Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week Training Log: 10/20 - 10/26

Let the taper begin! As my miles start to decrease in the next couple of weeks before the 24 Hour Race, the only thing I have left to focus on is running my daily loop at a fast and strong pace. Occasionally during a taper I have a tendency to run too cautiously with the mindset of needing to rest as much as possible while simply getting my miles in, but this time I'm keeping the pedal to the metal in order to keep my lungs in good shape. Things are looking great right now in terms of my overall shape, and I don't want to lose anything during a sub-par taper period.

The highlight of this week was Sunday's run which took place at the same time as the Marine Corps Marathon here in DC. Since I live 2 blocks from the course (and my daily Hains Point loop overlaps with miles 11-14 of the route), I had plenty of interaction with the runners who were enjoying a BEAUTIFUL fall day here in the Nation's Capital. As I made my way back home after a quick and easy 30 miler, I really enjoyed congratulating all the runners I passed on the streets who were proudly wearing their finisher's medal just below their smiling and relieved faces. Since I've been working so hard toward my goal in Texas, I can completely relate to all those marathoners who, after months of hard work on their own, achieved their goals this afternoon. Kudos to everyone who crossed the finish line today!

One more note about the Marathon: After the smoke of 25,000 runners cleared on Hains point, I swung around for one final loop before heading home myself. I was curious as to what my usually quiet "home" looked like after so many folks passed through this morning. Here are my unofficial tallies for the items I observed along the side of the road:

1) About 1,000 discarded 'Clif Shot' gels (I'm guessing there was an aid station giving them out on the loop).

2) 40 to 50 pairs of gloves (it was in the 40s at the start, so I'm guessing most people had them on until it warmed up a bit).

3) 25 Long Sleeve shirts (see above)

4) 2 seemingly Brand New pairs of Dr. Scholls gel insoles. Apparently these two people were done "gellin'" at mile 13. My question is, what did they wear after they threw these on the side of the road? I'm guessing running the last half of the marathon without insoles would be pretty rough...

As humorous as it was to run by all of these items on the side of the road, it was pretty sad for me to think that so many runners think the rules of littering and common decency don't apply to them during a race. Seriously, these people couldn't have held on to their gloves, shirts, trash, etc. for a couple minutes and just tossed them in (or at least NEAR) a trash can? If there's one running route I know, it's the Hains Point loop, and I can honestly say there are trash barrels every 100 yards around the 3+ mile loop. Sure, you might not be able to get to the side of the road right away when you're running in a crowded race, but unless your gloves or Clif wrapper were actively engulfed in flames, I think you can hang on to it for a minute or two while you make your way toward one of the barrels. ...and regarding gel packets in particular - If you were able to carry full packets with you during the first few miles of your run, you can use those same places to stash the empties on your body for the rest of the race too. Let's try and at least pretend we have some class out there!!

Week Log:
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Wednesday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Thursday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Friday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Saturday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Sunday - 30 Miles - Mt. Vernon Trail & Hains Point

Week Total: 72.5 Miles

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ultra Centric 24 Hour Championship Update

A big part of the excitement of running in ultras is checking out the elite runners in the field before the race. I'm a huge fan of so many amazing/accomplished runners out there, and having the chance to run with them (or at least line up at the start with them!) is one of the truly special aspects of this sport. With just 3 weeks to go before the Ultra Centric 24 Hour National Championship in Texas, I'm reaching full-on excitement mode, but for some reason the race organizers aren't posting the list of entrants! Argh!! Their official comment is:

"The Ultra Centric Experience will not provide an official entrants list prior to the start of the event, nor comment on entered participants. Especially not to Dan Rose."

Ok, I made that last part up, but the rest of the statement is legit...and frustrating!! The news isn't all bad, however, as today I learned from various sources that Scott Jurek will be heading down to Texas to attempt to break the American 24 Hour record (162.46 miles)! How cool will it be to run w/ one of (if not THE) best 100+ miler in the world?

Very cool. Very cool indeed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Week Training Log: 10/13 - 10/19

Not only am I happy with finishing up another successful Peak Week, but I'm also super-psyched at how well my 25-25-25 runs went this weekend. Last week I had to survive the 3rd run on tired legs, but this week I absolutely hammered the 3rd run at a pace 23 minutes faster than my first run on Friday night. The times for all 3 runs were 3:28 (Friday), 3:18 (Saturday), and 3:05 (Sunday). There is no doubt in my mind at this point that I've reached a whole new level of fitness during the past 2 months of focused training. Texas is going to be a blast!

Two other notes from this weekend: A couple of my favorite runners had successful races this weekend - and seeing their success definitely helped psyched me up enough to make my own Sunday run fast and furious. First off, my 20 year-old cousin Erin was able to squeeze in enough training between studying for Bio-Chem and her other classes at UMass to rip off a 3:48 at the Bay State Marathon. It won't be long before I post a note here about her running her first ultra, she's got the kind of talent to find some real success at the longer distances in the near future. My other source of inspiration this weekend was my friend and super-stud Jamie Donaldson who travelled to Seoul, South Korea this weekend to represent team USA in the 24 Hour World Championships (this is the event I hope to qualify for in Texas). When the final gun was fired, Jamie had covered 136.7 miles (!!), good enough for 5th place in this race of world elites (and the top spot for Americans). Great work, Jamie!!!

Week Training Log:
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Wednesday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Thursday - 8.5 Miles - Hains Point Loop
Friday - 25 Miles - Hains Point Loops
Saturday - 25.1 Miles - Hains Point Loops
Sunday - 25.1 Miles - Hains Point Loops

Total Miles: 100.7

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week Training Log: 10/6 - 10/12

Peak Week #1 is in the bag. Just a perfect weekend to run my now traditional 25-25-25 schedule. Not only was the weather amazing, but I also hit the road with already-tired legs each time (perfect for training purposes). Friday's 25 was right after a long day of work, and after getting some sleep, I woke up and ran Saturday's 25 before heading directly into work for a big night event (walking around on hard marble floors the whole time - always a nice treat for sore feet). After coming home and crashing for the night, I was up on Sunday morning for the final 25. My usual plan for these runs is to finish each one faster then the one before...but let me tell you, there was NO WAY that was happening on Sunday's run. Man Oh Man were my legs beat. Plus I only had 3 gels left in my stash before heading out on the run, so I was hurting for calories during the last 10 miles. Squirrels never looked so tasty.

With one more peak week ahead of me, I'll spend the next few days eating anything and everything I can get my hands on (squirrels aside) to refuel and reload. With the 24 Hour Championships just a month away now, things are getting pretty serious out there on my training loop. I've never run my usual route as consistently fast as I have been these past few weeks. My legs are responding so incredibly well to all of my training at this point, and if the next couple weeks produce more of the same, I'll be heading out to Texas ready to surprise a lot of people!

Week Log:
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point
Wednesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point
Thursday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point
Friday - 25.1 miles - Hains Point loops
Saturday - 25.0 miles - Hains Point loops
Sunday - 25.0 miles - Hains Point loops

Total Miles: 100.6

Monday, October 6, 2008

Week Training Log: 9/29 - 10/5

With the obvious highlight of the week being my run at the Andiamo 45, I do have something to be sad about after last week...I found out that Brooks has discontinued the Radius shoe. Nooooo!!! I've run over 2,500 miles this year alone in that model shoe, and I really REALLY liked them! Oh well, I guess the good news is I still have a month or so to find a new shoe to wear during the Texas race. My first instinct for finding a replacement was to order the new Brooks Ghost model as it seemed like a somewhat close replacement for the Radius. After lacing them up and taking them out for my usual 8.5 mile loop, I can pretty much say the Ghost will not be resurrected for any races in my future. It's not that they're a bad pair of shoes, it's just that for some odd reason the folks at Brooks decided to sew in a really tight strip of fabric across the toe box that forced me to crack out my scizzors for some Shoe Surgery before I even took them out for a run. You can see the 'Black Strap of Death' in the photo above - it's the vertical stripe just where the laces start near the toe-end of the shoe. There's a matching 'White Strap of Why?' on the inside that I was also forced to cut out.

I know everyone has different feet and not every shoe is going to fit everyone just right, but I can honestly say I'm the least picky person in the world when it comes to running shoes. I have completely "normal" feet, and aside from making sure I buy a size 11.5, I don't ever worry about the other aspects of the fit. Also, since I have a pretty efficient and normal stride/foot strike, I don't need any fancy stability control or anything. Just give me a shoe that's not too heavy and has enough cushion to get me through my long runs and I'm happy. The Radius made me happy. The Ghost's confusingly narrow toe box strap does not make me happy. Boo!

After all of my alterations, I can now run 8.5 miles without worrying about chaffing on the top of my foot where the toe box gets narrow above the base of my toes, but I don't trust them for anything longer. All the Drymax socks in the world can't fix a shoe that doesn't fit right. Oh well. The search continues...R.I.P. Radius!!

Week Training Log:
Monday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Tuesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Wednesday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Thursday - 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop
Friday - Off Day
Saturday - 45 miles - Andiamo 45 miler
Sunday- 8.5 miles - Hains Point Loop

Week Total: 87.5

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Andiamo Race Report

After a full year of less-than-desirable race day weather (and plenty of whining about it on my part), Mother Nature gave all of us running in the Andiamo 45 miler a picture perfect day for running yesterday. That weather, combined with the beautiful countryside of the W&OD Trail, made for one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in quite some time. What a treat!
Andiamo may be a small race, but the co-race directors Carolyn Gernand and Joe Malinowski did such a great job with the organization. First and foremost, they offered to meet some of the runners at the finish line just south of DC before the race and give us a ride to the starting line 45 miles to the west. This allowed those of us from DC to leave our cars at the finish and only have a 5 mile ride home after the race - Talk about service!

My carpool consisted of Jim Moore (Thanks for driving!), Lou Jones, and Mark Zimmerman. All great guys and perfect folks for me to meet as my first VHTRC friends. The ride out west to Purcellville, VA went quickly as we chatted about all things running. We met up with the rest of the small group (maybe 20 of us?) at the western end of the W&OD Rail trail, and with a quick group picture and Carolyn's course directions ("See this trial? Follow it to the end!"), we were off! I didn't anticipate pushing the pace on this run too much, but the combination of the weather and the fact that this was my first race in a long time had my adrenaline kicking in right from the start. I took off in the front right away and never looked back.

The trail was great to run on from a mental standpoint as we ran past descending mile markers (posted every .5 mile) the whole way. After 10 miles I looked at my watch and saw I went out WAY too fast for what I had planned (6:45/mile splits), so I did my best to try and slow down a bit before my first fuel stop. As always I ran with my fuel belt and hand-bottle from the start, so my first stop for water wasn't until mile 17. Carolyn was there waiting on the side of the trail to top off my hand bottle and I was off in just a few seconds. A few miles later I passed the half-way point (mile 22.75) averaging 7:28/mile splits, and I crossed the marathon mark shortly thereafter at about 3:15.

Now that I had settled down to a quick-but-comfortable pace, I started doing some math in my head to see what a good time goal would be for finishing. Going into the race I figured somewhere around 7 hours would be my aim, but the weather and sudden realization that I'm already in much better shape for Texas than I thought called for a change in plans. I decided that breaking 6 hours would be the goal, and aside from a few street crossings to deal with as I got closer to DC, I kept a solid and steady pace to reach that goal.

As I counted down the final miles with the markers on the side of the trail (I can't overstate how helpful they are when you're starting to get tired!), I checked out the time on my watch to see how close I was to meeting my goal. As it turned out, my legs never gave out on me, and I climbed the last hill and bombed down across the finish line in 5:51:34 - about a 7:40/mile pace. Carolyn was just arriving herself and setting up the finish line refreshments (it's always nice to run a race "too fast"!), so we chatted for a bit as I drank my Endurox and enjoyed the cool shade under a tree.

All in all, just a great day of running across Northern Virginia...and while it's not impressive to win such a small race, I was fairly proud of my finishing time. Not a course record, no, but not too shabby considering this run was at the end of a full week of training for Texas. If nothing else I'm extremely encouraged at how my training for the 24-hour Championships is already paying off. ...but now isn't the time to celebrate - It's back to work for the two big peak training weeks ahead. Gotta keep my eyes on the real prize!

One more note on the race: I'm starting to take them for granted at this point, but I do need to mention that I finished this race with no blisters or hot spots thanks to Drymax Socks. I wore the "Maximum Protection" version for this race since they have the full-length friction-free fibers on the bottom. If you've ever been on a long run or walk on hot pavement and felt like your socks turned into sandpaper by the end, you really owe it to yourself to read about these socks.