Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The pressure of going under

"Under".  Quite the prefix.  Under-water.  Under-neath.  Under-pressure.  Under-achieve.  Under-estimate.   These carry with them mostly negative meanings or thoughts with them.  Yet with running, especially racing, we (I) often have goals and desires to go "under" in a good way.  Under 25 minutes for a 5K.  Under 4 hours for a marathon. 

However, also with running - maybe this is just where my head is at now - we (I) often times feel under trained, under prepared, to tackle a race or a particular run.  For me this often times leads to thoughts of doubt, hesitation and a desire to not even attempt a run or race before I even start.

I kind of feel this way as I am heading into the upcoming 50k in less than 5 weeks.  I wish I could have a few more weeks to train, to log more miles, to run some longer distances - I was in pretty close to my best shape ever when I ran the North Fork 50K back in late June - but due to time off with a knee injury and gaining a few too many pounds at the same time - I am not close to where I was 8 or so weeks ago.

And then there is tomorrow.  The American Discovery Trail Marathon.  I'm pacing for it like I did last year.  I ran a very consistent race last year for the 4 hour group.  Maintaining the same pace throughout and finishing in 3:59 exactly.  This past week I got talked into the 3:30 pacer role.  8 minutes per mile I can do - but I have only ever gone faster than that once for a 26.2 miler.  I have run this same course twice before - last years measured effort and 3 years ago when I tried to go at 8 minute pace or better and hit the wall over the past 6 miles, finishing in about 3:38 something.

No pressure this year or anything with people trying to qualify for Boston, me not having run an 8 minute mile in recent memory, me feeling like I am doomed to fail - and let people down.  "Under" the gun.  "Under" pressure.   "Under" prepared.  "Under" trained. 

I should be sleeping.  It is likely I won't sleep well tonight.  Have to get up just after 4 am to get to the shuttle.  I have no idea how I will do in the morning.  I would like to think I might be able to pull it off.  I also think that I don't have a chance.

Race report to come - sometime.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pikes Peak Donut Run

The Pikes Peak Marathon was this past Sunday, I have run it each of the past 2 years, the Ascent I did the year before that.  After coming in a surprising 5th in my age group last year I decided I had achieved all I wanted to on the Mountain.

A year goes by, I keep a distant eye on the race website and are tempted a few times to enter and give it another shot - but don't.  The race takes place this past Sunday and throughout the day I steal time to look up the race splits in progress, wondering how I would be doing. Having come off the recent knee injury I know I wouldn't have done great - but still think a few times: what if?

So, a few days pass since the race and yesterday I have a day off from work.  I have the 50K coming up in about 50 days and the longest I have run in the past 2 months is 14 miles.  I need a long run. 

I'm also in the mood for donuts.
Somewhere high up there is a Donut with my name on it.
Admittedly I could have just gone down the street and bought a donut.  But I have gained weight in the past 2 months and need to shed some of it, so I need to exercise to get the donut.

I set out from the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent start line at 7:15 a with a loose goal of summiting in 4 to 4 1/4 hours.  Hang out at the summit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then come down in 2 to 2 1/4 hours.  So - the overall goal / what I thought I was capable of....was 6 to 6 1/2 hours.

I took my phone, a bag of Swedish fish - which is my go-to running fuel, 2 small water bottles tucked into my hip and 1 handheld water bottle and started off.  I was walking within 20 minutes as I was midway up "The W's" - not that I wanted to start hiking so soon but just that I quickly figured out that if I was going to make any kind of progress then I would need to be conservative - especially early.

So I hiked the steep and technical spots and ran when I could and eventually made it up to Barr Camp in about 1:58.
The view of the summit from about a mile below Barr Camp.

Barr Camp - not serving donuts here.
Not a great time to Barr Camp - but not bad either.  It is usually a good indicator (at least for me) in previous summit attempts that I should double the time to Barr Camp to get up to the peak.  So - a potential sub 4 hour summit was looking possible.

I kept on with the run when I can / hike when I should-strategy as I continued up towards A Frame next.  I stashed my hand-held water bottle at the turn off to the Bottomless Pit trail - still about 1/2 full - so as to pick up and use on the way back down.  My other 2 water bottles I had filled with Skratch and began to work on those.  The Swedish Fish also kept me up on fueling.

 Surprisingly there were a lot of hikers - many of whom must have camped at Barr Camp the night before - on the next section of the trail.  I tried to run past them as I came up on them.  A bit of an ego thing.  I made it to A Frame at around 2 hrs 50 minutes.  This had been the longest I have been on my feet running (or at least moving forward) since The North Fork 50K back in late June.  And I wasn't even half way done with my day !!!
A Frame - definitely no donuts here.
No thought ever crossed my mind of turning around here though - only 3 miles and 2000 feet or so to go till my donut.  I hadn't gotten this far to turn around now.  I pressed on and for the next 3 miles I hiked about 90% of the way, shuffling into a jog only on a few occasions.  My lack of time at altitude was definitely a factor above tree-line.  I couldn't jog for more than a minute or more at a time before feeling dizzy.  I just needed to both 1) get to the Summit 2) and then get back down - so hiking was the smart thing to do.  No need to blow a gizzard.  (For reference point to those unfamiliar with what exactly is "a gizzard" - think some sort of internal organ).

At A-Frame I realized that a strategy of mostly hiking the rest of the way up would result in a sub 4 hour summit.  And that it did.  I finally made it in 3:55:25.  Not great but not bad either.  The good thing was that I wasn't feeling too awful.  The better thing was that I had bought $5 with me to buy a donut and a Gatorade.
A fat filled reward - fuel for the downward journey.
I hung out in the Summit house for 10-12 minutes and inhaled the donut, filled up one bottle with the Gatorade and drank the rest.  Took a couple more pictures and then walked back to the Marathon turn around point where I had stopped the watch.
The view from the Summit looking East.  Awesome.

The View from PPM turnaround point looking South.  Super Awesome.
So, now for the downward journey.  2 goals.  1) Don't fall.  2) Try to get near 2 hours so as to make the round trip time less than 6 hours. 

I started out slow as is customary and necessary for the top mile as it includes the 16 Golden Stairs and some technical rock hopping.  I passed a lot of the hikers that I had passed previously on the way up.  They were both encouraging and a little incredulous that I was now running back down.  I didn't take the time to stop and explain to them that I was a little crazy.

I made it back down to A-Frame in about 29 minutes - a decent and controlled effort.  Rolled my ankle a little just below there but it was minor and I kept running until the pain went away (no issues with it later or today).  Made it down to Barr Camp in about 54 minutes.   This lead to the thoughts that if I kept it up I should easily get under 6 hours.

I had picked up my water bottle and was hydrating and fueling well.   I stopped a couple of times to burp out some gas build up - that relieved a little of stomach stress.  The stomach wasn't great but descending 7800' + is not going to do many peoples innards any favors.

Below Barr Camp I really started getting tired.  5 hours in and my body was saying enough.  By No-Name Creek the temps really started heating up but I kept moving forward and got down to the Cog Railway and on to the pavement for the final mile or so.  That is such a tough long stretch after spending so much time on a trail, but eventually I got down to town, took a left turn and ran a few feet to the finish line area of the PPM race. 

Down in 1:50 and change - actually about a minute or more faster than the race last year, a bit of a surprise.  Total round trip time was just under 5:46 - plus the 10-12 minutes at the Summit.  A satisfying effort and time result.  It also reinforced in my mind that I don't need to do the race again.  But maybe I will - I don't know.  Don't need to worry about it for months yet.  What it did point in my mind was I didn't train at all for it and was only 20 minutes off my race result from last year.  If I trained for it like I trained from the 50K in June - as in doing a bunch more mileage and vertical training - I may be capable of a PPM PR.  But that would really hurt and today - the day after running the course should be reminder enough that I really am a wimp and should make the smart choice of not signing up to do it again.  But that is to be determined.....

After all - the donuts at the Summit are worth the run up to get them......

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Running with Fruit Salad

I'm not really a fan of cheese, I really do not like tomato's - however I do like ketchup.  I eat chocolate and candy way too much, although not as much as I used to.  I have always been a good eater of vegetables - aside from  pumpkin: yuck.  And I like fruit.  I like many different types of fruit and actually enjoy a good fruit salad.   A fruit salad with pineapple, grapes, apple, strawberries, melon, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries - that to me is a good one.  Lots of variety, really colorful, different textures, and not only those - good for me too. 

Sometimes I'll get a bunch of fruit and blend them into a smoothie, but I don't enjoy that as much as just picking my way through a bowl of different fruit.  Admittedly I'll add some ice cream in there at times - but let's just move on from that shall we.....

The last few weeks have a fruit salad of types for me.  Meaning - a whole bunch of stuff mixed together and most of it good for me.  Unfortunately - my running has taken a back seat - some of it by choice - other times due to other commitments and an injury.

2 weeks after the North Fork 50K I was easing back into running having recovered well and quickly - I was playing Basketball with my son and we smacked knees - hard.  Instant pain, swelling and I knew it was not good.  After much resting, icing etc it was feeling a bit better - so a week later, after having not run for a week I ran the Classic 10K - having a free entry got me there.  After a few short warm up strides my knee felt way off and I should not have run the race.  But I did and the adrenaline seemed to kick in.  I toed the starting line thinking of  race strategy I have never employed in who knows how long.  Normally I start out slow and try to either stay steady or pick up the pace.  This time I was going to go opposite that.

Due to my knee not feeling like it would hold together I thought I may as well go as hard and as fast as I could for as long as I could.  After a couple of miles at near redline effort for me my knee was doing okay, relatively speaking, so I thought I could make it through the race.  I passed the 5K mark and was only 15 seconds off a 5K PR - well on track to break my 10K PR.  I slowed a bit over the remaining 5 K but still ended up coming in 30 seconds faster than ever before.  A pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Instead of waiting 45 minutes for the shuttle to take me back to the start - I decided that I would run back.  Dumb decision as it was a miserable run back, my knee really started to ache and by the time I was done I was in great discomfort. 

No running for 2+ weeks.  I couldn't.  I had trouble walking, especially negotiating stairs. 

I saw a doctor and fortunately nothing seemed broken or torn.  Just a very deep bone bruise and inflamed area behind the knee cap.  Lots of Icing, resting, wrapping, elevating.

Finally 2 weeks ago and having now gained 8 pounds since the 50K I was done with the dumb knee.   I had enough and started to lightly jog.  Adding a few miles each day.  Having a lot of walking times during the run.  Icing after each time and trying to rest up.  I got in 14 miles for the week.  By the end of the week my knee was about 80%.

This past week it was feeling better and I added a bunch more miles on and seemed to have come out of it with the knee intact.  I did do a lap Falcon Trail from the B52 connector yesterday - 14.2 miles and my knee did okay.  Possibly a little too much mileage too soon - but the day after the run - in which I did take the day off - the knee is okay and I will hit a trail somewhere tomorrow morning.  I'm putting my knee at about 90% right now.  As for my fitness - well that has issues.  The slowest lap of Falcon in months and months.

I have the Stump Jump 50K coming up in less than 7 weeks.  I have no chance of being in my best shape before then.  That's disappointing but I will give it and training for it my best effort.  Going in with low expectations will possibly help.  Going in under trained will not.  Going in injured will not be a good choice so I will try to train smart, lose some of the gained weight and be as best prepared as I can.

In the past few weeks I have had opportunity to get a good amount of swimming in which has helped with my fitness, helped also with the knee coming around.  I should have been doing more swimming earlier in the year as I really like the benefits of how it helps fitness, strength and not such a pounding on the legs and feet.  I will look to keep on doing that as much as possible.

Other fruit salad or miscellaneous items that have happened in the past few weeks - sold my house, helped get my family moved into their new place - a few long days involved with those items.  Work at The Broadmoor has been going well.  My kids are back into soccer and doing well.  My son is starting goal keeper for the Varsity Soccer team - as a sophomore.  My oldest daughter's team went undefeated in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent was this weekend and even though I said I was done doing either after last year when I came 5th in my age group - I paid attention enough to the results today to think I might have done okay in this years marathon.  So I am thinking about next year for that - but I am also thinking about maybe trying a 50 miler out which could lead to a 100K and possibly a 100 miler.  Not sure about any of that yet.

So, back to checking in with a training log for the next few weeks leading up to the 50K.....