Saturday, March 29, 2008

Big Foot spotted at Afton

Beware, this footprint was spotted at the top of Campground Hill at Afton.

Fun day at Afton today.

Me... I had to start early to get home for the family, so it was 5 am start time.

It gave me a chance to try out my new Petzl Tikka Plus head lamp. It was fun. A good buy. I wanted to try the snowshoe loop in pitch dark, and it was interesting. I am not as used to running this part backwards, and in the dark took more attention. I did have a near "Superior Grade" fall down and ice sheet (i was not wearing spikes), but all in all a fun loop.

I proceeded to the Meat Grinder, and Campground, and back to the parking lot to meet up with Todd Rowe, Jim Wilson, and Karen Gall. It was fun hanging with that group.

Todd is running his first 50 at Ice age, Jim is running Kettle 100 (and Chippewa, right?), and Karen is coming off injury. I am sure we will see her burning up the trails this year.

I caught a good pose of them on the Africa Loop.

Also a good shot at the morning sun.

Halfway through was saw someone in shorts. Only person that crazy would be The Jon Storkamp, the new RD for the Afton Trail Races. I talked to him after my run and he said "I am still recovering from my run last month" Understatement of the year. He won the Arrowhead 135 mile race in northern Minnesota, in snow.

Later on we saw Jeffrey and Alicia, and this created an opportunity for a great picture

All in all a good day.

I ended up (not intentionally) running 33.75 miles, and I felt okay at the end (not trashed like 2 weeks ago).

I am ready for Chippewa
I am ready for this low heart rate training to be done. Next week I will do my final Hadd test and post a synopsis of the training.

7hrs. 33.75 miles. avg hr 140

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ahhh, nine flat

After almost three months of this low heart rate work, I was finally able to run 10 miles at an exact 9 minute pace.

When I started this, that would have been more like 9:50 10 minute pace.

My pace is the most relaxed I have been in a long time, and it just feels good. I did 12 on Monday at a 9:10 pace in heavy wind and it still felt great.

I am a little concerned that I won't be able to run at an 7-8 pace sustained for 31 miles, but that is what the first race is for.

I think I will get there early enough to piss in Steve's coffee that morning.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Adjusting to the obstacles

The best laid plans never account for the reality of obstacles we encounter every day.

The plan for a 3rd 70 mile week in a row was tossed after more sleepless nights from coughing. I finally bit the bullet, and loaded up on decongestant and cough syrup.

Friday and Saturday I was walking around "dazed and confused".... you know the tune.

It was more of a hangover than a six pack of beer, that stuff just lingers in the system.

I finally slept Saturday night. Woke up at 5am for an easy 8 mile "Easter Sunrise" treadmill run. He is risen indeed!

I rounded out the week with 40 miles, as I took Monday, Friday, and Saturday off. I had some serious restless leg syndrome from that on Saturday night.

As much as we (I) get concerned and obsessed with mileage, this little break might help me more than if I pounded through and ran.

Many would say it is time to "taper" until Chippewa, but I find I do fine with a long run two weeks before the race, and just back off the week of the race.

So, that means a long run at Afton on Saturday. Looks like most of this snow will melt, so the hopes of 25 there on Saturday look good.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Enough of the snow already part 2

Ditto from the last post.

Post nasal drip from last weeks' cold is now keeping me up at night (coughing). arrgg. Cough syrup hangover.

I think I will back off the mileage a little for the remainder of the week (no 20+ run on Saturday, no 70 mile week).

I think I will take it back up for next week, and do 25 at Afton next Saturday, giving me a 2 week "taper".

I start work next Thursday, so it will be interesting to see how my running is effected. At least I will have a steady supply of Vitamin Water.

Maybe a more thought provoking post later today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Enough of the snow already

We all woke up to a few inches of snow..... so much for spring.

So, the dreadmill waiteth.

Immediately after starting the workout, I felt "wow, this is easy and comfortable". It was a 6.5 mph pace. Still feeling a little sore from Saturday, I decided to keep it at 6.5 for the whole run and see how my hr responded.

Unbelievably, the average was 127 for the 10 mile run. My max only hit 137, and it took 6 miles to get to 130.

What does this mean? I guess the long run really paid off.

Toward the end of the run on Saturday, I was wiped out, but it felt easier to run at a slow pace than to walk. I felt like I had to keep moving.

So today my body has acclimated to an easier pace, and has built better muscles for it (some say my body may have even stolen fast twitch to make this happen).

Whatever the case, It felt great to see the average only 10 beats less than presvious runs like this.

3 more weeks of this, then race time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rounding out another good week

I only needed 5 miles to hit 70 for the week, so I did just that today at a real easy pace (10 min).

I have found I now have a different form for the slower pace. It was not there a month ago.

5 at that pace seemed happy and easy. A good recovery from yesterday. I hurt a little from that.

Hopefully some of that snow at Afton will melt.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

First 50k of the season

I was a chilly start at Afton this morning. 5am, dark, and 20 degrees.

There is still lots of snow there which was really chunky ice.

I kept it easy the whole time, running in the dark for the first 1.5 hours.

I met up with Carl Gammon at the snow shoe loop and he joined for the second loop.

The snowshoe loops is now like an adventure racing loop, trying to find the trail a few times, and getting me feet wet as a result of punching through snow and ice.

We decided to do the second loop clockwise again, and Carl claimed that I was not slowing him down, he was lying.

The start of the second loop felt great, I was eating and hydrating properly (i think), and keeping the hr down. At about 22 miles, it felt long.

The snow and ice punished my legs, and even through my knee a little.

We met up with Jim Wilson at the top of the campground hill, and Jim was playing the extreme sport of running without any spikes. There was a lot of ice, and he navigated the sheet quite well. I was running out of brain food and asked Jim the same question a few times. A sign I need to eat. Jim's doing the Kettle 100 in June, good luck man!

It was tough to finish the snowshoe loop the second time, but I am glad I did.

I joined up with Keith in the visitors center, as I slowly was going into hypothermia. (not really). So, time to get in a heated car.

Thinking of hydrating, I thought of Steve Quick when I was peeing. Steve, the SRM on my pee was 4.

I don't think I drank enough. I only had water, with a few s caps, cliff bar, and Hammer Gel. It would have been nice to have a real sports drink. It was a good test, though.

31 miles, 6hrs 40 min, avg hr 145

Friday, March 14, 2008

Anecdotal Medicine

Perfect topic for the blogoshpere.

I felt like crap earlier this week. I took Monday off, ran 8 Tuesday, 10 Wed, 10 Thurs. Each time I ran, I felt better. I did not want to run, as I felt like crap.

I have read a lot and spoken with many doctors over the years on weather it is okay or not to run while sick. (more specifically, does it make you more sick). The consensus seemed to be "as long as you don't have a fever, or something serious, it won't hurt. But take it easy".

Could it be that running actually can cure a cold? I am still on low hr, and did "easy" runs this week.

I always joke with my wife that she has a doctorate from the school of anecdotal medicine. She is very quick to make links from cause to effect without any proof, evidence, date to support it. (other than "I did this, and this happened afterwards, so the must be related".

I am a skeptic at heart, so I tend to need more science and data to come to conclusions (unbiased science, if possible).

But, being the internet, it is unavoidable. I think people will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the undisputed factual evidence facing them. (I have run into smokers who still are not convinced it is bad for you). I also run into people who think running is bad for you (they always source Jim Fixx dying while running).

It is for this reason why I get very upset when politicians use anecdotes to push national policy, and reason to vote for them. One can find anecdotal evidence to support almost any theory. (some people believe wearing a seatbelt can be more dangerous than not because it can trap you in an accident. These people usually know of someone where this happened). But, they ignore the overwhelming evidence contradicting their theory. But, since they knew the individual in the anecdote, they are not conviced.

Some politicians base the health of the economy by watching a senior citizen in the grocery store debating weather to buy a brand name or generic brand.

So, why did I bring this up?

I feel like running healed me this week. I know it is a dumb assumption, but good for a topic.

(The same can be applied to almost any training regiment, diet, etc.)

By the way, Afton tomorrow. Hoping for 50k.

Start between 5 and 6 am. 1st lap clockwise, second reverse.

Join me if you like

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I got the job!


It is finally here. I received a verbal offer through a recruiter for the company I have been interviewing with.

A formal written offer needs to come through, but I do have it. I will be working for Glaceau, selling to the contract feeding food service companies (similar to what I did for Starbucks for many years).

Their products are up the alley of athletes and runners, although not really ultra runners. Maybe I can influence them to make more ultra friendly products.

I told them in the interview that they need to get their products in the hands of "serious" runners and "well respected" runners to build more credibility. This is partly my ploy to secure free stuff.

My first piece of business will be to convince them to sponsor something (UMTR, or maybe a running team?).

It is a fun group, and I have to offer exactly what they need (experience in the onsite/on premise food service segment).

Hopefully this won't effect my training. All work and no running make Jack a dull boy.

Don't know the start date, but soon.

Feel like C#@p

Think I caught something from a nose running kid.

Just congestion and post nasal drip.

Must stay focused..... Must keep running....... Must (fill in the blank)

Took Monday off. Ran 8 yesterday.

We will see what today brings.

Just added a slide show below on the right. We saw the Shuttle launch in Feb, and have some pics to go with it. I intend to put more running related pictures in the future (group runs & races)

UPDATE - Ran 10, it felt great. Average 9:20 pace, 139hr. My out and back splits were only 30 seconds apart.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A week of 70


This week was the first time in a while I was able to hit 70 miles. I used to feel really beat up when I would hit this mileage, but not this week. I am a little tired, but I think the cold yesterday sucked some toughness out of me.

The next 2-3 I will be trying for at least the same mileage, with a small taper before Chippewa 50k.

I am thinking about 50K Saturday at Afton, maybe again the following Saturday.

Race season is almost here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I didn't know it was THAT cold

Like many of you, the Saturday runs are getting longer and ramping up. I really wanted to do 20 miler today, and did not have time to go to Afton.

The forecast looked for a cold morning but "only" around zero. It was 9 last Saturday, and I was fine without too much winter bundling.

I woke up for a 5 am run, checked the weather, the tv said -1 (obviously somewhere other than where I was). I put on my ninja mask, and added glove liners as my hands are always cold.

I had two water bottles, so I put 2 s-caps in the one I would use second to prevent it from icing up.

I should have figured something was up by 1/4 mile when I already had ice on my eyelashes. Oh well.

3 miles in, my water bottle was already icing up. The Ultimate Direction bottles have a retractable nipple that was full of ice already. I was getting to the point where I could not drink out of it.

I smartly took a route where I would pass a gas station and a Cub Foods in case I ran into problems. I quickly realized I needed to make a pass to the gas station for some "wardrobe maintenance"

The lady there looked at me funny. She let me use the sink to run warm water over the spigot of the bottle. The bottle was now completely iced up. Darn, I thought, 10 degrees less sure makes things problematic.

She said "are you running?" I said yes. She said "but its -11 degrees!" I replied "Ahhh, that explains a lot." That also explained why I was still cold.

I decided to change my route to run by a Starbucks where I know the staff. I basically did the same thing there, the helped me thaw my gear which was frozen again. I decided a coffee was in order. I sipped some, and then threw it in my bottle. Not quite how you make iced coffee, but it worked.

I did manage to get the whole 20 miles in without any near death experiences. I checked the temp when I got home and it was 1 degree (a while after I got home). Looks like the whole run was zero and below.

I am done with this cold crap.

20 miles. 3.5 hours. avg hr 136.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Second Inverview

A few of you know I am interviewing for a new job.

Had the second interview today with the regional team and it went great. I have a phone interview with the regional VP tomorrow.

There is a link to running, so if I get the job, I will post about it. (there will probably be some serious free samples as well).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A side benefit, or am I just imagining things?

It seems that I have an easier time breathing in the last week or two. I can't explain it, but I feel like I can take fuller breaths. My body seems to want to take fuller breaths, and it is effortless. Could this be from the low hr training? Can't say. I am not sure if I am just imagining this as well.

Breathing, ironically, is something I know a lot about and am good at. I spent most of my youth and college days playing the.... you guessed it.... Tuba. I was actually a performance major for 2 years with the tuba. Getting a lot of air, quickly, in a relaxed manner was something I practiced for years. My professor, Rex Martin, was an under study to the late Arnold Jacobs, probably the best wind teacher of our time. Breathing was a big deal in the studio.

So, early on, I learned how to maximize breathing without thinking about it. I was even blessed with a 6 liter lung capacity. I am probably the only person you will ever meet who has had their lung capacity tested. In reality, contrary to conventional thinking, lung capacity does not have much to do with how well you play the tuba. (or any instrument for that manner). I am not sure it makes that big of a difference for running, either, if you don't have an efficient manner of getting that oxygen into your blood.

So, I digress.

In the Maffetone book he talks about stressing your body by overtraining through the adrenal glands. I am sure there is a link here with easier breathing, but I don't know. I mean, it was easy to breath before this. It is just "easier"

Just watch, I will get sick tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The power of an aerobic base

If you would have asked me in October, or during any of my peak training times in the past 7 years "how is my aerobic base?", I would have answered "great, just look at what I am able to do.

I now know what an idot I have been for 7 years.

I would have answered with that statement, but left out "yes, but I am chronically fatigued, get shin splints once I run over 50 miles per week, I get colds frequently, I get allergies, but no doctor can find anything I am allergic to, I often will wake up in the middle of the night for 2-3 hours, and I eat everything in the house"

These, I learned from Dr. Phillip Maffetone, are symptoms of aerobic deficiency syndrome.

After talking with Adam, reading some articles, and looking back on my years of training and performances, I figured I had nothing to lose by looking at a drastically different method of training.... the Maffetone method.... or, low heart rate training.

Maffetone states that to build an effective aerobic base, one needs to spend a MINIMUM of 3 months at your maximum aerobic fitness heart rate. For me, this was around 143 - 148. I have spent virtually all of my training over the years over 150, and a lot over 160.

Adam had me do a "Hadd" Test to track the progress. The goal was to do the following.

.5 mile warm up a 6mph (gee, I thought, I might fall asleep)

1.5 miles at 125 avg hr
1.5 miles at 135 avg hr
1.5 miles at 145 avg hr
1.5 miles at 155 avg hr
1.5 miles at 165 avg hr

2 mile cool down at 6.5.

I started low hr training in the middle of January. Maffetone states that you can not do anything anaerobic in that time, so no weight lifting, situps, pushups, etc.

My first Hadd test was on January 28. Here were the results.

.5 mile warm up 6mph avg hr 110

Interval time speed (MPH) avg hr
1 14:04 6.4 126
2 13:13 6.8 136
3 12:30 7.2 143
4 11:32 7.8 153
5 10:35 8.5 166

I found it hard to keep the first few intervals at a low enough hr, but also to get the last few up properly. You can see this in how I had to speed up a lot more to get the increased hr.

In case you were wondering, this was done on a treadmill at 0% incline.

Here are the results from todays Hadd test

.5 mile warm up 6 mph 115 avg hr

Interval time speed avg hr
1 14:15 6.5 129
2 13:14 6.8 134
3 12:10 7.4 143
4 11:07 8.1 154
5 10:21 8.7 162

I could not believe it. Here I was running at a 6:53 pace, and I was completely comfortable, and my hr was 162. I could have gone to 8.8 or 8.9, a 6:40 pace. I my world this translate to a marathon pace of about 7:15 - 7:20 (a 3:10 marathon pace), something I have not done for 7 years.

Let me be real clear here.

All of my running has been below 150 hr. No speed work. No temp work. Just long slow distances. A lot of my runs have been just 6-7 at that pace. One 20 miler, one 3.5 hour run at Afton, and a lot of 8-10 mile runs.

I have felt like I have not been training in the last month. At the end of my runs I am neither winded or tires (except for the 20, my legs were getting sore). At the end of most runs I feel like I could do the entire run again.

I still have until April 12th to do this low hr training, and then I am unleashing the racer in me at Chippewa.

I write this post today to show that you don't have to pound your body into pain to see results. They can come other ways.

I will post reading references for those who might be interested in this training style.
=updated- The book I read was "The Maffetone Method" by, you guessed it, Phillip Maffetone. The bibliography is worth the cost by itself


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring is here!

At least it is in my book.

I am a proud member of the "Royal order of the 21st ers". March 21st is the official start of Spring, the royal order think it starts on December 21st. This is because the days start getting longer. We are people who love Spring so much, we come up with strange ways to convince ourselves that warm weather is just around the corner.

So it was a beautiful Spring morning at Afton yesterday. 7am, 9 degrees. Keith had some choice words to say about it getting out of his car.

Keith, Carl, and I all hit the snow covered trails and kept it easy and fun. Lots of deer, beautiful views, and a bit colder than we all expected.

Keith ditched us after 2 1/2 hours to make us a fire and coffee.

The snowshoe loop was perfect for snow running. Nice solid pack and clear trails. Oh how I can't wait for the snow to be gone.

We met Alicia in the parking lot as she was finishing up, and we all got to catch up and talk about the coming season. A fine Saturday morning.

All in all, 15.75 miles, 3.5 hours, avg hr 140.

Hopefully I can get out there next weekend and get in at least 20