Sunday, April 29, 2007

Building Confidence and Quads!

I will rate this weekends training as an 8. It was one of those weekends where the training calls for runs that make you excited but nervous at the same time. About this time in the cycle I can sometimes feel tired and unsure of how the weekend runs will go. It's been 2 weeks since my last big push which included back to back 90M weeks ending with AR50. This last Thursday was the first run I had where I felt like I was coming back from a tired sluggish state and just in time for this weekends Black Saturday and Red Hot Sunday.

The Saturday hill sessions are getting longer and I am heading into very familiar territory. With 2 years of these kinds of workouts under my belt I definitely know what to expect and when I am out there lots of memories from past workouts come roaring through my mind as I begin this one. This Saturday called for 2X45-50 hill repeats with a short cool down afterwards. The gang of sufferers is getting bigger which is a change from years before. Normally when we do repeats of more than 30 minutes we lose gangsters but this year more folks seem to be hungry for the burn. That makes it more interesting and challenging. Rick, Stacey, Micheal, Cian, Jim and Tom were all out on the PCT this last Saturday in April and everyone was in Black. During the 30 minute warm up I knew I had the potential to have a solid, confidence building day. A day when it all clicks and you accomplish what you set out to do and that is a great day in my world. Since this is such familiar territory I knew I would be getting to the second clearing (3.3 miles and about 2300 feet) in 50 minutes so I chose that as my marker for today's repeats. The faster guys would get all the way to Tea Kettle Springs (3.5 miles). In past years I have reached the second clearing in over 51 minutes but I was pretty sure I could do it in 50 and even if I didn't I would continue on and just throttle way back on my pace. We ditched our extra gear and the fast guys, Cian and Micheal headed off, then me, then Stacey and Rick. Jim and Tom were already on the mountain. Cian and Micheal were out of my sight after about 20 minutes of the first repeat and they were really moving up the hill. I held my pace and settled into my Threshold heart rate after about 5 minutes. My goal was to remain steady and maintain Threshold the entire 50 minutes. I reached the wilderness sign in under 26 minutes which was a wonderful surprise as I did my 30 minutes repeats to that marker about 4 weeks ago. Already I was pleased and hadn't even seen the first clearing yet. I have consistently reached the first clearing in 44 minutes but today I knew I would beat this. The first clearing came in 42:36 and the second in 48:32! Progress! Now I know that 3 minutes is nothing to scream about in most cases but when your at Threshold pace and make any progress that's it's worth getting excited about. Not that you run races....except marathons at threshold but it's what it does for your lower zones that makes all the difference in an ultra. Micheal and Cian were ahead at Tea Kettle so I just turned around and buzzed down the hill. On my way down I got myself psyched for repeat number 2....always tough. As I was heading down I run into Stacey and Rick who were doing shorter repeats and they were well into repeat number 2. I quickly refueled and headed up for number 2 just as Micheal and Cian came blazing in from Tea Kettle. If I can maintain my threshold on repeat number 2 I go home a happy camper because this is hard to do with an already tired body. I felt like today was going to be the day that I could get into a groove that would sustain my Threshold all the way up. My legs were beginning to feel heavy after about 30 minutes when thankfully I run into Tom who was out on the Benson Plateau looking for snow. He tucked in behind me and made sure I was working hard. My arms were fatigued from carrying my bottle so I shoved it in Tom's pack which is big enough to carry the kitchen sink:). Relief from my bottle seemed to give me a bit more spring in my step and with that extra help I made it to the second clearing in 48:43! Only 10 seconds slower than number 1, I was pumped as this is the ultimate goal.....both repeats at threshold and consistent in time. Micheal passed us as we sat at the second clearing taking in the view, he was almost to his marker and we waited for him to come back so we could all run down together. Cian was just hitting the clearing as we were heading down, he was working hard but steady as we passed. We waited for everyone at the bottom, re-grouped and headed out for the short cool down.
Sitting around the parking lot it was obvious that everyone had a good day on the trail, accomplishing what they wanted and laughing about how absurd it all is. I dug out my happy skull shirt for just such an occasion.

Now since I do have a life outside of running it was rush home, shower, eat and get to Alex's baseball game. I packed my food up and ran out the door just as Bill was having to leave the field to pick up friends and drive to Eugene for packet pickup. Alex's baseball game lasted for 2.5 hours! It was a great game, they won and Alex hit his first home run with bases loaded. This was awesome since Alex doesn't make contact with the ball much so it really got him going, he was beaming from ear to ear. After the baseball game it was off to Susan's house for dinner and Alex was spending the night with her son Evan who was born just 2 days before Alex. They have been buddies since birth. Since Rich (Susan's husband) was running the marathon along with Bill, Jim, Darin, Scott and Dave she offered to watch Alex while I went on my Sunday run.

Red Hot Sunday was going to be a 5 hour quad busting session! Stacey, Micheal and I showed up ready to roll in our ugly amazing red outfits. When you see these outfits in pictures it just magnifies how bad they are :). In honor of all our friends and my loved one who were pounding the pavement today we decided we would run at least a marathon too. It felt like the right thing to do since our WS100 training partner (Jim) did Black Saturday! For our special quad busting session we wanted to some long downhill repeats of 5+ miles so we went up the road, came down it fast then ended our run coming down that same road. Surprising fresh after yesterday's workout we moved really well and stayed very focused. We had a ton of laughs and made fun of ourselves quite regularly which made the day awesome. The route we chose had about 6000 feet of climbing and ended up being 27 miles long. We accomplished this in 4:52:54. It's fun to actually RUN in the Gorge. It's great to hike as well but there is something about being able to run the steep inclines and tear down the descents that makes you feel powerful. There are definitely day's when I don't feel powerful at all and if those day's fall on Sunday and I feel like a wilted lettuce leaf it's embarrassing to be wearing these obnoxious outfits. But, on a day when you feel strong you can pull it off ;). We each brought a Red Bull with us so we shared one three times.....the commercial for Red Bull says, "Red Bull gives you wings!". I am still waiting for my wings but they do get you revved up. At AC100 last year Stacey drank a bunch of Red Bulls and we had to cut her off at mile 64 because she was flying around like a crazy her crew we should have been monitoring but it all happened so fast :).
We were really motoring around when we realized we had to add some distance to ensure would have at least 26.2 miles for the day. Once we were sure we headed to the back road for our final descent to the car. I was looking forward to seeing how my quads would hold up on this second journey down "quad buster hill" and though I was pretty fatigued I made it in my usual time. Stacey commented that it felt similar to a 100M race when you tired and even though the terrain is down hill it's still a matter of getting your legs to turn and I think she is right. That describes it perfectly!
This is the kind of weekend that leaves me feeling very satisfied and ready to take on the next challenge. Tomorrow is an off day but I think I will take the dogs for a walk to make sure I get my quads moving. I am kind of anxious to see if they are sore from this workout :).
BTW: Jim had a PR at Eugene! 3:27 after Black Saturday. Bill ran his second fastest time, Rich had a PR, Darin ran in the top 100, Dave and Scott had a great day as well. Sounds like they all had fun and Bill is walking around just fine :).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

2 Times Miwok = WS100

I dug out my 2005 Miwok 100K shirt and wore it my run this morning. The sun is out in Portland, a rarity lately and I was happy to see it today. I decided it's was time for me to start thinking about Miwok 100K which is about a week and half away. This is a pretty important race for me mentally because my outcome at Miwok will have a great impact on me for WS100 this year. The magic formula for determining your WS100M time is: take your Miwok finish time and multiply by 2! Now of course there are always exceptions but if you look historically at experienced runners who have run both races in the same year you will find this phenomenon to be pretty accurate. For me this formula has been so telling it's frightening. In 2005 I ran 11:56 and got lost which cost me about 20 minutes. Following that I ran WS100 in 22:59. If I hadn't gotten lost I would have finished in about 11:35 and 2X11:35 = 23:10.....pretty darn close. In 2006 I ran 12:22 and had what I thought the worst race of my life but at WS100M that year I ran 24:41. If you apply the same formula of 2X12:22 is 24:42.....way to predictable!

In 2005 I ran Zane Grey 50M the weekend before Miwok which you would assume would leave me tired going into Miwok. I was a bit sluggish at the beginning but felt really good from the turnaround on in. In 2006 I had a recovery week prior to Miwok so I was rested and focused and wanted to pull a good time but that was not the case for me on that day. I remember being pretty dismayed at my 12:22 when I thought I was in better shape than 2005 and geeezzzz I was rested. Whatever the reasons were for both my finishing times they told the story for my WS100M time.

On my run today I thought about this a lot. I know my time at Miwok will impact my mental state for WS100 and I need to keep that in my mind at all times during Miwok. I know I can do at least an 11:30 on that course and that would give me the confindence and cushion I need for the rest of my training. I can't dismiss the importance of this upcoming event because as much as I would like to say, "it doesn't matter".... I know it will.

From now until Miwok I have a pretty heavy load of training especially this upcoming weekend. How will that impact my Miwok time? Not much according to my history :). 2005 = Zane Grey 50M the weekend before and I was faster than 2006 when I was much more rested before race day. Although I don't think this weekends efforts will have an impact I have decided to cut back on my time out on Sunday from 7 hours to 5 hours. The 5 hour run will be a good quality run with a focused effort and cutting out the 2 hours will help me get more out of the run. In addition, mentally I will know I have no excuses going into Miwok and need to treat this race with the level of importance I know it will carry with ME!

I am going to spend more time preparing for this race than I would have had I not sat down and thought about it's real impact on my mental state. I will plan my fueling better, look at my paces between aid stations and visualize the time I want to see on the clock when I finish. I plan on being armed and dangerous next weekend.....focused and prepared!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Devils at Devils Rest

Since this is a recovery weekend we didn't have any Black Saturday or Red Hot Sunday type of workouts. My schedule called for 2.5 hours with 15 min of threshold on Saturday and 2 hours of cruising on Sunday. For our 2.5 hour run we like to do the Angels Rest/Devils Rest/Quad Busting Road route. This is a loop in the Gorge that we have done many times. We climb all the way from the Angels Rest parking lot and at the summit we traverse for about 3 miles then climb to the top of Devils Rest (where this picture was taken). We did our 15 minutes of threshold up to Devils Rest as this climb is not super steep but offers enough of an incline to cause your lungs to scream. After we summit the Devil we catch the road that lies behind Devils Rest all the way back to the parking lot. We estimate this road section to be about 5.3 miles of serious quad killing downhill. The reason we love this back road is for it's relentless downhill, all cars are locked out, and its rough gravel surface. There is not much better training for our quads and the relentless downhill we will experience at WS100. We race down this road, headphones on, legs spinning and no looking back. Micheal is always the winner and by a nice margin. He had enough time to get to the car, turn around, run back and take my picture as I was coming in. I am working on closing the gap but it will be a tall order. I thought I was flying today but he still had a good 3 minute lead. Micheal is an awesome downhill runner as is Stacey so chasing them down the hill is great for my training. :)

This morning I showed up in grey shorts while all my friends were dressed in black and they let me know they're feeling about me breaking from uniform. I didn't think this was a Black Saturday since we didn't have any hill repeats but they were not of the same opinion. Next time we need to have an email consult before our recovery run to determine if the workout warrants all black.:) Steve joined us all the way to Devils Rest but then we parted ways and he headed towards Larch Mountain for more many more miles.

Sunday was a 2 hour run and no threshold. We met for a run on Wildwood trail and hooked up with Jim who is finishing up a "build" week. He was out at Herman Creek yesterday pounding out hill repeats all on his own but Jim is focused and determined so being by himself had little impact on his metal toughness :). Today he had to do a medium long run of about 4 hours so he started early and met us just as we were getting started. We ran up and over Pitock Mansion which is located at mile 3.5 on the Wildwood, it's a beautiful place to take in the views of the city and outlying mountains on a clear day. The Spring gardens at Pitock are in full bloom so we thought this would be a great place for an "ultra running family" photo. Jim and Micheal lead the charge up to Pitock and then we all bolted down the back side where we said goodbye to Jim who headed home. Stacey, Micheal and I turned around and headed 6.25 miles back to our car parked at 53rd ave. Micheal definitely lead us home dragging us with our tongues hanging out of our mouths the whole way! I predict a nice finish at WS100 for him this year, he is getting in stellar shape and moves on the trail really fast.

It was a nice recovery weekend and I feel rebounded and ready for the next phase of training. My hamstring got poked, rubbed and iced for the first part of the week and I can now report it's fine. Thanks for everybody's concerns and advice....I need all the help I can get and it's much appreciated! From January to now I have been on 4 week cycles, Build 1, Build2, Peak, Recovery. I now move to 3 week cycles and am looking forward to it. Next is a Build week and at this point everything gets increased so this weeks Build will be more like my last cycles Peak week. No rest before Miwok 100K, don't want to be real fresh going into the race because it's not my main goal and more like another awesome training day in a race environment.

BTW: Bill just got back from his last run before the Eugene Marathon next weekend. He, Scott Diamond, Jim Rudig, Darrin Swanson, Rich Kokesh and Dave Strong are all running it on the 29th. They are all ready and should have a great time. Alex is happy dad is back so he can fix something :)

Friday, April 20, 2007

I heard a quote today

"80% of achievement is desire"!
I heard this said on a radio program I frequently listen to. The timing of quote couldn't have been better as my mind was wondering all over the Western States 100M course. I had just finished a great easy run in Forest Park and was on my way home thinking about training and the goals I hope to accomplish at WS this year. It also made me reminisce about how influential "desire" is in achieving goals and how it has played a great part in almost all the big ideas I have ever had for myself. As I was reminiscing it brought me back to ultra running and how the mental part of ultras is so huge. I even recall an article in a recent copy of Ultrarunning Magazine that went into depth on this very subject. As I looked back on my life I picked a few things that have stuck in my mind with regards to achievements reached mostly due to my "desire" to achieve them.
Starting back as far as 11 years old I remember a dance-a-thon being held in my hometown to raise money for some charity. I can't remember the charity but I remember being quite taken by the possibility of staying up for 24 hours dancing and raising the most money to win a record player. My family was supportive in the fact that they didn't say no but they really thought I would poop out by 9:00 p.m. and wouldn't do the leg work to raise the money. But, somewhere in me was the "desire" to participate. I combed the neighborhood and collected donations for days after school and would be out until almost dark (those were the days you could ride your bike all over and not worry about anything). I raised pledges like you wouldn't believe. The dance-a-thon came and I stayed up all night much to mom's disliking. I refused to go home no matter how tired I was. Afterwards I spent days collecting my pledges and won the record player that ended up not working but I was proud none the less.
Being 5'1" tall was not the best prerequisite for being on the school volleyball team. However I loved the game and wanted to play so bad! No one stopped me from going out for the team but I have say it was sort of the school joke as we had a very good volleyball team and no short girls participated. Of course I had my sights set on the Varsity team but with no prior playing experience and my height disadvantage that was going to take some doing. I was horrible during the first practices and really hated the outfits but I loved the game and wanted play soooooooo bad. I begged my mom to buy a net and set it up in the yard but money was very tight when I was growing up so I made a deal with my mom to work on weekends at her shop cleaning. She agreed and bought the net. I was out there everyday practicing serving the ball over the net because I could not seem to get the ball to clear the net during practice. The neighbor lady begged my grandmother to make me stop hitting that ball! I had the "desire" to play in an official game so bad I could taste it. When the games started I was always sitting out but one day the team server got hurt and they had to let me in for last half of the game and I served that ball so hard it hurt some of the opponents. My team was shocked almost as much as I was! I made that Varsity team and became one the best servers in our division in the state. All because of "desire" to play, surely not any given talent.
When I was a Sophomore all the kids began to talk and plan for college and I just assumed I would be doing the same but when I brought all the brochures home to my family they were excited to see the brochures but notified me that we had no money for college and I would need to get scholarships, grants, loans, or whatever to go. I was going no matter what! I looked into every possibility and the "desire" to go to college was so profound it drove my actions for the next two years. I thought about it all the time, picked a sport I could do well (skiing....I grew up in Bend), looked for jobs where I could make the most money in the summer and tried to pull some descent grades (obviously English was not my strong suit). I did get a couple of scholarships options but they weren't enough. To really earn the money I got a license to drive a big rig so I could work on road crews in the summer. Probably the only girl on a rubber tire pavement roller back then. I would work double shifts if the night crew didn't show, I saved every penny I could, applied for every grant I was eligible for. I graduated from college in 1990.
Those are some examples of how "desire" was 80% of achievement" in my life so far. As I thought about these and other examples some instances where there was of lack of "desire" came up and in each of those instances since I didn't have the "desire" I did not achieve much. I realize that as we get older and pile on more responsibilities it's more difficult but if we truly have the deep aching "desire" we make things happen. I can think a bunch of "desires" I have had as a fully loaded responsible adult and the achievements are no less great than the unbounded ones as a child. Being focused and hungry for the goal is the only way I will achieve it. I won't put my best foot forward if the "desire" is not there. This brings me to my goal for WS100M this year......."I want a solid 24 hour finish on this course and I want breathing room"! I want this so bad I can see it like I am right there on the course. The "desire" factor will come into play at about mile 80. How hard can I push when things are uncomfortable and I am tired, how fast can I move to get my goal? That all comes down to, "how bad do I want it"? I think the quote I heard this morning will make me ponder this for 64 more days and I suspect at mile 80 one of my crew members will ask me, "Ronda, how bad do you want it"?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trying to be smart

These are my track shoes that did not get to go for a run yesterday. I had to opt out of my track session yesterday because my left hamstring has a huge ball of bunched up muscle in it. I probably spent 4 hours debating on whether to go power through the workout or do a recovery run instead. This is a recovery week anyway but I am so stubborn and regiment that it was really hard for me to let this workout go. I know it sounds silly but I have stewed about this for far to long now. This is my attempt to eradicate if from my brain. There are so many runners that have had hamstring problems this year all that was going trough my head was, "I hope I didn't do anything stupid at AR50"....."you shouldn't have run so fast at the beginning when you didn't train to run like that"...."you were tired going into the race and now look what happened"...."WS is only 67 days away"....."I hope it's nothing". Wow, it was an exhausting day. I called, Bill, I called Stacey, I called Susan, I called Cathy, I emailed Micheal, I talked to Marlin and they all said, "no track"!

I did a 45 minute recovery instead and it was sore but this morning it's much better and tonight I'll give it another test drive before my tempo run tomorrow. I am sure it's just tight muscles but after everything everyone has been through with hamstrings this year I got myself all freaked out! The power of the mind, wow I need an off button :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

3 Girls, 1 Race and a lot of laughs!

Stacey, Susan and I all traveled to Sacramento to participate in the American River 50M. All three of us had different goals for the race but the one common goal for the trip was to have a blast on our all girl adventure! We traveled on Friday and arrived in Sacramento before noon. We headed straight to packet pick up held at Fleet Feet Running store. Of course we were early so we shopped for running clothes while they got everything ready for runner check in. Once we got our packets we were starving so we went for pizza at a nearby restaurant. This pizza outing started our food adventure for the trip, more on that later.

After lunch we headed to Auburn for the night because that's where we would catch the 4:15 a.m. bus to the start, that way we would have our car at the finish. We checked in our hotel and brought in our stuff. When girls travel we have a lot of stuff!

Hard to believe we were only going to be there 2 nights, huh. We laughed so hard when we saw all this stuff that Stacey started crying (only because her eyes water when she laughs really hard). After we unloaded all this gear into our room we headed to the finish line for a shake down run and to check out the course. Stacey and I ran this before but it was at least 3 years ago and we wanted to check out the incline of the last climb. It was warm and sunny and we knew the forecast for Saturday called for rain showers all day but it was hard to believe. We headed down what we thought was the course but as usual Stacey and I had really no idea where we were going. It ends up we were not on the course but we got a good 40 minute easy jog down and a nice walk/run back up. I pointed out the huge poison oak bushes to Susan who couldn't believe their size. I am extremely allergic to poison oak so I am keenly aware of it now.

Once we were finished running we were hungry again, this is now meal number 2! We had Italian food in Auburn and I ate a ton. I will do another post about calorie consumption another day but all this food consumption is an attempt to get enough calories to fuel my body which apparently I am not doing. We were all so full it was obnoxious! Next we were back in our room preparing our stuff for the race and then off to bed. I go to bed really early, always have. My husband thinks I was a lion in a past life....a male lion. All I do is sleep, run and eat. I was a male lion because I didn't do the killing for my meals because I was to busy sleeping :). Tonight would be no different, I was ready for bed at 7:30 and since Stacey has traveled with me for 8 years she knows I can sleep through anything, TV, lights and other noises. Stacey and I were off to sleep while Susan read her book. Our alarm was set for 2:45 so it was going to be a very early rise. 2:45 came fast but I got a good nights sleep but Susan and Stacey didn't get the same rest. We were drinking coffee and getting our stuff pulled together and before we knew we were on the bus heading to Sacramento.

This race if flat! 27.4 miles of bike path and gravel road with the rest on trail. We all opted for road shoes and I opted to change into trail shoes at 27.4 miles while Stacey and Susan did not. The weather was nice when we arrived, very warm and no rain but right before the start time it began to rain and really never let up all day. It was just like home! No big deal for us in fact it was nice because anything over 65 degrees would have been HOT to us. Stacey and I got up front with the fast people and when they said go we took off. My splits for the first 11 miles were sub 7:30's and I felt like I could hold that for a bit longer but opted for slowing down, this was not my was a focused training effort and I had to keep reminding myself of that. At the third aid station I was notified that I was 5th among the woman and that was pretty exciting I have to admit but I had no idea I was that far in front. I needed a bathroom break and when I was done Stacey was coming down the bike path. I jumped in with her and we ran together for a bit but I pulled ahead. At this point I was starting to feel my race and the "peak" week of training which consisted of over 90 miles, track on Tuesday, hill repeats on Thursday, weight workouts for the legs on Tuesday. My pace slowed and that was fine. At mile 27.4 I went straight over to the drop bags and began changing my shoes, applying Ivy Block, refueling my pack and watched as 6 woman came in and blitzed out the aid station. At this point I realized I had run about a 3:30 marathon, hmmmmm way too fast! Stacey arrived and I took her bottle and gave her some Red Bull and she ran after them. It took me another 40 seconds to get everything packed back up and then I was off to chase her down. She got a second wind and it was hard to catch her and my legs were having a hard time springing back after the break. The winds were crazy along the lake and they were making it hard to run very fast. I finally caught Stacey at about mile 37 and I came up on her like a freight train and yelled so hard it scared her death, we ran very strong for about another 6 miles right through an aid station and off for the last 6.5 miles. We knew from here on out we would be climbing almost the whole 6.5 miles to the finish. I was looking forward to this since I was not able to run the flats very well anymore. My hamstrings were screaming so the climbing was nice. We ran all the uphills and really ripped on the any bit of downhill. On the very last climb Stacey pushed it hard and I couldn't catch her before the finish. At this point it was pouring rain and all I had on was shorts and a tank top with my long sleeve tied around my waist. I tried to put my long sleeve back on but it was just too wet. I finished in 8:27 and was pretty happy with that. It was a good end to another tough week so I can't complain. At the finish they had a nice warm shower and I scrubbed with Tecnu like crazy and again when we got back to the room. I was not going to take any chances with the evil oak.

Stacey and I got cleaned up and anticipated Susan's arrival. We felt we had enough time to hurry up and get some fast food. We wanted to start the refueling process and talked about how many calories we would need to eat to get recovered, it was a lot! We started with In-and-Out burger. Got our food and headed back to get Susan. She came in right around 11 hours and looked great! She now has her qualifying run for WS100 08. She is a two time loser so gets in for sure next year. We left as soon as she was ready and drove to Sacramento to spend the night and take any early flight out on Sunday morning. We laughed and shared our day on the trail the whole way, got lost (as usual), laughed some more, and got some more food at Wendy's. Since none of us are fast food frequenter's we got a lesson on how to use a drive through! First we drove right by the lady you are supposed to pay and had to back up. At Taco Bell we were ordering our food and confusing the poor woman. After all our trips to fast food we still had not consumed enough calories to replenish and were all laying on our beds moaning from being so full. We never want to see fast food again!
Our flight left at 7:50 a.m. which meant another early morning but surprisingly we all felt pretty good must have been all the food :). We got back to Portland at about 10:00 a.m. What a great weekend!

I was pretty tired on Sunday and actually took a nap which is unusual for me but it was awesome. Monday I went for a recovery run and after about a mile felt pretty good but my hamstrings are still a bit sore. This is a recovery week and I am going to milk it for all it's worth. Today is track (very short) and weights so this should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rested and Recovered

This is Ultra practicing the art of recovery. Dogs are really smart when it comes to this part of their training. After big runs all Ultra does is eat and then sleep. I think we can learn a lot from dogs :). For me this is the hardest part of training because recovery is really not easy for me to swallow. Logically I understand we need to give our body fuel and rest, I have read a million books about periodization processes and blah, blah, blah. But, somewhere deep in bedded in my brain is the notion that recovery is unnecessary for strong determined people when in reality it's the opposite. We will never get stronger if we refuse to recover.

After last weeks schedule I felt so tired and beat up that all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. Actually I only wanted to sleep and had to force myself to eat because my appetite was also tired. On Monday I asked a friend to cruise on my recovery run with me. I knew it would be much better to have a friend along so I wouldn't be consumed with my thoughts of fatigue. This was a smart move because the run went by fast and I got the chance to focus on someone else instead of my inner brain reminding me of how tired I was. When she arrived she took one look at me and said, "wow, you looked thrashed!" That's another reason to have friends with you, they can speak the truth :). The bags under my eyes were so large I felt like my face was going to slam on the floor in front of me, ha, ha, ha. I got a glimpse of myself at 80 years old, yikes! Anyway, about 2 miles into the run I had completely forgot about all my fatigue and began to perk up. I was so thankful for this new found feeling and it just reminded me how important the recovery run is. It flushing out all the junk you accumulated in your muscles and your mind after hard workouts.

After the 7 mile run I took a look in my car mirror and only looked 60.....progress. By Tuesday I felt like I hadn't run a step on the weekend. All the fatigue from last week had been deposited on Firelane 1 in Forest Park and I was excited to do my track workout on Tuesday. I put on my red hot shoes and headed to the track for a 9 mile workout which included 6X1000 each at sub 4 minutes. I wasn't even apprehensive and that is a miracle considering how I felt on Monday morning. The art of recovery!

BTW - I solicited a "pep" talk from a friend on Sunday evening. It was great and very much appreciated, thanks!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Red Hot and Wrecked!

Another Red Hot Sunday but even with the outfit I never felt on fire. Before I get into any details about the run let me just tell you how these red outfits came in handy today, maybe handy isn't the right word. When I was lagging behind Micheal (my red twin) I stepped up the pace because I knew he would be waiting for us at the bridge....I took a wrong turn and Steve yells, "little red riding hood....let's go this way". When I was really lagging behind my red twin I asked a hiker, "have you seen a guy in red"....he quickly replied, "oh yeah, he exactly 10 minutes ahead". Now normally hikers don't even remember if they saw a runner more or less how far ahead they were. This guy was concrete in his answer. Those are a couple of funny "red" moments for today.

I will give today's run a 7 on the scale of what I would call "solid effort". I was still not recovered from this weeks festivities....recovered is a relative word here. Let's just say I didn't have any spring in my step but I was able to motor at a decent enough clip and because of that....this run earns a 7. In addition, today's ice bath was a 9 pounder with an additional 4 pounds left over from another day. That's a big ice bath because my dogs (legs) are tired. That is another reason this run deserves a 7. When you bring out the 9 pound bag of ice you know you have put forth some effort on your workout! This picture was taken at mile 20, quite dramatic but you get the idea.......worked!!!! The only one in the group that is not worked is the Counselor (my red twin). This is the point where he left us and blitzed the last 10 miles of our 30 mile run. We saw him disappear up the switchbacks......easy to see him amongst the trees....another benefit of the red suit :). That left me with brother Steve and brother Tom. At the beginning of our run they were going to head up King Mountain and leave us to cover the Wilson River trail on our own but Tom got worried about leaving us by ourselves in these outfits for fear bad things might happen to us. So when the Counselor took off I was stuck with my brothers (not my real brothers) and they thought it would be great fun to kick my butt on the climb but I held my own and made them work to keep me in sight. As we neared the top Tom was right on my butt and asked me what my heart rate should be and when I told him he said then lets move it. I pleaded with him to just let me suffer but he would have none of it and helped push me hard. At the top we waited for Steve who arrived sweating like crazy and begging for salt tablets as he collapsed on trail and asked for a moment of rest. Tom gave him about 30 seconds to pull himself together and get moving. We did a good job on this section. We waited at the next junction for Steve and when he arrived he said, "you guys just go, I am going to lay down here for 5 minutes". Once we up and over the climb it was a gentle rolling trail with one minor climb but only 4 miles back to the car......yeah!

What a nice trail, in great condition and offers some great views of the coast range. The trail is rolling but has some big rolling climbs and travels at least 20 miles one way. We covered 30 total miles today and over 5000 feet of climbing. A nice way to end a big volume week with a lot of intensity.

BTW - Your hamstrings hurt when you run to much :).

AR50 next Saturday, looking forward to a good training effort in a race environment but mostly I can't wait to see some sun!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ouchy Mama......

Another Saturday and that means another Black Saturday. Yesterday it was so beautiful and warm, very Spring like weather. The weekend was supposed to be the same. I was looking forward to running Black Saturday in nice weather but was woke up this morning at 5:00 by pounding rain. I quickly ran to our office to look at my weather clock and it said 51 degrees so even though it was pouring it was warm, whewwwww. Today's workout was a choice of 2X40 min. hill repeats or 3X30 min. Of course I thought the 3X30 would be harder but when I spoke with Scott he thought the 2X40 would be harder due to the fact you have to hold threshold for 10 minutes more. He said go ahead and try the 3X30 and see what you think.

We headed to Herman Creek trail head to begin our journey and when we arrived at the gate we saw two parked cars who had had their windows smashed in :(. Tom was already on the trail and his car still had all its windows so we assumed the window smashing must have taken place last night and the folks who's cars were there must be overnight hikers. Bummer to come back and have your car windows smashed in and your entire car full of rain water. We have had a rash of these kinds of break ins in the Gorge area lately, it's been all over the news.

We had a big BS group today...the more the merrier it's fun to have lots of people. Tom was already on the trail so Micheal, Steve, Cian, Jim and I all headed for our 2 mile warm-up. Once we got to the junction where we begin the repeats we shed unneeded gear so we can be lightening fast, ha, ha, ha. We stash our packs behind a tree and take a gel and a water bottle. The marker for today would be the wilderness sign on the PCT trail 2000. Last year I would make it to this marker in 29 minutes so that seemed like a good spot for a 30 minute repeat. This trail is not as smooth at the start as Gorton Creek but we use it because it's long and we can do 60 minute repeats on it. It also has some steeper sections but offers a nice steady grade.
Right off the bat I could tell my legs did not have the same spring they had last weekend but I also knew this was the beginning of heavy weeks with regards to mileage and intensity and my body would need a couple of weeks to adapt. I think we all were feeling the fruits of our workouts this week except for Cian, he bolted up that hill like a deer. He was out of sight fast! I reached the marker in 27:00 on very tired legs so I was happy, better than last year but it felt hard. After a quick refueling we were off for number 2. The second one was no picnic either but was fairly steady at 27:42, the third just a bit slower at 28:45 but it was definitely felt very very hard. Overall a good session but I think we all agreed the 2X40 would have been easier :). Hey....we tried it, don't have to try it again, ha, ha, ha. Wow, those were hard but totally worth the challenge....easy for me to say that now after an ice bath and a ton of food! Now for the cool down. On the books was a 1-2 hour cool down and I generally want to do the max. on everything but I was wiped out and couldn't wait to be done. Jim had already finished and headed home, Tom had enough and was gone, Steve did a small portion of the cool down. Cian, Micheal and I were the only BS Gang left so we headed out the Herman Creek trail for the about 40 minutes and then turned around. I felt like I was bonking so I was shoving margarita flavored shot blocks in mouth and pretending I was in Mexico. Since that wasn't working I opted for the music! A little Guns and Roses is always sure to get me moving and I finally caught up with Cian and Micheal just in time to see the move the month! Cian leaping over a huge log after 20 miles of tough running, it was great....nice work Cian.
All of us who know Steve know that he loves the wildflowers. He can identify every flower in the forest. He will go on and on about the flowers and today was no different. Here we are running so hard we can barely see straight but Steve can spot the tiny flowers amongst the trees and moss, he is really happy when the flowers come out! I have no idea what kind of flower this is.....Steve did tell me about six times but I was sort of in a moment so I can't tell you what it is. But, I do remember it's nickname has something to do with a deer, it's supposed to look like a deer with antlers....I don't see it but Steve sure did :).
Another great day of training has gone by....fueling up for tomorrows Red Hot Sunday with the Counselor....6 hours of action packed running in less that 24 hours, yipppeeeee.

Friday, April 6, 2007

We're going that way......

Today Trisha and I did a nice recovery run in Forest Park. We celebrated the lovely spring weather by doing at 7.25 mile loop including Wildwood trail, Lief Ericson and some side trails. We chatted the entire way so the time went by very fast. We followed that up with even more talking and coffee at Starbucks. It was warm and wonderful, a great way to spend a Friday morning! It was so warm, I was actually sweating :). This weekend is another action packed Black Saturday and Red Hot Sunday and it's going to be very nice weather. I love Spring!
By the way, check out Trisha's might have to enlarge the photo to see what they say. Trisha please wear those socks every time we run, it keeps me motivated.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Training for ultras takes a lot of time and a ton of consistency. Without that you will most likely end up injured or DNFing at races time and time again. Training comes in many forms for ultra runners and I think that is why it's so fun, there is no one right way to train for an ultra. Some folks do really well with logging a ton of miles like putting together many 100 weeks, some don't do any speed work and still run like the wind while others do a ton of speed work and very little long runs and it still works. I have tried them all and with some success but no plan has delivered the results like the ones Scott Jurek has put together for me. I have followed Scott's approach to training for over two years now and have seen a lot of measurable results which is what keeps me coming back! I use my heart rate monitor for all my training, it helps me gauge my workout by keeping me on task. The hardest part about using a HR monitor is knowing what your zones are. There are 5 running zones and each one builds a different part of your cardiovascular and muscular systems. There are many tests out there you can use to figure out your HR zones by first determining your max. These are great ways to get a runner started and most likely will be close but ultra runners are a bit different in that they have a huge base. A base is your low HR zones Z1-Z3a. These are your probably the most important zones for ultra runners to develop because they build endurance. They are your aerobic base building zones, they develop muscle capillaries and mitochondria to carry the needed oxygen through your body. Z3b-Z5 are your power zones. These zones teach your body how to recover and become more efficient at carrying oxygen to muscles and clearing unwanted lactic acid.
I have used VO2 Max tests to determine my zones and my velocity at lactic threshold. What is Lactic Threshold?????? It is the point at which your body stops using oxygen and you go from be aerobic to anaerobic, it is the point at which the cells in your body can't receive, extract or utilize oxygen. Scott suggested I use his preferred lab to get my test done. 18 months ago Stacey and I went to and got VO2 max and Lactate Threshold tests done and the information has been so valuable we went again on March 29th, 18 months after our first test. What a difference 18 months of training can make. My results are listed below:
October 6, 2005
Max HR = 182
VO2 Max = 62
Lactic Threshold on Incline = 6.2 speed, 10% grade HR = 171
Lactic Threshold on Flat = 8.25 speed or 7:16min. mile, 1% grade HR = 175
Z1= 123-133
Z1 = 134-144
Z3a = 145-155
Z4a= 167-172
Z4b= 173-178
Z5 = 179 to max
March 29, 2007
Max HR = 184
VO2 Max = 60
Lactic Threshold incline=6.4 speed, 10% grade HR 178
Lactic Threshold Flat = 8.75 speed or 6:51min mile HR 182
Z1 = 130-140
Z2 = 141-151
Z3a = 152-162
Z3b = 163-173
Z4a = 174-179
Z4b = 180-185
Z5 = 186 to Max
As you can see I am faster on both incline and flat before my body stops using oxygen. Also, my zones moved significantly. I have done many of these tests at another lab in Bend Oregon over the 6 years prior to taking my first one at this lab in Oct. of 2005 and have never seen this kind of changes. But, I have never trained using the philosophies Scott uses either.
When you run a 100M race the target zone for the first 50M is 3A. If you can stay in 3A for the first 50M and after that let it rip you will have a great race. Most of time folks go out near their 3B or above and feel really good for about 30 miles then have some pretty bad patches as their body works to clear the damage. I am looking forward to working with these new zones which will be tough at first but as I get more comfortable with these new paces and can really hone my new 3A I will have a good race in my future :).
All these new numbers just means my body is ready for the next step and that means faster track workouts, faster tempo runs and better hill repeats. I can't wait to see how all that pays off, should be interesting!