Run fast ... fall down

Run fast ... fall down

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gregory Canyon / Ranger / Green roundtrip PR

While my records aren't so detailed, I'll say that despite the >80 degree temperature, I set my fastest time up a local favorite. The legs feel about 90% recovered from leadville, so I debated where/what I wanted to run this weekend and a lack of decisiveness sent me to the closest hill to my home. I warmed up jogging through chatauqua meadow and checked my watch at the Gregory canyon parking lot, which is my starting position. 6 minutes.

While cranking up the initial sections, I felt good and wanted to push the pace a bit. I ran as far as I could sustain a decent running pace and then noticed my heart rate was in the 180s. Pretty high. I carried on hiking and running the flatter sections. I hit the lodge at 22, which seems pretty good to my murky memory. There was a man ahead of me looking back over his shoulder, I was quite a ways back but hiking steadily. As I made up ground on him, he picked up the pace and started to jog. I continued to close the gap and he ran harder and harder. It was funny to me that he was trying so hard to race and I knew he'd blow up any minute. It occurred right at the Greenman turnoff, he stopped, grabbed the post while gasping for breath, and I commended his push.

I kept a constant effort through the summit but my heart rate was high. I may have seen 190s once or twice but otherwise it was hovering from 180-187. I averaged 183 bpm for the 52 minute climb and hit the summit boulder. In a daze with such a high heart rate and the fact that it was mid 80s out, I didn't spend any time at the top and hobbled down Saddle Rock to Amp trails. I love being able to run down these sections because it feels so reckless and out of control. My brain can only process about one step at a time and the technicality of the trail requires so much focus. I'm never sure I'll have a good place for the next step, but it always works out. Made it down in 30 mins for a roundtrip time of 1h23m01s

Anyway this is a good baseline and goal to try to break next time I want to suffer.
Garmin Data

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

3rd DNF at LT100 run

There are some things I did right, and some others I still need to work on. This is a hard run to complete.

My week started off decently well and I was forced to take the whole week off of work due to 3 teacher workdays at daycare. I spent M-W packing and gearing up and performing sanity checks on planned gear combinations. I also caught some nasty lung infestation, which started as a phlegmy cough, and turned into a slight fever with overall achyness.  On Thursday, some of my relatives arrived in Colorado for a vacation. We packed up our gear and headed up to our rental 10K home for the weekend. I found packet pick up in town and got it out of the way right away. I weighed in at 148.4, and got wristbanded by Margo, a race volunteer, who I learned would be at Mt Elbert aid station. She finished the bike race last week. Luckily, I seemed to kill all of my sickness except the cough with one day of mucinex and bookoos of water.

On Friday morning, I attended the final race briefing with the usual motivational speech by the (former) race director Ken Choubler and other key race staff. I learned of one change to the pacing rules that caused a conflict with my race plan. Pacers were required to fill out paperwork at the aid station that they would begin pacing, and therefore I was told I was not allowed to change pacers at Treeline.
Watching the motivational speech from the upper deck. Ken's mantra annoyed me a little at this point. I think you should quit if you really think you should quit, for whatever reason.

Friday afternoon turned to rest, eat, and rest more. Thunderstorms emerged and it poured, thundered, and flashed lightning as I tried to fall asleep at 9:30. I awoke at 2:50, took a quick shower, got dressed, ate a muffin, packed up the car and headed over to the starting line. The rain had stopped and racers were greeted with clear skies and 45 degree temperatures.

Me in the middle with a couple bro-in-laws
Waiting for the shotgun

Start to Mayqueen 
Gear: I wore a short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve warm shirt over it, a thin beanie, windstopper gloves, and knicker style tights. I carried a flashlight and headlamp, had one water bottle in hand (strawbanana perpetuem) and another with water in a waistpack, with 2 gels and a mojobar. I wore Hoka Stinsons with trail gaiters.
Leadville's mayor fired the shotgun at 4AM and we were off. I had settled somewhere into the middle of the pack and didn't worry much about my place. Last year I walked from the start and knew there are people that take over 3 hrs to Mayqueen, so I knew if I ran some here, I'd be in the middle of the group.  I jogged along allowing myself to walk any slight uphill and once or twice a mile for a hundred feet. The Boulevard was oddly muddy from all the rain on Friday night. I recalled from online pacing accounts that I should hit the climb to Turquoise Lake at 55 minutes. At 45 minutes, I turned onto a road and took my first gel and began to look for the climb. At 55 minutes I got worried because I did not see it near and felt as if my pace was right on target for 11 min miles. After a slight panic, at 55:45 there it was and I worked my way up. At the top, I sat to empty out some small rocks from my shoes and adjust my lacing. I found a good group to join around the lake.
My strategy here felt great. I got to the back of a small group of runners and fast walked until someone caught up with me. Then I jogged to catch back up to my group (which was running the WHOLE time). I repeated this strategy all the way around the lake. This allowed me to keep my HR down, only run half the miles but keep up with people who ran the whole stretch. At Tabor boat ramp, I finished one bottle as I knew I was halfway to Mayqueen.

At 10 miles, I ate a mojobar and continued my walk/run strategy and noticed my calves were starting to feel slightly strained. I hit the road and ran it in to Mayqueen aid station. Exactly as it did last year, my Garmin 305 read 12 miles, not 13.5 miles.

Mayqueen to Fish Hatchery
Gear: My crew refilled my bottles, handed me more gels, sunglasses, different gloves, and took my lights. I left the Mayqueen aid station at 2h29m, exactly on target.

The route leads up a road to a rocky trail that leads for ~1 mile over to Hagerman Road (dirt). After a relatively flat section, we turn on a jeep road ascending Sugarloaf pass (11,100) and then bomb down powerline to a paved road which leads into Fish Hatchery at mile 23.5.
Walking up Hagerman road in early morning daylight

For me this section was low key. I walked/jogged the trail and mostly walked Hagerman all the way to the top. My Garmin read 13.8 at a 15 mile sign. I adjusted my shoes and got ready for some serious downhilling. I scurried down the powerline paying attention not to trash my quads or cause blisters. I could feel one on the inside of my big toe, and I had an odd sensation that the bottoms of my feet were on fire from friction in my socks. I tried my best to minimize that. I had no knee pain and was very happy about this.
Running down Powerline

As I hit the road, I went over in my head all of the things that I would want from my crew at FH. I took off my shirt to stop some nipple chafing I was experiencing. I spotted my crew and family and told them my long list of changes. I wanted: Nip guards, a different shirt, a baseball hat, calf sleeves, different sunglasses, sunscreen and got rid of my waist pack and went with only 1 bottle for the next section. I took off my shoes and socks and noticed a pea sized blister on the inside of my big toe. I popped it with a Swiss army knife and stuck 2 pieces of Leukotape over it. I had 2 Enduralytes and a bunch of food.

Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes
Gear: I didn't plan for my crew to come to Treeline and didn't send a dropbag to Halfpipe so I'll lump all of these into 1 section. I only carried one bottle and a few gels. I left at 4h50m

I jogged down the road on and off feeling a little tired from the first 25 miles in 5 hrs. Then at the turn something hit me. My stomach took a turn for the worse. The jarring associated with running was very uncomfortable and I needed to get this taken care of. I talked to a nearby seasoned runner who liked our pace up to this point. He thought we were right on target. He offered me a ginger pill to settle my stomach. I thanked him and took the pill. I couldn't tell if it worked and wanted some tums, which I'm more used to. I drudged on into treeline and asked if anyone had tums. Someone handed me a whole roll and said "take it". I was happy and grateful. I got a water refill from someone else and headed on my way to Halfpipe (supposedly 2.1 miles). Here my Garmin went from reading less than course markings to over course markings.

The tums didn't help and I was in bad shape. This gal, Shannon, going for the grand slam, talked to me for a while and graciously offered me everything she could to help, even her water, which I didn't take. She gave me Alka Seltzer tabs. I dropped these into my water and they tasted good, but only barely helped. I felt like I needed to burp but couldn't. I also couldn't run at all and this part of the course was so runnable. The new route has a very gentle ascent as opposed to previous course where you turn from Halfmoon to straight up the Colorado trail. The course was gentle, but I couldn't take advantage of it. I passed through Halfpipe and they didn't have anything to help my stomach and told me only to drink clear water and not to eat anything like watermelon. I made a little mistake of not eating here because I couldn't and I took the medics advice (I even asked if they were sure I shouldn't eat anything solid). I needed to force food down my stomach to see what would happen. But I didn't. I continued on walking up the trail through the beautiful aspens. I drank all my water with >3 miles to Mt Elbert water station and was now out of all supplies.

Another passerby, Steve, offered me some Pepto Bismol tablets which I ate and thanked him over and over. I continued on, looking forward to water at Mt Elbert water station.
When I arrived Margo was there and I told her my issues and she had me to sit down in the shade for 5 minutes. Another volunteer refilled my water bottle and I chugged it. He filled it again and put a peach tea Gu brew tab in it. This was very tasty and I chugged half and had him fill it up again. Margo got me a bunch of cantaloupe slices which in combination with the peach tea Gu Brew, killed my stomach issue! I left there feeling a little better but not perfect. I could start jogging a bit and at the 2 miles to Twin Lakes I was able to actually run again. I passed a lot of people and cruised on in to Twin Lakes to see my crew.
Finally running again, I hammered down into twin lakes

I got a bag full of watermelon from the aid station and sat down with the family (for probably too long, 15 minutes) to discuss what I was going through. The watermelon was good, I ate a cracker or 2, banana and switched to a camelbak style pack and poles. I hit the potty across the street and headed for The Hope Pass at 9h20m into the race. About 45 minutes behind the planned time. My Garmin battery died here and I switched to a Suunto Altimeter watch.

Twin Lakes to Winfield
The water crossings were slow and knee deep.

After about 30 mins I reached a metal sign at the base of the climb. I noted that it took me 30 mins from TL to the start of the climb for the return trip. I started up the pass fairly weak and passed the leaders right here as they were headed back to Leadville. I noted the elevation and wished away the climb. I had to sit down 5 times on the way up, if only for 20 secs to catch my breath and give my legs a break. After about 1500 ft, the slope mellowed out. This was disappointing because I was trying to get the elevation gain over with. I ate a gel and that went down well. I then continued up and ate another bar which was helpful, but at this point I was at a deficit on food. I needed to eat a ton to catch back up. I finally reached the Hopeless aid station and enjoyed it. A vegetarian crew member assured me her soup was vegetarian and she gave me a little potato soup. Super yummy. I should have asked for a whole bunch more but just left as I didn't want to hang out too long. The switchbacks to the top were never ending and it started to look like rain was starting. I was wiped out.

I did my best to run some sections on the downhill and put on my goretex jacket. I saw many runners who I knew of and said hi and encouraged them on. I continued downhill happy that I could still run and my legs felt great.

I finally hit the trail head and was given a dental mask to block breathing dust. But I didn't want to restrict my breathing at all so I didn't use it.

I continued up the road but wasn't running much due to exhaustion, depression, and pretty much gave up here. I looked at my watch and knew that my time into Winfield was 1.5 hrs behind plan. I was at 13h20m and finally hit the aid station at 13h40m. I had been thinking about the hot tub back at our rental home, and just lost motivation. I gave up on the road.

Looking like a trainwreck coming into Winfield.

I saw my dad, wife and pacer-to-be, George, and tried to convince them that I was done. I was just exhausted at this point from a lack of food, I guess. I didn't want to hike back over Hope in the rain to not make it past the TL cutoff. I ran through the tent, weighed in at 144.7 and got some food and sat down in a chair and officially gave up my wristband. I would have left Winfield at 13h45m which wasn't a good turnaround time and hardly anyone made it to the finish in 30 hrs if they left Winfield at this time.

I got in the truck and was taken home. I had a very difficult time keeping my body temperature comfortable after the race. I would constantly change from shivering to sweating. I'm not sure what that could mean.

I obviously have mixed feelings about the outcome of this race. This is a hard race. I feel bad for letting my pacers down, for not doing what I set out to do, and for simply quitting. But I feel like I probably would not have made the next cutoff, and am so glad my body held up so well. I wasn't trained for 50 miles and I fell apart after 25. I keep thinking how easy it should have been to run the whole section between Fish Hatchery and Twin Lakes, but my lack of calories is the main problem I had here.

I haven't decided fully what I want to do next. 0 for 3.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I can't wait to hug Merrilee

After another year of obsessing about crossing the finishing line at the Leadville 100, I sit here <4 days before the start hoping that my body can hold out for what's about to be thrown at it. My training is weak compared to many other racers, but it's the best I can do to keep overuse injuries to a minimum. In the last 37 weeks since I had my knees cut open, I've amassed 600 miles, 110,000 ft of elevation gain, in 152 outings. My longest run was the Leadville Marathon (26.2, 6000 ft gain) on July 2. My biggest weeks were the end of May, first of June. 2 weeks in a row over 40 miles. Biggest week of elevation gain had 11,290.

I have had some injury setbacks but have felt reasonably well all August. List of setbacks include: several bouts of toddler induced bugs, a pulled hamstring, aggravated right medial patellar retinaculum,  and food poisoning. And right now, I'm rocking some kind of Bronchial funk and phantom pains all over my body.

I've completed my taper, tested all of my race day attire strategies, packed bags, and written my crew plans. I'll be following the 29:45 racing plan. I've studied this chart a million times:

We'll see what happens in 4 days! Let's hope I get a hug from Merrilee and a spiffy new belt buckle.