Saturday, May 31, 2008

Terrible Two Update 3

185/600 Miles: 30.1%
9900/48000 Feet: 20.6%

Left the house at 6 AM and worked way over to Montebello. Was pretty slow getting there compared to the past. The climb up Montebello took me 46 minutes. Nothing great, but I did not push it too hard. I could break 40 at my best in 2005/06, but considering the lack of miles in me, it was not that tough. Did Pierce/Mt. Eden and dropped into Stan's donuts to bring some donuts to my Dad. Too bad I don't eat these any more, as they looked pretty good. Ended up being a 50/3600 ride which was about what I needed. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some more climbs in. Feeling pretty good, but a bit tired after 5 days in a row.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Terrible Two Update

135.5/600 Miles: 22.6%
6600/48000 Feet: 13.75

Went in long again today and climbed Golden Oaks. Its a short 17.5% climb, but pretty nasty. It reminds me of the Rancheria Grade in the Terrible Two that you hit before dropping down to Hwy 1. On the way back I hit Valparaiso for the first time and rode up the steep hills of Sharon Heights. Its a nice little alternative to connect up with Sand Hill before 280. Was bonking pretty hard after this and had to get something to eat in Portola Valley.

Tomorrow its going to be an early start to nail down Montebello and either Redwood Gulch. If I was nuts I would do Bohlman on Orbit as well, but going to save this one for later in the TT build up.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Terrible Two Update

92.5/600 Miles: 15.4% completed
3600/48000 Feet: 7.5% completed

Making good progress in TT training just by riding in to work long and adding hills along the way. I knocked off Westridge and Los Trancos today which are part of the Ring of Fire. Felt strong up both of them and dropped John Wang hard on Los Trancos. Going to knock off a few more hills tomorrow on the way home starting with Moody and Golden Oak. Goal will be to climb all major hills in the Peninsula during next 3 weeks in TT training. Will hit Montebello on Saturday and Page Mill and Alpine on Sunday. Should be able to get 200 miles the first week putting me well on schedule.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Terrible Two

After finishing my first 3 stages of my re-entrance into Ultra running with AR 50, Miwok 100k, and Ohlone 50k, its time to relax and recuperate. To do this, I have decided to close some unfinished business and finally finish the Terrible Two before 10:00 PM. I have less than 4 weeks to get into long distance cycling shape and finish the one double that has eluded me of an "official" finish. After finising 7 minutes after 10:00 PM in 2005 due to getting lost 1 mile from the finish I have a need to try again. The idea is to apply my ultrarunning fitness to the Terrible Two combined with a 25 pound weight loss since my last attempt in 06. I plan on riding into work for the 4 weeks leading up to the TT as well as getting in some quality climbing on the weekends. Los Trancos, Bohlman on Orbit, Page Mill, Alpine, Montebello, and other hills will be climbed in prep for this event.

Monday, May 26, 2008

When your "Good Knee" goes bad

I had a rough Ohlone 50k, mainly due to a sore right knee that I must have tweaked on the extremely hilly course. I had no pain walking during the week, so I took a nice 4 miler out on a family vacation at Sea Ranch. The right knee hurt a bit on the run, enough for me to know I could not go much longer than 4 miles. I took a shower and went to dinner with the family. The walk to the upstairs living room of the vacation house was very painful and as I sat down in the coach, I was writhing in agony until I could stretch my leg out on the table. There was a sharp pain on the right side of my knee, not on the kneecap, but just to the right of it. I also noticed that bending it in a certain way was a guarantee for pain, but in other ways was not too bad. I drank some wine and iced the knee. This was a 9/10 in pain in its worst position, but something that could be managed by avoiding bending it too much and walking stiff legged down the stairs. The following day I was able to walk pretty well with Megan as well. The thought of a debilitating knee injury made me sick, but I will get it looked at immediately and get an MRI. The pain was bad enough for me get a jump on this one. Since I had my left knee scoped in 04, it has worked pretty well. I am hoping that this one goes away on its own, but my initial take is its pretty messed up.

Hopefully I am wrong.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ohlone 50K

The heat sneaks up on you during ultra events. You always feel great in the morning and slowly you begin to heat up, slow down, wonder why you voluntarily punish yourself, feel like quitting, and then resolve to finish what your started as the time goals you so proudly felt you would meet disappear with each passing sun baked hill.

It all started out so great climbing up Mission Peak in 1:02 which was not a bad time for 5+ miles and 2000+ feet of elevation gain. I was running with people I recognized from their blogs that I know I should not have based on their times at Miwok, Mountain Man Steve , but it was early and I was feeling great. The descent down the backside of Mission Peak is where I realized that my prior euphoia would be short lived as my left achilles and ankle stated to hurt and I could not run down hill in that care-free way I wanted to. By the time I hit the Sunol aid station at mile 9.11, 2 hours had gone by. It was only 10 AM, but it was getting really hot out there. They were soaking us down and filling our hats with ice to prepare for the next 10 mile 3000 foot climb that we would face.

Having a weak ankle/achilles I was straining my good leg and running was not very easy even on the easy flats and descents. Knowing that I had 21 miles to go, I could only slog along and try to soak some fun out of this. Finally reaching the Backpack Area aid station the famous Ann Trason was manning the aid station. Meeting some ultrarunner royalty goes a long way to push you along and I faced this hellish hill right after this aid station that mocking me in its steepness. It was horrible, I was walking very slowly, practically crawing as I worked on my 3rd full camelbak. I had taken 2 S-Caps an hour to this point and was drinking copiously. Having a lot of experience from ultracycling, hiking, and a bit of ultrarunning, I know to drink a lot in the heat. I ran with the camelbak for the first time and it was great I did as I needed it today with the high temps. I knew a lot of newbies were in this race, as its a logical jump off point for those wanting to make the next step up from the maration, but with this heat, there was a lot of risk for people not used to being out for this long. The next section to Goat Rock was only 2.5 miles, but it was straight up-hill with no shade at all and the wind was non-existent. I wanted to quit badly during this section, as all of a sudden I started getting pain in my "good" right knee. This game of Ultrarunning Injury Roulette is hilarious. I run American River 50 with a sore piriformis muscle and ended up messing my achilles heel. I entered Miwok with that sore Achilles and ended up tweaking my ankle. And now, I start Ohlone with a sore ankle and end up with a screwed up right knee.

By this time, I am unable to muster but a weak jog on the flats and expect to be passed by everybody left in the race, but I don't get passed like I did on Miwok. I switch out my stock inserts to the Sole Dean Karnezes ones, but that only makes my knee hurt even more and I quickly switch them back. The heat was punishing everybody I assumed as I kept moving. The section from Goat Rock to Maggies Half Acre was brutally hot, but I turned on the David Sedaris mp3 and laughed my ass off. A few times the guy in front of me turned around and I had to point to the head-phones. I was managing to enjoy this, even though I could not run at all on the downhills as my right knee was very painful by this point. I was able to shuffle a bit on flats, but it was pretty much fast walking now. I knew I could hike in from here and make the cut-off easily.

The view from Rose Peak is pretty amazing and the ruggedness of the area is surprising considering how close it is to the Bay Area population mass. It would have been a nice run down from Rose Peak to the Schlieper Rock aid station, but with my knee issue, it was a nice and easy hike with an occasional hobbling run.

On the descent down from Schlieper, I ran into Ramona Vogt, who was having issues descending the steep trail due to exhaustion and I had to help her down the hill by holding her hand on anything slightly steep. She was coherent and nice to talk to, but clearly suffering from the heat. We were hobbling down the hill to a nice spring and back up another nasty hill into the last aid station. The last descent was a nice fire road, so Ramona could handle it on her own. It was the kind of day where just surviving felt ok. I knew my time was not even going to break 9 hours, but by this point, I was just happy to finish. After American River and Miwok, I figured Ohlone 50k would be a piece of cake. Was I ever wrong. This is very tough race. As I hobbled into the finish, I was proud to have made it considering the state of my knee and the fact I had to just tough it out and endure. It ended up taking me 9:10 to finish. One person ended up collapsing at Rose Peak and had to be air-lifted out. This was the kind of day where you could get seriously hurt as this area is very remote, shadeless, and relentlessly hilly. I consider this 50K tougher than American River 50 miler. I look forward to another shot at it, hopefully on a cooler day!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ohlone 50K in the Heat

Tomorrow is the Ohlone 50k and its going to be hot. I am going to run with the trusty Camelbak I used to use on hot rides. I don't like the idea of trying something new on a run like this, but cant afford to over-heat and blow up. I had my worst dehydration episode a mile from the Ohlone Wilderness on Welch Creek Road on a training ride 2 years ago and know what can happen when you over-heat. On that day I ended up seizing up and cramping in both legs, arms, back, neck, and laying on the couch yelling as each new muscle decided to lock up. Tomorrow should be a high of 91, but I know now to load up on the S-Caps and drink like a fiend. This run has 7800 feet of climbing in 31 miles so I would consider it to be pretty damn hard. I have a stretch goal of breaking 7 hours, but I have not been able to train since Miwok due to Achilles/Ankle issues, so who knows what will happen.

Good luck to all running tomorrow, should be fun.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Miwok 100K: A DNF ... but a Good DNF

Full report to come later, but this was the best DNF of my life. Its hard to suffer as much as I did and not get an official finish, but I ran 100K and had a blast doing it with a lot of nice people and a great pacer.

My pacer and I missed the Miwok Trail on way down from Pantoll and ended up at Muir beach running in circles looking for the aid station. We could hear a bunch of people clapping and yelling towards the beach and with 55 miles on my legs I ran over to the party expecting to see the aid station. Turned out a bunch of teenagers were having a kegger. I was ready to give up and ask them for a cup by this point as I went from the elation of knowing I had Miwok 100K in the bag to being completely lost. I decided that we should take the Coastal Trail back to Tennessee Valley. It was a gnarly up and down technical trail with many steps in the pitch black. It was incredibly beautiful watching the last bits of light disappear into the ocean. We put on our headlamps and made our way back to Tennessee Valley. I could tell that Stan Jensen who was manning the aid station was used to people missing their cut-offs complaining in utter disapointment and anger. Most people who pull into an aid station this late must be hurting, as they kept asking me if I was OK. I was telling them I was fine and want to finish. The fact I could bust a sub 8 minute pace for the last half a mile into this aid station was an indicator of how great I was feeling. Stan told me I could not finish as there was no support out there. It was a huge downer going from the peace and quiet of the abandoned coastal trail to all the rules of the race, but thats the way it goes when you sign up for one of these things. Next time, I will know where that Miwok trail is and won't make this mistake again.

While this is an official DNF, we covered 100K due to our getting lost around Muir Beach. I feel very satisfied having run 100K even without receiving a medal. I heard that people miss this trail junction every year. I just noticed on the Ultrarunner Mail list another guy did the same thing, but I guess he had the sense to turn-around a bit quicker and get back on course. I am going to suggest they put a sign on this turn as this race is so well organized and put together, no need for another unsuspecting person to make this same mistake.

This was the first time I successfully busted through the wall of doom and gloom and misery into elation since the Furnace Creek 508. I was so miserable between Pantoll and the Bolinas Ridge station I convinced myself I was going to quit. I was being passed by just about everybody out there. I managed to pick up some speed running down Randall Trail to make the cut off by about 30 minutes, but I was feeling pretty pathetic when I met my pacer back at Bolinas Ridge. I was barely able to run back to Pan Toll. My pacer kept calling me a Loser in the Tom Vu style he is so skilled at, yet I could barely walk as I secretly cursed his enthusiasm. Somehow we got back to Pantoll and I sat there on the bench about 95% dead unable to move. Being forced off the bench by a nice volunteer, I started trudging down the hill. Somehow things started getting better on the descent. My leges miraculously started to feel ok again and I started picking up speed. I was running a sub 9 minute pace when an hour before I could barely walk. Even though we missed that Miwok Trail and ended up running up and around Muir beach for 30 minutes looking for that phantom aid station, it was worth it to come back from the dead. This experience of things turning around in Ultra events is what makes it worth all the pain and suffering and is the essential element of what makes these events so amazing. I knew my chances for an official finish were probably dashed as we slogged up and down the Coastal Trail, but being out there in the pitch black quiet and feeling amazingly strong and powerful was hard to understand. From annihilation and despair to elation and strength in 90 minutes. I would change the moral devastation of not getting an official finish, but thats for me to work out in the next few months of therapy.