Friday, July 29, 2011

Run: Bermejo to Cuevas.

First off I'll start with a map.

In Google Earth, Bermejo is actually labeled Ceuvas.  Not quite right, but interesting.

Bermejo is a pretty little town in the foothills.  There's a restaurant there - Restaurante Oriental.  Nataly says it's been there since she was a little girl. We stopped there for lunch.  We ate outside, but inside there was a little girl who Deneb was flirting with.

I had milanesa - meat pounded flat, battered and fried - rice and some tomato.  Nataly and Deneb shared some chicken from the oven and Dad ate some milanesa too.  There was also some fairly disgusting juice at the table, but I don't think we finished it.

After I scarfed my plate, I went to change into my running clothes.  I'd used the head earlier and there was no way I was going to drop tro' in there so I just did it next to the street.  That usually wouldn't even warrant a mention, but in Bolivia, that's not something people are particularly used to seeing.  I was able to complete my wardrobe change without unduly shocking the locals and I headed out for my run.

I ran on the road facing traffic.  No headphones.  Anyone who's experienced the life of a pedestrian in Bolivia would think twice about crossing the street wearing headphones let alone go running on a twisty mountain road with them.  Only one time was I shocked by how close a truck came to hitting me and it wasn't even really that close.

No headphones didn't mean no tunes though.  I clipped my phone to my Camelbak and listened to the new Thievery Corp album and then The Unraveling by Rise Against through the built in speaker.  I actually prefer listening to music that way - I'm not a huge fan of stuffing crap into my ears.

The first 6 miles or so of the run are done in a pretty gorge, which eventually the road climbs out of and you get some pretty spectacular views.

This was the first run where I had real interaction with the people with whom I was sharing the road.  One truck driver in particular hauling a tandem load of something heavy and I played leap frog.  He initially passed me on the way out of Bermejo and gave me a bit of a look, but it wasn't, "Dude, get the hell off of my road!" it was more, "Huh, check that guy out..."

About 15 minutes later, I passed him pulled off the side of the road taking a bit of a breather.  We exchanged pleasantries and I continued on my way.

Finally as I was dropping the last 5 km or so into Cuevas, the trucker passed me again.  We waved, he shook his head and that was that.  Many other folks gave me a thumbs up as they went by and generally seemed impressed I was out there.

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, this run climbed for something like 15 km before dropping the final 6 into Cuevas.  That makes this a very good road for tempo work or intervals too.  The climbing is gradual enough and pretty steady.  I'll absolutely be running this again - perhaps even regularly.

Thanks for reading and consider smiling at passers by, they might smile back.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week in Review: July 18-July 24

Great week in training this past week.  Toward the end I was fatigued enough to mail in my last run and just struggle through it, and I think I’m doing precisely the right thing by taking a recovery week after 2 consecutive challenging weeks.

Things of note: 
  • My dad was here.  That was particularly cool.  He came down to visit Deneb and me and Nataly and Jackson and see the digs.  I think he came away pleasantly surprised.  It’s too bad he was here for such a short time, we didn’t get to do too much while he was here.
  • I did my first one way run to Cuevas. I’ll write up a separate post about that one, it’s more than deserving, but Bermejo to Cuevas is likely to make regular appearances on my training routes.  Take a trufi to Bermejo and get out, have the driver deliver my bags to Cuevas…
  • Wind really messes with me on my interval sessions.  Hard to get a real read on the effort/pacing when the interval is done with a headwind or tailwind.  Had me thinking about the consequences on my run yesterday.  The problem is non-linear.  I expect I’ll write a whole post about that one too…
  • Finally, I took an unscheduled day off.  I’ve got some crud in my chest.  Not sure what it is, but every morning for going on 10 days, I hack up a good chunk of lung.  The only other symptom is a little sinus congestion.  The day I took off was rainy and cool.  Without the rain/cool/crud trifecta, I’d’ve run, but…
Here’s the chart:
Click for more gory detail…

Friday, July 22, 2011


One thing about living in Bolivia is the diet.  Lunch always consists of some sort of major production; it consists of meat, multiple starches and vegetables with lots of fried stuff.  For some reason, Nataly requires that our house hold to this tradition of dinner for lunch.  I'd prefer sandwiches and were it not for our assistant Mary, I'd require them.

Anyway, I bring this up at least in part because of a chart linked to by Scott Jurek about the carbon footprint of food (here's a link to the pdf).  This past weekend, Nataly complained about the amount of meat we were eating, lunch and dinner, 2 big meals with different kinds of meat - chicken then pork, beef then sausage, hamburger then chicken...

I didn't disagree with her.  That put me to cooking other stuff for dinner. Three nights in a row we ate pasta with a variety of vegetable based toppings.  Last night I switched things up a bit and made a quinoa and lentil stew kind of thing.  I'd never made quinoa before and googled around a bit for what to do with it.  Turns out it's a native South American seed with a good nutritional profile.

It's hard to say precisely what I did, I cooked the lentils and quinoa together and them brought them together with the "stewed" ingredients.  Then added things (salt, honey, vinegar, cheese) until I liked the taste.  Turned out pretty good.

I'll be making more quinoa dishes that's for sure and the meatless nights experiment is going to continue that's for sure.

Yesterday, I'd planned a 1 hour and 15 minute long run, but ditched it because of crap in my chest and rainy cold weather.  I'd've gone running were it not for the rain or crud, but the combination forced me to respect the possibilities.

Thanks for reading, and breathe free.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week in Review: July 11-July 17

Two weeks ago I had an improvised recovery week and this was my first real training week since 3 days off.  Lots of things are weird then. 

First my “Trimp” score on the chart is wacked.  Trimp stands for Training Impulse and it’s compiled by multiplying the number of minutes in a heartrate zone by the number of the zone.  If a runner went for a run and spent 10 minutes in Zone 1, 10 minutes in zone 2, 10 minutes in zone 3, and 10 minutes in Zone 4, they’d end up with a Trimp score of 100 (10x1+10x2+10x3+10x4).  It gives an estimate of how hard a workout was and the accumulated total give an estimate of how hard a week was.

Anyway.  My Trimp for the week is all screwy because of the “Odd couple of days running”.  Early in the week, after 3 days off, my heart rate for a given effort was through the roof.  You can see I spent significant time in Zone 5.  On one workout I saw 190 on the HRM and wasn’t even trying.  It’s back to normal now though.

Here’s the chart:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road to Bella Vista - deserving of it's own post...

My weekend in running.

As I noted in my last post my running had been a bit odd on the week.  Not so this past weekend.  In fact, it was downright spectacular.

Looking toward the road from the cabin.
Saturday got off to a slow start.  Nataly and I have been having some work done on the fence around the house and we had to settle up with the guy who completed the work for us.  I was unsure whether or not to knock out my run in the morning, or wait until we left and do it up in Cuevas.  I decided to wait.

For the sake of my blood pressure, that was the wrong decision, but for the sake of the run it was correct.

The guy whom we were supposed to pay at 12:00 didn't show until almost 1.  Then, when we got out onto the road, our assistant Mary called to say we'd forgotten Boo, Deneb's precious dog without which there would be no sleep.  We stopped for some chicken.  Eventually we started toward Cuevas somewhere after 2:30.  Me getting a run in was looking doubtful.

We had no difficulties on the road and eventually pulled up to the cabin around 4:30.  With Hugo's help, I had the car emptied quickly and I was changed into my running clothes (without Hugo's help) and ready to go.  I hit start on my GPS at 4:41 PM for my 1 hour 15 minute run.

Beautiful Green Mountains.
My schedule called for a run with a variety of options.  Had I done it in La Guardia, it'd've been form work, instead it was hills (strength training for runners).  This weekend I actually did 2 runs on the same road, the road to Bella Vista (you can see the GPS tracks here and here).

By the time I'd finish Saturday's run, it'd be getting pretty dark, but no headlamp would be needed.  The thing that was remarkable about my workout Saturday was that I was cruising.  Felt effortless.  Climbing was easy, descending was smooth.

Gearing wise, I was sockless in my VFF Trek Sports, with my Garmin and nothing else.  As far as effort went, when I do "running strength" workouts I use a heart rate ceiling:  No higher than Zone 4.  That still gives plenty of horses to push it on the climbs and I worked on form on the descents - bent knees, high turnover rate, forefoot strike etc, etc.

Typical scene, lots of veg.
Distance wise, this run was nearly identical to a run I took a couple of weeks ago when I went to Cuevas by myself, but temporally, it was five minutes faster.  I worked harder on Saturday's effort, but only marginally - average HR was 2 beats per minute higher.  Anyway, Saturday's run covered 8.5 miles and had an elevation gain of 1250 feet and finished with a "Hot Damn! That was freaking fantastic."  A workout like Saturday's is the reward for the days when one just doesn't care to get out, but does anyway.

Sunday, well that was another kettle of fish entirely.  I didn't really care to get out, but it was my long run - the most important of the week.  It was raining, then it wasn't, then it was pouring.

Nataly thought it would clear, and when I left, I thought she might be right, but within 15 minutes of leaving it has started misting and for the rest of my workout, something would be making me wet either from above or below.

The road which Saturday had been dry with sure footing was now slick and muddy.  For the most part the traction was fine, but there were parts of the road where the mud was downright treacherous.  Toward the top of the final climb before I turned around, I felt like I was sliding backward 3 steps for every 4 I was taking forward.  Then on the descent, because I'm essentially a wimp when it comes to injuries, I proceeded with extreme caution.  My timing for yesterday's workout was a bit off - whatever.  It's possible that I can blame my shoes for my difficulties in the mud, yesterday I went with the NB Minimus, but I'd be shocked if my VFFs would do much better.

Friend along the way.
One of the great joys of running in Bolivia is that darn near everywhere you get to share the road with livestock.  Sometimes they manifest themselves in the form of demon sheep, but most of the time I'm running in close proximity to herds of cattle.  The road to Bella Vista has lots of cows along it's length, as well as a horse or two.

The cows themselves aren't really much of a worry, it's their residue that I'm not a huge fan of.  Yesterday in the rain, well - yuck.

Anyway, I'm really starting to like using this road as one of my main training routes.  Even though when it's wet the mud and cow effluent make it less than a jungle paradise, the route has a bunch to offer.  Yesterday at my turnaround point I seemed to be almost to a spectacular vista, but I was so sick of sliding around in the muck I decided I'd get there another day.

Not single track.
Given the weather yesterday and timing of my run on Saturday, these pictures were obviously not taken this weekend.  In fact they were taken back in May.  The photo to my left was taken at just about the mid point of my run on Saturday.

Today I'm pretty darn sore - calves, quads, glutes, abs, lower back....  I don't do a boatload of climbing here in La Guardia and so this was my first real up and down weekend as it were.  I ended up with nearly 3500 feet of climbing over 23 miles.  Not a bad couple of outings at all.

Anyway, thanks for reading and watch where you step.
Cabin, sweet cabin.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Strange couple of days running.

Running the last few days has been odd.  I took 3 days off over the weekend, and when I returned to work, my heart rate was through the roof.  This often happens when I take some time off, but I was surprised to see it this time.  Things seemed to be returning to normal today though, I'll be checking the garmin file against similar workouts from the last couple of weeks to see how normal.

There are a couple likely reasons for the odd behavior in my chest.  The first is mentioned above, but it's also been quite hot here.  We're in the 3rd or 4th week of winter and the only reason I've been wearing a shirt while running is to keep my skin attached to my corpse (it's been fantastically windy the last several days).  Wednesday I suffered from a pretty hideous bonk and yesterday I was challenged by a fierce headwind on my way back to the house.

Other than the weird internal goings on, there's little remarkable to report on the running front.  It's been a sort of a "day at the office" kind of week, with the exception that I saw a little (perhaps even tiny) owl today.  I'm not sure if it was a juvenile or full grown adult, but it was no longer than 10 inches from the tip of it's tail to it's beak.  It may have been a burrowing owl, but the image I dug up just feels a little off.  Will be keeping my eyes out for the dude.

Once past the owl, as I was coming into the final mile of my run, I heard some strange footsteps behind me.  I regularly get chased by dogs down here, but they're always barking and being generally hideous.  This thing wasn't barking.  I turned around and what was chasing me, but a freaking pissed off lamb and it's younger sibling.  Thing was jumping into the air and butting it's head at me.  Really kind of surreal.

Anyway, thanks for reading and be careful with the wildlife.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why run?

Because of stuff like this:
Footfeathers: Hardrock 100: The Race Report
Truly freaking epic.  Not sure I've got the fortitude to complete that journey.  I certainly don't have the physical prowess - today - but that can be had with the right investment.  It's the mental toughness I'm not sure I've got.

That's most of the reason I'm attracted to ultrarunning in the first place.  Trying to find that breaking point.  Once I've committed money to a race I usually can train with a singular focus and by the time I get to the start line, it's not finishing that's in question, it's how quickly will I finish.

Run Rabbit Run was the first race where I lined up and didn't know if I would be able to finish.  I was fairly certain, and I trusted my training, but at the start I really had no idea what to expect.  There were times I felt like crap during that effort, but at no point did I consider stopping.  I've said this before, but as I crossed the finish line, I thought to myself:  I can keep going.

My most miserable experience in a race was the 2009 Boulder Marathon.  The race organizers were woefully under-prepared for the conditions on race day and there were multiple aid stations without water and/or Gatorade I considered quitting that race on several occasions, but somehow gutted it out to the finish.  I was pissed and swore I'd never run another race organized by those folks, but the next spring I ran in their half-mary.  Even though it wasn't a pleasant experience, I'm wearing the hat right now - that was my first marathon.

Anyway, racing and running for me aren't about Personal Records.  Many of mine were set when I was young and fit.  I'm never again going to crack 5 minutes in the mile, but I did it once in the opening leg of a 2 mile race when I was in high school.  I ran 3 minutes 30 seconds for a 1200 meter leg in a "distance medley" relay race that same year.  My PR in 5k is just under 17 minutes, I could probably get that if I wanted to suffer through the hideous 400 meter interval training, and I could probably pretty easily best my 10k PR of 41 minutes, but I really don't care about those numbers.

The point is:  I know that I can finish those distances.  I know the training needed to get better in those distances and I don't care to do it.  Intervals suck.  I like LSD.

Frankly, much of the reason I run is also similar to what Goeff noted in the video I posted a couple weeks ago:  I find it a tremendous way to get to know an area.  Once I run out of new terrain to run on, I start relying on the iPod more and more to make my runs more interesting.  That's when running becomes work.

I remember once when I was a kid hiking with my brother the dogs and my parents in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I think it was Mount Chocorua. There was some long haired hippy dude ripping up and then back down the trail we were on.  He was like 5 or 10 minutes out in front of some much more dapper followers.  Those folks were having a good time.  My brother and I thought it looked pretty cool.  That was when I went for my first trail run - 27-28 years ago probably - the dogs, my brother with me, freaking perfect.

Ever since, I've been searching for that feeling again.  The closest I've come are in the trail races in Colorado:  Fruita, Imogene, Steamboat.  In those races, it's not so much how fast you finish, it's more the process.  There's a camaraderie that's really develops in the shared experience of suffering, that I've never really experienced elsewhere.

Anyway, that's kind of where I'm at.  It's weird here in Bolivia, because I've hardly even seen any one else out running.  There are cyclists, but out where I live I get looks when I'm doing my workouts.  It'd be nice to have somebody else to run with upon occasion, but I guess I'll live vicariously through the blogs of others.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Like I said in my last post...


Not going to bother with the chart and detailed review for last week, it wasn't good.  Four workouts for just under 4 hours (huh 4/4/4).

Tired and flamed, ended up having life get in the way of my weekend workouts.  Today is a scheduled day off, and I'm taking it, but tomorrow I'll be back out there working on my increasing my turnover rate.

That is, if this crud in my gut goes away.  Ugh.

Anyway.  Added some new stuff to the training calendar.  I'm done with Zone 3 for the foreseeable future and instead of Tempo efforts, I'm going to be spending shorter periods with greater intensity (Interval work) for the next several cycles.

Thanks for reading, and don't run into any barbed wire...

Friday, July 8, 2011

So that was a rather spectacular flame out...

So after 2 rather tremendous training weeks, I'm in the middle of one that's purely sucking.

It started to suck when I rescheduled my Wednesday workout for Thursday for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Needing to buy food for the dog.
  • Feeling tired and not wanting to do 1.5 hours of Tempo work.
  • Being unsure of what the weeks future schedule would look like
    • Am I going to Cuevas tonight, Thursday or Friday?
  • Having the car in the shop.
Turns out I'm going to Cuevas tomorrow in fact.

I did get out running on Wednesday.  Actually my run took me to the market where I did in fact buy food
for the dog.  Ended up getting 8.5 miles in.

During that run, I started thinking about why I've been so tired.  I realized that it's a chronic thing that's gone back to when I trained heavily for cycling.  I've always had real trouble getting out for the 3rd week in a 4 week training cycle.

The way I've always coached myself involves cycles with 3 weeks of increasing stress followed by one for recovery.  The problem with that paradigm is that the 3rd week in a typical cycle is marked by a great deal of anxiety about getting the workouts done and the fun in training is replaced by dread.  Not sure that's something I need.

Anyway.  Upon allowing myself to accept that introspection as gospel, I have redesigned my training schedule to reflect 3 week cycles.  This week is now a recovery week and next week will be the first week of Base 2.  I'll lay out my individual workouts later on today, but as for today, I'll run 45 minutes very easy.

Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week in Review: Jun 27—Jul 3.

I'm feeling tired as I write this.  Yesterday was my longest run both in both time and distance since last year, and I know it...

As far as broken records, last week was another great week training wise.  Same structure as the week prior, but with an increase in the volume - from 8 to 9.5 hours running.  

I did notice my heart rate taking a while to respond on a couple of my workouts, but it wasn't so bad as to worry me.  I'll keep an eye on it though.  The Wednesday, Thursday combo of Tempo and long Endurance run had me run down going into my Saturday workout, but I felt good coming out of it.  It'll be interesting to see if I'm feeling recovered in time for my Wednesday effort.
Anyway - here's a chart.
More after the jump…

Sunday, July 3, 2011

On the cold.

A masonry heater my brother  and his ex built.
Want cheap heat?  Got a spare $30,000?
Well, it's really not all that cold.  Outside it's 51 degrees.  The problem is the house isn't heated.  So, it's 51 degrees inside too.  That might be fine as far as my brother is concerned, but you know what:  I like it warmer in the house.

Speaking of my brother.  Several years ago he ripped out his furnace and installed something called a masonry heater.  For a year that was the only source of heat in his house, but he ended up deciding a wood stove for supplemental heat would be nice.  He was proud when the temp in his house was above freezing that first winter.  I guess I'm just a wimp...

While my brother and I may be at odds regarding what constitutes comfortable temperatures indoors, a masonry heater would be the perfect addition to our house.  Essentially it's a big pile of bricks which get heated by a wood fire once or twice a day, trap the heat in a series of semi-complex channels and slowly radiate the heat throughout the day.  A person ends up burning about 3 armloads of wood for 24 hours of supplemental heat.

Enough whining about the cold indoor temps, if it's not raining - this is perfect running weather.  Yesterday form work.  1.5 hours with high knees, butt kicks and "spin ups".  I went out in a short sleeve shirt and shorts and my wife warned me about the cold.  It was perfect.  Oh well.  Two and a half more hours today and tomorrow is a rest day.

Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

Friday, July 1, 2011

On the weather and nap time...

Today, truly spectacularly bad weather coupled with a very nice cuddle with Deneb at nap time threatened to derail my running plans.

Throw in me feeling overly tired from a couple of tougher days of training Wednesday and Thursday, Jackson having decided to eat something that didn't agree with his lower GI (resulting in my being awakened to a panting, needing relief dog 4x last night), and a pretty strong desire to just chill and watch a movie and I had decided to bag my workout entirely before even sitting down for lunch.

But something changed while I lay there with a slowly drifting off to sleep Bean.  I was thinking about the Space Coast Marathon.  I was thinking that I have a legit shot at a top 10 placing (depending on the folks who show up and my form).  The rain stopped.

It's still overcast.  It's cool.  Perfect weather for a run.  Too bad today was marked "Recovery".

In deference to my general malaise on the morning I took 15 minutes out of my scheduled workout and kept it out - toward the end of my run I was feeling really good and wanted to do more...
Thanks for reading and be safe out there,

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