Training Plan Week Ending 03/03/2013

Monday- 5 mile recovery run.
Tuesday-
8 mile steady paced run.
Wednesday- Track session with coach Sally.
Thursday- Active recovery bike, swim etc. no running.
Friday- 45 to 60 minute run.
Saturday- 16 miles, but no more than 3 hours….whichever you hit first.
Sunday- 90 minute long run.

We’ve been busy with some out remodeling so the blog has been suffering.   Saturday will actually be a race – the Big Baz 30k trail race.  So, I’ll do more like 18 miles.

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Week Ending 02/24/2013 in Review

Here was the plan:

Monday- 6 mile recovery run. – Completed – I ran up O’Neill Park to the campground.
Tuesday-
6 mile Tempo : 2 mile general aerobic pace, 3 miles at 8:40 pace, and 1 CD aerobic pace.  Completed at a faster pace.  I did the 8:40 pace going uphill.
Wednesday- Big Bend Hill Loop with Sally- 6:45am. This run will range anywhere between 7-10miles…..this is NOT a speed run. Emphasis is on “climbing” and maintaining proper form when you’re tired.  Completed.  We did a couple thousand feet of climbing.
Thursday- Easy recovery run 5 miles on bike path/dirt….stretch where you need to. Foam roll and stretch and ice today.
Friday- Active recovery bike, swim etc. no running  Completed on elliptical while reading Ultramarathon Man
Saturday- 14 miles, but no more than 3 hours….whichever you hit first.    See post on Los Pinos
Sunday- 10 miles, but no more than 2 hours.

Last week was pretty awesome in terms of hill work.   Tuesday’s tempo run was easy and I ran it at a faster pace than Coach Sally asked for.  Both Wednesday and Saturday were a lot of climbing.  Sunday’s run with the OC Trail Tales was nice but somewhat of a grind.  My legs were tired from Saturday and I had house projects waiting for me after the run and that was weighing on my mind.    Overall, this was a great week.  I did more miles than ever in a single week at 45 and did over 7000 feet of climbing.

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Los Pinos a.k.a. “The Beast” or “Hell on Earth”

How do I describe the most difficult run I’ve done yet.  I guess I’ll try.

I was invited my friend Keira to join a group of very talented (read race winning) ultramarathon runners to go for a run on a local trail called Los Piños that was part of the now defunct Los Piños 50k race (which by the way may have a resurrection soon, stay tuned).  More accurately, this is the part of the race is described as “hell on earth” and given the nickname of “The Beast” by non other than Badwater 135 finisher Michelle Barton – she knows pain.

So of course, I jumped at the chance to run with some awesome people.   I wasn’t sure who all was going to be there and the group turned out to be the fearsome foursome of 2012 AC100 winner (among other wins) Chris Price, multiple Western States 100 top 5 finisher Tom Nielson, top three finisher at Miwok and Waldo Jesse Haynes and the guy who hasn’t yet run an ultra – ME!

My "Running" Partners for the day.

My “Running” Partners for the day.

I felt lucky to be among such great athletes but I was scared to be running an extremely hard trail with people who were way above my current fitness level.

Everything started out fine and friendly with a little road run to the trail head.  Once on the trail we immediately started climbing.  Chris let me take the lead and I ran slowly up the first part of the trail.  We were having a cordial conversation  for about five minutes when my gasping for air started to make talking difficult.  Chris seemed to be out for a Saturday stroll so I wisely let him take the lead.

After about a half mile we hit the first real climb of the day.  I’ve seen some steep hills and this was about as steep as any but longer.  We were all power hiking at this point but I was working about 1000 times harder than my partners and I also let Tom and Jesse pass me on the single track trail.   I know these guys are training and I didn’t want to hold anyone up.

The first mile was done and my legs were burning, my heart rate was up at about 90% of maximum and I was breathing hard and I’d really only been power hiking.  We would reach a summit on the trail and then after a momentary flat spot or downhill the steep climbing would begin again.  At mile 1.5 I thought I could not take another 7 miles of this.  I was afraid I’d bonk or slow down so much I’d be on the trial for many hours.  I was doubting my judgement for not only being on that run but for getting into the sport.  This shit was hard.  But, all the while these doubts filled my head, I kept moving forward.  One sometimes tiny step after the next, I kept moving forward.

Jesse and I had to stop to take of our outer layers of clothing.  We’d started with long sleeves and hats in the 30 degree temperatures but now the sun was beating down upon us on the ridge and we were generating major body heat.  Chris and Tom broke away at this point and thankfully Jesse stayed with me.

My Trail Buddy for the Day Jesse Haynes

My Trail Buddy for the Day Jesse Haynes

He’s been nursing an injury for a while now and didn’t want to push his pace and I think he knew I was struggling and wanted to stick with me.  Either way, I was glad for some company.  With the doubts running through my head I might have turned back if not for the company.

We continued to climb.  It’s hard to describe the mental grinding required to keep up this level of effort for more than two solid hours.   My legs hurt and were tired the whole time.  I took small steps, long steps, side steps, any kind of step I could to find some fresh muscle somewhere in my legs and kept ascending.  The climbs were about twice the pitch of set of stairs.  The downhills were a such a relief when they came but were way too short.  After maybe a minute of running the grind began again.

Perhaps the most tortuous part of this trail is the false hope it keeps providing.  Over a distance of about 8 miles and about 4300 feet of elevation gain there are no less than 12 false peaks before you get to the actual summit.

Previous false summit seen from the next false summit

Previous false summit seen from the next false summit

I would get to the top of a peak and then see one more another three or four hundred feet higher and think “Oh, that must be the summit, I can do that” and then I’d reach that peak only to see yet another one maybe five hundred feet higher and steeper.  Every summit was like getting punched in the gut.  When would this end?

Despite the arduous climbing, the day was really beautiful.  We were getting up over 4000 feet elevation and the views were incredible.  Jesse pointed out Mt. Baldy in the distance and the OC was stretched out beneath us.  There was still snow on the ground on some of the protected areas of the trail and I got to do a little snow running.  Jesse did a great job of pacing through the last couple miles of the climb.  He lied his ass off like any good pace and told me that we’d completed the hard climbs or there was only one more as we topped each summit.  This gave me hope that I could make it and I kept moving forward.

Finally after two hours and fifteen minutes of climbing we could see Main Divide road just below the next peak.  Reaching Main Divide meant finally some relief in the form of easy downhill fire road running to Blue Jay camp.  We made the last summit and scrabbled down some loose rock to the road.

I’d made it!  I’d concurred “The Beast.”  Jesse and I cruised down the road and I was feeling really good.  My legs felt strong again and I could have run a fast pace if I’d wanted to.  I said to Jesse “I’m feeling pretty awesome right now!” and I was.  The pain and struggle had been erased from my mind and been replaced by overwhelming accomplishment and hope.   I’d climbed almost as much elevation as the entire race I’m running in April in about one third the distance and I was alive and running.

After a couple quick miles we met back up with Chris and Tom and Keira was waiting there with her truck and the Oatmeal Cookies I’d baked in honor of the day.  I got some nice high fives and congratulations from everyone for completing the run.  I thanked everyone profusely for letting me run with them and was feeling especially grateful to Jesse for keeping me company.

I jumped in Keria’s truck and headed down the mountain as the four of them ran the remaining 14 miles back down to the Lazy W camp and trail head via San Juan trail.

Despite this being a hard, hard day I’m so glad I did it.  I learned that I can do this. I might not be the fastest or the fittest yet, but there’s hope.  And I’m learning the meaning of the cliche about just putting one foot in front of the other.  When it gets difficult, that’s all that needs to be done.  Keep doing that and eventually the finish line arrives.

Elevation profile:

Lots of gain and false summits

Lots of gain and false summits

More pictures from the day.

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Big Bend

Had a great training session today with two good hill climbs the biggie being this great hill know as Big Bend.  It’s a little over a mile with about 800 feet of vertical gain.   The run started with a warmup and then a first climb up Willow trail.    It was all great race preparation.

I can tell I’m getting stronger even though my legs still look like toothpicks.

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Training Plan Week Ending 02/24/2013

Monday- 6 mile recovery run.
Tuesday-
6 mile Tempo : 2 mile general aerobic pace, 3 miles at 8:40 pace, and 1 CD aerobic pace.
Wednesday- Big Bend Hill Loop with Sally- 6:45am. This run will range anywhere between 7-10miles…..this is NOT a speed run. Emphasis is on “climbing” and maintaining proper form when you’re tired.
Thursday- Easy recovery run 5 miles on bike path/dirt….stretch where you need to. Foam roll and stretch and ice today.
Friday- Active recovery bike, swim etc. no running
Saturday- 14 miles, but no more than 3 hours….whichever you hit first.
Sunday- 10 miles, but no more than 2 hours.

Monday and Tuesday are already completed successfully and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!!

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Week Ending 2/17 in Review

Here was the plan:

Monday – Grateful for some rest
Tuesday – 5 easy plus core training
Wednesday – 7 on easy trails
Thursday – Coaching Session with Sally McRae – Hills and strength work
Friday – 5 for recovery
Saturday – 10 aerobic trail run – Woods Canyon with OC TrailTales
Sunday – 8 aerobic trail run plus core training – This will be at Blue Jay with SoCal TrailHeadz

Tuesday’s 5 miles after work went ok, my right adductor was sore and hurting the last mile.  I did the planks and pushups in the morning and those were much harder than I expected!

There were a couple of variables that impacted the overall week.  My peroneals were still bugging me a little so I went to see Joshua Malpass at OC Rolfing on Wednesday.  Keira recommended him to me and I had never heard of Rolfing before.  It was a really amazing experience.  It was more intense than a deep tissue massage but focused on connective tissue and freeing up my muscles to be shaped and move properly.   He spent 90 minutes just on my legs and didn’t even get to my quads or glutes.   I was shocked when after the treatment my left foot that always pointed outward by about 30 degrees had pretty much straightened!   I felt much looser and better aligned.   However, my seven mile run needed to be canceled as recommend by Joshua.

My weekly Thursday workout with Sally also was impacted by injury.  I was pretty sore generally the day after the Rolfing and my adductors were hurting for some unknown reason.  Sally and I did a warmup run and tried to do some hill work but I was hurting too much to really get into it.  Instead, she put me through a 45 minute non-stop core, leg, and running drill routine.   It was a good workout – just enough to leave me tired and sore but not causing injury or leaving me unable to run.

I ran 5 at 5AM Friday so we could go out to dinner after work and felt good.  I also did a 2.5 mile walk to lunch.

Saturday’s run with Trail Tales was nice.  I froze my ass off at first.  Internet weather said it was in the high 40s so I wore only shorts and a tech shirt.  When I got to Woods & Aliso Canyon it was actually 37 degrees and there was frost on the ground.  We took off and after a mile my hands were so cold they actually hurt.  Thankfully the sun rose and we were on the sunny side of the canyon and after about an hour I was actually sweating a little.   I had a good little group going with me, Kyle, Ricardo, a new guy John, Darlene and Joel.  We went up to rim of the world and did about 1000 feet vertical.

Sunday was supposed to be 8 easy miles on trails but I had planned to run with the SoCal Trail Headz group.  After meeting at The Candy Store a few of us decided to run 10 up to Sitton Peak.  It was a tough scramble up to the summit, but the views were great and well worth the effort.

Weekly Totals:Count: 5 Runs
Distance: 32 Miles
Time: 6 hrs 18 mins
Climb: 3883 feet
Avg. HR: 141

Feeling good on top of Sitton Peak

Feeling good on top of Sitton Peak

 

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On Toughness

I write this as I site here the evening of February 14th cradling a bag of ice in my crotch hoping my sore adductor muscles will feel better. Tomorrow at 5AM I need do my recovery run and loosen up my legs from the workout this morning with my coach Sally.

Am I tough enough?  I think about this often.  Am I tough enough to be an ultrarunner?  What does this even mean – toughness?   Enduring pain?  Persevering?  Competing?  Or, is it just a matter of getting my ass out of bed at 5:00 AM to go running in the cold when the electric blanket feels oh-so-good?

I never really thought about the subject until I listened to a podcast on Trail Runner Nation featuring Ashley Walsh where Ash and the TRN guys discussed the topic at length.   That podcast has stayed with me since I listened to it.   It does take a lot of toughness to do this and the answers to the questions above are all yes.  I do have to endure pain.  I do have to be mentally tough.  I do have to be persevere when things seem bleak and be able to get my ass out of bed and go running even when I don’t want to.  Training for an ultra is really a near constant exertion of toughness.  If I’m not running, I making sure I’ve planned my today out well enough to give me time to run and still meet all my other commitments while at the same time planning tomorrow to do the same.

Perhaps the greatest bit of toughness is facing down my fears.  Can I really do this?  Can I be a competitor?   Will I fail?  Why don’t I just give up now before I have a chance to be disappointed (again). I’m not anyone, I’m not some stud who runs ultras, what the fuck am I thinking?  Marianne Williamson said it best in her often repeated quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?…”

These demons are the ones that attempt to slay me in my quiet moments.  These are the guys who I really have to compete with, outlast, and ultimately vanquish to prove my toughness.

The running, at that point, will seem easy.

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Training Plan week of 2/11/13

Monday – Grateful for some rest

Tuesday – 5 easy plus core training

Wednesday – 7 on easy trails

Thursday – Coaching Session with Sally McRae – Hills and strength work

Friday – 5 for recovery

Saturday – 10 aerobic trail run – Woods Canyon with OC TrailTales

Sunday – 8 aerobic trail run plus core training – This will be at Blue Jay with SoCal TrailHeadz

This should total up to about 40 miles which will be my highest mileage week to date.

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My First run with Brittany!

Sunday I finally got to run with a our friends Brittany and Matt along with their buddy Ron. All three as super solid runners. Matt and Brittany both finished the Chimera 100 last year and Ron’s a veteran of 26 marathons including a couple Bostons. On top of their running credentials, they are all great human beings to be around as well.
We started off at the Nix center in Laguna Canyon on a route I’ve never taken before with perfect running weather – overcast and low 50s temperature. My legs were still pretty beat up from Friday’s workout (that’ll be another post) and the first couple miles were a drag. After getting to the top of the ridge line we starting playing around racing up the rolling hills. We came down Little Sycamore, a nice little stretch of downhill single track, and I picked up my pace and let my legs stretch out a bit as we finished the loop back to Nix. We added another mile on the flat at the end to make the run an even 6.
The bummer was I didn’t get to spend much time with Brittany because I was too busy racing the boys. Next time we’ll go for a slow distance run and be able to catch up.
More on the funny small world tale of the relationship between Me, Stephannie, Matt and Brittany later.

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Welcome to Version 3

Every runner has a blog.  I run but I had a cooking blog which I hardly ever posted to anymore since I spend all my free time running and not cooking.  Today I rectify that situation and launch borderlineperfect.com version 3 – The Running and Cooking edition.

Version 1 consisted of cooking posts and various political rants.  I moved the site from blogger to WordPress with version 2 and took down the political posts and stopped writing the rants;  I’d grown tired of reading my own words so I assumed everyone else had as well.   Hopefully blogging about my running won’t cause me to get bored with that as well.

 

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