Tuesday, April 15, 2008

an old goats a$$ kickin'

Laying on the trail on my back, I stared at the bright morning sky taking inventory of my body parts and contemplating whether today might be my first DNF.

Head was ok. Shoulder hurt like a mother, but didn't appear to be dislocated. Right knee was in pain. My fingers seemed to be sprained, but I could run with that.

Just moments ago at about 6.5 miles into the Old Goats 50K, my right foot tried to have its way against a rock which was firmly lodged in the ground. The rock stayed, my ankle twisted, and I lost my balance falling forward. I tried to catch myself but to no avail. I was going downhill and just a tad bit too fast on this tricky section of the trail. A huge boulder was about to make its acquaintance with my face. Fortunately, I was able to avert a cracked skull by sacrificing my shoulder instead. OUCH!!!

I should've been more careful on this downhill section to begin with, but I was trying to make up time. That's what happens when you get to the starting line about an hour after the race starts. What made my late start worse besides being so far behind was the weather. The forecast was sunny with highs in the 80s – great beach conditions, but not when you're running an ultra in these hills. So not only was I way in the back, but I'd also lost an hour's worth of valuable cooler temps.

I got up gingerly, hobbled for about 50 feet and decided that the sore knee and banged up elbow were not bad enough to keep me from continuing. I finally made it to the candy store aid station at mile 10. By this time, I'd passed up one runner. Great! I wasn't in last place.

One upside to starting this late was that I saw just about every runner on this race on their return trip on the out-and-back portion, including several club members running (iMichelle, Keira, Greg, Alexa, Michelle M., Martin, Robbi, Shelli, Marisa, Carmela, and Kirk–if I've forgotten anyone, sorry).

On the return trip to Blue Jay campground for the next aid station at about mile 18, things were starting to heat up, but fortunately there was still some shade on this section of the course. I arrived feeling pretty good despite the heat and my fall. I refueled and filled my water bottles and off I went.

The last 13 miles proved to be the toughest. By this time it was already close to high noon. I was seeing a lot of the front runners on their way back. The dreaded W. Horsethief Trail was still a few miles away, but I arrived there a bit too soon. About 1.5 miles of steady, brutal climbing and completely exposed to the sun at this point, it wasn't something I was looking forward to. Temperatures were steadily increasing close to the 90s. It was hot. I trudged along slowly. I made it out–barely–but with just enough in the tank to finish the race at about 7:56 by my Garmin, though my official time counting my late start put me closer to 9 hours.

This wasn't my best race, but it was all good. As far as I was concerned, this was one hell of a training run, complete with single track, heat, hills, and spills, just in time for my second 50-miler, the PCT50, four short weeks away. Seriously though, I'm not sure if I'm ready for this one.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

and i kept on runnin'...

So I woke up today in a bit of a funk, and I needed to shake it off. Well, I didn't have any plans at all, so I thought about going out for a run at my regular stomping grounds.

It was kinda late, about 10, but it was cloudy and cool. Perfect. Started off feeling pretty good. I was planning on doing the El Moro perimeter loop, a distance of about 9.5 miles. I usually don't run with my iPod and today was no exception so I had time to ponder about a bunch of things. Funny how life plays out during a course of a run, well at least with me anyway.

I finished my loop and got back to the car. Well, this is where my mini-Forrest Gump moment happened. After my PB&J sandwich, I thought, lemme add a few more. I wasn't tired at all, and it was still relatively cool. So I ran, and I ran. As Forrest said, "For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean." And when I got within sight of the ocean, I turned around and kept on running.

A few hours, 3300 calories and 21 miles later, "I think I'll go home now." It's my longest run this year by far, so I was happy with it. Even better though, after the run, I felt tired but energized, and whatever was bugging me this morning was gone and long forgotten.

Friday, April 4, 2008

power walking to my next ultra

I've always been a firm believer in cross-training. I try to incorporate other forms of exercise besides running into my weekly workout regimen, whether it's swimming, spinning, weights, climbing, or yoga. Lately I've taken on power walking or speed walking. Why? Because it most closely resembles the action of running's forward motion while giving my body, especially my joints a rest.

It's really quite simple. I try to walk fast, about a 15 minute mile (4 miles/hour). I focus on form, keeping my posture tall and my head up. My arms swing naturally and bent at the elbow at a 90degree angle, almost as if in a running motion. I make sure not to overextend my stride and keep each step feeling natural. Racewalkers do a hip roll kind of motion with their strides, but I haven't quite got the hang of that. Unlike running where it's more efficient to land on the balls of the feet, with speed walking, land on the heel then roll the foot forward for a push off.

Since I'm not a rockstar runner like some people I know, I've used power walking as a way of taking a break during some past ultras I've done without losing significant amounts of time. It's also very helpful when climbing hills. I find it more efficient and less taxing to speed walk up the inclines instead of jogging up them.

So for 3 weeks now, twice a week, for about an hour, with a friend, I enjoy the trails, the streets, the beach, the hills, and the neighborhoods around here, slowing down just enough to smell, hear and appreciate my surroundings while still getting a great cardio workout and putting in valuable "on my feet" time.

Another benefit of walking–it's so much easier to carry on a conversation.