July 30, 2008

Weekend Plans

Decisions, decisions - what to do for a training run this weekend. I'd like to get in something in the 16-18 mile range on trails to prepare for you know what.

Here are the options that I'm currently considering:

Matt is planning on another overnight 100K fat ass at Afton Friday night. I've never tried night running, don't need to in order to prepare for my upcoming races, but it sounds like it'd be fun! It's also relatively close by and running at night would avoid the mid-90 temps, high humidity, and poor air quality that is being predicted for the Twin Towns this weekend. I would also be able to check on the blackberry patch, which is probably coming in to nice form ;)

Do a day trip up to Jay Cooke and run around on the trails there. Or part of the Duluth section of the Superior Hiking Trail. Anyone know if those trails are similar to the Moose Mountain course (ie steep, rocky, and rooty)? It would probably be a little cooler near Duluth than here in town, and it would be fun to run on new trails (new for me anyway). I really need to think about doing Voyageur one of these years...

Grab the tent, head up the North Shore, and plunk down an out and back from Cramer Rd to Temperance and back. That would cover the first section of the actual marathon course - a section I've never done before. Not sure I want to spend that much time driving (and buying gas) this weekend though.

Any suggestions?

July 26, 2008

SMU Trail Scamper

The 7'th of 12 races in the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series was held this morning in Winona - a planned 4 miler down at St. Mary's University to benefit their cross country teams. It ended up being a 5K because of a land dispute between the university and a private owner, which undoubtedly gave the race director some extra head aches as this all came to light just a week prior to the race.

Got up at 5 am to make the 2.5 hour drive down to Winona in time for the 9 am start. Beautiful morning! Kinda hazy, with the sun coming up like a huge pink ball that gradually gave way to orange, then yellow. SMU is located on a small but very pretty campus - the steep bluffs of south eastern Minnesota are one of my favorite parts of the state, second only to the North Shore of Lake Superior. I was curious to know just how steep these trails were going to be!

Met the usual cast of characters before the race: Wayne, Jim, and John - the 4 of us are attempting to "shoot the moon" and do all 12 races in the series. Adam got there early and put in some double digit miles as a warm up before the 5K. The course turned out to be relatively tame: no steep hills, wide non-technical trails with great footing, great weather. This would be a perfect beginners race for those who are interested in trying trail running!

Hung out for awhile afterwards enjoying the morning while the race staff struggled with getting results together. Jim and Adam both scored some hardware for top 3 times in their age group! Lots of young cross country runners made the younger age groups very competitive - there were a few speed balls out there this morning ;)

Congrats to the student athletes from St. Mary's University who put the whole event together and pulled it off. I'm sure they gained some great experience and a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes to put on the races that we all enjoy. Hopefully the land dispute won't disrupt their cross country season!

July 20, 2008


<- A little of this....

<- to get ready for that

Recognizing that I'm going to need to be able to haul my carcass up and down some substantial hills for an extended period of time in less than 2 months, the big decision today was where to run: RTA or Afton. I chose to give Adam's hill loop at RTA a try - this would be a new workout on a few trails I hadn't yet seen.

Slept in and putzed around this morning, so I didn't get to RTA until after 11:00 am. Only 1 other car in the lot - never saw another person on the trails for the entire time I was there. Weather was warm - not overly hot or humid. Bugs weren't bad either!

I'd printed out a map along with Adam's comments about the loop and I was glad I did. The first hill is straight forward, and I'd been to RTA enough that I knew exactly where it was even before I got there. That must be an awesome sledding hill in the winter!

The second hill trail was just a little tricky to pick up after you pop out onto the asphalt, and I don't think I'd have found it if Adam's instructions hadn't been so clear. If you look carefully, there is a blue blaze on a tree marking where the trail continues into the trees from the asphalt. At times the trail can be a little hard to follow, but there are some orange markers on trees to help keep you on track. Wonder who put the blue blazes and orange tape there ;)

The third hill is probably the easiest and very simple to find and follow. Mini-Moose is also straightforward, but now has wood chips and railroad ties - along with a bench about half way up that can be tempting (but illegal for trail runners IMHO).

Jackhammer might be my favorite - very nice single track that runs parallel to a currently dry stream. Very pretty scenery in this stretch of open woods!

The sixth and final hill is the steepest (35% grade according to my Garmin) and most technical. Route finding can be a little tricky here too - some orange markers help keep you on track.

I ended up doing 2 laps for a total of 5 miles and was literally dripping wet by the end. Drank 40 oz of Heed, 16 oz water, 2 Endurolytes, and still ended up a pound lighter than what I started. I must be getting acclimated to the heat since I hardly had any Na at all and didn't cramp or have hand swelling. Progress.

July 19, 2008

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week work wise - had some trouble getting running in on many days. The good thing that came out of this is that my foot is about 95% back to normal! The bad thing is that Moose Mountain is looming large, and I don't feel even remotely prepared.

Sun - a very short 40 minutes at Hyland, but managed to fit the goat track up the back side of the ski hill in. That's my favorite part of Hyland - the rest is kinda blah.
Mon - strength training
Tues - loooooonnggg work day - no training
Weds - 2 mile tempo run
Thur - strength training
Fri - bike
Sat - 6+ miles at Bredesen

Hoping to get a longer trail run in tomorrow - trying to decide between Afton and RTA. Definately need some hill work and time on my feet to get ready for Superior. My longest run so far this year has only been 25K a few times, so I really need to start cranking up the miles and hoping my foot doesn't retaliate. Yikes!

July 13, 2008

Temperance River

I shot this video of the Temperance River when I was up the North Shore for the spring Superior races this past May. Can't wait to get back there again in less than 2 months for the Moose Mountain Marathon!

July 8, 2008

Sports Nutrition

With all the talk about hydration, sweat rate, electrolytes, carbo loading, etc. I decided to put together a spreadsheet to help sort everything out. Dug out about a half dozen sports nutrition books and my old notes from graduate school and made some calculators that determine:

*sweat rate
*fluid intake needed during exercise
*daily macronutrient intakes (carbohydrate, protein, fat) in grams and calories based on average number hours/training/day
*daily total calories based on avg hours training/day
*grams CHO (carbohydrate) needed during carbo loading up to 6 days pre-event
*grams CHO needed 1-4 hours prior to event
*grams CHO needed during event
*grams of CHO and protein needed during recovery (within 30 min of finish up 'til next full meal)
*list of supplements and what's in them (there's plenty of space for you to add more)

This is still a work in progress and has limitations:

*My hydration calculator does not take into account water losses from respiration or urination (who measures how many ounces they pee in the woods?).
*The macronutrient calculators are for ENDURANCE athletes, not strength/power/hypertrophy athletes.
*The total caloric needs are based on maintaining body weight, not weight loss or gain.

Once you've plunked in your body weight and gotten all of the grams and calories of each macronutrient you need, you have to be able to measure what you are actually consuming. I use and recommend FitDay, a nutrition tracking software that can be used for free (online version). You can also download a dirt cheap version that has a few more features, and you can add your own foods to the database.

Let the calculating begin!

July 6, 2008

Afton 25K Race Report

The Afton 25K Trail Race officially marks my one year anniversary of trail running! Last year's run was my first trail race ever - in 100 degree heat - and I was hooked! With my relative inexperience trail running, I typically have no idea what to expect as far as pace or finish time because the terrain of each course is so different. This was the first race where I actually had last year's "time to beat" while running the same course.

The weather was great - probably in the low 70's when we started. Certainly more comfortable than last year! The first several miles through the Africa Loop, Back 40, more Africa Loop, and down to the third aid station felt great! I was trying to keep up with my hydration strategy, but was falling a little behind. I kept to the plan of an S cap every hour starting at the 30 minute mark and a Clif Shot at 1 and 2 hours into the run. Just couldn't chug the Heed as much as I'd originally planned, and my stomach was starting to feel a little "off".

By the time I got to the top of Nigel's hill, my foot and knees were feeling pretty sore. WTF? I expected the tendonitis in my foot to act up a little, but the knees haven't been this sore since my alpine ski racing days. Down Nigel's, then up and over the top of the Campground Hill. I actually stopped to pee at the top of the campground, so I figured I would be fine drinking less Heed than anticipated.

After the Campground Hill comes the long, flat, easy trail that runs parallel to the St. Croix River. I don't know why I dread this section - it should be viewed as a gift on a course as hilly and challenging as Afton - but it feels like a death march even though it's only 1+ miles in length.

Going up Meat Grinder, I realized that my lack of conditioning was catching up to me. My legs were starting to run out of gas, my stomach was feeling bloated, I was having side stitches, but my foot and knees were feeling better. Reaching the last aid station, I dawdled a little and ate a few orange slices. Refilled the water bottle with Heed for the last time and headed off for the final 3 miles.

The Snow Shoe loop is probably my favorite section of the course. I like single track through the woods, and this is a fun little trail. Eve came flying past me somewhere in this section and broke her own course record for the 50K. She is amazing! By now I was having some trouble with my calves cramping on the uphills and had to slow down to a walk through much of this section. I think my cramping problems this time were simply fatigue rather than dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. My hands weren't swollen at all, but my stomach was still feeling yucky. Man, I was hoping I wouldn't do the good ol' yawn in technicolor!

Finally popped out of the woods for the short little jaunt to the finish line. By now even running on flat terrain was causing my calves to cramp, so I basically limped home. I was pretty disappointed to see that my final time was about 15 minutes slower than last year :( I knew that I was deconditioned since I'd been laying low to rest my foot, but I felt like I was running faster than last year's super heated version. Oh well - I've got a vendetta for next year ;)

Special thanks to RD John and his awesome crew of volunteers! This is one of the best run races anywhere, and it takes a small army to pull off putting on such a quality event. The t-shirts and finishers medals are awesome, as were the awards. Congrats John and Afton crew!

My post race ritual involved icing my foot, eating pizza, drinking beer (needed to get a bicep workout in), and watching Running On the Sun - a documentary about the Badwater 135 mile run from Death Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney. Highly recommended viewing, not so sure about running it ;)

Today my foot is a little sore and stiff, but doing well enough that I think I can start trying to get some miles in. Only 2 months 'til Moose Mountain, so I've gotta get my muscle endurance up!