Monday, February 28, 2011

Now that's progress!

Monday 2/21 (5.1mi, 47min, 9:15/mi) After 20 miles on Sunday I wanted to just put some easy miles in and circulate the blood in my legs. I ran down to Grass Lawn Park at lunch on a surprisingly sunny but very cold day to run around the track barefoot. I got there and remembered how cold I was last time I tried running barefoot so I left my DryMax socks on and ran in those. They're great minimalist footwear and were just warm enough. I ran 2 miles on the track and then headed back to work with my shoes on. It was a pretty slow run but with my aggressive long run schedule leading up to Chuckanut I'm treating almost all of my other runs as easy recovery so that my legs will be ready for the next weekend's long outing.

Wednesday 2/23 (6.6mi, 1h 4m, 9:44/mi) With a big snow storm in Western Washington I worked from home on Wed, Thu, and Fri. I made a point of treating them like normal work days and set an alarm to go run at lunch time. On Wednesday the snow was really dumping just before noon so I hurried to get dressed  and got out for a run in the snow. It's rare that we get a good bit of snowfall in the area so I just had to get out and run in it. It was great running with big fluffy flakes falling (I grew up in San Diego where they don't have snow so this is novel to me) but hard to see when they were hitting my eyes. I should have worn glasses. It's also neat how the snow dampens the noises you normally hear and makes everything quieter. The hard snowfall only lasted about 20 minutes. I ran up the tunnel trail and out to Kopachuck State Park where I ran down to the main parking lot and then down the path to the beach. I stopped on the way down and ran on a few short hiking trails that were really hilly and muddy but eventually looped back to the path I was just on or to the parking lot. Some of the trails were muddy and technical enough to make them un-runnable. After playing at Kopachuck I headed back the way I came but took the long way around past the Arletta store instead of going back down the trail. Easy peasey.

Friday 2/25 (5.6mi, 51min, 9:08/mi) Again working from home I set a workout alarm for lunchtime. There wasn't any snow falling but the ground was covered from another couple of inches of snow that fell Thursday night. The roads were somewhat clear but very icy in spots. I tried to run on the shoulders and trails. I stuck to my normal 40 - 50 min time allowance that I do at work so I just ran up to the corner by Kopachuck and back the long way. Running *in* snow is much more fun than running *on* snow.

Sunday 2/27 (24.5mi, 3h 34m, 9:07/mi) For the second Sunday in a row I had a long progression run scheduled. No distance goal, only to be on my feet for 3.5 hrs or more. I didn't feel very good the last hour of my long run last Sunday so I didn't have big hopes for this weekend. On top of that the rest of the family is still sick and I swear the boy tries to cough in my mouth every time I'm holding him. Somehow I'm avoiding getting the cold.

Before I set out to run I did some active warmup exercises (leg swings, hip/trunk twists, lunges, and rolled my legs with "The Stick") Then set out in light rain and sub-40F temps. For the first time in a while I got the clothing choices exactly right. Nothing was cold or overheated. I barely thought about what I was wearing other than unzipping my jacket 1/2 way and back up a few times when running into the wind. I also got my nutrition right for a change. I went with my 2L Nathans bladder and put 4.5 scoops of HEED and 1 scoop of CarboPro in it for ~600 calories. On top of that I had a flask with 500 calories worth of my Perpetuem slurry mix in it. I accidentally made the slurry a little thinner than I usually do by adding some of the left over coffee from the morning after adding water to it. It didn't taste quite as good as usual but making it thinner made it much easier to eat.

I ran a big loop around the West side of Gig Harbor, starting by going past the Fox Island Bridge, heading out to the trails off of 70th ave for six 1KM laps to add a few miles to my day. I really like these trails. They were still snowy from the storm but not slippery at all. It's a great place to run, I just wish it was much longer. From there I headed down to Cromwell along the water where there was no shelter from the strong off-shore wind. I was lucky though as it was only a headwind when I was running down the big hill to get to the shore. I ran up the East side of Cromwell and down Wollochet up to Skansie ave and then 54th / Bujajich. This took me past the women's prison and the McCormick park trails that I ran last weekend. I stayed out of those trails and headed over to Sehmel park to run the trails through the park and down 86th ave where I stopped at the Shell station. I thought I was about out of water and bought another liter when it turned out that I still had enough left to get me home. From there I ran to past the Island View store and down Ray Nash drive and up to the Tunnel Trail, down it and back home. I had a couple of 10min miles but the rest were mostly sub-9's. I was feeling much better than last week's long run thankfully. It gives me great confidence going into Chuckanut in 3 weeks. I could have gone farther on today's legs.

I also decided to try a few new things for recovery after my run. I had a couple of TBSPs of Udo's Oil to see if the claims that Scott Jurek, Devon Crosby Helms, and Geoff Roes make about the product hold true for me in the least. I also had my first ice bath. I stayed in for 10 min at 51F. After googling, the interwebs recommended 10c - 12c (54F - 60F) but the cold water that comes out of the faucet was only 50F so I went with that. I added ice but not enough to affect the temperature. I barely lasted 10 minutes and I think that it helped my recovery other than the horrible Hamstring/Glute pain I'm still getting.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Finally a proper week of training -- and an Owl!

Monday 2/14 (5.9mi, 54min, 9:30/mi) My legs were a little tight after Sunday's 12 miles. I've been getting a bit of tightness where my right hamstring meets the Glute muscle lately. I wanted to get out for an easy run to loosen up my legs. Despite the rain over the weekend as well as most of Monday I gave the Bridle Trails a shot. I wore my Vasque Transistor shoes which are getting old enough that I don't care about getting them dirty any more. I started out trying to avoid the puddles on the trails, working hard to hop from side to side or sneak by on a sliver of dirt to get around them. After about a mile of this I just gave up and started plowing through the middle of the trail, mud and water be damned. It actually took a few good puddles before I even felt my feet get wet through my Drymax socks. Again I followed the small interior trails that I seldom run rather than the familiar exterior loop. By the time I finished my route through the Bridle Trails and back through the muddy wet corridor trail I was pretty well covered in mud and dirt from toes to knees. It took a bit of work to wash it all off in the shower back at the gym. It was actually quite fun to play in the mud and puddles as I ran. My knee didn't hurt particularly but didn't feel good either. Glad I got out for a run.

Wednesday 2/16 (6.0mi, 40:42, 6:47/mi) I had tempo on the schedule and hadn't pushed a fast pace since before I was sick at the end of January. I also needed to pick up a new combination lock to use at the gym lockers at work. It turns out that the Master (tm) combination locks that I remember from my high school days are crap now as mine barely works after a few months of sporadic use. I planned to run out to Target in Redmond and see what Tempo I could hold on the trip. The way out has a big descent along the bike path that parallels Hwy 520. I managed to pull 6:05 and 5:50 my first two miles, largely due to the hill and my NB MT101s. At the bottom of the hill I ran along the Sammamish River trail out behind Redmond Town Center and under 520 to Target. It's almost exactly 3.0 miles each way. I pulled up to Target in 18:30, quite a bit faster than I thought I'd be. After buying a different type of lock I started on the trip back. I did okay getting out to the trail but I was starting to struggle keeping the pace under 6:30/mi. It definitely wasn't comfortable but I didn't want to back off. I had some luck with the two stoplights I had to go through, catching them after only a short wait. I was hoping for more of a break to catch my breath though. Running back up the 1+ mile hill was pretty tough. I was just gutted trying to keep any kind of pace heading up that hill. When I was half way up I was greeted by a strong headwind to further work against me if the gradient wasn't enough. I pushed the best I could and then recovered pretty quickly to sub-6:30 pace once I was back on the flat streets near work. I'm surprised to see 40:42, especially considering the hills. It makes me hopeful that there's a fast 10K in my legs later this year if I can find a flat course. Later in the day my legs were really sore from the tempo, but I'd say it was worth it.

Thursday 2/17 (2.0mi, 18.5min, 9:13/mi) My legs were very tight after Wednesday's tempo run so I just wanted to get on a treadmill and run a couple of slow miles to stretch out my legs. My right Glute/Hamstring was still really tight. The tightness is pretty deep in there and hard to work out with the stick or the foam roller. I've tried using tennis balls but it doesn't quite work the knot out. Speed work seems to bring it out more than other things so I'll probably tone down the speed work for the rest of my training for Chuckanut. After the treadmill I lifted weights for about 30 minutes. I've started spending 2 days a week lifting to give my knee a little break as the mileage ramps up.

Friday 2/18 (3.0mi, 27min, 9:00/mi) I had plans to do a longer run after work so I just ran 3 easy miles at lunch before some more weight lifting. It really helped shake my legs out as I was still feeling some Hamstring/Glute tightness from Wednesday's tempo run.

Friday 2/18 (8.9mi, 1h 18m, 8:47/mi) Just after dark I got out to run at the Bridle Trails. I'd just put new batteries in both my headlight and my small flashlight and wanted to see what kind of improvement that made. The ground wasn't too muddy and wearing my beat up Cascadia 5's, I didn't care enough to avoid the mud. I tried to keep the pace pretty easy on the way out to the Bridle Trails and ran a little bit more around the interior trails instead of taking the perimeter trails that I knew would be in the worst shape. About 5 minutes into my run in the middle of the woods I saw something swoop over me just at the edge of the beam cast by my headlight. It startled me enough to bring a four letter exclamation out. I looked up in time to see a large bird fly over my head and perch in a tree just ahead of me. I looked up with my light and saw a good sized owl watching me. I continued running and the owl swooped over me twice more. I decided that I didn't want the owl to keep following me so I stopped and walked over to the tree where it was perched about 12' up and squirted it twice with my water bottle. It flew off and I took off running at a little faster pace. I didn't know if it was attracted to my lights or using them to hunt but I know that owls have some pretty serious claws that I could just picture digging into my shoulder when I wasn't looking. Luckily the trail ahead had much more tree cover and that was the last I saw of the owl. The rest of the run was pretty easy but my fitness isn't great after being sick and it was a pretty tough haul. Running at night in a muddy forest requires extra effort and concentration to process the little bit of the trail that you can see and then plan your path through it. One odd thing did happen though, I got turned around in the middle somehow and made two wrong turns in a row. I was lost for a few minutes knowing that I wasn't where I wanted to be. Once I recognized a sign at a trail junction I got back on track but it added a little over a mile to my run. I was over my planned time, running a little bit late by the time I got out of the Bridle Trails so I picked up the pace and got back to work to shower and get on the road back home.

Sunday 2/20 (20.0mi, 3h 05m, 9:17mi) After missing my last two long runs I decided that if I can get a long run in the next three weekends I'll still be okay to run Chuckanut. If I hurt myself or it's too hard, I'll just go and volunteer on race day. Today was my first of the three consecutive long runs. My only plan was to be on my feet for 3 hours (the next two weeks are 3.5 and 4.0 hours). I headed out the way I normally do and went up the Tunnel trail (muddy) and out past Kopachuck. Down the hill and around past the Island View market. I headed out to Sehmel park as I'd heard from the local running store (Route 16 Running) that there were some trails to run there. I happened to find a quick way into the trail about a half mile from the park. I didn't know where the trails went exactly but I tried to head toward the general direction of the park. I was pretty impressed with the trails and they lead me right to the park. I cut through the park and picked up the trail on the other side. I turned East onto Sehmel Dr. and went up the steep hill. At the top I kept on for less than a mile and then turned off onto Bujacich dr. where I found the entrance to my final goal, McCormick Forest Park. I'd run by it on previous long runs but never ventured in to check it out. I regret not looking previously. The trails are hilly, wooded, clean and groomed. In other words: Great! I didn't know the layout of the trails but it was incredibly easy to find the perimeter trails as most of the major trail heads had small laminated maps next to the trail markers. The trails actually reminded me of the little bit of the Interurban trail that I ran on two summers ago up in Bellingham, which happens to be part of the Chuckanut course. I think I need to spend some time on these trails. It was about a 1.5 - 1.75 mile loop around the perimeter with a good bit of climbing and descending. Half of the loop was flat and the other half had no flat sections at all. I'd say that they are the best trails I've found in the area so far. I had time for two laps before I had to head back home to make my 3 hours. By the two hour point in the run I was feeling pretty beat up and my pace was slowing. I was a little confused trying to find the Northern entrance to the Sehmel park trails and then took a different route through the park trails which resulted in two dead ends that I had to backtrack. Once I got back onto the roads with about 6 miles to go my legs were really starting to complain. My form was getting sloppy and I could feel my Hamstrings tightening up. I tried to just ignore the pain and focus on the music which worked for a little bit. I had to stop and walk for a minute up the hill heading toward the tunnel trail. I felt a little better after getting to the bottom of the trail and for the last mile but overall it was a pretty brutal long run due to the shape I'm in right now. I was just glad to get through it.

For nutrition, I drank Heed & Nuun in my Nathan's bladder and it lasted until I had a mile to go. I also was eating my Perpetuem / Hammer Gel slurry mix every half hour. On top of that I tried out some Gu Chomps for the first time today. They're just big flavored sugar gel blocks but they're 33 cal/block and they tasted pretty good. I need to look at what kind of sugar they use and if it's not HFCS, buy some more. I didn't have any stomach troubles on the run, or the entire week for that matter. Maybe the Acidophilus I started taking recently is helping.

Monday, February 14, 2011

House full of sick and a sparse week of training

Wednesday 2/9 (3.0mi, 26min, 8:40/mi) I've been quite sick lately. Sick enough to take 4 days off work with a horrible chest cold. Both of my kids had pneumonia so I'm glad that my illness wasn't worse. I don't like taking sick days, especially when everyone else in the house is sick. I especially don't like being too sick to run for 8 days straight! On Wednesday I still had a bit of a cough and some nastiness in my chest but I felt good enough to work out so I hit the gym at work for some cardio and weights. At the end I threw in a slow 3 miles on the treadmill. I tried to numb the boredom by practicing running up on my toes. It didn't feel as hard as I remember the last few times I've tried to focus on it. Maybe I can continue the transition to forefoot running.

Thursday 2/10 (6.0mi, 54min, 9:00/mi) I forgot the Garmin so I'm guessing on the numbers. I ran over to the Bridle Trails at an easy pace. I still had crud in my lungs so it was a challenge just to get through the run. My knee bothered me almost the whole run. The knee pain scares me that I've re-torn my Meniscus or something. I'm hoping that it's just due to the new Brooks Cascadia 6 shoes that I've been running in lately. I really want to like the shoes but I have had knee pain every time I've run in them so far. Good easy run other than the knee thing.

Sunday 2/13 (12.1mi, 1h 53m, 9:24/mi) It was a busy weekend so I didn't have time for a proper long run. With my lack of running lately (<10 miles/week the last 2 weeks) I'm not quite in shape for the scheduled 20 miles either. I was able to get out for a 12mi run around Gig Harbor though. I was worried about how my knees would take it so I ran with the Garmin but set the screen to the menu rather than the data so that I wouldn't be constantly checking my pace/time/distance. I also ran in my favorite shoes, the New Balance MT101s. They're so low profile that they feel easier to run mid/forefoot in. They're far from a zero-drop shoe but they're much smaller and lighter than the Cascadias. I didn't have any knee pain on the run which was hopeful, I kept waiting for it to creep in but it never did. My knee felt tired rather than sore. The long dynamic stretching routine I did before the run probably helped quite a bit. I've been watching some videos on pre and post run routines from the Running Times podcast series for ideas.

One other nice thing about the run on Sunday was that I finally explored the trails at the corner of 70th and Warren dr. I'd run by them many times but never ventured in. Turns out that it's a nice 1KM outer loop with several trails crossing in the middle. The trails are very narrow with high bushes and many sharp turns which caught me a little bit by surprise at times. There was a little bit of climbing on each loop and I was the only one there. They aren't really wide enough for two people to pass each other. Great little find, I'm glad that I finally checked them out.

So I'm 5 weeks out from Chuckanut with very few miles in my legs. I'm going to try to ramp up with three long runs on successive weekends then an easy weekend, then the race. If I have more knee pain or my body can't take the steep increase in mileage I'll have to give up running Chuckanut and go volunteer instead. I'm very hopeful after yesterday's run but I'd still give myself about a 50:50 shot of starting the race.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pass the lemons

Monday 1/24 (7.4mi, 1h 02m, 8:25/mi) I went for a recovery run in the rain after Sunday's longish run. I looped around on trails less traveled in the Bridle Trails and got a little bit lost. I ended up running about a mile and a half longer than I'd planned. Felt pretty good with a little residual knee pain.

Wednesday 1/26 (6.5mi, 51min, 7:51/mi) Easy enough start from the gym and out again to the Bridle Trails to test out my new Brooks Cascadia 6 shoes. They weren't scheduled to hit the stores until February but I got a tweet from @brooksrunning that they were available on their website last week so I snapped up a pair. Too early to give my thoughts on them so I'll just throw some muddy winter trail conditions at them instead. My stomach was horrible on the run and I had to stop twice mid-run to umm... rest briefly. Ugh. I hate my guts right now.

Friday 1/28 (8.2mi, 1h 16m, 9:16/mi) I got out for a night run on the Bridle Trails to see how the new Cascadias performed on muddy trails in the dark. It was a little darker than my usual night runs as my small LED flashlight kept blinking off and my headlamp's batteries appear to be dying. Good thing I've run the trails enough that I know the perimeter loop pretty well by now. There was a little rain but I was dressed just enough to be very comfortable.

I missed my planned 18mi long run over the weekend. I finally gave in to the cold that the kids and wife have. I figured I was in trouble when the boy coughed in my mouth twice Wednesday night. It's started out pretty mild but enough that napping was a much better idea than running on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday 1/31 (6.4mi, 49min, 7:45/mi) I was feeling a tiny bit sick but not bad enough to skip the run. I ran out to the Bridle Trails starting slow and then picking up the pace as I got around. Again I tried to run on some of the interior trails that I seldom use to shake things up and enjoy different scenery. I also went with the Cascadias again to see if I can get a good feel for them before Chuckanut in March. It'll be between them and the New Balance 101s for that race.

After running on Monday I finished January out with:

19h 49m
Avg Pace: 8:55/mi

My cold got much worse and the family and I are all very sick now. I called in sick to work 3 days last week and have barely left the house since then much less gotten out for a run. I hope to resume with some easy jogging on Monday and somehow rearrange my training for Chuckanut to still get my long runs up over 27mi and fit in a few runs in the real mountains in Feb and early March. After seeing how much fitness I've lost I'll rework my goals for Chuckanut. In my current state, just finishing sounds great to me.