Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 Hells Hills 50K Race Report

So I ran Hells Hills 50K. It was fun.

For the first time, Logan was there to cheer my on at the finish and ran in with me, which was great.

I fell early on and hit my knee pretty good on a root, but that was pretty minor.

Usually my maps show lower mileage, but I believe I ran the 50 mile loop the first time. Typical me.

I also showed up 15 minutes late or so. I got stuck behind a lot of people and in conga lines the first 10 miles and then probably pushed it a tad hard the next 5 miles.

Overall, it was a good race. The weather was nice. I took it pretty easy and had no injuries. Then I camped with my family.

I developed a cough today as I often do after races and found this interesting:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Race Week

I have not had time to post a lot lately, so here is what I did the last couple of weeks.

Monday: 700 push ups, 700 crunches
Tuesday: didn't run
Wednesday: 700 push ups, 350 crunches, 350 squats, 1.5m run with Logan
Thursday: 1 hour of stairs, sprint up, jog down 
Friday: rest 
Saturday: 28 miles or so run, hiked to 29.34 miles
Sunday: rest
Monday: 800 push ups, 400 squats, 400 crunches
Tuesday: 1 hour, hard 3-2-1, great workout
Wednesday: Had a sore throat Tuesday, Wednesday I knew it was strep and had it tested... positive, so I rested.
Thursday: Rest-Strep
Friday: Rest-Strep
Saturday: Off, family day
Sunday: 5 miles. Felt a tad slow still.

I was pretty happy I got in a long run:

Even if I looked goofy:

And then I rewarded myself during the week with this:

So it is race week. Friday night I have decided to go out and camp, and the family will join me around finish time on Saturday and we sill stay out there that night. The state park next door has a presentation on animals and their "super powers" I think my 5 year old will dig a lot.

Also, just signed up for Pandora's Box of Rox Marathon!!! Can't wait to give this course a better shot:

That's all I have time for.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Update week of 3/10/2014

Note: I re-posted some of my old blog posts and some of them did not post in order. So if you saw some odd (for me) posts that seemed out of order, that is why. Sorry about that if it blew up your feed. Is anyone on here though?



Last week was my first full week of the new plan and I followed it pretty well.
Monday - 500 push-ups, 250 squats, 250 crunches
Tuesday - 45 minutes of 321, which I messed up and made 1-1-1. It was supposed to be 3 minutes at half marathon pace, 2 at 10k, 1 at 5k, then 1 minute of active recovery. Instead I did 1-1-1. It was 4:30 AM though, so I get a break. I did my half marathon pace at 9 minutes, 10k at 7:30, 5k at 6:30. I will work on getting my speed back up.
Wednesday -  600 push-ups, 600 crunches
Thursday - an hour of stairs at work. 5 flights up, then 2 flights worth of a straight ramp, then down. Sprint up, active recovery down.
Friday - rest
Saturday - rest, severe thunderstorm warning had me sleeping in
Sunday - make up 20 miles from Saturday. Because of church I had to split it, 14 before church in quarter mile loops, 4 miles while Logan was in church choir in the afternoon, 2 miles of track work with Logan after choir. Most miles were at about a 9:20 pace. I drank some beers the night before and wished I hadn't!
Total Miles, 30, Total Time Working Out, about 6 hours and 30 minutes
Logan doing track work for his first 5K in May

This week has gone okay so far, other than I will have to miss the Tuesday run. My choices are basically 4:30 AM on Tuesday or lunch. I took some ZMA for rest last night and did not wake up until 6. But my ankle was feeling slightly sore anyhow, so a rest day is okay. Also I just came off of 20 miles Sunday (btw, splitting the miles was far worse than running them together). This morning I am glued to the desk and this afternoon I will spend in meetings. This should be the last Tuesday for the foreseeable future that I have to take off.

I am pretty excited about Saturday's run though. I recently found out about a trail in San Marcos that looks great. It is a 12.5 mile run down some country roads, so the plan is to get going by 6, run to the trail, then do loops until my wife and kid come at about 10:30 for some hiking and Logan wants to do some trail running.


Last Thursday I weighed in at 162.5. Yesterday I was up to 165. I think the push-ups and creatine are having an effect. My wife has noticed and I noticed my shoulders and chest are getting bigger. I know that traditionally a runner should not be doing this, but I feel it is okay for someone like me who is not going to be a competitive ultra-runner AND who prefers hills and rocks. Upper body strength can actually come in handy on these types of races.


The other day I was quickly writing, as usual, about my week of training and I mentioned the warning on my multi-vitamin that seems a little over the top. A little research shows that the product has a distribution stage in California, who has some pretty strict laws, and even says organic peaches could cause cancer. But I will get more into that in a moment. For now, a topic I have been thinking about:

Vitamins: Should I take them?

When I was younger my mother would try to get me to remember to take my vitamins, but as I got older it was an expense that just did not make any sense to me. Especially in my college and military days when dehydrated noodles and Shiner were the primary staples of my diet. But as I have started up running again after taking a break, I am trying to make sure to dot the I's and cross the t's. I want to do everything within my power to be healthy and strong enough to run a 100 mile race. So I looked into what diet supplements I thought would be necessary for me to improve health and performance. My conclusion: Basically there are two supplements I believe are right for me: A multi-vitamin and creatine. Protein powder may be something I take every once in a while, but in general I get a lot of protein through food.

Mention that you are going to take a multi-vitamin and the reaction you will get is pretty interesting. One group of people will swear by them, another will tell you how ridiculous they are and to just eat healthy, and another will be indifferent (most people). There is evidence that multi-vitamins are useless:

NPR and WebMD tell me that they are a waste of money:

New York Times says they are worse than that:

But then the Harvard School of Public Health disagrees:

Basically, the most common argument against vitamins is to eat healthy and get rid of plenty of rest and get your vitamins from food. Well, in that I try, but I have to examine myself.
·         I work a job where I can often have little or no time to eat and am at the call of elected officials;
·         I have a newborn baby and a 5 year old;
·         I run ultra-marathons.
So basically, I don't always eat right. I even stress-eat sometimes. I don't always get enough sleep. And I push my body.

If ever there was a case for vitamins, I think I am it. If they are a waste of my money, my hunch is the worst thing that happens is I pee them out. The Internet is also a crazy place to do your research. My wife kept having a headache recently and a WebMD search told her it was an aneurysm. So you have to choose your sources wisely. My wife also recently posted about having a couple of glasses of wine while breast feeding. She decided to stay within the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of occasional use with no more than 2 drinks. She quickly had a friend tell her how it was just fine to drink as much as you want. Because a blog said so. When I look for advice, I look for recognized societies, and I give much more weight to academia than journalists. We all have to find what we believe, and that is what I believe. I also think it is amazing how badly journalists often misinterpret academic studies. People spend years learning how to decipher statistics and data but some guy with a BA in English or Art History is going to interpret the report… anyhow. In this case I not only find that I would be the case for vitamins in the exception most vitamin skeptics give, but also that Harvard trumps Huffington Post.

So right now I am taking a vitamin called Orange Triad. Once I have been on it a month or so I will review it. I am also taking creatine, hoping it helps with muscle recovery.


Life is going good. We are adjusting to having two kids. My wife has to get her hip checked out by an orthopedic surgeon soon but hopefully once she gets that cleared up, she is going to start trying to run (again!). I would love to be a trail running family, but am not going to force her into it. The new house is coming along great and we have bath tubs and a fire place now. I can't wait to see what it looks like when painted!!!

Needs paint, a door, and grass, but still looking good!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Running and got a coach.

This was an interesting week of training for me. My mileage was pretty low, but I'm okay with that. The last week basically went:
Sunday - 500 push ups, 250 squats, 250 crunches
Monday - 500 squats, 250 push ups, 250 crunches
Tuesday - forced rest day based on weather and meetings
Wednesday - 3 miles, about a 7 minute pace in North Austin (from the triangle, up Hancock past mopac and back)
Thursday - 4 miles, 8 minute pace, same area
Friday - rest 
Saturday - 10 miles, 8:20 pace
Sunday - rest 

I had originally planned to run 20 miles Saturday, but on Friday I officially hired a trail running coach. After going from 0 to 50 miles in my first year of running, 2013 was a year of failures. I feel somewhat lost in training, so from now until Cactus Rose in October, I'm using a coach.

I will post the basics of what I do but I want to be careful not to be ripping off things I pay for and putting them online. I'm pretty excited to have someone with his experience helping me.

His plan has me running this past Saturday, 20 the next, 26 the next, and tapering to Hell's Hills.

I also have started running a different route for some of my runs. This is roughly a 4 mile run from my current house to the one I am building. 2.5 of it is slightly hilly roads (mostly uphill to the new house, downhill back), with about 1.5 mile loop of trail near the pond and inside the boundaries of the Plum Creek Golf Course. On a 20 mile run, this mixes some trail and road nicely, though going back and forth can be old at the end.

This is my old route, from Kyle to San Marcos, with more hills, mostly on the San Marcos part of the run.

Also, I started taking a new vitamin. Holy guacamole the warnings. More on that next time.

And... the baby is a month old... crazy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Training update! Running, pushing, drinking, building!

After a couple of good weeks of ramping up miles to the high 30s/low 40s, last week was kind of a bust. The plan was a few 4-6 mile runs, then 18 and 5 on the weekend. Weather and meetings at work got in the way and I basically ended up with about 10 miles during the week and 5 on the weekend.

With a newborn at home most of my weekday miles will have to be at lunch for a while. I leave the house at 6:15 AM and return at 5:30 PM. With my wife still recovering from a rough delivery I'm not going to spend my evenings running while she manages a small kid and a baby. So it's homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime stories until 8:30. Then I've got two hours to spend with my wife and shower before it's my turn to feed the baby at 10:30. A run just doesn't fit in.

She does let me get away on weekend mornings so that's where my bread and butter is. But on weeks like last week, where I have co stand meetings and "suit days," it becomes hard. Add in weather, and boom, you have low mileage.

I know that this is not every week though, and I've had good training weeks, so I'm not going to get too upset over it. Plus, I've been doing great on ramping up my body weight workouts.

With being as busy as I am, I have to find unique ways to get in strength training. So, I have set a goal of doing 1000 push-ups, crunches, and squats in a day, at least 3 times a week. To get there, each week I add 100. This week I'm at 500, and not all at once. One day is push up day, another could be squat, another crunch. So yesterday I did 500 push-ups, 500 crunches. Today I'll do 500 squats, 250 push-ups, 250 crunches. Once I get to 1000, I'll work on getting to 1000 of each, all in one day. 

Distributing the workout through the day makes it mentally easier, but at the end of the day it's still hard. And on busy days, that means getting a lot at once. I'm already seeing results. When I lifted weights, I was an "easy gainer" and that's still true.

At 5'6, my 162 weight is higher than I'd like, especially with my race weight being 140 at Rocky raccoon, but my waist is 32" so I feel okay. I'm going to focus more on health than a particular weight and am hoping overall strength helps me in tough ultras.

That's my update, and here's my beer of the week:

I had 2 of these Saturday night. I thought it was okay. Maybe 7/10. The alcohol came through a big strong and I expected much more pronounced hops.

Also, the beard growth is coming in. Yes, I've started growing my hair and beard. The front growth is good, but the sides are lagging. I try not to trim too much, but finally did this weekend to wait for that lagging side growth. Here's some beard progress:

After an early morning feeding...

And after a trim...  The wife is lobbying for a trimmed beard, which I've mostly agreed to, with the exception of races. I have to say, not only do I like the looks of a beard, I'm enjoying not shaving a lot.

Oh! And Logan is doing great in his 5k training! We ran/walk/jogged 2 miles Saturday and he loved it. May 18th will be his first 5k!

Still smiling after two miles!!

And of we didn't to have enough going on, we are building a house! Here are some progress pics from the last month!

Back, covered patio showing, detached garage not up yet.

I can't wait to have a balcony!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going to try this again...

I have gone back and forth on blogging over the last couple of years. There are pros and cons to it for me. The pros are that:
·         It allows me to keep a training log I can look back at and see more than just numbers;
·         I keep up with other bloggers more;
·         It allows me to be part of the on-line running community in a more tangible way.
The Cons are:
·         I often don't have time for more than a quick update;
·         It seems kind of narcissistic;
·         It is public and I try to keep most of my social media locked up.

All that said, I am going to give it another shot. I am going to look through my old blogs and re-post (I put them all in draftmode) some of the highlights such as Rocky Raccoon 50 miler race report and some training.

Where I am today, briefly:
I began running to try to get in shape after finishing graduate school in 2010. I did so despite being told by a Veterans Administration doctor in 2008 that I would likely be using a cane by the time I turned 30 in 2012. My knees are shot and my back has some major issues. So much so that the VA considers these body parts "disabilities." When I started to try to run again, I found they were being proven right. However, after reading Born to Run, I gave the barefoot running thing a try and it really worked out. I could run for miles and miles without major injury. If I put on normal shoes with a large heel to toe drop, I immediately am injured. And I still get injured time to time. I will be more injury prone than other runners due to my knee and back. But becoming obese would be much worse on those body parts. Running also helps me a lot mentally. When I came home from Iraq, adjusting was hard, and there will always be pieces of that with me. I don’t like medications. Running is the only healthy way I have found that keeps me centered and my anxiety manageable.

My running timeline is basically this:
1994 - Went to one junior high cross-country practice. Discovered I hated running.
2001 - Joined the Army. Hated running.
2004  - For the first time, failed a PT test. I had the flu, but I was still mad.
Later 2004 - Destroyed a PT test and came in first in my unit in all events. Discovered I liked fitness.
2005 - Became the unit PT Sergeant and created a remedial program for PT failures that had a 75% success rate.
2006 - Discharge from Active Duty, had major knee and back issues.
2007- Played on the university club football team. Noticed my short speed had reduced incredibly and knee had become an issue. Pretty much quit physical activity after that.
2008 - 2010, New kid, grad school, gained a lot of weight.
2010 - Tried to run, could barely make a quarter mile on my first run. Once I got to 2 miles I found out I had torn my meniscus and that my service related knee issues caused me to have very vulnerable meniscus and knee tissue.
March 2011 - Ran a 10K but my knees were feeling destroyed again.
June 2011 - Read Born to Run, tried barefoot Running
August 2011 - Ran the Hottest Half Marathon in minimalist shoes. Tired, but no mechanical issues.
December 2011 - Ran the White Rock Lake Marathon as a training run for Rocky Raccoon. Took it very easy and had a great time. Ran 10 miles later that evening.
January 2012 - Developed ITBS after a 50K training run in thicker shoes.
February 2012 - Ran the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile trail race with ITBS. 2 weeks later, after learning how to roll my knee placed 2nd in my age group at the Paramount 5K at the Austin Marathon. First time to place in a race.

Since then I have won my age group in 1 5K and 2 10Ks, finished a 50K, and then in DNF'd a double marathon, a 50K, and a 100 miler. After that I took a few months off from running and started back up in January 2014. At the end of the month my wife gave birth to our new baby girl, Lilly, and we spent extra time in the hospital, so progress stopped, but since then I have built back up to about 30 mile weeks.

I am now training for Hell's Hills 50K in April and Cactus Rose 100 Miler in October. My 5 year old son is training for his first 5K. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hells Hills 10K

After not a lot of running in a long, long time, I was cleared to run a few weeks ago.

After about one week of real training, I took a week slower due to soreness and a cold. I was going to be at Hell's Hills anyhow for Rob's 50 mile, so I decided to run the 10K.

The results compared to last year (when I was in shape)...
Last year:
This year:

So, while I finished quite a bit slower, I was still 8th and I finished first of men 30-35. I attribute the 6 minute difference to 3 things: lack of training due to injury, getting fatter due to lack of training, and there has to be some factor for the mud.

The most important thing is that I felt injury free. My ankle even had to invert a couple times and rebound as I hopped from rock to rock.

I was actually with the front group for a good bit of the start but at about 3 miles, I could tell I did not have the endurance to hang sub 8 minute miles the entire way on that course.

Maybe I'll write more about the experience, but for now that's it. I have not felt inspired to write much lately. Maybe once session is over I will. If not, this thing may get retired.

Also, I don't know why I sit and wait for pictures to come out as if they are going to be great. Mostly this year I just look fat. And very white.