Saturday, December 24, 2011

Incomplete Week in Review.

Got one more run on tap for this week.  I'll get to that when Deneb is down for his nap this afternoon.  Going to let him have a long one because tonight will go late.  Somewhere, someone is roasting a whole pig for the Ascarrunz Family Christmas.

Anyway.  Somehow I've managed to stay on top of my workouts this week.  There was a brief moment of "despair" as I thought I'd miss a workout on Wednesday thanks to Christmas shopping, dilly-dallying, and eyeglasses, but I doubled up on Thursday and managed to log the miles.

I'm not a big fan of making up workouts in that fashion - I think it tends to lead to injury.  Especially if one hasn't built up to the required mileage and toward the end of my second run on Thursday, I was feeling it in my Achilles tendons.  An almost burning sensation which I've never experienced before.

The same sensation resurfaced yesterday during my short recovery run.  Not psyched about that at all, but I was able to make the pain go away yesterday by focusing on high turnover rate and lifting up rather than pushing off. Going to have to spend more time doing form drills.

The highlight (and lowlight) of the week has to be Monday and Tuesday in Cuevas.  In my previous post I mentioned that I stayed in Cuevas.  I actually wrote that post Monday morning in Cuevas before Hugo and I went out to collect some bench making material...

We set out around 10:30 or 11.  Hugo with a chainsaw over his shoulder and me with an axe, oil, gasoline, DSLR and Jackson.  We hiked up above the second waterfall at Cuevas, took a left and quickly reached the property boundary.  After another quarter mile or so we got to the location where a tree was already felled, deposited our bench making supplies and continued onward.

Hugo wanted to get out and visit with the mountains.  We ended up walking the better part of 5 miles with a fair number of ups and downs.  The highlight of our hike was the pool at the bottom of a tiny waterfall which must have been 400 feet high.  The water came down from above and hit a tree making a sound just like rain. Beautiful.

We eventually made our way back to the chainsaw and tools and Hugo cut the tree trunk to fashion 3 long benches.  Wizard with a chainsaw he, but the chainsaw decided that Monday was a good day to die and it stopped working about 80% of the way finished.  That was that and so we headed back to the cabins.

Tuesday Hugo found some help (who had another chainsaw) and went back to finish up the job from yesterday.  When they left I wasn't quite ready and I took off about 30 minutes behind them.

Somewhere along the way I took a wrong turn and found myself above where they were working.  I cut through the brush, heading to where I could hear the sound of the chainsaw and pissed off a nest of bees.  Suddenly I was crashing through the forest, and breathlessly telling Hugo in my worst Spanish, "Arbeja, Arbeja!" which locally translates to: "Peas, Peas!" (Simply adding an R causes all kind of confusion)...

Now there were 4 of us crashing through the woods (Jackson included - he thought it great fun!).  Eventually the bees settled down and I'd been stung on the order of 20 times, putting an end to my day and sending me to the pharmacy for some antihistamine.

I wasn't entirely sure what kind of bee had hit me and having ancient history of allergy to wasps, I had to be careful not to die.  I was pretty confident that I wouldn't have problems because I was pulling stingers out of my head. But I have never been stung that many times before and Hugo was saying that these bees weren't honey bees so we decided the best course of action would be to head back to Santa Cruz.

So much for the week in review.

Thanks for reading and the pictures below are pretty much in temporal order from our hike Monday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cuevas–Back in the Hills

The training plan I’ve set up for Leadville grants a day off from running each week, which I usually schedule for Sunday.  Sunday is a day when Nataly typically isn’t working and we often find ourselves splashing in the water at the bottom of the first waterfall at Cuevas.  That gets followed by a couple hour drive in the car and relaxation at home.

This week however I stayed in Cuevas to help Hugo cut down a couple of trees which will become some new benches for the park.   That meant Saturday was a more convenient day off and I went running Sunday evening after Nataly and folks headed home.

My run was just a hard, quick effort from the gate at Cuevas up to the first high point on the road to Bella Vista – total relief 650 feet.  That doesn’t seem like much, but there are a number of small climbs and descents along the way which get pretty steep.  Here's the GPS.

Today (Monday), I’m feeling the effects of 8 weeks off from running in the hills.  Soreness in the hamstrings and quads, and a touch of gimpiness in my left knee.  The run yesterday was my first real running effort in the new Brooks Pure Grit shoe which I bought back in October after injuring my foot, as well. 

I’m not entirely sure what to think of them.  They’re much more shoe than I’ve run in in quite some time.  All of my training for the Blues Cruise was done in Vibram 5 Fingers or NB Minimus Trail.  The Grit represents a step up in terms of cushioning and protection from my last year of running, while still maintaining the offset of the Minimus. 

The Good: I ran with greater confidence on the descents yesterday because I wasn’t afraid of small rocks on the road.  The Bad: That also meant I was landing more heavily on my heels – and I noticed my feet slipping forward and back in the shoe somewhat and possible hotspots developing under my heels.

In my two Imogene Pass Runs, I’ve developed giant blisters on both of my heels.  I ran those races in Brooks Cascadias.  Those blisters made for interesting races the following weeks as well.  My first marathon – the Boulder Marathon 2009 – was colored by the giant blisters on my feet, and I lost 10-20 places when both of my blisters blew on the final descent to the ski resort in the Steamboat 50 in 2010.  I chose to walk it in rather than arrive at the finish a bloody mess unable to appreciate the RD and all of his volunteers. 

One problem I have with all running shoes is that a size 13.5 is impossible to find.  I either have to wear a shoe which is half a size too big or a shoe a half a size too small. 

My sense from my initial trials of the Grit is that it is perhaps slightly longer than the Cascadia at the same size.  Maybe, then, a size 13 will fit me.  I suppose the other thing I could do is to cut a hole in the toe of the shoe like Ed McCaffery used to in his football cleats, but I’ve never been a huge fan of “modding” my shoes…

I wonder if I shouldn’t make my own pair of huaraches.  It would seem to be one of the best solutions for me.  A correctly sized sandal would provide protection from the hazards of the trail, and ignore the idiosyncrasies of my own special brand of foot.  It seems silly I haven’t tried them yet – that’s for sure.

Thanks for reading, and yes, after my run on Sunday I did jump in that pool...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A man with a plan.

Leadville 100.

Spending the better part of 2 weeks putting together a training plan for Leadville has gotten me in touch with the gravity of what I've chosen to undertake.  I ran the Steamboat 50 in 2010 with little in the way of a formal plan, just get out for a bunch of long runs, line up and hope to finish in daylight.

This year I had a bit of an expectation that I might run Imogene and Steamboat again. But when registration time came and went for those races, I wasn't able to commit and they both filled quickly.  I ended up with all of 1 race on my schedule this year - the Blues Cruise 50k.  I'll say that went well, but I've got some nagging regrets.

This coming year is going to be interesting.  The 80k in Argentina which was run in May last year is being run in September this year; a bit too late for any kind of a form check.  That means the possibility that the Ultramaraton de los Andes in Santaigo will be early in the year - perhaps I'll do that.  I'd really love a trip to the States April though (Fruita)...

Anyway I've outlined my training plan in greater detail.  While I look to preserve the peace at home, Sunday will always be a day off, and Saturday short and intense.  I have 3 key workouts per week and "3" more which represent ritual miles.  One of the key workouts is the long run which will be uninterupted.  The other 2 key workouts have guidelines attached - Interval session, tempo or hills.  Depending where I am though those guidelines will change.  If I'm in Cuevas:  I'll be running hills.

Here's a chart:

In the previous post where I shared a training chart, Brandon suggested I didn't have enough long runs scheduled. I decided he was likely right so I added another 3 week cycle of increasing mileage long runs, with the last a 50 miler, 6 weeks out from Leadville.

This is a daunting task ahead.  My longest mileage week ever will come on the 9th of April and I've got 5 weeks scheduled after that which are even longer.  Eeek.

All is subject to change and injury is going to be a very serious concern for me.  The good news is I can see myself completing the training.  Maybe that means I can see myself completing the race.

Thanks for reading and please let me know how I can make this better.

A couple of birthdays.

Two pretty important birthdays this week.  They know which is which, but I wanted to say happy birthday to my best running companion ever and to my dad.  One of whom was born on the 10th and I forgot to wish them well on the date and the other was born on this very day.

Homey is now 7 and consequently in his 8th trip around the sun.  We got out for a run today in celebration and the sun was really quite unforgiving.  Hmmm...

I expect my Dad wouldn't appreciate me mentioning how many trips around the sun he's undertaken, so we'll just leave that info out, but suffice it to say it's more than 40...
Thank for reading and I've got another post coming soon with much more detail about Leadville.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Knocked out 'em all

Good week in training this week.  I managed to get out for an interval session (Tuesday), a "long" run (Friday) and a hard, race-like effort yesterday.  My other runs were ritual miles.
Homey and I ran together Monday and Thursday.  There's a new nuisance dog on a section of my run which has harassed me on every run this week when I went by it's house.  From a piece of rope, I've fashioned a "Monkey Fist" to influence the choices it makes the next time I run by.  I expect that hideous animal will try to bite me soon, so I'm going to be ready when the time comes.  I cracked myself across the head accidentally with the thing travelling at high velocity and I feel quite certain that the Hideous Mutt will think twice about it's course of action if I ever do Swing With Purpose.

In other notes:  I should be in Cuevas right now, but Nataly's work wouldn't permit it.  She was in the field until mid-afternoon yesterday and didn't get home until after 9.  I'll be going sometime today.  Hopefully I can continue with my consistency from this week.  I'm tacking on 3 more miles and 1 more 400 meter effort.  It'll be interesting to see how the 400 works out on the road to Bella Vista.  I'll probably powerhike Dissertation Ridge too.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

These guys aren't me, but...

Someday I'll line up for that race.  Look at those trails.  Beautiful.  Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be able to hang off the back of their group for a while....

Today I got out for a 5 mile run with some intervals sprinkled in.  After 1.5 miles I hit the lap button on the GPS and went 88, 89, 88, 88, 86, 85 on 6 quarter mile efforts with 90 second walking breaks between sprints.  The first 2 were distinctly up hill and the last 2 were distinctly down....

I also laid out a training plan for Leadville in MS Excel.  Here's a chart:
The build is gradual.  No more than 10 percent mileage increase per week.  The long runs obviously spike, but that also means that there is a corresponding decrease in the length of my shorter runs during those weeks where I have a big long run scheduled.  One of those long runs will be a race and another will likely be a round trip to a waterfall accessible from Samaipata named La Pacha.  That's an 80km round trip.

Anyway thanks for reading, and perhaps in that video you can see some of why I enjoy this sport so much...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Update

Those are regular sized apples.
I haven't posted in a while.

I've had a bit of a daunting post hanging over my keyboard for a while and I haven't mustered the courage to get on with it.  It has to do with potatoes and Cuevas.  We harvested a couple weeks ago and that was almost as cool and rewarding an experience as the Steamboat 50.  Hopefully I can get around to writing something about it within the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime...

I'm back to regular training.  I'd say the potato harvest marked my official return to regular workouts.  I wore my NB Minimus shoes for that and lugged an uncountable number of 75 lb bags of potatoes out of the field between Monday and Tuesday 2 weeks ago.  My fingers still hurt, but my feet are fine.  There was some complaining from my right foot on Monday, but Tuesday it didn't bother me at all.  If I had to guess, I hiked 10+miles on Monday and 25 more on Tuesday half of those miles with a bag of potatoes slung over my right shoulder.

I took the remainder of that week off, and returned to regular running workouts last week.  6 days in a row I went out and ran the same 4 mile loop.  I alternated days between clockwise and counter-clockwise.  While the loop stayed the same, I varied my effort such that my easiest day took almost 36 minutes to do the loop while my hardest I went under 28:30.  I hope to break 28 minutes this week, but I'll be more tired - we'll see.

My goals now are to build back to regular medium to long distance runs 6 days a week - Sunday is going to always be a day off (marital maintenance).  I am tentatively putting an ultra marathon on my calendar in either April or May.  Something to keep me moving forward - an intermediate goal on my way to my major goal of the Leadville 100.

Nataly was indeed PO'd by my suggestion of the Trail Festival in Fruita, but I hope she changes her mind.  We'll see.

Plan B (and not a terribly bad one at that) is a race I discovered while researching the global versions of The North Face Endurance Challenge(s).  Turns out that TNF has put on an ultra in Salta, Argentina each of the last 2 years.  For some reason, Nataly's more amenable to me taking on an ultra in a country where I need a whole new visa... A number of different distances, but if it comes to it (and the race is on) I'll register for the 80k.

I'm going to tack 3 more miles into my running this week and add a day of official interval training.  That will fall on my medium long day.  This week that means tomorrow.  I'll be doing 6x400 at max effort (whatever that is) with 90 second walking recovery breaks.  I'll repeat the hard effort of last Saturday too.  Friday will be my long day (6 miles-hehe)...

Anyway, thanks for reading and enjoy the snow (or sun wherever you are)...

Homey's running again too!  Friday last week and today...
Good Dog.
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