Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Running" above the Falls (this time with a bit of video).

Last week I went up to Cuevas on Thursday.  There's a bus I take which goes by my house in La Guardia around 1 PM.  It's really quite civilized a way to get up there.  I think that the cost of the round trip is actually less than the cost of driving (one person at any rate).

During the bus ride, I listened to some very interesting interviews I downloaded from Ultra Runner Podcast.  An interview with Hal Koerner, a very long one with nutritionist Sunny Blende, another with Goeff Roes - cool resource for sure...

Whatever the case, I got up to the cabins around 3pm.  Wilma and I dealt with some money issues, and then I went "running".  I think I got out around 4:30.

I've been having trouble staying motivated recently (see my last two posts), so this time I plugged myself into the tunes and that really helped.

The trail to the third waterfall has a bit of climbing, but the real hills hit after the third waterfall.

I wandered around above this place a bit trying to find a way around a section I feel is too dangerous to traverse alone up high, but eventually ended up summiting two peaks I always tag when I decide to go off road.  Between the two peaks there's a saddle where I shot some video...

Anyway, thanks for reading, send some positive thoughts to my home state of VT, and now I've got to go chase my son.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When last we spoke...

I'd just returned from a run which culminated in a "sprint" to the head.

That run was hot and difficult, both mentally and physically.  I recovered from the physical difficulties pretty quickly, there were no lingering gastro-intestinal problems, but the mental challenge is being a real bear to get over.  I find myself not wanting to go out and run.

Last week I thought I was back.  I ran Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but for some reason, even though I was in Cuevas, Friday I didn't run.  Nor did I get out Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Friday was supposed to be an easy recovery day.  I worked with Hugo in the river clearing brush, I suppose that counts as strength work.  Much of the "brush" was actually quite large tree remains left from a flood a couple of years back.  One tree trunk was large enough that Hugo hacked it up with a chainsaw and turned the thing into a 6 foot long bench.  The span which made up the seat was too heavy for me to lift on my own (but not Hugo - dude's a beast).

Saturday was cold.  Actually perfect running weather.  I didn't get out.  My time was restricted by being stuck in a long haul cab for the better part of 2 hours.  Sunday was cold too, but I spent that day wallowing in a bit of a fog.  Saturday night the neighbor across the street (who's known Nataly since she lived here 30 years ago), had a birthday party.  We imbibed.

I've got these excuses, but the truth of the matter is that I could have gotten out and run each and every day I've missed.  Perhaps the quality of the effort may not have been where I wanted it, but still.

Consistency.  That's the key to everything for me.  Goeff Roes on Sunday had a good note about consistency for an ultrarunner.  It gave me something to take heart in, but I expect that the type of consistency needed for ultra running is different than the type of consistency needed for shorter distances like the marathon.  The short race consistency is something I have great trouble finding.

I think next week, starting Monday, I'm going to go out and run 2 hours every day.  That's an amount of time I can usually squeeze in without too much trouble no matter where I am.  I should end up somewhere near 90 miles of running, depending on how much running I do in Santa Cruz.

This week is going to be unstructured.  I'm not going to wear the strap.  I'm just going to run how I feel and try to enjoy being out there.  I'm not going to do any intervals, I'm just going to go out and run.  I'll knock out a 3 hour run either Saturday or Sunday, but that's it no other time or target heart rate zones.

Tomorrow I'm going to Cuevas again to plant potatoes.  A crapload of potatoes.  I expect I'll come back to Santa Cruz on Tuesday.  I wonder how hard the work is going to be.  When I get back I'll post some pictures and video of the land and try to give an idea of what the work is like.  I expect it'll be quite the core workout, we're doing it by hand and we may have more than 2 acres to plant, quite possibly more...

Thanks for reading, and I'll try to stop coming up with excuses.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Brutal change of best laid plans

My plan for today was 5x12 minutes in zone 4.  I made it through one.

This week I just haven't been feeling the run.  Little motivation for much of anything and when I get out, not much motivation to keep moving.  Yesterday once out, I was ok - not great, but ok.  Today???

I warmed up for 20 minutes or so and hit my lap button.  I was actually going pretty good, but by the end of the twelve minutes my fingertips were feeling tingly and somewhat numb and I was kind of light headed.  Couple that with the fact that my water bottle jumped out of it's holster and landed in a sand pile of suspect cleanliness, and I canned the remainder of my work intervals choosing instead to just run out the remaining time I had scheduled for today.

Anyway, I choose to blame my mediocrity on the weather.  It's again windy - 46 km/h gusting to 70, but add to that 35C temps.  In case you're metrically impaired, that's 28.5 mph with gusts at 43 and 95 degrees F.  Not ideal conditions.  Check out what the wind did to my hat and extrapolate that to the rest of my corpse - ugh...

I realized I was looking at a pretty significant positive split and turned around at something like 55 minutes for a 2 hour run and headed back.  Initially it wasn't too bad, but my gut started complaining after a bit.  Eventually it suggested to me that I might want to find a bathroom, but there are none on my run and few places secluded enough to drop and deuce.  I did consider ducking under a bridge, but I had no TP so every time the urge got strong, I slowed to a walk and gritted my teeth.

Eventually even my shoes started pissing me off.  I actually took them off and logged my first barefoot miles in Bolivia because I couldn't stand the soupy mess inside my Vibrams anymore.  For the record, I studiously avoided any obvious cow leftovers.

Miracuously enough, I made it home without any horror stories, and "sprinted" to the bathroom just in time to...

Thanks for reading and be grateful of your potty training.

Bella Vista–Again.

This could be my favorite road for training I’ve got in Bolivia.  It rolls.  The climbs are all runnable, and they last for a while.  It’s got some flat stretches too where it’s possible to relax into a good groove.

Anyway, on Saturday I got out onto the road to Bella Vista for my weekly long run pretty early in the morning.  The sun was up, but it hadn’t lit the valley yet.


Anyway the last couple of times I’ve been running here mud has been a real consideration.  In fact, the last long run I did on this road had me questioning my sanity thanks to the 3 steps back for every 4 forward mode of transport I had undertaken.  This time, the track conditions were really good. 

By the time I crested the first hill, I knew I wasn’t going to be setting any land speed records – I was simply enjoying the scenery too much.


There isn’t much in the way of actual trail here in Bolivia, but many of the roads are primarily used by foot traffic – lots of double track.  I expect this road would be a freaking blast on a mountain bike too – though coming around a blind downhill curve and running into a cow wouldn’t be a ton of fun…


I’ve been running on this road many times now, but this was my longest by quite a bit.  Many years ago I’d driven back here with Nataly while scouting sites for her PHd work.  She ended up not working back in here, but the drive featured one spectacular (bella even) vista and I finally got there on this run.




The last time I ran here, I knew I was close, but the red dirt you see in a couple of these pictures is absolutely miserable to run on when it’s a bit wet.  Glacial.  I actually think running downhill on it is worse than up – it’s straight dangerous. 

I continued a bit further along on the road and actually came into a bit of a developed area.  Certainly a more “civilized” one.


The big pine tree on the left of the picture is non-native and planted.  Others have started spreading.  Nataly is worried about them because they may change the fire cycle in this region.  She’s on a mission to take out all the pines that have been planted at Cuevas.  I’m not 100% on board with that – the pines are doing something to stabilize the hillside – but she’s probably more right than me.  The native vegetation is adapted more to landsliding than it is to fire…

Anyway.  I turned around just a bit further along down the road and headed back.  There are a few more kilometers to explore on this road yet and I expect I’ll visit them in a few weeks.  This weekend my long run will be here in LaGuardia.  I’ll be back up to Cuevas on Thursday next week.


I should note too - I ran this in my Vibrams - 18 Miles in VFF Trek Sports.  Longest run in them by probably 20 percent (guessing, but...)

Thanks for reading and stay in your lane on blind curves,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The 10 Commandments of Training | Active.com

The 10 Commandments of Training | Active.com
I've used Joe Friel's heart rate training guidelines for many years. Ever since I went from an unfocused/untrained cyclist to one who could go under 55 minutes in a 40Km Time Trial and solo 30 miles to victory in my collegiate division's championship road race.  For that improvement, I followed the guidelines laid out in A Cyclist's Training Bible.

I've been recommending a book of his (Total Heart Rate Training) to many of my athletically inclined friends since I bought it a couple of years ago.  One thing THRT was missing is linked above - Joe's Bible contained a list of 10 common failings of unsuccessful athletes.

My top failing is commandment #2:  Train Consistently.  I've been better in recent weeks, but this week I missed 2 workouts for marginal reasons (poor sleep).

Anyway.  I've got a couple of longer posts in the works - another long run to Bella Vista and the Week in Review one of which will be up later today.
Thanks for reading and consider your failings.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Run: La Guardia, Half Marathon PR by rjayaustin at Garmin Connect - Details

Run: La Guardia, Half Marathon PR by rjayaustin at Garmin Connect - Details
Here's a link to my PR, still can't embed the darn thing on the website though.
Thanks for reading and be patient with your IT professionals.

Schedule juggling.

I've got a complete rant on the inefficiency of government agencies, but that's not really what I want to write about.  In short, I'm still in the process of getting my resident visa here.  Last week I went to pick up my passport with the sticker which says:  Welcome for 1 year, only to find out that one of the pieces of paper they require for the visa was missing a signature.  I waited in a line (and then told to sit) for over 2 hours for that 1 piece of information.

Yesterday, I went and waited in the same line again.  This time with the offending paper appropriately adorned.  Again I was told to wait some more while they went to pull my file.  In total I've waited more than 4 hours in this one line.  

The thing that irks me:  there's one line servicing "outsiders", and there's a second line for Bolivians.  I have only seen 4 people in the "Bolivian" line in total.  Presumably it wouldn't be too hard to cross train the person who services Bolivians to help the person who services outsiders, no?  I suppose irk isn't strong enough...

I get to wait in that line again next week.  Sweet!

Anyway, because of this life requirement, my usual Friday recovery run is going to be yesterday's scheduled workout:  5x9 minute Z4 Cruise Intervals.  It'll be interesting to see how that goes.  I think the wind will lay off today and after Wednesday's fast workout, I'm kind of excited.

As far as recovery workouts go, I did some very light jogging yesterday and spent a couple hours mowing the back side of the house and then raking up the leaves.  That counts right?  My schedule will say 45 mintues in Z1 for Thursday.

Next week will also be weird.  I'm going to be in Cuevas until Wednesday.  I'll be spending a bunch of time in a car on Wednesday too.  Monday's recovery workout will wait until Wednesday and my usual Tuesday and Wednesday workouts will get done on Monday and Tuesday - modified to account for the hilly terrain.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting faster. For sure.

Went out today for a "Endurance Run" and found myself ticking over in the mid 7s.  I realized I'd probably PR a half marathon while I was just out on an everyday run.  I had no water and no food, just was out running in Z2 for 1 hour 45 minutes as my schedule called for.  Well, I decided to stay out for just a couple of minutes longer and try to break 1:40 for the half.  Yup.  Check it out on Garmin Connect.

[edit - Garmin Connect is undergoing a major update.  The embedded map and link to the workout that were supposed to be here, will arrive at some point when Garmin can get it's act together.]

I've mentioned I don't really care about these things, but that doesn't mean I don't know that they're out there. Pretty stoked right now.  Anyway, the middle 13.1 miles I ran in 1 hour 38 minutes and 49 seconds or something like that (I hate adding time), that's almost 5 minutes better than my only other half.

Thanks for reading and don't let the bad dog bite.

Week in review: July 25-July 31

Last week was a recovery week during which I suffered a minor injury.  I'm not going to get into the gory details of the training like my usual WIR posts, but I do want to write about 2 workouts, and the consequences of the little bruise.

The week was scheduled:  Day off, recovery run, recovery run, form work, threshold time trial, whatever in Cuevas, whatever in Cuevas.  It went:  Day off, recovery run, recovery run, form work, threshold time trial (DNF), run really fast from Samaipata to Cuevas, day off.  Guess which workouts I'm going to write about...

Friday I had scheduled a "Threshold Time Trial".  Perhaps you're wondering what that is.  Threshold is really Lactate Threshold - the point at which blood lactate is flushed from your muscles at the same rate it's created by your energy system.  Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) is the key to all of my training.  It sets my heart rate zones and guides my future workouts.  A DNF in this workout isn't particularly desirable, but does still yield some interesting information.

Anyway, I had a 1 hour 15 minute block of time set aside for warm up, TT and cool down.  It was freaking windy out, I checked out the weather before I set out and saw that the wind was blowing from the north at 50 km/h and gusting to 80.  That's 30 mph with gusts to 50 for the metrically impaired.  I tweeted it'd be a fun run.

My warmup was 3 of my high cadence form drills spaced 5 minutes apart.  At 20 minutes into my run, I hit the lap button on my Garmin and took off.  I was running in the low 6's and my heart rate was surprisingly low.  The way this test is structured, you run essentially as hard as you can for 30 minutes.  At the end of the first 10 minutes of the test, hit the lap button on your heart rate monitor, and your LTHR will be approximated by the average heart rate of the final 20 minutes of the test.

By the end of the first 10 minutes of my effort my heart rate was still off from what I was expecting to see and I was starting to feel like I wasn't getting enough air (I still have some of that goop in my chest from a couple of weeks back).  I was being pushed along by that wind and faced with the prospect of turning around and running back into it.  Less than 5 minutes after hitting my 10 minute lap, I wimped out.

What did I learn from this workout?  I expect I may have overestimated my LTHR previously and have since adjusted it down 3 bpm.  We'll see how that effects my recovery during the week.  I also have a lot to say on the wind.  I mentioned before, there'll be a pretty lengthy nerd post on the wind in the not too distant future.

The other workout was a run from Samaipata to Cuevas.  I didn't bring my camera.  I did it after lunch.  It was downhill.  It was pretty darn quick.  There were 2 chased by dog incidents.

 For the first 4 miles or so I thought I'd run the 20+ km in under an hour and 30 minutes.  Unfortunately somewhere around mile 4, the perfectly sized rock impacted the underside of my heel very hard.  It hurt like a son of a bitch.

I limped along at a decent clip for a while, but quickly started developing a hot spot (which turned into a blister).  This here is one of the arguments against going minimal.  I did this run in my VFF Trek Sport shoes.  Had I been wearing normal road running shoes, I wouldn't have bruised my heel and likely wouldn't have had the weird stride change that resulted in the blister.

I ended up taking Sunday off because of the pain in my left heel and right calf which I assume took on a lot of the load once I switched from running to very fast limp.  Anyway, even though I suffered that injury pretty early on in the run, I still finished the 12.77 mile on a half marathon PR pace, and it wasn't any near race effort.

Oh well, the pain in my heel is almost gone and I was able to get a really good effort in yesterday.  In fact I think the day off really aided my recovery and will likely incorporate the bookend days off into my future recovery weeks (Monday and Sunday - off).

About the dogs, one of them I thought was going to attack for sure.  It was a giant.  I have no idea what kind of dog it was, but if that sucker tripped me, I think I may have been a goner.  Scared me enough that I may never actually do that run again.  We'll see.  I'm looking into pepper spray and/or a whip.

Thanks for reading, and don't be food.

If you make it all the way through this post, please leave a comment so that I may commend your fortitude.
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