Sunday, February 24, 2008

Taper week

Well it’s taper week for next Sunday’s LA Marathon, the past week has been very low key with only one run; not quite what was planned but after tweaking my knee last Monday I wanted to take things easier. I managed a nine miler on Thursday which felt ok at the time but subsequently my knee was still twitchy. Over the weekend my wife and I headed off for a relaxing spa weekend at La Costa spa just north of San Diego, this year is our 10 year wedding anniversary and although we are a little early we thought we would take advantage of my in laws, who are visiting at the moment, and leave the boys with them. I had a great massage which freed off a lot of tension and so far things are feeling pretty good, of course two uninterrupted nights sleep didn’t go amiss! I intend to cut right back on the mileage this week, I ran the PCTR 50k without having run anything the preceding two weeks so I am not too phased by this. I am off to my ever friendly chiropractor later this week and my FIL who is a retired osteopath will give my legs a massage on Friday so I should be in as good a shape as possible. All things considered the marathon is really a training run and although I have a couple of goals in mind I am not going out all guns blazing; I am looking to finish sub 4:00.

Following up the trip to the movies last week I was inspired to order from Amazon; The Runner, the story of David Horton’s record breaking 66 day run of the 2700 mile long Pacific Coast Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada, it by the same film maker JB Benna so it should be good, I’ll let you know once I have watched it.

The hunt for shoes has drawn to a close, at least for now, the last pair I tried; Vasque Mercurys were too tight, so for now out of sheer boredom and the advice I received via The List from people who have completed LD, that the trail version of Asics' 2120s or 2130s as they will be now will be more than robust enough for the run. I expect to have to revisit this later but for now it’s a suitable solution.

On a final note I signed up for The Great Race half, it’s two weeks before LD and will be a good run to end the training phase and start the taper.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An early nine and a late night...

I managed an early 9 miles Thursday morning care of the baby who decided that 4am was a good time for an early breakfast. By the time I had done the necessary I figured I might was well lace’m up and head out the door for a quick run, nothing too fast and nothing too far. The sky was grey and flat and the sunrise was unforgettably forgettable. I notched off the first 8 miles at a 8:39 pace and slowed down to cool down for the last mile with the customary walk up the hill to finish. Lots of stretching and both quads felt pretty good.

Thursday night, my wife and I headed off to see the premiere of Dean Karnazes' film; UltraMarathonMan. It was pouring with rain and LA traffic being what it is we arrived 45 minutes late! However all was not lost and it looked like we only missed the first 10-15 minutes or so as he was only (only ha!) on marathon #5. The movie was, I have to say great, and putting aside all the controversy over the man, the accomplishment in itself is pretty staggering. The scenery was beautiful from the rain soaked streets of Atlanta to the trails of North Dakota to the skyscrapers of Manhattan. The cinematography was inspired with the cameramen running alongside, behind and in front to capture the images and conversations as the runners ran and the soundtrack drew you into the mood. The message is strong, and without getting into it, but to note in these days of obesity, diabetes and heart disease getting out there and running a mile, ten, 26.2 or more can and will make a difference not only to yourself but as an inspiration to others. The film unfortunately does not have a distributor so who knows when it will be on the silver screen near you, but when comes, go!

This is the trailer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Over listening!

So my last post ended having had a good week...not so this. Presidents Day I had some extra time so I thought I would take my bike for a spin on the roads and enjoy the daylight, nothing grand a quick 10 mile loop around the local roads, it was all over an done with in 40 minutes. I got back, stretched had a quick shower and carried on with the day, it wasn’t till later that evening that both of my quads and one knee started playing up. The quads were, well not painful, but enough of a niggle to warrant icing several times, and my knee seemed to be more to do with the connective tissue so that also got iced. I’ve taken Tuesday and Wednesday off and we’ll see what happens on Thursday.

I find, after my injuries from last year, that I am often “over listening” to my body for odd signs of something amiss and sometimes I hear something that's just not there. It is, of course, best when there is no noise, well silence is golden!

Monday, February 18, 2008

All quiet on the West Coast front

Well it’s been a quiet week, Monday I rested, I should have pushed weights but I was pretty spent after the weekend's long runs so I skipped it. It proved to be the right choice as my easy run on Tuesday went well, I dropped my car of at the VW dealership, it was well overdue for a service and ran back home for just over 9, clicking off the first 8 miles in 1:08:02, a nice even 8:30 pace. Wednesday was intervals, I was forced onto the treadmill and managed to get a nice set of negative splits, over the four miles; 8:52 (eek, that was horrible), 7:11 (that’s better), 6:52 (getting there) and 6:47 (ok now were firing on all four cylinders, just to keep the car theme going), of course none of this data would be possible without the Garmin footpod, trust me if you use a 205 or 305 and run on a treadmill, get one (Marcy, Amazon have them at 67% off!) Thursday was a tempo run, again I had to use the treadmill, but the splits were:

12:26 cool down and walk

Somehow I missed the middle two miles at tempo pace?!? Put it down to old age. Friday I rested. Saturday started early and I managed just over 20 miles on the trails at Cheeseboro Canyon, another park nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, my Garmin decided to run out of battery before I had even started, I think I turned it on instead of off the night before so it just drained out overnight! Duh, told you I was losing my mind as I got older! In addition to the header picture, here are some photos of the trails. These trail are the ones used for the Great Race of Agoura which is the first weekend of April, I am kicking around the idea running it as my last long run before I start my taper for Leona Divide, I ran it last year and it’s a lot of fun, it's 85% full already so I need make up my mind asap . Sunday night was a headlamp and highway session for another 14.5 miles making a total of just over 35 miles for the weekend and 57.56 for the week. This week was supposed to be a step back, but I am away next weekend and have the LA Marathon the following one so I switched so I can have an easier week and then a mini taper for the marathon. Not surprising my quads are pretty shot but I am treating them to liberal doses of Flex-Power, yeah I know it sounds super cheesy but it's good stuff, and they are responding pretty well, heat seems to help rather than ice.

On the shoe front I am having a bit of a nightmare, I returned the Merrells with the bad sole pattern and have received and returned a pair of Montrail Hardrocks or "Hardkicks" they were so stiff and a pair of Merrell Overdrive IIs; different sole pattern but an uncomfortable "vamp" (see page 90 Runners World March 08), I am going to try some Vasques next, finger crossed!

So, other than the footwear issue, a good week all in all and I’ll take a large box of good weeks between now and Leona Divide thank you very much!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Getting it done!

I had multiple titles running through my head for this post; 9 on the 9th un, deux, trois! All Fuax Down; homage to the fake rest day! The hills are alive; with the sound of screaming. But as you can see I settled for a nice plain one that is probably more descriptive of the weekend than anything else. This was week two of ten where I run back-to-back long runs, my training schedule has shifted from prescribed mileage to “3 hours” or better still “3-4 hours” or the much looked forward to 4-5 hours, I have run for this long before, in fact I have gone as far as nearly seven but not on consecutive days.

Anyway the plan was an early start Saturday and a late start Sunday, well we all know what happens to a plan, I’ll spare you the details but I ended up going out after 9pm Saturday night and got home around midnight, suffice to say it was an unadventurous 18 miles, what I call a highways and headtorch run, so Nancy there’s un and duex! Sunday I had a window in the afternoon to get out so not one to turn down the opportunity to hit the trails I headed out at 1:30pm, after our cold weather recently I had started to forget quite how warm it can get round here; 79f. I had read Doug’s race report earlier in the day and not one to disappoint I headed for the hills. The first four miles were fairly rolling and I was looking for a bit more a challenge. I had spied a trail a while back but had not been able to find the trailhead to start, this time I spent a little time exploring and managed to find this well covered single track path the wound its way up the side of the hill. A mile and half later and some 700’ elevation gain I topped out. By this time I was starting to feel the cumulative effect of the night before and the heat, I was also under the gun time wise so I turned around and headed back down knowing that I still had three miles to get back to the parking lot, taking the direct route. The last two miles were, I admit a slog, mostly at a JKM; Just Keep Moving pace, hence the title for the post.

I finished up back at the parking lot with 10.44 on my 305, so Nancy there’s your trios. That gave me a total of 28 miles for the weekend, some 5 miles short of my target of 33, with hindsight several things impacted this; time, well that’s always a precious commodity around here and timing; heading out on Sunday less than 13 hours since I had finished the night before was a bit of a stretch. Let’s see what happens next week.

Here's the Garmin data:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Black tie and red carpet...probably not!

Some of you may have heard of Dean Karnazes, some of you might know his book Ultramarathon Man; Confessions of an All-night Runner and some may have heard of the 50 Marathon:50 States:50 Days that he completed in 2006, well what you might not know is that J.B Benna followed Dean and made a documentary about this feat…and I am going to it's premiere!

Well ok I had to buy the tickets but, there were only 25 for sale and I got two of them. According to the website: What’s included in the price of your ticket:

Get pumped…

  • You will be the first ever to see this feature length documentary about Dean Karnazes Endurance 50 event
  • Deluxe swag bags with North Face gear, Journeyfilm products, Accelerade, and organic Nature’s Path treats
  • There will be a Question and Answer session right after the film with Director J.B. Benna and UltraMarathon Man Dean Karnazes

Here’s your chance to meet the filmmakers and Dean and get the behind the scenes scoop.

So not only do I get to see the film, but there's Q&A, swag and a chance of an autograph! Anyone who subscribes to the ultralist or has heard Scott Jurek's interview will realize that Dean Karnazes is a controversial figure within the ultrarunning community, personally I'll reserve judgment on his character and admire his feats.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New kicks...not, the tale of the illpositioned lug!

So after a long chat with the folks at Road Runner Sports about what shoes to get for trail running, my Asisc 2120 (Trail) are on their last legs, I decided on a pair of Merrell Overdrives, much to my annoyance, every size except mine was on sale! It’s a conspiracy I tell you! The good news is that I live, in relative terms, close to their shipping center so they arrived within 36 hours, oh good though I in time for the weekend. I cracked the box and immediately got to inhale that new shoe smell, you know it’s like new car smell but it’s gone after only ten miles. I pulled out the insoles and fitted my othotics inside and slipped them on, left foot; toe room - check, no heel - rub check, snug fit - check, right foot; toe room - check, no heel rub - check, snug fit - check, I stood up, what was this a stone in them? Right in the middle of my toes in my right shoe a stone, I slipped them off and check, nope no stone, put them back on and walked around a bit, their aggressive sole pattern squeaked on the floor and there it was again, I looked at the sole thinking maybe something was stuck in the grip but nope nothing, I walked around some more, same issue. I had another look at the sole, a lug! Right in the middle of the where my toes end there is a lug that is pushing back up through the shoe into my foot! I checked my wife’s pair and they have changed the sole pattern, hers is much more uniformed. Grr, back in the box and back to the drawing board! Next stop Montrial Hardrock, fingers crossed.

I had to shuffle my rest day around from Friday to Wednesday, two sick children resulted in about 2 hours sleep on Tuesday night so I was banjaxxed all of Wednesday. On a positive note my Intervals are getting quicker; I managed four sub 7 minute miles yesterday; averaging a pace of 6:55, as is my Tempo run my 2 mile tempo pace averaged 7:25 which is a 16 second improvement over last week. Watch out Doug, I'm closing in!

Monday, February 4, 2008

R.unning U.related N.ews

Tomorrow is the last day for US cellphone users to avoid having their cellphone number released to telesales companies. So you start to expect a barrage of double glazing and aluminum siding sales calls. More concerning is that....YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS, yes international readers, incoming cellphones calls are charged to the receiver as well as the outgoing cost the caller, backwards huh!

There's a quick fix call the following number from your cellphone: 888 382 1222 or go the the Do Not Call Registry, it only takes a minute to do. Registering your phone blocks your number for five years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number. Help by passing this on.

Back to Back; Part 2 of 2

Yesterday was Part 2 in the first of my ten weekend back to back long runs. Using Doug’s suggestion of a faux rest day I waited till the end of the day before heading out. Unfortunately the end of the day came and went and the evening was well upon us by the time I was able to lace ‘m up, such is the joy of household with two small sick children who are merrily passing morphed germs back and forth. I quick look at the thermometer reveled a toasty 45f; time to wrap up. My plan called for three hours of running, conservatively that would be anything from 18 to 21 miles depending on pace. The route was a staple of mine around the local neighborhood with some long shallow hills. The first hour passed uneventfully apart from a couple of enthusiastic dogs, fortunately high fences kept them at bay and a couple of cellphone drivers, despite a headtorch, four flashing red lights, an orange vest and various reflective bits and bobs on my jacket and shoes etc, they just don’t see me, it’s not like I am a little guy either at 6’1”!

The second hour saw or drop in temperature and while legs did not feel too tired they were starting to feel cold, even with tights on. Discretion being the better part of valor I decided to start to head for home and a couple of miles later I was there. My pace wasn't great and I want to aim for 9 minute or less miles on Sundays, I averaged 9:34 but I was pleased with heart rate data with my average being 139 and my time in Zone 3 (130-148, an average of 139 or 74% of my max of 186) of 1:45:24, great for base building. Here are the numbers:

The weekend was a good start to the back to back ones that will last for the next two months; I was on my feet for over five hours and covered a little under 30 miles, fifty minutes less than my plan called for but I have adopted the 10% under rather than 1% over mantra. For the week I covered a little more than 50 miles, it's been a while since I had a 50 mile week so a good start all round.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Back to Back; Part 1 of 2.

I headed out nice and early this morning to get in the first half of my first back to back long weekend. The plan was to run one loop of the Bulldog 50k in Malibu Creek State Park. I had checked on the open times of the park the night before and as expected it was dawn to dusk, but there was no mention that the parking lot wasn’t actually open until 8:00am, so after turning around I ended up parking down the street. I donned my gear and trotted back down the road to the entrance. The first section of the run takes you past the parking lots and then drops you down to the side of a slow moving river, which, I think, drains in to the Malibu Reservoir. This then becomes slightly rolling fire road as you go along the trail and headed further into the valley. Any fans of MASH who run should add this to their to do list of runs as a lot of the episodes were filmed here and there are some abandoned vehicles, although they are really just rusting hulls now. A little further on and you take a left hand turn onto the Bulldog Trail; this is where the climbing starts.

There’s not much to say about the climb except it is, well, up. You start at about 900’ and top out 3.1 miles later at 2356’, where you turn onto the Backbone Trail or head up another 500' to the antenna farm at Castro Peak, the Bulldog Trail actually turns off before this point but the race route follows the Backbone Trail along the ridgeline. At this point I made the decision to do an out and back rather than the loop, I was being pushed for time and the delay caused by Crags Road meant I was behind schedule; it had taken two and quarter hours so far . At the Backbone/Castro junction I stopped to take some photos and was surprised to see someone running up behind me, I had walked some of the route that was either too steep or too gnarly to run so this other runner had actually been on my heels, still from experience it’s easier to run someone down than to open a lead. I packed my camera away and headed back down the trail. An hour or so and I was at the bottom of the valley, threading my way back through the crags, strange sight of the day; a pedalo! I took what I thought would be an alternative route back to the park entrance but it proved to be a dead end and after back doubling I was back at my car 15 later.

Another great run in the bag, albeit a bit shorter than planned and at a pace slower than I anticipated due to the terrain, next time I try the loop from the other direction to see if it's more runable. My legs feel pretty good and I am having an easy afternoon. I may go to a free yoga class tomorrow morning and then in the evening I have my second long run.

Here's the Garmin data:

Here are the rest of the photos and here is some video of the the views, they were amazing.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Legs don't fail me now!

Well my go fast beans departed and left me high and dry for last night's tempo run. Six miles around the local roads; two to warm up, two at 10k pace and two to cool down. The warm up went well, the next two miles were tough and I could feel the tiredness in my legs, I managed to squeeze at an average pace 7:41 for the two miles which translates to 52:45 10k; some five minutes slower than my best 10k time, the last two miles were just a slog to get home. Time to rest up and recover for the weekend, this weekend see that start of my back to back long runs; 3 hours on Saturday and 4 on Sunday. I am going to follow Doug’s plan for a “fake” recovery day to maximize the downtime in between. The plan is to run Saturday morning on trails and Sunday nights on roads.