken off I am back on the training circuit. It’s 11 weeks to Twin Peaks 2009 I am signed up for the 100k so I have some work to do and some things to think about gear wise as from speaking to some locals I can expect the weather to be more of the same!

I have got some more video that I will stitch together one day and here are some photos and the MotionBased data:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He's making his list, he's checking it twice...

Three times, four times...

This post could also have been "Only the Paranoid Survive" (poached from Andy Grove) or "Control Freak...who, me!?!"

But anyway as the say failing to plan is planning to fail and so I have my Things to Do List, which is mostly things to pack but you get the idea.

I have been placed in the 5am start wave for Saturday's Twin Peaks race, it could have been worse it could have been the 4am group, there is a third group leaving at 6am, the groups are not big maybe 18-20 runners in each for the 50 miler. The 50k runners leave at the more civilized hours of 6:30 and 7:30am. What this does mean is that I'll be starting in the dark so a head-torch and hand torch will be needed for the first hour or so, the night before is full moon; if there is no cloud we'll have that benefit. The weather forecast looks ok; Morning low clouds, then partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain and breezy in the afternoon, high near 67°F.

And so to the race plan. This is my second (and last) 'A' race of the year and so the goals are high. My primary objective is a sub 11 hour finish (an average 13:10 minute miles or 4.55mph), why 11 hours, simply it is the WSER qualifying time. To achieve this I need to shave 24 minutes off my current finish time of 11:24. Among the takeaway lessons from Leona Divide was to turn off the autostop feature on my Forerunner; I realized around mile 30 that I had no idea how much time I had "stopped" for and by that time it was too late to make it up. Secondary goal is a new PR and tertiary to finish. My epiphany time: 10:52.

I looked back on my training log and as predicted I completed 90% of the target mileage, I was hoping for closer to 95% but a surgeon's schedule threw me off. Some stats:

Miles covered in total: 1091 (42% run / 58% bike)
Longest Run distance 31.75 miles
Longest Ride distance 75.82 miles
Longest Run time 6:22
Longest Ride time 5:17
Most elevation gain in one training session: 9724'
Most calories burned in one training session: 4860
Number of shoes worn through; 2 pairs
Number of tires worn through: 1
Number of gels consumed: 103
Number of supportive comments from my RBFs: immeasurable, thanks guys it means more than I can say!

They say that your first ultra is about finishing, this is something I can testify to; both my first 50k and 50 mile races were little more than slogs, but now, like the PCTR 50k last month, this is all about racing; not that I have any chance of coming anywhere but in the middle, but I will be racing, my competitor is simply the hours, minutes and seconds of a stopwatch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Swap Beat Week 5 Results

There’s definitely a post Thanksgiving slowdown going on, much like a cruise ship coming to a gentle halt it would seem to take everyone a week or so to come to satisfying stop post their tryp-to-phan. A new week and new winners: Nikemom takes top honors closely followed by MCM Mama, hot on their heels were Julianne and Pat. As for my dire performance well I can expect to drop 5-6lbs on Saturday, I am carb loading for this little baby, and that's my excuse!

As usual contact the owner of the SWAG you desire and make all the necessary arrangements directly then post up about your prizes; a little auditing reveals that so far Robin is the only compliant one so far (kudos to the fellow ultra runner!), the remainder of you get your slack selves in order!

As an incentive and a reminder here are the top three overall losers, in no particular order; Julianne, Nikemom and Maddy. Remember there is an overall prize which will be awarded to the greatest percentage lost overall!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Running Doubles!

I am halfway through my taper, my knee seems to have calmed down and the needle is floating around the OK mark rather than the PANIC line, of course I would like it at the PERFECT mark, but there’s time yet. Spending 2-3 hours driving each day is not helping but there’s nothing I can do about that.

What this means is that my taper mileage has been next to non existent, I’m not too (kinda, sorta) worried, this seems to be my modus operandi leading into races and it does seem to allow me to leave the starting gate with a little extra spring my step and given that it’s not exactly a sprint start I should be fine.

It looks like I am going to come in at around 10% under my training mileage goal on the feet-to-fireometer scale (see sidebar) but that was really all I could do so I am reconciled with it…kinda…sorta!

So this weekend I had an easy 8 miler on the beach path just to blow out the cobwebs and get some photos for my review of my CW-X 3/4 tights, I was going to do a video review but it was so windy the audio would have been terrible so you have to suffer a gratuitous butt shot, see above!

Anyway I figured that was it for the day but my wife had promised our eldest that I would take him out running when we got home, so when we arrived he was all changed into his “running clothes” and ready to go and so off to the local HS track we went. He decided on lane 4 as he is four and set the lofty goal of 9 laps, 3600m! With a few walk breaks, several practices of “on your marks, set, go” complete with faux blocks, a couple of illegal lane changes and lot’s of laughter we were done after three laps and headed home for some of “Daddy’s Special Sports Drink”; which is nothing more special than Gatorade G2!

Putting aside all the hills and all the miles these are, by far, the best runs!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Whos and Hows; Stocking Stuffing Brain Candy

What do runners read about? I would hazard a guess; running! My nightstand is adorned with editions of Runners World and Trail Runner but if you want something a little more substantive finding some quality reads can be a little tougher. Hands up if you’ve read Ultra Marathon Man? You have, Ok now hands up if you have read Duel in the Sun? A few less hands; if you haven’t read the latter you should; Boston at its finest. Well, here are some suggestions on a few you might not have read, not surprisingly they have an ultrarunning slant, but even for the casual 5k runner this provide a great portal into what we, as runners and as human beings, are capable of.

Survival of the Fittest
; Dr Mike Stroud.
Were you impressed with Dean Karnazes’ 50/50? In 2003 Dr Stroud and Sir Ranulph Fiennes ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents! The book explores the human evolution, endurance and adaptability. Not overly sciency it’s an illuminating read and if you ever needed a book to motivate you to exercise this is it!

Running Through the Wall; Neil Jamison
Thirty five stories from thirty five ultra runners from the front, middle and back of the pack. Each story, written by the runners and edited by Jamieson, tells the personal tale of highs lows and everything in between. If you ever needed to find an answer to the question “why do you run 100 miles” this is a good place to start!

The Extra Mile: Pam Read
A winner of back to back Badwater titles, a mother and step mother, entrepreneur and Race Director. A reasonably candid story of Read’s life, through to the books publishing in October 2006; including her battle with anorexia. She is a far better runner than she is a writer ergo it’s an easy read and not the page turner it could have been.

Some others that are on my bookshelf:

Feet in the Clouds: Richard Askwith – obsessive fell running in the UK
UltraRunning; My Story: Mike Bouscaren – exploring the elemental side of ultra marathoning
The End of the Trail: John David Fischer – an average runner runs the WSER

The above are focused on the Whos of the sport so I thought I would throw in the Hows. I get asked quite often where can people find info on ultra running, not that I am a very deep font of information; I still consider myself a newbie, but I am always happy to share what little I know, and most of that has come from this book. It is as close to an “All you wanted to know and were afraid to ask about Ultrarunning” as I have seen anywhere:

A Step Beyond; A Definitive Guide to Ultra Running; edited by Don Allison
In a similar fashion to Running Through the Wall, each chapter is written by those in the know, Broken out over seven topics: Training and Racing Advice, Physiology, Making History, Races & Places, Ultra People, Philosophy and Humor and with articles that address subjects that include; Hill Running, How to Walk While Running and The Agony of Da-Feet there are even several for your partner: the inviting "Pacing in a 100 Mile: A Nice Way to Spend the Night" and the prescriptive; "Crewing: Ten Commandments For Those Who Sit and Wait". If you thinking about running an ultra or you have and want to learn more buy this book!

All of the above are ideal stocking stuffers for the runner in your life, if that happens to be you print this post and leave it somewhere inconspicuous for them to see; I find duct taped to the bathroom mirror, underneath the toilet lid or in the middle of their 52" flat screen TV just before their favorite TV show is a good start!

Finally wishing Good Luck to friends racing this weekend; Billy, Patsy (WM24) and Kelly (GGP) at CIM and Frayed Laces looking to BQ in Las Vegas and of course to you if I missed you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

T(P) minus 10 minutes

Ten days till Twin Peaks. In an attempt to get there in some state of rest (our 1 year old is working the night shift!) I am instigating the 10 minute rule; 10 minutes to bed earlier than the night before. The baseline is 11:00pm the end result should be that the night before the race I’ll be hitting the hay around 9:20pm, which is a good thing seeing as I am in the 5:00am start group, it could be worse I could be in the 4:00am group! The race is on a Saturday so I am heading there Friday night straight from work, I have booked my hotel, one less thing to worry about.

The Race Director is still looking for volunteers so if you’re in or near Orange County on the 14th and want to hang out with some ultra runners you can contact her here.

I am having some minor knee issues, I think I over-extended it last Thursday so I have been taking things easy, I biked Saturday morning with no issues but then spent all day at LegoLand topped and tailed with a four hour round trip driving probably didn’t do it any favors, so I am on a rest and ice regimen with runs every other day through to the weekend. Sunday I am running with my wife, a nice easy beach path run and again on Tuesday then I’ll be T(P) minus 3 days! Oh look at the time; nighty night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Swap Beat Week 4 Results

So the Turkey seems to have been the winner this week, lots of slip sliding with one notable exception and only three actual losers. Congratulations to Laura and Maddy for staying their ground refusing that second helping stepping away from the desert trolley and avoiding the cheese board. This is Laura’s second wind but do I detect a swinging strategy, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out if she swings the other way?

Winners who have received their swag, don’t forget the photo and accompanying post.

So the usual form, choose from the remaining SWAG, (Maddy there is a Nike+ sensor up for grabs) and contact the donor for shipping etc. Three more weeks of dual prizes and then the Grand Prize just in time (well actually three days late) for Christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

DHP Thanksgiving Day 5k

Today’s race was run to mark the end of my six weeks of speedwork. Of the six weeks I missed two sessions and gaffed up one with Garmin malfunction. Each week comprised a tempo run and Intervals. The question was going to be had it worked? My legs were a little sore still from last weekend and I wondered how much that would affect the outcome.

I arrived with my wife who was running the 10k and parked the car, we wandered over to the start line, we already had our numbers and so I took the time to have solid warm up. I gently ran the first half a mile of the course and turned around, on the way back I did some butt kicks and high knees and opened up my pace and when I got back to the Start/Finish I stretched out everything. We were called together and given the usual brief, the 5k was an out and back and the 10k would be a repeat of that. The RD made a point of asking people to line up according to how they were going to race; fast 5k, fast 10k so one and to my surprise there was some shuffling about, I kissed my wife and wished her good luck and made my way to the front.

The idea really was to really race this as hard as I could and with a ready, set, go we were off! Two runners shot off and I followed they soon opened a lead and another runner was pacing off me and then overtook me I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that I was running at a 5:40 pace, well that’s not going to last I thought and eased back, I was overtaken by several more runners and I settled into my pace and thought about my cadence and keeping it high. I was about 8th or 9th place at this point. I reached the turnaround skipped past the water stand and set off on the return.

The route was on a footpath along the side of a creek and while mostly flat there were a couple of “rolls” and one section that dropped us under a road and of course this had an up the other side, more interestingly were the run off culverts that were a V shape and about four feet wide you had to judge your footing as you approached them so as to mot reduce your speed too much most of them I managed one or two I didn’t and end up juddering through. Another two runners overtook me in the last mile and I drafted them but they pulled away with half a mile to go. With the last 400 yard left I noticed that people using the 10k lane and turning round to go back out on their second lap, first one then two and then another two I sprinted through the finish and hit stop on my Garmin. I was detagged and made my way through the chute I looked at my 305 and saw; 19:43:74. Woot! A 1:04 improvement on my PR from last year, I am awaiting the official times etc but I think I came fifth overall and have to be in the top 3 for my age; this I am guessing from looking at the others who finished ahead of me.

A quick shout to the sponsors; DHP, it was a welcoming and well run race. DHP (Diaz Human Performance) provides specialized training for runners and triathletes, they are also a major Polar dealer in the area hence the free shoe bag in the photo. I have no financial interest but I did use them last year for my V02 max and RMR tests, you can read about that here.

Well the proof of the pudding is in the eating; well running - if you want to race fast train fast. I had the pudding later in the day! I am on my bike today and have my last long, well medium run; 15 miles on Sunday and then that’s it full taper mode for two weeks. The hay, as they say, is in the barn!

Quick edit: Now the results have posted I did come 5th overall and was first in my age group with a 19:42!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Swap Beat Week 3 Results

Well the only constant is change and week 3 has seen plenty of that; the table has turned on its head and like a good martini is well shaken. After no long run the previous weekend resulting in a slight creep up Sunday’s race certainly had an effect! That being said it was never my intention to claim any swag…in fact I am trying to get rid of it and as Pat was a winner last week this week's winners are…drumroll, well you can read it yourself: Julianne and Robin, congrats to you both – great job!

Same as every week go to the SWAG page and choose your prize Julianne has first pick, contact the donor for shipping and you’re all set. So with Thanksgiving this week there will be Turkey Trots going on allover the country the question is will you be taking a trip to the trailhead or track or will it be a tryp-to-phan!

The Google Word Verification stalking continues and in line with the fact that this is a weight loss competition this seemed a little close the mark, 0/10 spelling but you get the idea!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

PCTR Pt Mugu 50k

This post could also easily have been titled: A race of two halves or SLB; your mind is writing checks you body can’t cash! But I am getting ahead of myself.

As I left my house I had one eye on the weather, living inland it’s almost a given at this time of the year that the weather will not be as warm at the ocean and I wasn’t disappointed. Low cloud obscured the sun and the starting temperature was 56f degrees; perfect running weather. I made the short drive to the start line and arrived in good time with nearly an hour to go before the race actually started, I was amazed at the number of cars already there and I was forced to park on PCH. I grabbed my coffee and walked to the registration table. After I had picked up my number and pinned it to my shorts I bumped into Meiko from the TRC who was running the 50k and then I also saw Billy and Jes also from the TRC, Billy was running the 30k with some friends from a RW world forum, Jes was running the 50k and was worried; she has been suffering from ITB issues and was dreading the thought of a DNF, I gave over my mantra band and told her to think about the acronym for the next 6-7 hours and see if she could work it out! I also bumped into someone from work who was running the 18k and his wife who ran the 9k, quite a contrast to this time last year where I just turned up ran and left!

I went through my stretching routine garnering a few odd looks as I prostrated myself in the parking lot, but whatever, and then chatted with Jes waiting for the gun to off, it did and so did we.

The race is run around a figure of 8, it starts at a parking lot just by the ocean. You run the first loop twice and then one and a bit of the second loop, it has you running up and over two valley passes and covers 5 hills each of which are about a 1000' of climbing. The first mile is along a reasonably wide path this is followed by another two miles along a twisty single track and you gain your first 1000’, needless to say because of the steepness of the incline lots of people slow to a walk and if you get bunched up your forced to move at their pace, with this in mind I pushed hard at the beginning to get a good place. I pushed up the hill and topped out after about 35 minutes. The trail then rolls for a couple of miles looping back and then drops down for another five until you reach the start point. Having only run once this week post surgery my legs had a real spring in them and these miles all whizzed by at sub 10 minute mile pace (four at sub nine). I reached the start and blew past the aid station without stopping, I was wearing my Wasp vest and had a handheld and was popping a gel every forty minutes.

From the start point I started up hill #2. Two miles later I was up the top and running down the fireroad into the next canyon, this was a route change from last year and apparently this was because several people fell running down the single track; which we would run up it this year. While running down a fireoad is fine, this one was strewn with ankle turning rocks and we had to swerve to avoid some mountain bikers. I pushed on the down the hill opening my stride and pace and dropping in a 7:29 mile, this was my fastest mile by far so far and would be the quickest of the day. As we bottomed out we picked up another fireroad and hit the second aid station and turn around point, I grabbed some water to cool off and wet my cool tie. From here we about faced and ran along the fire turning left to pick up a single track trail which then rejoined the fireroad and we ran back over the hill; three down two to go. It was here I recorded some video (sorry about the angle!) as I hadn’t taken many photos. Quite clearly I had in mind what could happen in the next half. I pushed over the top and back down into the starting valley and it was during this climb that the cramps started. I am not prone to cramps, in fact I can probably say I’ve never had them while running, but three times in the last week I have had cramps;hamstring once and calves twice. This time it was my calves again. Not bad, well not really bad but bad enough especially on the uphills so much so that from here any major hill became a real slog. To be honest I have no idea why, I was taken an Endurolyte every hour and had no real change to my diet in the last week, so it’s is and remains a mystery, one that will need to be solved within the next two weeks!

Running downhill my calves were mostly cramp free unless I caught my toe on a rock and then they would lock and I would need to stretch them so I endeavored to be careful. My pace was falling off from a 10 minute ish miles, it had crept to 10:40 on the third hill, I managed to reduce that to 10:30 on the way down but it would soon creep up again. The fourth hill was a repeat of the first, although this time having shed the 30k runners the 50kers where spread far and wide and I had this section mostly to myself, I plodded up and recorded my slowest mile on the way 18:04; definitely a run of two halves, this time I topped out at a considerably slower pace and made my across the rollers and actually overtook someone who looked to be having a tougher time than me. I closed off the loop and heading back down passing the start and finish for a torturous forth time. With only 9k left there was no question of not finishing but my goal of sub 6 hours was looking less and less likely and I focused on getting a new distance PR. I had in my mind that I needed to beat 6:24 (which is actually 10 minutes faster than my PR, d'uh!) but it was all to the good. Again the climb seemed tortuously long and was painful. As soon as I reached the top it was time to turn around and head back down. With one eye on my watch the last three miles got successively faster. I could feel someone behind and when they turned down the offer to pass I figured that I would just pull out all the stops and go for it aiming for anything faster than the 6:24 which would be a fair reward. I covered the last 0.78 of mile in 6:31 and crossed the finish line according to my Garmin in 6:22:52, (also according to my Garmin it measured 32+ miles) it was only when I started typing my report tonight I realized that my PR was 6:34 so I actually reduced it by twelve minutes and not two! Official times are yet to post.

I stretched out and grabbed some Sprit which hit the spot as it always does and relaxed chatting to other finishers and Sarah, one half of Sarah and Wendell the Race Directors who, once again, put on a great event, anyone in California could do a lot worse than attend a PCTR event as their first ultra, they’re well organized and very friendly. I hung around for a while and saw Jes finish; after 7 hours she still hadn’t figured out the acronym and I didn’t tell her!

So post event here is the postmortem; going out too fast too soon, such a rooky mistake, aided to my blow up in the second half, I could have probably bluffed my way through however the addition of the cramps really knocked my game into touch, had I not had those I could have run more of the ups; I walked a lot of them and could had had faster coverage on the flats, that would have reduced my time significantly, a minute here, ninety seconds there and a sub 6 hour race would have been a reality. That being said and not wanting snatch total defeat from the jaws of victory I did PR, this was actually my 1 year ultraversary (there's no such word but you get the idea) and last year I finished in 6:54 so it's a pretty big reduction year on year.

Of more concern is the recent cramping episodes, I need to do a bit of research and address then as it’s one thing to have then at mile 16 in a 31 mile race but having them at mile 16 in a 50 mile race is a whole ‘nother ball of wax so that gives me two week before Twin Peaks to figure it out. Other than that from a fitness perspective I felt pretty good, HR was high but it usually is I peaked at 185 bpm and spent 5:30 in Zones 4 (51% of total) and 5 (36% of total). Recovery was fine and although a bit achey and stiff I am in pretty good shape.

There’s a few photos here and the MotionBased data is here:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Recycling Dean!

I just finished reading the new Dean Karnazes book 50/50. It’s taken me a while for several reasons; it’s not exactly a page turner, I’ve seen the movie, which in my mind is better and conveys more of the atmosphere of the event, I seem to be a state ongoing exhaustion so I am gabbing zzzs within 2 minutes of my head on the pillow and, to be frank, it’s not very well written. Let me qualify that last statement, the sub title of the book is: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 days- and how you too can achieve Super Endurance!, gosh that’s a big statement, even with a large spoonful of salt it’s a pretty medium sized claim, which, unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to or even close. The level of writing is too superficial. It does a good job of touching on a lot of topics; nutrition, training, racing, running clubs and many more but doesn't go into them in any depth or real detail. What the book does do is provide you with a series of doors that anyone interested in or has just started running will need to open and paths that need to be followed to find you own answers. Do I recommend it, well even after my criticism the answer is yes. It is entertaining and you do get an small insight into the Endurance 50 event, the logistics and the highs and the lows, most importantly you get a feel for the average runner who was able to get out an experience it for themselves; something that is much more reinforced in the movie see the trailer below which always puts a lump in my throat.

So should you go out and spend $20 on it the answer is no and with that in mind I will send my copy gratis to the first person who answers the riddle of my arm warmers post your answer in the Comments section. Acceptance is conditional that you write your review, as long or as short as you like and then you give it up for grabs on your blog.

..."my biggest fear was worrying whether or not I could finish it, but it was when I stopped to think about it the only way I would fail was if I didn't come out and try"...Anonymous 50/50 runner

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What are the odds?

Check out this word Google stalking me?

I suppose if they were it would be 'runfar', just to pander to my ego, even so, spooky or what!

Swap Beat Week 2 Results

As promised here are the results of Week 2. Some significant shuffling across the ranks and two new winners. Congratulations Laura and Pat who storm into first and second place. No surprises there as I know both of these are serious competitors; Laura’s attempting to be the youngest runner to 50/50; that is run a marathon in each state! She’s having a tough time right now so hopefully this will give her a well deserved boost. If you haven’t read Pat’s blog he has set himself (and a few unsuspecting pals) the challenge of completing The Beast a series of ultra races in Virginia. Two hardcore individuals.

Winners please post your first and second prize choices in the comments section assuming no conflict you can then contact the owner of that prize for shipping etc, if you both want the same stuff Laura has priority. Here's the list of SWAG.Remember you can’t win two weeks in a row so Laura and Pat are out of the running this week. Congrats to everyone who went negative, with no long run last weekend I crept up…at least that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

A little something for the weekend...hopefully!

So those of you looking for the Week 2 results of Swap Beat will have to wait an extra day, I tallied everyone’s losses and then promptly forget to email myself the spreadsheet so it is stuck at work, check back later today, however we do have two new winners!

Anyway as 2008 draws to a close minds are planning 2009. I myself find myself straddling this year’s end and next years start with a late 'A' race in ’08 and an early 'A' race in ’09; more on next year later.

I am within a month of this cycle’s 'A' race; Twin Peaks 50 miler and this weekend, fingers crossed, I’ll be on the start line of my penultimate tuning race; PCTR Pt Mugu 50k. It seems hard to imagine that this will be the anniversary of my first ultra marathon. This time last year I was undecided on what distance to run and in fact whether to run at all, I was just coming off of injury and had kept open the option of bailing at the 30k and 40k mark you can read the race report here. I say fingers crossed as last week, albeit a week late, I had my little surgery I am now on the mend, I have a follow up visit this Thursday and hope to get one run and a bike in this week. I was hoping for a gentle five miler last night but it just felt too soon; without going into graphic details the bruising looks like I came off worse after three rounds with a pit pull with lockjaw, so we’ll see how things go later today. I’ll taper as such Friday and Saturday and that’ll be that. While it is a training run I do have some goals. In order of increasing appreciation:

3rd: Finish; never assumed
2nd: New 50K PR this would be sub 6:34
1st: Sub 6 hours; my epiphany was 5:54

So plenty of things to play for and with the following weekend being Thanksgiving it’s very likely that this will be the last long run (20m+) before Twin Peaks so it had better be a good one. Having run it last year the good thing is that I know the course however the bad thing is that I know the course. Here’s the elevation profile, I’ll let you decide if you would sooner be surprised or not!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What you see is what you get; how to customize you Forerunner screens

And so in light of Alice’s and Bob’s recent observations that the Garmin Forerunner 305 is now on sale at Costco for $160 (guess what my wife is getting for Christmas!) I thought I would share some of the features and things you can do with yours, this will I think also apply to a 205 with the exception of anything to do with HR.

When I first got my Garmin Forerunner 305, one of the annoyances was the need to dig into the settings menu to look at the time, it wasn’t until somebody told me you can customize your screens that I realized what other info I could look at. So this quick post will tell you how you can set up the three screens to see the data you want to see rather than the default.

There are three screens that rotate available for customization: Main 1, Main 2 and Running, this is the same for “Biking” which I use and for “Other” which I haven’t, I assume swimming, skiing and snowboarding, or indeed anything else that begins with "S" know skating, stamp collecting and Scrabble etc, could be used here. A couple of other points to note; in case you wondering what the little white square is just below the word Garmin, it's a reminder to me to switch between Bike and Run and the "flecking" below the Start/stop and Lap Buttons is delamination of the surface due to insect repellent during the summer; water resistant; yes, insect repellent resistant; no!

Anyway to get back on topic. To set up the screens to show some really interesting data follow these instructions:

Press Mode to enter the Settings menu
Use Up/Down to scroll down to Settings, press Enter
Press Enter to select General
Scroll down to Data Fields press Enter
Select Main 1 Press Enter

Here you will be prompted to select the number of quadrants you want and will see the screen divided into four quarters, in the middle is the quadrant tally scroll up or down to select the number of quadrants you want (1 is minimum, 4 is maximum). Using the Up/Down to scroll to the number of quadrants you want, press Enter. You will then be prompted to use the Up/Down and Enter buttons to select the field you want to view.

You then repeat that for all for quadrants. Press Mode to exit back to the Main 1/Main2/Running menu and repeat for Main 2 and Running.

My preferences are:
Running: Pace / Lap Pace / Calories
Main 1: Pace / Average Pace / Distance / Lap Distance (a lap for me is 1 mile)
Main 2: Distance / Heart Rate / Average Cadence / Time, this is moving time

For Biking I have the following:
Biking: Time / Current Lap / Average Cadence / Lap Cadence
Main 1: Speed / Average Speed / Distance / Lap Distance
Main 2: Distance / Heart Rate / Average Cadence / Time, this is moving time

As you can see there are some repeats, to be honest after playing with it these are the ones that I come back to more often that not.

For both running and biking for the cadence to work you will need a Footpod and Cadence Monitor. The Footpod also allows you to use a Forerunner on a Treadmill and the Cadence Monitor can be used on a bike trainer, both of which are important to those of you in more winter climates.

Finally you can vary the speed of screen rotation. From the same menu as Data Fields select Display, select Auto Scroll Timer; I suggest Fast to minimize the risk of running into a lamp post while gazing at all this newly discovered data.

PS the layout of text to photos looked ok to me on a 19"monitor at 1280 x 1024

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bon Tempo!

After the fun and games of Wednesday’s intervals (or not as the case was) Thursday’s tempo should have been a breeze, and it was. The plan called for 10 miles in total, the first 9 at 7 min miles or 5k pace + 15 seconds and a mile cool down. I managed to get to start point a little earlier than usual in an effort to minimize the amount of time I was running in the dusk/dark and by a little after 4pm I was on my way. The path I run is the beach path starting at Will Rogers and heading North for a half mile then south for four and half miles to the turnaround, South of Santa Monica Pier, and then basically a reverse on the way back, at this time of year it’s pretty quiet with a few runners, skaters and cyclists etc but it does allow you to pick up some speed, with the major obstacle being sand over the path luring you to slip and fall or forcing you into the path of oncomers. It gets a bit busier by the pier but as by that time its cooling down and getting dark you’ve plenty of room. After trading in Gel DS I am now running in Asics Banditos which are much more comfortable but a little big, I had to go up 1.5 sizes over my road shoes which are half a size up on my regular shoes and I am wondering if that was a half size too much.

The first five miles went by with a huff and puff and I reached my turnaround in 34:55. I had in mind a 70 minute round trip which would mean 9 miles at sub 7 minutes to make up for the cool down tenth mile, so unless I ran a solid negative split 70 minutes was not looking likely. I stopped to grab some water from a fountain and headed back. By mile 7 I was feeling it but only missed the 49 minute mark by one second. Mile 8 and Mile 9 were both over 7 minutes and mile 10 over 8 minutes. So I finished with a 1:11:47 for the round trip, faster than last weeks run but not quite where I wanted it to be. Here are the GTC digits:

A few people have asked how I come up with these targets for the intervals and tempo runs. They are based on those prescribed by the FIRST plan, in fact my whole training plan is based on that; 3 quality runs a week, 2 cross training sessions a week. I initially tweaked the first 8 weeks (base building) with alternating long runs and long bike rides, and then during the last 4 and next 2 weeks (speedwork etc) added in the Intervals and Tempo runs and an extra run the day after my long run. I took those designed for a marathon and cherry picked and tweaked them. Here is a scan of the book.

All in all I would say that the speedwork is hard, but the upside is it is rewarding, after only four weeks of it I could now go out and get a personal best for the 10k and half marathon, after last nights run I would have had 26 minutes to cover the remaining 3.1 miles. However I would caution that it is at pace that you open yourself up to more opportunities for injury, so it is important to build up to it, the beauty of that of course is that you get to see almost instant results week on week. It really reinforces the maxim that if you want to race fast you have to train fast!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Intervals…that means you stop in between, right?

My plan had me running intervals last night (1 x 400, 1 x 800, 1 x 1200, recover to 100-110 HR bpm in between) rinse, repeat and top and tail with a warm up/cool down. I programmed my Forerunner on the fly at the parking lot which is a bit cumbersome but if you’re got Crackberry thumb dexterity you can do it in a couple minutes. Changed and set off. Two miles warm up check, threw in some high knees and butt kicks and felt good. Got the go alarm and we're off:

First 400 1:26, 41 seconds rest
Next 800 3:06 53 seconds rest
Next 1200 4:48 (and hereafter it went to hell and a handbasket) 4 seconds rest WTF!
Next 400 1:35 (duh yeah after 4 seconds rest) and then I missed the next rest interval completely
Next 1.26 miles! 10:07 hang on, 1.26 miles that's two in one…ugh I give up!
Mile and a quarter cool down

It would seem that I missed the rest period ran through the next half mile, missed the next rest period and then finished off with the last interval…sigh! Not the best of workouts but kinda sorta got it done, my first two split were pretty good and the third was ok. Next time I think I will just use a simple distance or time rest period. But if anyone from Garmin is reading this can we have a vibrating alert in the 505! Tempo run tonight swapped from Friday as I am at the Doctors (again!), that's easy; slow for a bit, fast for a bit, slow for a bit...even I can manage that!

This week I broke the 1000 mile mark for this training cycle (395 running/628 bike), only 250 or so to go to the start line and then another 50 to the finish line!

Maddy and NikeMom have claimed their Swap-Beat SWAG; Robin's shirt/socks and JKRunning's iTunes card have gone but there's still plenty of good stuff left!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

'tis the Season!

Well it’s that time of year and in an attempt to at least appear to be organized, trust me I will fail miserably and given that all of my family is overseas this is always an expensive mistake! and look at some Christmas shopping! Now unfortunately, other than my wife; who is erring over to the darkside of triathlons there are no more runners in my immediate family so the Christmas shopping can fall between socks and sweaters, I like to think of it as an incentive for them to take up a sport!

Unfortunately the economic times we find ourselves mandate that we try to get the biggest bang for a buck (pound/euro/yen delete where applicable) so here are a couple of suggestions that might want to add your list or get for the runner in your family or hell you could just go out and get it today and blow off waiting the 43 shopping days left!

Costco is now stocking Garmin Forerunner 305s for $199, now I thought this was a good price until I checked Amazon where you can get one for $190 (free shipping) and you can bundle in a Cadence Monitor and Bike/Wrist QR strap for an extra $50.

Hammer Nutrition is having an end of year blowout on everything. Up to 50% off. I snagged a new cycling jersey, bib shorts and two pair of socks all in for $60. The clothing is made by Voler here in SoCal and it’s top quality stuff, they also carry Tri suits and have a ladies specific range. I also grabbed a Patagonia Capilene shirt ($18) and Headsweat Visor ($10) and a couple of extra water bottles ($2.50 each), you can never have enough water bottles, right!

On the nutrition front I threw in my basket a replen of Perpetuem, and Raspberry Gel; 26 serving jug. Perpetuem is my drink of choice for the long run (2hours plus) it has a mild taste and is easy on stomach, here’s the blurb from the Hammer website:

...Perpetuem - This product, introduced in early 2003, takes the concept of long-distance fueling to the max. Though many athletes use Perpetuem for shorter distance events (which is perfectly acceptable), we designed it primarily for extreme endurance events lasting several hours to many days. Perpetuem contains 75% carbohydrates (from long-chain maltodextrins - no added simple sugars), 13% fatty acids from a specially made long-chain lyso-lecithin, and nearly 10% soy protein. A small portion of fat seems to cue your body to more liberally release its fatty acids stores, which account for up to two-thirds of one's energy requirements in long bouts of exercise. A little fat in the fuel also slightly slows the rate of digestion and thus promotes caloric satisfaction, another attractive plus during primarily aerobic ultra distance events...

Suffice to say, it works!

The gels are water soluble (read; wash out of clothes easily) Raspberry and Vanilla are my favorite and you can mix them together to get RaspNilla or VanBerry?!? Espresso has a high caffeine punch for when you're at mile 28 so you could have a RaspPresso or EspreNilla or go wild and have a RaspVanSo! You’ll need a bottle to mix them in but, hey, they’re on sale too!

There’s a bunch of other Hammer products I take; Endorolytes, Premium Insurance Caps, Mito Caps, Race Day Boost, Race Caps Supreme which I have been using for the past year and will be reviewed at the end of the year.

So charge up you Credit Card and go wild!