Just posted my race calendar for 2012 on the right hand side of the site —>
6/15 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : This race is just a tune-up and a motivating force to get me in the pool during the spring. I’d like to swim 1:10 or so for 2.4 miles, which will be faster than my time last year.
6/23 Pacific Crest Half-Ironman : I’ll be racing at a pace above my Ironman race pace, and testing out all the planned nutrition and gear I plan to use during Ironman Canada. My goal is to beat my time (5 hrs 9 mins) from 2002 when I did this race (and IM Canada) in the same year. I was a much faster runner and swimmer then but I am a faster cyclist now (and generally more experienced racer) so I have a shot at achieving the goal.
7/26: RAMROD (152mi Bike) : OK, this isn’t a race, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and after volunteering last year I’ve guaranteed myself a spot. The 152 mile bike route circles Mt. Rainer and features 10,000 feet of climbing and some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer. My goal for this is to finish, and eat a TON of pizza afterwards.
8/17 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : My only goal for this race is to swim faster than my time in June and do a great job drafting off others. Targeting a sub 1:10 swim.
8/26 Ironman Canada : This is my “A” race for the year, my big goal. 10 years I raced here in 12 hours 09 minutes, and my goal is to beat that time and go under 12 hours. Back then…I was a much faster swimmer/runner…but poor fueling strategy left me crippled during the last half of the run. This time around, with proper pacing and fueling I have a good shot at going sub 12.
In the fall I will do at least one more triathlon and then transition to running races. Depending on how healthy I feel, I’d like to do a 50K in October/November and give The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler a go.
For almost every race I have ever done, I had a good time during the race even if my time totally stunk. I can’t say that about the Portland Marathon yesterday. I finished it, but it was very painful and just not fun at all.
The one redeeming quality was that I saw how much work I need to do to get my lower legs healthy, as I am suffering from a bad case of Plantar Fasciiitis that hasn’t gone away since April. It has been bearable through my entire summer of racing Ironman, another 50 miler and a few other tris….and even seemed to be getting better of late – but it is far from gone. During this race my feet ended up hurting so bad that one point I thought I wouldn’t finish. Eventually I did but it was a miserable experience.
Here is the play-by-play:
Goal: I planned to treat this as a training run. Last year I ran 3:54 with little training after just getting back into running after many years away. This year I wanted to run 3:30, holding a steady 8 min/mile pace. It seemed totally doable based on my training runs and past races.
Mile 0: I started in the first “wave”. They had something like 6 waves, with the first being the fastest. I looked around and saw about 1500 people in my wave (there were 12,000 in the marathon and 3,000 in the half marathon that started in the same time). Looking around I saw a 3:10 pace sign and then a 3:15 pace sign….I realized quickly that the people around me would going far faster than me! I made a conscious effort to not get caught up in the hysteria of the race start and stick to a conservative pace.
Miles 1-6.2 (10K): 49 minutes…right on pace. Felt a little flat, but my feet didn’t hurt and was enjoying the run. The weather was cool (50 degrees) and it was threatening to rain.
Miles 6.2-10: Light rain started. Glad I wore my rain jacket. Taking splits I saw I was running a few 7:40 miles…slowed down a little to stick to 8min pace.My feet were still hurting a bit. I was waiting for this pain to go away, as normally it does on my longer runs.
Miles 10-13.1 (half-marathon) : Came through the half-marathon 13.1 miles…with a time of 1:44 flat. Perfect pacing. However, my feet were not getting better….instead they were getting worse. I started to think this run would be more challenging than I thought.
Miles 13.1 – 17: My feet got progressively worse….and at mile 16 hit the toughest part of the course…a 3/4 mile hill. My feet started to hurt so bad I thought they were going to explode. I stopped cold and stretched a little….which helped. The rain picked up and it got cold. Not having fun!
Miles 17-20: I walked 30 seconds and ran 4 minutes….and repeated that routine. My pace slowed to 9:30 miles. My feet were going numb and were very painful. My ankles started to hurt. I thought I might be doing real damage to my feet at this point (Note: I didn’t do any permanent damage after all)
Miles 20-25: I slowed even more…walking more and running less. Often I would just stop and not move at all…bending over and stretching my hamstrings and calves…hoping to take some pressure off my feet. I walked a bunch on the downhills and that hurts my feet more than flat running. My hamstrings were constantly threatening to cramp…something that never happens to me. My stride was totally messed up…as I was trying to land in different parts of my feet to take pressure off them. This was probably the cause for the cramping trouble.
The Finish: Looking at my watch I realized that I needed to run a sub 10 minute mile to break four hours….it took everything I had to run that sub 10 minute mile….my hamstrings were cramping like crazy….I finished in 3:59:something. Once finished I could barely walk for about 20 minutes. My feet hurt so bad, like they were broken (they weren’t). I couldn’t believe that running this marathon could feel so much worse than running 50 miles in July (at White River).
There you have it. Some races go well. Others don’t but are still fun. Some – like this one – just stink but I’m sure at some point I’ll appreciate having run it. Being cold and raining the entire time didn’t help. Now my goal is to figure out how to get my feet healthy. At the finish I wasn’t super thirsty or hungry…or even tired aside from my lower legs hurting so badly. I know that my fitness is great and my nutrition/hydration strategy was right on, once my injury is healed I think I’ll be ready to run a fast race.
Light week of training. Felt pretty drained during the week, mostly due to work and a variety of other things going on (including getting LASIK eye surgery!). Good news is my legs feel pretty fresh and besides the bottom of my feet feeling pretty sore after runs, I am in great shape and injury free.
Monday, Jan 31. Kettlebells (:6:00) followed by short easy run (:12:00)
4 sets kettlebell swings total. 12 swings @ 16kg. 3 x 12 swings @ 24 kg. 90 seconds to complete each set.
Put on shoes and then went directly for a run around a park to test out my new Inov-8 Roclite 295 shoes. The shoes feel really good. I’m planning to use these during the Copper Canyon Ultra run next month.
Tuesday, Feb 1. Day off.
No good reason for a day off. Just got busy, woke up late, tons of work and then got to go downtown to hear Jean-Michelle Cousteau talk about the oceans, how in danger they are and his family adventures over the years (Jacque is his dad!).
Wednesday, Feb 2. Track workout (:50:00)
Ran with Eastside Runners “Group #6.” 800 warm up then 1600, 1200, 1000, 800 with an 800 jog in between each. Finished with 800 easy. I hit the pre-determined pace times for group 6 pretty much dead-on. What is funny is that I almost bailed on the run, I felt so tired at the start. After the first 1600 I was then going to stop running, but decided to keep at it. I then felt awesome and finished the workout super strong. Goes to show that a few fast laps around the track can cure a lot of problems! My splits roughly:
1600 = 6:08
1200 = 4:31
1000 = Can’t remember…pretty much the same pace as my 1200 though
800 = 2:55 roughly
Thursday, Feb 3. Kettlebells (:8:00)
5 sets of 20 swings with 53lb bell. Took roughly 90 seconds between sets.
Sunday, Feb 6. Easy trail run (:80:00) in the afternoon and Yoga (:60:00) in the evening.
Nice and easy (wet and muddy!) fun run at Bridle Trails park with Alison. Practiced using my Amphipod waist pack and bottles with Hammergel flask. The Amphipod is so much better than a Fueltbelt. Also ran in my Inov-8 Roclite 295’s and they did incredibly well on the soft, wet and super muddy trails. Yoga was a solid hour of power vinyasa with Dora, with lots of handstands and other fun stuff.
Total training time = 4:26:00
Excited for Copper Canyon. Also starting to realize that Ironman CDA is coming up faster than ever. I gotta get on the bike! For now…it’s time to eat.
Now that the training season has begun, I’m going to share my weekly logs with you. If you care less about what kind of training I do, just skip these posts :). I know some of you are also training for running, cycling, triathlons or other events…and might be interested in knowing what I am up to. Here’s this week in review.
Monday Jan 10. Rest day.
Taught 2 yoga classes. Some light stretching was about all I did, in addition to tons of hands-on assists during class (as usual). Felt like crap so didn’t push it.
Tuesday Jan 11. Kettlebells. Time = :17:08.
10 sets of 20 swings (16Kg bell) with 1 minute rest between sets. Still felt like crap, was wiped out after the swings.
800 warm up. 4 x 1200’s in ~4:42 each w/ 400 jog between each, 800 warm down. Hit each interval right on time. Felt great. Ran with “group 7” which is people running a 19-20 minute 5K pace right now. Almost didn’t go to the run since I felt pretty sick and my head hurt like crazy. Stuck it out and felt better after the first few 1200’s. Amazing what a few hard turns around a track will do!
Thursday Jan 13. Rowing Tabata. :15:00.
Concept 2 Indoor Rower “Tabata” style. 6 minute warm up, 8 x 20 all out sprints with 10 seconds rest between each, 5 minute warm down.
Friday Jan 14. Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, Level 2-3, 1:30:00.
First yoga practice in several weeks. Plenty of inversions and arm balances. Starting to feel close to normal again and shaking off this cold.
Saturday Jan 15. Cougar Mt. Trail Running and Hill Repeats. 1:04:00.
Went running with Alison. She’s quick for having not run very much! Did 1 pretty quick lap of my usual 4.3 mile loop (lots of hills), followed by 4 hill repeats up the main hill at Red Town Trailhead. Each repeat was ~85 seconds and all out, followed by a slow jog back down the hill. Felt pretty good but my shoes were definitely not suited to the wet and muddy trail.
I love the Brooks Green Silence for road runs (super light!) but they have zero traction on wet rocks and trails and my heels slides around too much for tight trail cornering. I just bought a pair of Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s from the new Born to Run store in Bellevue. Super minimal shoes with more aggressive tread and far more snug in the heel. Will give them a shot for my next trail run. They felt awesome walking around town in them today.
Sunday Jan 16. AM: Heavy Deadlifts and Bench Press (:30:00). PM: Kettlebells and Easy Run (:40:00).
AM: Deadlift 3 sets x 3 reps with 135, 135, 185lbs. 3 mins rest between sets. Bench Press 3 sets x 3 reps with 135 lbs. 3 mins rest between sets. When I lift heavy I take a TON of rest between sets. The idea is to fully let the muscles recharge. I have zero desire to get cardiovascular benefit from strength training. It is all about raw strength/power.
PM: Kettlebells = 3 x 12 swings with my brand new 53-pound bell! 1 minute between sets (time = <4 minutes). Immediately headed out for easy run (:21:20).
Total Training Time = 4:46:29. (Running = :2:10:12)
This week was pretty undisciplined in terms of training. My total training volume was low, and while I had some good intensity in the workouts, I was sick from my recent trips to Ecuador and Vegas. Decided to lay low a few days and get back to 100%. I have less than 7 weeks until the Copper Canyon 50 Mile Ultramarathon….which means 1-2 more long runs (over 20 miles / 3 hours). As long as I nail those, I’ll be a happy camper.
In other news, I’m using Trainingpeaks to track my workouts. My Moleskine has served itself well. Time for an upgrade!
Running my last few races I learned that the mind is primary not the physical.
When I bonked after 16 miles at The North Face 50K last weekend there was a physical component but I know that the governor of the whole experience was my own head. There were plenty of times when I could have run when I walked. I walked because it felt better to walk and it hurt to run.
I also notice how when things get tough it can be all too easy to just get down on allow negative self-talk to creep in. Last week I actually got angry at the course for being so ridiculously hilly and muddy! Once the downward mental slide begins it is tough to stop until it runs its course. For me that took about 2 hours and 10 miles.
Mental training is very tough and something we are not programmed to do. We avoid it because it really pushed us past our comfort zone. It mandates that you intentionally do things that are uncomfortable and outside of your normal routine. If you are only doing the type of regular physical training that your are used to doing, then you are not pushing your mental boundary.
The race description lived up to it’s billing as a ridiculously challenging but beautiful course. I didn’t wear my GPS, but roughly plotted the course on runkeeper. You won’t find more incredible terrain than the Marin Headlands, site for The North Face Endurance Challenge. They had a 50 mile, 50K, Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, 10k and 5k race. I did the 50K event. Having just done a 50K last month, and the Portland Marathon the month prior, I was a little tired from training and racing but decided it would be a good day of training and a chance to see the Headlands and visit my brother who lives nearby.
In short, I totally crashed and burned. I had similar issues as my previous two races. I bonked hardcore. I went out too fast. I wasn’t wearing the proper gear. All rookie mistakes but that is sort of why I wanted to do this race, to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
At the same time I’ve learned first-hand through the past few races that training is also only part of the story. Mental focus and toughness is at least 50% (and maybe closer to 80%) of the game. All kinds of people were passing me after I bonked (after about 16 miles of running). Older women. Young men. People who looked super fit and people who looked like they just started running. People wearing highly technical gear and people wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
Being able to just tough it out and not let your mind get the best of you is a big part of these races.
I arrived at the Headlands on Friday afternoon, and quickly checked into a Hostel, which is conveniently situated within the Headlands. This was an awesome place to stay. $20 a night. It was literally 200 yards from the race start and full of athletes (including a bunch of pro/elite runners)! It was super clean and comfortable. I am already thinking of going back and staying for a few days to explore the Headlands some more. After checking into the place, I headed down to Sausalito to eat dinner. This is a cool little town with very expensive homes and some nice places to eat and epic views of San Fran and the Golden Gate Bridge. I gorged on Indian food and then headed back to the Hostel.
At the Hostel I spent some time in the living room talking with other runners. Most folks were running the 50 miler, including a few young girls who were just planning to “power hike” the whole 50 miles! I don’t think they had even done a marathon before! Whoa.
I hit the sack fairly early, and proceeded to wake up every 20 minutes throughout the night, looking at my clock and wondering if it was time to get up! The 50 milers started at 5am and 50k racers started at 7am. Around 4am I started to hear some sounds as other runners got up and ready for a 50mile start in the cold and pitch black! These runners spend the first few hours running with headlamps on. Luckily, by the time the 50k started the sun had started to rise so there was no problem seeing the course. Check out the video further below for an idea of what this crazy course is like.
I made my way to the race start area and met up with a few friends from Seattle that were also running. We traded some notes on what gear everyone was going to wear. Was it going to rain? How many layers do we need? I decided to run with a standard pair of running shorts, regular road running shoes, a lululemon running shirt, a The North Face gore-tex running jacket and a hat. I carried a 20 oz water bottle the whole way, and kept 1 Hammer Gel in my jacket pocket. This last part turned out to be a big mistake. I was way short on fuel and aid stations were further apart (time-wise, not distance-wise) than I thought given how long it took to travel a few miles given all the hills.
With 2 minutes to start I gathered towards the front and got ready to go. I had no specific time goal, but thought it would be nice to run faster than my last 50k a month ago – which took me about 6 hours 44 minutes after bonking very bad and having some other issues (the course was long too!). I thought a sub 6-hour time was totally reasonable.
Here is how the race went down:
Mile 1: People went out very fast. This always amazes me for long races! I settled into an easy rhythm and went along the flat course following a paved road and then onto a dirt path. Every minute I would pass someone as they slowed down and I kept my steady pace.
Miles 2-4: The dirt single-track path led to a dirt road that went up a very large climb. This serious climb really woke me up given how early in the morning it was! A bunch of runners who started out too fast started to drop back at this point. I kept running even.
Miles 4-16: The race proceeded through a variety of single-track routes, with some epic views of the Pacific Ocean while running along some high bluffs and plenty of light rain in the cool air. We climbed up and down some pretty large hills. At one point running tight switchbacks along a mud-soaked trail. There were also some up and downhill sections along steps build into the trails. I felt good the whole time, and didn’t stop to walk one bit. There were aid stations roughly every 4-5 miles and I would refill my water bottle and grab an energy gel stuff some banana in my mouth (and some boiled potato with salt).
Miles 16-18: Around mile 16 we hit an aid station, I refueled and kept running. I then started to proceed down a several mile trail downhill. The trail was really twisty and through the woods. It was pretty tough running since I was not super used to running trails like this…I normally just hike them! I was having a hard time maintaining a good pace and people started passing me. At some point I just felt too tired to run and stopped. I was bonking hardcore!
Miles 18-25: All I can say is bonking sucks. I clearly didn’t eat enough early in the race. I walked about 80% of the time between miles 18-25 or so. Sometimes even walking was tough. The climbs were super ridiculous. Long sweeping climbs along muddy and slick trails. I just did my best and kept moving forward. I started drinking coke at each aid station and filling my entire water bottle with coke as well. Coke is amazing when you are late in an endurance race. The thing is, once you start drinking coke, you need to keep it up – or your blood sugar will crash again.
Miles 25-29: I started to feel a little better. There were a few long hills prior to the finish (each climb was a few miles long followed by a long downhill). I run/walked the uphills and ran the downhills. The climbs were super muddy and at one point just getting enough traction on the trail to walk it took a supreme effort.
Miles 29-31: The last few miles were downhill and flat. By this time I actually felt OK and approaching the finish felt quite good.
Finish time = 7:14:28
Here is a great video of the course (it follows elite runners doing the 50 miler)
I learned a ton from the race. It was not at all the finish I expected. I expected to run most of it. I expected to run about 1.5 hours faster than I did. I did not expect to bonk. I also didn’t expect it to be so mentally tough to finish, given that I have just run a 50K and a Marathon in the past few months! I also learned that preparation matters a lot. Nutrition strategy (carry more water and gels than you think you need!) and the proper gear (footwear with traction for a muddy course and proper breathable rain gear).
I’m already looking forward to training again – and getting in more super long runs. I need more 4-5 hour running efforts to get my body used to dealing with that level of stress. I’ll be looking to run another 50K in late January or early February (not sure where yet) and have already signed up for the Copper Canyon 50 Mile Ultra-marathon on March 6th, 2011. Just a few months to get ready for it!
As I ramp up my own running mileage, I’m becoming more aware of the importance of running bio-mechanics and overall efficiency. A little extra weight or unneeded movement adds up when you are running 20-30+ miles at a stretch.
His focus on fore and mid-foot strike, faster turnover and lightly touching the ground with the feet are all things that start to come naturally with barefoot or minimalist running. I’m surprised the article didn’t say anything about footwear and the impact on stride and bio-mechanics. That could be one of the easiest ways to educate the body on how to run better vs doing lots of drills and having to focus on how your legs are moving and feet are landing all the time.
Yesterday I did my longest and toughest run ever, the Ron Herzog 50K (which ended up being around 32 miles, a little more than 50K). I stumbled upon it a week ago while looking for trail runs online and decided to give it a shot. This is a small race and when I showed up it seemed like a lot of the participants knew each other. I think around 50 people were there. The race FREE….with suggested $25 donation to support the ALS association in honor of Ron Herzog, an ultra runner who died of the disease.
I just finished a nice 11 mile run. It was supposed to be about 6 miles. The plan was to run a route I did often when I lived in Kirkland about 5 years ago. There has been a bunch of new construction since then and part of the route didn’t seem that familiar any more. Turns out I forgot to make a certain turn and was running in the wrong direction at one point for a few miles. I like getting lost (within reason). It makes things fun and turns a routine training effort into an adventure.
I’m trying to improve my running stride, and become more of a mid to fore-foot striker as opposed to a heel striker. I run in Vibram FiveFingers every now and then, but since I’m training for another Ironman next year, and my first ultra-marathon in December, I also run in “normal” running shoes for most of my miles. I worry about putting too much load on my feet training in just the Vibram’s.
While running today in my normal shoes (Mizuno Waverider’s) I made a conscious effort to improve and focus on my stride. After watching a series of videos, including this clinic by Terra Plana and some videos by Newton running shoes on Youtube, I’ve decided that regardless of the shoe that I wear, I can be in control of my form if I pay more attention to it. It will take some adaptation time before it becomes second nature. I haven’t purchased Newton’s yet, but here is a good video on some running form basics (ignore the marketing pitch and cheesy music!):
Taking shorter strides (I’d estimate about 30% shorter)
Having a faster turnover of my legs (at least 30-50% faster)
Touching down lightly on my forefoot with each step
Landing with most of my weight/load on my mid-foot (after the forefoot hits)
Using more of my core and hips to move me forward as opposed to calves/legs
Gazing forward (about 20 yards)
Relaxing my shoulders and pulling them back a little (so my chest is open and not hunched)
Slight tuck of the tailbone
Slight lead forward at the hips (very subtle)
This seems like a lot to keep track of, but it was very simple. It took some mindfulness, but I noticed a big difference. My feet were more tired than normal and I think in general it took more energy to run like this, but I’m assuming this is just adaptation at work. Once I get all the little muscles in my feet working properly and the posture becomes more natural, I’m hoping that the effort should become more effortless.
I finished the Portland Marathon last weekend. It was my first marathon in 10 years (not counting the Ironman‘s shortly after). Glad I did it but boy was it tough! Leading up to the race I had a lot of people ask me how I thought it would go. I really didn’t have a clue. I ran 3:10 in my last marathon on a tougher course. This time, running under 4 hours would be nice and I set that as a realistic goal. Having only run 16 miles in training leading up to the race it was really unclear what my body would actually be capable of doing. I ended up finishing in 3:54.
I definitely feel like I am far tougher now (age 31) than I was when I ran my first marathon (age 21). People say all kinds of things about how younger athletes are stronger, recover faster and have some sort of edge. I think it is completely untrue. While science shows that lung capacity and strength do begin to decline beyond the late twenties (some say the decline starts as early as age 25) there are so many other factors at play. I know for certain I am mentally tougher than I was 21 years ago. I know how to handle discomfort and pain much better. I know how to not go out too fast (though sometimes I still do!) in a long race. I focus more on nutrition and hydration strategy. I also have a more well-rounded approach to training. I’m not as fixated on mileage on more on overall fitness. This means I do a ton of cross-training (yoga, bodyweight exercises, hiking, etc.).
I think the biggest distinction that I’ve gained with age is the ability to just endure. For my marathon, the final 10 miles were incredibly painful – not just tiring. My feet were swollen and I was freezing cold (it was pouring rain the entire race). It felt like I was running on stumps due to the swelling (first time I have ever experiences this). My hands were also swollen and hurt. I am still not sure what caused the swelling – the cold, the fact that I was soaking wet or some allergic reaction to something I ate. I slowed down a lot in those final miles but was able to stay mentally clear enough to reassess how I was doing and change-up my strategy. Instead of trying to run non-stop, I decided to walk the aid stations and then jog at a consistent pace in between. I ended up finishing strong and with a smile on my face. 10 years ago I would have definitely pushed it hard and probably ended up with massive cramping (as happened in my last marathon 10 years ago, and at my last Ironman race 7 years ago).
Hydration and nutrition is also another benefit. I used to think that stopping for water and food was lame and just an excuse to take a break. I used to speed up at aid stations just so I could pass people who were slowing down to get some food and water! I take the other approach now. I think it will help me out in a big way as I start racing longer distances – I am doing my first ultra-marathon in December at the North Face Endurance 50K in the San Francisco area Marin Headlands park.
I am convinced that when it comes to endurance sports we improve with age – especially when you count things beyond just finishing time/speed. I don’t know how far this will go….but I do know that when I hiked the Inca trail in 2003 – one of the strongest porters (hiking the entire trail barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt with 70 lbs on his back) was also the oldest. Nobody really knew his age…but it was definitely well over 50. Everyone respected him. All the guides, all the porters, everyone. I want to be like that guy!
I just finished my first track workout in 8 years. I owe it to a friend for motivating me to go. We did 3 x 1 mile repeats at a pace far too fast than I should have been running – with a 1/2 mile jog between each.
I survived the workout and now feel good having done it. I’ll be back next week.
There is no way I ever would have done this workout at this pace on my own. Having 30-40 other runners suffering with me was a massive motivating force. Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing.
You all know by now if you read this blog or follow me on twitter that my new favorite hobby is barefoot running. I can’t explain how much fun it is. You just need to go out and try it! While I was in Portland this weekend I hit up REI to see if they had any good sale items. I saw that they had Vibram’s FiveFinger Sprint’s in stock (I previously used the Classic’s) and tried them on.