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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.


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)…


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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!


Training Specificity: The Runner

skeleton_run_muscleTraining specificity for runners is to put emphasis on the movements and activities that will yield improved results in running a goal distance. For endurance runners this means training the muscular, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular systems, as well as your digestive system to compete in long distances.

I’ve always held the belief that running more builds a better runner. It’s a simple notion that people new to our sport often overlook. Even veteran runners frustrated with recent results forget the fundamental principles of specificity and divert training away from a solid running foundation. Some get caught up with workout fads that do little to improve running economy and others look to become better while doing less work.

What should we focus on? The long distance runner needs to develop a solid foundation of miles and comfortability of being on the move for long periods of time. Cross training should focus on building functional strength and flexibility. The majority of work done needs to focus on developing the correct energy system and muscles; aerobic and slow twitch. Nutrition needs to support the functions of the body during aerobic stress. Yes, fat and carbs are necessary!

Physically, runners must develop increased aerobic capacity through a consistently increasing series of slow pace runs. This part of the training should be based on time rather than mileage. Running for long periods of time, no matter what the pace, strengthens the muscles and joints needed for the running movement, teaches the body to burn fat as a fuel source, develops muscle memory, prepares us psychologically for future long runs, increases our tolerance for discomfort, and forces our bodies to efficiently use oxygen and energy.

sprinter-vs-distanceI read PLENTY of blogs by half-marathoners and marathoners. A good number write about frustrations with goal times or injuries. Like me, they write about their training and right there, right in front of them on their screen, are their problems. They’ll write about a series of three mile runs with a 10 mile long run; or they’ll write about power lifting before a run; or about eating a protein rich diet to lose weight or squeezing in a quick run before a movie. The concept of training specificity is easy to understand, but sometimes the easiest are the most difficult to execute: long runs, long tempo runs, long intervals, functional lifts, form drills, periodization, rest, recovery, eating for energy, and PATIENCE.

Most people are short on time, thus the need to be more efficient and calculating with their workouts. In the coming weeks I’ll share workouts and exercises I’ve learned in the past that helped me become a better runner.

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February Recipes

It’s cold outside and we’ve all put in some hard runs . Time to treat yourself to some hearty indulgencies! I’m a big believer in feeding our cravings, in moderation, of course. It’s when we suppress cravings that we tend to fall off the wagon hard! As runners we generally have a healthy diet which allows for some deviation. Nothing to feel guilty about. Below are a couple of things I cooked that I enjoyed making as much as eating. Bon a petit!

Bacon Mushroom Mac ‘n Cheese

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
6-8 slices of bacon cut into small pieces
8 oz. mushrooms – sliced
half of a small onion – chopped
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack
8 oz. (uncooked) elbow macaroni
dried rosemary
dried thyme

3/4 stick of butter
2 cups panko
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook bacon until lightly browned then add onions, pinch rosemary, and pinch thyme. Cook until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are wilted down in size. Drain excess fat and set aside.

Boil enough water to fully submerge pasta. Salt water and cook pasta as directed on the box. Drain when cooked.

While pasta is boiling melt butter in medium pot along with olive oil. Add flour and mix throughly. Cook for a couple of minutes to make sure the gritty flour taste is cooked away. Add milk and stir until thickened. Add more milk if roux is too thick. Add cheeses then salt and pepper to taste. Turn off burner then fold in mushroom and bacon mixture.

In a large glass bowl or pot combine pasta with cheese mixture. Grease casserole baking pan and add macaroni.

For topping melt butter and mix in bread crumbs and cheese.

IMG_0396Top with bread crumbs and bake until topping is golden brown.




Chocolate Cherry Pecan Bread

2 cups milk
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 package yeast
1/4 + 1/4 sugar
teaspoon salt
5 + 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Egg Wash Mixture
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar for dusting

Note: I don’t have a mixer so I did everything by hand. If you have a mixer…good for you!

Warm milk to the touch. Too hot and it’ll kill the yeast. Combine warm milk, yeast, 1/4 sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for a minute. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and mix into milk mixture. Add 4 cups of flour, salt, 1/4 sugar, and melted butter. Mix until dough comes off the side of the bowl. If it’s too wet continue to add more flour (up to 1 cup more) to get the right consistency. Better for the dough to be slightly wet than dry. Use a fold and roll technique when kneading. Don’t over work the dough. Grease a large pan and place dough to proof for an 1.5 hours. (Use the extra 1/2 cup of flour to dust dough, hands, and work surface).

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

IMG_0410After initial rise, press dough down. Mix together nuts, cherries, and chocolate in a bowl. Flour tabletop and work in dry ingredients. Knead in nuts mixture a little at a time. Form dough into a ball when all ingredients are mixed in. Roll out into a log the length of the baking pan you’ll be using.

IMG_0411Place into baking pan and let set covered with a kitchen towel for at least 30 mins. and not more than an hour. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and place in oven for about an hour or when top is golden brown.

IMG_0413Let the bread rest in the pan after you take it out of the oven for 10 minutes. The inside is soft and the bread will collapse on itself if you take it out too soon.

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2012 YTD Totals

Below are two statistical totals. First is my trail data starting from December 16, 2011 ending with my last miles on Mt. Lukens. The second are my YTD totals.

Trail Running Totals:
Distance: 971.81 miles
Time: 180:57:48 (h:m:s) (7.5 days)
Elevation Gain: 162,326 ft. (30.7 miles)
Elevation Loss: 165,131 ft. (31.2 miles)

Year To Date:
Distance: 954.25 (Los Angeles to Portland, OR = 962 miles)
Time: 177:02:35
Average Distance: 10.6
Activities: 90

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January 23 – January 29, 2012 Weekly Recap

Weekly Totals
Miles: 55.76
Elevation Gain: 9,341 ft.
Elevation Loss: 9,342 ft.
Time: 9:17:17 h:m:s

Tuesday – Echo Mountain To Brown Mountain
Miles: 15.31
Elevation Gain: 3,139 ft.
Elevation Loss: 3,134 ft.
Moving Time: 2:30:22
Nutrition: GU Cherry Lime Rocktane, water
Strong run up to Echo Mountain without stopping. Walked a 5 minute section to suck up some GU. Ran under control through Sunset Trail. Must have scared a few hikers with my singing, but that’s how I roll. The run down Brown Mt. was relatively fast considering there was some discomfort with my knee and left hamstring. Overall a good effort for the first run of the week.

Wednesday – Paul Little Picnic Area
Miles: 8.72
Elevation Gain: 645 ft.
Elevation Loss: 638 ft.
Moving Time: 1:24:47
Nutrition: water
Flat recovery run to Paul Little Picnic Area. Thought about continuing past the damn, but the sun was setting and I didn’t bring my headlamp. The knee was OK most of the way. Really helped that I wasn’t pounding it running downhill. Very easy pace. I love this route because of all the stream crossings.  Instead of safely walking across using the downed trees, I just ran through the water. It was so much fun. Like a little kid playing in a rain puddle.

Thursday – Brown Mountain
Miles: 8
Elevation Gain: 1,332 ft.
Elevation Loss: 1,335 ft.
Moving Time: 1:27:44
Nutrition: Water
It was suppose to be a routine run up and back down, but the knee was giving me some major problems on the run down. Ended up walking back all the way to the house. Major bummer. It was abnormally hot and I was sweating heavily. Finished the entire 20 oz. of water. Decided to skip Friday’s run hoping the knee will be better for the run at Malibu Creek. 

Saturday – Reverse Bulldog Loop (Malibu Creek S.P.)
Miles: 15.72
Elevation Gain: 2,906 ft.
Elevation Loss: 1,607 ft.
Moving Time: 2:26:08
Nutrition: GU  Tri-Berry, water
I drank coffee before this run, so I was really wired for the first half. I didn’t want to cross the stream for this run, so I searched for the trail that led under the bridge. It was the first time running this where I didn’t cross the stream. Got help from a cyclist that said I had to run a little bit on the highway to reconnect with the Backbone Trail. Once on the Backbone it was easy going from there. Ran continuously until around mile 7 to take a GU. Then it was non stop running until I finished. I know I could have ran some sections harder, but wanted to save it for a simulation run in a few weeks. I think I’m capable of running 2:00:00 flat on the course, but we’ll see. No knee or hamstring problems considering the long downhills.  

Sunday – Brown Mountain
Miles: 8.0
Elevation Gain: 1,318 ft.
Elevation Loss: 1,320 ft.
Moving Time: 1:17:01
Nutrition: Water
Mileage run. Wasn’t looking to run hard going up, but ended up giving a good effort. The run down felt good most of the way, but the knee was a little sore once I got on the road section. Decided to walk the rest of the way home and not risk having it get worst. A little bummed I missed my mileage and elevation goal. Was suppose to run 60 miles this week, but the good run at Malibu Creek salvaged the week.