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.