Saturday, December 29, 2012

Race Calendar Update and Setting Training Focus

I decided to withdraw from the Way Too Cool 50k in March. The race is hundreds of miles away on a Saturday and on a flat, fast course. I am interested in improving everything about my running, but I need to focus on getting faster at climbing and nutrition.

One good nutritional habit that I have, despite ignoring it today, is having a hearty breakfast. Reputable sources of nutrition advice recommend frontloading caloric intake earlier rather than later in the day and smartly timing it to varying levels of physical activity. Today, I skimped on breakfast calories before attempting a 50k training run. I ran well for about 18 miles, then bonked badly. I consumed some extra calories to compose myself enough to reach a bailout point. Coyote Running teammates David C. and David V. were gracious to slow down and endure some sluggish miles with me.

As for climbing, I am working on it. Simply practicing will promote improvement. There are significant gains to be made from getting leaner, too. I have a relatively short, but very challenging 21k race coming up next weekend at Boney Mountain. I look forward to pushing the downhills and not giving up too much time on the climbs, either.

Then, on April 27th, I will go for either a 50M or 50k PR at Leona Divide. I might do another shorter race in May at Malibu Creek, but my next big event at this point will be pacing my friend Deno at DRTE100. It will probably be about 50k in gnarly terrain. This race has a 48 hour time limit which is indicative of its difficulty. That will leave the rest of the Summer to prepare for September’s 100M at Pine to Palm. Based on previous results, I am projected to finish in 31 hours. I will be happy to just finish, but it seems to be a reasonable goal to beat that automized prediction.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fall Recap and 2013 Calendar

August- Pier to Pier Swim 
I enjoyed my third participation in this mass two-mile ocean swim from Hermosa to Manhattan Beach.

September- Mount Baldy Ascent
Got a late start and did not reach peak, but a memorable day nonetheless. 

October- Manhattan Beach 10k as part of 
an ascending set of 3x10k. Later in October, I course swept at an Xterra Trail Run at Point Mugu. 

November- XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot
course sweeping 

December- North Face Trail Marathon
There was a some rain during the event, but it was the heavy rains before the race that created extremely muddy course conditions. 

2013 calendar:
January 6th Boney Mountain 21k
January 27th Carlsbad Half Marathon
February 7-10th Triabetes Training Camp
March 9th Way to Cool 50k
April 27th Leona Divide 50M
June 14-16th DRTE100 *Pacing
September 14-15th Pine to Palm 100M

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Refocusing the Anvil Training Blog

I read a blog post recently that inspired me to add to my prior post on the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. is written by Chris Price, the 2012 AC100 winner. If you read his post, you’ll learn in the first paragraph that while working at a hospital where a new MRI machine was purchased, he took a chance opportunity for a test scan. A brain tumor was present in the images of his brain. He underwent brain surgery to remove it. Initially, the diagnosis identified a rare form of cancerous tumor that would require radiation. Fortunately, the second and tie-breaking third opinions have led to the conclusion that it was not cancer, after all. He is recovering from surgery and already planning a return to the trails.
AC100 Finish Line with Chris Price

This friend is a hero, but not for just for his running. I respect him most for working at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. It is a charity hospital where I spent a day every month or two throughout my childhood for a condition unrelated to diabetes. In any case, he is already proving what I said about him when I learned of his situation since winning AC100: that he is a champion on and off the trails.

I started my blog, Anvil Training, to talk about endurance sports and diabetes. My most recent post about running the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run failed to even reference diabetes, though. Inspired by my friend’s accomplishment at winning this extreme race and now with his attitude in confronting the turbulent time since, I decided to write up a post addressing nutrition and blood sugar management.

I did a good enough job at AC this year that I was able to safely get through the whole course, but I did briefly spike to 300 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood a couple of times. As a diabetic, nutrition is absolutely critical for my survival in endurance sports. I select how many and what type of calories to eat in order to sustain my endurance pace for an almost indefinite time, limited only by how long I can stay awake. I stayed in excellent control most of the time, but clearly there is room for improvement. These few high readings were accompanied by my only moments of notable fatigue during the 32.5 hours that it took me to run through the San Gabriel Mountains.

I remain active in the diabetes community by participating in support groups, volunteering at charity events, online forums, and organizing monthly free run/walks. You do not need to be diabetic to participate. I invite you to come out for a run or walk at the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt in Manhattan beach on the third Sunday of each month at 9:00AM. Chances are that you know someone with diabetes that could benefit from a little exercise. Bring that person, too. 

Support Insulindependence. We will be over 100 strong at the Carlsbad Marathon in January.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Angeles Crest 100

Photo by Kevin Chan

On April 28th, I ran the Leona Divide 50 miler in the small town of Lake Hughes, CA. It features 40 miles of rolling single track on the Pacific Crest Trail. A Montrail Ultra Cup race with prize money and automatic entries to the Western States 100 at stake, there were some elite runners vying for prizes. There were also lots of first time 50 mile runners and many, like me, using this as one of their longest runs before a Summer 100.
The very next day, I rode in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure 100k in Long Beach, CA with my brother-in-law, Jim. An ADA fundraiser, this organized ride is a rare opportunity to legally ride across the bridges in the Port of Los Angeles. It starts in Long Beach and loops around the Palos Verdes Peninsula before returning to the finish near the Queen Mary. Riding a bike for several hours the day after running 50 miles was a great cross-training brick weekend.

Photo by Cindy Goh
In June, I had an opportunity for another high volume cross training weekend when my friend Deno invited me to pace him at the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run. Before joining my friend for the last half of his 100 mile run, I swam at La Jolla Cove on Friday evening with Ryan, an Insulindependence friend. It was my first time swimming at this iconic beach. Then, on Saturday morning I joined the Revolution Bike Shop ride in Solana Beach with other Insulindependence friends Blair and Brennan, who are both training for Ironman Arizona. Finally, on Saturday evening, I set out for an overnight 50 mile run with Deno in the mountains of Eastern San Diego County. He ran strong and was able to finish 100 miles in 26 hours, a whole six hours faster than his time at Angeles Crest last year where I also paced him during the second half of his run. He credits the improvement to the benefits of an additional year of ultrarunning experience as it positively affects training decisions and racing performance. After SD100, just before my race in July, he sent me a copy of Scott Jurek’s “Eat and Run” which emphasizes the importance of clean nutrition to complement athletic training.
Photo by Balmore Flores

All year, though, the training was focused on preparing to run for 30 hours or more if I were to succeed in completing the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. Training races were key workouts, but perhaps even more critical were training runs on the course. I had some memorable days on the Angeles Crest 100 trails, especially with Coyote Running friends Kam and David.

I hosted an Anvil Training Crew Meeting a few weeks before the race. We devised a plan that called for me to average 7.5 hours per mountainous 25 miles for the first 75 miles. Having volunteered as a pacer the previous two years, I knew I could very well need the remaining 10 hours to beat the 33 hour cutoff. Indeed, I would need almost all of it to run from Chantry to the Finish in Altadena.

I picked up my first pacer, Jay, at Chilao just as dusk hit. The downhill was just too technical to run. The ensuing climb was a welcome break after a cautious descent down into the canyon. Then, from Shortcut to Chantry, an Insulindependence friend Sean took over pacing duties. There were some sections that I absolutely needed to run and he motivated me to stay on track. I benefitted from his expert nutrition and diabetes advice. Specifically, he convinced me to skip a high caffeine drink that had some dairy in it. The compromise was to sip cola. I ran that section in 7.5 hours, arriving at mile 75, Chantry Flats, in almost precisely 22.5 hours.
Chantry was the last time I would see my full crew before emerging from the trails in Altadena. My crew was awesome. Jessica, Sonya, Sekar, and Jay took care of so many details. They assured me that my only job was to run and communicate my needs. Crewing is an endurance event. By the time I reached Chantry, my crew had already been supporting me for nearly 24 hours! They would all return to the see me across the finish line.

Peter, the Founder and President of Insulindependence was my pacer for the final 25 miles. The Insulindependence mission is to inspire people with diabetes to set personal fitness goals, educate them about adaptive management strategies, and equip them to explore their individual capacities. I am raising money for this charitable organization by running the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January. Please consider making a donation to this campaign by clicking here.

Climbing the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, we encountered a runner who was sure that he had encountered a bear. There were, indeed, widespread reports of a bear on the trail. I never saw it, but it enough to spur us to tackle the climb with urgent reason to vacate the area.

Dropping into the aid station at Idlehour, I was feeling strong and confident that I could finish the remaining 10 miles. I changed into my Coyote Running shirt and charged a couple of miles. With a mile or so remaining, my whole crew joined us. It was a special moment. We ran across the finish line and I finished my first 100 mile run!
AC Award Ceremony with Race Directors Hal and Ken, Photo by Jason Healy

Thursday, April 12, 2012

AC100 Training: Halfway There!

Oftentimes, the weight of a race medal is indicative of the magnitude of an event. Appropriately, the Leadman Triathlon medal is heavy like as if really made of lead. Also known as the Lifetime Fitness Epic 125, it lives up to this tag as well. Forty mile per hour wind gusts on an already difficult course made for truly epic conditions.

The swim was 2.5 kilometers in roughly the shape of a rectangle. A 10:00AM start is very late for triathlon standards and it ensured that even the swim would be affected by the high winds that increased throughout the day. Lake Mead was cold and choppy, although very clear with great visibility. I set out at a very easy pace, perhaps too relaxed. I made slow progress against the current on the long straightaway after the first turn until deciding to ramp it up to reach the next turn or else risk practically swim in place. Throwing my arm forward against the wind felt like sticking my arm out the window while driving on the highway.

On to the 111.5k bike segment. I had only slightly more bike training than swimming recently, completing a handful of 50 mile rides in the past month or two. The sustained wind was relentless and the gusts were enough to threaten to knock you over without warning. There were many times when the crosswinds would kick up and I was left stranded on my aerobars waiting for a lull to switch to a more sturdy position on the handlebars. For calories, I used typical endurance nutrition like a flask of gel and Honeystinger waffles. I also took along a small bottle of watered down gel of a different flavor than the flask. Neither had caffeine. Later, on the run, I sipped a little cola at each aid station. It's always nice to have a variety of caloric sources to choose from. At each aid station, I exchanged one water bottle from my bike frame and take a second one to quickly drink and squirt on myself since it was also fairly warm. It was Spring Break in Vegas, after all.

I was persistent enough to survive the rough swim and bike. Needless to say, a lot of people had either chosen not to race in these gusty conditions or pulled out for one reason or another. Once in the second transition, I knew I would finish. The run is a point to point course that is 99.9% uphill. As much as I love running, especially on mountain trails, and it is my strongest triathlon discipline, I am not too fast at climbing. I started out slow, walking out of transition talking to fellow competitors. After a few minutes, I started to run and held a steady pace for the remainder of the 22k run. I walked through each station sipping cola and water. I took a few salt tablets and a couple of gels, too. Overall and in my age group, my run ranked in the top third.

On Sunday after the race, I went for a hike in the picturesque Red Rock Canyon State Park with an old college roommate, Andrew. He said that on Saturday while I was racing, the wind wreaked havoc back at the hotel pool.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

AC100 Training Week 11 of 27

I had a fun mid-week night run with an Insulindependence friend from Arizona, Jerry Nairn. Jerry is a Marathon Maniac with over 50 marathons. I hope that he will be able to pace me from Shortcut (mile 59.3) to Chantry Flats (mile 74.55) at Angeles Crest in July.

On Saturday, I was set to participate in the Bulldog Road Bike Race at Camp Pendleton. I woke up by 5AM for breakfast and hit the road early. I was in San Clemente when my cousin Claudio called to inform me that the race organizers sent an email cancelling the race due to harsh weather. It was disappointing, but I will admit that I was nervous about the course conditions. The 10% descent with a turn at the bottom would have been especially treacherous. I think that they made a safe decision, but they could have made the same call the previous night based on the weather report. So instead of my first bike race, I stopped by my cousin's house for a second cup of coffee and to see my nephew. In April, I am signed up for the Leona Divide 50 miler, but will drop down to the 50k so that I can make it to his first birthday party that same day. Well, for that reason and it seems like a better training decision for me to run a few 50k's and back to backs rather than another 50 miler to best prepare for Angeles Crest.

On Sunday, I walked a couple of miles with Glucomotive Captain Terry Keelan at the Insulindependence Dawn Phenomenon in Manhattan Beach. Terry recently participated in the Ragnar del Sol Relay along with other IN Glucomotive Captains from across the country.

Sunday was also the day of the 2012 LA Marathon. I decided not to run it this year, but did at least go out to the course and witness my local big city urban marathon. I love the spirit of the marathon. The fastest elite athletes make distance running a spectator sport for a brief moment as they elegantly fly by. And dedicated runners of all speeds run with precision pacing to set new PR's. The "back of pack" runners are sometimes the most inspiring of all. New to running, overcoming disabilities, or just plain having a bad day, they continue with absolute determination to complete the 26.2 mile journey. I had friends racing to beat 3, 4, 6 hours, and beyond. My sincerest congratulations go out to each and every one of them.

Check out this time lapse video of the 2012 LA Marathon shot from someone's Silver Lake backyard:

Monday, March 12, 2012

AC100 Training Week 10 of 27

I waited a full ten days after the Ray Miller race before running again. During that time, I rode my bike (indoors and out) and went for a few walks. Tuesday night marked a return to run training. Ran a few treadmill miles and got in another good stationary bike ride at the gym. On Thursday, I ran the flat Strand pavement for the first time in several weeks.
On Saturday, I attended a preview run for the Leona Divide race which is on April 28th. I am signed up for the 50 miler, but may drop to the 50k adjusting around yet to be scheduled Angeles Crest 100 training runs. I also want to comfortably ride in the American Diabetes Association Long beach Tour de Cure the following day on April 29th. If you are familiar with the TdC and want to support my participation in it, please make a donation to my campaign by clicking here. ADA is important because it focuses on educating people about the disease by casting a wide net that appeals to both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

Back to the Leona Preview. It is the second time I have run in Lake Hughes. The first time was last Winter  with fresh snow (and ice) all around. This time, the weather was very nice, if a bit warm. I even got a slight sunburn out there today. It is a remote area requiring quite a trek along a windy mountain road. I may want to drive up the night before the actual race next month.

As usual, I enjoyed the company of lots of experienced runners. I ran 23 miles, which was the shortest sensible long route. Faster runners completed 30+ miles in even less time. I was content to spend some "time on feet" as a Coyote teammate named Chandra (who recently won her first ultra) described it as she flew past me around mile 18. I felt good the whole time and ran with the confidence of knowing I could run faster. Here's my gps file:

Next week is LA Marathon weekend. I am skipping the race this year, as my current training objectives do not justify a road marathon. I will volunteer at an aid station at Mile 22 on Sunday afternoon, though. Interestingly, the weather forecast is calling for rain again. Another marathon monsoon? Last year, the race was held on the day of the biggest Los Angeles storm in my memory. My stake is that I doing the Bulldog Road Bike Race on Saturday at Camp Pendleton and I hope for dry conditions. On Sunday morning before working at the marathon aid station, I will attend an Insulindependence Dawn Phenomenon run/walk in Manhattan Beach with Glucomotive Captain Terry Keelan. Come join us for a few miles at this free event.

Another update to mention is that I signed up for the Leadman Triathlon at Lake Mead on March 31st. As of today, there are three days remaining on a 50% off registration deal. The unique distance consists of a chilly 2.5k swim, very hilly 109.5 bike, and 10k run. It seems that this discount arose from a change in scheduled race date from May to March based on concerns over high likelihood for extreme heat on the initial May date. Read the race organizer's press release. I am also probably doing the Xterra Black Mountain 15k in Northeast San Diego on March 25th.

Today I enjoyed a very good massage. It was not a painful deep tissue which I love to hate, but instead was a relaxing simultaneous blend of yoga and massage. I will definitely do that again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

AC100 Training Weeks 7,8,and 9 of 27

Racing a long distance, no matter how many miles that means in your current training, is a big commitment. At minimum, it takes priority for three weeks in your training calendar including tapering, executing the race, and allowing adequate recovery. This blog entry describes my experience at the 2012 Ray Miller 50 which was on February 25th. Race start photo above was taken by Coyote Running teammate Natalie Kintz.
I took a cross-training approach in tapering for my 3rd 50 miler (2nd actual race). I was invited to participate in this year’s Triabetes Captains triathlon training camp in Tucson, AZ over the long President’s Day weekend. It was a lot of fun to get to know the current club captains. They are well on their way towards proudly representing Triabetes at Ironman 70.3 Boulder in August. We went on a few rides as long as 5 hours in the scenic desert landscape and swam at the University of Arizona facilities. The highlight of the weekend was riding Mount Lemmon. It's a very long, but gradual climb. The descent is fast with turns that are wide enough that you can safely blast down without tapping your brakes.

The camp was led by Cliff Scherb of Tri-Star Coaching. He is an elite age grouper aiming to break 9 hours which will make him the world's fastest diabetic ironman. The most valuable lesson I learned from him this weekend is regarding insulin sensitivity in the recovery phase after hard workouts. He explained that returning to normal insulin sensitivity is an indicator of recovery.

We also had the opportunity to train with another extraordinary type one diabetic athlete, Bill Carlson. Bill has been racing in endurance sports for decades, even when medical technology was nowhere near what we have today. In the 1983, he was the was the first diabetic to race Ironman. Later, he would finish Western States and Angeles Crest in under 24 hours. He describes bolusing with fast-acting insulin during a race as "juggling chainsaws with your hands greased up with vaseline." In this picture, Bill did 50 pushups while we waited for some teammates who got stuck at a red light.

We also toured the Tri Sports warehouse, flagship store, and headquarters. It's a growing company centered around the sport we love, triathlon. Retail Manager Eric Mellow  led us through a history of the company's operations, culture, and amazingly green building that they have built in Tucson. Besides awesome perks like race entry fee reimbursement and bike commuting incentives, the building's solar panels generate the majority of its electricity, their water is mostly captured from water harvesting tanks, and the building itself is largely constructed of recycled materials.

Finally, on February 25th, I ran the Ray Miller 50 Miler. Here's my race report:

It’s a good sign when your biggest concern going into a race is waking up early enough to make it to the start line. The 6AM Saturday start in Point Mugu north of Malibu, CA is remote. The closest hotels in Camarillo are still at least 30 minutes away. Camping at nearby Sycamore Canyon is a good alternative, but I would have to rush after work to check-in before the campground curfew. So I went with the third option, which was to sleep in my own bed at home and set the alarm for 3:30AM.

I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep on Friday night, but the biggest benefit of “Plan C” was having my typical home-cooked big breakfast of eggs, toast, oatmeal, juice and/or fruit, and coffee. I sipped on Gatoraid and a Red Bull during the 1:15 drive.

With nearly 11,000 feet of climbing and almost entirely comprised of single track trails, Ray Miller is a very challenging course. My primary goal was to have fun and finish within the 14 hour time limit. Beyond that, I hoped to beat my previous 50 mile time of 12:20 from October’s Firetrails. Better yet, I wanted to beat 12 hours. 

The race started promptly at 6AM and I have to thank the volunteers for quickly checking me in and helping me pin on my race number. Lots of familiar Coyote Running teammates volunteering throughout the course today. I taped shut my drop bag which I stuffed with a jacket and my preferred race food which is non-caffeinated gels and Honey Stinger Waffles. I threw it in a pile as the gun went off and both the 50k and 50 mile races started together. 

The prevailing advice on running 50 miles is to think of it as a 35 mile warm-up and 15 mile race. I ran a steady effort until mile 34 when I stopped at the Yerba Buena aid station and spent a couple of minutes looking for my drop bag. I was frustrated it was not there and I would have to deviate from a nutrition plan that had worked flawlessly up until that point including very stable blood sugars in a tight 140-160 range.

Unfortunately, I ran out of water during the 11 miles between Yerba Buena and the last aid at mile 45. Without water for nearly an hour, I skipped a couple of gels since I had no chaser. I told a runner that was running behind me about my situation and he offered some of his own limited water. Then, an idea occurred to me that if I pulled off the bite valve from my hose (it had accidentally fallen off earlier), I could probably drink the water trapped in the hose. Knowing my new best friend had an emergency sip if necessary, I popped two gels and successfully drank the last bit of water and did not need to take him up on the offer.

Once those two gels started to kick in, I came out of the dark spell. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I had probably thrown my drop bag in the wrong pile earlier.  I later confirmed that this was exactly what had happened in the pre-dawn darkness.

Mile 45-50 went perfectly. Training on the course a few weeks ago, I learned that it would be key to drink and eat enough on the last climb in order to finish strong on the long downhill at the end. I did just that and ran miles 48, 49, and 50 progressively faster to finish in 11:54, my new 50 mile PR. Here's the Garmin gps file:

In the eight days since the Ray Miller race I have only run a couple of steps, but done plenty of riding. I got in a couple of good indoor stationary bike rides during the week and walking on the treadmill. Two other things I have done to promote recovery are getting plenty of sleep and spending time stretching. I have done a couple of soaks with epsom salt, too. Icing and massage would help, but I admittedly have not incorporated these methods lately. This weekend brought back sunny, warm beach weather to Southern California and I enjoyed riding outdoors. On March 17th , I am participating in my first true bike race: the Camp Pendleton Bulldog Road Bike Race. This is going to be a short, intense 32 mile race.

Monday, February 13, 2012

AC100 Training Week 6 of 27

I spent Monday's treadmill run challenging myself to run fast after walking up 15-18% incline intervals to simulate cresting a hill and immediately tackling a descent. I also mixed in some running at 6%.

On Tuesday, I ran a simple out and back on the The Hermosa Valley Greenbelt woodchip trail. I made a conscious effort to keep a steady, comfortable pace. My splits were fairly consistent.

On Wednesday, I hit the treadmill again. Yes, for the second time in a week. If I don't get up early enough to hit the trails in the morning, going to the gym and playing incline games on a treadmill after work is the next best way to practice climbing hills.

On Thursday, I hiked and ran with my friend America. She was one of the first people I knew to run marathons. While working at Leuzinger High School, she was a teacher mentor with the Students Run LA program. SRLA is an amazing character development program that accomplishes its mission around training youth to complete the LA Marathon. We went to Westridge and hiked up most of the singletrack ridge up to the Nike Tower, then ran back down along the fireroad.

I took Friday off from workouts, as usual.But instead of using the rest to prepare for a weekend of back to back long runs, this was the start of my two week taper for the Ray Miller 50.

On Saturday, I went for a three hour bike ride then ran for an hour. This cross-training taper is reminding me how much I enjoyed last year's buildup for my first Ironman. If the ocean was five degrees warmer right now, I would jump at the chance to pull my wetsuit on and swim in open water. I'll settle for a couple of pool swims this upcoming week. I will be volunteering at an Insulindependence Triathlon Training Camp in Tucson, Arizona next weekend.

I took an additional rest day on Sunday. I spent the morning lounging around finishing a book called "Always Running" by Luis Rodriguez which is actually NOT about running, but offers some insight into LA gang culture and one man's political education from that inculcated perspective. I also started my semester in an online class, the last one I need before I can apply to the Applied Studies program at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. I've taken a few classes in the program already since you can take a certain number of units before needing to be officially admitted. I plan to go full time and finally complete my bachelor's degree next year, then apply to a Master's in Public Health Program. From experience, I have found it helpful to not only set goals, but also freely put it out there and publicly commit to the endeavor. This blog post is about week 6 of my preparation for the Angeles Crest Endurance Run. Now you know what's in store for week 28!

Monday, February 6, 2012

AC100 Training Week 5 of 27

My weekly totals were fairly low, but I still consider it a productive week with 49 miles and 8,500 feet of climbing.

After taking Monday off from running, I started my week on Tuesday with a quality hour long treadmill session. I used to really dread running indoors on a treadmill, but have come to appreciate the efficient, focused workouts that can be accomplished with customized speed and incline settings. I am consistently fitting in one good treadmill run each week. I enjoy running at 6% and practicing my hiking at 15-18%.

Wednesday’s run was a mix of woodchip trail along the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt, flat pavement along The Strand, and a short hill on Manhattan Beach Blvd. coming back up to the trail. Even more variety is possible since The Strand is right next to the soft sand. I will try to start running on the sand once per week soon.

Thursday was the lowlight of the week. Before dawn at Temescal Gateway Park, I took a fall within a few minutes of starting. I scraped up my hands pretty bad and belly flopped. I felt like calling it a day, but having already woken up at 5AM and driven out to the trail, I stayed out there for about two hours. It is a tough course with almost 1,800 feet of climbing in the first four miles. The seventh mile was a 738 foot descent which slowed me down nearly as much as the climbing miles.

I chose not to run on Friday. I felt fine, but gave myself a break after sticking with it on Thursday despite the rough start.

Saturday was a great day. I felt strong on climbs and agile on technical terrain. It was a beautiful day in LA. The spectacular views on the trails today moved me to finally buy a camera. I ordered it online and should have it in time for the Ray Miller race. It's actually a waterproof camera, so I am looking forward to taking it out in the rain and possibly tucked into my wetsuit when I start ocean swimming in the Spring.

In the evening, I attended a screening of Unbreakable: The Western States 100. See the trailer below. After the movie, there was time for a Q&A with a panel including one of the featured runners Anton Kupricka, filmmaker/runner JB Benna, veteran ultrarunner and San Diego 100 Race Director Scotty Mills, and acting as the facilitator Coach Jimmy Dean Freeman of Coyote Running.

The youngest member of the audience asked if any of the panel members had ever DNF’d. In response, Kupricka alluded to a DNF he suffered at Leadville one year. I am not sure where in the race he dropped out, but he talked about nutritional problems leading to hypoglycemia.As a type one diabetic, I can certainly relate and it reminded me about how endurance athletes push their bodies to such astonishing limits in competition. In the diabetic community, we call close friends and loved ones type 3's. They may not have diabetes, but they witness our daily routines along with the ups and downs of dealing with the disease. I consider all endurance athletes type 3's because they, too, understand the nature of having to manually control the body's delicate balance in a similar way to what we deal with everyday.

On Sunday, I helped pace my sister at the Redondo Beach 10k. It was the furthest she has ever run and I am proud she took on the challenge. She is already showing symptoms of having caught the endurance bug, wondring how much faster she could have run the 5k, or what her time could be in a 10k if she actually trained for it, and even considering going longer and running the Carlsbad Marathon next year.

Monday, January 30, 2012

AC100 Training Week 4 of 27

I had a really good week. I ran 73.6 miles with 13,612 feet of vertical climbing. Here’s the recap:

I started the week on Monday with a solid hour on the treadmill alternating between running at a 6% incline and walking raised up to 15%. In five miles, I completed 2,000 feet of climbing.

Tuesday, I headed to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and explored the trails in the Portugese Bend Preserve. From the top which is at the end of Crenshaw Boulevard, I made it all the way down to Palos Verdes Drive before looping back up along a fireroad I have seen from a distance many times before, but had never attempted to run.

Wednesday’s run was short. I slept in and decided at the last hour before going to work that I should fit in at least a few miles in my Hawthorne neighborhood.

I  got up early for the Thursday morning Coyote Run, but arrived at the Westridge trailhead a half hour after everyone had started the out and back route. I ran to top and, for once, stopped to enjoy the view from the Nike Missile Defense Tower for an extended amount of time. It was such a clear day that I could see Long Beach to South, the San Gabriel Mountains to the East, North across the San Fernando Valley, and West towards Will Rogers.

On Friday, I met up with a friend who is new to running and looking to get in shape. We completed 3.38 miles on the Strand. He did really well on his longest run yet. We jogged along at a consistent pace and enjoyed the beach scene.

I spent the weekend training on the Ray Miller trail with the Coyotes and other runners who are signed up for the February 25th race, many of whom drove from San Diego and Orange County for the course preview. Now I understand why so many people who have run all around the world call Ray Miller their favorite trail. It really is that beautiful out there. On Saturday, we ran 31 miles with 6,375 feet of climbing. The wind was pretty impressive coming over the canyon passes. It was strong enough to push me around and incredibly loud. I was consistent with my nutrition strategy of sipping water often, taking a Powerbar gel every half hour, a Salt Stick capsule per hour, and a few Honey Stinger waffles for extra calories until late in the run. Mile 27 and 28 had a combined 1,006 feet of climbing. It was understandable that my pace slowed, but skipping a few snacks was a mistake that would cost me a short time later. I compounded the problem by trying to keep up with a group of faster runners. I then tried to surge to the finish a bit too early. I soon bonked and had to walk stretches of this otherwise very runnable finish.

I returned to the Ray Miller Trail on Sunday for another 16 miles on Sunday with more Coyotes. 
I won’t say my legs were fresh, but I felt perfectly comfortable holding almost exactly the same pace as yesterday.

I was extremely lucky to avoid getting hurt when I tripped running downhill at top speed. My momentum carried me forward when I clipped my foot on an in-ground rock and I was flying headfirst to the dirt, but I managed to grab a tree off to the side of the trail. I held on as my feet swung forward and I somehow came to gentle stop instead of the disastrous crash it could have been. The most satisfying part of today’s run was finishing with a strong kick and plenty of energy. After the run, the group walked across the street and took a dip in the cool Pacific Ocean then had lunch at a PCH landmark, Neptune’s Net.

I ran a lot of it with Coyote teammate Jason who has been competing in endurance sports for ten years. An ironman, certified USA Triathlon coach and President of the Santa Clarita Triathlon Club, he also finished the San Diego 100 mile ultramarathon last year. He’s now training for the Western States 100. In addition to his endurance sports resume, he is an engineer and busy family man. It’s always a privilege to train with veterans like Jason. I aspire to develop that same calm and efficient approach as I accumulate more experience. I am certainly better prepared for the upcoming Ray Miller race after spending the weekend training on the course.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AC100 Training Week 3 of 27

I completed much lower mileage this week due to work and other commitments. Despite running just 32 miles, I was able to fit in a fair amount of climbing. I was due for a step back week anyways, so the timing was excellent. I intend string together four consecutive weeks of solid training before allowing a short taper for the Ray Miller 50 on February 25th.
My favorite run of the week was a night trail run at Westridge on Monday. A Coyote Running teammate named Marshall regularly hosts these runs every Monday night. People refer to it as “Marshall Mondays.” It was my first true night run since last Summer. Even in the light of day, trail running requires constant focus on the path ahead. Depending on the technical difficulty of the terrain, you anticipate your foot placement several moves in advance. In road running, you can safely tune out or focus your attention far ahead. In a 100 miler or even a 100k, you run into the night after already having run all day and fatigue can compound the hazards of the darkness. I enjoy running at night about as much as running in the rain. And in case that sounds ambiguous, I love running in the rain! It was also a good opportunity to talk with another Coyote teammate named Tiffany who successfully finished the 2011 Angeles Crest 100. She was very insightful regarding training and pacing for 100 milers. I like her smart and intuitive approach to training for ultramarathons. She clearly puts in quality training as evidenced by finishes at extremely tough ultras like Angeles Crest, Chimera, Twin Peaks (she didn't mention that she won it), and others, yet she does not get bogged down trying to hit specific mileage goals or otherwise obsess over a training schedule.
The other highlight of my week was volunteering at the Carlsbad Marathon with Insulindependence. We had about 120 diabetic runners out on the course, competing in either the half or full marathon distance. As an official charity of the race, $50,000 was raised to support the various fitness and recreation programs under the umbrella of Insulindependence like Triabetes, the triathlon club for which I served as a captain last year. I am grateful for the impact that this organization has had on my life and especially for the friendships that I have developed by participating in its programs. The picture of our aid station is courtesy of Blair Ryan, IN Media and PublicationsDirector. It shows Blair’s friend Tammy, me, IN volunteer leader Cindy, and my Triabuddy Ryan’s mom Annette preparing cups of water for the runners as they passed mile 24 of the marathon or mile 11 of the half marathon course. It was pretty cold all morning as you can tell by my gloves and beanie. I had to jog a few miles to warm up, or at least that was my excuse. I love to race, but volunteering today was lots of fun and I enjoyed meeting some new friends.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

AC100 Training Week 2 of 27

Two weeks into the new year, all is well and I am gradually building up my mileage. I made it to 58 miles this week with about 5,500 feet of climbing. Here’s my week in review:

On Monday, I did not run at all. I felt good after the Boney Mountain race, but decided to opt for a short spin on a stationary bike. I did go for a fairly long road run on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I ran two 5k’s separated by enough time to fully recover in between sets. Then, on Thursday, I completed a rare treadmill session. It was short, under an hour, but I did spend some time with the incline up to 15-18% for some hiking practice. No workouts on Friday, except for being on my feet and walking around for most of my eight hour workday.

I enjoyed some great training over the weekend. I went for a five hour trail run on Saturday. I started at 12:30PM, so it actually started to get dark by the time I finished. Although not entirely necessary, I took it as an opportunity practice running with a headlamp during the last half hour. The Santa Monica Mountains are familiar territory for me, but I will admit I inadvertently ran a few extra miles when I passed a turn at Sullivan off dirt Mulholland. I realized the mistake when I reached Temescal nearing the Hub before finally turned around and backtracking to where I was supposed to go. I was well prepared for the extra hour the detour cost me, carrying adequate gear and nutrition, so I was glad to extend the run a little bit. Here's a screen shot of the run or click here for the full details.

I am noticing that I can complete my long runs on fewer calories and with more sustained energy levels compared to last year. Optimistically, I attribute this to improved fat-burning efficiency. I used to need 300-500 calories per hour which may be higher than my body could comfortably digest while on the move. I tend to have a big breakfast and lunch, then two smaller meals later in the day. While running, I am now consuming 200-300 calories per hour with occasionally more substantial snacks when available, low in energy, or to catch dropping blood sugar readings. As far as my diabetes control goes, I continue to maintain good control, especially while participating in endurance sports. I have adapted to the increased insulin sensitivity that results from so much exercise. My diabetes learning focus this year is on staying within the 100-160 mg/dL range when tapering for or recovering from races. My strategies are well balanced for typical weeks of training, but need more prudent adjustment when outside my normal routines are interrupted by various circumstances. I will probably scale back my mileage this week since I have been in a building phase since mid-December, so I will mindfully experiment with my insulin basal dose and bolus ratios as the week takes shape.

I topped off the weekend on Sunday with the Coyote Running training program. We met in Marina del Rey this week and spent a little while cheering for the LA 13.1 racers at around mile 3 of the course. The Coyotes are known for having a strong presence at all the local races, road and trail, both in the competition and on the sidelines. As the back of the race began to pass us, we started our run in the opposite direction towards Venice Beach and Santa Monica. The group I ran with went for ten miles today.

I also made some progress this week in recruiting a crew for AC100. I’ll report more on that soon. If  you are interested in helping out in July, post a comment here. Training partners, pacers, logistics, medical/first aid, and general support are all welcome.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Good Start to 2012

Towards the end of December, I bought a Garmin 310xt gps watch that helps me record lots of useful information about my workouts. I have been running without a watch for over a year, but decided that I would go back to using one so that I can track my progress in training for an extremely ambitious goal that I have set. I mentioned in my last post that I served as a pacer again at the Angeles Crest 100 in July. It was my second pacing stint at this prestigious endurance event, this time doubling my distance to 48 miles. What I failed to disclose is that I recently took the plunge and signed up to run the entire 100 miles from Wrightwood to Pasadena in July 2012.

I am very satisfied with my first week of training in 2012. I completed two road and three trail runs for a total just over 50 miles with 6,700 feet of climbing. Funnily enough, that either seems like an insane amount of running or a typical, even light volume week, depending on your perspective. In any case, I was able to race the Boney Mountain 21k today without any lingering fatigue from the week of training. This is a really difficult course with two significant climbs. I have run the loop twice before. At a training pace, without the motivation of a racing environment, it has taken me nearly three hours. Today, I was able to push the pace enough to finish in under 2.5 hours.

There were many, many Coyote Running teammates out at Boney Mountain today racing, cheering, and volunteering. I also saw a friend from Insulindependence/ Triabetes at the start. Afterwards, the Coyotes took this group picture (photo by Chandra Farnham):

Looking ahead, I will probably not have the opportunity to run as much this week. I’ll aim to log a long run on Thursday because I have to work all day on Saturday and will probably drive down to support Insulindependence at the Carlsbad Marathon on Sunday. I’ll definitely wear my running shoes in case I sneak in a few miles on the course. My next race will be the Ray Miller 50 Miler on February 25th.