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Miwok 100k Training

There’s a lot that goes into racing an ultra distance race. Training takes time, money, and social sacrifices. If you’re not a paid professional runner married or dating another professional runner, then all those things I mentioned are a strain to the person running and to those close to them.

Preparing for Miwok hasn’t been consistent. I didn’t hit my long mileage goals, but I’m happy with the work I did during all of my runs. In the 11 weeks following Sean O’Brien I averaged 61 miles, 12-20 hours of running, and 12,000+ft. of climbing weekly. There was a period of seven days where I didn’t run, otherwise I kept to a six-day run week with Mondays being a complete rest day.

I’m in awe of people to work full-time and manage quality training weeks. To put into perspective what my typical training day is, I wake up two hours before a run to eat and prep. When possible I take two hours to rest and recuperate after a run. This includes eating, stretching, and napping. What happens more often is I have to rush off to work without proper nutrition and recovery. I hate running at night, so when I’m pressed for time in the morning, I often cut my run short to have time after for a light meal and commute time. I’m constantly rushed to get to work where I try to recover. Never a successful endeavor. So, when I say I run so-and-so hours in a day there’s actually more time beyond “time-on-feet.”

One thing that has been consistent have been the kind of trails I’ve chosen to run. I prefer to keep a consistent running pace so I prefer to run less technical trails. I run Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. at least once a week, running to Idlehour trail or to the top rather than the more Instagram scenic Old Mt. Wilson trail where it’s more crowded and rugged. I feel the 10 mile downhill runs have helped toughened my legs more than the uphill sections. Although I’m still slow on the descents, I can consistently run long downhill sections.

I’ve also lifted a lot more weights. I go to the gym twice a week and I can feel the difference in how I’ve been able to handle fatigue during long runs and the pain-free day afters. Since I started lifting heavy eight weeks ago, I’ve managed to get pretty close to my four-rep. maxs. When I paddled my four-rep maxs were: 70lbs dumble bench, 185lbs barbell bench, 225lbs squat, 275lbs dead lifts. Just last week I lifted 55lbs dumble bench and 185lbs squat. I’m a gallon jug of water and 2 scoops of protein away from becoming a bro.

Well, all that to say I’ll most likely have an average day out on the trails this weekend. My goal was a top ten finish, now I’m aiming for a sub 12-hour finish. My training frustrates me because I know the work that needs to be put in to run a competitive ultra race. I know 70-mile weeks aren’t enough for a 62-mile race. I know the value of a 25+ mile run and the need for recovery, but I can’t put it all together. I know a race is determined long before the start. It’s determined in the preparation. One of these races I’ll have my act together and be able to compete as I know I’m capable of.

…btw.

Trying out Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for the first time since the Inov8 Ultra Race 290 were too stiff and opposite of cushioned. After two runs in the Altras I’m digging the design and concept of a cushioned zero drop shoe.

If you care to follow my decline (bib #46)…http://www.ultralive.net/miwok/webcast.php

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Shoe Variety (and Sean O’Brien race shoe choice)

When I plan for a race, and even training runs, I wear shoes to match the intended pace and terrain. This means I sometimes wear two different type of shoes running the same route on different days. For instance I love to wear my Saucony Rides on days I want to work on faster downhill running on the Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. On the same course I’ll wear my Mizuno Kazan, Montrail Bajada, or Brooks Cascadia on days I need better grip to work on speed hiking or faster uphill running. On streets I’ll either wear Mizuno Wave Sayonara or Saucony Triumphs depending on distance/time-on-feet and pace. I’ll even wear Sayonaras on trails for speed workouts (Brown Mt., El Prieto, Sam Merrell, Cheseboro, and Griffith Park). So, all this to say you should be varying your shoe choice. Shoe variation improves strength, helps with injury prevention, provides specific feel for different surfaces, and extends the life of a shoe. At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe.

At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height. Use the less supported shoe for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe. Running in minimalist or barefoot shoes? Try a firmer shoe for racing so the shoe can help with biomechanical efficiency. Softer/minimalist shoes use more muscles and more joint movement from foot plant to toe-off in slower paces.

What you’re all dying to find out, what shoe did I use for Sean O’Brien 50 mile race a couple of weeks ago? I wore the Mizuno Kazan. Same shoe choice as Bulldog 50k. Picked this shoe mostly for the outsole. I wore the Montrail Bajada and Saucony Rides on all trail runs leading up to the race. I knew I needed a shoe with a firmer and cushioned heel for the downhill running, but also having some flex in the forefoot for steeper climbs. Cushioning would also be key because of the rocky terrain and the walking I would do at some part of the race. The Kazan only became an option when I wore it on my last training run up Mt. Lowe. Although it wasn’t as cushioned as the other shoes, it provided the best grip. I would sacrifice comfort in the Kazan (especially when running downhill), but the shoe’s flex through the forefoot provided better options overall for faster running.   Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 8.12.43 AM

 


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Trying The 50 Mile Distance…Again.

Although I fell behind my training schedule for Sean O’Brien due to the bike accident, I managed to pull together four solid weeks of running.
Distance: 322.64 mi
Time: 57:12:54 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 67,823 ft
Max Elevation Gain: 7,492 ft
Max Time: 4:55:08 h:m:s

I feel confident I can finish the race in under 9:30:00 based on my training. I would estimate a better finishing time, but I was unable to go on a 5+ hour/30+ mile run. So, all I can hope for is to run a gritty race. Two weeks ago I ran the back half of the course as a training run and was physically beaten by the amount of downhill running. I’d like to think all those runs up and down Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. has prepared me well.

I think I’ve been a responsible eater most of the time. I made sure to eat a recovery snack post-run (mostly in the form of a smoothie) and calorie/nutrient dense food most meals. I hydrated fairly well, being conscious to drink water first thing in the morning and intermittently during runs. I haven’t had any major stomach problems and have dialed in my race day nutrition plan. I’ll be using GU gels, Nuun tablets, and Probar chews. My mindset has been to eat for energy; food as fuel. It’s helped me stay focus and limit junk food.

Seven more days until I toe the line. I have goals for the race and none bigger than to keep moving forward no matter what happens or how I feel at any time. Big question is, music or no music?

The course and elevation profile:

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Undertrained Yet Overjoyed: Bulldog 50k Post Race Thoughts/Review

I thought I was being realistic about a top 10 finish even considering my weekly mileage leading up to the race was minimal, but I was wrong. I ended up running a 4:44:09, 13th overall. After I crossed the finish line I was just glad to have ran without injuring myself and having run a race I was proud of.

Bulldog Garmin Race Profile

Before the race I made the decision to put myself in a position to compete for a podium spot by running with the lead pack for the first loop. This was a crazy strategy, but made a lot of sense at the time. I figured one never knows when it may be the day for a breakout performance until you put yourself in the position to do great things. Can’t be scared about running up front! (Note that this strategy only works with proper training:-)

The first few miles were spent waking up the legs to get ready for the climb ahead. This course is great because the first three or so miles are relatively flat so there’s ample time to prepare the body for the heavy climb and steep descent.

I managed to consistently run 4th-6th place for the first lap. I ran a personal record of 1:56:xx for the first lap (previous PR was 2:02:xx at Malibu Creek 25k race). I was just starting to feel some cramping after stopping to refill my water bottles and tried to hang on for a mile before having to walk. At this point I decided I wouldn’t be able to maintain any kind of competitive pace and decided finishing healthy would be the best thing to do. New strategy: power walk the climbs and controlled running downhill. The new strategy led to a 2:46:xx lap. My lungs were fine, but the legs just couldn’t hang. Now I’m excited to race Bulldog next year and run to my potential.

What’s next? Lots of slower miles and lots of climbing. Simple, but effective for me.

Major thanks to:
My wife Cristina and sister Pureza for coming out and cheering me on. Nancy Shura-Dervin for putting on a festive and very well organized race. Nuun for adding some pizzaz to my water. Mark from Mizuno for the pair of Wave Kazans. The Kazan enabled me safely bomb the fire roads down without fear of slipping and with firmer cushioning under-foot to help dissipate shock. A Runner’s Circle for their support of my running. Very lucky to be working for a company that understands my passion and enables me to spread my love of running to others.

Finally, pictures! (Thanks to Rony Sanche, Becky Galland, and Deo)
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Bulldog Thoughts

When I registered to run Bulldog 50k in July I had every intention to train hard with long miles and serious climbing. What happened instead was a bunch of short runs with not a lot of sustained climbing and downhill running. The combination of settling back into life in Los Angeles and general fatigue due to activities related to moving led to s a lot of uninspired runs. I would often start my runs with double digit mileage in mind, but I would cut many runs short. So, most runs looked like this: Scary Post Run. An intended 17 mile run that I bailed on.

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What do I wish will happen this Saturday? Well, I hope my lack of training miles actually leaves me with a healthy body and inspiration to prove to myself that the impossible is probable. What I think will actually happen is I’ll finish middle of the pack leaving me with the comfort of knowing I finished strong  without a good training base. I’ve ran this course many times and I know what is possible. I can only hope for the best and pray that I’ll be able to will myself to push past the comfort zone and finish at an effort I can be happy about.

So, here it goes, my predicted times:
“A” Goal: Sub 4:10
“B” Goal: 4:15
“Deserves all the beers” goal: Sub 4:20

The specs:
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Kazan
Clothing: Sugoi Titan run shorts, Wright CoolMesh II socks
Accessories: Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential belt and Handy 20 handheld water bottle.
Nutrition: NUUN Hydration Strawberry Lemonade, PowerBar Berry Blast and Kona Punch, and salted pretzels


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Kaua’i Half Marathon Recap

IMG_0907The Kauai Marathon was a honeymoon run of sorts for Cristina and I. We enjoyed running in the rain, seeing rainbows, being entertained by hula dancers and taikoIMG_0902 drummers, and running with Bart Yasso! Although I planned to race the half marathon, running with my new bride ended up being the better and more gratifying decision.

The Kiahuna Plantation hotel was only steps away from the start line. With the race being chipped time and a 6am start, Cristina and I weren’t in any rush to be out with the masses. We walked to the start at 5:55 and ran from the back. We quickly moved pass the walkers and slower runners and found ourselves in the middle of everything. I ran with my phone in hand because I want to chronicle everything about it! I think I may have over-vined, but how many times will we get to experience Kaua’i while running together…EXACTLY!

IMG_0898The start consisted of us shuffling through the heavy traffic of walkers and joggers and at the same time trying to pin my bib on my shirt. I forgot the bib tag in the condo and had to have my sister pick it up for me. This resulted with both of my sisters being late for the start. At the mile marker we were surprised to see Cristina’s parents cheering us on. Her father is a big running fan and it had been a long time since he’s seen Cristina run in a race, so it was nice that they both could experience the race together. Of course we had stop and take photos before we started the long climb to the highway.

The temps were cool and the humidity bearable. There were two points during the race when we got rained on hard. The first time it was a fairly quick downpour around mile 4. For a couple miles after there was a steady drizzle of rain. The sky continued to be overcast for the entire race, which was very different from my experience in 2009 when it was unbearably hot and humid. Around mile 11 we encountered the heaviest rain fall and strongest wind. The rain was coming from all angles! This was also the time we ran up on Bart Yasso! What an awesome guy! He remembered who we were just from our Twitter conversations!

Cristina felt great at this point and she decided to hammer the slightly downhill portion towards the straightaway finish. She left Bart and I in our tracks. I managed to catch up to her a half mile from the finish line, where we finished together. We were greeted by her parents and my sister, who finished the half earlier.

IMG_0915My other sister ran the full marathon and it was nice to be able to run with her for a couple of miles before the course parted. For those who don’t know, Kaua’i is a super difficult course with steep hills and long gradual climbs. Since it starts and finishes at sea level, so, what you run up you have to run down! Your legs get the beating of their lives! She survived and is a better runner for it!

I have to mention that before race day my two sisters along with Cristina and I were interviewed for a special show to be aired locally around the state. Cristina and I had the opportunity to be filmed together to share our story of how we met and how running was a part of our union. It’s neat that our race experience was documented for us to treasure for years to come.

It was a joy to experience this race together and with our families. We’ll run many more races together, but I don’t thing any one will be as special as this race.

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Kaua’i Half Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts

The Kaua’i Half Marathon is special in so many ways. It will be the first race Cristina and I run as husband and wife. We’re going to be married the day before in front of our biggest fans; our family! The race will also be a true family affair because both my sisters will be joining us on the course. Lastly, it’s my “A” race for the fall running season. I’ll be trying to run as close to 1:23:00. My initial goal was to run sub 1:20:00, but after reassessing my training I know 1:24:00 is more realistic.

My 14 week training plan generally consisted of three “hard” sessions a week. Usually two speed sessions (long intervals and a tempo run) and a long run no less than 13 miles and no more than 18 miles. I averaged 55 miles a week with a high of 82 miles.

The Kaua’i course is challenging with gradual climbs and rolling hills. The humidity also plays a big factor in performance. When I ran the inaugural marathon in 2009 I suffered some cramping and dehydration because of the heat and humidity. The course is scenic and winds its way through the Poipu/Koloa neighborhoods. It’s one of the few races I’ve ran where the locals embrace the experience of cheering on the runners. You wouldn’t believe how many people are out on their lawns cheering and offering refreshments.

As for race strategy, I plan on negative splitting the race:
Mile 1 – 6:50
Mile 2 – 6:50 13:40
Mile 3 – 6:40 20:20
Mile 4 – 6:40 27:00
Mile 5 – 6:30 33:30
Mile 6 – 6:30 40:00
Mile 7 – 6:30 46:30
Mile 8 – 6:30 53:00
Mile 9 – 6:15 59:15
Mile 10 – 6:15 1:05:30
Mile 11 – 6:10 1:11:40
Mile 12 – 6:10 1:17:50
Mile 13 – 6:00 1:23:50
Basically, conserve energy energy until mile 7 where there are more climbs, then hammer home to the finish where it’s downhill to flat. Hopefully there will be a group of us running similar paces so I can work off of them and stay motivated.

Nutritionally I plan on eating 3 hours before the race with a bagel and banana chased down with water. Twenty minutes before the race I’ll take in a Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot Energy Gel with caffeine. During the race I’ll drink water at mile 4. At mile 8 I’ll take in another Chocolate Cherry Gel diluted in 6 ounces of water. At mile 10 and 12.5 I’ll drink water. Hopefully my stomach holds up well and I can finish in good enough shape to have a beer or three.

I’ll be wearing the brand new Mizuno Wave Sayonara with a pair of ultralight Wright socks. To keep with the blue theme (our wedding color) I’ll be wearing the Sugoi race shorts. No, I won’t be wearing a shirt because I feel the cooling effect of the trade winds better without one on. The sun will be in my eyes on the final stretch home, so I’ll be sporting the orange Merrell sunglasses I got for free while running a local 5k. I wore this race outfit at the Merrell Carmel Racing 5k series to make sure it was race ready. It was!
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