Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This Year's Race Schedule

The secret to weight loss (aside from better eating habits and more exercise) is telling people that you have a goal, it helps you stick to it. Actually those are all the secrets for weight loss. I find that the secret for getting my ass out of the house to get exercise is to train for races. If I don't have a race it is easy to make excuses. I'm tired, it's raining or I'd rather just drink some beer and read a book or watch TV. Following the weight loss formula I'm publishing the races that I have selected for the year.
On that note, I'm going for a run.
* Goal Race, and One of Baltimore or Marine Corps
** Maybe, We'll see how the shorter ultra goes before getting really crazy and thinking about submitting an application

Edit: I think I got the date for the 4 miler from last year, I am heavily overbooked for the 19th 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A weekend of running, a new hydration pack and the LAWS Half Marathon (PR)

It was a down week in my training schedule for the Mid-Atlantic Regional North Face Endurance Challenge 50K. On June 5th I will have 9 hours to complete the ~31 mile course.

Saturday was a good 12 mile run with Mandy and Cherry from Great Falls to Algonkian Park on the Potomac Heritage Trail which makes up or at least parallels a fair amount of TNFEC DC route. The weather was beautiful if slightly chilly and a little windy. We finished faster than I had previously done that section ~2:30. I didn't feel at all bad letting them head back to and around Great Falls for another 14 or so miles. This was the first time out with the Nathan vest and I have to say I like it. Sunday was the Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter (LAWS) Half Marathon. I had planned to go out easy, continue on and finish that way, a nice easy supported training run. Having reviewed my results from my first running of the event in 2009 I knew that I needed to beat a 10:15/mi pace to PR and decided to see how I felt in the morning after an early start, trip to Columbia and a Caps game in DC and late celebration at the Irish Channel for the Caps second game against the Habs the day before.

Race day, it was cold when I woke up at 6 after about 4 hours of sleep. I had pre-mixed fuel in my new Nathan HPL 020 with its HydraPak bladder to replace my older leaking CamelBak with its taped patches, pinned on my number, attached my timing chip, laid out my clothes and set the coffee maker to start brewing at 5:50. I rolled out of the house about 7:15 and arrived in the parking lot around 7:30. I mustered the will to get out of the car and into the cold wander into the hall, chat with Conan and eventually back out for a lack luster warmup only to find that my Garmin would not turn on even though I took it off the charger right before I left the house. Oh well, I have RunKeeper which works well enough if my phone can get GPS signals.

At almost exactly not quite 8:30 the race started after an abysmally down tempo rendition of the National Anthem. In the first half mile I felt horrible and thought to myself that if I hadn't crossed the starting line I could just quit. It's one thing to not start but another thing entirely to DNF and I wasn't going to start doing that now. At mile 1 I got the first and only split until after the turn around. 00:11:49 eh, I thought so much for a PR. Got to the first water at about 1.25mi skipped it but took a drink from the pack and a walk to adjust the shock cord on the Nathan, it was managing to brush me right on the funny bone every so often.

Around mile 3 I loosened up and started enjoying the race, around 4.5 the leaders on the road started passing on the return leg. Then I had to stop and urinate the second of three times during the race, I guess that is a good sign for getting re-hydrated after Saturday but it seemed ridiculous. I started passing some people who had gone by in the first three miles but still took it easy with no real idea of pace or HR. A few times I noticed that my breathing was a bit labored and backed off to easy again reducing pace on inclines and just going with the flow.

At mile 7 the second split on the course I got ~1:11:30 and realized that even with the horrible beginning, a bit of walking and running easy I was close enough that the ~10:14 I would need to make a PR was in reach if I kept it up and maybe pushed a little on the down hills (forgetting that the return really seems like it is mostly long slow climbs). I rolled on with renewed enthusiasm. From 7 - 12.1 my split was ~2:01:?? and I thought, holy crap I just flew through those miles like nothing, even with another pit stop all I needed was nice fairly easy 10:00/mi to be sure of a good PR. A short sprint up the last little hill and across the line left me with a new Half Marathon PR of 2:10:37 down from 2:14:17 in 2009.

Equipment thoughts

Nathan HPL 020

The Good:

  • No bottles (as with the FuelBelt) to hit with my thighs on obstacles
  • Front facing pockets are great and totally missing from my CamelBak packs primarily used for cycling.
  • Hammer Perpetum in the reversible bladder (for cleaning) works well, no problems with flow.

The only OK:

  • The bite valve, when the bladder is full and I am running the valve drips/squirts a little as fluid sloshes. I find myself turning the flow on and off via the push pull mechanism which I think adversely affects my ability to sip as frequently as I did with the CamelBak.
  • Bite valve on/off the push pull mechanism, it works but it isn't my favorite.
  • Having recently been shopping for hiking packs...I would really like the strap adjustments to pull towards the back (your front) so that I could snug the pack on the run. Again thinking that I could slightly modify the fit as content and volume change.
  • I had snugged the shock cord on the back of the pack to see how it affected the fairly minimal sloshing I had noticed. It didn't seem to make a difference but the now longer end of the cord swung to gently tap me on the funny bone every so often.
  • The closed zip pocket on the front has the same mesh back, if I were to store a phone/camera in the pocket I would need to continue to use a bag inside the pocket.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

3 days and 60 miles with a loaded pack

It is with little in the way of surprise that I must report the outcome of this weekends hiking adventure as generally successful (1.5 days 31.8 miles) with a large helping of pain and failure On the list of failures:
  • Over packing
  • Feet / Foot care
  • Practice
  • Sunscreen (lack of)
  • Hydration
  • Scouting for the theoretical JFK 50
  • Still alive
  • Generally good time (ignoring the feet)
  • ~32 miles in 1.5 days
Chocolate Malt MilkshakeFood I packed way too much food, baking meat into bread seemed like such a good idea. The trial run went well but on the trail the amount consumed was less than expected and the results turned out dry. ~ 3,000 Cal (~1lb) of trail mix ... this seemed reasonable at the time but I never went into the bulk storage bag consuming only the 4 servings (640 cal , ~.25 lbs) in the ready access bag on my belt over 1.5 days. In retrospect this alone would have been good for ~1 day eating almost nothing else. ~1,250 Cal (~1lb) dehydrated fruit, see above. I did consume the two servings in the bag on my belt (~220 cal) ~9,700 Cal (~3.5 lbs) of meat roll (2 lbs flour, .5lb meat .5lb cheese, 0.11lb olive oil, water) without double checking my math (which I clearly didn't do before hand for weight or calorie density. Consumed ~3200 cal) ~1,100 Cal (~.6lb + ~1.5lb water) pre-mixed Hammer Perpetuem (Sitting in the fridge from last week, needed to be consumed) ~1560 Cal (~1lb) Perpetuem powder as emergency just add water food ~340 Cal (100g) Recoverite powder. Consumed ~170 Cal at end of day 1. Additionally, we had planned dinner in Sharpsburg Day 1, Lunch outside Boonsboro Day 2, Dinner at Gathland Day 2, Brunch Day 3 why did I take none of this into account when planning food? I have no idea. ~ 4.75/6.75 lbs of food that I did not consume. Had I not abandoned the hike I would have needed food for the rest of a day of hiking and breakfast the next day (at most one more day of food), fail. 2.5 miles before lunch on day 2 we stopped at an Ice Cream Parlor where I got a Chocolate Malt! Then at the Old South Mountain Inn a burger with great fries.
The Lisa Burger 
Why is it that I packed all this food again?

Almost Food Messkit: We had decided not to carry a stove. I was on the point on leaving this in the car but didn't. Other Some clothes and socks I didn't need but I would be hard pressed to not carry. e.g. warm layer I didn't end up needing but could have worn as it got cool Friday night. More selective reduction in medications/supplies and extras would have been warranted and probably would have saved at least a pound. BodyGlide is good on thighs. I think it is good on feet for hiking but I don't have enough of a sample size to tell. Failure Why didn't I put on more sunscreen Saturday morning? I don't know either, a bit of sunburn on the tops of my ears and backs of my hands (but really my ears) will teach me to reapply. The C&O Canal water pumps were all winterized. Including the mixed Perpetuem I started with ~.65 gallons of water (2L hydration bladder). More frequent water and better hydration is needed. When I thought about it I also took Hammer Endurolytes (~9 capsules in 1.5 days, not enough) Foot care, my feet are a wreck. Various sources talk of many reasons for blisters including dampness, fit and bad humors. Having recently run 20 miles in wet shoes without blisters I currently subscribe to the hydration and electrolyte imbalance results in swelling and swollen flesh is less able to support weight theory of blister formation (that and the wet sand in your shoe always causes blisters theory). I know I was dehydrated, I know I have a high sweat rate and dump a lot of sodium. 
Sweat Stained Pantsblistered feet 
Practice: I got my pack 4 days before the hike. While the fit seemed good and I have no pain other than my feet even with a pack weight of ~32 lbs (closer to 40 with food and full water, why I didn't weigh immediately before leaving I don't know).
  • More practice will likely result in better packing discipline.
  • Less weight will provide less load on the feet.
  • Shorter loaded practice hikes would likely have revealed problems with footwear, sock or whatever selection (as it is I don't know if this is an actual issue or not)
JFK 50: I still believe that I am not planning on doing (or even sending in an entry for the JFK 50) but I am entertaining the concept as a followup to the North Face 50K (or the NF 50K is a trial on ultra marathons after being asked if I wanted to do the JFK 50). I dropped off the hike after doing only the walk from Boonsboro to the AT, the very beginning (~2mi) of the JFK route so much for scouting. At this point I think there is not a single one of us who didn't learn something on this hike or come away unscathed. On the other hand we are all talking about what to do to make the next one better. The route from 0 - 31.8 Smugmug Photo Gallery