Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Testing the knee

I got out for another run at lunch today. I ran about 90% of the route from yesterday, only following a different (muddier) path through the bridle trails. The weather has been cooperating lately. It rains every day but mostly later in the day and not when I'm out on the trails at lunch. I do love running on those trails even if I have to step off the trail and let a horse pass occasionally.

I almost never run back to back days as I worry that my knee won't like it. My knee wasn't happy today but the soreness wasn't enough that I ever wanted to stop or turn around.

It's disappointing that my knee holds me back. I had my Meniscus repaired almost 2 years ago and came back to running really slowly and cautiously. I wasn't ever given any PT recommendations or exercises to do so I just kept stretching on my own. I wonder if there is anything else I can do to help strengthen my knee. I already lift weights a few days a week and stretch for 30 min. every night. I don't think I can go back to the place where I had the surgery and get any more help from them. I need to try a few of the various knee support / stabilizing products that I see other runners wearing. Maybe my doc can give me a referral to a sports medicine Physical Therapist in the area.

I worry sometimes that this is as good as my knee will ever be. Being able to run the occasional 50K is great but at the same time it makes me want to run longer races. Crisis or opportunity?

Dist: 5.2
Time: 43 min.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

catching up

I've been slacking on the blogging lately. Luckily my 3 semi-loyal readers haven't complained yet. I don't have much time now, so I'll just hit the high points about my last few runs and talk about injuries:

Last week I ran twice, once was just 2 miles on the treadmill at work to warm up before lifting weights. The other two, one last Friday after work and one at lunch today, were basically the same route. I ran out to the Bridle Trails from the gym near work, noodled around on the muddy trails and then turned around. The weather on Friday was great, high 50s and sunny. Today it was low 50s and cloudy. It was just starting to rain with a mile to go today. Both were good trail runs in the Brooks Cascadias, which I'm really starting to like quite a bit.

My knee is still a little sore but felt pretty good after my leg workout on Friday at lunch. Doing squats at reduced weight hurt a little bit but running felt fine on my knee after work. I tried wearing a Cho Pat during today's run and kept it on for maybe 2 miles total. It kept slipping down and didn't seem to help relieve the strain on my patella at all. I'll give the Cho Pat another try and then want to try one of those knee sleeves to see if that helps. My pelvis issues (PS/SI joint problems) haven't bothered me in a few years now. The PS joint pops once in a while but it's totally manageable. All signs point to years of playing hockey as the reason for the problems in the first place. I haven't had any pain since I stopped playing hockey in early 2007. I miss playing quite a bit but I'm really enjoying getting back to running. I hope I can get the knee under control so that I can progress into some longer races over the next few years.

I can't let Chris be better than me at everything. :)

Thursday: 2 miles on the treadmill in 17:54
Friday: 5.0 miles on the trails in 38:08
Today: 5.0 miles on the trails in ~40 minutes (forgot the Garmin)

It's going to be a low-volume month statistically but I'm happy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

slow run in the sun

The weather on Sunday was supposed to be cloudy and rainy with temps in the low 60s. It ended up reaching the upper 60s and the clouds disappeared. My daughter wanted to go out for a run in the jog stroller so I could hardly refuse. We got out onto the road just before noon. I tried out my new REI tech running shirt and threw on the Cascades again. We started out with a slower pace in mind and headed to the tunnel trail. With all of the rain lately there were some messy sections of trail near the top. My daughter said that it looked like "glupity glup and sloppity slop", which she quotes from one of our favorite books, The Lorax. It was slow going up the trail and especially getting the stroller (with her in it) over the big mud puddle that has a bunch of small logs in it to make it easy to walk over but impossible to roll over. This involved much lifting of the child/stroller combo.

Once we got over the trail, we continued up Artondale drive toward Kopachuck State park. We turned off the road across from Kopachuck and took some time to play at a school playground. We had fun on the equipment and I had time to do some pull-ups and push-ups using the play structure. After we had our fun we got back on the road and continued following the contour of the shore until we arrived at the Island View store. This is a popular mid-run stop for me when I'm on my own or out with the jog-stroller. We sat outside and looked over the bay toward Raft Island while we ate our peanut butter cups and chocolate milk.

After our snack we loaded up again and headed down Ray Nash drive to continue the loop. Ray Nash intersects the other end of Artondale dr. and allowed me to get back onto the Tunnel Trail. From there I repeated the earlier muddy portion of the run in the opposite direction. The trail lets out to some private streets that we followed almost all the way back to our street.

The weather was absolutely fantastic. Just on the border of too warm with a slight breeze to cool us off. I was never too hot or too cold wearing just a short sleeve tech shirt and a pair of shorts. We stopped a few times along the way to look at cows, horses, and donkeys up close so time wasn't a priority. My knee wasn't terribly happy with the run. There were a few times that I didn't notice any knee pain but most of the run was irritating to my knee. I'm trying not to worry about the possibility of injury and hope to take care of it and go easy. Maybe I'll run every 3 days for a week or two until it feels better and skip the speedwork for a bit. Time will tell.

Time: 1:12:07
Dist: 7.5
Avg: 9:37/mi

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

recovery trail run

I had to go in to work late and stay a little later so rather than sit in 2 hours of traffic coming home at rush hour I changed into my running gear and headed out to the Bridle Trails for a little over an hour of "me" time. It's nice not worrying about pace, distance, training, or schedules once in a while. It was a nice run as most of my runs in the Bridle Trails are except for the part where my knee started to hurt a few miles into it. It's still sore from the race on Sunday and I'll just need to give it some time off to recover. I'll hit the bike and elliptical the rest of the week I guess.

Dist: 8.95
Time: 1:16:47
Avg: 8:34/mi
Knee: Ouch!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mt. Si 50K results

As posted earlier I not only finished the Mt Si 50K today but I got a PR out of it. I've never raced a 50K before so all I had to do was finish to get the PR, but still.... So here's how it went. (I'll categorize it so those with short attention spans can skip ahead. :)

I got up at 5:45, ate my regular bowl of cereal, got dressed and was out the door by 6:15. I stopped at the store for a gallon of water and a coffee from Starbucks to drink over the hour that I'd be in the car. Traffic was light and I arrived at 7:30, an hour before the 50K runners started. Parking was horrible but I found a spot in the overflow lot. I guess the race is popular.  I picked up my race packet, which included a fleece vest instead the standard T-shirt which was an odd choice, but I'll give it a try.

I changed in the car, found the bathroom and started drinking some electrolyte drink. I popped an S-Cap and loaded up my pockets with gear. The list was a little shorter than usual because I had a "drop bag" that I sent ahead to the 10mi / 21mi aid station. I ended up just carrying some Nuun tablets, S-Caps, 4 Gels, my iPod and a hand bottle. Temps were in the low 40s so I went with shorts, a base layer and a long sleeve tech shirt but no gloves. I walked over to the start line with about 10 minutes to go before the start of the race and did some active stretching to warm up my legs a tiny bit. The Race Director herded us out to the street and gave us the countdown in his bullhorn and with a hearty "3-2-1 GO!" and we were off.

The "out" portion of the course:
The course was an out and back with a long hill to climb on the way out and descend on the way back. The hill gained about 1000' over 9 miles, deceptively gentle (I didn't actually realize that we were climbing until about 2 miles into the hill.) The first mile was through the streets of Snoqualmie and up to a big set of stairs that fed out to a trail that we would follow for the next 9 miles. The trail was almost entirely on small gravel or hard packed dirt.

I was holding 7th place for the first 2 miles due to a little ego getting into my pace as I tried to keep up with the runner ahead of me. When I realized it I backed off the pace a little and tried to just run by feel. I was pulling sub-8 minute miles for the first 4 miles. I slowed down to a little bit over 8 minute miles when another runner bridged up to me and stayed with me for the next several miles. His name was Kevin and we chatted about all manner of athletic and work things as we ran. His pace was a little slower than I would have liked to run but probably saved my legs a little bit from my ego. We were probably around 12th place at this point. The scenery was magnificent. We had a great view of Mt Si and Little Si off to the left and some other mountain range off to the right.

Mt Si (we were on the other side of those trees):

The race had self-serve water stops at 5 and 28 miles. Self serve meant a few big jugs of water and a stack of cups. I had the hand-bottle and Nuun tablets so that was just fine with me.

We were keeping a decent pace when we hit the 10 mile aid station. Kevin and two other guys that caught up to us continued on as I stopped to get a few more gels out of my drop bag, refill my bottle and grab a quick bite to eat. Just after the aid station the course started to enter a more wooded trail and the climbing started in earnest.

It was more of a trail run now where it was mostly just a dirt road through mile 10. I caught up to Kevin and passed him in about half a mile. It would be the last time I'd see him. I caught sight of the two other guys I was running with but just couldn't catch them. I knew we had about 5 miles or so until the turn around and try as I might I couldn't reel them in. My legs were starting to ache a little at this point but I was still able to peel off some decent sub-8 miles. The main thing that was starting to bother me was my hands. My fingers were getting pretty cold and I was starting to have trouble opening gel packets.

I didn't know what place I was in so I started counting the runners coming back from the turn around as I got closer. I estimated that I was in about 14th place by the time I crested the top of the climb and ran down a brutal short steep descent that lead down to the aid station. I checked in and had to ask one of the volunteers to open the ziplock bag that I had my Nuun tablets in because I couldn't get it with my cold fingers. I also had to make a pit stop at the bathroom here (which had NO toilet paper) hence the 13:58 split for mile 16. Climbing up the hill out of the aid station was brutal. I walked most of it as did every other runner I saw. Luckily it was only a little over 1/4 mile.

The "back" portion of the course:
Once over the steep short hill it was all downhill for the next 9 miles. Some parts steeper than others. I had lost a few places while I was trying to hurry in the bathroom so I picked up the pace a little bit and managed to pass two people in the first 2 miles of the descent. I rattled off a string of five sub-8 miles and started to feel a little bit foggy. It was one of those times that you know something isn't right but you don't have your wits about you enough to realize that you just need to eat something. It was another half mile before I ate most of gel (as much as my frozen fingers could get out of the packet) and started to rebound.

The sun was coming out on the mostly-shaded descent but my fingers were still almost numb. I was happy to see the bottom of the hill and the short jaunt to the mile 20 aid station where my drop bag was waiting with a pair of gloves in it! I checked in, filled the bottle, got a cookie and part of a PB&J, picked up a few more gels / Nuun and put those gloves on. The trail was a little less shaded at this point so with the temps rising and the gloves my fingers started to come back. I was thinking about the reason for them going cold when I was running and came up with this theory: I wear my Garmin 305 on my left wrist. I keep the band pretty tight so that it doesn't flop around. This has the side effect of cutting off some of the blood supply to my left hand and decreasing circulation. I usually carry my hand bottle (full of cold liquid) in my right hand which does about equally well to chill those fingers.  Gloves fix all.

I was happy with the gentle descent over the next several miles but there were no runners anywhere near me. I was enjoying the "On The Run" Playlist that I set up last night just for today's run. Artists included: Eminem, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, New Order, Depeche Möde, Nine Inch Nails, and The Prodigy among others. (and no, I'm not ashamed to admit to that dated list of bands, that's what motivates me on the run. :-) My quads and hamstrings, and upper back (Trapezius muscles) was really starting to hurt by about 24 miles. The sun was warming me up (temp was probably low 60s by now) and I was out of the tree cover by this point so there was little protection other than my hat. The base layer was keeping me a little too warm. I didn't want to take it off but I wished I hadn't worn it.

I trudged on but my pace started to slow. I rebounded for mile 26 and hit the marathon (26.2) split in 3:40:31, which is a pretty good time for me, especially considering that this was a light trail marathon, and that there was a long hill in the middle It's making me consider going for a marathon PR later this year. Hmmm...  Portland is in October. :-)

So after mile 27 the wheels started to fall off the bus. I stopped to walk a couple of times on miles 28 and 29. I was just trying to convince myself to keep running by that point. I was able to limit the walking but was still losing time and coming closer and closer to my sub 4:30 goal time. I even stopped at a golf course that paralleled the trail to drink out of their water fountain and soak my head with the nice cold water.

A couple of people passed me in the last two miles as I struggled with my legs, back, and neck. I got to the stairs and refilled my bottle before a labored walk back down and onto the street for the last mile. I told myself to just suck it up and keep going. I did but not terribly fast. On top of the other pain I was having my quads and calves started cramping up at the 31 mile point. It was nice of them to wait that long but a mystery to me as I was drinking Nuun the whole day and taking S-Caps every 1-2 hours. The S-Caps are much more powerful than Hammer Enduralytes but I need to experiment with the dosage in training. I made the last left turn and ran down to the school, around the parking lot and hit the finish in 4:29:14.

Post-Race thoughts:

At the half way point I was looking at a 4:15 - 4:20 finish but I killed that with a few slower miles, walking breaks and taking a little longer at the aid stations than I could have. I'm not going to beat myself up about it though. I had a great race, beat my goal (barely) and enjoyed myself and the flood of Dopamine and Endorphins that I got out of it. I picked up my neat glass finishers medal, got some food and chocolate milk (nice touch!), picked up my drop bag and headed home. I did have to stop at Dairy Queen and enjoy a large dipped cone as a reward:

What I could improve on:
- No base layer. Maybe even a short sleeve shirt instead of long.
- Go out a little slower to save my legs a little.
- More Imodium!
- Monitor my calories better during the race / eat more
- Faster through the aid stations
- Longer training cycle, more / longer final long runs.
- Figure out how many S-Caps I need

There were a couple of people photographing the race. I'll post a few shots when they make it to the race website.

Overall it was a great race. It was well executed with a nice course and good schwag. The food and volunteers were pretty good. Some of them didn't offer to fill my bottle, but that's a pretty small complaint to have. 

Time: 4:29:14
Place: 16th overall, 13th male.
Dist: 31.3
Avg: 8:36/mi
Alt: 1000 feet.

Here is The course map 

1) 7:20     11)  9:12    21)  7:53     31) 11:07
2) 7:19     12) 8:09     22) 12:19    31.3) 3:03
3) 7:25     13) 7:55     23) 7:26
4) 7:51     14) 7:58     24) 8:09
5) 8:05     15) 8:01     25) 7:58
6) 8:12     16) 13:58   26) 9:31
7) 8:28     17) 7:12     27)7:41
8) 8:40     18) 7:29     28) 8:46
9) 8:24     19) 7:51     29) 8:38
10) 8:13   20) 7:53     30) 9:43

Aid stations that slowed me down: miles 5, 11, 16, 22, 28

50K result

I finished in 4:29. Full update later tonight.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

One last run before my "A" race

I missed a run this week but it's my last week of tapering before I run the Mt. Si 50K on Sunday. I didn't want to run fast today, just shake out the legs now that the pain from the hard leg workout I did last week is gone. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I did squats, lunges, deadlifts and calf raises last week but I'm glad that my legs don't feel like concrete any more. I've been using my foam roller and "The Stick" every night to loosen things up with some success.

Back to today... Just a standard 5 mile run from the gym at lunch out to the Bridle Trails. The plan was to run for 20 minutes and then turn around. This gave me the chance to run on the actual Bridal Trails for about 10 minutes which was great as always even with all of the mud and slop this time of year. I kept a sensible pace and didn't try to hold any sort of tempo. I felt like I was running pretty well and had that pre-race feeling of wanting to go faster and of feeling light on my feet. It's just where I want to be two days before the race. I was surprised to see my easy pace dip below 7:30/mile several times. With the hills and a stop to fuss with the iPod I came in with just over an 8:00/mile pace.

Time: 40:50
Avg: 8:10/mi
Alt? 1200 (I doubt that)

Some other thoughts about running:

I wore the Cascadias today as most of the route is on (currently muddy) trails. I have to say that I noticed a difference in the traction compared to my regular road shoes. I like the way the Cascadias feel more each time I've run in them so far. Some of it could be the Drymax socks that I've been wearing lately though. I read Jamie Donaldson's blog and Jamie is sponsored by Drymax so she mentions their socks on occasion. I thought that if she doesn't get blisters when she's out running sub-15 hour 100 mile races that I should give them a shot. I bought two pair of the trail socks and I'd have to say that I'm impressed. They're soft and cushion-y but they keep my feet dry. Even after a 2 hour run in the rain I had zero problems with my feet. Ditto for the run that I did recently on the Bridle Trails where I ran down the middle of the trail and through every mud puddle I found. They are a little spendy though. I like them a little better than the Injinji toe-socks (which are good socks too) because they've got more cushion, keep me dry, and seem to last longer.

So what's the goal for Sunday? I feel good, the course is pretty flat (only 1000' of climbing), and the weather should be decent. The forecast calls for some rain and temps in the high 50s. I'd say that my three levels of success are:

1) Sub 5-hour finish

2) Sub 4:30 finish.
3) Break 4:15

I don't think I'm in shape to go too far under 4:30.  I think I should be able to just dip under that. I've never run a 50K before so I'm not sure how it'll go for me. I've been thinking and rethinking my drop bag that I'll pass at mile 10 and 21 and my race day outfit. If it goes well and I can average 8 minute miles I'll be extremely happy.

Bring on the Dopamine rush!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

5 treadmiles

I missed yesterdays run so I knocked out 5 miles on the treadmill at the gym today. Boring old 8 min. miles listening to the iPod and watching people on TV opine about Tiger's return to golf. Bo-ring!

I did stretch afterward for a change though. Usually I just stretch before bed. Busy weekend in sports coming up. The Masters (with Tiger), the biggest one day bike race of the year: Paris-Roubaix, and my 50K all on the same day. I wish I could watch the live coverage of P-R this year but Tivo will just have to do.

One more run on Fri. and I'm done training for a while.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Some good trails to run

With the lousy weather and many interruptions to last night's sleep courtesy of my son, the bike ride just didn't happen today. After I got a little more sleep I did get out for a run though. I arranged to meet up with a couple of guys that I carpool with at Point Defiance park for a trail run. I've ridden Pt. Defiance many times on my bike and enjoy it as an easy ride with some decent hills and low traffic but I'd never run there. It turns out that it's an awesome place to run.

We met at the main parking area and headed down past the botanical gardens and up toward the zoo. We pulled off of the road at this point and headed into the woods on. I was bringing up the rear out of the three of us on trails that were only wide enough to run single-file. I spent the first 2 miles following the guy in front of me watching his calves / feet to see where he stepped and which path he took through the many sloppy mud puddles that dominated the trail. I started to feel a little woozy after the first two miles and wondered why. I had a good breakfast, drank some coffee, wasn't dehydrated, etc. I realized that I was focusing too much on the trail right in front of my feet instead of watching more of my surroundings and I was getting motion sick. I find that I'm much more prone to it when I don't get enough sleep. I backed off about 5 meters from the guy and I was fine in a few minutes. It's so rare that I run with other people that I didn't even think about it happening.

The pace was a little faster than I really wanted during my taper weeks but I knew it wouldn't be a very long run. I'd never run with these guys before and I didn't want to be the slow guy so there was a little bit of pace ego between the three of us. It worked itself out after a few more miles and much more mud splashed up the backs of our legs. They must have thought I was a total Fred running with two hand bottles and a flask of Hammer Gel. I didn't really need the bottles or the gel but I needed to find out if carrying a flask of gel in the pocket of my shorts was comfortable enough to try in a race (It wasn't) while carrying two bottles.

The trails are all dirt with leaves and pine needles covering them. If it wasn't for the early season mud and water everywhere it would have been just about a perfect trail to run. There were a few downed trees / branches from the recent high winds but not enough to block the trails. The edges of Pt. Defiance park are totally exposed to the Tacoma Narrows so when we ran near the edge of the peninsula the winds were strong. The abundance of trees in the park blocked the wind the rest of the time.  I had a little trouble learning the way around the trails and I'll have to run it a few more times before I know exactly where I'm going, which I hope to do. It was great fun getting out to run some good trails and my Brooks Cascadias worked well. They feel a little firmer than my road shoes but other than that I don't notice much difference. Maybe they're a little more grippy but it's hard to tell. So far so good with those shoes.

My Garmin didn't locate any space junk to lock onto until the run was almost over but someone else was wearing one so I just used his numbers.

Time: 47:13
Dist: 6.0
Avg: 7:52/mile

Next week I plan to do two easy runs and I hope that my legs feel better by race day. They're currently really sore from doing Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts, and working my Calves on Friday at the gym. Maybe I should knock that stuff off next week or take it a bit easy, you think!?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Short and steep

Another cold and windy day today so I opted to hit the treadmill for my hill repeat workout. I'm tapering so the plan was 8 - 10 short steep hill repeats. I found a pre-programmed interval workout on the treadmill that had 8 short flat repeats so I adapted that to my hill workout.

As each effort would start I had to adjust it to a 6:30 pace and set the incline to 15%. I only did 15 - 20 seconds before returning back to a 9 min. pace at 2%. One downside to these new treadmills is that they don't remember your adjustments to the speed and incline so I had to adjust the settings before and after each hard effort.

It was quite a workout despite the hard efforts only being 20 seconds at most. It was a good last interval workout for this training cycle. Now I need to really take it easy. I'm even planning to ride my bike this weekend instead of running.

With warmup and cool down I ran 4 miles in about 35 minutes.

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