Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 7/14 - 7/20

Hard to describe training lately, which is why I have not written a post in a few weeks. The week after North Fork was always supposed to be a recovery week and a time to enjoy with my family on vacation. However, somewhere along the line I developed a few injuries in my right leg of the nagging variety. Most of them were present before North Fork and none of them bothered me during the race. But we did a ton of walking on vacation (probably 4-6 miles per day) and my right shin and knee really started to bug me. So, I backed off for an additional week in hopes of being prepared for training the end of July, namely on our training camp trip to Leadville. I logged a few miles early this week and then took a few days to rest before we headed up on Friday.

After arriving in Leadville early on Friday, we made a quick call to attempt an afternoon ascent of Mt Massive. We were within a hundred yards of the summit and turned back due to a storm coming right at us. We couldn't see the storm -- until we were near the summit -- because it was on the other side of the mountain. We quickly descended down, but it was too late as the storm was coming fast. Incredibly, it went right around us. We had a nice evening and camped out along Halfmoon creek and got up early do a double crossing of Hope Pass. Chuck wasn't feeling well and we got caught in another rain storm -- this time we hunkered down at treeline to avoid heavy rain, hail, and lightning. And, Tony lost his car keys on the mountain so we had to spend some time getting that situated. It was a long, long day. We got exactly what we wanted out of it, and may have even been slightly faster than I expected, but it was a draining day. We wound up breaking camp Saturday night and heading home, where I did an easy recovery day Sunday.

Early on the North side of Hope Pass, fresh and happy

The view from the summit is always worth seeing

Stumbling up the back after the rain

Arm warmers and cold hands


The sum total of it all was a decent week training. The significant uphill stuff isn't so bad, but I am way out of my grove right now in traditional flat, easy running. That is when my nagging injuries bug me the most and my base fitness feels terrible. I the latter is just my body adjusting to a swift arrival of summer. I hope. Even morning runs are warm and heart rate control is a real struggle. Fortunately, I knew that July was packed with family events and I always expected it to be a struggle to train. That said, it sure hasn't made it an easier to deal with the reality that I have a 100-miler in 2 months and feel off kilter right now. I will be in the mountains for a soccer tournament with my son this weekend, so it could be another up and down training week. After that, the calendar clears up as the kids start preparing for school!

Day Miles Notes
Monday 9Open Space
Strength Training
Tuesday 6Easy
WednesdayOff Rest
ThursdayOffStrength Training
Friday13 Mt Massive
Saturday 19Hope Pass Dbl Cross
Sunday 6Easy
Total 52About 12,500 feet of vert

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bear 100 - Course Profile and Expectations

Well, it is time to turn the page, I think. I have been riding high on my North Fork 50 finish for the past few weeks and enjoying lots of family time. But, the time has come to start thinking about the next (and last) big event for me, The Bear. I signed up for Bear 100 mostly to enjoy running a 100-miler with my buddies Steve and Tony and to get a Western States 100 qualifier. I declared all season long that North Fork was my goal race. And having that goal race come and go in exceptional fashion, my expectations for Bear 100 goals are somewhat muted. I also have to be patient because the next 6-weeks of "life" are just crazy. There are a few tune-up events in there, but also just a lot of family obligations that will make training a challenge. When I think about running my second hundred, a harder hundred, in a faster time, it is somewhat daunting. Then I think, why not? I've proven twice already this season that I am as fit as ever, and more efficient. It is exciting to think the possibility ahead of me after the season of racing I've had, but there is a real chance I just don't get to train hard the next 8 weeks. So, for now, I am laying out what I think are potentially fast (24 hours) and slow (28 hour) finish times for me.



Destination  Miles Cum Miles Ascent Fast Time Slow Time Cutoff Time Notes
Logan Peak 10.5 10.5 3900 2:30 2:45 -
Leatham Hollow 9.1 19.7 500 4:00 4:15 - No Crew
Richards Hollow 2.8 22.5 500 4:30 5:00 - No Crew
Cowley Canyon 7.5 30 2500 6:00 6:45 -
Right Hand Fork 7 37 1000 7:30 8:15 - Pacing Starts
Temple Fork 8.2 45.2 1400 9:00 10:00 -
Tony Grove 6.7 51.8 2700 11:00 12:15 25:00
Franklin Trailhead 9.6 61.5 1000 13:15 14:45 27:00
Logan River/Steep 7.1 68.6 1800 15:30 17:30 29:00 No Crew
Beaver Lodge 7.2 75.8 1100 17:15 19:45 30:30
Gibson Basin 5.4 81.2 1600 19:00 21:45 32:00 No Crew
Beaver Creek CG 4.1 85.3 300 20:00 23:00 33:00
Ranger Dip 7 92.3 1200 22:00 25:30 34:00
Finish 7.5 100 1000 24:00 28:00 36:00

We plan to drive out on Wednesday September 24th and return home on Sunday September 28th sometime. The race starts on Friday, so that means I can sleep their and recover a bit Saturday night. We rented a huge cabin and should have a great time.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

North Fork 50 Race Report

“If you always achieve all your goals, you’re setting you’re goals too low,” -- Matt Carpenter
After I started signing up for races this year, I selected North Fork 50 as my goal race. I tried and failed to go sub-9 hours at OP50 last year. (I ran a 9:25 race there if you account for being lost for 30 mins, though I officially finished in 9:55.) I feel strongly that I have what it takes to do well at the 50 mile distance and that thought has driven me to train all year.

In preparing for the race, I don't think I trained much differently than previous cycles. The subtle changes were possibly just in building slowly through the Winter -- mostly due to knee surgery last August -- and quite a bit more early season trail miles. And, I was probably more consistent and serious about x-training, particularly early in the cycle. And, I tried to do enough lunch time running to have at least a shot dealing with the heat at North Fork. That said, I stuck primarily to typical plans in terms of 85% aerobic work and just enough threshold work. I felt like the next level for me was going to require more than just training, more than just adding miles. In looking at the big picture, I felt like I was training at a high level the last few years and additional gains -- significant gains -- would likely just come from increased efficiency and experience. Continuing to build an aerobic base was one form of efficiency. But, the big area I wanted to explore is nutrition. I am a large athlete and I just cannot eat the typical calories required for someone my size. And, worse, I was drinking a ton of fluid, partly to aid in getting calories in. I won't bore you with the details, but I began exploring a high fat diet as a way to become more efficient and fat adapted. In addition to eating less on the run, I began to notice changes that suggested I was getting healthier and more efficient.

The North Fork 50 is known to be a hot race. As the race approached, it was clear it would be warm (75-80). While it wasn't as hot as some years, those temps were warm for our unusually cool June. In response to the temperatures, I decided to search for ways to battle the heat. The first thing I did was dump my race vest to avoid trapping heat against my core. And, I purchased and ultra light weight sleeveless shirt. For Father's Day, I got some Solomon race shorts that have a nice waist band that allows me to carry all I need for up to about 2 hours. My wife and kids came up to crew for me, meaning 2 hours was the most I'd go without aid.

On Friday night, we drove up to Conifer and stayed at my buddy JP's house. It was a really nice way to relax that evening and have a stress free race morning. We woke about 5 am and headed to the start line with plenty of time to spare, standing around for at least 45 minutes in anticipation.

Homestead Aid (Mile 5)

I knew at least six athletes starting Saturday's race and we all stood around chatting. Only Jon and I were doing the 50 mile event, so he and I had plenty of dialogue about race strategy and plans. After the "go" signal, we pushed the first quarter mile along the river and the first bit of uphill just to get out of the masses. Both races start at the same time and climbing starts quickly and I feared we'd be stuck in a single file line. We had mutually agreed that following the splits from a recent training run on the course, where we started conservatively, would be a good idea. The first mile came and we beat that split by a minute. Then the second mile came and we beat that split. Soon it was apparent that this was a race and we were both feeling good and wanting to go for it. The plan was 10:45 average pace, but we were easily below that.

Things honestly felt pretty easy at this stage and the weather was perfect, warming up slowly. My early race nutrition strategy was Hammer Bars (real food!) and some watered-down Skratch Labs to get some light weight calories in my drink. The plan was to switch to plain water and gels later in the race. Every half hour I would take a mouth full of bar and I just drank to thirst, usually emptying my 28 oz bottle by each aid station.

Homestead Aid (Mile 10)

We had a relatively quick exchange at Homestead and continued on down the road. The trail turns downhill and it became really hard to hold back. In fact, it almost feels like more work holding back. We continued to drive our average pace down to close to 10-flat, well below our target for the day. I was a bit nervous about that, but it felt super easy. In hindsight, we had to do this to really put a good time in play. It was cool and the course is pretty easy in the first 10 miles. After a little out and back loop, we made our way back up Miller Gulch toward Meadows. In this section, I mixed in a few walking breaks to eat and try to keep us from getting ahead of ourselves. Another quick stop at aid and we were on our way toward Meadows to see our family/crew.

Cruisin'

My favorite photo of the day


Meadows Aid (Mile 16)

Leaving Homestead, there is a pretty significant stretch of downhill and we just continued to cruise and continued making up time against our goal. I ran dry of fluids and got a quick fill at Buffalo Creek before the 1.5 mile road up to Meadows Aid. At the aid, I had my daughter fill my bottle with Skratch and I grabbed my remaining Hammer Bars. Sixteen miles in and your mind is starting to prepare for a long day. It is always exciting to see your crew and we got a little lift from that. It was a pretty short stop and we took off up the dirt road towards Green Mountain. Jon asked the boys to run with us for a bit and they did.

Along Miller Gulch

Jon and I's crew for the day.

Coming into Meadows for the first time.

Heading out with the boys to Green Mountain Loop

The boys were clearly talking about how great we looked.

Meadows Aid (Mile 22)

The climb up Green Mountain was something I had not seen. I did two of the three training runs on the course and this was the section I missed. It was the first time the race started to feel like more than an easy jog. The first two miles are a grinding affair -- runnable, just not during such a long race. We began mixing walking and running and managed to keep the miles around 13-min pace. This may be the prettiest section of the entire course, very reminiscent of Indian Creek to me. The downhill comes before long as you return back to Meadows, but there was enough technicality to it to keep you honest. It wasn't quite bombing grade. 

This time I got water only and one last Hammer Bar -- which I had to bum from Jon -- at Meadows Aid. We had a 10 mile out and back segment ahead of us that neither of us had seen.

Returning from Green Mountain.  The race was starting to feel real.

Dylan going to fill my water bottle.

Rolling Creek Aid (Mile 27)

Jon had done a good job studying the course profile and expected a climb once we got on the Colorado Trail. The CT climb was tougher than either of us expected. It was steep and technical for close to three-quarters of a mile. Making it worse, this was the first time the course felt really exposed and hot. I continued to push a run/walk mix to keep from putting big numbers up, but it was starting to get hard and I was starting to to get signs I was nearing my limits. My right hamstring was a bit irritated. My calves were feeling a little tight, which has been a little too common in my Altra Olympus. I think the Olympus contribute to this because of the combination of the rocker and the zero drop, causing a huge load on my calves when running uphill. And, I was experiencing some slight cramping in my chest and rib cage, which was totally new for me. I had occasional bouts of short breath that I had to work through.

By mile 25 I sensed that Jon was struggling and we could be splitting soon. I could hear him scuffing his shoes frequently and his general demeanor was not as upbeat as earlier in the day. Frankly, my demeanor was not either, but I just kept telling myself I would soon get to run down all this grade. He finally told me just to keep going when slowed to take a walk break.

The cool thing about this section was that you could see the runners coming back and count them. First and second came close together, followed by a long stretch without seeing another runner. In the meantime, I pulled up behind a woman and we chatted briefly. She quickly noticed when the first woman passed us. Then we pulled into aid in 8th and 9th place, respectively. I mixed my water bottle with some Coconut Water hydration mix. And I drenched myself with a bucket of water and a sponge. That felt amazing. In fact, this was the one thing I continued to do at every aid station the rest of the day.  My stop was quick and I was out of the aid station in 8th place.

Meadows Aid (Mile 32)

Not long after I left aid, Jon passed me going the other way. He was in tenth place and I think about 2-3 minutes back. He said it was likely the last time we'd see on another, but I wasn't sure. I just wasn't sure if I could hold this pace and thought maybe he'd catch me down the road. I set an aggressive pace at OP50 last year and ran a pretty large positive split. But, there was no use backing down now. The first few miles of this section are rolling and totally runnable. The only thing of note was the constant adjustment to people passing going the other way while trying to keep my eye on the trail. At some point I decided I should turn on my iPod, which I had been carrying all day with the ear buds in and no music! When I finally turned it on, the first song I heard was "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. Since I was in an unfamiliar place -- pushing hard and in the top 10 of a race -- I figured that was very appropriate.

This was also the point when I finished my last Hammer Bar and decided to switch to water and gels the rest of the way. My stomach was solid but I continued to struggle with periods of short breaths. To keep myself in check, I would take a few walking breaks to stay on top of nutrition and just slow things down. Nine minute pace was very easy to maintain through this section -- even with walking breaks -- and I was happy to be approaching aid and family again.

I once again dowsed myself in water, refilled on plain water, and took a few gels for the road, explaining to to the crew that Jon and I had split up but he wasn't far back. I think they told me later he was 4-5 mins at this point. Leaving aid, I was growing a bit concerned with whether or not I could hold this pace. It was hot and I was fatiguing and I knew the next six miles were mostly uphill.

Returning from Rolling Creek, without Jon for the first time.

Shinglemill Aid (Mile 38)

I had forgotten that the first mile or so after leaving this aid station is really nice cruiser grade downhill, which made for an easy mile as I got prepared for the climb. As soon as I rejoined the 50K course, the climbing started. I remembered this climb from training -- a grinding climb that can get warm. It is a little technical and steep in spots. And, did I mention hot? Within two miles of leaving I was worried I would run out of water. Fortunately, there is an unmanned aid station in here where I topped off my water bottle. I just ran as much of the climb as I could and kept grinding trying to avoid any miles greater than 14:00 pace.

About half way into the climb I could see the first place woman -- I think 7th place at the time -- and she didn't look super strong. She was passing some hikers. About twenty yards later I was passing them and the man said "are you going to let a woman beat you?". I found that disrespectful because she could clearly hear him. I told him that she was a tough runner and doing well. After a bit I pulled up along side her and we said a few pleasantries before I just kind of climbed away. Once again I had a feeling that I might be out of my league and would possibly see her again too. But, instead of letting the fear get the best of me, I just focused on doing the best I could on each mile.

As I finally summited the climb, I was once again having shortness of breath. It was controllable, but very annoying and not something that happens to me. I continue drinking water and taking a gel every 30 minutes. There is a good stretch of downhill in here and I ran it in a mediocre fashion. I was starting to fatigue in the heat and the trail is somewhat technical and full of blind curves. And, there were quite a few mountain bikers that I had to navigate. To battle the fears of time slipping away, I just tried to remain focused on the four miles after Shinglemill, which I remembered from training were extremely runnable. 

One last bit of uphill that I mostly walked and then I was cruising into Shinglemill with my family waiting. I grabbed my remaining gels from them, soaked myself, applied sunscreen, drank a few cups of water and Mountain Dew and I was off.

Coming into Shinglemill.  Totally gassed but smelling the finish line.

Buffalo Creek Aid (Mile 43)

I was ready to go downhill to bank some time, but I got a little excited just a few miles beyond the aid station and took my eye of the trail. I tripped on a tree root and went flying down in a full Superman. While the fall was pretty harmless, the top popped off my water bottle and it all spilled out. I had to run 3 miles in the heat of the day with a dry bottle. Instantly, I became alarmed that I had just made a catastrophic error. Once again I had to just shut that negative out and focus on running downhill, dropping into an 8:30 pace in hopes of getting to aid within 25 minutes. At the bottom of the downhill, I turned left onto a subtle climb toward aid and started freaking out a bit. The road follows Buffalo Creek and I briefly considered getting water from it. Rounding a corner in the road, I saw runners 4 and 5 ahead of me, so I became motivated to catch them and quit worrying about fluids. I caught them both at the aid station. They both looked pretty rough and took a long time at aid. I took a long time as well to catch up on fluids and drench my shirt with a sponge of river water. The 4th place runner sat down in a tent and remained at aid. Fifth place left (now fourth) left just before me.

Courtesy Colorado Photo Company
On the trail of 4th and 5th place, hot and out of water

Meadows (Mile 47)

I finally became confident that sub-9 was in play as I left Buffalo Creek Aid. However, there was nearly a thousand feet of climbing left that I had to negotiate to make it real. Half a mile into the climb, I caught fourth place and he was clearly struggling and told me his legs were "fried". He was disappointed because he had run 8:11 the year before under afternoon clouds. In response to my question, he said he thought sub-9 would be tough at this point. I told him good luck and passed so that I could give it all I had left. All that stood between me and my goal was one climb that I had done twice in training. I resolved to just run as much of it as I could. Turns out my split on the heart of the climb -- a 1.8 mile, 800 foot stretch -- was faster than either of my training runs. It stunned me after the race to learn that I managed a PR on that climb AFTER already running 43 miles. I was motivated!

I summited the climb and continued running the gentle uphill grade toward aid. At aid, I drank a few cups of Mtn Dew, drenched my shirt again, and asked for my place. They told me I was in 4th, which was exactly the kind of motivation I needed to run the remaining downhill miles hard. I told them thanks and said I best get going.

Finish (Mile 50)

Finally believing that my goal time was a lock, I became interested in securing my 4th place finish. The only thing left was to get as good a finish as I could and not get passed. This section starts with a nice runnable grade on double track road that was quite pleasant to run. From training, I was prepared for the last short climb. It is really kind of rude in the midst of a 3.5 mile downhill finish. I put my head down and power hiked right on through it. Now I was passing some back-of-the-pack 50K runners and tired to give them some encouragement to finish strong.

Once on the Buck Gulch trail, I continued running, but was slowing. I was running out of goals to shoot for and just wanted to remain upright and figured I had done enough to secure 4th place. My hope was to sprint the last quarter mile along the river, but I had nothing left in the tank and settled for a slow jog. With my kids joining me, I began to celebrate an incredible day.

I finished in 8:50:58, 4th overall place, and 2nd in my AG. The run was a 1 hour and 4 min PR in the 50 mile distance (officially). However, I will consider it more like a 35 minute PR.

I wanted to sprint this in, but I was cooked.

So fun to have my kids (crew) finish these events with me!

A daddy daughter photo, sporting my mustache

My legs were filthy after a long day on the trails.

Post Race Thoughts

I had such an incredible race that I am really just humbled. This race took me to another level. I haven't seen splits, but I had to have run one of the most even and smart races of the day, passing 5 runners in the final 24 miles and near-even splitting the run. It felt on the verge of my limits for the last 20 miles, but my body hung in there. And, I continued to just battle and try to ignore any fears or negative thoughts.

As I mentioned in the open, my goal was to gain efficiency and I believe I have. I ate only about 220 calories per hour and felt energized and strong almost the entire day, with only a few low spots. What I found even more satisfying was that, despite the warm temperatures, I managed with one handheld water bottle all day. In my first few ultras I would drink close to 40 oz of water per hour (again I will note because I was drinking sugar and it left me thirsty). Lastly, while I haven't trained much deliberately for it, I felt like my ability to transition between hiking and running and grind away on climbs was a strength all day long, definitely helping to put some distance between me and the field.

The difficulty now is putting this race behind me and training for Bear 100. I put a lot into this race and it went so well that I will be pretty content just to savor it for a few weeks.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 6/16 - 6/22

Last week was a somewhat non-typical taper week since I did two Deer Creek runs and ended with more vertical than many "normal" weeks. And, we pushed the pace a bit on Saturday (in wicked humidity) and I struggled, which was certainly not a confidence building run. Nonetheless, it was a good week and I feel as ready as I can be. The big concern with North Fork 50 has always been the heat. The course is not as difficult as many that I have done in the past. And, training runs have proven pretty easy to run a 10-10:15 pace, which is roughly a minute below my best 50 mile pace. However, there hasn't been any real heat so far this summer. We get a day here and a day there and then a bunch of afternoon showers for days on end. So, heat training has been more or less non-existent, despite my best intentions and attempts. As I feared, the closer the race comes, the more it appears that day is going to be hotter than has been typical so far this summer. And, the "feels like" temperature on those trails is pretty high being in a bit of a bowl and relatively little tree cover. Now that the excuses is built in...

I'd still love to think a 9-hour fifty mile time is a possibility. I believe in my heart I have one of those in me. (I mean on a course that is reasonably difficult.) Quad Rock was a big confidence building race. I ran sub-4:30 on that course and felt like I left time on the course. And, I felt good afterward, like I could have turned around and gone 5:00 for another 25 miles. Despite the 5500 feet of vertical gain, I wasn't sore and didn't really need much downtime from training either. That confidence may have just been the good vibes from a good race, but the point is that I felt strong and in control. My fitness and nutrition were as strong as they've been in any race. I think that bodes well for me at North Fork if I can handle the heat.

Lastly, I am experiencing pretty typical pre-race stuff -- racing thoughts, constant ups and downs in confidence, tweaks and aches that I am suddenly aware of, moments of low motivation, etc... I am trying not to think about these things because they typically just disappear once I am on the race course. And, even if any of this anxiety is real, it's too late to do anything about it! The one thing that is always good with anxiety, it means I care and am vested in doing well.

Day Miles Notes
Monday 12Deer Creek
Tuesday 5Afternoon Heat Run
Functional Strength Training
WednesdayOff Rest
Thursday5Bluffs in Heat
FridayOff Rest
Saturday 13Deer Creek
Sunday 6Easy
Total 41About 6,600 feet of vert

Monday, June 16, 2014

More Altra Quality Problems

I feel like I've been beating Altra up for a while now, but it is not my intention. In fact, overall, I love their shoes. I pay for all my own shoes and wear Altra almost exclusively these days. And I have (had?) designs on buying two more pair this year. My input has contributed to the purchase of dozens of Altras by my friends, including four pair of Olympus this year alone. However, because I pay for my shoes, I am picky. I expect a shoe I love and a shoe that I can wear as long as I want to (usually 300 - 500 miles). Continuing on the quality issues that have been seen in both the Torin and the Instinct Jr, the Instinct 1.5 and 2.0 are wearing out in the mesh overlay on the upper. What is totally crazy to me is that they are wearing in the exact same spot on both models for me. You'd think Altra would have learned after the 1.5 was given poor reviews on their own website:

"The Instinct 1.5 is a super comfy shoe, and feels just like the Instinct original...buuuuut my Instinct originals have outlived the 1.5's by a long shot. The mesh has torn on both shoes on both sides. And they are barely 2 months old. Other then that, great shoes,"
"Wow, I really had high hopes for this shoe... It looks good and fits better than the original Instinct, but it is a piece of garbage that is holding up very poorly after less than a month of wear."
"I like the shoe, great fit. But it is the only running shoe I have ever had which shows damage so early --- on both shoes the mesh is ripped on the side."
"I  love this shoe, great to run in, very comfortable to wear around casually too. I've been wearing them for about 6 months now, and have noticed the front mesh on the toe box is completely falling apart. It's almost to the point where I can't use them to run in any more.
"Lots of reviews saying it's a great shoe, but after 150 miles, the upper mesh rips and eventually it tears. Read the reviews on other sites and you'll see this is a frequent complaint"
"I have to start out by stating that I love Altra's fit and philosophy. I have have had three pair and love two of them; however the upper mesh on the instinct 1.5 becomes brittle and cracks at flex points"
Here you can see a rip right near the logo and lettering on the lateral side of my left Instinct 1.5 shoe

Identical spot and near identical tear on the Instinct 2.0

A rather large tear in the medial side of my right Instinct 1.5

A new tear developing in the exact same spot on my 2.0
I purchased my Instinct 1.5 at the end of 2013 and have run 185 miles in them. While the tears have not yet advanced to the unusable state, I am concerned about debris -- pebbles namely -- getting in these tears. I am also concerned about them shredding to a point where the toe box is nearly ripped open. Of greater concern to me is the Instinct 2.0. I have owned this shoe for less than three months and have only run about 125 miles in them (about 15 times out). They have spent the majority of those three months in the closet and are already shredding. This is a really poor reflection of Altra, particularly since they ignored the issue from the previous model. I was considering a pair of Lone Peak 2.0 for The Bear 100 in September, but they appear to be built with a similar upper as the Instinct 2.0. A tear in the upper of a trail shoe would be a catastrophic failure and sure to attract debris.


I continue to hope Altra will get past their quality issues. But, the Instinct 2.0 is just another disappointment. I will admit to being totally satisfied with my Olympus, Lone Peak, and Lone Peak 1.5. None of them use this mesh overlay for the upper and all have a sound reputation (so far!) for quality.

Weekly Training Wrap - 6/9 - 6/15

Lot's to say this week... First, the data points continue to collect and I am more and more confident in my new LCHF diet. My weight is back down to 186 lbs, from about 190 earlier in the year. And, I finally did another Friel test to find my lactate threshold heart rate. The last time I did this test was in January of 2013 and the results were quite different, with a heart rate of 172 for the test portion compared to the 177 from last time. I was relatively fit at both points in time, so I don't think that was the difference between the two readings. I honestly have seen a significant difference in my heart rate since I began eating this diet. I ran a 6:38 pace -- nearly 10K pace -- for the relevant portion of the test, which is a darn good effort, faster than my hour pace. I have gotten a touch careless on my eating over the weekend, but I will dial that back in to make sure my metabolic system is in a good place come race day.

Another factor of note this week was that I did my long run on Friday. My kids both had sports tournaments on Saturday and Sunday and it was really my best option. The significant thing is that it was the second time I have done a Friday long run the week after doing back-to-back longs. In both cases, this amounted to me running 80+ miles and more than 10K of vertical in a 7 day span. I don't like to do that often, but it gives me confidence having blocks of training like that in my back pocket going into a race.

The final thing that I want to touch on briefly is my training year to date. At this point in taper I like to evaluate what I have done differently. I wrote a memorandum on My Thoughts on Training a year ago and I think I stayed true to that with some twists. The first twist is the amount of trail miles I have run this year, nearly 500 YTD. Since I didn't train for any road races and was healthy for most of the Spring, I have put in a significant amount more trail miles than normal by this time. Of course, that also means I have put in quite a bit more vertical than I was expecting YTD (140K versus 100K expected). I have been averaging about 6 runs a week most of this Spring, which is about one more day than I normally do. That has brought me up to nearly 60 miles per week instead of the usual 55 or so. But, the majority of those miles continue to be easy in Zones 1 and 2. For speed work, I have spent more time doing Fartleks and Tempo workouts than interval workouts. I am a believer in changing paces (Fartleks) and in working on tempo/threshold training (tempos). The other big thing that I have done is really work on weight training and Yoga consistently, nearly every week. I began including 1-2 workouts per week at lunch to free up some time for additional cross training. We runners always complain that we don't have enough time, so I made time by devoting my lunch hour to cross training. This has been a great workout system for me and one I plan to continue.

This week is the final week of taper and next week we race!

Day Miles Notes
Monday OffRest
Tuesday 8Friel Test in the AM
Tuesday4 Hill Repeats in the PM
Strength Training
Yoga
Wednesday7 Easy at Lunch
Thursday8Bluffs in Heat
Friday18 Deer Creek
Saturday OffRest - Kids Sports
Sunday 6Easy
Total 51About 6,100 feet of vert

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 6/2 - 6/8

Training has become a bit of  a grind. I am on 2.5 months off good quality training now and sort of ready to race. There is some work to be done yet, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been trying to heat train as much as I can because I think that will be the hardest part of the race for me. It's not a hard course if the weather is decent. Unfortunately, the weather was chilly all week with lots of rain, so that wasn't real helpful. The highlight of the week was the big training run on the NF course on Saturday. I felt super strong and felt like a good time is a real possibility. Of course, it was unusually cool that morning too.

The low light of the week was feeling pretty fatigued all week long, which sort of leads to the next thing I wanted to mention. I have been doing LCHF for nearly 6 months now and I am starting to learn a few things. First, we had a free blood work screening at work a couple of weeks back. I didn't know about until the day of, so this was more or less a random test, no fasting. This was my first screening in years and I was really curious. The results were really good: total cholesterol 183, HDL 72, blood glucose 76. The most staggering thing was my blood pressure drop. Every time I see my primary care doctor, they bring up the possibility of blood pressure meds because I am in the "pre-hypertension" range. Of course, as someone that thinks of himself as healthy and young, that idea is appalling to me. No way am I starting a regimen of drugs to be taken for life starting at 37! Well, my screening post-LCHF revealed a reading of 115/74. I have verified this number at least three times since. Long story short, my health has never been better. As a runner, my gut has never been better either.

The second thing that I am learning is that there is a tricky balance. I still eat some carbs for instant energy on the run. My goal is fat adaption -- I want to burn more fat than the typical athlete at the same level of effort -- and I am not necessarily trying for ketosis. However, despite having tens of thousands of calories available in the way of stored fat, those calories aren't always easy to access if you go too deep into deficit. Leaner people like me, have to replenish those stores or they get sluggish. I can go for short periods of time -- like the length of time needed to run an ultra -- burning those calorie deposits, but sooner or later you have to catch up. Highly active, lean athletes, like Peter Attia, have to eat 3000-4000 calories per day to keep the fat stores replenished. In other words, the combination of low calorie and low carb doesn't really work for lean, active people. LCHF will not leave you hungry constantly like a high carb diet because fat satiates appetite. Sedentary people that are fully adapted often only eat once a day. Bringing this back to me, I've noticed my energy levels dipping when I don't keep my calories up. I am also experimenting with a carb "refeed" day (aka a cheat day) about every other week.

The final thing that I am seeing -- and this may be nothing -- is a pretty significant dip in my heart rate. This could just be from my fitness level being so high and my overall health being better than ever. But, my heart rate the past 4-5 weeks has been staggeringly low. Even when my effort feels hard or I try to run at normally fast paces, the heart rate data doesn't support the effort level. As an avid heart rate watcher, I can usually tell when I am just really fit. This time feels like it could some type of shift in my training zones. The only assumption I could make, if true, is that it is also related to LCHF. Dr Maffetone believes there shouldn't be much variation in max heart rate (hence his 180-age formula) and that people with high heart rates may just be unhealthy. I've always thought that was bunk because I see so much variation among my friends. Needless to say, I need to do some hard workouts soon to get an idea of what is going on.

Day Miles Notes
Monday OffRest
Tuesday8 Bluffs in the AM
Strength Training
Yoga
Wednesday10 Open Space Trails
Thursday9Double FKA w/ Progression
FridayOff Rest
Saturday 22North Fork Training Run
Sunday 14Around the Bluffs and Back
Total 63About 7,400 feet of vert