I want to be part of the popular crowd so I'm putting together a year end wrap-up.
My year in running wasn't really that exciting for people other than me, but amuse me and continue reading...
Going somewhat chronologically:
I volunteered at the Bridle Trails Running Festival in January and really enjoyed it. I was a gopher, ran a water stand, helped at the timing table and then swept the course to take down all of the course markings. I'd only volunteered at a race once before, the horrible and ill-fated Silicon Valley Marathon where I sat in a Ben and Jerry's truck scooping Cherry Garcia for 3 hours with 2 grumpy people trying to make jokes and not hate every minute of it.
I met a great Seattle area photographer named Glenn Tachiyama while volunteering at Bridle Trails. He specializes in ultra-running photography and releases a calendar every year to support the Washington Trails Association. The photos he selects for the calendar are absolutely amazing and on top of that he lists dozens of ultramarathons and trail races in CA, OR, WA, and beyond so you can plan your racing season. I really liked the Bridle Trails race itself as it's held on one of the trails that I know really well from running it every week at work. I hoped to run the 50K in 2011, but I don't have time to train for it, so I'm running the 10 mile race and volunteering after I finish.
In March I ran the Mt. Si. 50K race. It was my first 50K race though I'd run the distance before with Chris for fun once in CA and I'd finished a 50 mile race almost 10 years ago. The 50K went pretty well. I had stomach issues at the turn around which made for a 10 min. stop at the aid station. I under estimated the heat and my nutrition so by the 27 mile mark I started cramping up and taking walk breaks. I finished in 4h 29m and was happy about that. The race itself was pretty mild for an ultra marathon. It's an out-and-back course with about 1,000 feet of climbing (4,000 according to my Garmin) on very smooth trails with nothing overgrown or even mildly technical. I finished in 16th place.
I spent 2.5 weeks in Hawaii in May and I didn't run much, only totaling 29mi for the month. I ran barefoot for the first time in Hawaii and liked it.
I was back on the mileage wagon in June and July although I did make the mistake of running a few barefoot miles on a hot track in July that resulted in blisters on the bottom of my feet and 3 days off.
August and September (along with July) were high mileage months for me. I cracked 200 miles in one month for the first time ever in August. I was building up for my 2nd 50K race of the year.
In October I tapered my mileage and ran the Baker Lake 50K. I grossly underestimated the course and the aid available. I carried 2 hand bottles and ran out of water several times due primarily to the 13 miles between aid stations. I had GI issues, got very dehydrated, and pushed the pace way too hard early in the race. Somehow I still finished mid-pack. It was a huge learning experience for me.
I hoped to ramp up the speed for a pair of 10K races in Nov / Dec and break 40 min but I got sick and had to take almost 3 weeks off of training. My fitness declined and I canceled both races. The 10K will have to wait until next year.
Before I talk about my mileage numbers, here's a list of things that did or didn't work for me in 2010:
- New Balance MT101 shoes: Great shoes. They're not quite minimalist but they're the most minimal shoes that I've run in. There isn't much material to them, just enough to function well as running shoes. After decades of running in heavy over-supportive motion control shoes, these feel light, nimble and fast. The toe box is a tad narrow for my pinky toes but they're my favorite shoes that I've run in, probably ever. I'd written New Balance off after the last pair of NB shoes I had but now I'm looking forward to the update to these (the MT110) as well as the Minimus line that's coming out in a few months. I actually want to buy another pair of the MT101s before New Balance stops making them.
- Brooks Defyance: These are just a 'regular old' pair of running shoes but they've worked pretty well for me this year. I'm approaching 500 miles on the pair I have with zero problems on the roads. I ran my two 50K races in them (should have gone with Cascadias at Baker Lake for better traction though) and have enjoyed their comfort and durability.
- Drymax trail socks: After reading Jamie Donaldson's stories about how she's had such great races in Drymax socks I bought a pair of the Maximum Protection Trail Running socks in 2009. Even in size XL they were too tight for my feet. Early last year I bought a pair of the regular Trail Running socks and really liked them. I found that I was wearing my old WrightSock brand socks during the week and saving the Drymax socks for my long runs. Midway through the year I came to my senses and bought 5 more pair of Drymax socks and tossed the old running socks. I don't know why it took me that long. They're fantastic socks and the XL size fit with room to spare.
- Science of Sport blog: I read quite a few blogs and one that I've really found some great articles on is The Science of Sport. They're live-blogging major marathons, examining human performance potential, writing articles on doping in cycling, speculating on a sub-2 hour marathon, investigating pro cycling power output, and writing on a huge pile of other topics. It's one of the most consistently interesting blogs I subscribe to. They even made an article breaking down Sprint Canoe pacing in the World Championships interesting.
- iRunFar.com blog: I have to give Bryon Powell and his juggernaut blog of ultrarunning a proper acknowledgment as well. His race coverage is excellent, his reviews are excellent, his interviews are excellent. The result is that his blog is excellent.
That was the "good", this is the Bad:
- Perpetuem Solids: Hammer Nutrition decided to get into the portable food game. I remember reading something in their monthly advertising magazine last year about their stance against nutrition "chews" but perhaps that predated their own product. I've used Perpetuem in the past and even found a way to get around the taste so I thought I'd try the new Perpetuem Solids. As soon as I bit into the powdery disc during a recent run I knew that trying them was a mistake. The tablets have a consistency between freeze-dried ice cream (like Astronauts eat) and billiards chalk. As I bit down I got a mouth full of dry powder. The powder extracted all of the moisture from my mouth and turned it into a hard rubbery wad that I really had to chew on to break down. I'd hoped that the Cafe Latte flavor would be an improvement over the regular Perpetuem taste but it wasn't even close to "tastes good". I tried one of the Orange-Vanilla flavor chews and had the same conclusion. No thanks, I'll stick with my Perpetuem / Hammer Gel slurry mixture. As a side note, why is it so hard to get good coffee flavor in food? Coffee Ice Cream seems to get it right.
- Gu Roctane Island Nectar flavor: After trying the Gu Roctane Island Nectar flavor, I was pretty repulsed. I almost spit it out mid-stride. I can only guess that my taste buds are vastly different than others and the sharp "fruity" Mai-Tai flavor that Gu was aiming for totally missed me. Fortunately for me, they were free which will take the sting out of giving the rest of them away. Want em?
- Recoverite Chocolate: Another Hammer Nutrition product. I don't want to come down anti-Hammer here because I use some of their products with success and I think that they're a good company overall. I like the regular flavor of Recoverite and use it after most of my long runs. I recently tried the new Chocolate flavor and found it pretty repulsive. Like coffee, I don't understand why a basic chocolate flavor would be so hard to get right. I like the Chocolate flavored Hammer Gel but Hammer's Chocolate flavored powders (Whey and now Recoverite) are just inedible to me. I'm glad that I can fall back on the regular Recoverite flavor.
- Stomach issues: I've been having much more trouble with my stomach while running this year. I haven't nailed down what is causing my formerly iron stomach to fail me so often this year. Medication? Vitamins? Eating within 3 hours of a run? It's something that I need to work out in 2011. I'm not a fan of the consequences, especially during a race like Baker Lake where I had to stop 5 or 6 times for the dreaded outdoor poo.
There were a couple of things that I'd like to put into the good or bad categories but don't have enough data to sort them out yet:
- Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Pack: After Baker Lake in October I broke down and bought one of those Nathan Hydration pack/vest/jacket things. I didn't like the look of them but when two 20oz water bottles aren't enough water in a race there aren't really other options. I've worn it on 6 runs so far and it's neither comfortable or uncomfortable. It doesn't hurt my back like previous hydration packs have so that's a plus. It doesn't hold much stuff in it's three pockets however, so that's a minus. I think that I can adjust the fit to make it a little more comfortable when I take time to fiddle with it. I wish that the drinking tube was about 3" longer so that it wouldn't pop out of the waist clip as often.
- Brooks Launch: I talked to a Brooks rep a few months ago and asked him which shoe in the Brooks line was just below the Defyance in terms of support. He said that it was the Launch. I tried the shoe on and bought a pair, hoping that it would perform similar to the Defyance. So far I haven't been very motivated to put the shoes on and run in them. I'm loving the MT101s, still enjoying the Cascadias and luke warm on the Launch. I was hoping that they'd feel like a fast pair of road racing shoes with their flashy Orange and Cardinal color scheme. They feel like too much shoe so far.
Finally, rather than ramble on and on about the monthly / yearly numbers, I'll just leave a screen shot from my running spreadsheet:
I fell just short of my 1500 mile goal. I could have easily hit it so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. It's my highest mileage year to date and my knee is holding up, so I'm happy.
Well, that's my 2010. How'd I do?