Wednesday, May 22, 2013

50-Mile Weeks

It is really perverse that runners like talking about their injuries and limitations.  

I'm back up to my 50-mile weeks -- plus, despite what appears to be a IT-Band injury.  The IT-Band is a group of tendons stretching from the knee to the hip.   When they get irritated it is often very much like sciatica -- the leg acts like it isn't getting a proper electrical fire.  And, at times it can be painful to the extent the leg won't bend.   I experience it mainly on downhill runs.  I'm forced to limit my runs to road work and I'm staying off the trails.  But, I'm getting a huge amount of great, long, speedwork in -- particularly when I come across another runner.  One of my favorite speedwork sites is a long frontage road along the I-5 freeway.   During rush hour, I can beat the traffic from one exit to the other a mile away.

The IT-Band injury takes a whale of a long time to heal; it may never.  I suspect I got it in my 100-mile run on my Hokas, and then aggravated it running the 50-miler a month later without proper medial support.   I'd been feeling twinges for a year, however, not thinking anything.

As well, my kidney stones are really attacking me after each run.  I've been putting off the surgery for three years; now, it is getting miserable.  I'll run myself into a hospital if I keep putting in daily 15 miles runs with zero water.

The fun and joy of long running!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Missing the Races

Well, it missed the North Coast Endurance Run in Cleveland this weekend due to injury, and it looks like I'm missing next week's Leona Divide 50.

Yesterday, I ran my 15-mile ascent of Newhall's Beast, a descent of Los Pinetos Trail into Walker Ranch, and a further descent into the Placerita Nature Center, with an ascent up to the Viper trail and a run down Viper to the Park-N-Ride where my car was waiting.

As I hit the top of the Beast and started my way down, I realized I was suffering from tendinitis in my right knee, which I would feel only on the downhills.  I slowed to a walk in several places.  Imagine that; full-burst runs up the hills and walks down the hills.

Looks like brother Dave came in 4th place in the North Coast race in what looks like snowy weather.   Photos from the start looked like things were below freezing.  (Yesterday's run for me was in the 80s and I didn't have enough water.)   He complains about wind burn in the eyes.  I would have found that annoying, but I'm glad I didn't go as the tendinitis would have stopped me cold.   Still waiting to recover from my last 50.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

American River 50 Mile Run: 9:31

I completed the American River 50 mile run on April 4, 2013, placing 223 out of about 1100, 27/191 in the 50-59 age group (both genders).   This was a phenomenally large field; most 50s are 200 or less.  I got in through the waiting list.

My elapsed time was 9:31, I think.  I'm not sure about that; it took several minutes to get to the starting gate.  I think my chip time is under 9:30.  The screen was at 9:31 when I finished, so I'm not sure how or if they computed chip time.  A lot dropped out.   After I finished, there were still about 500 on the course, according to the announcer about 45 minutes later after I had finished my hamburger.

The weather was cool in the morning, to the point that I was too cold in my sweaty shirt, and warmer in the early afternoon.  It was cloudy most of the day.

The 9:31 time makes my 2007 9:38 time in the Antelope Island 50 all the more impressive as that was a more difficult race, climbing a mountain pass twice and having lots of difficult technical trails.  That was my first 50, and I weighed ten pounds more then.   Go figure.  Well, it isn't too hard to figure.  Father Time.

This race is quite a bit different than the 50s I've done in the past.  The first 22 miles or so are, mostly, on pavement, the river trail.   We started in Sacramento on the American River.  The first couple of miles or so is an out-and-back.  We started in the dark and ran downstream and then back upstream, past the start line.  Then it was upstream all the way.  Just like a large marathon, there's a lot of jockeying for position for the first two or three miles or so.

Thereafter, there's some running on fire roads, but in the last 20 miles or so the race is on some fairly narrow single tracks along the riverbank.  The upper river single tracks are so narrow that there's some difficulty in passing other runners.  The vegetation was thick and there was lots of dodging the poison oak overhangs.

I had to apologize to one fellow at mile 45 for not hearing him with my music on.  I had to turn off the music in some of these narrower paths.  The upper trail is in the foothills of the Sierras, so its like a rain forest at times in the upper river gorge.  The race finishes on top of a dam in Auburn.

So, the entire course is uphill but it is only about a 2000 foot aggregate gain.

As usual in these races, I do well in the first 25 miles or so and then age catches up to me and I start getting passed.  At mile 30, I thought I had pulled a hamstring and my running came to a slow walk.  But, hoping it was just a bad cramp, I loaded up on salt sticks (Succeed caps), and after a couple of miles or so the pain became manageable.   I wasn't quite up to my pre-30 pace, but I was happy that I wasn't walking for the last 20 miles.

After the race, I looked down at my feet and realized I had run the entire thing in my cast-off Nike Airs, which I had replaced with new Nike Airs, sitting at home.   The Nike Air is a very lightweight street shoe.  I thought I had been running in my Brooks Beasts, which I had brought along with me.  Because I have been wearing the cast-offs now as street shoes, I had removed the ortho inserts.   I was amazed I did as well as I did with these shoes, whose cushioning had been beaten down and which I though were goners.  I had no foot soreness and very few blisters.  This is boring stuff to non-runners, I admit, but shoe selection makes a huge difference in races.

The large race is lots of fun, because a runner is rarely out of contact with other runners.   I had pleasant conversations with some of the runners, asking where they were from and about their running experience.

The run was quite picturesque.   The American River is quite a pretty sight once you get out of Sacramento.

When I got back to the hotel, I discovered I had shin splints in my right leg.  I hadn't noticed that on the run, and the next day I limped around with ice.  I guess I attribute that to running on my Nike Airs without the orthotic inserts.

Another run in the books.  I am contemplating the much more difficult Leona Divide 50 in three weeks.  The last time I did that I had a post-12 hour time, but it was hot and I had to fight stomach distress.  That one has a 7000 foot elevation gain.  Or, I'm looking at the North Coast 24 hour run in Cleveland in two weeks.

Update, several days later:  Wow -- the right leg shin splits are outta this world!   I hate injuries; I rarely get them.   A week before I ran St. George in 2008, with a Boston qualifying time, I developed shin splits on a 40 mile pacing run with brother Dave in Wyoming on a 100.   Hopefully these today will go away soon.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Before the American River 50

I'm heading into the American River 50, a race outside of Sacramento on April 6, 2013.  The thing is huge.  There must be 100 racers in my 50 to 59 age group.    It looks like I'm around the top ten percent in pre-race rankings.  The race also looks rather easy; not much of a vertical.  And, some pavement.  It is a good thing I've been doing lots of flat training.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Training

I'm starting training for my back-to-back 50s in April, so I'm moving off the street onto the trail.

Today I did my 14-mile circuit, which includes the ascent of the local The Beast.   Today, there was snow on the trail starting at 2000 feet, and by the time I was at the summit at 3500 feet there were two inches of snow.  This was a rare day for Southern California.   It was slipping and sliding on the ice for much of the run.  I ran into other runners making the ascent, another rarity, and we celebrated the splendid day.  A great day to make up for all the blistering hot ascents in the past.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

More recovery

Yesterday's 12 miler was the first run since December 31 where the tendinitis in my knees didn't scream out. I started to develop it at about 70 miles in my 102 miler. Finally at the end of the tunnel. On to the two tough 50 milers I have in April. I've been eyeing a March 100 but I really don't like the cold. I don't make good judgments in long sub freezing runs. Like, I think I'm warm enough when I'm really not.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Recovery from 24-hour race

It's been terrible.

Normally, I have almost no recovery need from my various races.   Maybe a day or two of soreness, but not much more than that.

For four days I've been battling the effects of the run.  Although I put in a full day at work, I want to sleep forever.   Finally went to see the doc today; he looked at blood and urine and thought "perhaps" dehydration.

I went out for an 8-mile run on Saturday, or five days after the 24-hour.   Not much running going on.  It is my opinion that my Hokas, which did great work making my feet think they were running on pillows, took a toll on my shins and knees, as there was no correction for overpronation.  Hoka:  Make a motion control shoe!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

24 hour race -- 102.88 miles; 3rd place

I completed the Across-the-Years 24-hour race on December 31, 2012, in Phoenix, tying for fourth place overall (when the other 24-hour races completed on January 1, 2012) out of 143 runners with distance of 102.88 miles, or 98 laps around the Dodgers' spring training facility.  I ran this with ultrarunner Dave, who has completed 51 100 races, and nephew Kevin, who's just getting into it.   Dave's race report is here.

I'm looking good in the photo, taken five minutes after crossing the finish line. But, I haven't had my post-race barf yet.

The looped runs have a timer at the start of the loop, so the best that one can do is to make as many loops as possible within the time allotted.  Every four hours the loop direction changes to shift pressure from the runners' legs, from counter-clockwise to clockwise and vise versa.

There were 48 hour and 72 races going on, with very serious runners to casual runners.  On my final 98th lap, I came in with a group of 24-hour runners who had completed 20 laps.   They had come and gone through the day.
Looking good, early in the race.

Brother Dave, keeping me motivated.  He'd try to lap me, I'd try to avoid it.  In the end, it helped my time and speed tremendously.  I recall him lapping me three or four times.   I lapped him once when he was suffering leg pain.
 Nephew Kevin.  Always a serious guy.  Doesn't like jokes.   He got his 100 mile buckle, after telling me frequently he couldn't go on.
 Later in the day, first day.
 One of the night scenes.  The trails, for the most part, were well-lit.
Dawn approaching second day in tent city.  Our tent is somewhere in there.   As a 24-hour runner, I had no occasion to use it until the race was over.

Each day's race started at 9:00 a.m.  When I started, there had already been one full day underway.   Twenty-four hours later I was done.

I did my best to keep a marathon pace for the first 26 miles.  As with any marathon, my muscles were screaming in pain and I wondered how it would be possible for complete 100 miles if I was suffering at 26 miles, but from 26 to 40 miles I dialed back the pace and slipped into an easy run up to about 85 miles.   Then, as my  back started to complain, it was run-walk run for the final 15 miles, but I am proud to say that there wasn't a single lap where I didn't run part of it, and for 82 of them, almost 100% of each lap.

The first 12 hours were a real gas, as I was only the third or fourth slowest runner on the course, with brother Dave one of the faster runners on the course.  (You can tell with the lapping going on.)  At about 6:00 p.m. as the temps dropped into the 30s, the number of runners significantly diminished.  By 2:00 a..m. there were stretches in which it seemed I was the only one there.   About 3:30 a.m. runners are starting to drift back on the course; there are RVs and tents around the area, as well as a hotel close by.  By 6:00 a.m. the course has filled up again with runners.

I ran without a break.   Perhaps my longest lap was when I sat down in a chair near our tent area to change my shoes before taking off. Otherwise it was run-by grazing at the feed trough with five or six short potty breaks. There was one real bathroom on the entire course. Otherwise, porta-potties. It was great to use the real bathroom when temps were below freezing near the start of the second day.

My feet were getting footsore until, at lap 30 or so, I changed from my Nikes to my Hokas, which made all the difference in the world.   I'm suffering today a little from shin splits, a consequence of running in Hokas, but at least I can walk around today. Who-boy, what a difference a shoe change can make.

I spent my run hours listening to ball games and an audio book.

It was a lot of fun running with super-experienced ultrarunner Dave and his son Kevin.   We sort of supported each other over the many hours.   Those two did 48-hour races; Kevin stopped at 101 miles and Davy completed about 130 or so.  I think that his personal record for this course is over 180 miles for the 48 hour race.

As a post-script here, it has been difficult to return to work as I have come down with a major sinus infection. Seems these efforts reduce the immune system. I can put in a full work day but still need 12 hours of snooze, four days later.