BHS 100K

Here is some video and pictures from the 2013 Bishop Ultramarathon. I completed the 100K in 14 hours 22 minutes.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Amy's first thru hike

Ready, Set, Go!
Amy and I are planning a seven day thru hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains this summer. This will be Amy's first backpacking overnight adventure into the wilderness so we are both pretty excited. The trip will be a 7 day 62 mile hike from Mammoth lakes to Yosemite Valley with a possible side trip up Half Dome if we can get the permit.  Who else is going out for a hike this summer? Happy trails everyone.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Bishop High Sierra Ultra Video

I finally put together all the video and pictures from the 2013 Bishop High Sierra Ultra and posted them to You Tube.

I am still living off of the high from this event and haven't done too much running since.  I need to get started again, but with summer and our 100 plus temperatures back it is difficult.  You say good conditions to train in for a future Badwater?  Perhaps.  For now I am preparing for a hike in the Sierra Nevada's starting in Mammoth Lakes and ending in Yosemite Valley 7 days later.  Hopefully we will be able to get a permit to climb half dome.  It will be so cool to have Amy with me this time.  She says she is excited too.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

2013 Bishop 100K Race Overview

View of the race course from the starting area - Mill Creek Recreation Area.  That high peak is Mt. Emerson, 13,204 ft.  We ran in that direction but not to the top.  Our race topped out at 9,400ft so we were below the snow line.  Most previous years there was still snow at that level through  the month of May but as you know we are experiencing some global warming now.  The brown hills in the foreground are the Tungsten hills which we had to run across from left to right then back again before the end of the race.
This year I completed the 100K distance of the Bishop High Sierra Ultra marathons and I feel that I just had one of those races where everything fell into place and went well. As anyone who has run marathon distances or longer knows that doesn't always happen. So many things can go wrong from nutrition, to hydration or cramps or wrong shoes or just having a bad day. But I am very pleased to say that there was none of that for me this time.

Amy and I arrived in Bishop around 1:00pm after about a 5 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas. We checked into the motel, picked up my race number and did a little shopping in town. We found some nice stuff for the kitchen and had a good time walking around and enjoying this little town. 

Elevation profile captured from my Garmin

That evening we ate with the other runners at the pre-race dinner. I have been to a couple of other pre-race dinners before and i can tell you that this one beats them all. For the main course they had an excellent selection of good carbo loading pastas both with and without meat. We sat at a table and met some other runners from Fresno, San Francisco and Mammoth lakes. It's always fun to compare notes on things you have done and one of the guys from Fresno had hiked the John Muir Trail last August just one month after I had completed it. They even had a couple of kegs of beer and a carrot cake desert for us. I had a piece of the carrot cake and Amy told me the beer was really good.  I hadn't tasted the carrot cake the year before and  regretted it so that was one of the things I changed for this year.  Maybe it was that cake that pushed me over  the top this time.
Before the battle

 It wasn't until we got back to the hotel and I bumped into another runner that I found out that the race actually started at 6:00am and not at 6:30 like I had thought. It was a real lucky break for me running into him. Well at least I had all my stuff ready to go and really all I needed to do was set the alarm for 4:30am and get some sleep. In particular this year I had a couple of things to help me that I did not have last year. One was gaiters to go over my shoes to keep the sand and stones out.  The other was salt tabs to help prevent cramping from all the salt I would lose though hours of sweating. I did sleep well that night and at 4:30am I warmed up and ate a bowl of multigrain cereal that I had prepared the day before in Las Vegas. Then it was time to get Amy up and have her drive me to the start of the race.

 Amy has really been a good sport about this ultra running business of mine supporting me and encouraging me in my quest and I was really glad to have her along for this run. She would be taking it easy back at the hotel, catching up on reading and relaxing while I was killing myself which seemed to be a perfect match for us. She saw me off and video taped the start which occurred promptly at 6:00am. I told her that I hoped to be back before 9:00PM, 15 hours later. The start of the race was nice and cool, in the low 50's; then later, up in the mountains it was in the 60's all day and even when we got back down in the afternoon it didn't get much above 80F.

The first few miles are always easy. Still I made a conscious effort to run at an easy pace knowing that going out too hard would prove disastrous later on. I was averaging about 9 to 10 minute miles until the course started to consistently climb up the mountain around mile 5. At the same time, I was paying attention to my right hamstring trying to sense whether it wanted to tighten up and give me problems. It was a little stiff at the beginning, but somehow when I got warmed up it got better and after that I never thought about it again for the rest of the day - Halleluiah!
Somewhere around mile 10.

After mile 6 I started to alternate between running and walking. At first I would run 8:00 minutes and walk 2:00 min. I did this as much as I could and would walk more when I had too. After 3 1/2 hours I arrived at The Edison Loop aid station at mile 17 and elevation 8,000 ft - we had gained a total of 3,600 feet and actually climbed more than this because there had been some up and down. The last 1/2 mile to the aid station was a slight downhill which allowed me to run into it with great energy lifting my arms into the air to the shouts of the volunteers there. All the volunteers at all the aid stations were fantastic and we can't thank them enough. These events could not happen without their help. I didn't waste too much time at any of the aid stations though. I knew that it was going to be a long enough day already so I just grabbed water and whatever I needed at each aid station  and got out of there as quickly as I could. Doing this was fun too because this was how I got to pass lots of other runners that were lingering.

Bishop Creek Lodge Aid station - They had some delicious potato soup waiting for us at this one.
The next there miles to the lookout at mile 20 would be some of the toughest. It was all uphill with some of the grades approaching 10% and we were above 8,000 feet now. At this point like most other runners I was only able to walk or do my best to maintain a fast hike. I never really fell under a 20 min/mile pace though. It was tough, I was breathing really hard now but I got to the top, 9400ft, in about an hour. Running downhill was easier but I couldn't really fly down that fast because it was fairly steep. At one point my foot hit a tree root and I went flying. I anticipated the worst but was pleasantly surprised after I landed in a patch of soft sand. I just brushed that dust right off my shoulder, got up and kept pounding away at it. Like I said earlier, everything went really well.

The middle part of the race saw us continuing to go up and down the slopes between 8,000 and 8,400 feet.  When I arrived back at the Edison Loop aid station for the last time I had already completed over 35 miles and although I wasn't that sore, I was exhausted.  I told one of the volunteers that I felt this way and he said, "I bet."  Well that there summed it all up in two words.  What else did I expect?  I choose to do this, I knew that it would be hard and here I was feeling totally spent.  Somehow, though I knew that I could keep running and that I would keep running.  The next 14 more were downhill too and we would be out of the thin air of the higher elevations soon.  Yippee cayae, let's run back down the mountain!

At mile 49 we would have to make a left turn and go up the Tungsten Hills.  This is arguably one of the toughest parts of the race because you have already completed over two marathons in distance when you get to this final challenge.  However, I arrived at the Tungsten City enthusiastically because at this point I knew I would be one of those that completed the race unlike last year when I had to quite at this point.  

 Tungsten Hills Switchbacks

The final climb of the day involved the Tungsten Hill switchbacks.  With only 6 miles left in the race I still needed to climb these before I ran the final downhill to the finish line.  It was late in the afternoon, the sun was beating down on this side of the course, and this was the one point in the race that not only was I feeling totally exhausted, but my head was swimming, and my heart was racing too.  I founded a small piece of shade to sit down in and promptly lied down flat on my back to catch my breath and cool off a bit.  I rested there for several minutes before getting up and finishing the climb.  After that I ran strong until the end of the race, but that was a real difficult spot for me.
The Last 6 miles or so.  (My Garmin tracked the actual distance as 63.4 miles so we may have gotten a free bonus mile)
 My official finish time was 14 hours 11 minutes and 22 seconds.  I am very pleased with that.  Finishing in under 15 hours will allow me to add my name to the lottery for next year's Western States 100.  That will be the next super event that I am striving for.  Its a 100 mile race in the Northern Sierras between Squaw Valley and Auburn.  I am sure I will run some other events between now and then, but I am not quite sure what those will be.  I guess I am still digesting this one.  I have learned that these are not distances to be conquered.  They are distances that you learn to get in tune with.  One comes to learn exactly what ones body is capable of, how far it can be pushed and how to nourish and care for it in the process.  It's a long process that includes all the training and the buildup and I am already getting excited for the next adventure.  Perhaps a double crossing of the Grand Canyon next fall.  Anyone interested?
Lookout aid station - Thanks to the 2 gentlemen who drove us up water and supplies to this high point.  I am sure just driving up here was a feet.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Follow my Progress on Race day

100K Elevation Profile
On Saturday, May 18th I will be running the Bishop100K (62 miles) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by Bishop, CA.  The race starts at 6:00am and I will be carrying my Spot Tracker that will update my progress on the following web page.

My goal is to finish in under 15 hours so that I can use it as a qualifying run for the Western States 100.  This works out to a little faster than a 15 min./mile pace so as long as I can keep moving all day, I should be fine.  So far the weather report looks favorable with clear skies and highs of 77F down in Bishop so not too bad and it will even be cooler up at elevation at if this report holds true. 

As far as drop bag locations and nutrition for the run, I will use a similar plan to what I had last year with the addition of salt tabs.  Last year I believe I was experiencing hydration problems and cramping because it was fairly warm the entire day and I was not taking in any extra salt besides the few elctrolytes I was getting at the aid stations which apparently isn't enough. I will have drop bags at the Buttermilk Road, Edison Loop, and Tungsten Hills aid station which I pass 2 times each.  This would space out my drops at 11, 17, 23, 35, 41 and 48 miles which is manageable. I will need about 300 calories per hour and I will have that amount in both Perpetuem Tablets and GU gel packs and bananas.  That way if one thing isn't working for me then hopefully something else will.

This year I will be wearing gaiters from Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep the sand out of my shoes which was killing me last year.  I really was just being a big baby and stopping every few miles to empty my shoes so at least I won't have that excuse this year.  Running 62 miles through the mountains is enough to ask without having to do it with sand and rocks in my shoes that will be nice I guess.  Interesting name they chose for their company, Dirty Girl, but they really work and are some of the best gaiters out there.

100K Route

Above is my track from last year.  This year I will be going 12 miles further.  It is essentially the same route but when we get back to the junction that is close to the Millpond we will be taking a left up and over the Tungsten Hills.  At that point it is 3 miles up, 3 miles down the other side followed by a U-turn up and over again to the finish.  I am almost sure to be completing that portion in the dark and will be using a headlamp to guide me.  If I am lucky I will be close enough to another runner and we will be able to run together, but I am not counting on that.

100 K Distance Chart

START 0.0 1.51 4425

TUNGSTEN CITY #1 1.51 4.24 4738

CDF CAMP 5.75 4.02 4850

JUNCTION 9.77 1.50 6150

BUTTERMILK ROAD 11.27 3.67 6508
MCGEE CREEK 14.94 2.46 7900

EDISON LOOP 17.40 2.99 8000 12.30PM YES
OVERLOOK 20.39 3.01 9385

EDISON LOOP 23.40 2.65 8000
INTAKE 2 26.50 2.94 8100
BISHOP CREEK LODGE 29.00 2.94 8374

INTAKE 2 31.93 3.10 8100 4.15PM YES
EDISON LOOP 35.03 2.46 8000
MCGEE CREEK 37.49 3.67 7900

BUTTERMILK ROAD 41.16 1.50 6508 7:00PM YES
JUNCTION 42.66 3.73 6150

HWY 168 46.39 2.06 5560

TUNGSTEN CITY #2 48.45 3.65 4774 9.00PM YES (100K)
SAGE SUMMIT 52.10 2.35 5596
100k TURNAROUND 54.45 2.35 5445
SAGE SUMMIT 56.75 3.60 5596
TUNGSTEN CITY #2 60.35 1.66 4770
FINISH 62.01 0.0 4425 1.00AM YES

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Resting up for Bishop 100k

I am getting pretty excited in anticipation of my big run which is just one week away now.   The Bishop 100k starts at 6:00am Saturday, May18th and now I am resting for the event putting in only a few easy runs a week.  Below is a graph of my weekly mileage totals from the past 4 1/2 months.  I had originally planned to run a few more heavy weeks in April of 80 miles or more, but I felt I had to scale that back when my  body wasn't responding well to the demands and needed more rest. Though I do feel good about the training that I have done knowing that I have pushed it as hard as I possibly can and came out of it without any injuries.  My hamstring problem is continuing to improve and by race day I anticipate any lingering soreness to completely disappear.  Looking back I see that I have a block of 6 weeks with 60 plus miles, one 7 day period where I logged 96 miles and 5 separate back to back long runs of 18 to 35 miles.

My graph I also have prepared for the mountains by putting in a bunch of hours on the trails around Mt. Charleston.
Mountain view from Harris Springs road.  One of my favorite training routes for long climbs and descents.  From this point it takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours to make it to that snow covered peak - Griffith Peak.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Training volume recommendations from Ian Torrence

2012 Xterra Lake Las Vegas 21K trail run
 Ian Torrance, adiUltra team ultrarunner and coach who has also been very active in the Las Vegas area has some good recommendations on running volume that I am planning to incorporate. See his blog for details.

Essentially the article details how you can sensibly increase your training volume, miles per week, until you reach your training ceiling.

 His list  benefits from increasing volume

"Volume Is Good

It’s true! Increasing weekly mileage brings increased performance. If we do nothing else but simply add to the time we spend on our feet each week, several beneficial physiological adaptations begin to occur due to this new accumulated volume.
  • The body will become proficient at burning fat, its optimal fuel source.
  • Muscle and liver glycogen, the major forms of stored carbohydrates in the body, will be more effectively amassed and utilized.
  • The size and number of muscle capillaries and mitochondria, the blood vessels and cellular factories that facilitate aerobic energy, will increase.
We’ll tangibly experience these internal gains in these ways:
  • What once were long runs become shorter runs.
  • Faster recovery after running up steep hills.
  • Desire to race farther.
  • For those new to the volume increase, personal records in ultra distances."
He states that each weekly mileage increase should not be than 10 to 15% which is what I have been doing. Then after each increase you should remain at this new level for 3 weeks so the body becomes adjusted to the work load which I have not been doing.  I had been increasing mileage every week by 10% until I need a break.  Well I came though that without any substantial injury and now I plan to modify by training with Ian's recommendations.

My build up for 5 weeks was as follows: 67, 72, 80, 88, 92 miles.  These average to 80 miles. So my next 3 week phase will be done at 10% more than this - 88 mile.  This week I will get in 60 to 70 miles.  Next week I run the Xterra 21k trail race at Lake Las Vegas and will probably do about 80 miles. After that I will start the 88 mile weeks and when I finish that I will be just 2 weeks out from the Bishop 100k on May 18th and that will be my taper time.

The one benefit of increasing volume that I am noticing the most is that long runs are seeming shorter. I have already noticed that a 10 mile run feels short to me and a 20 mile run, which use to be my longest long run is not so hard to complete anymore.  Anyways, that's the plan. It feels good to put it down in writing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Another recovery week and 2XU compression gear

My graph

My legs felt like they could use some more rest so last week I backed off the mileage a bit to a  total of 50. I had planned to put in several 20 milers during spring break, but every time I got close to 15 miles my right hamstring started feeling the strain so I cut it short. Again I became bummed because of this; I never imagined I would become down on myself so fast but it is happening again.   Everything I fall short of reaching a goal I set for myself I start to lose hope. I really need to stop that. I am felling better today though and I hope to put in  20 or so tomorrow.

I am trying out some more compression gear this time from 2XU (pronounced 2 times you). So far I am loving this stuff.  I tried the Elite Compression Tights on a day when it was 80 degrees F and they were very comfortable. I don't know if I want want to run in them if it was much warmer though.  What else is cool about them is that I can easily slip ice packs under them after a long run to further reduce inflammation.  I definitely feel they are reducing muscle soreness and fatigue and I am going to keep using them and let you know how it goes.  Incidentally I am 6' 2", 185 lbs and have a 34 inch waist and the medium long tights fit me well.  I was worried that the medium would be too small but they are just right.  I also trying out a pair of 2XU Calf Guards.  So far I like them better than the CEP compression socks I had been using before.  The CEP socks are made from a knit material get torn really easily which is annoying when you pay $40 a piece for them.  I always get tears in them on the inside heal where I accidentally kick myself from time to time while running.  The 2XU Calf Guards are made from a solid stretch material that won't tear as easily and seems to give better compression too.

What do you all do to stay positive when you have trouble reaching your goals? I would love to hear from some of you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

96 Mile Week and 110% Juggler Knicker Compression Tights

My graph
 Last week was another big one and I have several things of interest to report. I did run 96 miles in a single week although you can't see it on the graph. That is because I took the previous Monday off then started counting the 96 miles on Tuesday, March 12 and finished with a 32 mile run Monday the 18th. Following this, I have been taking a much needed rest week, running fewer miles allowing my legs to recover before the next build up. Last Friday I was excited to receive my new compression tights in the mail and so far I think they are absolutely awesome. Here I am in them before I start my first training run of the season up Griffith Peak Road.
110% Juggler-knickers
 The tights give a lot of compression around the knees, quads and hamstrings.  I had been running in a fair amount of constant soreness because of all the miles I was putting in, but when I put these on Friday night I was suddenly able to fly.  I ran 10 miles that night at a sub 8 min/mile pace with almost no soreness at all.  Without them was I barely able to average a 10 min. mile.  I was even getting worried and holding back, because I didn't want to injure myself running to fast. The compression seems to stabilize the leg muscles, especially the quads every time I land on them which minimizes any soreness due to inflammation.  The added bonus is that they came with ice packs and pockets to drop them in post run.  That way I can easily ice my legs after a run which further speeds recovery and reduces inflammation.  They were a little expensive, but so far I am absolutely loving these things and I doubt if I would have completed that 96 mile week without them.
Griffith Peak
I got within 3 miles of Griffith Peak last Saturday in my first long uphill of the season and in the process learned exactly what is aggravating by right hamstring injury.  This run up Griffith Peak Road was more of a constant uphill hike, and it is this type of activity that seems to be the problem.  I noticed that hamstring knot getting more imflamed as I hiked up, but I was able to run down just fine.  Ouch, because the Bishop 100K that I am shouting for is nothing but long uphill hikes followed by downhill running.  However, I have been noticing that all the big time ultrarunners heels barely touch the ground as the are running up this type of hill.  They are basically running up on their toes.  I am going to slowly work this into my training and see how that goes.  Maybe that is the way to finally put this hamstring thing behind me.  In the meantime, I will be heading for more deep tissue massage from Proactive Massage and more laser pain treatment

View back down towards the desert
Only a couple more hours of this.  Yipeeee!!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My graph I just put in another week of increasing mileage and I don't have much to report which I guess is good but it makes for a rather boring blog. Again I reached my weekly goal which was 88 miles this week and today I put in a 35 mile ultra long run which is another record for this training cycle. This week as opposed to last week my pace did slow down towards the end of the week. The knot in my right hamstring flared up a bit again but I seem to have that under control. My 35 mile run today went well and my legs felt really strong until the last 3 miles when they turn to rubber. I am attributing that to the high mileages I am putting in right now. I am trying out a new carbohydrate supplement during the run called perpetuem solids. They are a solid chewable tablet that seems to be very easy to digest on the run. So far whenever I am feeling a little queasy on these long runs they seem to settle me done and keep me going so I anticipate using them along with GU gels on my Bishop run. I also came across a guy making his own GU gel on U-tube and I intend to try that out. I'll let you know how it goes and if it is worth it. For the coming week, I will up the mileage one more time before I taper for a week. Adding another 10% to this weeks total would bring me close to 100 miles for the week. I may back off though if my hamstring starts to flare up. I also need to head back to our local mountains and start putting in some long climbs and descents to simulate the course conditions I will encounter in Bishop. I'll take some pictures to add to the blog too. Going back to this race a second time really gives me an advantage on what to expect out there. I wonder how the snow pack has been this year? Last year we didn't have any snow on the course, but that was the first and only year that ever happened. On my 35 mile run today I found a route through the desert that connects me to the Clark County Shooting Range. That means that just one mile from my home I can run on trails to the range which is 10 miles away, refill with water and keep on heading up the sheep mountains till I run out of water again. You got to love backyard training options.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

31 mile ultra long run and the beat goes on.

My graph I am feeling really good this week with how my training went completing the goal of 80 miles I set for myself. Tonight I just completed the final 18 miles. running strong the whole distance and left with the feeling that I could have kept running. In fact, I ran it at an average pace of 8:55 min/mi which was faster than any other run I put in this week. I am especially pleased that I was able to put in a solid effort like this after yesterday's 31 mile, 5 1/2 hour ultra long run. It was the first ultra long run of this training cycle and the fact that I could run 18 more miles the next day is a very good sign. I am doing all my long runs in 8 min run/ 2 min walk style. I find that I am actually able to maintain a faster pace this way, I am a lot less sore at the end of each run and I am able to recover quicker too. I decided to increase my weekly mileage for another week. I will add another 10% so my goal for next week will be 88 miles.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oh Those Doubles!

My graph I reach my training goal of 72 miles this week and started adding doubles to my week. Doubles in ultramarathon training are when you run 2 long runs on consecutive days. The theory is that your legs will not be fully recovered yet when you start the second long run and this will mimic running on legs that feel like they are already halfway though and ultra. In that sense it works because that is exactly how my legs felt. The first few miles can be really hard as my swollen and stiff legs get warmed up. Then as I get into the run things get better and somehow I made it though each time. To make things a little easier on the second run, I am alternating between 8 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking. My first double started on Sunday 2/17 when I ran 22 miles on the roads around home. This was followed up by 18 miles in the hills below Red Rock on some awesome trails I ran with a friend. I found out the trail we were on goes all the way to Harris Springs Road which connects to Mt. Charleston which opens up some awesome options for a long mountain run crossing the Spring mountains from east to west. I ran the the second double yesterday 20 miles and today 18 miles which included a 1,500 foot climb up Potosi Mountain on HWY 160 which leads to Pharump. What have you added to your running/training routine lately?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

67 mile week - Quanity or Quality?

My graph       I put in a solid 67 miles of running this week, about half on trails and half on roads, and I find myself asking if quantity or quality is more important.  Today I finished a 22 mile run with an average pace of 10:00 minutes per mile and the majority of my runs are consistently coming in at that pace.  I found myself surprisingly fresh at the beginning of the week when I knocked out 10 miles at an 8:47 pace.  This felt especially good because it was just 2days after my first long 22 mile training run of the year.  Then on Saturday I felt fresh again and finished 12 miles handily at a 9:12 pace.  Still these times are very slow compared to the paces I would normally training at if I were going for a marathon PR.  During Marathon training my long runs would be 8:00 pace, my slow runs would be sub 8:00 pace and my tempo runs would be around a 7:00 pace.  However, since I am putting in so many miles in a week, my legs are far too tired to being able to hold anything near these paces right now.

So the argument is, would I be better of putting in less miles but making them better quality miles at a faster pace.  Right now for what I am trying to accomplish, I don't think so.  My ultimate goal is to be able to go to the mountains and keep running from morning till night at a slow but steady pace.  That is what I will have to be able to do in order to complete the Bishop Ultra 100K this May.  If I can average 12:00 miles, that would be just five miles per hour, for the whole day, I would finish the 62 miles in just a little over 12 hours.  That feat would entail running on tired legs for more than half of the day and that is what I am trying to do with my training.  Many days when I go out my legs are already tired from the get go.  Even if I am only going for a 10 mile run, it feels like I am running on legs that have already put in more than 20. In addition to learning to run on tired legs, my secondary goal in putting in so many miles is to lose some weight.  Even if I restrict myself to solely veggies and fruit, the pounds don't seem to come off unless I drastically increase the volume of exercise.  I think this is partly due to the fact that training increase the efficiency of your metabolism so you actually need less calories to do the same amount of work the more fit you get. However, even if my miles may be low quality as far as pace is concerned, I strive extra hard to maintain good running posture and form even when I am running on very tired legs.  The type of quality that I am looking for is to be able to maintain an efficient running form even though inside I am feeling like dying from pain and exhaustion.

How about you?  How do you answer your training quality vs. quantity questions? 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

66 Miles - Weekly goal met!

My graph
Banana Bread

I got in a lot of good miles in this week competing a total of 66 which was my goal for the week.  Overall this was an easier week than last week so my body must be starting to adjust to the increase work load.  Last week I started some of my runs in a completely exhausted state and I had to push myself real hard the whole way but that never happened this week.  Yesterday I completed an 11 mile run feeling I could of kept going and today I felt good all the way though my 15 mile run.

Last Tuesday I went to see a doctor for some Laser Pain Therapy for my right hamstring knot.  I never heard of it until I saw a Groupon advertising the service for half price so I gave it a try.  What they do is train a laser on the injury sight for five minutes.  During the therapy you can't feel anything.  After the therapy I felt the lump with my finger and thought that it was a little smaller, but that may have been wishful thinking.  Still it hasn't bothered me much this week besides causing some minor tightening of all the muscles in my right leg.  The physiology behind the laser is that it is suppose to "trick" the body into sending extra white blood cells and nutrients to the injury area.  At the same time it stimulates the cells in the region to start to repair themselves.  I am still reading up more on the treatment and not sure if I will go back for more.  What I didn't like about these people, is that they didn't give me any examination prior to the treatment nor prescribe any follow up treatment or procedures.  They just asked me where it hurt and set their laser to that spot.  I'll let you know if I decide to go back.

Another useful item that I found courtesy of the runners forum is a little device called the Sacro Wedgy.  This thing is great.  You simply place it under sacroiliac (tail bone) and lie back on it for 20 minutes.  The gravity pulling down on your hips then stretches and loosens up all those muscles running around your hips.  After using it I can feel my hips rotate more freely as I run and they are now nicely line up under my knees and feet giving me a better more efficient running posture.  If you are having and trouble with tight glutes, piraformis, psosas, or hamstring muscles or your running posture needs help, I would definitely recommend this little $40 investment.

Finally, that picture up top is some banana courtesy of a recipe from therealfoodrunner.  It's made with all natural ingredients and it makes an excelent high carb energy snack.  Mine came out real moist and a little gooey so I decided to try them on a run today.  They were a fanatastic replacement for store bought Gu's and energy bars.  So much more tasty and I plan to make more when my first runs out. Plus being moist and gooey is a plus when you are running and trying to eat because things that are to dry are hard to swallow and you can risk inhaling crumbs and chocking.  Its happened to me a few times and I can tell you it really sucks.

All and all it's been a really good week.  Next week I will be scaling back my mileage to about 40 for the week so my body can rest, recover and realize some gains as a result of all the hard work I did this week.

Monday, January 28, 2013

60 miles in a week

Las Vegas Sunset
My graph

I did reach my training goal for the end of January of 60 miles in a week, sort of.   I originally intended to measure the 60 miles from Monday to Sunday, but I had only reached 40 miles by the end of Saturday.  I had planned to put in a 20 mile run on Saturday, but I was really dogging it by the end of 13 miles so I decided to cut it short and make it up Sunday.  However, I still felt flat on Sunday and that didn't work out.  By the end of Sunday I had only reached 50 miles towards my goal of 60.  Then I remembered that I hadn't run the previous Monday, so if I did put in 10 more miles on this Monday, which I did, I would of actually completed 60 miles in a 7 day period - Yea!

The week's training runs went OK, but not fantastic.  I felt fine for my first run on Tuesday and I ran that at a comfortable 9:00/mi pace feeling I could have gone much harder.  Then after taking a day off on Wednesday, I felt totally flat on Thursday.  I had to push really hard the whole 10 miles just to run at a 10:00/mi pace.  Friday evening found me with more bounce in my legs and I clipped off 6 miles at a good pace and felt physiologically ready for my 20 miles long run on Saturday.  However, as I described above it didn't workout that way.  Much of my training right now is at a relatively slow pace for me.  By comparison, if I was training to for a PR in a marathon, my slow runs would be done at an 8:00/mi pace and I would be doing at least one tempo run per week at a sub 7:00/mi pace.  Ultra training is a different beast though.  Now, I am mostly running on tired legs in an attempted to build up my stamina for those latter portions of the ultra where I know that I will be running on tired legs.  Not only are my legs tired during much of my runs but also sore and part of the training is learning about pain management.  Really I am learning how I can become use to certain pain while running and keep moving forward and yet not be completely miserable.  Thank God for the beauty of music, because without that refreshing my mind as I run, I am not sure how I would handle it.  There are times when I will be struggling during a run, and a certain song will play and inspire me to move on to a different level and suddenly the run becomes easier.

As I am running and listening to songs at times I will be hit by certain inspirations as did happen this past week.  It was while listening to the these lyrics sung by Tracy Chapman:
"Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul"
Here is the part that struck me:  I am so thankful that I have turned 50 and I still am so idealistic.  I always assumed that as one grows older that one inherently would become more judgmental and rigid in ones ways.  Yet thankfully I am finding that does not have to be the case.  I don't think that lives blows which come to all of us is making me jaded.  In fact, I believe that opposite is happening.  As I get older I find myself having more faith in the goodness of humanity than I ever did.  I feel that I am still idealistic in the sense of how I felt idealism as an adolescent.  I still believe that there is truth and justice out there and not only I am looking for it but 99.9% of humanity is also seeking it and we are together on a journey towards it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning the importance of posture

My graph
3 weeks into 2013.  I ran that 50k the first week, rested up a bit week 2 and put in 55 miles on week 3.  The goal for now is 60 miles for week 4.  Then I will keep adding 5 miles per week till I am at 100 miles per week by the end of March or mid April.

Last week's training went well and I was able to get in 55 miles. As I increase my weekly mileage, I am also running more trails.  Right now I am running about 50% on roads and 50% on trails.  I am lucky to have a huge empty track of desert land only one mile from the house where I cam make a 4 mile loop that includes some small hills and canyons.  I am running more trails as they are a little softer than roads, although I am not sure how much as our trails are not soft cushy forest floors or anything like that.  Our desert  trails are a mixture of hard packed sand at best to hard scrabble rock that you have to really watch your footing on.  I always where fingerless cycling gloves out here to protect my hands in case I fall which luckily doesn't happen every day.

Unfortunately the hamstring started tightening up a bit again this week, but again I believe I discovered the cause or causes.  One is that I slacked of on stretching when the hamstring was getting better so I am paying for that a bit now.  I need to become religious with the stretching.  The second problem I notice is related to posture.  On the roads my running posture is fairly good.  A good running posture is an upright posture, hips directly over you knees and feet as they land under you.  U.S. marathoner Meb K. says that he imagines an imaginary wire from the clouds to the top of his head pulling him up as he runs.  On the roads this is not so hard to do because you don't have to be constantly scouting for rocks that you might trip over.  What I need to do is learn how to maintain good running posture while running trails.  On the trails I consistently find myself bending forward looking down at the trail.  This is an inefficient way to run as it puts extra stress on your leg and back muscles to maintain balance.  When I catch myself and straighten up, I also notice that my hamstring starts to get some relief.

What I decided to do is mix up the trail and road running more in the same run.  Instead of going out and running 10 miles on the trails until I am exhausted and running with bad form, I will alternate between road and trail in the same run.  I think a combination of 1 mile on the road followed by 1 mile on the trail should work.  Hopefully this way I can translate the good running posture habits I have on he road to the trail.  I can't wait to try it out tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Running observations - what I learned from my last run

Two days have passed since I finished the Red Rock 50k, I am still definitely quite sore, have also developed a bit of a sniffle probably because my immune systems was weakened and yet I am feeling really good about the run.  I fell that I have turned a corner or two in my ultrarunning experience and I am looking forward to some more good runs this year.  The next big race I will be preparing for will be my second attempt at completing the Bishop High Sierra 100k on May 18..

The first most immediate thing that I learned and I am happy for is the progress I have made with my hamstring injury.  At no time during the run did my hamstring tighten up and slow me down.  At the end of the race after I got lost for a bit then got back on the road I was still doing sub 12 minute miles up a grade which is awesome for me after running more than 30 miles already.  I fell that I can just continue the conditioning and treatments that I have been doing and slowly build up my mileage to get ready for Bishop.  Right now I am running 50 miles per week.  My mileage goal is to be running 60 miles a week by the end of January, 80 miles a week my the end of February and 100 miles a week by the end of March or mid April.  Included in that will be one long -long run of 30 or more miles every 3 weeks.  One thing that I enjoy about ultrarunning is that you can loosely put together a program like this and not worry too much about what days you are going to run what miles and what pace you will run them.  If I am running 6 miles or less it will probably be around and 8 minute per mile pace.  Anything from 6 to 12 miles will average a 9 - 10 minute pace.  20 or more miles will be done at over a 10 minute per mile pace.

The second thing I learned was more mental.  I learned that I could get myself into a mindset where I am toughing out a run and pushing myself to my limits, which will include pain, and at the same time I am deriving satisfaction from my accomplishments and enjoying what I am doing despite the pain.  I guess that is what most people would more simply call being a "bad ass."  At the same time, I have come to realize that these low points in an ultrarun can pass and when they do you have a chance to feel that you are totally in the zone.  The zone I am talking about is a feeling of having pushed yourself for all that you are worth and feel that you can freely keep doing so for as long as you need to.

I am sure there are more lessons that I will learn as I travel down this road and I am looking forward to them.  Any comments anyone?  I have kind of been pouring myself out here for awhile and it would be nice to hear what someone else has to say for a change.  :-)