Sunday, June 24, 2012

Balancing Act

As I post this, Tahoe gets closer. 4 weeks from now, I'll be in Carson city either recovering from a successful run, or a flop.

9 miles - ugh. I really hate getting back into the swing of things after a few days of travel and busy inactivity. I now understand why it was so hard for me to train well in years past. I took the whole "rest is good" philosophy and misused it. Active recovery is good. Nonconsecutive rest days are fine. Several consecutive days of sitting in a car, on a plane, or other general ass time activities are not cool.
Home > Flagstaff  > Creek Path > Home. Slow pace, felt fairly shitty.

6 miles - My Aunt and Uncle were in town, so I went with them to Rocky Mountain to do a little hiking. Deer Mountain and some adjacent trails. 6 mile hike with about 1200' of up-ness. Great views, but I forgot my camera and phone. Too bad, because I was wearing plaid boardshorts on a hike while drinking Mountain Dew. Could have been a good picture for anyone who googles "tourist douche."

12 miles - Very cathartic run this morning. I felt like I finally sweated some rust out. Nice cool morning, so I charged Gregory Canyon and the Ranger trail to get the the Green Mountain Summit. (excessive capitalization be damned). I typically just trudge up this route, hoping not to get passed by a hiker in a floppy hat. This time, I tried to carry some speed. Including an extraordinarily long traffic light, a stop at the juan, and petting a puppy on the trail, I made to the top in 1:12.(six miles, approx 3000' up) Sat on the Summit for about 20 minutes just thinking about nothing. Had a GU, talked to some girl with cool dreadlocks and blue eyes for a minute, then scooted down the hill. A great run that remined me again that not all runs are great, but you've got to sift through gravel to find gold.

12 miles - a bunch of random jogs thrown together.
 -10am - 3 miles before getting lunch with Sam
 -12pm - 2 miles down to the running shop to peruse the selection of packs with Ely before our Summit of Long's on Saturday
 -3:30pm - 3.5 mile jog to work
 -6:30pm - 3.5 miles home

Kind of a weird ass way to get miles in, but I didn't have time for a continuous run today. I know I'm a huge puss, but I'm not a huge fan of running in heat. If there's a group outing of some sort going on, I'll shut up and do it. Mostly flat, and only dipped below 7min/mile pace a few times, so it was a pretty easy day. I swam for 30 minutes as well, which kicked my ass. 1 hard 50m swim and I was about to puke. No re-entering the tri world in the near future.

AM - 7 miles - My legs felt sort of sore this morning, which is weird since yesterday was so light. 30 minute warmup, then 10x400 on the track. Not a lot of consistency, but I kept them between 69 and 77 seconds, finishing up with a fast one. I may have run it faster than necessary, but if anything, I could use the mental ass whooping that comes from running hard. I wasn't very close, but for the first time, I understood why someone might puke from running too fast. A couple weeks ago, I managed to go under 5min/mile pace for 300m repeats. This week, for 400m. By my calculations, I should be able to run a 100miler at 4:59 pace by some time this November. Okay, not really.

20 miles? Hell, I have no idea. Long's Peak with Ely. 8 up, 8 down, and some ridges and exploring in between. There seems to be a good reason that most don't bother countin miles on this trip: roughly 1/3 of it is climbing, depending on your abilities. I pride myself in being adventurous, but my actual mountain skills aren't awesome.  Arrived at 7:20 to a rather crowded trailhead, and started our jog after signing in(and the ranger mistook Ely for Anton Krupicka). Once we ascended above treeline, we were quite surprised to feel the wind. Some 60ish mph gusts about blew us of the mountain as we climbed the trail to the Boulder Field, then up to the Keyhole. Of course, I pulled my camera out of my pack to find that I left my memory card in my computer. Total ascent time was around 2.5 hours, but we stopped frequently to look at the mountain, duck out of the wind, and talk to people. After finding a spot to sit on the summit, we ate donuts and drank hoppy, canned beverages. Scouted some of the ridges that lead into the Continental Divide for future endeavors(If I tag along, I'll have to get much more comfortable with climbing). The trip back down was quick, but one of the most technical descents I've done. So far, this tops my list as one of my favorite runs ever. We were on Long's for 7 hours, just bumming around and having a good time.

- MT110s suck royal ass on some of the polished rocks on the steep descents. A better mountain man could probably make better use of them than I. A tackier rubber, though less durable, would suit the upper part of the trail better. I'd pay dearly for a shoe that allowed me to use my finger muscles and curse words less often.

- My technical trail skills need sharpening- I keep finding myself in a state of apprehension when trying to cruise downhills. As I start my taper for Tahoe, I think I'll spend less time on mileage and more time just focusing(or not focusing, whatever helps) on floating downhill quickly and saving energy. Ely trotted away from me like I was walking. Granted, I had a track workout the day before, but my goal race isn't on a track, is it?

EP enjoying a Scotch Ale at 14000+'

Hanging out a few thousand feet from Chasm Lake(I think), pondering life's mysteries and getting a rather painful sunburn on my upper-upper thighs.
I ripped my sleeves of on the trip up, then tried to put them back on. Genius.

15 miles - nice and easy run with the club on the creek path. Ran to the meeting place, did 45 minutes up the canyon bike path, then turned around with Haylie for a an even 90 minutes. Toward the end, I could tell that it was all I needed. The day before had some serious climbs, and I felt a little fatigued. I finished out the week feeling pleasantly tired. Temps in Boulder have been in the 100 degree F range, so...that blows.

81 miles for the week. A good example of a lower mileage week being superior to higher mileage.I'd like to have done more early on this week, but as I mentioned, getting that rust off took longer than I expected. Great experiences and quality sessions throughout, so I'm very happy with the week as it played out. I had the opportunity to balance 5 min/mile track work with a long, technical mountain climb. I balanced out an easy day of multi-run cruising with a fast ascent on one of my favorite routes. Steady, easy hikes with the family balanced out by a challenging run with a friend. I laughed, I cried, etc. etc.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Goose egg. Worked a 12hr day, which provided ample opportunity for active recovery. I feel that a run would have done little more than feed my pride. Dodgeball, tag, swimming, and leading water aerobics was probably the best thing I could have done for my legs. After a post by my pal P, I was reminded that our legs and our hearts carry us safely through adventures, not our egos. I have to be kind to my body to balance out the abuse, even if my body's being very passive aggressive currently and not retaliating. My plan is to stay healthy into middle age, then go out in an infamous drug-and-hooker-fueled blaze of glory, so I have to be kind to myself in these 20-something years.
(I use the term "pal" with regard to Pat without his written consent. We've never met, but raced once and read each other's blogs)

9 miles - My best guestimating at work here. 2 miles to the top secret 3k loop meeting spot, where I arrived just in realize I was late. The plan was to rest anyway, but be social and see the group do their workout. Did a 1k rep with part of the club, and did their cooldown with them. Jogged back home. Despite the convoluted nature of the run, it was exactly what I needed. Easy 80 min jog with some quick turnover in there. A consistent, balanced, conservative plan lurks beneath this blonde-ish afro. Better stick to it.

6 miles - Flat, slow, mellow night jog around town Between the two jobs, I worked 12 hours and used up my daylight. Got a chance to take my Asics Piranhas for a spin. Pretty nice, but kind of clunky. A little break-in time will tell. Since my long run Sunday, my legs have been a bit achy. Since this week a planned easy week, I'll just jog lightly and gear my brain to enjoy the dull ache. I know it sounds like fake douche baggery, but it kind of feels good. 12 hours of work and an easy jog. It's kind of the inverse of what a good day looks like. As we ultrarunners say about damn near anything that's even mildly strenuous: "good ultra training."

...and life threw a big fat shit-covered curveball.

I had to fly home. Sam's uncle was recently diagnosed with cancer, and passed away Wednesday at age 42. We flew home Thursday, had the funeral Friday, visited with family Saturday, and Flew home Sunday. The only run I was able to squeeze in was a 7 miler on Saturday. Temps in the 90s on a flat road out to the lake. Not a whole lot of fun, but I do love having a look at the lake.

This week was another reminder(as if the point really needed to be driven home) that life is fragile. I probably hear something along the lines of "appreciate every day, for it is a gift" on a daily basis. After a while, it starts to sound like white noise, or the reflex of saying "bless you" after one hears a sneeze- Just something you say as a response to a stimulus. Each day is just another chance for us to be who we want to be, for if we die tomorrow, we could at least die trying to be what we want to be.

Times like these make me realize that there is very little keeping us alive, and that the rug could be pulled out from under us without notice. I want to enjoy every day and celebrate it. Every time I even start to slip into a sense of security, the universe wakes me up and makes me realize that I have to keep going. I don't want to wake up in a different, mundane life and wonder how the hell I got there.

Fear keeps us from realizing that we're capable of more. I'd rather fear stagnation than failure.

In other News:

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may have heard me whining about getting my ass kicked on the track/road/trail/ etc by Alex Poulsen. He took a little time off to get his back right, and came back even better than before. Congrats, Alex, on the win at the Chatanooga Mountain Stage Race. 60 miles over 3 days. Michigan was well represented. Evan Groendyk, another member of my college running crew, took 3rd place in a half marathon this weekend. Positive vibes all around, fellas. Michigan breeds hardy runners, I tell ya what.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just Jog.

29 miles - Long run from hell. I spent Sunday in Estes/Rocky Mountain with my parents, and neglected to drink any water. I mapped out a road route up Sunshine Canyon to Gold Hill, and back around to Boulder Canyon. Met Mom and Dad at the Bald Mountain Overlook for a sandwich and a refill on my water bottles. Most of the climbing was over, so I thought the worst was behind me. Before too long, I was severely dehydrated- "pissing brown" dehydrated. I had a bandanna full of ice cubes around my neck and still felt hot. I could feel the Sun burning my skin as I ran down Gold Run Road for what seemed like forever. I could barely maintain a running gait. I knew GU without water would just make for a case of gut rot, so I pushed on until I got out of the Canyon or found water. I found ditch water, but opted just to pour it on my head instead of ingesting it. Finally found the Boulder Canyon and hopped the Creek Path home. The route had a little over 4500' of climb(does that mean 9000' of vert? I'm a bad blogger, I don't even know how to put up my boastful numbers). I found out after returning home that it was well over 100degrees in the canyons. I re hydrated, ate a leftover burrito, and took my parents to the Lazy Dog for nachos. Possibly the closest I've come to an actual "situation," and a completely botched long run attempt, but I felt fine the next day, so all is well.
Heading from the Bald Mountain Overlook, About 9 miles in.

AM - 4 miles - Took my mom to go have a look at the Prairie Dogs. I couldn't really achieve "cruising pace," so I was glad to just call it a day at 4 miles. Listen to the body, listen to the body, etc. A little hiking around Rocky Mtn with the parents, but nothing substantial. I ate "Mexican Chocolate" ice cream, which was some sort of chocolate with hot sauce in it. For those of you that aren't lactose intolerant, but would still like ice cream-induced diarrhea

7 miles on Flagstaff. Felt good, but my right ass cheek was a little sore for some reason. Ran up the trail to the summit, took a loop on the trails near the visitor's center and headed down via Gregory Canyon. Met up with Dave to look at trailwork for my volunteer hours. He was kind enough to give me a ride home since I had an armload of trail tools. Hoping for more mileage later in the day....and didn't get out.

11 miles - Left in an early afternoon rainstorm to jog up Green. For some reason or another, I made it my fastest trip to the summit since last year, or maybe ever. 1:05 from my house to the Chatuaqua meadow to Gregory Canyon, up the Ranger trail to the summit. I ran 95% of the trail, save for the parts where a high, strong step is favored for a faster approach. A real breakthrough run that makes me feel less like a portly, fro-headed wannabe. I felt like I was in "the zone" or some sort of "flow state," where running was as easy as walking, and I never wanted to stand still. I felt like I was being pulled up the hill by wind. It rarely happens to me, so I just go with it when it hits. My heart rate was rediculously high, but it felt nice and smooth. Most runs leave me feeling a sinking "oh shit, I'm supposed to run 100miles at this pace" feeling, but this had me thinking "Bring it, Tahoe."

AM - 4 miles -  Bright and early for a track workout. 8x300 with about 50seconds rest. These reps were short enough to allow me to just hop in with the group and hold on. First 300m was 56 seconds, and each one got faster from there, down to 50seconds. Sprints of less than 400m are fun because I can relax and focus on feeling light on my feet. I biked to and from the track, which helped immensely. The all uphill bike ride there was enough to loosen my legs, but didn't fatigue them. I felt pretty springy after the workout, which tells me that I should have done a couple more reps and/or done them faster...but I probably would say that regardless, right?

...just busted out the pace calculator...I ran sub FIVE pace? I know it was less than a quarter mile, but hey, I didn't think my legs could move that fast for even a few seconds. Cool beans.

PM - 3 miles - Hotter than two rats humping in a wool sock. 25 minute shakeout run because I was bored. I went back inside to be bored again and type this little synopsis. Maybe I'll do run #3 when the sun goes down.

AM - 6 miles - a couple hours of speedy hiking at the Chatuaqua with Sam, and later joined by Cat. 98 degrees made for some hard work even at a quick hiking pace(also probably the coolest of the late 90's boy bands of my pre-teen years, if I had to choose).
View from the Saddle Rock Trail. None too shabby.

Sam having a look over the city

neck coolers don't work when made of moisture wicking stuff. Just looks like really small dickey.
I don't mean to make any excuses...but this helps explain why I'm pumped to run 12min/miles sometimes.

AM - 33 miles - Out the door at 5:20 to get some miles in before the group run. From home to the Chatauqua, then the Mesa out to Bear Canyon and back to Mesa. I probably should have chosen a less technical route with less climbing since I was shooting for a high mileage day, but adventure calls. Had a feeling I'd see cool animals, but alas. Met up with the group just in time. 12 miles with the group on the trails and roads near Chatauqua. Added 4 on the Mesa again with with a few others who wanted to run longer. Shanahan ridge, then the streets back to home. Despite eating only a bannana, two three GU's, and a little Gatorade, this run went well and gave me a little confidence. About 8000' of climbing all day. As usual, the wheels fell off right at the end, but with such a caloric deficit, I knew I had it coming.

Being able to run ultra distance casually and somewhat proficiently gives me a little shot in the arm as far as my ability goes, but I need to get my nutrition in check for Tahoe. I know I can NOT bullshit my way through this one, so I might have to set up a system to make sure I eat and drink. If I can keep a steady intake of calories, electrolytes, and water, I might have a shot at finishing this thing ambulance-free.

PM - 10 miles - Call me vain, but I wanted my hundo, dammit. Set out to just do three because my legs felt like ass soup when I was walking around the hippie yoga festival thing with Sam in search of free samples. We got duped into buying some tasty green stuff to alkalize our bodies...damn gypsies. Wait, what was I doing again? Oh, right. My jog:

2 miles to the Boulder High track. Decided to try a 400m effort, but felt good, so I stretched it out to a mile. My 36th mile of the day was a 5:39(timed with a watch/track, not Garmin). Not much for me to complain about there. I stopped back at the house to tell Sam I was feeling good and was going out for more. Cruised the rollers on the bike path in the dark. I felt good, and noticed my last mile was a 6:30. Cooled down an extra mile and called it a day.

Total: 101 miles. I've been after this milestone for a while now, and to have two long runs and two track sessions in there makes it that much cooler. I don't think I've done a 100+mile week since December(125), and this felt good. I know I'm always saying that mileage is irrelevant in the big picture, but I think recovery from such weeks are good indicators of fitness. I'm waking up with a subtle reminder that I ran the previous day, but not any actual achy joints to speak of. This tells me that I'm training at the threshold. When I can run more volume and still feel this way, I will. Until then, I'll bask in the glory of triple digits and have a beer.

Salud, y'all.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gathering Dead Leaves: A collection of loosely related thoughts

The following thoughts are sort of related, but not really. Leaves from the same tree of thought, but not even the same branch. I apologize for the scattered nature of it all. I thought about polishing it up before publishing, but I opted to just throw it up and show myself, asymetries, holes, and all else.  

Last week consisted of sparse running and loads of working. About 45 miles of running, and 50 hours of work in. I know, I'm a spoiled A-hole that thinks 50 hours is a lot of work. In that week, I learned something about myself. I'm not a "cram everything in" person. I don't read while I eat. I don't text while I'm talking with people. Rather than cramming everything in, I want to filter out the the things that don't make the cut. The wind makes the cut. I want to hear it rush through the pines and feel it fill my lungs. Why is it that "I don't have time for nurturing my desires and passion, I have a job!" raises fewer eyebrows than "I don't have time to work full-time. Adventure calls?" How does this relate to the dysfunctionally narrow-minded content of this blog?

I love running, but I'm not "in love" with it. It doesn't define who I am. Perhaps that same well-rounded approach is what will keep me from the big leagues(that, my shit diet, and my inability to reach respectable training numbers). It's a vehicle for self-exploration. Not the kind of self-exploration we start doing in our pre-teen years and I still do a little too much of, but, like, the soul-searching kind.

Running and Writing have helped me free myself from my own busy head. We can control our own minds. .
Picture: Revista Apolorama
I've noticed a new sense of purpose building inside of me, a truer calling than simply running these foothills. Something a bit bigger, a bit more complete. The problem is that its an elusive dream that I can't remember after I wake. The morning runs are helping to clear it up. I have a recurring dream that I can help people feel what I feel when I run. It's a feeling of being centered, of finding a strength I didn't know was there. It's a state that is evasive and fickle, not to be taken for granted. There are people with physical and mental disabilities that have given up on chasing it, or maybe aren't aware of it's existence. This is what I want to devote myself to. We all have "ultras" to conquer, whether they fall into some elitist's parameters of "ultra" or not.  The details will come with time, but I think I can do this in my own unique way and improve upon the current system. I have great mentors, a solid support system, and I'll never be afraid to make mistakes. That is, if they're mistakes of ambition and not of sloth.

In other babblings...

I honestly don't know if I'd enjoy training at a high volume if I had a full time job. I have the utmost respect for those that do(unless they're dickheads, of course). Cramming in training sessions at odd hours, being tired and distracted from work, and feeling guilty about missing scheduled runs was plaguing me for a little while. I'm not saying that I'll quit running altogether when a full-time job comes along, but rather scale it back and enjoy it for what it is: a hobby. Maybe I'll grow wiser or more dedicated with old age and enjoy a more hectic life. To avoid getting wrapped up in running and falling short of my work commitments, I let running slip for a week. It was preceded by 3 weeks of 90+ miles so a rest week really didn't mess things up too badly. I still spent 8-12 hours a day on my feet, some of it running, carrying heavy things(e.g., children), swimming, and biking. At least I wasn't decaying in my room or sitting in an office.

My parents were in town for a week long visit, so it was great to spend some time with them and do the Colorado tourist stuff that I think I'm too cool to do. I also ate more than I have been since moving here. I guess that's okay, since I'm down 17lbs since my move Westward.

Rocky Mountain National Park: Where people travel far and wide to drive mountain roads and play with domesticated woodland creatures.