Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26, 2012 - Getting things Going / Elden Up Over & Back

Getting Things Going: The focus for the week was to get healthy. As such, I kept the running very mellow... 30min / day Monday through Friday. It definitely paid off. By the time Friday came around, my energy was still a bit low, but I felt solid enough to commit to a Long Run on Saturday.

Elden Up Over & Back
The Route: Up Mount Elden Road (~2,500ft of climbing up forest service type road)... then down Mt Elden Lookout Trail (~2,500 descent down rocky single track). Once I get to the bottom, I just have to turn around and do it in reverse. This route is about 18miles + I would tack on 3miles in total since I was starting from my house.

I was lucky enough to have some company for the run... Brian Tinder (coming off his Sedona Marathon victory) and Eric Bohn (coming off his 2nd Place Finish at the Moab 55k). Both these guys are running really strong right now, so the plan was to just let these guys pull me along.

We started the run at my house and completed the 1.5mile warmup to the "Elden Road Gate" in 10min. Then the climb started. We kept the pace conversational. The weather was warming up quickly as such the ice towards the bottom was already getting slushy.

Pushing our way up the mountain, we skimmed across giant sheets of ice and crunchy snow. When we got to the top, we were greeted with gusts of wind that had to be in the 50 to 60mph range. Pretty knarly. We got to the top in 50:30. Not too bad considering the conditions.

We "Gel -ed Up" and made our way down Elden Lookout trail navigating the post holes and deep snow / ice for at least the first mile. At that point, conditions were clear except for the occasional ice patch. We hopped over the rocks and roots.. before we knew it, we had made it to the Elden Lookout Trail head in 37:45.

Once again, we through down some gels and peered back towards the trail we just descended... back up we go. At this point, I could really feel my energy lagging. My guess was that my body was still recovering from being ill for nearly 2 weeks. Despite how easy the first half felt, this run might turn into a real dogfight..

As we grinded our way up the Mountain, I had no pop in my legs and I had the kind of tired feeling that radiated over my entire body. I was gassed. I decided to pull back a bit at that point and not push too hard. After making that decision, Eric & Brian quickly closed the gap and we went most of the way within 30seconds of each other. As we neared the top, Eric hopped by me and pushed through the snowy / icy sections. I just tried to stay with him and before I knew it we were at the top in 44:41.

At the top, I started getting a lot of cramping in calves.. which worried me a little, but after a mile of running with caution down the road, my body seemed to rally and I was fine the rest of the day.

Other than the near slips on the ice, the descent was very mellow and uneventful. We got to the gate in 43:00... and then cooldown to my house in about 11min.

The total run was 3:17:17. Considering where I have been over the past couple weeks... A perfect day.

Eric Bohn Enjoying the Cool Breeze at the Top of Mt Elden

Some of the Wildlife at the Top (Brian Tinder)

The View of the Dry Southside

The San Francisco Peaks from Elden


Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19, 2012 - The Moab 55k That Never Happened

Coming in to Moab I was worried about my fitness, but what ultimately did me in was a nasty sore throat and fever. After feeling a bitt off Friday morning, I made the decision to head to Moab and hope that things would turn around. Not only did I not start feeling better, I actually made a turn for the worst.

Despite how I was feeling Friday night, I held out hope that a good nights sleep would cure things and that I would be able to tough the race out.

Saturday morning came and I felt horrible. I decided to prepare as if I was going to race and make the go or no-go decision after my warmup. Five minutes into my warmup, I was absolutely exhausted and struggling to catch my breath. That was it.... I wasn't racing.

When I wasn't sleeping in my car, I popped out and tried to support the folks that did run. I also made a quick stop at the Moab Hospital and got some antibiotics. My hope is that I can get this sick stuff turned around soon and get back to running. It was hard to drive the almost 6hrs to race and then pull-out, but I know it was the right / smart thing to do. Now to get healthy.. then.. get in shape.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012 - Pre Moab Thoughts

Well.. only 2days out from Moab 55k. I am really looking forward to the trip and the chance to hang out with the Flag Running crew.. As for the race, I have just about the lowest expectations that I have had in nearly 3 years. My mileage has been VERY low.. my consistency has been questionable.. my stress levels have been off the charts the past few weeks due to work.. and I have a bit of a cold that I am just about all the over (thank goodness!)... The only positive thing about my training has been my consistent Saturday Long Runs. I have managed running at least 20miles each Saturday for the past 7 weeks...

So what does that mean for Saturday???.. Your guess is as good as mine. My goal is to "just go for a run" and finish. Pretty simple and it should be attainable. My plan after this weekend is to draw a line in the sand and get back to a solid schedule. Originally, I had some big plans for April & June, so to meet those I am going to have to get it going soon. No better time than next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 13, 2012 - Consistent Week.. Phoenix Run.. & a Science Experiment

Consistent Week
For the first time in about a month, I was able to complete a "consistent" week of running. Still feeling off, but I am happy to be heading in the right direction. My mileage was still WAY under the 90miles/week I would like to be running right now, but at this point, I will take what I can get.

Phoenix Run
After some solid running, I finished the week with a 20miler in Phoenix on the Black Canyon Trail System in North Phoenix. I was considering running in the Agassiz Uphill race the same day, but due to some rental property issues, I had to take a trip down the hill.. thus a long run on single track was a great substitute.

I started my run at the Rock Springs exit off of I-17. It was around 8am and already in the mid-60s. According to the forecast, the temps were going to reach near 80 degrees. That is hot for me this time of year... but a nice change of pace from wearing hat & gloves.

I wound my way through the rocky, rolling single track for a total of 10miles. My goal was to scout a route up to the top of Crown King (the highest point on the trail system). After around 1hr 20min of running & navigating, I ended up taking a "closed" road that took me to the base of the mountains and dead ended. I contemplated scrambling up towards the top, but besides being low on water.. I was in the middle of now where and I started having visions of the movie 127 hours.

Instead of "forcing" my way up the rocky, cactus covered mountain, I decided to turn back and push the pace on the 10mile return route.

I had been dead-legged all day, but something really kicked in around 2hours. I felt great. Maybe it was the heat melting my brain.. but I felts as if I was floating over the rocky curvy terrain. Before I knew it, I was back in the middle of civilization and chugging a milk-jug of water. Not a bad day.

Science Experiment:
The final day of running for the week was related to a science experiment my 3rd grader had designed for school. It was called "Heavy Running" and his hypothesis was that running with added weight would slow you down. Seemed logical enough to me. So me, my wife, and my oldest son strapped a backpack to our back and ran 100m intervals. The first time with no weight, the second time with 5lbs, the 3rd time with 10lbs, and the 4th time with 15lbs. Leading up to the fourth and final leg, the hypothesis seemed to hold true. On the fourth run, everyone ran slower except me. In all honesty, I ran as hard as I could and ended up running my fastest split. We tried to keep our effort even, but I think the motivation of proving I could run "fast" with 15lbs on my back overcame the drag created by the extra weight.

All in all it was a good week. Next week I am hoping to keep things going and head into Moab with legs that are ready to run.

View of Crown King from the Start

Let's get it started!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 07, 2012 - Rough Week.. Then a Struggle with the Canyon

Coming off a solid weekend where I ran 25miles (3.5hrs) in the Canyon on Saturday and 18miles on a mix of trails & roads on Sunday, I was feeling really good about where my training was going. Then came Monday. Despite traveling for work, I managed a solid 10miler on single track on the Black Canyon Trails in Phoenix, but honestly, I just didn't feel quite right. As the week wore on, my schedule ramped up at work (along with my stress levels) so my running really took a nose dive. Not only did I feel to physically tired to run, but mentally, I just didn't have it. That's just not like me.. but I guess it happens.

Leading up to my Saturday run in the Canyon, my weekly mileage was at a pathetic 23miles. Funny thing is, I felt like I had put in 120miles of hard running.. I was tired.

Saturday morning came and I ended up meeting up with a couple of my running buds - - Erin Hutchinson (one of the original Canyon Runners) & Ace Baty (a wild man who is known for his epic solo adventures). We met up with Jared Scott at the Canyon and start dropping down S. Kaibab as the sun started to come up. The first 1/2 mile was wicked slick, but after that the trail was only icy in spots. As such, we kept the pace very conservative and just "shot the breeze".

Excluding a couple flat sections, we kept the pace really mellow and ending up hitting the River in about 57min. Not a bad time considering we had it in cruise most of the way.

At that point, we started to split up.. Erin turned back for the Rim, while Ace, Jared, & I headed for Phantom. On the run over to Phantom, I knew I was in for a long climb out. My legs were heavy and my energy felt low. At that point, I decided to shoot for running in the neighborhood of 75min from the River to the Rim. My thought was that if I could run that pace feeling like I do today, I should be able to run that almost any time.

Before I knew it, we had our water bottles refilled.. gels consumed.. and we were on our way back up. Right out of the gate, I knew that I wouldn't see much of Jared. He had quickly taken the form of a mountain goat and was flying up the steep climb as if it was an escalator. I had chosen a more cautious approach and was simply dropping into "grind mode". I knew I was going to be battling just to keep a solid pace, so I just started grinding out the miles.

Most of the run was a blur excluding the stops for the mule trains. I kept my effort constant and my pace seemed to follow. As I pushed up the final few steps, I looked at my watch and saw 1:15:03. Considering both my mental and physical states.. I'll take it.

What now???.. My goal over the next few weeks is to get things going. I am trying not to put too much pressure on my training.. but at the same time trying to focus on "just running". My hope is that work will subside a bit over the next 4 to 6 weeks and I will be able to get a little better balance with the training. Time will tell.. until then.. "just run"..