Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekly Recap 3/23 - 3/39/15 : Bumps in the road

8 miles of commuting on the bike - in a t-shirt. Warm weather is awesome.

12.5 miles - 1:48 - +/-1253'  - Feeling super "meh" from staying up late the night before. The aforementioned research paper came down to the wire, of course. I drank some magic Vega Sports Pre-workout snake oil placebo powder (it might be legit - I don't care either way) and headed out the door with no real plan. The beautiful combination of having a GPS watch and having someone telling me what to do allows me to just run until I hit 50% of the prescribed distance, then head home. As usual, the run became more enjoyable the further I got from the really familiar area surrounding my apartment. I hadn't run away from the mountains in a while, so I took the Arizona Trail South. Some gently rolling and sparsely technical trails felt perfect for the slightly tired mood I was in. I got exactly to 5 miles on my Suunto, and was standing at a sign that said "Fischer Pt. Vista 1.2 Miles." I was supposed to run 10 miles, but I just can't resist a good vista. The rolling, open spaces quickly turned into a technical 1 mile climb to one of the more awe-inspiring views I've seen lately. Sedona is beautiful with its red rocks, but the midwesterner in me will always love greenery. All of a sudden, I've got a new favorite route from home.

8 miles on the bike again, to and from campus.

8 miles - 1:08 - 5 road miles to get Kelsey's car from the shop with her. I felt a bit dizzy and confused, so I went home with her instead of putting three more in alone. I grabbed a GU and some orange juice. I've been oddly prone to hypoglycemia symptoms lately, and some quick-acting sugar seems to perk me up. I think my eating habits aren't quite catching up to my running habits. Running at a "base building" or "long run" pace seems to decrease my appetite. Anyway, I felt better after a few minutes and cranked out the last 5k of the run in a little over 21:00.

8 miles of bike commuting to/from simulation lab, where I attempt to not kill plastic humans with weird blinking eyes.

11 miles - 2:00 - +/-2400' - Attempted long run was an utter bust. Kelsey had been having some cold-like symptoms for a few days, and I was optimistically thinking I could avoid catching it because I'm so healthy, what with my shitty eating habits, irregular sleep patterns, increased training load, and general tendencies to be sick often. I caught it, but thought I could grind the long run out anyway. "It will be good for me. If I can get through this, it will make racing that much easier and boost my confidence." As I drove down to Sedona, I was beginning to understand that doing a 19 mile loop on a trail this tough alone, trying to beat the sunset, was probably a bit foolish. After about 1 mile, I consumed most of my water and still felt dried out and exhausted. I trekked up the Wilson Mountain Trail anyway because it was beautiful, but surrendered the long run in favor of a leisurely hike. I wished Kelsey was with me, as these are usually our favorite type of outings, but I found some peace in the solitude.
As long as I kept the intensity low, I could sustain movement. Nothing keeps intensity low like taking pictures of flowers and shit. 

These views don't really get old. Trust me. I've been here like four times.

"Precariously and pensively sitting on a rock" photo: check. 

Rest day - Intended to be a rest day after the long run, but instead is was the peak day for this cold. It was convenient, since I had to drive to my clinical rotation anyway, which takes up a whole day in itself.

Should I even keep logging the bike commute? Seems redundant. 8 miles, though.

12 miles - interval workout - 4 mile warmup, to Buffalo Park/USFS trails, then 10x1min at 5k pace. This went surprisingly well, considering that being sick has consumed my life in the past few days. I think I'm on the mend. Workouts seldom provide a whole lot of scenery, but I really enjoy the experience of feeling my body run. Long, slow runs make me observe the environment, whereas more intense workouts make me observe myself. I like the balance.

9 miles - 1:15:00 - Just a cruise on some two tracks, some urban trails, and some sidewalks. Just one of those runs that had to be done. The route was decidedly not creative, but 8 miles easy is 8 miles easy. Some quiet time and a little exploring the outskirts of town. Worse ways to spend an hour certainly exist.

12 miles - 1:40ish - Although I typically do 10 day cycles, the Sunday night run usually makes me feel like something is coming to a close. Maybe it's something as simple as the term "miles per week" making me quantify and qualify my running and life accordingly. 8.5 miles with Kelsey around town and campus, then 3.5 alone on the mesa. The moon was bright enough to light my way without a headlight. When my eyes adjusted, the world became pale and surreal with only dark and black. It was different, or least my state of mind was, from the usual. Gratitude for being able to move like this was almost overwhelming.

64.5 miles of running
12.5 hours of total activity, all things included.

Enjoy yourselves and each other.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Redundant Training Log with Photographs

8 miles  - 1:14:00 - +/-627' - Another night run from home to the USFS trails. The paths back there seem to spiderweb and rearrange themselves when I'm not looking. I can always find my way home, but usually by stumbling upon a familiar intersection that calms my mounting concern that I may have to start bushwhacking and hope for the best. A fun and slightly unnerving aspect of these solo night runs are reflective green eyes in the woods. When on the mesa or in the park, I'll illuminate several (up to 20 so far) sets of eyes at once. When my eyes adjust, I can see the silhouettes of deer and all is well. On this particular evening, I was at a slightly higher elevation along the boulders at the base of mount Elden. I saw one solitary set of green eyes staring at me for what felt like several minutes. Neither of us looked away. I didn't die and nothing came of it as usual. Probably a small cat or something, but I can't always resist the urge to indulge my own imagination.

3 miles - 25:00 - Immediately after getting home, I realized I had promised to buy toothpaste. Funny how the last 1% of a tube can last two weeks. You haven't been broke (or lazy) until you've taken a pair of scissors to a tube of toothpaste. Anyway, I didn't want to get my car all muddy or shower so I added bonus miles.

AM - 7.5 miles - 1:15:00 - +/- 469' - Kelsey and I ran the iconic West Fork Trail near the village of Oak Creek. We had been in search of a run that felt more like home. As much as I like the challenge of rocks, dust, and sun exposure, I'll admit that a gently rolling, nontechnical trail near water was just what I needed. A beautiful creek with lots of greenery and grandiose red cliffs, along with 14 crossings to splash through, felt like a small vacation. The trail was far from secluded, but sharing a place with other people is understood in such a popular spot.

PM - 4 miles - 45:00 - We hopped in the car and figured there was time to get a peek at Devil's Bridge before heading home. Some rugged dirt road to a trailhead, then a short uphill rock staircase to the turnaround. Being new to an area and seeing the requisite sights has been good for running.

Totally staged. The trail goes nowhere. Cool, right?
20.5 miles - 3:50:00 - +/- 3100' - This run meant a great deal to me. Multiple failed attempts at solo long efforts had me concerned that I just didn't have it in me anymore to do this. I worried that I lacked the attention span or the discipline to get out and not come back until the goal distance was met. I had 20 miles on the Calendar, and feared that I'd come up with a reason to quit. The long, solo run in the trails is the crux of ultramarathon running in my mind. Being able to enjoy and focus on a long, sustained effort is what makes the sport unique, and this is my first time doing it in quite some time. For the last couple years, I've taken some pride in my ability to quit when things aren't fun. I rationalized that it was me "being true to myself" and that I could be successful by doing exactly what I want and nothing more. The truth is that it doesn't work that way. I'm learning (or perhaps re-learning) that joy and satisfaction come from the toils that we donn't quite think we can endure. I occasionally considered calling it a day, or going home to get some food and resuming the run later. Not doing so, I believe, came from having a real plan. Today was long run day, and tomorrow was rest day. If I put the rest of the run off until tomorrow, I'd cut into an important rest period, which cuts into the hill repeats the day after that.

The run itself was enjoyable, with no set route in mind. I jogged the two miles to Buffalo Park, then up the Oldham Trail to Lookout Road. It's 7.5 miles of mostly climbing. I attempted to posthole through the  snow on the Sunset trail, but quickly got frustrated when the ice was drawing blood on my sockless ankles and calves. Well, that, and I lost the trail and ended up on the side of the mountain. I scrambled back down to the road and continued to the Rocky Ridge Trail, where I did a couple miles out/back. Oldham/Buffalo Park/urban trail home. Though I'm supposed to be in a base-building mode, I felt a strong urge to be off of a flat, boring trail and ran the last mile in 6:40.

OFF - Rest day on the calendar, so I abstained from running. The slight lethargy I felt in my long run also encouraged a day off. A bike ride to lunch and back was all the activity my body saw. It felt good and weird. I had the whole day off of school and work as well, so I didn't really have anything to build my day around. This was evident by me doing nothing productive aside from cleaning the kitchen and obsessing over when my new running shoes would get here.

10 miles - hill workout - 4 mile warmup with Kelsey to and around Buffalo Park, then my first workout in a few weeks. 8x60seconds with approximately 90seconds rest (or the time it took to scuffle back down to the start). 4 miles easy to cool down. Workouts are a nice distraction from the fact that I'm out jogging 10 miles. Breaking it up into a warmup, workout, and cooldown made it more manageable in my mind. The workout itself wasn't incredibly strenuous, but made me gasp for air and shake the dust off.

I sit here now, attempting to write a research paper and wonder why I can't. I've scrutinized running, nature, and my life to a great degree of late. The deadline is fast approaching, and I keep shying away from the word document. "Early Ambulation compared to Late Ambulation in Post-Operative Patients" is fairly interesting to me, but I can't seem to grind the paper out. It makes me wonder if I have any say-so at all about what I become fixated on. Stakes are relatively high, and I'm aware that this work will be reviewed by a notoriously tough grader. Instead of facing the problem head-on, I'm avoiding it, and wondering why. Sure, it's banal nonsense that strikes me as a feeble attempt to make things seem harder in order to justify its own existence, but I have to do it. More importantly, I have to do it so I can get it the hell out of the way, freeing me up to do things I enjoy. I'm fairly clever, but my laziness outweighs it in most circumstances, like this one.

AM - 6 miles - 50 minutes - +/-430' - Easy six miles on the same route I've been running. Got as far as the Pipeline trail before the watch told me to turn around. The sun was warm and I had my shirt off while crunching ice beneath my feet. The realization that I was pretty much naked while water could still be in a solid state made me fear the upcoming Arizona summer and Zane Grey. I'm such a bitch in hot weather. Were I more attractive, I could be used alongside those polar bears to warn everyone about global warming...or something.

7 miles - 57:00 - +/- 560' - I couldn't spare much more than an hour today, given that a research paper owned my soul for a couple days. Getting out for a run gave a short reprieve from hunkering over in a wobbly chair at my kitchen table. Seeing sun and feeling warmth, this run was more of a therapeutic effect than a training one. Usual gravel urban trail jog to the singletrack, then turned around. Maybe its the fresh legs from the low mileage in the last couple days, but I'm feeling a bit more confident on the technical stuff.

Total: 66 miles, 11:08:00(ish). The good news is that I put in another week of real running. The slight downer is that my overall pace for a week was 10min/miles or so. I guess taking it easy will do that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Incremental Last Minute Progress

Starting to feel a bit obsessive. It's a nice break from complacency.

Scheduled day off, and a perfectly timed one at that. I went to bed and almost immediately spiked a fever, chills, nausea, and sweating. I could barely breathe and considered going to the ER. Moral of the story is that humidifiers are the devil. Seems like something I should know already, given a history of hospitalizations from lung disorders and extensive schooling in biology, but I make no claims to be smart.

AM: 4 miles - 22:00(cycling)- Just the typical chilly bike commute to school. I know I said I'd be run commuting, but I had too much stuff this time, and planned on double-digit mileage in the afternoon.
PM: 4 miles - 25:00(cycling) - Pedaling home. Two Med/Surg texts and a drug guide are a bit much for one sunburned shoulder and a messenger bag.
PM 2: 10.6 miles - 1:25 - First day of putting the blinders on and being coached. The decision to ask for help and get a real coach is a whole post in itself, I suppose. More on that later. 10 miles of gravel bike paths and sidewalks. Knowing I was done in ten miles, and that all I had to do was get it done made it go by much faster. I just enjoyed picking my way around the east side of flagstaff, finding as much dirt as I could to put my feet on. 8:00/mile pace felt a little harder than I thought it would, but I didn't check the pace until it was over to keep myself from running too hard.

Daily total: 2:12 of activity. Bike, exam, lecture, lab, bike clean, run roads. Some days just have to be investments in the future, but this was still a good one.

AM: 10 miles - 2:00:00ish - Drove down to the Bell Trail with Kelsey for some exploring. We bought a touristy book of "50 favorite hikes" for this area. Truth be told, the wide-eyed newness of tourism suits me. I'm not too cool to be excited and have no idea where I'm going. This trail, just a 4-5 mile jog to a turnaround, had a wide variety of terrain and views. It started out with a flat, rolling trail along a creek, then crossed the creek to a pretty technical climb with outstanding views and wound up on a mesa with a very faint trail. It's a real gem of a trail, especially considering that it has actual flowing water.
Running trails with this kind of scenery that aren't insanely difficult is great

Seeing Oak leaves by this creek made me nostalgic for home

The trail ascended from the canyon pretty abruptly.

The home mountain range off in the distance

I complain, but I love the steep, technical trails
PM - 8 miles - 1:00:35 - would liked to have done the full 18 on the Bell trail by doubling it, but had to get home. Ground out 8 miles on the hilly streets of flagstaff and the gravel urban trails, already thinking about where to do the next long run. Roads make trails more fun, and trails make roads feel really fast. Ideally I'd shift the ratio more to a trail bias, but sometimes, even in Flagstaff, doing a run on 100% trails involves more driving than I'd like. If I can reserve the car for a couple of weekly trips to sedona and not drive for day to day stuff, I can justify the expense and fuel.

PM 2 - Weights - 40:00 - I felt pretty weak, but accompanied Sarah and Kelsey to the gym to do a workout. Hit each muscle group twice and then ate a whole pizza, bread ball/bite/stick things, and a bottle of soda.

Daily total: 3:40 of activity

8 miles 1:04:00 - Really fatigued after the previous day's 3+ hours of exercise, but shook it off and made it home in time to rush off to the hospital for clinicals. A product of running more in the last couple weeks has been feeling my running economy improve a little. I no longer feel like I'm bounding along in disjointed steps, but rather gliding a bit more with a straighter back and little bird steps. It feels cool.

AM - 8 miles - 1:16:00 - A morning off for Kelsey and me, so we jogged along highway 180 for some somewhat flat, easy miles. Living on a small mesa means at least 300' of loss/gain when we run from home. Adjusting to actually running consecutive days in a row has been pleasant. "only 8 today? sweet!"

PM - 7 miles of cycling - Just a cruise around town to kill some time and run some errands.

Daily total: 2:00

10 miles - 1:41:00 - easy trail running at night from home. Left at 8pm for Buffalo park, rambled around in the trails for 6 miles, then shuffled home. Running trails alone in the dark is always a little unnerving for me when I first start. Once I've gotten all the scary thoughts out of my head, it becomes a peaceful, quiet experience.
The scenery at night is a little less breathtaking.
3/15/15 - 5 miles - 41:00 - easy stroll around the neighborhood to cap off the week. It was "optional," but I felt good and felt like taking advantage of not having any pressure to run. The pace was so mellow that the only benefit was some conditioning of my foot skin.

 My mind wandered, but I remember feeling happy about how a 59 mile week felt. I don't even know if I had a 59 mile week leading into Zane Grey last year. I could probably find out, since that's supposedly the reason I keep this blog. This week was just fun. I feel like a committed runner- like I have a shot at breaking out of my current performance level for the first time in 3 years. Surely that's very optimistic of me, considering that a mere 59 mile week is commonplace for anyone who owns as many half-used running shoes as I do. I'm sleeping better, my weight is slowly decreasing, my running gait seems to be smoothing out, and my feet are starting to look a little fucked up. All good signs.

Totals: 59 miles of running, 11.5 hours of total training. This is the part where I don't take a period of relative success, get overly ambitious, and ruin it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

For the millionth time, I'm attempting to log things

...which is easier to do when I actually run.

AM: 7.2 miles, 1:13 - Flagstaff got hit with a pretty substantial winter storm, making travel by bicycle, at least the skinny tired variety I'm mounted on most days, a bit sketchy. This coincided with a desire to plow some snow on my feet. Earlier in the academic year, the thought of run commuting was stopped in its tracks by 1) laziness, 2) some strange notion that I needed my laptop, mostly because 90% of my class uses them, and 3) forgetting how valuable multiple runs per day with a backpack on can be. If I want to run all day, which is essentially what an 8 hour mountain 50 feels like, I have to go to bed feeling like I've run all day. I've gotten so soft in the last couple years, that I'm not only out of shape, but I'm no longer chafe-resistant in crucial places. I chafed during a half marathon. A half goddamn marathon breached the integrity of my supple thigh skin. That's unacceptable. The last straw. So, I'm run commuting every chance I get now.

PM: 5.64 miles, 40:00 - Hopped on the treadmill of my apartment complex's fitness center for a 20 minute tempo effort. I saw an article saying Sage Canaday suggests them, so I figured it would be something worth doing. 10 minutes at varying easy paces, then 17 minutes at 6:00/mile. Closed the effort with some 5:15 pace for three minutes, feeling comfortably difficult (that's the phrase people use when they lie about shit being hard, right?) Treadmills feel weird, so I don't know if this is really the true pace. Oh well, 10 minute cooldown and then shoveled the steps off again.

AM: 3.5 miles, 39:00 -  Up at 6am (okay, 6:30) to make a huge breakfast and digest it as I shuffled to class. The slush had frozen in place overnight, making for a a great opportunity to test the range of motion of my ankles in every direction possible. Of all the shoes I've received and purchased over the years, the pair I'm gladdest I keep around are my winter versions of the MT110. They're pretty much waterproof, which keeps my feet from getting soggy on these commutes. A classmate pulled over and offered me a ride. I was really grateful for her generosity, but declined. This was a subtle reminder that I might be weird. I'm not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed. It was well below freezing as the sun was coming up. Most of the time, I can barely scrape myself out of bed to ride or drive to class by 8am because I'm lazy. I'm happy to be feeling different this week, and I feel more awake when I get to class.

PM: Skiing at Snowbowl, 1200', 1:13 - Some vert with low impact, a high heart rate, and a rewarding glide back down sounded perfect. Really slow going as I took a new route and took advantage of the perfection of having such a wonderful place to be.

AM: 4 miles, +/-  ~1700, 1:37. Not our speediest ascent of Elden by any means, but Kelsey and I had a nice hike up and shoe-ski slip and slide on the way down. The snow and the warm sun gave a nice outing and a break from the "I have a day off but have a lot of shit I should be doing" stuff.

PM: Weight training 1:00 - Hit each muscle group a couple times in the gym. Weighted lunges (forward, left, and right) with curls, Chest press, decline sit ups with weighted punches, Leg press, lat pulldowns, tricep dips, and some core exercises. Wanted to squeeze in another run, but this tired me out.

0 of anything, unless I count walking around at clinical. I don't. That's dumb.

AM - 8 miles, 39:00 - Just a bike commute to a study session. Only had 25 minutes to get there since it was a last minute decision to go. Bailed on a morning of sun and snow for a study group? Maybe I'm growing up just a little.

PM - 5 miles, 1:30 - Mount elden run/hike/crawl. The trail was mud at the bottom, and knee-deep snow at the top. Frequent missteps had me falling almost up to my hip. It was fun in a frustrating way, but the only way to get stronger is to keep going. Another quiet, peaceful sunset on my favorite in-town route. It's literally right across the highway from a mall, so that's weird.

slow going, but it'"strength building."

Why do I think I'm exceptional enough to take selfies? Look around me or through me or whatever.

Wind whistling at the summit. 

Socks would have been a grand idea. 
PM 2 - 4.25 miles, 30:00 - Feeling a little obsessive over the 23:00/pace crawl, I thought I'd sneak in a little cruise on the treadmill. As much as I aspire to be some kind of mountain running extraordinaire, I really don't mind grinding some miles out indoors a couple days each week. The consistency in pace has to have some value as a supplement to stomping around in the snow or walking like a penguin over icy sidewalks.

AM - 20 minute commute to work on my bike.

PM - 20 minute commute home. I know. Lame.

PM 2 - 4.3 miles 30:00 - More easy miles on the treadmill. Mostly an attempt to wake myself up from a rather monotonous day in sales. The usual dance of warming up at 7:45 pace and cruising at 6:40 pace, then cooling down for 5 minutes at 7:30 pace. Afterward, weighted lunges, Bulgarian squats, bicep curl to shoulder press, and weighted back extensions. Something has to be done to counteract my newly acquired ravenous appetite, and some junk miles won't cut it. I've either entered training mode or acquired diabetes.

6 miles, 2:00:00 - A "run" up Bear Mountain in Sedona with Kelsey. The trail is largely steep and rocky scrambles with intermittent running mixed in. We were looking forward to a nice, runnable couple hours on rolling trails, but ended up grunting out ~1700ish feet of gain over three miles. The sun burned me up pretty well, but I suppose that's to be expected since my last run in the sun with no shirt on was in October.

Kelsey, off in the distance, probably being all pensive and stuff. 
Compared to Michigan, it's kind of a brutal landscape for recreation. I do love it though.

Only about 40 miles of running, but combined with skiing, weights, and cycling, I put in roughly 13 hours of training this week. Don't tell anyone who thinks I'm supposed to be busy doing other stuff.