Wednesday, July 30, 2008

running on island time for vr6

I'd been on a hectic pace the last week or so with work and other obligations. Sleep was minimal, and I felt like I my body was starting to wear down. The trip to the Bahamas was kind of an afterthought, and I began to have second thoughts about going. But with reservations made and visions of clean air, the warm blue Caribbean sea, and 100-foot deep underwater adventures, I packed my stuff and headed to the airport.

Flight delays, trying to work at the airport, and crowds of other weary travelers are not ingredients that would put anyone in a sunny disposition. I'd been traveling by air for four straight days seemingly going everywhere, but getting nowhere, and by the time I landed in Freeport, my mind and body were in a daze. I was sleep-deprived and extremely tired. But I did notice that the hectic zoo atmosphere at Miami Airport was behind me, and that the pace of everything here slowed down. In the words of Willie Love, the one-man band that serenaded us at the airport, it's time to put the watch away because I'm now on Bahamian time.

I took a long much-needed nap and was out for an early dinner when I mentioned that I was going for a run. V, B, and J decided to join me in an attempt to ward off the evil weight gain that usually comes on the tail end of a week long holiday. After dinner, with their hubbys and kids settled in the hotel pool, the four of us started our jaunt.

The Bahamian evening air was still warm, around 80deg F with humidity around 65%. It didn't take long before my shirt was drenched even though we were taking it easy. We didn't know of any specific running routes so we just went out on the road and decided to play it by ear. Our late start caused us to miss most of the Virtual Runners. Actually except for us, there were no other runners out there.

One thing about running on the roads in the Bahamas, or anywhere where the cars drive on the wrong side (er, left side) of the road, you gotta know which side of the street to look when crossing the street. I was looking left when I should've been looking right and had a near miss with a car. Fortunately, as with everything on the island, the car was moving slowly, and I was able to move out of the way when I saw the car coming up behind me on my right.

We ran and we walked some passing by Our Lucaya landmarks, the Westin Hotel, the Isle of Capri Casino, the marina, pastel colored shops at the Port Lucaya Marketplace, the Police Station, the beach. The Lucaya strip was not very long and we soon ended on the road leading to the airport. We turned around and ran back to the hotel straight to the pool.

It was nice to get my legs moving again after over a week of hardly doing anything remotely associated to exercise – not a bad way to jumpstart this Virtual Training Run again. At the end of the run, my Garmin showed us going about 4 miles in just under 50 minutes. Just as I suspected, this island pace had already gotten into me. In the Bahamas, you don't run. You just move to the riddim of the islands.

The local brew for some pre and post-run hydration.

I doubt I'll be doing much running this week, but come by this blog for pics and stories from the islands.

It looks like this week's virtual run encompassed participants from Asia where it is heavily represented, the USA, the Caribbean, the UK, and maybe the Mid East (did Sadji join us?). Read other V-Runners' recaps below:
  1. Jaymie (well sorta) - Alabang, Philippines
  2. DATC - Philippines
  3. Caloy - Davao, Philippines
  4. Stephanie - New York City, USA
  5. Jinoe - Makati, Philippines
  6. Hitme - Quezon City, Philippines
  7. Kassy - Philippines
  8. Chaia - Sydney/Melbourne, Australia
  9. Nora - Kent, UK

Sunday, July 27, 2008

back from hibernation: virtual training run #6

After a long hiatus, the Virtual Training Run* is back. For those of you who haven't played before, here's how it goes. Runners separated by geography do a training run "together" wherever they may be in the world. We set a distance (more or less) and meet at a specific time, so 6:00pm US East Coast time makes it 6:00am the following day in Manila.

I'll be on a working holiday in Freeport/Lucaya so I'll be on the US East Coast time zone.

DATE: 29 July 2008, Tuesday (US East Coast)
TIME: 6:00 P.M. (US East Coast time)
DISTANCE: 10 km/6 miles (or whatever you wish)

The following are past participants and most of them have already committed to joining us. After the training session, each participant writes a quick recap of the session so that each of us benefits from this collective effort. If you don't have a blog, fret not, just comment on one of our blogs about your experience.
  1. Jaymie - Alabang, Philippines
  2. HitMe - Quezon City, Philippines
  3. Banggi - Makati, Philippines/Saigon, Viet Nam
  4. Ben - Manila to Makati, Philippines
  5. Renz - ParaƱaque, Philippines
  6. Marga - ParaƱaque, Philippines
  7. Caloy - Davao, Philippines
  8. TRF - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  9. Gretchen - Truckee, USA
  10. Rick - San Francisco, USA
  11. Nora - Kent County, UK
  12. Steph - San Diego/New York, USA
  13. E-Rod - Newport Beach, USA/Freeport, Bahamas
So what are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes and come join us. It's a perfect training session for the upcoming Nike+ Human Race 10K.

*If you have an injury that keeps you from running, participate by cycling, swimming, blading or anything that involves self-propelled constant motion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the tahoe rim trail run recap

I originally registered for the Tahoe Rim Trails 50 mile Run months ago, but a week before the event, I dropped my distance to the 50K (33 miles actually) option. With the uncertainty of the air quality in the Tahoe area due to the NorCal fires coupled with my PCT50's disappointing and discouraging performance and my recent calf problem. I wasn't sure if it was a great idea to attempt that distance at altitude. So how did I do?

Not so well unfortunately – 9 hours and 14 minutes to run and walk 33.25 miles (according to my Garmin). How did that happen? Well, the following might shed a light on this.

The TRT Runs consist of 33, 50 or 100 miles of trails in the high elevation alpine region of the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event starts at its lowest point at Spooner Lake (elevation around 7000 feet) and reaches its highest point at around 9000 feet just below Snow Valley Peak before coming back down to Spooner Lake for the finish.

I was guilty of overtraining. Rest and recovery is an essential part of an endurance runner's training program. After all the insane miles and stress we put our bodies through, they need some time to recover and build up the muscles necessary for us to get stronger for our next training session.

And so I took this to heart, a bit too seriously, I'm afraid. Rest and recovery implies that there were the long, tough and arduous training runs from which my body is supposed to be "resting" and "recovering." I wasn't supposed to use R and R in lieu of actually doing training runs. What a novel concept. Hmm... if I'd thought of that sooner, I might've fared better at the TRT.

Then there was the altitude. I'll be fine, I thought. It's already Saturday, and I'd been here since Thursday night. Plus LT, Sue and I had spent some time the day before at higher altitude to acclimate. Well I WAS fine, until it hit me. Around mile 20 or so, it became harder for me to breathe and headaches came. At around mile 26, I felt myself bonking. I didn't have much of an appetite for those energy goos anymore and I might've

While I'm at it, I should throw in another excuse for my disappointing run. Did I mention my calf? Actually it wasn't bothering me the first part of the race. It was fine the first 15 miles or so, until the uphill portion of the Red House Loop. And there it was again, a twitching as if it was going to cramp, and the familiar knot that was slowly forming in there. I arrived at the Tunnel Creek aid station I massaged my calf, patched it up with some Salon Pas, and taped it. Fortunately, the calf didn't get worse, but it's condition didn't get much better.

Now don't get the wrong idea that I had a bad day. When I can go out there and complete an ultra, I don't see how it could be anything but a good day. The TRT is a beautiful run. Along the way, there are views of diminutive Spooner Lake, the reclusive Marlette Lake, and of course the grand daddy, Lake Tahoe.

The aid stations and support were first class, especially the aloha themed buffet at Tunnel Creek. Was that ultra legend Gordy Ainsleigh I saw in an aloha shirt, a lei around his neck and running shorts? It was hard to trust myself at this point. Then there's the O2 deprived Snow Valley Peak aid station whose volunteers greeted me by name as I pulled in and served me chicken noodle soup, the perfect choice for my sodium depleted self.

I enjoy meeting other runners on the trail – Dawn, a marathoner and triathlete from Florida who was running her first trail race, Bill, a 25 y.o. from Boise, Idaho whose longest run ever was 22 miles and after a sleepless night of "peer pressure" drinking with his buddies was attempting his first ultra., 33 y.o. Michael, an airman and 100-mile veteran, and Ron who joined me in loud chants of "Cold Beer!" to motivate us through the last mile and a half and onto the finish line.

Crossing the line always brings a sense of relief and accomplishment and this race was no different. The post-race burrito bar was excellent, the beer was cold, and the free four-hands massage under the pines was just divine.

I will have to come back to do this run again, if only to redeem myself and to enjoy the trails and the beauty that surround them once more.

What's next for me? I'm taking a break from running ultras, for the flat and fast Chicago Marathon in October – that's three months to train these legs for some speedy turnover. Let's see if I will put in the necessary hard work or insist on the overextended rest and recovery method once more.

Congratulations to all that ran the TRT this year. Here are some more TRT recaps:

More photos here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

to run, gimp or suck at the tahoe rim trail

"WE'RE STILL A GO!" read the headline in bold red caps on the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs home page. With the Northern California wildfires causing an unprecedented cancellation of the Western States 100 this year, I was more than interested to see if the TRT was going to be affected. According to the race director, there are no active fires in the Lake Tahoe area. Thank goodness. Now all I have to worry about is the run.

Well, except for this minor thing. Last week while on a routine 10-mile training run, I felt a strain on my left calf with about 3 miles still to go. I finished my run, but the soreness (sort of a dull pain) has lingered on and has now radiated to the outside of my calf. I've laid off running the last week and have been massaging my calf and soaking it in the hot tub in my feeble attempt to rehab it before the run.

The TRT starts at an elevation of around 7000 feet and goes up to 9000 feet at its highest – oxygen-deprived conditions for this landlubber. I have a bit of a concern with the altitude. Sometimes I'm fine, but sometimes I get headaches and just plain suck wind. I'm writing this post from my hotel room in Carson City (just a stone's throw away from the Nevada State Capitol and Nevada State Legislative Building), and even though it's only about 5000 feet here, I do feel a bit lightheaded.

Two more days to go and I'm hoping my leg will be much better and my lungs will be acclimated by the time I toe the starting line.

Check out this excerpt from a documentary about the 2007 run.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

an ultra's ultra late recap

On May 10th, somewhere along the famed Pacific Crest Trail, in the Cleveland National Forest, I took a step weakly, exhausted and swore that if I ever made it out of this trail alive, I would never run a 50-miler again.

No, let me correct myself–I swore never to run a single step again, ever!

I should've posted this recap several weeks ago, but I just did not want to have anything to do with running for awhile. After the PCT 50, I took my usual post-ultra one-week recovery where I did absolutely nothing related to running. Well, after that week was over, I sorta enjoyed the break and extended my "recovery" indefinitely. Hmm...was I really taking my race-fatigue-induced vow seriously? I knew I had the Tahoe Rim in about 2 months, but that just seemed ages away. And so the break extended to two weeks, then three, then four...

But I digress.

Here's the extremely abbreviated recap of my second 50-miler, the PCT 50 Mile Endurance Run. It was held about an hour east of San Diego along a 25-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, 2650 miles of trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. I got up at 2am, rendezvoused with a few running pals somewhere down in So. OC and headed down to the starting line about 2 hours away.

From the start, I didn't feel good. My legs were burning on the uphill, I was heaving and panting, my water bottles felt heavy, and just about everyone was passing me by. I thought that after my body warmed up, I would start to feel better and get my rhythm. Ten miles later, things hadn't improved much. I never gained any momentum, and as the beautiful as the course is, I found it difficult to enjoy it like I have previous races.

I suppose I should've written this as it happened, but since some time has passed, I'll have to resort to bulleting some of what I remember about this race...
  • very chilly start, about 35deg F, and warming up to somewhere in the high 80s
  • SCTHz Greg and Pam at the first aid station. I had already fallen way back at this point but Greg was very encouraging
  • saw more SCTHz peeps on the trail including Kevin, Robo, Keira, iMichelle, Marisa, Dmitri, Kirk, LSD Chris, Kos, Chaz, Xy. Did I forget anyone?
  • another Trail Headz, Leon Gray manning the turnaround point
  • meeting and running with Jakob Hermann, a Swiss expat who casually decided at the end of the race that he'll run the SD100 in less than a month. He got a pic of me as I hobbled along the trail.
  • spectacular views of the Mojave Desert on one side, and the Laguna Mountains on the other
  • miles and miles and miles of technical trails
  • fellow Trail Headz and race volunteers Sue, Alexa, and Michelle making sure I was going to be ok the rest of the way at Mile 43.5 Aid Station
  • a volunteer at the last aid station who insisted I take salt pills and made sure I ate more salty stuff. I thought he was a bit pushy until I realized why when I saw my hat.
I posted a time of 10:46 at my previous 50-miler, and I was hoping to come somewhat close to it. I knew coming in that this was a tougher course, so I set my goal to about 11:30. As the race progressed and the time and my energy ticked away, it was becoming more evident that I probably won't be meeting this goal.

My eventual time was 12:47, 82nd place with 108 starters, definitely not the kind of finish I was hoping for.

Reading over what I'd just written, I realize that this post somehow captures my feeling of my race that day – labored without rhythm, uninspired, a tad bit too long, and just plain glad that it is now over.

But as much as I tried to stick to my vow, I did eventually start putting one foot forward again, and again, and again and am back to running once more.

My race pictures here.
Read PCT 50 recaps from Chaz and Greg.