Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Looking for new (trail) shoes

I can now put my fingers through the sides of both of my NorthFace Singletracks, the duct tape in the left heel is working out well and I didn't get a blister where the heel cup had started pressing and the liner is wearing out. The soles and midsole seem fine but the rest of the shoes have seen better days after 350 miles.

On Monday Saucony came out to =PR= in Leesburg and had their Men's ProGrid Peregrine available. I really liked how light they were and the grip felt good on the moderate terrain near Leesburg. The cushioning seemed somewhat minimal but sufficient (two days post a foot pounding 50k). The minimal drop seemed fine. If they had a wider toe box I would have bought a pair


On Tuesday Adidas came out to =PR= Ashburn and brought out a something zero, I don't think it is released yet. It it was super light and felt cool and breezy. The cushioning was not quiet enough for me and as is the trend the toe box was narrow even having gone up a size to get it wide enough for my foot in general.

Gunpowder 50k

The Gunpowder 50K was the inaugural event with this course and name in Gunpowder Falls State Park.

An out and back course starting at the Gunpowder Lodge running through Gunpowder State Park the race description "The Gunpowder trail provides various challenges ranging from rocky terrain, continuous climbs and questionable blazes." I only had problems at the turn around where I couldn't see the aid station and about 6 miles from the finish where I was lined up just right to not be able to see the next blaze or bit of marking tape.

I took a few photos during the run

A few photos from the course

It was an attractive course but apparently the leaves just fell in recent rain covering the otherwise very visible trail.

The race went fairly well for me. I finished 50 minutes faster than my last 50k but started having some discomfort with my left knee around mile 12. On the return I ran for a while chatting with some mountain bikers thinking that we must be crazy to be running 30+ miles. It felt to me like it was turning into a race for last and for the first time ever in a long race I actually tried to race instead of finish or just better my previous results. I pushed to get back over the hills to the rock scrambles and corners to stay out of sight but it didn't work.

As it turns out I was feeling generally fine except for the nagging pain in my knee which turned into an inability to effectively run downhill. With maybe six miles to go I had difficulty finding the course and stopped for a minute looking for blazes while doing that my ITB tightened up. I started hobbling to the end and on the way my ITB loosened allowing me to run on and off but never got back to the point where I was running comfortably. At the 4ish mile aid station I stopped to write in my time and the delay had me hobbling out the other side on a horse trail. Steve pulled up and asked if I was okay and I jokingly allowed with a grin that I might drop at the next aid station (the finish). At 2-3 miles he was waiting at the last road crossing to pull up the signs asking if I needed anything (maybe I looked really bad the last time he saw me?).

With about 2 miles left I realized I was close to shaving an hour off my last 50k. Fortunately the last bits were mostly flat. Unfortunately this is also where I tripped on a root onto a nice truly soft bit of trail, I rolled through the fall and kept running but noticed that I needed to finish the last however long in 30s and I still couldn't see the finish. I backed off to a hard but runnable (for some values of running) pace. I got to the line DFL to cheers from finished runners at the outside tables and the crowd still at the line.

This was the first time I really noticed any ITB tightness/pain and I attribute it to the heavy racing/training schedule at the end of the year. I'm still recovering a bit with a foam roller stretches and massage and think I am managing the recovery nicely so far.

(On Slacking, this was written December 27th 2010, not sure why I never hit publish. Good job on that)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

WinterClassic 2011

The first batch of pictures from the WinterClassic in Pittsburgh.

We had a great time loved the move to the evening and of course the perfect start to the new year was a Caps victory after a good game of hockey.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

MCM Race Report or An Example of Poor Execution

Marine Corps was my target race this year after making the questionable decision to run Baltimore (as a last overly long taper) two weeks before. I had been hoping to cut another 30 minutes off my marathon to break 4 hours.

The short story is that while I think my training was generally on target my execution failed.

I got out of the house about 10 minutes later than I had been aiming for but still with what I expected to be plenty of time to spare. Parking was fine and it took 5-10 minutes to park and make it to Court House Metro. Just as I was passing through the gate I heard a train depart. I was expecting trains to be running on rush hour schedule unfortunately the next train to Rosslyn was show as being 15 minutes, from Rosslyn to Pentagon the trains were about 6 minutes apart and the wait was about 4 minutes.

From the Pentagon to the start is ~1.75 mi. I had a bag to check, 12 minutes to the start and I could use a trip to the can. Instead of trying to run to the bag check and start I decided to remain calm and make my best progress without going crazy. I got to the bag check just before 8am and with expected punctuality the race started. I was still about a mile from the start and could still use the toilet and I decided to spend the time before crossing the start instead of with my race clock running.

Both sides of 110 go to the starting line and the south bound lane appeared to have substantially fewer people. I crossed over and made my way up passing pace groups in the NB lane down to around (hand carried) signs for the 4:15 group before the field got too crowded to move further forward, after crossing the line the crowds remained tight. Even planning for a couple of slow miles with the crowds and early hills I still found myself getting frustrated after the second mile when I had trouble making good lines and the throngs of people seemed to be composed mainly of interlocking waves intent on randomly and dramatically changing pace.

Mile 5 was almost on pace, Mile 6 with the last real climb was about the pace I expected. Mile 7, a descent, was faster than planned while Mile 8 was again crowded, 9 and 10 were a few seconds behind and ahead respectively but having run the Army 10 Miler helped a bit here with lane selection around construction near the Kennedy Center. Mile 12/13 slowed as the roads narrowed getting onto Hains Point. I also paused for ~15s to stretch as my left glute and hamstring were starting to get tight.
I made the half at 2:04 and realized that given how I was feeling, the crowds etc that there was no way I was going to take 5 minutes off my half marathon PR to make a sub 4 finish. Around Mile 19 I gave up on a big improvement on my PR and decided I was just going to run it in at a relatively easy 10min or so pace thinking that if I could get space and get moving I could hopefully take off a minute or two.
Climbing onto the 14th street bridge and back into the wind I stopped to stretch a couple more times around 20.5 with wide roads I died a little inside and just decided that finishing was generally the new goal. I did eventually finish in 4:47:38, it was clearly not the result I was hoping for but I learned from this race.

Immediately post race the finish chute was very crowded and slow but getting the medals and water went smoothly and fairly quickly. However, trying to get out to the finish festival the crowd was very slow so I stopped and stretched a bit, took stock drank a bit more water and decided to move on. At this point there were further delays and on standing back up but not being able to really move around my calves and hamstrings started to cramp. I walked myself over to the medical tent to get checked out the staff was quite helpful and I quickly got a tylenol and some ice bags to chill my legs. Twenty or thirty minutes later I got up and headed for baggage check collected my things and walked two mostly uphill miles to my car.

Take Aways

  • I had water at every aid. I didn't have any real stomach issues but I was dehydrated at the end.
  • I ran with a hydration pack but drank only half of what I was carrying. I need to go back to wearing a second watch with an interval timer to remind me to drink.
  • I was worried about being cold at the start so I didn't want to allow too much extra time, instead I was late (Crossed the line at 8:13).
  • The large races are fun but I don't necessarily like crowds and the crowded course was frustrating. It was a good experience but I may not run it again.
  • Waiting in line 30s for a port-a-jon before crossing the start was making the best of a bad situation. Already being late two more minutes here didn't make that much more of a difference in the crowd density on the road, probably.

After I got home we had our traditional halloween gathering with a nice fire and chili, this years turn out was not as good as previous years it seems that cool weather and a Sunday are not the most conducive for halloween parties or trick or treat volume.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Army 10 Miler

Friday the 23rd of October was our 5th wedding anniversary, since we were planning on staying in the city overnight I packed to run in the morning. Shortly before we left the house I got a last minute opportunity to run the Army 10 Miler which I accepted. That evening the Caps defeated the Thrashers 4 to 3, we went to the Irish Channel Pub stayed had a late dinner and drinks made our way back to the hotel and eventually got to sleep.

After a brief sleep a convenient but uneventful metro ride to the start I got a bib, dropped off my bag and headed to the start. This is the largest race I have ever run and the mass of people was impressive. As a last longer taper run before Marine Corps I tried to keep my pace to a very easy recovery pace and note the parts of the course that coincide with MCM, in particular the 14th street bridge.

I enjoyed the easy run noticing a bit of heaviness in my legs, a bit of a hangover and felt the lack of sleep. For the last few miles starting on the 14th street bridge I began increasing the pace picking up slowly to my goal marathon pace for the last mile and a half or so. The pace felt OK, the effort seemed to be about what I was expecting for that point in the race. I finished in 1:43:38 a reasonable but unchallenging result.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potomac Heritage 50K

I'm still going to write up my notes from MCM and Army 10 Miler but until I do I'm trying to not fall too far behind.

I got up early to head to the trail and get in a few hours of easy running to shake out my legs before the Turkey Run aid station opened. I was getting antsy to run after going from full on training to racing for three weeks to recovery from MCM.

After an exciting descent down the small cliff to the PHT via not the actual trail I got in another 8 miles and felt good. Shortly after 10 while I was changing my clothes the first runner came through shortly after that I started taking pictures. It was a good time and the after party was also very fun. I met a bunch of new people who's names I have mostly forgotten.

PH50K at Turkey Run Aid carry an egg to the turn around and back (~4mi) for a 10 minute bonus PH50K at Turkey Run Aid PH50K at Turkey Run Aid PH50K after party
Photos Link to The Gallery

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10th Baltimore Marathon Race Report

An abject lesson in not trying something new for a race, even if it supposed to be a fun run.

This was my third time running Baltimore only this year it was an excessively long training run for Marine Corps. I went into the race this year planning on running around a 4:30 or a bit slower than my current marathon PR and my current easy/long training pace. Expecting it to be a long and possibly difficult but not really challenging run I planned to allow for up to a 4:25 finish (and a possibly PR). I had been calling this a fun run in my head for weeks to make sure I wasn't thinking in the back of my head that I was out to really push myself and dig in and compromise my MCM performance.

I was looking for the 4:30 pace group to make sure I wasn't going out too fast or maintaining an overly high pace. I was slightly late and behind at the start and crammed in around the edge of the field they pace group got off into the distance and disappeared. The first ~3.5 miles of the course is generally a slow easy climb it felt easy but I was bottled up instead of weaving and dodging I picked good gaps and took it easy. The weather was phenomenal a bit chilly at the start but once we were moving it was great if a bit windy. Around Druid Hill park/Mile 4 I started running with Debora? and Ken? they were both running their first marathons and it was good to chat.

Part of treating this as training and not a goal race was trying something new, clearly there are no downsides to this plan. I have been running with a Nathan HPL 20 and Hammer Perpetum previously and for all my other marathons I ran with a fuel belt and concentrated fuel. This time I decided to try a SPI belt and very concentrated fuel relying on the water stops for all my water. I was very consciously taking water at every aid station the SPI belt was a little bouncy in my lower back but not a problem. In the end this was a horrible failure.

Around mile 9 I started to feel a bit off and stopped putting in food but kept drinking water and taking endurolytes every hour. I just figured that I was taking too much fuel due to the concentration and I needed to dilute and let my stomach clear I wasn't sloshing but I just felt full. The discomfort continued to increase but otherwise I continued to feel fine. Around mile 12 we caught up with the 4:30 pace group and slowly passed them running a still very comfortable average at 10:07. Around mile 17 Ken paced himself back to us and around 17.5 I told them I needed to take a pit stop and would hopefully catch up over the next few miles. At the mile 18 water stop I had a frustrating bathroom visit producing nothing and wasted three minutes for the rest of the run I would have some occasional gas and feel a bit better for it.

On the way to the lake I called C- looking for moral support, she told me that this was only a training run for MCM and I could drop if I wanted and she would make it to the wedding early for posed pictures (all of which is what I needed to hear). I thought seriously about dropping or vomiting at the 3rd relay leg but recalled someone saying they could have jogged to the end faster than the bus which got stuck in traffic last year and decided to stick it out.

At Lake Motebello Aid I had 1/2 bananna and stopped to get some petroleum jelly for chafing, temps and wind resulted in lack of liquid sweat on skin and I think I lost some lube on my throw away pants. While I was getting extra lube I realized that medical might have an anti-gas, they had generic Maylox with simethicone which is exactly what I was looking for. Around the end of the lake I picked up someone's discarded shirt and put it on, feeling a little chilled I guess from the lower pace or in retrospect maybe dehydration. The last hills and the finish weren't much to mention I slowly began to feel a little better and chatted with and encouraged some runners but I was so in the hole for hydration and nutrition there wasn't any time to recover on the move.

After I collected my bag, drank my recoverite, tried to piss before heading to the car, saw an orange on the ground and decided I really wanted an orange, it was cold juicy and wonderful. I slowly made my way back to the car dumped a gallon of water over my head and scrubbed my pits to rinse off as I wasn't likely to have time to shower before the wedding started. As I was parking I saw the bride walking in and made my best speed changing into emergency clothes from the trunk. Wedding was great, good food and friends. I was tired but not ready to sleep when I got home. Up hydrating and chatting until about 1am with friends who were in town for the wedding. Didn't want to sleep until I had to urinate which took a glass of wine, two glasses of champagne, one beer, 100oz of water and almost 12 hours. Slept in late the next day it was wonderful.

Walked on Sunday and Monday to shake things out and now I feel fully recovered.

How this compares to last year:

Baltimore 5:20 (3rd Marathon, 2nd of 2009, with low grade fever), Space Coast 4:26:55 (4th Marathon, 3rd of 2009, PR) We will see if a horrible Baltimore always makes for a good next race.

Doing the math I took in all of ~300 Calories in the first 2 hours. I would normally do closer to 600. At MCM I'm going back to the Nathan and saying damn the extra ~4 lbs in water weight.

I'll see you next year at Baltimore, I managed to win an entry. Baltimore 2011 is goal race; I'll be the one going faster and finishing stronger than I have before.