Monday, June 27, 2011

Thanks for the run Marshall.

Tuesday 6/21 (10.45mi, 1h 18m, 7:29/mi) I skipped my lunchtime run in favor of running a little longer after work. I started the run at 6pm headed down to Old Redmond Rd. I kept a nice 7:00/mi pace running up Old Redmond (a steady 5% - 6% grade for a mile and a half) and then kept pace while cutting across the power line trail to pick up the Bridle Trails and ran a CCW loop of the park. I felt pretty good in my Trail Gloves and no socks. The feedback from my feet while wearing such minimal shoes is great. I grabbed some water at the main stables on my way around and then tried to keep a good pace around the south and east perimeters but I was losing steam.

I started to feel a familiar pain in my feet that I thought could be blisters forming. I finished the full loop and then cut back out to the street and turned East to pick up the corridor trail back to 148th ave and to work. The foot pain never let up and at the end of the run I found 3 new blisters on the bottom of various toes. Luckily two of them were tiny enough that I could just leave them alone and let my feet absorb them while the third needed to be drained. Good run but I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to wear socks with my yellow pair of Trail Gloves from now on as the foot bed is wearing out.

Wednesday 6/22 (2.0, 17min, 8:52/mi) Just two slow miles on the treadmill before lifting weights. My Piriformis was really sore from Monday's hard trail miles. I haven't conquered the Piriformis problems quite yet but I did find a few exercises like this one that were able to ease the Sciatica pain that was also plaguing me after every fast / hard run. Progress.

Thursday 6/23 run #1 (5.5mi, 43min, 7:55/mi) I ran the Redmond Streets route CW at lunch but I took it easy as I was planning to get in a second run after work in Seattle. I figured that this would help make up for missing Monday's run.

Thursday 6/23 run #2 (5.0mi, 45min, 9:00/mi) I didn't bring my watch so I'm estimating the time and distance. This was another running celebrity in-store appearance at Fleet Feet in Seattle. Just as they had Scott Jurek do an in-store meet -n- run last year, Thursday evening they hosted another legend in the sport. This time it was Marshall Ulrich sharing his time and promoting his new book.

A few of Marshall's accomplishments:

  • 15 time Badwater 146mi. Ultramarathon finisher (meaning he goes past the 135mi. official finish line at Whitney Portal and on to summit of Mt. Whitney every year as the race used to be run)
  • 4 time Badwater winner
  • Masters and 50+ record holder for running across the US (3000+ miles) with a time of 52.5 days
  • Only person to complete a quad-Badwater crossing (Badwater to Whitney summit and back TWICE! non-stop)
  • Climbed the 7 summits of the world (Aconcagua, Carstensz, Denali, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, and of course Everest)
  • Much more than I haven't even read about in his book yet

So Marshall is kind of a big name in ultrarunning. Traffic was terrible upon leaving work going across the lake on the way over to the store. When I got there, I only had a few minutes to spare. Parking was terrible and I had to run a few blocks to the store. Other people were just leaving when I arrived so I quickly filled my hand bottle and headed out the door last. I was only a few feet behind the back of the pack which consisted of... Marshall Ulrich and a friend of his who had also completed a run across America. There wasn't anyone else running with Marshall. None of the 20 or so people who showed up to hear him talk wanted to run with him. Who would pass that up? Not me, so I just hung back with Marshall.

I'm not much for words, especially when I'm around someone whose accomplishments I respect so I was racking my brain to come up with good questions to ask Marshall. He didn't seem like an extrovert either so we ran much of the route just making idle chatter with his friend. I didn't want to ask him a bunch of questions that he was going to talk about in his presentation after the run or ask stupid questions. It was easier to just listen and talk about where he lived, and old time wheelbarrow ultra marathons from the 1800s.

After the run Marshall and Fleet Feet provided snacks (nice touch) and then he gave a slide show presentation covering his history, accomplishments, and the details of his trans-America run. He had many interesting and funny anecdotes about his trip followed by Q&A after the talk.

A few of the interesting answers he gave:

A) Including the film crew, Marshall's crew, food, supplies, etc... it cost around $600,000 for his run across America. He had some very nice sponsors.

B) He had no nutrition / electrolyte issues during his 52 day run. At some point in the run he was stopping every mile to eat a little bit of food to keep his calorie intake steady. He said he was eating about 9,000 calories a day.

C) Marshall wasn't able to run as many miles a day as he had initially planned due to stress on his body, injury, and not knowing what to expect. In the last few weeks, his film crew was asking him if he could bump up the mileage because they were going over-budget. Marshall laughed about the absurdity of the question but in the end he managed to wind up running the final miles through Time Square in Manhattan just after dark on November 4th 2008. Yep, the day Obama was elected. He couldn't have timed it better and the film crew got way more than they bargained for in terms of footage and crowd energy.

After Q&A I bought a copy of his book that he signed for me with a nice personal message, I asked a couple of questions and then I went on my way. Another great in-store event for Fleet Feet Seattle.

Friday 6/24 (5.5mi, 44min, 8:04/mi) I ran the Redmond Streets course again, CCW this time. I was in no hurry at all so I took it pretty easy. My Piriformis was feeling better after 3 easy runs in a row now.

Saturday 6/25 (10.7mi, 1h 35m, 8:54/mi) Another rare weekend run. This time my wife took my daughter out for a haircut and some shopping so it was just me and the boy. I got myself and the jog stroller ready just before his naptime and took him out for a rolling nap. He drank a bottle of milk and was sawing logs 7 min. into the run. Sadly he only slept for 45 min, half of what he normally would. I'd say taking him out for a run is a reasonable price to pay once in a while. After he woke up he was pretty mellow and snacks, juice and the scenery kept him occupied for most of the run. He started fussing three miles from home and I had to talk him down and pick up the pace. It became a game of "Do you see that truck?", "Is that a crow?", "Can you smell the yellow flowers?", etc... until he calmed down for the last mile. It was a nice run around Gig Harbor on a great day and I was happy / lucky to get it in.

I managed 39 miles this week. Not bad considering that I'm not training for anything right now. I hope I can pick up some extra mileage over the summer like I did last year. I don't know if I'll be able to break 200 miles in a month (which is what Tony Krupicka runs during his biggest training weeks mind you) like I did last July but I'll try.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kind of getting back into the swing of things

Mon 6/13 (6.4mi, 48min, 7:29/mi) A cloudy and windy day gave way to good temperatures (low 60s) so I headed out to the Bridle Trails for a simple loop. I didn't feel very good, but I was glad to get a run in.

Wed 6/15 (6.8mi, 56min, 8:21/mi) I lifted weights on Tuesday and gave my legs a break apart from doing 3 x 60 calf raises. Wednesday I ran out to Viewpoint Park for 3 loops at an easy pace and then I came back along the bike path that follows Hwy 520 instead of 148th ave. It was a much better choice but it did add a 1/2 mile onto my run. Smooth, low traffic, no stop lights.

Thu 6/16 (6.75mi, 55min, 8:11/mi) I didn't get a chance to run at work so I went for a run at home after the kids went to bed. I ran the One Store Loop but made a detour out past Kopachuck and down the hill. I turned around at the bottom of the hill and came back up and finished the loop. I tried out the black Trail Gloves with much better results than last time and no pain in the toe joints on my left foot.

Fri 6/17 (6.45mi, 52min, 8:03/mi) The weather was nice again (sunny and mid 60s) so I ran a half-loop of the Bridle Trails. It was warm enough that I stashed my shirt at the start of the run and picked it up again on the way back. Well, actually I ran a bit past it and had to turn around and go back for it. I love the simplicity of running with just a pair of shoes and a pair of running shorts.

Sat 6/18 (10.5mi, 1h 38m, 9:23/mi) Fathers Day came a day early. My present this year was a couple of hours to go out for a run. I haven't been running much on weekends lately and of course I miss it so I took advantage of my family's generosity and drove out to McCormack Park (next to the women's prison) and ran 5 loops of the park plus a few wrong turns and an out-and-back at the end to make up 10.5 miles of beautiful technical trail running. My pace was slower than usual due to the technical nature of the route and the steep section of climbing at the end of each 1.8mi loop. It's a hard loop to run fast and the last half mile consists of a slippery descent (still muddy in mid-June!), two small stream crossings and then a very narrow foot path (Trail "U" for the locals) carved into the hillside that requires careful footing with all of it's exposed roots and washed away sections. There's no taking your eyes off the path here. Overall a great run that left me very tired and happy.

Going back over this week now I see that there is very little complaining about the Piriformis. More on that next week.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bruised barefoot Ego and Race weekend

6/6 (8.0mi, 1h 8m, 8:30/mi) I ran twice on Monday, once at lunch around the Bridle Trails and then on the Treadmill after work. I'm estimating the lunch-time run distance based on prior runs as I left my Garmin watch at home. After work I had to stay a little bit late so I headed down to the basement gym to run on the treadmill and made it about 2 miles before getting called by work to fix something. So much for that.

6/7 (5.6mi, 45min, 8:02/mi) I was too busy at work to go for a run at lunch so I ran after work around home. I did the One Store loop plus a small detour up to Kopachuck and back. I wore my new Merrell Trail Gloves and was loving them until my left big toe started hurting half way through the run. The pain felt like it was being caused by the seam of the shoe pushing the base of my big toe. I stopped probably 4 times over the next mile to adjust and re-tie the shoe but nothing seemed to help. The joint was sore the rest of the day. I hope it's not the shoes.

6/8 (5.1mi, 39.5min, 7:44/mi) I ran down the hill next to Hwy 520 that goes into downtown Redmond. The plan was a short hill repeats workout. I jogged to the bottom of the hill and then alternated running up the hill for 1/4mi at a hard effort (5K equivalent) and then jogging easy back down for 1/10th of a mile of recovery. I kept it up until I got back to the top of the hill. It took 7 repeats to get back up. I cooled down with an easy jog around the block and back to work. It felt pretty good and I was holding 7:00 - 7:15 pace for the uphill repeats.

6/9 (5.6mi, 38min, 6:50/mi) I ran down to Grass Lawn park and took off my shoes for some barefoot running around the track. It's been a while since I've actually run barefoot. Now that I have the zero-drop Trail Gloves I haven't been bothering with barefoot running but I think I should get back into it now and then if I can be smart about it. I ran 2.7mi on the track at an increasing pace. My ego got the best of me and for the last mile on the track I tried to run a sub-6 min. mile. I was on a pretty good pace and only slowed down a little bit when my big toe and the side of my right foot started hurting. It wasn't that painful so I ran through it and finished the mile in 5:56 which was good, but as soon as I looked at my feet I saw that my efforts had earned me two quarter-sized blisters. On top of that joy was feeling the blisters as I ran back to the gym with my shoes on. My overall pace was pretty good for this run which surprised me. Not recognizing the blisters and shutting down was just stupid.

6/11 (1.2mi, 15min, 12.30/mi)  Sound to Narrows 2K race, run with my daughter. She's still interested in doing races and wants to run them when I ask, so I keep looking for short races for us to do together. I hope that it's something that she looks back on fondly in the future and that the idea of running won't seem so foreign when she's older. We left the house a little later than we should have to drive to the race in Tacoma. I knew where it was but as we were approaching we found the streets blocked. I quickly re-routed in search of another way to get close to the park where the race was being held. My efforts were in vain as all the streets near the park were closed and there was no street parking. I didn't know that the race was so popular. Using Google Maps on my phone I eventually found a nearby neighborhood and quickly parked the car about half a mile from the park. I grabbed my daughter and took off running. We had about 5 minutes before the race started and luckily I had parked uphill from the park. I ran down to the park carrying her and hurried across the park only to learn that the start line was on the other side of the park up a hill. I picked her up and continued running. As we arrived at the start line there were only a few officials standing around. Everyone in the 2K race had already started. The officials said that we weren't too late so off we went. When I run with my daughter I let her dictate the pace and walk when she walks, no point in pushing her to be competitive, I want her to like running. She took off at a nice steady pace (probably a 12 - 13 min. mile) and we trotted along for the first half mile before stopping to begin our run-walk strategy. We hit a downhill shortly which we jogged down and then we were faced with the last 6/10ths of a mile of the course which were mostly up a gentle incline. We stuck to the run-walk strategy until we got up near the park where the run finished. People were cheering us left and right which felt nice for me but I think she was in the red pushing to finish so she didn't acknowledge any of the cheers. We ran down the finishing straight and being that we were the last ones on the course got some attention from the race announcer as we crossed the line. Something like "Great job dad and daughter!" We started late and I didn't have my Garmin on so I don't know what our finishing time was. (nor do I care). After finishing, we walked over and partook in the freebies (fruit, juice, water) and then picked up her bib and T-shirt (we didn't have time to get them before the race started) along with her finishers ribbon. A quick play in the park and we were off to her swim lesson.

I didn't manage much running this week due to time off and blisters from my barefoot ego problem. I still managed a little over 25 miles which isn't terrible when I don't have any races lined up and I'm still trying to get through my Piriformis issues.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

something something new shoes something something

Monday 5/30 (7.7mi, 57min, 7:29/mi) Holiday Monday so I got out for my home "Hour loop" AKA "Two store loop"). I kept a solid pace but didn't really push it too hard as I put out a good effort the day before. It felt good just to get out and run.

Tuesday 5/31 (5.5mi, 41min, 7:34/mi) I ran the "Redmond streets" route at work clockwise today. It wasn't a speed run, just more of an almost-recovery run with a few tough miles at the start. I picked up the pace down Old Redmond Rd and back up 148th for a decent time.

Thursday 6/2 (5.7mi, 44min, 7:51/mi) More Viewpoint park loops, only two today as I'm taking it sort of easy this week. The run felt great and I felt absolutely fantastic after I was warmed up. My body was responding well when I'd try to pick up the pace and my footing felt good as did my form.

Friday: 6/3 (2.0mi, 16min, 8:02/mi) Pt 1: Two miles on the treadmill before hitting the weights.

Friday 6/3 (6.0mi, 48min, 8:01/mi) Pt 2: Six miles on the dreadmill after work in lieu of being a sane person and running 10 miles outdoors. The weather was nice but I'm on call for work so I thought I'd just hang out in the gym with my phone and watch whatever was on the TV and have an awful run on the hamster wheel instead of enjoying myself on some trails. I meant to run 8 miles but could barely stomach 6. Horrible.

Sunday 6/5 (5.6mi, 50min, 8:52/mi) With my wife and daughter away at a birthday party I took the boy out for a run in the BOB jogger. Being on call for work I stayed somewhat close to the house and just looped around nearby roads. It was a good easy paced run and the boy seemed to be pretty happy with the views.

I ran in a new pair of Merrell Trail Gloves that I exchanged the Vibram Five Fingers for. They felt fantastic. So much better than any other shoes I can think of with the possible exception of the New Balance MT101s. Now that I have two pair I'm actually looking forward to wearing one out so that I can retire them and wear them as every day kicking-around shoes. When I returned the Five Fingers I was hoping to exchange them for a pair of Merrell Tough Gloves, which are casual shoes with the same flat Vibram sole that the running shoes have. REI doesn't carry Tough Gloves unfortunately. Before 2011 I didn't care about Merrell shoes at all, now they're at the top of my list. Why can't Brooks make a good minimalist shoe?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

[Number] [synonym for awesome] [nouns] that [verb]

Monday 5/23 (6.5mi, 51min, 7:57/mi) I ran out to Viewpoint park for 3 loops which has become a regular staple run during the week since finding this small trail. I think that after so much running at the Bridle Trails I was just starved for something new to sink my shoes into. Now if it was only 2 miles closer to work and 20x longer. Moderate pace, felt pretty good to get out and run.

Tuesday 5/24 (6.15mi, 42min, 6:51/mi) I went back to the "Pro Club Loop" after avoiding it for a while. I put in a hard tempo pace and turned myself inside out for this one. Not a PR but for me a pretty good time for roughly a 10K with a decent bit of climbing. It's always confusing when I'm pushing the pace getting up the hard hills that come at the end of the Corridor trail so that I'm red-lining when I turn down the back stretch. I feel like I'm spent and barely slogging through a 9min/mi pace after giving so much on the climbs, but I go back to look at my splits and see that I still managed a 6:43 mile and that my pace over the whole route was never slower than 7:45/mi.

Wednesday 5/25 (2.0, 15min, 7:41/mi) First run of the day was a warmup at the gym before lifting. I gave the Vibram Five-Fingers another try. I like the way they feel for the most part but my pinky toes are a little too short for the toe pockets and slip out occasionally. It's not painful but annoying enough that I'll stop after a minute or two and fix them. The difference between the length of my biggest and smallest toes is considerably more than then difference between the toe pockets in the shoes. They're not that well suited for my feet and I feel like they're kind of a novelty running-wise. There are other minimal shoes out there with a better fit for me like the Merrell Trail Gloves that I rave about frequently. I think the experiment with Five-Fingers will result in an exchange for different shoes. I'd like to try the Brooks Green Silence which aren't really minimalist shoes, or get another pair of Trail Gloves. While I'm talking about shoes, I should mention that I tried on the New Balance Trail Minimus shoes two weeks ago at a New Balance store and I didn't like them. The material seemed nice but in my size they didn't fit well at all. The length of the footbed was adequate but the toebox was both narrow and low. I couldn't splay my feet out at all in them and my toes felt trapped against the footbed. I've read about people cutting the rubber strap that goes over the top of the toes to ease the pressure on the toebox but I didn't want to buy shoes that needed modification from the start. I've also seen a promising review of the successor to the Trail Minimus which should be coming out this summer. I hope that New Balance opens up that toebox in the next revision.

Wednesday 5/25 (10.7mi, 1h 33m, 8:41/mi) I wanted to get a second run in on Wednesday as I was staying late at work anyway so I got out to run at about 6pm in light rain. I ran over to Viewpoint Park for 4 loops before continuing on to the SE corner of the Bridle Trails as the rain picked up. By the time I was in the Bridle Trails heading West the rain increased to crazy torrential downpour levels. Hard enough to drown out my iPod and reduce visibility greatly. I don't think I've ever run in rain this hard. I was quickly soaked and the trails were filling with large puddles and small streams. I tried to hop around the mud and water for a few minutes before giving up and just running through the middle of it without regard for keeping my shoes clean or dry. By the time I got to the main horse ring at the SW corner of the park I was soaked through and the water had shut down my iPod. I stopped to wring a liter or more of water out of my shirt before continuing on.

The short break gave me a second wind and I slopped on through the mud and water and eventually made it around the perimeter of the park and down the Corridor trail on the way back to work. The rain had calmed down to a drizzle by this point but the damage was done. I was soaked through to my skin, my iPod was dead and my feet were sliding around in my muddy wet shoes. I could say that these were some of the worst conditions I've ever experienced on a run or turn it around and say that this was a great benchmark showing that even in terrible conditions I still love to run.

Sunday 5/29 (4.4mi, 32min, 7:17/mi) I missed Thu - Sat for work/family errands and got out for a quick One-Store Loop run on Sunday night. I started out a little easier than I normally do and then kept a steady strong pace once I got to the bottom of the Tunnel Trail. I felt pretty good after 3 days off of running and came within 30 seconds of my PR for the route. It felt great just to get out for a short run.

Almost 30 miles for the week and I'm looking at 125 for May. I'll fall just shy of 600mi YTD. It's quite a bit better than I was doing last year to through May (of course I spent 2.5 weeks in Hawaii last May). I'm feeling the draw of racing now and I really need to get my Piriformis issue under control. I was hoping it would be improving by now but it isn't. Give up and call in the doctor or just research more on the Interwebs?