Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Post-Big Cedar Plan

Grief can be a tough thing, even when it’s grieving over our own failures. I would not compare it to the loss of a loved one, but I would say that a DNF of a major race for me is similar to the loss of a pet. The only way for me to really get out of the funk is to set goals. One thing that makes my running schedule unique is I work around the Texas Legislature. So the winter and spring of odd numbered years means I don’t have nearly the time to train. 60-80 hour work weeks are not uncommon. So I have set my goals around this. I am going to try to place in my age division in the Texas Trail Championships, non-ultra division. With 2 races in 2014 I am currently in 12th place and it really seems if you finish 7 races, you will probably place an if you do moderately well,  you could win. But next year could be more competitive. So I plan on running  “tune-up” trail race near my house in January, and then trying to get in 7 races from April to November as I train for the Big Cedar 50(K or M is not for sure yet). Then my next goal will be Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler in February 2016, with the possibility of Bandera 100K as my final long run. That would make my list of notable races look like this:

Race
Distance
Result
2011 Paramount 5K at Austin Marathon
5K
Finish, walked partially. First 5K ever.
2011 Cap 10K
10K
Finish
2011 White Rock Marathon (training run)
26.2M
Finish
2012 Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler
50M
Finish
2012 Paramount 5K at Austin Marathon
5K
Finish, 2nd age group
2012 Hell’s Hills
10K
Finish 8th overall, 2nd age group
2012 Chapa 5K
5K
Finish, 1st age group
2012 El Scorcho
50K
Finish
2012 The Ranch
30K
Finish-Injured-Emergency Room Trip
2012/2013 New Years Double
26.2/26.2
DNF – Ankle Still Hurt
2013 Hell’s Hills
10K
Finish 8th overall, 1st age group
2013 El Scorcho
50K downgraded to 25K
Downgraded distance with recurring ankle pain
2013 Cactus Rose
100 M
DNF-Bad chafing
2014 Hell’s Hills
50K
Finish
2014 Pandora’s Box of Rox Marathon
26.2M
Finish – ohmygod that course.
2014 Muleshoe Night Run
30K
Finish
2014 Big Cedar 100
100M
DNF, almost halfway through, fatigue and dehydration
2015 Purgatory Trail Run
10M

2015 Hell’s Hills
10K

2015 Pandora’s Box of Rox
26.2M

2015 Muleshoe (night run)
10K

2015 Colorado Bend (night run)
10K

2015 Paleface
30K

2015 Rockledge Rumble
15K

2015 Big Cedar
50M

2016 Bandera
100K

2016 Rocky Raccoon
100M






Some of it depends on time and money, but I really hope to get 7 races in that qualify in 2015. Then back to Big Cedar, where I would prefer to run the 50 miler if I am up to it.



I am not sure how soon I want to see these trails again... but feel pretty confident I will be over it by then.

My plan for session is to keep my weekly mileage as high as I can and run at lunch any day I am able to, and when I go more than 2 days without, to get up early and run. That means 6 miles or so most week days. Then I plan to hit purgatory hard for 10 miles on Sundays before church when possible. If I ran each week day, my perfect week would be 40 miles. Maybe once a month I will try to get in a 20 miler at Purgatory for a 50 mile week. Then in May when session ends, start increasing those long runs and then adding back in two-a-days (morning and lunch). 

I had thought about taking time off completely from running but that is really not something I feel interested in at this point. I just want to run. I think I will enjoy this schedule. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Boring DNF Report: Big Cedar 100

I thought 2013 was the year of the DNF and 2014 was different, but I was wrong. While I have finished 3 trail races, including 1 ultra in 2014, it was not to be the year for my first 100.

The race was Big Cedar, in Dallas, Texas. I knew it was going to be a hilly, possibly muddy run, and I felt ready. My training had gone well, culminating in a 42 mile run (32 miles of hilly country roads, 10 miles of technical trails) in 90+ degrees. I thought running in the cool would make things much easier for me.

When I got to the race, I felt great. I was nervous, but ready to start. I had not major aches or pains that were out of the usual. I weighed in under 150, and felt I had a great shot.

My first loop went reasonably well. It started with the typical conga line that I despise. I am not one for the hoopla and yelling  that some runners like to do, so I like to spread out quickly. I also was in a group that liked to very timidly take the downhills walk the inclines, and run faster on the flats. I like to move down the downhills quickly, walk the inclines, and run the flat parts easy. The conga line lasted until Mile 5.5 at the Copperhead aid station. There I poured some perpetuem powder in my drink, ate a couple quarter sandwiches, and Rob and I met up and started running together. We ran/walked a pretty easy pace most of the way through. I think he went ahead of me at the Twilight aid station. I continued on, running, and walking, eating pickles, and drinking water, perpetuem, heed, and nuun. Just before Powerline, Rob was coming back out for his second loop as I finished my first. He said he would be going slowly and I could catch up.

I felt pretty decent coming into the Powerline aid station at mile 19.1 and saw Lesley there, who was doing a great job running the aid station. I took a long time changing my shoes, texting my wife, and just getting things together. Lesley threatened to kick me out of the aid station. Texting probably took the longest. As I got that loop started, I was more noticeably alone and decided on listening to some music. Bob Dylan is one of my favorites for the trail so I started with him, but quickly was feeling a bit down with that, so I changed to the Offspring. I was feeling pretty amazing at this point and happy with my run/walk.

It got dark and I was happy listening to my music and running on my own. I passed Copperhead and was still feeling pretty good but between there and Truth Corner 2.0, that 4-5 miles just got me. After a bit, I caught up with a guy named Richard who was content at this point to power-hike the race. We stuck together for a bit, telling one another about our lives and keeping alert. I felt real good so I decided to run on ahead. In the dark, alone, and tired, that is when I felt pretty bad. Richard caught back up and asked what was wrong. I don’t know what I said, but it was something about my stomach, feeling weak, and my quads being trashed. We stuck together and after not to long we were at Truth Corner.

At this point, I was feeling awful so I sat on a cooler. Several of the aid station workers noticed me (I must have looked bad), and began helping out. Jeremy Day was running the station and was particularly helpful. Pretty quickly though, I was laying in the dirt, thinking I was out. Jeremy told me I was not quitting at this aid station and had me in a chair, sipping water, wearing his jacket and gloves (as laying in the dirt had caused me to get very cold very quick). One of the aid station workers said my pulse was very low and weak – but this could be because I am a runner. Richard, who did not know me from Adam stayed and waited for me. He said we would hike it together. Jeremy encouraged this. To my amazement, after a few minutes I felt good again, though my quads were worse. I got up, with Jeremy’s jacket, gloves, and hat, and was on my way.

Richard and I hiked that next 7 miles for what felt like an eternity. The drizzle was not making it muddy, but was starting to make the ground just soft enough to notice. What killed me more than the pain in my legs or the fatigue or the dizzy spells was the time it took to make 7 miles. All of this was just harder on me mentally than I expected. Later I would realize I was pretty dehydrated still and this probably did not help. I began talking about dropping at the end of this leg of the race and Richard decided he would too. Neither of us thought we could go on.

When we quit and went to Powerline to turn in our ankle timers, Jason, who was to by my 75-100 pacer tried to talk me out of it. But I quit anyhow. And Bryan, my 50-75 pacer was there, somewhat relieved to not be running in the conditions. Rob. Or Robby. Or whatever he wants to be called was there, moaning about a rash or something. He probably could have continued if he had not spent so much time complaining about his styling gel not working in his hair. My dad was there too, and I was sad to have to tell him, I was once again quitting a race. Almost 50 miles, over 5,000 feet of elevation gain according to Garmin, and I was done.

I don’t have a lot more to say. 67 signed up. 62 started. 12 finished. 60% of the 50K runners did not finish. And I did not finish my 100 mile race. There is no big injury. I did not get lost. The race staff did not somehow mess me up. I don’t have any excuse other than I was not able to do it. This is my first DNF without an injury being behind it. I spent most of my drive home from DFW to Austin going between justifying the DNF to myself and hitting my steering wheel in anger for quitting.


So on to new goals. And here they are:
In 2015 I plan to try to place in the top 3 of Men’s 30-39 Division of the Texas Trail Championships (non-ultra).
Races I am considering for my 7 are:
Purgatory 10 Miler or Bandera 25K – January 2014
Grasslands Half Marathon – March 22, 2014
Hells Hills 10K – April 5, 2014
Brazos Bend 25k – April 26, 2014
Pandora’s Box of Rox Marathon – May 3, 2014
One or more Capt’n Karls Race – Summer 2014
Paceface 30K- Oct 11, 2014



At that point I will probably run Big Cedar 50K or 50 Miler to springboard into training for Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2016. I am not done going for 100, but I may try a flatter one next time. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Big Cedar Plan

10 days until Big Cedar. My second attempt at running 100 miles. And now, the plan.




Prelogue

First of all, my hope is to just keep moving. No matter what. Just keep moving forward. Trying to compare how I will do is hard. I have never completed a 100 mile race, and comparing any of my previous races does not seem to help me too much. Since I took up running in late 2011, I have PR'd a 5K in 18:30, placed in 2 10Ks and several 5Ks but that means absolutely nothing here. I have fun a 50K in 6:11 and a marathon in 7 hours. If I take a linear regression of my ultra races and apply it, I should run 29 hours but the data in the model has too many variables. A quick look at my major races over the last two years with some variables (excuses).

Race
Date
Distance
Time
Terrain
Other
Pandora's Box of Rox
May 2, 2014
26.2
7:02:44
Up and down a granite dome in Central Texas.
Was just getting training ramped up, and this course has my number. Also pretty hot.
Muleshoe
July 19, 2014
30K
4:22
Deceptively Hilly and somewhat technical.
After a very fast start, the 90 degree temps plus my sucky night running slowed me down.
Hell's Hills
April 5, 2014
50K
7:13:13
Single track with some hills, especially at the end of the loop.
Was barely trained after starting back up post break in January.
The Ranch
June 10, 2012
30K
5:39:50
Granite dome.
I did not know until later, but when I twisted my ankle on mile 6, I tore my peroneal tendon, which would plague me for quite some time - I hobbled (barely walking) the following 12 miles in extreme heat on a granite dome. They also had run out of water and I went to the ER with heat exhaustion.
Rocky Raccoon
February 4, 2012
50 miles
12:18
Flat dirt.
ITBS from a run in January lingered. After about mile 2 on, I dealt with ITBS the entire way.

What this shows it is very hard for me to predict based off of my previous trail races how I will do. I have placed top 10 every time I run the Hell's Hills 10K, so I know I have top end speed on the short distances. My times at all of my longer distance races have been slow, but I think they are a little slower than I really am. My final long run was done at a pedestrian pace and I completed 42 miles in 9 hours. That includes a bathroom stop and several stops I had to make to stores on the route as well as CVS and an insanely long stoplight at the trial.  So that is why I have a set of 3 plans for race day.


Where I have been training and doing all of my long runs.

The plan


The Pace:

I am coming into this race more trained, lighter, more experienced, and more injury free than I have gone into any distance race, ever. So I feel like I will finish and I am setting my primary goal around that: 29 hours.
Loop 1 - 6 hours
Loop 2 - 7 hours
Loop 3 - 8 hours (power hike at night)
Loop 4 - 8 hours at most 

But I don't want to feel held to that if I am having a good day. So I also have a "unlikely" goal of 24 hours. If I finish 50 miles in 11 hours or under, I will probably start shooting for this. I also have a final goal of 32 hours. With the recent removal of a final cutoff, if I come close to this, I will finish. 

I plan to pretty much power-hike the hills from the get-go and see where that lands me. If it makes loop 1 take 8 hours, then I will probably want to get moving a bit quicker in loop 2. I plan to have a group text message going with  my pacers and "crew"/loved ones. I plan to text everyone after loop 1 to let them know what kind of pace I am on, especially my 50-75 mile pacer who will start driving down from Austin around noon. 




The Pacers:

I have two pacers:
Mile 50-75: Bryan. Bryan was an intern for me at my work who we recently hired. He has done triathlons and went to a meditation camp in Thailand where he had to sit up and eat only rice or something for two weeks. I expect this to be a night time loop, where I am at my weakest, so we will be hiking and hopefully getting me feeling good enough for my final loop. If I come in from my second loop in under 11 hours, I may want to run more sections of this than otherwise. 

Mike 75-100: Jason. Jason offered to pace in the Big Cedar pacers/runners group. His race results show his race times are much faster than mine which is good. He is experienced enough that I am confident he will be able to help me mentally push through the last lap.

The Nutrition:

The race will have NUUN, which many people like, but it is not one of my favorites. Rob and I have split a contained or Perpetuem and I also will be bringing Heed. I think Rob is bringing some Ensure. 

My plan will be to do the same thing at each aid station and have serving size baggies of my Heed and Perpetuem ready to go:

Fluids Plan:
Aid Station Name
Aid Station Approx Mileage in the Loop*
Aid Station Split*
Drink
Powerline Start
0
0
Heed
Copperhead
5.3
5.3
Water
Truth Corner 2.0
9.6
4.3
Water or Nuun
Twilight
17.1
7.5
Water
Powerline
19.7
2.6
Perpetuem
Truth Corner 2.0
22.8
3.1
Water
Powerline
25.3 (give or take)
2.5
Perpetuem

I plan on having Red Bull and Ensure ready to go at the start/finish as well to drink as needed. I plan on getting all of my solids and gels from aid stations, with my dad bringing me food and coffee before my final loop. I hope to mix it up on what I eat for a while with lots of potatoes and salt, oranges, and anything peanut butter. My favorite at Rocky Raccoon was peanut butter and gummy bear sandwiches. 

The Crew

I really am not operating with a "crew" per se. My dad will be dropping me off in the morning, and then I won’t have anyone there between loops 1 and 2, but that is fine. After loop 2, my dad will be there and Bryan will be there ready to pace. My dad plans to come back out between 3 and 4 with breakfast and Jason will be there to pace. My wife is driving down Saturday morning and hopefully my wife, kids, and parents will all be there to see my finish, with my son pacing me the last little stretch like he did at Hell’s Hills. The good thing is the person who puts these races together knows what she is doing and I will know some of the people at aid stations. So even without a full crew, I think I will do fine. Rob will also have resources there and we plan to share as much as possible.

The Lessons Learned

Every year of running has kind of had a theme to it. 2011 was the year to start up. 2012 was a year where I started placing in 5Ks – and even placed 2nd in a large 5K a week after finishing a 50 mile race! I was on fire. 2013 was the year of injury and DNF. 2014 has been about slow but steady training to get back into shape without being injured. I have completed 3 trail races including 2 hard courses and an ultra-marathon. I feel good. I can also look back at my 2013 DNFs and see some lessons:
El Scorcho – don’t start too soon… but was also still injured.
New Year’s Double – was injured… don’t ignore your doctor.
Cactus Rose – don’t wear different shorts then you are used to… that was very bad. And I just was not trained enough to have the will to go on once the chafing started to get bad. Also LUUUBBBEEEE up. I might be the most lubed runner ever next week. Another item is if I don’t have someone waiting on me, it is a lot easier to quit. 

If you see me….

So everyone has different needs and ways they like to be handled. If you see me during the race, please say hi. Realize I am somewhat shy in person (at first, then I don’t shut up) and I might be focused and just grunt at you. When I was running in Rocky and I was at a bad point and obviously limping with ITBS, a lady I do not know told me I should quit. If you are not someone the race has asked to make those kinds of suggestions, please don’t make them to me. 

This guy... but bald.
If I say I want to quit. Always suggest walking/eating/drinking for a while. Remind me I have time. I have felt awful on a run. Usually a good walk break with some fluids and foods gets me right out of it. Hopefully when you see me, I will be laughing and having a good time. But no matter what, I really do well with encouragement.




The Excitement

The House... My life is good!
I will spend the next week and a half obsessing, planning, changing my plans, tweeting, and just being excited. My wife and I were talking about why I want to do this the other night. I think it is because of what my boss said the other day. He said “if you have only run 50 miles before, and only a 42 mile training run, how do you know you can do this?” I don’t. And that is what excites me. So little in life presents itself before me that I do not know I can conquer anymore. I am not in the military any more. I don’t go to work not knowing if I will make it back. I have a job I am good at, a wife and kids who love me, and things are pretty good. If I do ever have trouble that I cannot get out of my family and parents are such a good support system that I really have no legitimate concerns of failure. My career is headed the right direction… but this. This is a challenge. And when I complete it. I will know that every step of the way was another opportunity for failure that I conquered. 

An unrelated note.

You might notice that my old blogs are back up. Some of them. And they did not post in order. For a while I thought I was about to be in a position at work where I did not want certain things to remain out there. That type of position is in my future and I am going to be cognizant of that… but I am who I am. I like craft beer. I am a goof ball. And I have a 12 year old’s sense of humor. I am an imperfect Christian. Some times these things show. I may not keep this up forever, and I may be less likely to write some things I have before, but in the end, I am me.

Always have been a goofball...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Big Cedar 100 Prep

This is my first post in a long time. Most of my old ones are down. And I have thought about bringing them back up, but I may search the most useful posts first. But I am now within a few weeks of my 2nd attempt at 100 miles. I want to post some about the preparation for that and where I feel I am at, but I think a brief history is useful to put things into context:
·        2008 – I get out of the Army after serving in Iraq with a bad back, shoulder, and two knees already showing arthritis and previous meniscus tears. I don’t run much as I am finishing graduate school.
·        2010- I finish graduate school, not in very good shape. I try to run a quarter mile and it just kills my knee. I try again in late 2010, but this time with barefoot running after reading Born to Run.
·        2011 – In February run my first 5K, and am only able to run part of it.
·        August 2011- I run my first half marathon at the Hottest Half in Dallas.
·        December 2011 – I run the White Rock Marathon in Dallas as a training run for my first ultra, the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile run.
·        January 2012- I do a self-supported 50K and get ITBS.
·        February 2012 – I run the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler, but have ITBS issues the entire way. I run a 12 hour and something race despite this and feel pretty good about that.
·        February 2012 – two weeks later I run the Paramount 5K, the same one I had run the year before in Austin at the Austin Marathon and this time run the entire way, and finish 2nd in Men 25-29.
·        Spring 2012 – Run a string of races and do pretty well. Ran the Hells Hills 10K in around 42 minutes, which placed 8th, but could have been top 3 in almost any other year.
·        June 2012-Run the Ranch race at Reveille Ranch and twist my ankle up real bad. Have to walk most of the way but finish.
·        July 2012 – Run the El Scorcho 50K. Did pretty decent until some stomach issues at the end, but still finish. The ankle hurt but I was able to change my stride up.
·        January 2013 – On Day of the New Year’s Double Marathon I DNF due to severe ankle pain. I go to the doctor with a torn tendon and end up in a boot for a long time.
·        June 2013 – Ran El Scorcho but only finished the 25K with bad ankle pain and general fatigue.
·        October 2013 – Ran the Cactus Rose 100M and DNF due to fatigue and some bad chafing due to a decision to wear different shorts.
·        January 2014 – Begin training in earnest again.
·        April 2014 – Finish the Hell’s Hills 50K.
·        June 2014 – Finish the Pandora’s Box of Rocks Ultra Marathon.
·        July 2014 –Finish a Capt’n Karl’s night race at Muleshoe Bend.


2011 I consider my year of beginning to run. 2012 was a year of great success- finishing a 50 miler and constantly improving and even winning a 5K in my town. 2013 was a bad year. Injury and lack of ability to train lead to a DNF in a my first 100 mile attempt about a year ago. I feel like my 2014 story will be much different.

Item
2013 (January-October)
2014 (January – November)
Injuries
Torn Tendon in ankle (outside of general knee and back issues)
Just the normal knee and back stuff. Nothing major.
Miles Run
300 + cross training
Around 1,000
Long Runs
Several Long runs toward August at Hill of Life
Lots of Long Runs at Purgatory including at least one 30+ mile run every month since July
Weight
165 Pounds
Currently 149


I feel like just on those factors alone, I am doing better.

The training plan:

My training plan has basically been to build to a peak every month, with a higher and higher peak.





A couple of notes here:
1.      My mileage has been pretty low overall for a 100 mile training plan and  I know this. I also know I am injury prone. So my best bet was to build on long runs every month, try to cross-train when possible, and keep my weight down.
2.      I use mapmyrun since I lost my garmin. It is not incredibly accurate and I lose plenty of trail miles, especially in the switch backs at Purgatory – but I also don’t log them all. So this might be a bit understated.
3.      October should have been much higher, but my daughter and I got an upper respiratory infection followed by a stomach virus.


Another issue I wanted to work on was to get my weight back down to El Scorcho 2012 weight. I was 145 at that time. In January of 2014, I was at about 170. I can now say that with a lot of training and a little help from a stomach bug, I am down to 149.

So I am coming in at or close to my best race weight. I have run at least one 25-30 mile run every month since March. I have completed a very hard marathon, a 50K, and a night time Captain Karl’s 30K that turned out to be pretty technical. My last month mileage was lower than I would like and I would like to have gotten to 200 miles a month. But most things are on target. I don’t have any injuries. I have a pacer set up for mile 50-75 and another for 75-100.

My next item, which I will post soon is race planning. Right now I am thinking:
Lap 1-6 hours
Lap 2-7 hours
Lap 3-8 hours
Lap 4-8 hours
Total: 30 hours

Pacing is hard to tell for me though. I was still a lot heavier in April and May when I did Hell’s Hills (50K) and Pandora’s Box of Rox (26.2) and finished in about the same time. Those courses are drastically different, and that Pandora’s course has had my number for a couple years now (something about a giant granite dome in the summer). But if you take the worst and assume 7 hours for 26 miles was how I ran when I was heaver and in worse shape on that dome in the summer… I think this is probably an on target pacing for now. When I ran my first 25 miles last week, I finished that in 4:30. Then spent 30 minutes at a stop light and store and took about 5 hours for the next 20 miles. Just being in the sun in 90 degrees with no shade really torched me, which I don’t think will be an issue.

All that to say. Everything seems good, but not perfect. I am going into this month confident, but realizing I need to plan very carefully to pull this off.