Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mt Hood 50 Mile

Through the last half of May and June my running has been progressing nicely.. My mileage was making its way from 25 to 35+ miles per week, primarily as a byproduct of increasing my long run on the weekend as well as one middle distance midweek run. On the last weekend of June, while vacationing with my wife and a bunch of our friends in Sunriver, I was able to squeeze in a 27 mile block of running in three days.. 20 of which were a circumnavigation of the Newberry Crater Rim at about 7000ft elevation.

Coming into the Mt Hood 50 I was feeling a lack of confidence in my fitness and hoping that I wasn't asking too much of my knee.. prior to this run, my longest effort was the Newberry Crater Rim run only 2 weeks prior! Wen reminded me that Mt Hood 50 was about taking it slow, testing out my race day preparation and really making sure to enjoy the journey.. if it wasn't going to be my day, then at mile 28 I could make the call and pack it up. I'm a pragmatic person, and my primary interest is in getting to the start line at Pine to Palm in well enough shape to give it a solid effort.. if Mt Hood 50 was going to be too much to ask right now, then there was no point in pushing myself on the wrong side of the red line.

Mt Hood 50 is a double out-n-back course.. my Garmin tracks suggest that the course is actually 47.7 miles. The first segment measured 13.1 miles and the second segment measured 10.75.

First segment out, miles 0 to 13.1.. my split was about 2:54 and I was feeling great. For the first five miles I stuck with a small pack of 6 or 7 runners and kept a very relaxed pace running the flats and hiking the uphills. I stopped a couple times to snap some pictures of Mt Hood in all of its glory at about mile 10. I was moving well and had all of my water and nutrition in my pack, so there was no need to stop at aid stations. At the turn around aid station, I had the volunteers refill my hydration pack while I swapped out my trash for another set of 9 gels I had packed in my drop bag.

First segment back, miles 13.1 to 26.2 .. split was 2:50 and I had been starting to struggle a bit with the heat and breathing in the dust from the trail. I noticed that while I was hiking my heart rate would immediately drop to under 130 bpm, but whenever I tried to run (even on the downhills) it would spike to 155-160.. my breathing was never very labored, and my energy felt fine, it was evident that my body was just working overtime to cool itself. I had taken handfuls of ice and wrapped it in a wet bandana around my neck, and this seemed to help keep my heart rate down while running for 20 minutes or so at a time. On my return to the start/finish area, I got doused twice with cups of water and the feeling was nothing short of magical.

Second segment out, miles 26.2 to 37 .. split was 3:04. This section of the course is significantly more difficult, albeit shorter.. Wendie sent me out with a handheld bottle full of water to use for dousing myself with water between aid stations, this turns out the be one of the most crucial lessons of the day! The first aid station, Red Wolf Pass, is 5 miles from the start/finish area and it climbs pretty much the whole way plus another mile+ after the aid station. In the heat of the day, this hill just started to really drag on and on with only a few brief flats that tricked me into thinking I was at the top. Ice and coke at the aid station was so freakin' nice. From the top of this climb, you plunge down >1000ft in about 2.5 miles to the river below.. As I was making my way down the hill, day dreaming and enjoying the run, I caught a bit of something on the trail that sent me headfirst into the brushes and rocks to my left side. This fall was not a trip, stumble, stutter step, touchdown sort of event.. Out of nowhere, I found myself inverted and heading toward brush and a fallen log. Time moved so slowly, I remember hoping that I didn't hit the tree and noticing that both of my calfs immediately locked up in cramps. I hit the deck hard enough to knock the wind out of me and groaned hard from the impact.. My next thought was that my legs cramping could make this whole scene a whole lot worse, so I immediate sprung to my feet and stood straight legged to stretch my calfs while I assessed the damage my body took. First I glanced up and down the trail to see if anyone had witnessed my one around, awesome. Legs, hips, knees, lower back, neck.. everything seemed relatively okay.. my left shoulder is burning, and looks like I lost some skin.. the blood that is evident is not flowing so its just a scrape. Right on.. all systems are check, lets get back to running! Another 15 minutes or so down the trail is the river.. stopping to soak myself in ice cold water and clean off some dirt was just the refreshment needed for the 500ft climb in the remaining 2.5 miles to the turn around aid station at Warm Springs.

Second segment back, miles 37 to 47.7 .. split was 2:51. I had an otter pop at the aid station, refilled my hydration pack and dousing bottle with ice and water. I pack away a half dozen Succeed Caps, thank all of the volunteers and head out of the aid station after taking a brief rest in a chair. I know what's ahead of me.. and that steep climb is going to take some real work today. By this time, my feet have been feeling battered and I've stumbled a few times causing a hamstring to twinge and threaten to cramp. Running downhill is about as hard as hiking uphill.. so I run when I can, but I'm hiking a vast majority of the mileage. I was feeling a little down, thinking that I would have liked to run more of the distance.. instead of spending too much time and energy on this thought, I made an effort to remind myself that Pine to Palm is my primary goal and I'm moving quite a bit faster than I will be at P2P.. I've learned some great lessons today, and the mental aspect of my performance is just another component. As I'm coming back through the Red Wolf Pass aid station, I'm greeted by a party scene and lots of positive folks.. Leadville and Western States finisher buckles and shirts abound.. these folks are experienced, they know what you're dealing with and they are there to help in any way I ask them to.. Ice.. water.. dousing.. I empty my trash and keep a smile on my face. As I'm walking out of aid, I spot my buddy Roger sitting on the side of the trail.. he's pulled out of the race, he's battled with dehydration today and it just wasn't going to be his day... he's still quite positive and we wish eachother well and I head out for the final 5 miles to the finish line. I'm running fairly well for a few miles of downhill but my posture has turned to shit.. my body is sore, my feet are battered, and it occurs to me that I should be hiking if I'm having trouble keeping a good running posture. My appetite is low.. I've forced a few gels, but they are getting old so I work through a full king size Snickers bar.. a solid 500 cal in the span of about an hour and it fends off any bonky low energy moments that felt like they were on the horizon. The final quarter of a mile to the finish I'm greeted by the race photographers, spectators, and then a short climb to the finish line. My wife is smiling and cheering me on, taking pictures.. she's jogging behind me to join me at the finish. There are still a ton of spectators, and I hear cheers and applause as I round the final corner.. my stride feels relaxed, and I trot my way through the finish line. Betsy and Wendie snap a few pictures and start helping me offload my gear and get sat down in a chair..

To my wife Wendie, and our friend Betsy.. thank you both for your awesome support and crewing me today. You're top notch.. kept me positive passing through the start/finish and made sure I kept rolling. From helping me out of my nasty shoes and socks, to entertaining my post-race debrief ramblings.. thank you thank you thank you!

Some geek notes that I can refer back to;
  • Fueled at about 380cal/hr, mostly gels with two king size Snickers, reminded by 20 min intervals on the Garmin
  • Drank 4 fills of my hydration pack (8L total), 2 cups of coke, and a cup of Roctane
  • Ice in a soaked bandana around the neck is crucial
  • Ice and water in a bottle to douse with between aid stations, also crucial
  • I was taking 2-3 Succeed Caps per hour, reminded by an interval on my second watch
  • Trekking poles are definitely a good idea for P2P
  • Be prepared to change shoes and socks at P2P
  • Pay attention to the heat of the day.. if I can't run at a low heart rate, then its time to hike
  • Don't forget to purge out the air bubbles in the hydration pack after its filled..sloshing sound sucks

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Feeling like I'm back

Lots of physical therapy exercise reps have been performed. Lots of walking, some elliptical, and a handful of quality runs. It wasn't until the first week of May, about nine weeks after my surgery, that I felt like my knee was nearly 100%. I still lacked confidence in it.

At my most recent PT appointment, I was told that the little twinges and stiffness that I'm feeling is likely in part due to my favoring/protecting the knee. It is time to get back to being a regular runner. My PT prescribed a goal of 6x/week running and 2x/week strides.

The intensity of my running is all very low, but the mileage is well above what I've logged for quite awhile now. Its nice to be running, and my knee hasn't caused me any problems.

This past weekend, my long run was 10 miles on the trail with about 2600ft of elevation gain. I went into it in a fasted state, and drank only water.. I felt great for about 1:45 when I started to feel a little bonky for the final 2 miles. The hard torrential down pour at the end was awesome. Loved it all!

A week and a half till Wendie notches a 4th marathon on her belt.. Newport, here we come! I'm stoked and feel really good about her prospects, she's been having great runs and is mentally prepared for it, for sure!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Knee Recovery Week 5

Dynamic Core Stability.

My PT has been unleashing an arsenal of core stability exercises, and has suggested that I start to run for 15 minutes at a time. If my knee has any regression, then I take the following day(s) off until it is solid.

The running has been entirely pain free, and there was only a day that I woke up with what seemed like hitch in my step at first.

Making progress!

Here's a full article about what I'm doing: