Saturday, March 31, 2012

Getting Serious about Getting Serious

Not really, but it sounds like a good plan for someone who wanted to get serious. I will get back to running this weekend and plan to ease back into things over the next few weeks before starting a more focused plan for Cactus Rose 100. I used a modified version of this plan last year to prep for Cajun Coyote 100. I bumped the high mileage weeks up a bit into the low 80s but was never able to breakout for a 100 mile week (not that the plan called for that but it is something that I've been trying to work into my training since I started this nonsense). I felt like the plan did a decent job of preparing me for CC 100 but I ended up DNFing due to an ankle injury that I picked up at a 50k.

I’ll probably stick pretty close to the mileage that the plan calls for but add in 2+ hours a week of stairs and try to eventual build up to like 4+ hours a week with a “long” stair session. I will probably also convert the Thursday miles to speedwork.

I don’t plan on doing any kind of structured training for El Scorcho and will just run whatever I feel like over the next few weeks and then start up with the 100 mile training. I will basically just do El Scorcho as a night long run and be happy with anything sub 5:30.

I’m going to hide this way down here at the bottom of this post so even less people than normal will see it: I do plan to get serious about dropping some more weight. I tipped the scales around 240 when I started barefoot running and then eventually ultra running. I am now right around 208. I was doing some reading on running and weight, BMI for runners, and then did some bio reviews and pulled the weight to height ratios of a number of runners. What I came up with was shocking, well, at least to me it was. I came up with a number of 170 lbs for my height! That would put me at 70 lbs less than when I started all of this. I didn’t consider myself fat by any stretch of the imagination but what other term can you use for your past state after you drop 70 lbs? I think I am going to set a goal of going into Cactus Rose at 180.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things that Suck!

Poison Ivy. This is the one thing that I really loath about trail running. I apparently ran across some of this vile weed at Grasslands and now have painful blisters from my knee down the inside of my leg. I was just getting totally over my stomach virus and it seems like the poison ivy has decided to kick it up a notch.

So some things that don't suck:

My homemade King Cake, Bam! I will do a blog post at some point on how to make this bad boy from scratch.

The 4x4 with grilled onions from In and Out Burger. Oh yeah!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I agree 100%

I agree 100% with this post by BG. Take off your shoes and stop worrying so much.


So yesterday was my birthday and there is probably no one who is less interested in their own birthday than I am. I arrived home from work a bit later than normal because I went into the office late, since I was still fighting off that stomach virus. When I opened the door I felt the distinct thud of someone hiding behind the door and I hear my daughter yell in her best soft whisper, “He is home! Everyone hide” and I hear her scurrying off across the house. I stand there with the door cracked for a few seconds to play along and give them ample time to hide. I then proceed into the house and out jumps my son and daughter yelling, “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” and I acted totally shocked and they were thrilled beyond belief at how they had tricked me. We then sit down to a fresh home cooked meal, thanks to my lovely wife, and everyone eats surprisingly good and then they bring out “monster” cupcakes and I give a big, “oh no! what are those!” and my daughter says, “Daddy, those are just cupcakes, not monsters.” And then we enjoyed our cupcakes and wrapped up a perfect little surprise party.

Monday, March 26, 2012

King of DNF

Add another DNF to the record books. That gives me 3 DNFs and I am only 16 months into this misadventure of ultra running. I felt really good about things going into Grasslands and was thinking that a 50 mile PR was all but guaranteed and that a DNF was not even an option. I stayed home with my son on Thursday because he was sick and that was about all she wrote. Things went downhill from there and I noticed that I was running a fever on Friday night but just ignored it and figured everything would work out. I woke early on Saturday morning and knew things were not headed in the right direction when my stomach turned on the first sip of coffee and I only managed a couple more sips before setting it aside. I love coffee. I stood in the pouring rain and brewed a pot of coffee at Rocky Raccoon. This was not a good sign that I couldn’t stomach coffee. I sluggishly muddled through the rest of my morning routine and headed out to the LBJ National Grasslands. I forgot to bring anything to drink with me on the 90 mile drive and stopped to get a drink and realized that I forgot my debit card and cash. Things were going awesome!

There is no “Welcome to LBJ National Grasslands” sign and you are greeted with the above sign when you turn on to a long dusty road heading up to the Start / Finish (S/F) line. This race is certainly a place where my ultra running aspirations come to die.

It was pleasantly cool to start the morning and I just tried to relax and not focus on the building sense of nausea that was really starting to aggravate me. There was no hype or build up, just an announcement that we would be starting in 5 minutes and then, after a bit of 311 over the loud speaker:

we were told to start. I eased off through the parking lot on the roughly 5 mile out and back correction and quickly settled into a dead space between the front 8 – 10 runners and the rest of the pack. It was odd to be running alone so early on in a race. I could see the lead group and occasionally hear voices behind me but for the most part it was just me running alone and fighting the urge to step off the side of the trail and vomit. I was encouraged by how much spring I had in my legs and how effortlessly I was covering this section. I hit the turnaround and headed back the way we just came and within a few minutes caught up with another runner. Finally, some conversation to take my mind of the nausea that wasn’t fading. We eased back into the S/F line in about 44 min and I knew that I was already falling behind on my nutrition and hydration schedule.

I headed back out for the next 13.1 mile segment and was running with a group that was just behind the lead group of runners but couldn’t maintain the pace as the urge to vomit really started to set in. Up to this point I was just trying to stay positive and wasn’t even mentioning my stomach issues as I chit chatted with fellow runners. Things went downhill pretty quickly on this loop and I found myself running alone again in that same dead space between the lead 8 – 10 runners and the rest of the pack. However, at this point I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me and wasn’t hearing anyone behind me. The good thing about this, I was able to step off the trail and hurl in privacy.

This was an utter kick in the gut. Running was the last thing that I wanted to do at this point but I figured I only had two options – walk or run. My mind didn’t want to command my body to run but once I did start running again, the legs responded and moved me along pretty well. This would be a pretty constant theme for the day with the legs always responding and never feeling tired. I just kept thinking that things would turn in my favor, if I could just get back on top of my hydration and nutrition but that was easier said than done. I was having a real hard time getting anything down other than a sip of water here and there and I knew the reality of the situation – I was heading in the wrong direction from a hydration and nutrition stand point. This was when I first started to acknowledge that another DNF was probably on the schedule.

I seriously considered dropping when I rolled back into the S/F line at 18.1 miles but I was 20 min ahead of my target split and my legs felt great. I couldn’t help but think that if I could shake this stomach issue then I would be well on my way to having a great day of running. I forced down a gel and part of a banana and headed back out for the next loop. The loops get shorter as the race goes on and at the end of this loop I would be at 32 miles with only 18 left.

I walked for a bit trying to get my stomach to settle and walking wasn’t helping and so I started to run again. I made it a bit down the trail before stepping off to hurl again. This time was no better than the 1st and I resisted the urge to curl up in the mud and cry and started pushing on down the trail. I ran on in silence for a while before finally being caught and then passed by another runner. I caught back up with this gentleman at the next aid station and we chatted for a bit and the volunteers were great and offered me every trick in the book for beating nausea. I tried a gel but that was a no go and I suffered down some papaya extract, at the advice of the aid station, and headed off with the other runner.

We quickly come up on another runner who was heading the wrong direction and got him turned around. The 3 of us promptly got lost again and finally made the decision that I would double back and they would continue on and we would call out whenever a sign of the right trail was found. I found the trail again, after plodding through a section of ankle deep mud, yelled out that I was back on the trail and noticed they were just across from me in the woods. They got back on the trail with me and missed the mud hole. That was about how my day was going but it wasn’t like they missed the one and only mud hole, the course was really a mess. We cruised on down the trail and eventually I dropped back because I could tell that I would be visiting the bushes again and really didn’t want to hold anyone up or have anyone standing over me while I was hurling.

This was the best yet. Dry heaving and full on total engagement abdominal cramping. I have never felt so beat down in my life. I wanted to crawl into the bushes and wait for the tooth fairy to come and fly me away home. I knew the next aid station was at mile 26ish and that I could walk there and drop. I have never been so discouraged, aggravated, embarrassed, or demoralized, while running or doing anything competitive, this was the absolute low point of my athletic career.

I shuffled and walked but mostly walked and was surprised that no one was passing me. I knew that about 90 people had registered for the 50 mile and that there were maybe 10 – 12 runners in front of me. This meant that there were plenty of people behind me and I was confused as to where they were at. Eventually, I started to get passed by a steady stream of runners and most asked how I was doing and a few even stopped to walk with me and ensure that I was okay. I still maintain that you will be hard pressed to find a better group overall than the ultra running community.

I finally made it to the mile 26ish aid station and was actually starting to feel better and was able to get a whole handheld of water down. I felt confident that as long as I kept drinking water t I could get back to the S/F line and reassess the situation. I headed out of the aid station and a few of the runners that had passed me were still there, then I passed a few more runners as I headed on down the trail and eventually made it back to the S/F line and noticed that I had basically caught up with and or passed just about everyone that had passed me while I was walking. This gave me a bit of an emotional boost and I felt that I could struggle to the finish, if I could just get some calories down. I tried to eat a gel and that was a no go. That was it. I knew that I was way negative on calories and hydration and that heading back out on the trail with the temperature approaching 80 would just be foolish. I turned in my timing chip, took off my muddy shoes, grabbed my drop bag and took the walk of shame back to my car.

The most frustrating thing about this DNF was that it wasn’t the result of poor training, not tapering properly, or race day management miscues. It was just the chaotic nature of things and that randomly a virus (most likley) that my son picked up found my body enticing.

I plan to take this week off from running. But fret not, ye lone blog reader, I have a few comments on the race in general and the course (you know stuff that might actually be useful to someone considering running this race) that I will bog on, I will blog about my training plans for this summer, I will blog about my other DNFs and how they were productive and this one wasn’t productive (see chaotic system comment above), I will blog about stairs and running them, and I will also blog a shoe update (oh joy!).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tomorrow We Race, maybe not yet…

So the way I see it, or the way it makes sense to me mentally, as a person with little to no natural running talent – I needed to cover a distance first before ever considering racing it. In this case, 50 miles, then I have developed some mental references for the next attempt. My goal is to run as much as possible tomorrow and then eventually run a full 50 miles. Once I have run a full 50 miles, then I can turn to racing a 50 mile. Will that ever happen? I don’t know, but what I do know is that what I once thought was pain was just discomfort. I am mentally prepared to explore the area beyond my current reference point for pain, and thus, convert this current reference point for pain into another level of discomfort before pain.

ETA: I pounded this out on the train this morning and then I see a post by Laz on The List that cuts right to the heart of this. Bravo Laz!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

That's All There Is;

There isn't anymore. I went out for 3 quick miles yesterday, hit the gym today, and then a couple of miles this evening. That is how you taper? I tipped the scale at 208 today and that is up a few pounds since last week when I started a carbo bender, errr.... I mean, when I started my carbo loading early.

That gives me 451 miles and about 13 hours of stairs since January. I am not thrilled by those totals in any way but that does include tapering for Rocky Raccoon 50 mile and a week off afterwards, just to play it safe. I will take the miles and be happy with them, considering that I was coming out of December with an ankle injury that resulted in a DNF at Cajun Coyote and hadn't done much but pack on some pounds. Then I look back at last year and during the same time frame I managed just 256 miles, 3 hours of stairs, and about two weeks of wicked ITBS. I am also down 20 lbs from last year at this time.

Will the results be any different this year? I certainly feel like I am a smarter runner and have a much better handle on hydration and nutrition. I have some proper running shorts and I have been blogging more! However, my grammar is worse than ever and I continue to butcher it! But yo, I'm a scientist, not a journalist.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week Ending 3.18.12

Ran some this week but not too much, since the legs felt a little tired.

Bonus Update - Monday 3.19.12!

30 min stairs. I will do a couple of short runs this week and then see what I can do at Grasslands this Saturday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Interesting, maybe only to me.

I found this over at ZeroHedge to be an interesting read.

Over Carb Loading!

So, I over carb loaded last night and didn't make it out for a run this morning. I wanted to get in one 10 - 12 mile run this weekend and will just wait and do it tomorrow morning. I pretty much suck at trying to taper. I either over do it and run too much or don't run enough. Oh well, I pretty much suck at running and my taper, or lack of taper, will probably have little to no impact on my performance at Grasslands next weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Austin, Texas

(Picture from AustinPixel)

Minimalist running capital of the USA? Yes! This is purely based on anecdotal evidence that I have collected over the past year or so on trips to Austin and other parts of the country. I started the transition to minimalist / barefoot running about two years ago and have run a variety of areas including in and around the DC metro region, suburbs of Charlotte, NC, in and around the campus of LSU, San Diego, CA, parts of Mexico and all over Texas. I have seen minimalist and barefoot runners in many of these places but no one place can even come close to the concentration that I have observed in Austin, TX.

I would say that Merrell has made a huge push and now rivals VFF for the most seen minimalist shoe (once again based purely on anecdotal evidence) followed by NB. I rarely see any of the smaller specialty brand minimalist shoes, maybe specialty brand isn’t the best term, but oh well? I have only witnessed a handful of people running in different varieties of huaraches and even less actually running barefoot.

These observations are based on just getting out and running in these places at different times of the day and obviously this would all change, if I showed up and ran with a minimalist and/or barefoot running group. Austin is not only a great place to visit for the food and music, but also because it is the Minimalist Running Capital of the USA!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is This About?

Tuesday - 4 miles. So this blog is mostly just to track my training and it is no harder to plug stuff into here than it is into the excel log that I was using. I can keep notes here easier and add pictures, so there is some value added by using this format.

I may also, from time to time, take a few minutes to comment on topis such as minimalism, individual liberty, limited government, and this modern life that we live that seems to be becoming more unduly complicated by the minute.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Off Day

So I looked around and came up with a taper from a 50 mile training plan. It has three rest days scheduled for this week and four for next week. That is 7 rest days in two weeks. I was looking back at the past four weeks and I took one rest day and that means that I ran (including stairs) 27 out of the past 28 days. I am not expecting any kind of grand explosion in performance at Grasslands from one month of consistent training. However, I feel that kind of consistent training needs to be the cornerstone of my running this summer, if I am going to see some real improvements in my running next race season.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week Ending 3.11.12

Monday - 30 min Stairs

Tuesday - AM - 4 miles
PM - 17 miles Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX Luna Sandals - This was a really nice run but I ended up cutting it a few miles short due to a sandal malfunction. I broke a lace and then relaced but something was off just a tad and the lace started rubbing a raw spot on my toe pretty quickly. It was getting dark and it had been a long day, so I just headed back to the hotel and called it a day. Austin is one of my favorite cities and I will probably put up a post later this week with a little more detail about the running scene in Austin.

Wednesday - PM - 21 miles, NB MT110, Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX - Really loving the 110s, even though I'm a, you know, barefoot runner.

Thursday - AM - 12 miles, NB MT110, Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX - Couldn't get out of bed at 3 am to start this run and slept in a bit and just managed 12 miles before getting the day started. Was able to grab lunch with Austin barefooters Doom and Jim.

Friday - AM - 4 miles - Just staying loose.

Saturday - AM - 20 miles - Miserable run in a cold rain but I guess it qualifies as a PR for longest barefoot run in the rain.

Sunday - PM - 6 miles, NB MT101 (Yes, 101 and not 110 and I think I have gone over 1,000 miles in these) - Really nice run and was able to catch the last bit of the sunset, thanks to the time change.

Goal - 80 - 100 miles
Actual - 84 miles plus 30 minutes of stairs

16 miles short of 100 but maybe next time... Now it is time to taper. I'll have to do some reading on this because my tapers up to this point have basically consisted of no running and gorging my face. Oh, and I do hear the 4x4 at In-and-Out calling my name!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not a Bad Start

3.5.12 - 30 min Stairs

3.6.12 - AM - 4 miles
PM - 17 miles Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX Luna Sandals

3.7.12 - PM 21 miles, NB MT110, Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX

3.8.12 - AM 12 miles, NB MT110, Town Lake Trail - Austin, TX

My plan was to work in another 6 miles this evening and get to 60 miles in 3 days but no dice. I just couldn't muster up the energy to get out in the cold, rain, and wind after traveling all day. It looks like the next few days could be a wash out and that means more running in the rain. This is the last big push before starting to taper for Grasslands and the last push for the elusive 100+ mile week.

My performance at Grasslands probably won't be impacted one way or the other if my long runs this weekend get rained out (performance is going to be slow regardless!). However, this arbitrary number of 100 will be left unreached once again... just when it seemed like I was finally going to be able to log the "100 Mile Week" and check one more thing off the list.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week Ending 3.4.12

Monday - AM - 30 min stairs
PM - 4 miles

Tuesday - AM - 10 miles Luna Sandals
PM - 4 miles

Wednesday - AM - 30 min stairs
PM - 8 miles

Thursday - AM - 30 min stairs
PM - 8 miles

Friday - 2 miles

Saturday - 20 miles

Sunday - 8 miles NB MT 110

Goal - 75 miles
Actual - 64 miles plus 1.5 hours of stairs

This was one of my best weeks of running since back in mid-January. I will be looking to keep it going into next week and get in 80-100 miles and then taper for Grasslands. My legs are feeling really good and I probably should have ramped things up a bit faster after Rocky Raccoon but those extra miles probably wouldn't have made a huge difference given the short turn around.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


20 miles - Smooth easy run. I picked up the kids for the last part of this run and pushed them in the double BoB. Running with the kids always makes for interesting conversation and we discuss topics such as, "Daddy, why can you see the moon during the day sometimes?" and "how many fish are in that pond?" and "is that cloud a tornado?" etc.

Friday 3.2.12

2 miles - Just keeping everything loose.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Whole Lotta Vagina

(Warning - The term vagina may be offensive to some audiences)

So, Vagina and its derivatives don't typically make their way into my conversational rotation. In fact, Vagina isn't something you hear a lot of in the local vernacular in these parts. However, today... at work I am walking about minding my own business when I hear an elderly gentleman saying, "and then I hear on the TV someone saying 'broad vagina' and I couldn't believe it, 'broad vagina'... how can they say that?" this is both shocking and disturbing but I continue on my way. Then later in the day I am getting into my car after escaping from downtown on the train and what do I hear on the radio.... "deep probing of the vagina" on the local talk radio station! The host quickly let the caller go and I am not sure how that comment came to be. I would say that this combo was a Black Swan event.

Same as Yesterday

am - 30 min stairs

pm - 8 miles