June 29, 2009

June Ramblings

Once I got past my 2 spring 50K races, I decided that I needed to include a few more tempo runs into my schedule to try to maintain at least a little bit of speed (remember, speed is relative). I've got a few shorter races on my schedule and it would be nice to get through them without completely embarrassing myself. However, once I plunked down my race fee for the Lean Horse Half Hundred, I began rethinking how to plan my training.

One of the things that many ultra runners consistently mention after they finish a breakthrough race/distance is that they wish they'd done more walking in their training. Brisk walking. The kind that keeps you moving forward at a pace that is still meaningful but allows some degree of recovery (or at least slows down the onset of an impending implosion). Basically, I need to travel slow enough so that I'm relying primarily on fat metabolism rather than burning through glycogen. So, I've been getting on a treadmill once a week and walking hills at 4.0 mph for an hour. True, I'm not crazy about the treadmill, but it forces me to maintain a certain pace, and right now my short little legs find it difficult to keep up walking 15 minute miles on 9 or 12 degree inclines. I've discovered after only 2 treadmill walking sessions that 4 mph is starting to feel a little more comfortable, so I plan on continuing with this activity. This is more a neuromuscular exercise than conditioning since I'm only doing it for an hour.

Another area that needs some work before Lean Horse is getting acclimated to heat. Last weekend, I ended up pulling the plug early at Afton after only 11 miles (goal was 20) because I was feeling so overheated (it was low 80's and high humidity - not exactly brutal). It takes a good 2 weeks of hot weather to get acclimated to heat, and the current forecast isn't cooperating in that regard (although I love our current weather).

Finally, I've gotta start getting some long runs in (or at least time on my feet moving forward). Managed to get about 19 miles in at Hyland Lake yesterday - beautiful, relatively cool, breezy-enough-that-there-were-no-bugs kinda day :) The arthritis in my right foot was starting to act up, or I would have pushed it a little further. I figure that there's no sense pushing to the point that I don't have time to recover for my next races (aka supported training runs), which are Afton 25K this weekend, Grand Island Marathon 3 weeks later, and possibly a 10K the weekend prior to Lean Horse.

I figure I need to maintain a 13 min/mile pace at Grand Island to make the AS cut offs, and about 14 min/mile at Lean Horse if I allow 20 minutes total for AS stops, bio breaks, foot care, etc. On paper it looks easy - doing it will be another matter.

Hope to see many of you at Afton this weekend!

June 14, 2009


So, lately I've been thinking about my race schedule and how certain races lend themselves as great training runs for other, bigger, longer races. Since my foray onto the "slippery slope" of ultra running, I was able to knock off 2 50K races 2 weeks apart this spring on very low mileage and began thinking about attempting a 50 miler. I haven't even been running 50 miles per week - can I really expect to pull off that kind of distance in a single day? Will my arthritic knees and feet hold up?

Whenever I've got some ponderin' to do, running usually provides the best environment to think things through. Helps clear my head of extraneous noise so I can sort things out, especially if what I'm sorting is running related :)

Went out to Afton yesterday for 16.5 miles of hill runnin', snake hoppin' (those fox snakes really, really seem to like sunning themselves in the middle of the trail on the Africa Loop), and ponderin'. Not too many folks out on the trail even though it was a beautiful day - guess many of the "regulars" are still recovering from FANS and Kettle last weekend. Ran into Janel, and before I knew it, I was mentioning running Lean Horse later this summer.

Lean Horse will be a month after the Grand Island Marathon, which is a relatively flat, fairly non-technical trail. Hmm, good timing for a last long training run. And Lean Horse would count towards the Fab Five Fifties ultra race series. And my arthritis isn't going to get better, it will only progress as time goes on, so perhaps I should go for it now. And I will probably never feel "ready" to just go run 50 miles - it's a BIG jump up from 31. But I don't really need to run 50 miles - much of it will be walking. And I haven't had a vacation since I started my own business more than 12 years ago - the Black Hills would be a nice place to spend a week after the race. So, why not tug on the Big Girl Panties and toe the line to find out what 50 miles feels like?

I sent off the Lean Horse Half Hundred registration this morning. I don't think I've done anything this stupid in, ohhhhhhhhhh, at least a month and a half.

June 6, 2009

Chester Woods 2009 Race Report

Got out for another trail race after a few weeks off after Ice Age, this time a 10 miler down at Chester Woods just east of Rochester.

Last year when I ran here, I was struggling with some tendonitis in my left foot and had my slowest 10 mile time ever. This year I've been having a little trouble with minor plantar fasciitis in my right foot, but really wanted to beat last years time even though my training has been almost nonexistent lately. Alrighty then!

The weather was shaping up to be pretty miserable: upper 40's, steady rain, and wind. Once again, right on the edge of "what should I wear" decisions. Got to the park with enough time to get checked in and find the start, but didn't really have time to socialize. I was cold enough that I decided to keep the light water/wind proof jacket on over my long sleeved light weight tech shirt and shorts.

The race started with a very short road section before turning on to a grassy trail. My foot was feeling a little stiff at first, but warmed up quickly and never bothered me the rest of the race. Everything felt just right for about half a mile, then I was getting too warm and decided to shed the jacket. Some day, I will learn how to dress properly!

I soon came upon the first of the Burma Shave mile markers and I noticed that my pace for the first mile was about what I would run tempo intervals on roads - a little faster than I planned to go at this point, but it felt good so I went with it. The early part of the race is run on fairly flat grass, some asphalt through the campground (not too many campers out cheering this year), some wood chips, and a short dirt road section before hitting the nice dirt trails in the woods. At about the 4 mile mark, the 10 mile and 5K courses split at an intersection that overlooks a beautiful valley (one of the trademark photos of Chester Woods park, I'm sure). By now I had slowed a little and was settling in to a more comfortable pace that I could sustain for 10 miles.

Running in the light rain was actually kind of nice, and the wind was hardly noticeable in the woods. There were a few rolling hills, and I was walking most of the uphills when Judy caught up to me. We had a nice chat about Ice Age and a few of the local road marathons while we ran together for a bit, then she went on ahead. After crossing a creek and coming in to the 6 mile aid station, I refilled my water bottle and then was off to an out and back loop. Got to see Dan and John, both of whom were looking strong!

After coming back and passing through the aid station once again, the trail passes through some deep sand with a short, steep, tricky-if-you're-not-paying-attention downhill. Back into the woods, another creek crossing (boy is the water ever low), about a mile to go. I had forgotten all about the Big Dam Hill, but here it was :) The views from the top were better than last year - you can see much farther during a steady rain compared to a downpour! Perhaps some day I'll get to see it with blue sky and sunshine.

Chester Woods 10 Mile Elevation Chart

Just a few small roller coaster hills through some woods and open meadows, then in to the finish. While my time wasn't stellar, it was still almost 10 minutes faster than last year. Got to chat with RD Jim for a few minutes, but then started getting cold now that I was soaking wet and no longer moving. Had a post race dill pickle, changed into some dry clothes, and was still cold so I ended up driving home with the heat turned on the whole way.

Thanks to Jim and all of the folks who volunteered so that the rest of us could play in the rain! It's much tougher to volunteer in lousy weather than to run in it, and I think I can speak for all runners that we really appreciate your support. The Rochester Track Club puts on lots of great events, and this is one that I highly recommend!

Time to get some hills in and get ready for Afton!