Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009 Rockledge Rumbe 30K Trail Race

The day after my first official trail race and my legs seem to be recovering nicely. In fact, as I learned yesterday, about 2:15 into the race as I passed through the last aid station with about 5 miles to go, my legs were more than up for the task-it's my gas tank that needs to be worked on.

Having seen the trail over a half a dozen visits these last 6 weeks I felt comfortable with the trail and figured I could finish comfortably between 3-3 1/2 hours. What I didn't anticipate were two things:

1. The little extra distance at either end of the trail for starting and turn around


2. The discrepancy in distance from what was reported 30k (18.6 miles) and actual trail distance (about 20.6 miles, according to GPS) due mainly to new trail maintenance over the past year.

That being said, I cruised comfortably into the turn around aid station (Twin Coves Park) having taken 1 gel and just passing the 2nd place runner, heading out on the second half of the run with my watch showing 1:28-two minutes under ideal pace.

I cruised inbound until the final aid station (Murrell Park) where I stopped to throw away my 2nd (and final) empty gel packet and take in some water. I must've looked worse than I felt because I was offered an e-cap by a nice gentleman and was quickly on my way out, still right on pace.

It wasn't long after leaving the aid station that I took my first walk break and began to realize that I simply had nothing left in the tank.

I knew that a run this long (thinking 18 miles) would push me to find my limit. Prior to this race, my longest ever event was an olympic distance triathlon in about 2:40 and my longest ever run was the preceding Sunday at 1:55 on a very flat greenbelt trail.

However, I was relying heavily on the slower pace required to navigate the terrain on the Northshore trail and the fact that I don't (hardly) ever take on nutrition in training but would be carrying gels in my pocket and stopping at aid stations for water.

Thus, while I am EXTREMELY disappointed that I dropped from 2nd place to 7th or 8th in literally the last 5-10 minutes of the race (more than accounted for by the longer than anticipated distance) I am overall EXTREMELY happy with the overall outcome of the event, finishing in 3:21.11 by my watch, only 20 minutes slower inbound despite what felt like a LOT of walking towards the end.

Additionally, my pace, energy level, and attitude/mental outlook right up until those final miles was more than I could've ever hoped for, and even once I was relegated to walking/running, I didn't let my attitude slip with the pace and crossed the finish line (walking) satisfied knowing I had left it all on the trail with hopes of continuing to build my endurance for more events in the future.

And finally, I cannot understate the significance of having my 1st coke (soda, pop, whatever you call it) in well over a year as I sat in the finishers' tent while stuffing my face with peanut butter and jelly sandwich bites, pretzels, m&m's, and delicious red beans and rice with sausage (apparently a race specialty and tradition). But OHH MAN did that cold coke taste good, just as I remember them tasting and exactly why I must continue to abstain (except now for race days) lest I regain the 40 lbs I've lost in the last 2 years.

Monday, October 26, 2009

19 days till Rockledge Rumble 30k Trail Run

19 and counting

I don't like the post I wrote yesterday, it sounds inflated and artificial.

I tried to run Northshore last Thursday after a day or so of rain but was turned away at the gate because the trail is closed for at least 2 days after any significant rain, so I drove the nearly hour to Erwin park hoping to still get some decent running in before sunset. Mildly frustrated at spending over an hour and a half in the car, I ended up getting about 37 minutes of running at Erwin in what was also some fairly wet terrain and learned that I need to find the headlamps I know we have stashed away somewhere so that I don't have to call it quits right at sundown.

We had discussed going to Northshore on Saturday for a recreational walk/hike without the dogs, but ended up taking care of some errands and such so I decided to get up early Sunday morning to get in an hour and a half or so before the house woke up. Sunrise was at about 740 and I ended up pulling into the parking lot right about 8.

The group of 4 or 5 women and the "token male" companion as they called him were friendly with some basic advice on the west end of the trail since I seem to be working my way east to west with each visit, but I found out that I ended up failing to follow the trail completely to it's end since it requires some navigation through the twin coves park, which I thought I did, but just not enough.

I gave up for the time being on using the CU pack with the bladder and just stuffing a water bottle in the bladder pocket and this has worked somewhat well for a couple of runs, but once my shirt got heavy with sweat and I took it off, it only took 20 minutes for the pack to rub a raw spot on my lower back. I'm about to the point where hydrating pre-run and carrying a couple gels (or not for runs 1-2 hours) may end up being my preferred set up. I simply don't have the patience for running with unnecessary gear and I don't know if it was taking off my pack and dropping it off at my car at the 60 min mark or the fact that it just took my legs that long to get the rhythm but from 60 minutes to 90 minutes I felt better than I did at all during the first hour.

Of course I had my obligatory right ankle roll which took somewhere in the nature of 20 minutes to stop throbbing and I even managed to soak my right foot in the creek for about a minute on the way back which felt great but reminded me that I need to do some more Krupicka-like modifications, specifically taking out any stuffing in the tongue.

I'm also still unsure of just how long to anticipate a full running of the trail on race day since I'm still in the exploring stage and took no less than 4 rabbit trails yesterday as well as two turn-arounds on the later half hour. While I am getting a fairly good idea of the general layout of the area, there's some new single-track that I'm not sure will be part of the course and that would add a bit of distance. Though all said and done, and after looking at last year's results a couple more times, I still think a time of about 3:00 is reasonable, though I should be focused on just finishing and not set myself up for a disappointment like the Open just 2 weeks ago.

Finally, while it always hurts at first, I managed to make it through the initial rubbing of my heel as with all new pairs of shoes and the right shoe shows significant signs of the resulting blood even though, as I mentioned earlier, I soaked the shoe in the creek on the return trip. I'm not sure of the significance, but there seems to be some correlation between the rubbing of my heel and running immediately after rolling my ankle, I don't remember much pain if any once I got my stride back and the heel rubbing is much worse on the right than the left.

The rain's been falling now for at least 18 hours which means it will be Thursday at best before I can make it back out there, but that should be just about perfect to see about making it all the way to the far west end and back again towards the east a bit, assuming I'll have to park at the MADD shelter again, maybe I'll get in some more track work this week after a successful session of descending intervals last week (400, 2x200, 4x100, repeat) and I've been trying to figure out the best way to get over to the hill in Little Elm on the original bike route without having to do 20 miles total round trip or else having to ride my bike over there first. From measuring it out on the map it looks like I can cut through smotherman and be on 423 for a few hundred yards and cut the distance to the hill to about 3.5 miles each way, which if I then did 2 laps of the hill stretch at a mile each way (4 miles total) that'd be an 11 mile total, but I'll just have to see how it works out when I have more time.

Better, still not completely happy with it,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

20 Days and Counting

Till the Rockledge Rumble 30k that is...

After learning my lesson about the Northshore trail officially closing for 2 days following any decent rain, I made it back out to the scene of the crime this morning for what ended up being about an hour and a half run. Upon arriving at the parking lot near the MADD shelter (because the Murrell Park lot was apparently still under water) I was fortunate enough to meet a few fellow runners who will be participating in the 15k leg of the Rockledge Rumble and one member of the North Texas Trail Runners (NTTR) group who was accompanied by her two canine companions (the two of us both enjoyed the sight of a helpless mountain biker trying to pop a wheelie in the parking lot but falling flat on his back at the end of my run).

The fact that I was forced to park at the MADD shelter meant I was that much closer to the west end of the trail, the end I've yet to explore, but that in order to get a run longer than 90 minutes I'd have to come back to the parking lot and head towards the east end of the trail (or so I thought). Turns out what I thought was the west end trail head wasn't quite the end of the trail, but that's ok, now I have an excuse to go back earlier than I would've otherwise.

Since I posted on my hydration options, I devised a system by which I use the CU pack
but remove the bladder and place a small REI bottle in the main compartment and thus have the use of the pack without the hassle of a leaking bladder hose. However, today I learned that the pack is only good if I'm wearing a shirt since I now have a nice raw spot on my back from where the pack rubbed after I took off my shirt 40 minutes into the run because it was getting heavy with sweat.

Also, I officially broke in my $20 Asics
from Marshall's today, and by break in I mean soaked the heal in crimson as my sockless heel finally baptized the shoe in callous forming blood, the mark I always used in highschool to mark the successful break in of any new shoes for cross country or track season. I thought to take pictures of my heel but decided against it, though I may still snap a shot of the shoe, but that's a decision I can make down the road.

Back on the issue of hydration and the accompanying pack, I'm more towards abandoning the pack on any regular basis and either just carrying a bottle for extended runs or really learning the available watering stations on my favorite runs, even the race has an aid station every 5 miles. Plus, after reading Anton (Tony) Krupicka's blog today in which he described his 5 1/2 hour, 37 mile run carrying only a 16oz bottle and 3 gels I felt like a big sissy worrying about a pack for any runs I'm doing or will be doing in the foreseeable future.

Overall, things are looking well for the race on the 14th, after a slow start to get the legs turning over well, I felt strong at the end of the run, deciding to head home only to maintain a slow weekly built, otherwise I'd have been tempted to keep running another hour or more. Forecast is for severe thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow morning so I'll have some time to let the new blisters heal up a bit before heading out tomorrow afternoon or Tuesday and I may even get back on my bike this week for the first time since the US Open triathlon on October 11.

More to come...


Thursday, October 22, 2009

23 Days till Rockeldge Rumble

The app on my iphone says I have 23 days until the Rockledge Rumble 30k trail run on November 14th. Here's a picture from the trailhead taken a week ago.

30k is approximately 18.6 miles and will be the farthest I have ever run, and it will also be quite possibly the longest event I've ever completed (depending on my time).

I'm beginning to feel some concern as it's been a huge struggle to even get out the door the past couple of days, and in fact I've only managed one run of about 10 minutes since Sunday and that was cut short because I chose the wrong pair of shoes and was forced to quit because of blisters.

However, not all is completely lost, and in fact I'm getting very excited about the race as I've truly come to love trail running despite the ongoing struggle to figure out what hydration strategy will work best. I simply hate running with anything more than shorts and shoes-socks are okay if necessary and while I'm used to a hat and sunglasses on the road, I'm realizing it's not all that necessary on the trail.

But I know I'll need to carry something with me for the duration of the event so as to not rely totally on the aid stations.

Both of my current "pack" options were inherited by one means or another, and while neither of them is that bad of a choice, I guess I'm just not used to having something around my waist yet while running.

This one has a water bottle holster on either side of it's way too large compartment for something like a 30k, and may be useful for longer solo training runs in the future, but I've yet to even see how it fits or feels with anything in it and it's simply sitting as back up right now.

On the other hand, I have tried this one and it's not bad. It's not necessarily great either though, my right leg ended up fairly soaked with Gatorade as the nozzle tends to seep even when "closed" and if I decide to use it regularly, I'll have to buy a new end for it. The fact that it's a bladder system is also iffy in my decision so far, it holds about 24oz or so, not as much as two smaller water bottles, but enough to last me probably 2-3 hours at my normal consumption rate (I think). I also like the idea of having this one to show my support for my former alma mater CU - Boulder (thanks sister-in-law for donating this!)

There's also the consideration of just holding a bottle in my hand, something I tried once on a run in Colorado this summer, but I do like the idea of having the storage of the pack for something like a granola bar or gel. I guess time will have to tell, it rained like crazy yesterday and last night so my Thursday evening trail run might not be the best this week for experimenting, though I'll find out for sure how well my shoes work in the mud!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thank you Podcasters

Age grouper- Thank you Jeff and Eric for being my first ever triathlon podcast and making me laugh throughout the "nothing new on race day" episode-I now keep my legs shaved pretty much year round so as to not have that sneak up on me race day eve. Your show truly has improved with time, but don't let that discount your earlier shows at all, interviews with tri-shop owners and world champion Aussie's are great, but so are conversations between two friends who love this sport we do.

Stay Tuned Report- Thank you Brian for producing the closest thing we have in the triathlon world to a dedicated sportscenter report, including interviews and live race coverage. Though your cowbell may nearly blow out my eardrum every time, no other show out there does half the job of representing our sport so professionally as yours.

The Fredcast- Thank you Dave for providing the most comprehensive coverage of the cycling world and all of it's aspects in a professional, entertaining and well put together show. Though I've never had any of my equipment recalled, I can rest assured that I'd hear about it first from you, and your passion for all things cycling is infectious to the point that every time I listen to a new episode, I can't wait to get back on my bike and "pedal just a little bit harder."

Running with the pack- Thank you Jeff and Allan for providing me with my first opportunity to write in to a show's creator's with advice to Allan when he decided to try his first triathlon. Thank you guys as well for having the conversations about running that make me wish I had someone as dedicated to the sport with which I could have similar conversations.

Brandon's Marathon- Thank you Brandon for inspiring your listeners both as an athlete as well as in the time and energy you dedicate to your listeners' input. I can easily say that no other podcaster spends near the time and energy you do promoting their listeners and it really shows your character and genuine concern for them. Let's not also forget that you're a pretty badass athlete and congratulations on completing your first Ironman this year, keep up the good work.

Phedippidations- Thank you Steve for producing one of the most professional podcasts out there, period, regardless of genre. The production of your show makes the time that much more enjoyable and your ability to cover such an array of topics keeps me guessing from week to week what on earth you'll decide to talk about next. Finally, so help me God when John Michael finally grows up to move away to college, for I'll probably cry like a little girl when he's unable to make his regular appearance on the show, the banter between the two of you is one of the highlights of my week and gives me something to look forward to someday if I'm ever blessed enough to have such a family.

Zen and the art of Triathlon- Thank you Bret for teaching me about karma, like when I got stung by a bee on a bike ride the day after listening to your episode in which you got stung by a bee. Thank you as well for teaching me that sometimes, all it takes is to ask myself "what would someone who is training to be a better triathlete do?" and then simply going out and doing whatever answer I come up with for that question. Thank you finally for putting on your ironbaby self supported race to raise money and awareness for charity.

Three Apples Tall- Thank you Dana for representing the younger generation out there in the running podcast world. Your show gives me hope for our generation and I find myself looking forward to your new episodes more than most every other podcast I listen to, maybe one of these days I'll actually get around to calling in sometime!

Kelownagurl- Thank you Deb for kicking ass as both a triathlete and teacher. I'm in grad school specifically to become a teacher one day and your attitude throughout your experiences is awesome!

Endurance Planet- Thank you Kevin for bringing great stories to the podcast world that are inspiring and encouraging. Every time I listen to a new episode I wonder why I haven't joined your club, keep up the great work, and maybe once I get myself a job I'll man up and join.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Waking Rip Van Winkle

So I feel as though I've awaken from a wonderful sleep and remembered I have a desire to write down all that has happened in the last however many weeks.

And exactly what has happened you ask? 

I was supposed to ride my first century in April, for which I stopped running for three weeks in order to build my bike mileage, and as a side benefit give my shins a rest from the pounding of running in the suburbs. However, three days before the scheduled ride in the Wasatch mountains (mountains used loosely here) of southwestern Oklahoma was cancelled due to the last minute bailing out of about half the anticipated riders. While I could have been, and to an extent was, fairly upset about the news, it so happened that the small Texas town of strong German influence, Muenster, was holding its annual Germanfest festival the same weekend which happens to include a metric century popular among cyclists in north Texas who appreciate a cold Shiner beer following a windy ride.

So thus we began, my uncle and I, early Saturday morning with about 30 preliminary miles around the small lake where he lives, and then we drove the thirty minutes to Muenster to begin the metric on a clockwise loop (beginning at about 3 o'clock if you imagine it) on what turned out to be a VERY windy day, with the wind blowing out of the south. Thus the last 10 miles were a hot, fairly miserable leg with not enough fellow riders around to form anything resembling a pace line and suffering through the wind alone, wishing the headwind would at least bring about the aroma of brawtwurst and sauerkraut, but alas, it did not.

Muenster was over three weeks ago now, and much else has happened, including, but not limited to:
 my first ever time trial 
helping a colleague select the best pedal/shoe option
getting back into running
dealing (again) with shin pain
missing my first regular swim practice in months
checking out a new masters swim club
realizing my first "A" race, with which I hope to qualify for the US Open elite wave, may not actually meet qualification requirements
my new appreciation for
progress on my fixed gear conversion project
my struggling attempt to maintain my workout/diet journal
recent podcast reviews
an upcomming trip to Colorado where I hope to complete a 22 mile ride which includes a 9 mile leg with 2500 ft of climbing

So brace yourselves, the firehouse of new posts might be opened soon, I'm in the middle of the spring and summer semesters with much too free time on my hands and the creative juices are flowing,


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ok...So I blew it

Swimming in the pool this morning did little to reassure myself that I really didn't waste my vacation as bad as I've been thinking since returning home Sunday night.

After ranting a while back that I wanted to swim anywhere besides a pool while knowing I would be spending 10 days in the clear blue waters of the Bahamas, I swam a full, count it, 1 time during my trip, and that amounted to little more than 2o minutes or so of actual swimming. Add a few ancillary swims while snorkeling and jumping off cliffs and I essentially did nothing to justify packing my swim fins, paddles and two sets of goggles. 

Perhaps you're thinking, well that's ok, everyone needs their rest and I'm sure you still managed to compliment what little swimming with some regular running, right? 


The running was almost as bad as the swimming, granted I ran 40 minutes my second day there and another 20 minutes on day 7 or 8, neither workout justified the inordinate amount of food I ate nor the liberal amounts of Bahamian beer with which I cooled myself off.

All said and done I came back 3 pounds heavier than I left, a 6 pound deficit considering I was hoping to LOSE 3 pounds and while I needed some rest, I successfully peaked a full 3 months before my first A race of the season.

Not to be one to end on a bad note, I have a great tan now and the weather in Dallas is finally starting to look conducive to bike riding, learn from our mistakes to better ourselves going forward...