Sunday, November 2, 2008

Helen Klein 50 mile - 2008

I ran the Helen Klein 50 mile race yesterday, finishing in 7:42:50, eighth overall, second in my age group. My optimistic goal was 7:30 and since the course was actually about 51 miles because of a trail detour around construction, I was pretty much right on my estimate.

It rained for most of the race but that didn't really cause any problems for me. I wore shorts and short RaceReady tights with Vaseline and then wore a garbage bag to protect my torso from getting soaked. That all worked pretty well, especially after I figured out to tuck the garbage bag inside my fanny pack in back. I also wore a Zombie Runner hat.

I made one mistake. I forgot my water bottle in the car. When I realized this at the starting line, I mentioned this to another Southern California runner - Fenton Cross. Luckily, he had stashed an extra 24 oz bottle by the start line - I guess to hydrate on the way to the start - and lent that to me. Thanks Fenton! The aid stations at Helen Klein were pretty close and it was a cool day so I think I could have done without but I was really glad that I didn't have to try.

I was most pleased with my pacing. I started easy, not wasting any energy trying to move through the pack. The trail detour started within the first mile. That resulted in a conga line and some walking. I did pass some folks eventually but without having to spend any extra energy. Anyway, we got back onto the bikepath in short order and then it became a matter of just getting in the right rhythm. I was wearing lighter shoes (Mizuno Revolver) and had a pretty light and quick turnover throughout the race. I pushed a little bit outbound but mostly just tried to stay in rhythm, eat something from each aid station (PB&J or potatoes), and not waste any time. At the turnaround, I started pushing harder but backed off to the previous pace after a couple of miles. I had a couple of little stomach problems in here too. The turnaround is pretty close to the previous aid station so I actually over ate and felt too full. I backed off the food for a bit. A little later, I noticed the fluid just sitting in my stomach so I got a good bit of salt on potatoes at the next stop and that fixed that. Starting at about 20 miles up to about 35 miles, I started catching people who were having problems of one sort or another. My own experience corroborated by race reports I've read led me to believe that if people were going to have problems, they'd probably encounter them by 35 miles. I found that to be true since I didn't pass anyone after about 35 miles and no one passed me. By the same token, I felt somewhat encouraged when I was just running like a clock at 30 and 35 miles. I thought at this point that all I needed to do from there on in was not to make any mistakes in the rest of the race - like failing to eat or pushing hard and getting worn out. That's how it worked too. This was so wierd or at least unusual for me - to feel like I was in control for once.

I had a few injuries about which I was worried. I had a slight strain of something on the inside of my left knee on Thursday before the race (not running related). I also had a start of shin splints about 2 weeks before the race. This enforced a taper since I didn't want those to ruin my race (and waste all the money). Thirdly, my left arch had been a little tight recently. I think each of those little problems cropped up briefly as little reminders in the first 5 miles and then went away for the rest of the race.

Despite being technically a road race, there was plenty of scenery and wildlife along the way. I saw deer, squirrels, wild turkeys (3 times), a pheasant, a coyote - which caught a squirrel, etc. I imagine that the weather cut down the number of other folks who were out on Saturday but we did see plenty of bicycles and other runners.

So anyway, I was very pleased with the result, especially being able to maintain a fairly even pace without much of a problem. It was the first time I had run a Norm Klein race so as a race director I was interested in seeing the organization. In fact, my wife quizzed me about the aid stations when I got home - in case we can learn something for our race. I got a clock for getting second in my age group and was worried about having that in my carry-on. Instead, they dinged me for having a bottle of orange juice inside my backpack. So I'm still getting over the post race wierdness and lack of appetite. My legs weren't too sore today. I think I may run home from work Tuesday so I think I'll recover ok.

P.S. Two more things: 1) I didn't go to the bathroom (number 1 or 2) the entire race. I imagine some people would be alarmed at this but I went right after the race (and everything was pretty normal) and actually had an urge at times during the race. So I don't think I got dehydrated at all. I just kind of maintained equilibrium. I've done this before on a 50k but not 50 mile. 2) I need to do more situps. My lower abdomen was pretty sore after the race. I use my mid-section quite a bit when running.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long run in loafers

My workouts have been going pretty well - about 70 miles per week is typical. I've wanted to bump that up though. This week, I planned to commute home from work on Tuesday because my carpool partner had to work late or something. So about 4:00 pm, I started grabbing my stuff to change clothes and get going. No shoes. I forgot my shoes at home! I was ticked! I started thinking of my options: run 22 miles barefoot or wear my work shoes. Actually, I was wearing my work shoes most amenable to running - some Timberland loafers. They worked out pretty well although I don't plan to run home in them again. I took it pretty easy at the start. That got frustrating since I was hitting all of the stoplights so after a few miles, I think I picked up the pace (and started running through lights). The soles of my forefeet started feeling bruised in the last two miles but I could "smell the barn" at that point.
I did the same run on Thursday with my regular Mizuno Wave Precisions and had a much more enjoyable run. So anyway, I might hit 100 miles this week. Now it's time to take a nap and then run.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Most of Mountains to Sea

Orange County has a Mountains to the Sea trail although not as long as that of North Carolina. The Orange County one is 22 miles long including a loop in Weir Canyon. I ran the (mostly) paved portion of it between Chapman Ave (Irvine Park) and Newport Back Bay on Saturday. I parked at Harvard Park and ran two out and backs - 20 miles to the beach and 16 miles to the Taco Bell up at Chapman and Jamboree.
I wanted to bump up my long run to about 36 miles this week but I was still suffering a little from Wednesday's workout. Somehow a 36 mile run with only one stop back at the car seemed like the perfect solution. Actually, it worked out well. As long as I could get started on the second part, I just kept going until I stopped at Taco Bell for an iced tea, then I was forced to keep running, even if it was at 5 mph.
A bunch of volunteers were cleaning out trash from Newport Back Bay. One piece of trash was a mine (used to blow up submarines) apparently left from WWII. I heard on the news that morning that a WWII era bomb blew up in Europe so I told one of the volunteers that they might want to take it a little more seriously then just letting it sit by the side of the road. Does that mean I've turned into a boring old man? I saw what looked like a men's cross country team with some women too in Irvine. I assumed it was UCI and not Concordia since I didn't see Alma Escobar but now it looks like she's transferred to San Diego State.
Anyway, since I wanted to bump up miles but didn't feel like pushing the pace, I left my watch at home and did an exploration run. The result was an interesting day and I got in my miles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

16 miles under 2:00

I hit one of my milestones for the year last night. I wanted to get my 16 mile run on the track under 2 hours. This is the same workout I skipped last week because my knee was sore. I ran this last night in 1:57:48 (7:22 average) with only one mile slower than 7:30. So anyway, my current schedule of 20+ road miles on Monday, 16 miles on track on Wednesday and 50k+ on Saturday has been yielding consistent improvements.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bad week but two good workouts

Blah, blah, excuse, blah but I ran back to park and ride from work on Monday (21 miles) and was just cruising. Also ran 50k today (Saturday) again with very even splits and the last lap the fastest. And faster than last week by probably 15 minutes. My other big workout is on Wednesday. That's a track workout - 16 miles with a current goal of 2 hours. My fifth mile was 7:25 but my left knee started hurting on the last lap so I stopped. I'm blaming it on crashing my bike on the way to the track. I turned quickly, my pedal hit the ground and then I hit the ground. My bike is a fixed gear which means I can't coast. I also changed the crankset recently from 160 cm to 170 cm for mechanical reasons - that made me more prone to pedal strikes. Blah blah excuse blah.
I've decided to take iron after each of my big workouts. Iron seems to be my key for avoiding dead legs so I'll try to take it a little more often than once per week.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm back

I'm back in the sense that my running is going well. Therefore, I'm posting again.
I got 100 miles last week. That didn't happen this week but my runs are improving steadily. In the weeks prior, I had been hitting 60 to 70 pretty regularly. This week was 78. My right foot was sore on Tuesday and my right knee today so I took those two days off.

I had lower leg issues for a while but those are pretty much gone. I'm being a little more cautious now to avoid injuries. I write the alphabet with each foot both forward and in mirror image each morning before getting out of bed. Also, when my right ankle was bothering me on a run, I'd rock it back and forth quickly when standing and that seemed to help. The other thing I'm doing consistently now which helps is stretching - soleus, gastrocnemius, hamstring hip and back, quadriceps.

I ran a 6 hour race a few weeks back which was my first race in 11 months. I was able to run the entire race despite the weather getting hot by dowsing my head every 1.25 mile lap with water.

Practices have been going well. I finally decided that I could run home from work so started doing that. Most of the time, I can get someone to take my laptop home but a couple of times, I've had to run home with it in a backpack. It's either 21 or 22 miles depending on whether I run to Park and Ride or home. So now I do a long road run on Mondays. Wednesdays are a 16 mile track run. The goal is to break 2 hours and my progression so far has been 2:11, 2:06 and just under 2:04. Saturday is a 50k (for now) road run. I faded towards the end on the first week. My legs were dead on the second week and I only finished 23 miles. This week I ran 50k at a very even pace, staying within 30 seconds of 36 minutes for a 6.25 km loop. I hope to speed it up but hitting an even pace is a first step.

The dead legs reminded me that I need to take iron when running more miles. I used to take one pill every week. I think I'll go with 2 pills per week for now.

So a few lessons learned and now some optimism about the coming races. I think the next is going to be Helen Klein on 11/1.

Happy trails,


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Biking and Running

I think I got in a little over 70 miles last week. I got over to Signal Hill for an urban hill workout on Wednesday, I think. Yesterday on Saturday, I tried riding up to Whittier to run trails. The ride actually went pretty well but I was dripping wet when I got there. My run was pretty much a shuffle but that may have been due to the 18 miles the previous night. The other problem was that this trailhead (Colima Road - Habitat Authority) doesn't have very good options - although I did see a 3 foot (not 3 footed) black snake with yellow stripes. Next time I'll try going to Whittier College and running my usual loop starting in the middle. I took a little spike back type backpack with me and put my biking shorts and shirt and helmet in that while I ran. It was pretty loose on my back until I found a little wire and twisted it around the cords in front of my sternum.

This coming week, I'm riding the bus and then the bike home on both Monday and Tuesday. I'm going to try to squeeze out 10 miles after those commutes. I'm planning to put in 18 on Wed. and Fri. but try to bike to Signal Hill on Thursday and run 4 reps of a 2.5 mile hilly loop. I'm taking my lights with me.

So right now, I'm trying to increase my running mileage from week to week but also throw in some biking. The combination makes for pretty good workouts. I'm trying to not get hung up about the mileage vs. goal as long as I keep improving little by little.

Monday, May 26, 2008


66 miles last week with a couple of 16 mile runs. My bursitis isn't bothering me much and my right ankle stays under control if I don't push the pace. So that's my guiding principle - to not push the pace and also to stretch before going on a run. I also warmup and write the alphabet forwards and backwards before stretching. I ran to Seal Beach Pier yesterday (18 miles) so that's a little bit better. Stuck my right foot in a bucket of ice water afterwards.
I notice I sleep better if I run in the evening than if I run in the morning. With my current commute (which is to leave early), that works out fine.
And now time for a 10 mile run. Hope to get 80 miles this week.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

More excuses

Had a rough week on prod support this week although that doesn't explain the low miles. After Saturday's 20 in the mountains, rode 32 miles on the Schwinn on Saturday. Ran 8 miles on the track on Monday and then 4 on Thursday - the day I got paged at 2:30 am and then worked all day (and the next) on the solution. The left heel started burning again on Thursday. I still think the problem is that I'm not running enough and tightening up in the big stretches between workouts. I'm trying to have each hard workout interleaved with a barefoot run. The heel doesn't bother me on the bike however. OK - I'm off to run barefoot in the park for a little. No mountains while I'm on prod support (and there is a lingering issue from last night).

P.S. If I post on a regular basis, maybe that will embarass me into sticking to plans.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Been a while

Uh... It's been a while.
The bursitis seems to have improved, especially if I stretch (stupido, tonto). I've also had a problem with my right ankle where some tendon hurts but that might be on the run - so to speak. It occurred to me that when I'm in shuffle mode, I tend to kick my right ankle with my left foot right around that location.
Ran 2 repeats of Thunder Mountain yesterday (by Mt. Baldy). The picture to the left was taken from the top with a view of Mt Baldy.

At this point, I'm hoping to be able to run Bishop in mid May. The right ankle hanging together is my chief concern. The altitude would be the second concern, hence my workout at altitude.