Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get Off your Butt and Do It!

Having spent many nights in the early 90's watching the masterful Tom Vu on my B&W TV with rabbit ear antenna, I was in need of some of his timeless wisdom today to help me focus for Miwok next weekend. I think with our latest mortgage crisis his system he might be due for a big come back.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Power Lines + Black Mountain = Achilles Pain

PG&E Plus Black Mountain equals Pain at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

Trip Stats
Duration: 5 hours, 45 minutes, 32 seconds
Length: 25.3 miles
Vertical up: 5038 ft
Vertical down: 5060 ft
Average speed: 4.4 mph

Miwok 100K is 2 weeks away. I went deep in the well 2 weeks ago to finish AR50. I had to get some good hilly miles in so I drove up to Rancho San Antonio early this AM and started running at the corner of Stevens Canyon and Cristo Rey at 5:30 AM. It was great running in the dark and I started up the Power Lines feeling pretty good. I walked the steepest of the hills and got up to the top pretty easily. Cruising down the other side was nice and I hit the farm with 8.2 miles in the bank. It was freezing out and I waited for Duc to show up as we were going to go up Black Mountain via Windmill Pasture. Duc showed up and we started climbing up Windmill Pasture. Started to feel pretty lousy and noticed my hands were pretty swollen. I could not get my wedding ring off if I wanted. This was unusual for me. I had sore Glutes and was not enjoying this climb one bit. Duc took off ahead and I felt sorry for myself as I struggled up Black Mountain. Not sure if was the AR50, the shoes not working well (Fireblades) but this was just one of this runs that make you wonder why the hell you torture yourself. Its a steep hill and one mile near the top has 950 feet of climbing, so it was a 20 minute mile slog for my sorry self today. I finally summited and argued with Duc about how much harder this was than the PG&E trail. I find the last 2 miles of Black Mountain extremely tough. We turned around and things started to get a bit better. I got into a decent rhythm on the descent. Duc is going to pace me at Miwok and he took control of the last 8 miles and put me in on a good run/walk routine that managed to turn the day around radically. I loosened up, relaxed, and started to enjoy things as I zoned out letting Duc drive the pace. Duc took me the back way back to the car behind the Graveyard and I was silently cursing this extra distance, but it ended up up being close to a marathon with 5000+ feet of climbing. This is tough by any standard. 2 weeks after a hard effort made it really tough on me. I am glad I did it as I learned that Duct tape works well. I used it to tape up a big AR50 blister and I never noticed it for a second today. I also learned that light trail shoes are not for long runs with my lumbering style and size and flat feet. I cant handle it and get a ton of joint aches with these kinds of shoes. I do like them for anything under 10 miles as well with walking. It was freezing cold and I think I took in too much water as I had several pit stops.

Based on todays experience, Miwok will be tough for me. I am not experienced enough to be able to easily string these ultras together like so many others seem to. At the same time, I know I can succeed if I am careful and avoid any silly mistakes.

Damn: My left Achilles was really strained on this run due to the climbing with shoes lacking proper support. I must be the dumbest guy in the world when it comes to trying new shoes on a long run like this 2 weeks before a huge run. I would be very careful before you buy into the hype of a Racing Trail shoe if you have flat feet. I had to ice my achilles yesterday and the pain was 7/10 for a while yesterday! Its a bit better today. Hoping it continues to improve. The Fireblades will be gardening shoes from now on. Yet another lesson slowly learned as I crawl on my hands and knees to a 100 miler.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

AR50 in the bag

AR 50 Results

American River 50 Endurance Run at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

AR50 was important to me because it was my first Ultra since a failed attempt at the AR50 in 2002. I was running that 2002 AR50 30 pounds heavier than today and on a bad ankle and I manged to tweak my knee that day which took me out of running for more than 5 years. I got arthoscopic surgery in 04 hoping to get back in the game, but never felt confident on the knee and just assumed I would stick to cycling. For some reason, last November in an insane whim, I signed up for the AR50. I might have been drunk, maybe a bit crazy, but the 100 miles I had run in the last 5 years would not give many a lot of confidence I could finish, or that this was a good idea, or that I might need a quick mental health checkup. I remember telling my cycling/running buddy Jason about my decision to sign up for AR50 and I could tell he thought I was a bit insane.

I studied as much ultrarunning literature as I could starting with the 19th century wobblers in their 6 day races, the Bunion Derbies of 1928/29, as well as stories about 24 and 48 hour track racers and concocted an extremely conservative plan to use a 3/2 run/walk. My thought was that I could survive the 50 miler best by saving my legs early on with the walk breaks and keeping just enough in the bank to survive the last miles.

It was a dark and cool at the start and with 500 runners at the start it felt like a big city road race. The first couple of miles flew by in sub 10 minute which is pretty damn fast when doing 3/2, but I figured it was due to the adrenaline of the start. I was running a comfortable 7:30 pace or so and walking sub 15. The first hour was pretty non-eventful and I covered 6 miles.

The second hour was also non-eventful as we cruised along the American River path and I hit 12 miles in 2:01. The pain in my lower right back/piriformis was bugging me so I popped 2 Aleve at mile 15. I hate taking them, but I did not want to anything to prevent a finish. The 3rd hour went well. There is steep but short climb near the Nimbus dam, but nothing to really slow me down and I hit 18 miles in 3:04.

Things start getting hillier in this part and I slowed down getting 22.5 miles in 4 hours.

I hit the marathon at about 4:40 which was right about where I wanted to be. Beals Point which was mile 27.4 had my drop bag and I decided not to change my socks because my feet felt fine. I should have stuffed them in my back pocket as a huge blister on the bottom of my left foot would raise hell in a few short miles. The trail gets technical at mail 30 or so and I really lost my tried and true 3/2 and started walking even the smallest of hills. I was thinking that breaking 10 hours was possible at this point, but I could not get any good speed in this section and had many miles in the 15-17 minute range during this section as I could not attack technical trail with 35 miles in my legs. I dropped an ibupofen to see if this would ease the pain. While deadening it a bit, I was definitely approaching survival mode.

I kept slogging along to the 40 miles mark and Manhattan Bar aid station. My feet were killing me and my quads were very tired and I found it hard to run for more than a minute or two even on flat terrain. I could tell I was in the place where I was going to pay later for this as I kept digging deep into the well for each and every step. By this point I was being passed frequently and many people asked me if "I was ok". I could not figure out how they could tell I was hurting so bad, but I seemed to be much deeper in the pain cave than the people passing me.

I had made the last hill from Last Gasp to the finish much bigger in my mind than it was. By this point I could no longer run, but could do the 80 year old man shuffle for a few steps and power walk at maybe a 17 minute pace. I knew I could break 11 hours if I just keep a steady pace. Slowly the hill evaporated and I reached the top. Managing a meager jog through the finish line I was very happy to finish. Breaking 11 hours was great, but being able to finish was great as I had many doubts over the last few months how this adventure would go.

Looking around, I seemed to be hobbling more than anybody there. I have never been this wrecked so long after a ride/run. 2 days later I am still hobbling around, but finally feeling a bit better. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be taking off work on Monday. I am amazed some people can run the day after one of these things.

I proved you can do a 50 miler with a few months of training if your stubborn as hell, focused and willing to suffer. Next time, I want to do one with more a bit more miles in my legs prior.

Anton Krupicka Crushing the Course