Saturday, December 15, 2012

Costa Rica Calls

Well, it’s been two months since my last story but sufficient stuff warrants a post. No running since Stone Steps due to plantar fasciitis in my left foot. A cortisone shot last week and continued icing/stretching may help get me back by Feb or so. The groin about ten years ago was tough but this one is not far off.
(Tip: when Achilles talks…listen)

To keep some level of fitness, I have been spending more time on the trainer. (fixed gear-kreitler rollers) Really boring, but with music and watching fox soccer, I can usually put in an hour or so. So, I’m checking up on my “twitter people” (I follow about 14, including one of my heros, Chrissie  but have no followers, haha, maybe if I actually posted something, someone in Russia would follow me), and I see this:
   ps - Kathryn is now #15. Read her book "As Good as Gold" which was great. Added her to my hero list! 

Hmmmm, what better way to stay fit (train hard to avoid embarrassment) before the Spring. So, I kick it around a bit, talk with Sue and sign up! Turns out, there will be about 20 “campers” and most likely a full range of ages and talents. I say this because I’m old and slow, and others are obviously young and bat shit fast. Both ends are covered : )

note: I don't really understand what"bat shit" means but like the way it sounds : )

The trip in in mid Feb and will be followed by what I hope is a very cool post. 

I'll be waiting for you

I do tricks for food

is this the volcano that erupted last year?

need to practice bunny hop and I have no idea

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stone Steps - No blood, just guts

The Stone Steps course still won but by a smaller margin than last year!

The weather was between 40 and 44 throughout and a bit windy so perfect for the race. I felt rested, hydrated, and “topped out” with carbs, off we go! I held back my typical dash for the woods as I knew I would pay later for wasting energy so soon.

I finished my first long loop without falling and would not fall all day. My ave pace was 11:11 (last year was 11:43) and feeling strong, so far so good. No issues or stories, just the sounds of footsteps and breathing, mine and others. Later there would just be mine as the 160 runners spread out over the 9 miles of trails.

The first short loop was equally uneventful and my ave pace was 11:51 (last year was 12:43) and felt I was a bit cautious on uphill sections. I was consciously thinking about saving something for a strong finish that unfortunately would not happen today.

My second long loop started strong and I was cruising until the stone steps. The climb triggered leg cramps of most muscles I know the names of. I even had a toe cramp like the ones you get while laying in bed. So I slowed and made sure I was topped off with Gels and, on this lap, flat coke. Still I managed a 12:47 pace (last year was 14:07) so I’m still feeling positive.
Drafting on the Steps ? Draft legal : )

The steps - all 250+ of them - feel the burn

My training miles (aka lack of hay in the barn) showed on the last short loop. I was in survival mode and running to manage cramping and remaining energy. I misread a course marker and took a trip down (and I do mean down) a trail that clearly was wrong. This sojourn will affect my official time but my Garmin was not smart enough and just assumed I knew what I was doing. My pace was a very slow 15:02, but last year was 15:33 so even my disaster lap was faster!

Sue was at the finish line despite not feeling well, and it was great to see her. Last year David Riddle had already finished the 50K when I finished (CR), but this year we waited for about 30 minutes to see the winner cross the line. He was a tall guy about 25 years old and wearing track shorts, no shirt and what looked like track flats. The race director said it was his first ultra trail and he was from Indianapolis. He was clearly in pain but he did get a win in his first. I did not see him smile the whole time. Smug? I think he was in too much pain to be smug : )
eventual winner - brrrr

Just finished - smile for the camera : )
So almost exactly one min/mile faster than last year, and if I commit to more training miles (more hay), I’ll drop more next year. On pace for podium in 2035.

Groin cramp, still smiling though!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cincinnati Nature Center - CNC

A few recent events led me to this really cool place. Having lived probably 20 minutes from the place, it was under our radar. If I was exposed to the name, I probably associated it with bird watchers or children's programs. It does fit that bill, but much more.

Event One:
I was at our family doctor last week getting my hand stitches removed. (see White Tail race pictures if you dare).
We normally "talk running" as he runs as well, knees permitting. I mentioned that I run at Mt. Airy and he gave me that "don't your know that place is a bit sketchy" look. That is the normal response due to the reputation being surrounded by the hood. He asked me if I knew of the CNC and how it is a gem for running and quite a bit safer.

Event Two:
As is turns out, I ran at Mt. Airy that same night after work.  After a great long loop (5.3m), skipping Stone Steps but running up Gummy Bear Hill, I stopped back at the car (actually Honda Element aka toaster on wheels) a to get a water refill in by bottle. Glass everywhere as a local thought my visible backpack contained drugs or the queens jewels. Poop, to my dismay they got my green Patagonia as well as shoes and jeans. I hope they do not fit them or if they do, their peeps with thrash them for looking trendy. This is the second time this year I was robbed there, and probably related to the absence of any police (park or city) presence. 

I got the message, run Mount Airy at races, but not training runs or risk theft or worse. A real shame as the trails are great. I especially worry about the girl runners, single or in pairs. I am now on a mission to elevate awareness of the current risks as well as increase the presence of the police. The bad guys have pissed me off, and they will need to move on. I digress...

On to the CNC and my first experience yesterday. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Can't get lost here.
Forget getting lost or even using a map except for getting to your trail (many to choose from). When you want to leave, just follow the Parking arrow.

The trails are listed as Easy, Moderate, and Difficult. There are over 25 miles if trail. I ran the Red (difficult) one and it was actually groomed and lacked rocks and roots for the most part. It was hilly though and provided a great workout.

Typical trail, pretty

Get the idea?

Sue and I are taking the pups there today and maybe we will spot a few yellow spotted warblers on our walk.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

White Tail Trail Half

This race is a keeper. The race is very well organized, a large crowd of runners and supporters, and a really cool course that snakes around Caesars Creek Lake. The first half of the course is pretty flat with great scenery and a mix of surfaces. I suspect this is what attracted a larger than normal group of people that looked like road runners looking for a new challenge. The number of runners that carefully fold their bib's into postage stamp size artwork then pin them to their shorts, numbered less than 20%. (a trail runner thing) It looked like a really young crowd compared to other trail races I have done which is great!

A few buses took turns shuttling runners from the eventual finish area to the start line. Wow, do kids really inhale those "bus fumes" every day? No wonder our math scores are low.  

Although a chip timed race, the start is w/o a mat so everybody gets the same start time. So I started up front (again) to preserve precious seconds and I frankly enjoy feeling like an elite runner for a few minutes. The first mile or so is uphill on a road and I averaged under a 6 pace with a 5:35 max, whee! Into the woods we go and I'm still in the top 30 or so. The drama begins.

The first decent was a bit technical and with the front runners, pretty fast. I caught a toe, went flying, rolled and popped back up not even loosing a place. It must have looked like I practiced this but those around me kept asking if I was ok. hmmmm Then I noticed my hand felt wet and started to hurt a bit like a typical fall.
5 stitches and a tetanus shot

Turns out I landed on a rock or something that poked a hole and opened up the fleshy part of my hand. looks a bit sketchy but it really did not bother me except for the wet feeling as it continued to bleed throughout the race. That was probably a good thing as it washed away the forest creatures I disrupted from their nap.

At the half way point I was at a 9m/m pace, so I am thinking the coffee cup to the first 3 (in each age group) is in the bag. Unfortunately, the second half was more difficult and my legs were giving up. At about mile 9 or so, I fell again, on a flat section and landed on guess what? Yep, the hand gets another hit but the real problem was a hamstring lock up. I lost a few minutes to stretching until I could start running again. 

By now, my singlet was looking like I had been shot by a hunter. It felt good to my hand putting it on my cool and wet shirt but it was staining it red. This probably explains why the kids were reluctant to hand me water at the aid stations : ) 

A guy was snapping pictures at random places thoughout the course. He started by asking if I was ok, and then he would ask if I was still ok at a later point. At mile 10 or so, he told me I looked like a BAMF, a highlight : )

I was able to "sprint" (maybe a 7 pace) for the last hundred yards without cramping a calf or the hamstring. After the finish I took a look at my hand and decided this would require professional treatment.  I stopped at the ambulance for a disinfectant wash and maybe an opinion and he offered me alcohol wipes and did not even bother to get out of the truck. Really?

I decided a stop at the ER was wise so enter phase two of my adventure.
to the ER I go

The ER was not busy and I went directly to the area where they work on you. As is turns out most of the staff (all ladies) were runners and were curious about trail running. I really had fun talking with them and sharing my enthusiasm for running on trails versus the road. Perhaps a difficult "sell" when I looked (and probably smelled) like I wrestled with a bear.

I hope to see some of them on the trails in the future. 

Next up..Stone Steps!
All better

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bad To The Bone

The race was forced to change the name to Big Bone Lick - Can You Lick It (no kidding) this year because our legal system tells us we can claim exclusive rights to words. I would rather have t shirt rights to Big Bone Lick, sounds like a cult goldmine to me. I'm not sure I have the nerve to wear my t shirt though. But runners will continue to call it by it's rightful name as it should be.

A beautiful day for a race, 50F at start and sunny. Only 100 or so people raced which seems low for such a cool and well run race. But like last year, the people were relaxed, friendly and understood why we were there. The trail course was well marked, groomed and the road course well marked with police at intersections.

I started with the front group and by the time we reached the woods, I was in a good position. Few passed me on the trail, and I ended up with a 31:38 split, about 1.5 min faster than last year. So far so good.

On to the bike. Same old story, not sufficiently bike fit, blah, blah, blah. Calfs started warning me after the first major climb at 5 miles. 
Top of first Evil Twin
My reward was a PR for speed with a 48 mph decent. No oncoming cars at the bottom, so full lane apex for the left then right turns. wheee! Passed 3 people (safely!) like they were standing still.

Muscles did not lock up on the bike, but the calfs continued to threaten when the cadence was over 85 or so.

Shaved about 4 min off of last years bike and only 4 or so passed me. The race leaders were already in front of me before the bike. Their bike splits were 10 + min faster than mine.

Like last year, my 2nd run was dreadful. The bike caused major distress with calfs, quads and even hamstrings, but nothing fully locked up. So slow, but still 1.5 min faster than last year.

I finished about 6 minutes faster than last year, so I thought I may get a 1st or 2nd place award. (2nd last year) I was walking my bike back to the car (pre award ceremony) when I heard "hey snyder". It was Sue who once again surprised me which was great! Sue will once again see me get my award. (not)

Two fast old farts (both 55) had apparently decided to show up today and I was a full 22 min behind them. Their splits were almost identical as were their final times. Apparently friends who ended up racing to the finish line.   kids  : )

Where's the award?

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Mountain Experience

Sue and I had the opportunity to spend the week in the fantastic Vail Village in Colorado. This provided me the opportunity to run on a “real” mountain for the first time. For local (Ohio) runs we talk about how a race has “x” feet of overall climb. In Vail it’s pretty simple; climb 3000 feet, then decend 3000 feet. I started at 7000 and ran (call it a spirited hike) to 10,000 feet then ran (call it a quick step shuffle) back to the base. Round trip from the hotel was just under 9 miles.

Running (aka falling) down a mountain takes a toll on knees. I’ll bet actually running down would put more stress on the quads but my stutter step thing stressed my knees. More time on a mountain would probably yield big improvements. It’s probably like skiing, where local runs last a few minutes but runs on mountains can last 30 minutes. The longer runs give you time to “try stuff” and see what works and what doesn’t.

I thought my local (Mount Airy Forest) trails were considered very technical. And compared to the other trails, they are difficult. The hiking/running trail in Vail I ran was called Berry Pickers. This name conjures up a casual hike with the chance to find wild berries to eat on the way. Not. The average grade is over 15% with sections much steeper than that. Here is a section that lasted about 100 yards that was very steep, rocky, off camber, and slippery. Decending was just as challenging as climbing it.

The views were just incredible. Many stream crossings, groves of Aspens, and traverses across the face of the mountain provided views worthy of postcards. Most of these pictures were taken on my first run which also gave me a chance to give my oxygen-deprived lungs a rest.

There is a 5K race they have every year on this trail and times are between 35 min for elite runners and an hour + for age groupers. I just can’t imagine people getting up that mountain in 35 minutes. My second day climb was about a 19 min pace which would have been just under an hour for the 5K. My second day decent was 12:20 min pace or just over 38 minutes. So these people are climbing faster than I decend !
Ski Run

moon-near summit

I think Sue and I have found a new contender for a summer condo when we retire. But this place is expensive to live although the trail running is free.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

East Fork DNS

I ditched the East Fork Duathlon Sunday for a long trail run. The 60% forecast of thunder storms (did not happen), getting up at 4 AM (did not happen), played a part in my decision to spend the morning on the Mount Airy trails. The ultimate goal is to have fun, get faster, and more fit so the trails won hands down. There was no free tee-shirt however but I don’t wear a shirt on the trails anyway : )

This entry really serves as part motivator and part progress report to keep me focused on my ultimate goal to do well at the Stone Steps race at Mount Airy forest in October. So my marginal, questionable witty comments would seem out of place given few will actually read this : )

Not sure yet if it will be the 27K or my first 50K. Last year I did the 27K, and my pace splits were:
11:43 – 12:43 – 14:07 – 15:33       for an overall  13:33 and 50/57
The numbers tell the story that I was not prepared for the distance as I had only run the 5+ mile loop once before the race. This year will be different.

I have been running the Mount Airy trails 2-3 times a week for over two months but typically one 5.4m loop. My PR pace for the 5.4 loop is 10:40 but I had little left over. That would have put me in 22nd overall out of 57, not too shabby considering most are fit and under 40. So that is my goal, a top half finish in 2012. (actual 33/44 damn)

My plan will be to run the Mt Airy trails 2-3 times a week (steadily increasing distance) with one of those a long run. If my long run by early October is four 5.4m loops, I’ll do the 50K. jeez, that's 4-5 hours for me. The 50K will be more like 7 hours.

I’ll keep a log here of my progress: (does not include road miles)

7/29-8/5         8.5m(12:30m/m), 5.4m(10:40m/m), 5.3m(11:11m/m), 19.2m total

8/6-8/12        7.4m(11:16m/m), 7.4m(10:45m/m), 10.7m(11:29m/m), 25.5m total

8/13-8/19      5.3m(12:05m/m), 7.4m(10:53m/m), 12.7m total

8/20-8/26      no trail running this week (out of town), just road, 0m

8/27-9/2        5.3m(13m/m in mud), sick with cold, basically took week off, 5.3m

9/3-9/9          8.8m (20:56m/m up, 13:13 dwn), 8.8m (19:06 up, 12:21 dwn), 17.6 total

9/10-9/16      Taper for Bad to Bone (ie-excuse to be lazy), 8m at race

9/17-9/23      Calf strain from B2B, rest until Thursday, 5.4m(10:42m/m), 

9/24-9/30      4.1m@sw (< 9.0), 2.6m@sw(9:15), 13.5m@race( 10.4 ) 17.1 total
                       sw=sharon woods, trails but easy as the times show

10/1-10/7      5.1m@sw(9:43), 3.5m@sw(9:45)  tender L foot, r knee   8.6 total
                       fighting plantars fasciitis on left, trying to manage pain@distance

10/8-10/14    5.3m(10:55m/m), 3.6m@CNC  8.9 total

10/15-10/21  5.2m@CNC, 9.8m@CNC, 9.9m@CNC     24.9 total 

10/22-10/27  the hay is in the barn, hope it's enough

10/28              race day!!!!

mt.airy trails - 73.4 miles
other trails - 82.0 miles
total - 156.3 miles in 3 months, about 13 trail miles per week (too few for sure)

nov 10, 2012 last entry: get healthy then get serious 
      muscle fatigue at 13 miles in the race is no mystery
      next year 30-40 trail miles per week for 27K, 60 for 50K