Monday, August 17, 2009

No Wildcats, 50 Mile Madness, 1 Mile Race

Last week ended up being an interesting one in my running life.

First I decided to take the plunge and buy myself some decent trail runners. It became very clear during and after running 50k at Dirty Girls that I will be spending a lot more time on trails this fall.

I obsessively researched (per usual) trail shoes and finally decided on LaSportiva Wildcats. They got great reviews and matched what I was looking for in a shoe. I need something that will be okay for some road running (it's a mile to get to the trails), neutral (for my inserts) and affordable.

Simple right? Turns out nothing is simple in life. These shoes are only carried by one retailer in all of Toronto that I could find.... Mountain Co-op. Surprise, surprise, they don’t have my size and are not sure if they are getting more in. I would just order the shoes online but because of my inserts I have to be sure of the fit so that is just not an option for me with untested runners. You would think getting these things in the largest city in Canada would not be a problem but you would be wrong. Potential market 3 million people, number of size 10.5 shoes .... Zero.

Actually don’t blame the company here but more the retailer. I mean what are the chances that a guy will wear a 10.5 shoe. I don’t know maybe 50% chance. Only other size options were 10 (I guess I could bind my feet and try to shrink them) or 12. Yeah those will fit as long as I wear 8 pairs of socks.

Now I am redoing my research again although this time I will arm myself with a list of shoes. Any trail shoe suggestions are appreciated.

In a moment of temporary insanity after last weekends 50k I decided to take the plunge directly into the deep end of Ultra racing and signed up for the Halliburton 50 miler that takes place September 12th. At this moment I am wondering what exactly I could have been thinking on this one.

I am not sure if I am ready for this type of distance but I guess I will find out soon enough. Yesterday on my long run I practiced curling up in the fetal position on the side of the trail and crying as they always say you shouldn’t try anything new during a race.

Longboat 1 mile on the track
Last Wednesday was Longboat’s 1 mile race on the track. Each year the club puts on an event for members that most would not normally run in the normal course of racing. Last year it was 1 hour on the track where you ran for an hour in circles (okay ovals) as someone counted your laps with the longest distance deemed the winner. That was great fun by the way. This year it was a 1 mile race.

I have to say I had been looking forward to this since the spring in order to see just how fast I could go. With all the track training I figured I would do pretty well until I realized that the race would fall 4 days after I had run my 50k... DOH!!

Still I am not one to shirk my racing responsibilities so I decided to run it just the same. There were a total 3 heats and 22 runners. Heats were divided by expected times to keep them all competitive.

Heat 1 (expected finishing times 7+ minutes)

John C. won it running a fast 7:05. Nice job John. No photos from this heat as it seems John can’t run and take photos at the same time... who knew. Kim was also in this heat running a 9:47 on very, very tired legs that were still recovering from Dirty Girls.

Heat 3 (expected finishing time sub 6:15)
I all I can say about this heat WOW. Some super fast times here. Roger M. won it in a blistering 5:12 followed closely by Rob C. at 5:17. Also of note my usual track training partner Rob H. broke 6 minutes running 5:55 and PBing easily (way to go Rob!).

Heat 2 (expected finishing time 6 to 7 minutes)
I ran in this heat with the hope of just putting up an okay time. I knew I would be slower as my legs were dead tired from Saturday’s race but what can you do. Really just hoping to beat Steve or else I would never hear the end of it ..LOL. Heat 2 had 7 runners in it, all of them pretty good so this was going to be fun. For those not familiar with the track 1 mile is 4 laps +8.5 meters.

Gun when off and we were racing. I started on the inside and surged hard right away to try and keep the inside track. Legs felt okay but no spring at all, this was going to be interesting for sure. I got out to a decent start and led for the first lap with Jason B. right on my tail. I pushed the pace for lap 1 hoping to get as far out in front as I could. Finished the first lap in 1:30. As they called out the times I heard 1:31, 1:32 ... so knew people were right on my tail.

Headed around lap 2 I was still leading but Jason was right up my butt. I have to say this was a very new and odd experience for me. I have never been in first place in a race... ever. Was not really sure how to work any kind of strategy here and couldn’t see how close other runners were with the exception of Jason who I could hear right behind me. Finished lap 2 in 3:03. Heard 3:04 called out then 3:08. Okay got some separation from most of the field.

Lap 3 was the most difficult portion of the race for me. I really began to feel it in my legs and unintentionally slowed down. I started to over think things with Jason right on me. Should I surge, conserve etc. I am sure this cost me some time. You really shouldn’t try to think at this point of the race. I missed the line for the 200 meter mark so didn’t have any info to adjust my pace. Thought I might be slow but wasn’t sure. When I run track what causes me to slow down is almost always cardio, my legs feel like they could go faster but I just can’t get any more oxygen. During lap 3 it was all leg, I just could not get them to turn over any quicker. All I could think was Go away Jason but he just keep hanging on. Finished lap 3 no idea what the time was as I was completely into pain management mode. Heard it yelled out but it sounded like adults talking to Charlie Brown …… (WAH, WAH, WAH)

Lap 4 went much better then lap 3. Held about the same pace and keep Jason just behind me. No idea how far back anyone else was. Made my final kick with about 120 meters left to go. Damn it could still hear Jason right behind me. I started to think that I may have kicked too early as I began to feel it bad with 20 meters left but held on to win the heat. Jason finished 0.75 seconds behind me with Joan only 1 second behind as well. Didn’t even know she was with us. Great Job Guy / Girl.

Pretty happy given how tired I was although I would really like to see how much faster I might be on rested legs. Final time was 6:26 so dropped off in the second half.

See the video of the finish below. First girl you see is not actually in the race just someone on the track.

Here is the video from the halfway point of the race.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dirty Girls 6 Hour Trail Race Report

Dirty Girls Race Report
SUCCESS - I have officially joined the ranks of the Ultra Runner. I completed 50k at the Dirty Girls Trail Race in around 5:38. Not sure of the official time yet but that should be close give or take 1 minute. Kim also completed her planned 30k of running. We both really enjoyed this race (I think Kim might be hooked on trails now).

Pre race

Packed up all our needed gear for the race. So much more to deal with then a road race, even a marathon. Lots of premixed gateraid / water, gels, cliff shot bloks, and S-tabs in hopes of avoiding a big bonk during the run. Also extra cloths and Tylenol. I didn’t need an extra drop bag as you return to the race start line every 10k so just one bag and cooler worked out fine. This is still a learning process for me so forgot stuff I should have brought "in case" it was needed. Didn’t bite me in the ass this time but I will be putting together and using a checklist to prepack from now on.

Got to the race a good 40 minutes before the start. It was very easy to fine. Kim rented a trusty ZIP car. Great car and very affordable service, we will be using the Zip Car more often.

A few glitches when we got to the race but nothing major. Men’s bathroom was down so only one shared washroom but its a small race. The guys room was back up and working just before start time. Also didn’t get my shirt (Kim got hers) due to a problem with the supplier with the guys shirts. Really nice shirt which I will be getting in the mail in the next week or two.

Got final directions from the race director including a strange one about being aware of the Barn and kids camp at the 7.5k mark. It’s a camp for challenged kids so stay clear of it and don’t worry if you hear screaming as the kids cant help it. What an odd direction I thought to myself.

Weather was cool and looked like rain might make an appearance. Didn’t happen tho and it cleared up within the hour. Rest of the race was run under blue skies, warm and a little humid but overall pretty good for racing.

Then we lined up for the start. I was more towards the back of the crowd. This race was capped at 150 people and think it was probably sold out. I love these races as they are so laid back.

The Race

Okay lets get this out of the way. First mistake came early. I should have started closer to the front and because I didn’t my day very nearly came to an early end. The race started and we headed out of a field and into the woods. I wasn’t worried about being a bit back as I figured that it would keep me on pace early. Unfortunately I was not familiar with the course.

As soon as we entered the woods we were on a tight single track trail with a couple of steep but short uphills. The runners ahead of me were going much slower then I wanted and we were bunched up tight. No room to pass here so I was forced to stay slow. More importantly was the way we were bunched up. Anyone that is reading this and does trail running knows bunching up is flirting with danger as you can’t see the footing ahead of you. I like to keep at least 5 feet usually more (much more if possible) between me and the next runner.

At less then 1k into the race I stepped sideways on a root I never saw coming and turned my ankle over. Luckily I caught myself and saved it from being a complete roll over that might end my day. It was a big scare. The guy right behind me in a red shirt that was also looking for a place to pass said "Little to early for that kind of thing". To which I replied "No Shit". Scare behind me the trail opened up a few minutes later and I used the extra space to get clear of that pack.

I really liked this course. It’s a great mix of double and single track trail. There is only one small section on gravel type road and lots of variety overall. Some sections were very technical while others were more open running. The entire course is very runnable. There were lots of rolling hill / trail but only a couple of big long steep hills.

Cruised through the first 10k loop and once I settled in found myself running amongst the same group of runners most of the time occasionally passing each other and swapping positions back and forth. Don’t know any of their names however. I should have asked. Two people in particular the guy that saw me almost wipe out and a girl with ponytails and a cool back tattoo I saw again and again during the race the race. I will call them red shirt guy and tattoo girl, if you’re reading this sorry no idea of names so no offence meant. I am really not used to the talking to people while you run a race sort of thing. It’s just not like that in road racing. Also met the race director for Creemore early in the first loop and talked to him for a bit.

Just before the 7.5k mark we passed the kids camp and I finally understood the race director’s direction. I could hear a kid screaming and it was not the kind of screaming I had expected. I thought kid screaming is well kid screaming. Instead it was screaming like Friday The 13th screaming. Seriously if not for the race directors warning I would have probably stopped and went over to investigate.

I came out of the woods and into the field first lap completed at around 58 minutes. Bit too fast but not crazy fast. Grabbed a new bottle of gateraid slammed back an S-cap and gel and headed back out.

A couple of things I really wanted to focus on in this race were getting calories into me on the fly and minimizing any time spent at aid stations. To that end I decided to avoid the official aid station at the 5k mark and keep my time back at our base camp to a minimum. Loop 1 total time was less then 1 minute.

Headed out on lap 2. Legs felt great but my knee was starting to get a little sore already. Also I can get paranoid about this so was tried to keep it in perspective and evaluate it properly. Just a little sore no need to worry yet. Started lap 2 with no other runners in sight. At around 3k red shirt guy passed me. He had been ahead of me last loop and just before 5k tattoo girl passed me. I Must have gotten ahead of them in transition. Kept both of them in sight for the rest of the loop. A little slower this time around as I settled in. Started eating cliff shot bloks at each of the two big hills on the loop to keep those calories coming. Finished the second lap at 2:01 (1:03 for the loop). Once again same routine at home base and was back out in about a minute.

Headed out for loop 3. Still felt really good but knee hurting more. Just some soreness. Nothing to worry about but it was causing me to brace more then I wanted to on the downhills. Begin to really wonder how much better I could run without the knee hurting, starting contemplating whether to get back on the waiting list for surgery. I was passed by red shirt guy at around 2k again. He said "man I got to go faster in the transitions." This made me happy as I knew I was doing mine pretty well. Saw and passed Kim here. Checked to see how she was doing. She said she felt great and was having lots of fun. She was looking pretty good. Didn’t stay to chat and keep on moving. Decided to pop a Tylenol at the 25k mark for the knee. Not needed but a safety measure. Passed by the 5k aid station for the 3rd time and still hadn’t stopped there, awesome. Tattoo girl had caught up to me again. Chatted with her a little then she moved ahead of me. Keep her in sight for the rest of the lap. Came into the finish area for the 3rd lap at 3:07 (1:04 for the loop). Same ritual but took me a bit longer to get my gel down. I am officially sick of gels. Back out at 3:09

Headed out for lap 4 with 2:53 left to complete another 20k and felt very positive about this. Started to feel a little tired now still running well. Still running everything but the biggest hills. Worked my way through the loop. Knee holding up about the same as during loop 2. I saw an Asian girl take a header right in front of me. Check too see that she was okay, she was, she was doing the 24 hour race. Yikes I feel tired just thinking about that. Finished the 4th loop (40k) at 4:19 (1:12 on the loop). Going slower now as fatigue was starting to set in. Took extra time on the transition as I wanted to ditch my heart monitor and change my shirt. Muscles and coordination were wonky. It took me about 4 minutes to get out of base camp.

Lap 5 was the focus and push to the end lap. Passed marathon distance and still felt good. Course seemed longer then past loops. At around 4k caught a root and face planned pretty good. All part of the trail running experience I guess. Dusted myself off, nothing hurt but my ego, and moved on. Less then a km later I saw another person take a spill right in front of me. He got up and was okay. He told me it’s the second time he wiped out in the very same spot. Hit the 5k aid station and decided to stop for the first time. Was starting to feel the wall coming up so grabbed some heed and coke drank it and kept moving. Heed sat heavy in my stomach for a few minutes but didn’t really cramp up. As I went through the last 5k I started to contemplate whether to try and go another 2.5k after this loop. Since it’s a 6 hour event you can keep running for 6 hours. They will count partial laps at 2.5, 5 and 7.5k marks. Leg wise I could definitely do more kms. Time wise I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to make it before the 6 hour cut off. I decided if I finished the lap before 5:35 I would push on. The last 5k seemed to go on forever then just when it seemed like it would never end I was out at the finish line. Clock said 5:38 so I decide not to keep going. I could have probably made it. However you have to walk back. I can not imagine how grumpy I might be if I missed the cutoff by a minute and had done the running and walking back for nothing. It was a damned if you do damned if you don’t kind of thing and I am still torn about it.

Post Race

Kim was waiting at the finish. She finished her 30k in around 5 hours but was not sure about the time. I will post the official times once they are available. No medals for this race, instead we got a cool keychain and a buttertart. Also feasted on tasty burgers and giant chocolate chip cookies.

Saw tattoo girl at the finish area and still didn’t get a name.. what a moron I am sometime. She ended up doing 52.5, didn’t see red shirt guy anywhere.

This was a really great race. I would do this one again for sure. Was not as hard as Seaton but harder then Sulphur Springs, maybe right in the middle.

This was Kim’s first trail race and she loved it. We are already discussing what to do about Halliburton and the Iroquois trail test this fall. Will keep you informed on what we decide.

Legs feel tired but okay a day later. Not as sore as a marathon more like half marathon pain. Knee feels okay and no worse for wear. 50K races rule

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hoping To Loss My Ultra Virginity This Weekend

Very exciting. Tomorrow (Saturday) I will be attempting to run my first "real" Ultra distance. Not sure how this will play out but its going to be fun (in a painful sadistic sort of way).

Both Kim and I are registered for the Dirty Girls 6 hour solo event so it will be up early and out onto the trails. The event is all trails, you run a 10k loop as many times as you can or want to for the length of the event. You are considered official once you complete at least 30k.

Race plans
Kim’s plan is simple. She is using it as a training run and will probably shut it down just after 30k or so. This fits in pretty well with her current marathon training.

My plan is more of a sliding scale sort of thing.

A plan - I will be attempting to run 50k. Training has gone well and I am ready. However as some of you that read this blog know I have a previous knee injury. It doesn’t bother me at any distance on the road but has bothered me on both my long trail races this year. My hope is all my trail training and mileage has strengthened it. I will also be running with a tensor sleeve to give it a little bit of extra protection. I don’t do my training with a sleeve but tested it on Wednesday nights run and it didn’t bother me at all. Pacing will be slow and controlled as I am approaching it as a want to be able to finish it event. Kind of like my first marathon.

B plan - If I begin to have any serious knee issue (as in this is going to take week/weeks to recover from) then I will alter my game plan and shut it down. Will probably do the first assessment of this at 30k.

I expect to flawlessly execute Plan A so I am not being wishy washy about doing 50k BUT I have a number of upcoming road races and a marathon in the fall so I don’t want to blow out my fall racing schedule by being stupid.

If I do finish without knee issues I will be immediately registering for a longer race in the fall. If not will I save that for next year.

Watch for my race report coming early next week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dirty Girls Coming Up, Weekly and Monthly Training Update

Next Race

Next weekend both Kim and I will be running the Dirty Girls Trail Race. It takes place on Saturday August 8th in Mansfield and is part of the OUSer running series. Both of us are signed up for the 6 hour solo event. Originally Kim had planned to do the 6 hour relay event but after being unable get enough team members onboard she decided to just do it herself (you are amazing honey). Will blog about this more in more detail later this week.

BTW if anyone reading this is going to the race from Toronto we would love to find someone to ride share with.... just putting it out there.

Training Updates
This month was a really good training month although just about any month you run and stay healthy is a pretty good month but this one went very well.

Hit two training milestones this week (or is that millstones?). First one is last week I ran the most miles ever for me in a single week. Ran 68 miles three more then my previous longest week. Actually not sure how this happened as I had planned on 65 but I was just going with the flow.

Secondly I ran the most miles ever for me in a single month. July topped out at 279.5 miles. That’s 43 miles more then my next best month. To celebrate I bought a carton of smokes (Export A green) and smoked them all in one sitting. Okay maybe not but it’s the thought that counts.

July Training Summary
Days run: 27
Days off: 4
20 mile runs: 4
Trail runs: 8
Races: 1 - 10 miler (PB)

Total Miles 279.5

Weekly Training Update

Sunday 20 miles Long run
This was probably the craziest training run ever for me. Planned to get up early and run with Thunderstorms in the forecast for the last morning. Of course that just didn’t happen. Kim left for her run with me puttering around the house drinking coffee and procrastinating. Finally headed out for my run. Within 30 minutes the sunny skies had disappeared and I could see big black clouds on the horizon. Crap.

Saw Kim on the beltline she had been so much smarter then me and was almost done her run. Clouds were much closer now. Double crap.

Hit the half way mark of my run as I circled around inside Mount Pleasant cemetery. Most other runners that had been around earlier had magically disappeared. Giant black clouds raced over head and Thunder claps boomed loudly in the distance. I saw one other runner stopped and looking up at the sky. I stopped to look as well. He said.. "That looks kind of ominous". I asked him if he had seen any lightning which he hadn’t so I keep going.

Back out onto the beltline, 8 miles to go, and the sky opened up big time. Thunder, lightning and the hardest rain I think I have ever seen. Nothing I write here can really do it justice. Now I love running in the rain but there is rain and then there is rain. Triple crap.

I ducked under a shrub.. yes a scrub.. I know better then to stand under a tree, and tried to wait it out. There was literally nowhere else to hide. I figured that I can’t rain this hard for very long. Yeah right. After about 5 minutes the shrub began to cease giving me any protection at all. It wasn’t going to slow anytime soon and I was trapped on the beltline with 8 miles to go. Since I was getting soaked anyways I said screw it and headed out into the rain. Quadruple crap.

Heaviest rain I have ever been out in. The beltline was a river. My poor IPod had no where to hide and stopped working. I just hoped to avoid getting hit by lightning. Saw only 4 other runners over the 3 miles on the beltline and none of them looked very happy... no runners waves were returned.

At the end of beltline the rain slowed to a normal rain. I had to take my shirt off and wring it out as it weighted about 5 pounds. Why didn’t I run earlier... grrrrrrr. Last few miles home sun began to come back out.

Monday no run
Rest day. Still drying out. IPod has recovered and working ... I am pleasantly surprised by this.

Tuesday 10 miles
Evening run on the trails. Took it easy. Nothing to report.

Wednesday 12 miles
Ran with the club on the lakeshore. Added some threshold / tempo running in the middle of my run. 2 x 15 minutes with a 3 minute break in between. First interval ran at 7:27 pace. Steve ran with me for this one. Second interval I ran alone. It was suppose to be at the same pace but I got antsy and ran it at a 7:15 pace. I just wanted to get it over with. Unfortunately when you are doing intervals by time running faster doesn’t actually get you done any quicker.. like duh.

Also was almost seriously injured / killed. This is not an exaggeration!! Our run is an out and back on Wednesday. We turn around at the Legion (for those of you that know the Lakeshore). This is the only place were there is actually a hill. As I hit the Legion I still had another 20 seconds in my interval left so I kept going. It goes down a pretty good long hill here. The paved path is divided into right and left lanes as it’s a well travelled bike and running path. I slowed down (exhausted) and looked ahead. Nothing coming so I turned to go into the other lane and head back. As I did I heard someone yell "Look Out" . I looked and froze as I bike whipped past me missing colliding with me by a fraction of an inch. It could not have been any closer without touching me. He was going at least 30 miles an hour using the downhill... AT LEAST 30!!

Okay will not go into my bike rant here. Maybe someday but not today BUT...

First I must take some responsibility as I was tired and didn’t look over my shoulder behind me to make sure all is clear. I didn’t do anything wrong but you have to be aware and responsible for yourself out there. Just like you don’t cross the street on a walk light without looking both ways, even it you have the right away. The right away will not help you recover from serious injury. I always look but didn’t this time.

The biker did the following:
passed in the wrong lane
passed on the wrong side
didn’t have or use a bell
didn’t slow to pass a runner
Was going way to fast. In face Steve tells me that there is acutally posted signs on the hill that say max speed 20km to stop idiot bikers from pulling this crap. Oh no I think I will stop here as I feel a full blown rant coming on. Want to save that one for its own blog day.

Thursday 9 miles
Easy run on normal road route. Very hot and humid. Ran it a bit to fast. Did the same thing last week. Not sure why. Legs felt good.

Friday 8 miles
Track work out. Steve coaching in Georges place. I tried to give him a especially hard time. He ignored me. Workout was 400, 800, 1200, 400, 800, 1200. Turned out to be another very good workout. Have taken 8 to 10 seconds off of my 800 times and 1200times since the start of track training. Excellent (800s ran in 3:15, 1200s ran in 5:00)

Saturday 9 miles
Club run on trails. Good run but ran to fast for a couple of miles in the middle of the workout. Also as I was running and talking to Jason my foot clipped a small stump at the top of a hill and I nearly face planted big time. Just able to right myself as I stumbled down the hill and narrowly avoided slamming into a large tree. Thank you running gods.

Projected weekly total miles 65
Actual weekly total miles 68
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