Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dealing With Pain - Something from the Ultra List

Subscribing to the ultra list is asking for a barrage of e-mails, some only marginally related to ultra running, some not related at all. It is a guarantee of a good Friday joke, an occasional rant about Dean Karnazes and lots of discussion about salt tablets - over and over and over.

Like with anything in life, there's occasionally a truffle hidden in all of that crap. Okay, more than occasionally. I actually really like the list. I just had to train myself to ignore the drivel. I know some of the folks on the list from races and would love to meet many more of them - mostly to tell them their jokes are bad.

A little while ago someone posted a question about dealing with pain in an ultra. The basic premise was: how do you manage the pain you eventually encounter during the late miles of a run. There was much discussion. One of the posts came from "Laz" (aka: Gary Cantrell) of The Barkley (more here). I asked and he allowed me to post it.

i dont know that it becomes easier, so much as you simply adapt.
as you extend your boundaries, distances get easier.
50 miles makes 50 k easier.
100 k makes 50 miles easier.
100 miles makes 100 k easier.
and the first time you are excited to have "only" 100 miles left,
nothing is the same any more.

i look back on my earlier ultras,
and some of the reasons i felt i had to slow down... or drop out,
and i am amazed that i gave in so easily
when i later discovered how much more i could survive.

you learn to take the pain
wall it off in a corner of your mind
and just keep moving.
it doesnt matter if you are having a good day, or a bad day.
the only difference in the two is your time.
you dont think about quitting
you dont think about finishing.
you just keep moving.
because that is what you do.
that is who you are.

it is a useful skill,
knowing how to simply endure.
it is the ultimate reward for running ultras.

i think some people come by it naturally.
but everyone can acquire the skill.
if i can, anyone can.
no one is less inherently tough than me.

This is resonating with me because of my upcoming 200-miler. I will run 100 miles and then think "wow, that was nice, only 100 left". Seriously? I'm really having a hard time fitting that into my brain.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Speedy Start to the Cold Season

Winter gave the KC area a little peak at what's under the trenchcoat today with a subtle mix of cold temps, rain, sleet and some snow. Nothing sticking, but close enough for me to be excited.

I have an immunology test today, and, as is standard, I went for a run as a study break. It's a fantastic way to let the brain relax and get the endorphins going. I brought home a disaster of a performance on a virology test a few weeks ago - 90% of which I blame on not running before the exam.

I took another break today to read Gary Henry's excellent (as is standard) Ozark Trail 100 race report. Go read it but promise yourself in advance that you won't go sign up for the nearest 100 after you're done. It's that good.

My goal today was a quick 5-miler on paved trails. I have somewhat tired legs from an aggressive 5-miler I ran yesterday. I know I'll pay for this someday at the pearly gates but yesterday's run was a treadmill run. I know, I know. I did it at a 8:45 pace yesterday. I wanted to stay close to that today while including some hills. I've been encouraged by Jeremiah, in order to encourage some weight loss, to incorporate some speed work as a means to drop a few pounds. So, that's what I set out for.

There was a very light drizzle as I started and the temp, according to my car, was a nipply 37 degrees. This translated into perfect running weather for me. My pace dropped quickly from a subtle 9 min/mile to a blistering 7 min/mile which I was able to hold for almost a mile and a half - a knightly accomplishment for me.

I churned out the entire 5 miles at an average just over 8 min/mile. Way better than I wanted. That definitely put me in a good mood for my exam tonight.

I'm down to about 200 lbs, meaning the past few weeks of running has paid off with a steady weight decline. I tend to plateau after losing 5-10 lbs then drop again. We'll see how that goes over these next few weeks. Remember, my Rocky goal is a pudgy 190. 10 to go with 11 weeks left.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Craptastic Run

We're all allowed a bad run from time to time, right?

This morning was the beginning of the winter wyco season. At least, that's what I call it, for no particular reason. We had 8 folks (plus a dog) show up for the scenic 10-mile stroll around the lake.

The run started out normal enough for me. After about a mile I noticed that my breathing wasn't normal, it was very labored and loud. I also noticed I was only running with 6 people (including me) not 8. Hmm. So, I backtracked looking for the other two folks. After ensuring they knew where they were headed I darted off towards the larger group. I immediately felt like I was running with two rocks for legs instead of my normal allotment. I was dragging ass.

One of the guys waited for me at a road crossing. We made it to the Triangle and I just didn't feel like I had the energy for a trip through there. I also figured the lead group would be coming out pretty soon anyways and I didn't particularly want to lose them.

I'll save you the boring details and just say that after that I was running dead-last. The group had to wait up for me a lot. It was sad.

My excuse is that I'm more exhausted than I realized after weed-wacking part of the powerline trail at Shawnee Mission Park yesterday. My arm is actually still sore. My other excuse is that I ate eggos before this run. That was probably pretty trail-tarded of me.

Last week's total mileage was 36. The goal this week is 40. I thought I had more of a long-run base than I really do. The 12 I did on Wednesday night really left a mark on me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My New Favorite Hill Workout

Last night I set out to measure what I hoped would become my regular winter hill training course. McNaughton has 1000 feet of ascent over each 10 mile loop. I don't think that's terrible, but after 50, 100 or 150 miles I'm sure it's going to suck, bigtime.

So, I've been looking for a rolling hill course with some steep sections and some flat sections spread out over a respectable distance. I was thinking maybe a half mile.

I also want to do the hills somewhere that I have a nice warm-up available. Something not too strenuous to start off with. But something that taxes me a bit before I start on the hills.

I think I found the perfect course.

Starting from the marina at Shawnee Mission Park head to the mountain bike trails next to the tennis courts. Run the orange trail heading West. When you get to the 4-way trail intersection take the purple trail that heads "left" as you come off the orange trail. Take this to the furthest West trail entrance, head off the mountain bike trails, onto the paved streamway trail. Head down the hill to the streamway trail loop. Before you get to the loop take a right on the fireroad/horsetrail. Run this gravel road until you get to the camping area just before the gate on the fireroad. That's 2 miles exactly. It's relatively flat and it's a comfortable way to warmup. You have to run on pavement for about 200 yards. Whatever, I'll take it.

Now you're at the start of your hill workout. It's simple. Run the power lines heading East. The workout starts with a quick uphill followed by a short flat section. Then you hit a massive hill which I still find un-runnable. After this it's a gradual uphill into a nice rolling section. Once you hit Ogg Road keep going straight. At this point you're running along Tomahawk golf course. There's a line of trees between you and the fairway - but I'd still hope that nobody's slice is acting up too bad when running this section.

Keep going until you hit the "road" coming out of the golf course. You'll know when you hit it as the trail just kinda stops. It's exactly 1.5 miles. That's a nice round number - another reason why I like this course so much.

My Garmin tells me it's almost 500' of ascent for the out section. You end up higher than you started so the trip back involves less ascent. About 250' as best I can tell (I didn't measure it exactly). So, run this twice and you get have a nice 6 mile workout with somewhere around 1,500' of ascent. That's not bad. 3 round trips gives me 9 miles with over 2,000' of ascent - a good training run.

The grass is a bit clumpy along the trail. I'm not sure what to do about this. This might sound crazy but maybe I could take a weed-wacker to it one afternoon. Just to cut a more runnable path through some of the sections.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's all about time on your feet, dummy

I ran the Pilgrim Pacer fun run yesterday. The real race is in two weeks but they did the fun run to drum up support for the race and, well, to just have some fun. There's a 5k, 10k and half marathon option.

I went for the half, and then some. The whole race is on paved biking trails near Shawnee Mission Park. On the way back, around mile 12, I was getting a little bored and my feet started to hurt, so I left the "official" course and headed back behind the mountain bike trails to get an extra muddy hill in. I had a good reason for this - I wanted to get some difficult trail work in after having lots of miles on my legs. The trails were pretty muddy - the big hill along the power lines was essentially unrunable because of the mud. My little jaunt added about 3/4 of a mile. Worth it for some mud.

The good news was that I kept a sub-10:00 pace for the entire run - that's including the walking I did along the power lines.

The sad news is that 13-ish miles is the furthest I've run, non-stop, since...well...

- 10/10: Heartland, 20 miles, walked with John.
- 9/11: Patriot's Run, didn't run 13-straight, I walked a lot.
- 8/23: Leadville with Greg - walked the majority of the time.
- 8/16: Pike's Peak Marathon, walked most of the way up, didn't run all the time on the way down.
- This is getting depressing
- 8/1: The Gary Henry training run...covered 16 miles but walked a bit. This one might count, but we'll keep going.
- 7/27: 14 miles on the sandrat trails. I'd say this counts.

Fer christsakes - it's been almost 3 months since I've knocked off more than a half marathon?!?! I'm teary-eyed right now.

Then I came home and raked leaves for two hours. During this I realized what a great addition to my running workout it was. I was on my feet for 4 hours - that's quality ultra crosstraining right there. So, I might have had 17 on the calendar for yesterday, and I might have only gotten 13.5 of it, but I spent a lot more time on my feet, which makes up for the missed miles.