Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Leadville Follow-Up

I read a couple of race reports from the Leadville 100 I wanted to pass along.

Anton Krupicka, a world-class trail runner, writes a nice blog (here).  His impressive running resume includes a win at Leadville in 2006 and 2007, a win at Rocky Racoon in 2007, and a close second at Western States this year, where he and winner Geoff Roes both broke the course record.  A favorite to win at Leadville this year, he unfortunately took a DNF after running the majority of the course.

One passage from his race report jumped out at me: "Dakota [his pacer] and I crawled along at a pathetic 9-10min/mile pace with the only thing keeping me from walking being sheer shame."  This after running at least 60-70 miles among the front runners of a race that attracts the best ultramarathoners, and shortly before dropping out of the race.  I know I shouldn't even begin to compare myself to a world-class runner like Krupicka, but that "pathetic 9-10 min/mile pace" sounds blazing fast at Leadville!
Krupicka around mile 60.  This photo appears at his race report on Running Times's site.

He added, "Dakota let me walk for a few seconds as I ate a gel (poor, weak, weak excuse)."  That's an excuse I frequently use during a race!  And yeah, I guess it is pretty poor and weak. . . .

Closer to reality, I also read Drew Meyer's report.  He's an experienced trail runner who ran an impressive race.  In spite of a bit of nausea and some blisters, he finished strong, just under 29 hours.  To finish at all in a race with a 46% finishing rate is impressive.  I liked his account of his stomach issues: "I had a little stomach problem [at Halfmoon aid station].  About 100 feet beyond HM I asked Mark [his pacer] to go back for more Coke (to replace that which was now on my shoe along with the soup) and resumed walking."  Fun times on the trail.

Thanks to both of these runners for the inspiration!  Next time around look for me on the trail!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Barefoot Running on NPR--again!

Last month, Diane Rehm had a show dedicated to barefoot running (I noted it in my blog here.).  Last night, I happened to hear another show called "To the Best of Our Knowledge", which had a feature on running.  It wasn't all about barefoot running, but most of it was.

The first segment was an interview with Christopher McDougall, who told stories from Born to Run, and, of course, talked a bit about barefoot running.  Then Gretchen Reynolds talked about health and running, including a response to the interviewer's question about barefoot running.  Then Jason Robillard, a long-time barefoot ultrarunner discussed barefoot running.  Finally, the presenter read selections from Haruki Murakami, a novelist and runner who never mentions running barefoot.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable program for any runner, barefoot or not.  I downloaded the whole show from itunes; you can also stream it and find out more about the interviewees at the website, ttbook.org.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things Seen While Running: Wild Hogs Crossing the Street

Wednesday morning as I headed out for my long run, I was greeted by an amusing sight.  Just a couple hundred yards from our house, a small herd of 5 wild hogs stopped traffic as they crossed Precinct Line, looking for better foraging grounds I suppose.  I sure wished I had my camera with me!  They weren't too big, and paid no attention to me.
Not the hogs I saw.  Just a random picture I found on another site.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Negative splits on a long run--getting there!

This morning several things were working in my favor, improving my long run pacing.

  1. It wasn't hot.  Monday our high was 107.  Today it was in the 70s and overcast.  Much nicer.
  2. It was morning.  I don't mind running in the evening, but I generally run better in the morning.
  3. I ate more.  I e-mailed a running coach I met on our bike ride, and he encouraged me to take in more calories when I run.  I more than doubled my intake.  Plus I at breakfast an hour before I ran.
  4. I slept longer and later.  I went to sleep around 9.  I usually get up at 5 to run, but this morning I got up at 6:15 or so, helped get the kids ready for school, ate a good breakfast, took the boys to school, and left to run about 7:45.

All this resulted in getting closer to my goal of negative splits.  I kept a pretty steady pace then ran 3 miles at the end in 8:06, 8:36, and 8:42, not quite the goal race pace, but faster than the average pace for the run, 9:17.

Happy running!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Fantasy Run: Leadville 100

In 1991, I knew nothing about running, except that I didn't really do it.  I knew I loved the mountains, though.  I went backpacking in the Collegiate Peaks area of Colorado with Dale, a Baylor recreation professor, a couple of other "adults" (we were right out of college), and some high school kids.  While we were huffing along one day with our sea-level lungs, a woman came running toward us.  Dale recognized her from TV coverage he had seen of the Leadville 100.  We stopped her and she said she was up there training for Leadville.  The concept of such a race was new and astounding to me, but now running that race is on my long-term to-do list.

The elevation of the Leadville 100 has a low point of 9200' and a high of 12600'.  The air's thin up there, especially if you're used to 600'.  I don't know the specific trail, but I know it's a gorgeous area.
Who is this guy?  I don't know.  But I'd sure love to be where he is.

Duncan Callahan, from Gunnison, Colorado, took the men's victory, finishing in 17:43:24.  He also won in 2008.  Sea-level, flat-land runners got some encouragement from the winner of the women's race: Elizabeth Howard (who won Rocky Raccoon this year) from San Antonio won in 21:19:47!  A Texan won Leadville!  That's fantastic!  Texans were well-represented overall.  Sean Lewis from Fair Oaks finished 8 minutes before Elizabeth, and Steven Moore from Austin finished about 12 minutes after her.

Closer to home, Drew Meyer of North Texas Trail Runners finished in 28:59:37.7!  Drew, 63, is now 3/4 finished with the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  He has three short weeks to recover before Wasatch.  Congratulations to him and good luck at Wasatch!

One of these days, I'm going to run this race.  A flatlander from Texas took the women's title.  The two Texans who finished near her are a couple years older than me.  I'm not saying I'll be in the top ten in 2011 (or ever), but I sure would like to line up at Leadville and cross that finish line, and, more importantly, to enjoy the ride in between.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cross training: swimming at Kaanapali Beach

Just as biking all downhill isn't really training, neither is snorkeling off the beach.  But what a cool experience!  I grew up in Corpus Christi, so snorkeling wasn't exactly something we did.  Even if the water were at all clear, which it usually wasn't, there simply wasn't much to see.

By contrast, just off the beach at Kaanapali, there were beautiful reefs, abundant and varied species of fish, and sea turtles.  I couldn't believe the turtles, so docile and comfortable with a bunch of people swimming around them.  My brother-in-law even held onto one's shoulders and went for a ride (which we found out is illegal. . . .).

These pictures, taken with one of those disposable underwater cameras, aren't great, but I hope you enjoy them.  I know I enjoyed taking them!  Aloha!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cross training: Biking down Haleakala

Since I'm still not running, due to my bruised ribs and consequent wimpiness, I thought I'd add some "cross-training" posts.  I don't bike much, but if I could go on bike trips like this more often, I would!

For Elliot and me, one of the highlights of our Hawaiian vacation was the bike ride down Haleakala, the dormant volcano on Maui. The day started early; we had to meet at the bike shop at 3AM So Elliot and I -- along with my brother, Mark, his wife, Regina, and son, Evan -- left the hotel at 2AM for the drive to Haiku.

At Haiku we were fitted for bikes, helmets, and rain gear, then hopped on a van for the ride to the top of Haleakala. We stopped near the visitor center of Haleakala National Park at 9745 feet above sea level, where we watched an awesome sunrise. We could see all of Maui and the surrounding islands, as well as the Big Island. We were happy to have the rain gear; wind chills were in the 30s or lower, and we were freezing our tails off. The boys kept asking to go back to the bus, but Mark and I insisted that they wait until we could see the sun. The view was incredible!
After another scenic overlook and a bathroom stop, we got the bikes and hit the road. Elliot's bike at home has coaster brakes (where you turn the pedals backwards to stop), so he had to get used to the hand grip brakes. At first he got the front and rear brakes confused and immediately flipped over, but he got it figured out soon after that.
Then the fun began! The road down Haleakala is steep and winding! We got on the bikes at 6500 feet (the National Park Service doesn't allow the bike tour companies to ride inside the park). In the first 10 miles, we dropped 3000 feet! That's steep! We did not want to get out of control and run into oncoming tour buses, so we stopped from time to time and kept a moderate speed, but at times we went over 30 miles per hour. At one point Elliot's rear brake malfunctioned, and when he tried to stop with the rest of the group, he flipped over the handlebars in a dramatic wreck. Thankfully he was unharmed. Also thankfully some of the bike shop guys were nearby and were able to come fix Elliot's brakes.

We decided that watching the sunrise at 9745 feet was the highest elevation Elliot has ever topped. It was also the longest bike ride for him--about 22 miles. He's probably not yet ready to try riding up the mountain--but maybe next time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A week off

I used to make fun of football players who sat out of games because of a bruised rib.  A bruise?  What a bunch of wimps!  Now I know better.  The first time I injured my ribs, I slipped while climbing in a window at home (I had locked myself out).  More recently I twisted my body in an odd way on a night trail run, somehow bruising my ribs.

Last weekend at the lake, Elliot tried knee boarding.  He picked it up quickly, knee boarding like a pro.  With more time, he'll learn to do tricks, I'm sure.  He made it look easy, so I tried it.  I am not a natural.  Bouncing along on the board, I bruised my ribs, in the same place as when I was running a couple months ago.  It hurts to walk.  It hurts to cough, sneeze, or hiccup.  It hurts to roll over in bed.  Worst of all, it hurts to run.  I admit--like those NFL wimps, I, too, am a wimp.

Thankfully, Palo Duro and White Rock are months away, so I have plenty of time to recover, and I figure missing a few days this far out won't kill me. But it's still frustrating not to run, especially since I felt like I was slowly making progress.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Eine Kleine Nachtlaufen

I don't speak German, but since Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is normally translated "A Little Night Music," and since laufen means run (I think), my title means A Little Night Run.  German speakers, I welcome your corrections.  Actually, now that I google my title, I find that I'm not at all original.  No big surprise.

Anyway, tonight was a night for another frustrating long run.  I feel like I'm on track in my training: I'm close to goal in intervals; I'm making progress on my tempo runs; and my easy runs have been at an acceptable pace.  All three have definite room for improvement, but I'm getting there.

Long runs are another story.  The ultimate goal, per my White Rock training plan, is to run my long runs at a pace of about 9 minutes/mile, with the last 4 or so miles at race pace, about 7:30.  Tonight I started out OK.  The first hour I ran mid-9s.  The second, around 10.  So after 2 hours, I was definitely in the sub-10 range.  The next mile or two were a little slower, and I decided to pick it up on mile 15.  I ran a blazing fast 8:50, aided by the first 1/2 mile being downhill.  The next mile, not so fast: 10:59.  After that, I got a little slower.  The last 2-3 miles were a painful, slow walk home.

This has become my pattern for long runs: strong start, but seemingly not excessively fast, then a few miles of struggling but keeping an OK, if not optimal, pace, followed by a death march to the finish, as my friend Stuart would say.  Now that I think of it, that's pretty much my pattern in races, too.  So what I practice in training runs comes out in races.  I don't know how to get out of that!  I'd settle for even splits in my long runs now, but I'm far from that, much less negative splits!  The good news: I still have 4 months until White Rock.