Sunday, April 29, 2012

50/50 Weekend

The plan was to make this last weekend a super long running event. First was Tie Dye 32 miler in Ohio and the second the Pinckney 50k in Michigan.

Coming off a PR two weeks ago I wanted to push it hard again for another shot. It is a four mile road section out and back then four loops of seven miles down into & out of the Clifton Gorge. Coming off the first loop with the spur I had covered 11 miles in just under 1:30:00. Mentally I was in a euphoric stage. Running was feeling good and I was on pace to beat that PR. By the time I ended the second loop at 18 miles my euphoria had left. It was replaced with cramping in my calves. In addition, running was getting harder to push along at that pace. Third loop started off tough then just got tougher. The sections on the previous loops that felt runnable felt only joggable at best. Now it had been 4:15:00 with 25 miles completed. Ready to throw all I had into the last loop a huge rainstorm unleashed with the temp dropping into the 30F's. My breath filled the air in front of me causing a bit of impaired vision. My hands starting to freeze because of the cold rain running down my windbreaker onto my hands. What was becoming a tough race just stepped it up to a whole new level. In the end I crossed the finished around 5:43:20. Not sure of my placement with nothing posted at this time.

Today I got back up and took another stab at the 50K distance. Lots of great friends all gathering at the start line. The course was two loops of 13.1 then a 5 mile loop. The first loop I joined a nice pacing Congo line and took in the conversation as my legs powered along near a ten minute mile. Slowly I drifted back mile by mile until around the ten mile mark. Then Javier caught me and brought encouragement for me. I followed into stride with him. Wanting not to fall back even more I dug deep to stay with him. Javier was a hero bringing me into the finish of the first loop at 2:30:36. Not sure I could make the day I opted for a new plan by doing the five mile loop next. Ryan Miller joined me and we took it easy laughing & talking away the miles. The loop went in just over an hour. Now I had a problem! I thought six hours at the most and I had to work at 2pm. It was now 11:25 and best guess was three hours to finish another long loop. That didn't fit the equation so I called it day.

All in all it was a tough 50 miles of running this weekend on tired legs. Both courses offered some rocky terrain in preparation for Massanutten. Tie Dye had some serious rocks which in the end will pay off at Massanutten. So with the books almost closed in training, you could say I am almost famous. As the picture states, ha ha.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Courage is the result

Winona 30 Mile Trail Race

Me, Melanie, Dustin & Andrew

"Most people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts." -- Pre

       Last weekend I worked against myself and a not-so-stellar 50K performance at the Fool's Day 50K which resulted in a 5:55:55 finish time.  Learning from those mistakes and feeling much better I added some courage & went  for my best effort.  Recently, I read an article about runners running in their comfort zone and not taking risks. Looking at this as another training run towards Massanutten the decision would be to take a risk with some courage.

      Setting out on the first of three loops I came set off in motion. Running the flats, downhills & uphills with an all out effort. Completing the first loop with 100% running was the objective then after that see what I could do to repeat it for two more loops. The ten mile race started ten minutes before us and before I realized it I was catching & passing them.  Dustin Smith settled in on my heels as we went stride for stride in the first loop. It was a great feeling knowing he was right there pushing along with me. Around the third mile I mentioned the pace was quick and he said let's kick it up for a half mile. The pace pushed even harder as we sprinted past another dozen or so 10 milers. Shortly after mile five my right leg from the middle of my hamstring to the bottom of my foot went numb. Betting on it passing I pushed it even harder for the next several miles. In the ninth mile feeling returned to my leg, but pain was slowly settling into my muscles. Then every mile the splits were getting quicker. By the time the first loop was completed we had past about 70% of the ten milers closing it out in 1:16:29 (7:48 per mile).

    Moving out for the second loop the trail was a lot more vacant. There was only a handful of runners now on the course. This is hazard for me, I tend to drift off pace when no one is around me. Most of this loop Dustin and me took turns passing each other back & forth. At mile 15 I checked the split of the race. The Garmin was showing 2:05:25, now an average of 8:20 per mile. My legs were feeling the affects of that strong first loop. Continuing to take a risk and push myself as hard as possible was at the forefront of my mind. More miles were knocked with the second loop now completed in 1:34:39 (total run time 2:51:08).

     Realizing that shot of courage was putting me in the range of a new PR with only a loop to go I had to dig deep pushing past the pain that had settled into my body. About three miles into the final loop I was next to Dustin again then stopped abruptly to let him pass. He asked as he passed if I was ok. I replied, "I should be keep going." Something in my stomach had taken a turn for the worse and I was not sure how this was going to turn out. After walking and taking a few stops for the next several meters things settled down. Back to running it was for me. The last four miles it was the run everything motto no matter how much it hurt. Not wanting to be passed after putting so much effort into the what I had covered I was able to finish the last loop in 1:45:34 with a finish time of 4:36:43. This gave me a new PR by eight minutes with a tenth place overall finish.

     Taking a risk was painful, but it was a rewarding experience stepping out of my comfort zone. It gave me some insight about how I handle things in life & running.  In two weeks I head down to Ohio for the Tie Dye 50K the final training race before Massanutten. I will bring some more courage to race.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's the Dilly-O with O-Hilly-O

  Race recap for the Fool's 50K in Akron, Ohio  

Heading into the finish

      Just what I needed to check my progress in preparing for Massanutten. The Fool's 50k was part training run and part race for me. Instead of just logging some miles I wanted to put forth a strong effort to see what my long distance pace was shaping up to be for the upcoming summer season.

A few mistakes on my part did not put me in a good place for the race though. Pre race night I got just under four hours of sleep, then drove three hours to Akron to the race and with three tough training sessions during the week my body felt fatigued before even reaching the start line. Around 5:00 am in the parking my stomach took a turn and I started dry heaving in the parking lot for a few minutes. This stomach issue floated through me for most of the race. The good side of that is it felt like I was at mile 69 in a 100 mile race with the toughest 31 miles left to plow through on a beaten body. Nothing better than simulating my goal; well at least that was my optimism.     

      The plan was to run the the first loop of 25K in 2:45 then step up the pace a bit for a 2:30 second 25K (a nice 5 hour 15 minute run time.) Well I got off the line with a comfortable pace and ran the downhills & flat-like sections through the entire first loop. Most of the hills were in the beginning and end of the loop with a quick middle section. Coming through on the first 25K in 2:43:17, but not a lot left in the tank to repeat that effort. Kylie (my oldest daughter) said, "good job, are we ready to go?" I responded back, "I still have a second loop." She processed that for a brief moment then commented, "Really?" Nothing like the humor of a teenager to make the moment even better as I felt the bus run me over. I told her hang in there I will be back in about 3-3 hours 15 minutes.

     Starting the out the second loop the weather was getting even better with partly sunny skies, warm temps around mid 50's and great trail conditions. This loop started with a bit of walking until I got around mile eighteen then I came to terms with the more I run the sooner this will end. My entire body was aching (biceps, triceps, shoulders, quads, hamstrings; basically everything except my eyeballs to make it short). I held in there and pushed along running all but the inclines. During the inclines I did enjoy the walking bit more than I should have, but that was the trade off for running all the other portions. The craziest part of the this loop was that I thought I saw a seven foot man dressed in purple cloak running through the forest off the path watching me. What a great hallucination for a short distance race. I closed out the second 25K in 3:12:38 making a perfect 5:55:55 on the finishing clock as I passed over the line.

    The race was well organized and is held (in my opinion) on the best 15.5 miles of the Burning River 100 Mile course. Just over 1200 wooden steps to navigate in the hilly sections and a lot of just beautiful sections to take in while running. The race sells out and I would recommend putting it on anyone's to do list. Each finisher gets a nice hand crafted coffee mug.

     Well April 14 I head to the Winona 50K in Indiana to once again check my progress. Followed up with the Tie Dye 50K in Ohio on April 28 for a final check before the tapering begins for what will be a "rocking" Massanutten 100 Mile!