Wednesday, July 22, 2015

0SPF - TrailsRoc - Did I mention I hate the heat?

On Saturday July 18th I ran the 0SPF trail half.  This was my 17th race of the year, mind you it would be more impressive if I raced all of those. I started 2015 with the goal of running a half marathon a month for the year, and I will reach that goal. Most of the runs were training runs. Not necessarily a run where I am trying to break a PR.  These were also mostly first time races for me, and in some cases the first time I had done that distance. The nice thing about this, paired with the fact that I didn't do them all that fast, is, should I try to do them again, I have loads of room for improvement. The negative aspect of this is, it has felt like a busy year for me, and as I have seen myself do before, I worry about losing interest in yet another hobby. One I have told people and swore that I planned to continue for a long time. Into my retirement. Not a hobby, but a lifestyle. 
So how did 0SPF go? Horrible - but it was humid as all getout and hot for upstate NY. According to garmin connect it was 73 at the start with 94% humidity. I know during the 1 mile warmup I did before the run, I was sweating like a pig. Out of 132 finishers I was 76th.  I ran the first 3 miles pretty much on pace, the next 4 were a little slower, but manageable. At the 6.7 mile turnaround I was at 1:25. So my goal of finishing in 2:36 was out of the realm of possibilities unless I wanted to run a negative split back, and that wasn't happening. I would have needed to finish in an hour at the turnaround. An hour.  It took me almost 2 hours. Actually an hour and 53 minutes. I can run a road half in an hour and 53 minutes. Miserable. I had no power, I was hot and kept dumping water over my head at the aid stations. I was having some trouble with nutrition also, and this time it wasn't heartrate as I had thought it was in the past. Very few times did my heartrate get over 153, and that's what I consider my anaerobic threshold. I think it was a mix of training and heat. 
Purposefully, my coach Heather has had me pushing myself to get stronger. This is what I asked for. I also told her that the only race I considered an A race this year is Imogene, and all of this training was in preparation for that. I wanted and needed and still need to work on hillwork, speedwork on hills, and  general strength and conditioning. I had my first over 40 mile week back a few weeks ago, and have been feeling good, but fatigued often. It's a fine line between pushing yourself hard enough for growth while at the same time giving yourself the opportunity to recover. 
The week before the SPF I ran 20 miles easy on Saturday, 8 miles easy on Monday, 9.7 miles Wednesday with up and downhill fartleks of 1,2,3,2,1 minute length with 1 minute recoveries, and a 5 mile easy run Friday which I ended up pushing myself a little (which I always do on short runs) and getting in negative splits on the whole run and an average pace of 8:37. 
I could have come into SPF a little fatigued, but it's only a half, how bad can it be. 
I started at the mid back of the pack, where I like to be and I should be. In the first 0.3 miles you climb 100 feet and then flatten out and run down hill for a bit. At 1.5 miles you start climbing again, and over the next 12 miles you climb up and over around 14 hills of at least 70 feet in elevation. None of them are really huge, they're just repetitive. After the turnaround I did what is known as the Death March.  Head down, looking at the ground, putting one foot in front of the other. I was averaging over 15 minute miles, every mile. Ugh.  
My stomach wasn't doing great either. I wished I had brought some Sport Beans, but I didn't. Heck, I was planning on finishing in 2.5 hours, how much food do you need for that?  Not much really. At one point I tried to force myself to be sick so that I could reset my stomach, but even failed at that and drudged on. 
SO - at 3:18:24 on the clock, I crossed the line. Wiped out, but smiling.
I really don't do well in the heat. Really really don't do well in the heat. 

SO - where do I go with this information? If I can keep my brain out of my ass, I will not sign up for races during the summer season in the future, and either volunteer or hang with Kris and the boys and do house work, and run for fun. If it's a hot day, skip it. I am also considering another change for 2016. In addition to not planning any number of races goals, possibly even setting a maximum number of races, I am considering going naked - no - not naked naked, I am not built for that, I mean data free. Steve Chaffee runs with only a stopwatch, simple. I like that. We'll see.  I am a huge data nerd, so t would be tough. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Old Loggers Path - First Half

The Old Loggers Path in North Central PA is a route I had seen online as a possible run that I might want to do some day.  The whole trail is 27.1 miles long.  PAHIKES website has a topo, elevation profile, and some blogposts on the trail. Great link - 

Saturday July 11th, I met up with Steve Chaffee and we drove down and picked up Michele Fanton and Ayda (not sure about the spelling) the dog. It took us about 2.5 hours, with the last 1/2 hour being a 10 mile drive down Pleasant Stream Road to drop a cooler (our aid station) and drive the 3.5 miles to the parking area. We got ready to go, and had a little hangup getting the 100 yards to the trailhead, when some guys Weimarhanar decides to hold Ayda at point until his owner showed up with his other two dogs to state "jeesh, I didn't think there would be so many people around". Fortunately, that was the last unleashed dog we saw all day. 

The trailhead going Clockwise from the Masten parking lot starts off uphill from the road, with a fairly reasonable climb.

 We had known there was a possibility of nettles from this guy's posts and youtube video -, but didn't expect to hit them within the first 1/4 mile. No way around them, and they had pretty well overgrown the trail so we just bull through them and keep going. Irritation only lasted about 5-10 minutes, and wasn't really that bad. Steve and Michele who was leashed to Ayda pulled away and went right up the climb. I knew it would be a super long day if I pushed myself too hard, especially right off the bat, so I kept myself in my zone and bulled uphill. 

Not too far into the run things flattened out and it was nice. 

We continued on across a creek and through some absolutely stunning woods. On the side of a ridge with huge pines, which would have made a great photo op, but I was busy trying to catch up on the flats and downhills when I could.

  Around 5 miles in we could hear Yellow Dog Run, the creek that flowed into Rock Run which Steve had told us was a beautiful place to stop and take a rest and enjoy the views. It wasn't long until we came up on  the creek. 

About a mile fruther along we came to the junction, and took a break and a couple of photo's, and soaked our feet. The holes looked deep enough to jump into without touching the bottom, and Steve contemplated it, but decided against it. 


After leaving this little haven, we climbed uphill for about 1.3 miles, climbing about 600 feet. Then things flatten out and you go through another real pretty set of pines and ferns around mile 8. 

After 3 more miles of comfortable trail you turn off to climb Sullivan Mountain which offers some great views. We stopped a couple of times along this portion for photo ops also, and to enjoy the views. 

After Sullivan you start to descend towards the road where we left the cooler. We still had about 3.5 miles till the road, but it's a nice route down. It can be technical at sections, and one segment had the creek you run along re-route itself to go right down the Loggers Path, but it was refreshing on the feet, and no-one complained. 

We got to the road around mile 16.5 and stopped for some food and drink before making the trip back to the car. Steve said this is the spot he leaves the cooler, and if you decide to go on from here you have two more pretty good climbs. One within the first few miles after crossing the road and Pleasant Stream. We spent 10 minutes enjoying our food and ice cold water and got back on the road heading for our big cooler and a soak in the stream. You can just see Steve's back to the right of the big tree when he grabbed the cooler in this spot. We wanted to make sure it was hidden so we didn't come back to an empty cooler. 

3.5 miles further down the road and our run was completed.  We started at 9:30, and it took us 5 hours and 22 minutes with our stops. Our moving time was 4:07 and I felt real good after it. I can't wait to go back and see about doing the whole loopp. Maybe when the weather is cooler.

One of the best finish line aid stations I have been to.  

Strava of our run

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Coming down the Pike.

So - the longer and longer I look back on Sehgahunda, I realize just how much of a success it was.  I had a plan. I ran my plan. I didn't suffer, and for that reason I felt like I missed out on something. What a dork. Since then I have run a couple of races that have slapped me down hard and reminded me of a few things.

I am not a fan of the heat. I read a great book by Vanessa Runs called "The Summit Seeker". I recommend the book, and even better was I got the electronic version and for an additional $1.99 got the Audible version which has Gordy Ainsleigh reading his Foreword for the book. So cool.. In this forward he talks about Vanessa's boyfriend Shacky. He explains it perfectly. "His genes are from cool foggy Ireland, and are still having trouble adjusting to the American Southwest."

Between this heat, and the lack of depth of knowledge about running, I am being taught lessons. Lessons not learned in only a shorter run. Or, I should say, you know it's a hot day when you go for a short run, you know it's hot, and that it's not fun, but you can suffer through it. Extend this out past a couple of hours and it turns into a death march. That slogging of feet that feels like you can't take another step. I still haven't witnessed this on a truly long race, but can only imagine just how bad it can get, and have respect for the people who get through it with grit.

Sehgahunda was cool. Mid 40's at the start, and that was a blessing for me.

I have started religiously wearing a heart-rate monitor also. This, with the fact that I now have a trainer who is setting up my runs to stay in a certain zone has me really paying attention to my HR. Guess what, when it's hotter out, for the same perceived exertion, your heart-rate is higher, sometimes considerably higher. So.. You cannot run your race pace if it's hot!

I like the cold. I like snowshoe racing. I like running in the midst of winter, when my face-mask freezes, and I have to step carefully on the icy roads.

So. When I started looking into my race plans for next year, I thought about it, and figured that maybe it would be smarter for me to choose some cooler season races. It's hard to train for the long mile when it's dark out, but I enjoy running with a headlamp, and I enjoy running in the cold. So Kris and I talked about my options for a first race and decided that there is a 50K in Virginia that is called the Holiday Lake 50K. It's held in February, around Valentines Day, and Kris and the boys have the next week off.  So, it would be a great way to start a vacation week.  Additionally, a great friend and Ultra Mentor, Rich Shear, told me that the Race Director is a friend of his. 

Now, of course, with my inability to do anything half way, and additionally a goal of doing a 50 miler next year, it so happens that the Holiday Lake 50K is part of two different race series. One is called the Lynchburg Ultra Series, and consists of 3 - 50K's, each getting tougher - in Feb, Mar, and April and then ending with a 50 Miler that Rich suggested I do, The Mountain Masochist Trail Run in November. The other series is the BEAST Series which includes these first 4, plus an additional 100M and 100K race. I am not ready for those, and won't be next year. I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid. 

There are other 50K's coming up this fall, but I think after Imogene, I'll be looking for some recovery time, slowing things down some and getting a few more 1/2's in before the end of the year so that I reach my 2015 goal of a half marathon per month. I happened to look the other day and found that by the end of October, I will have run in 23 races this year. Obviously I will need 2 more halfs before the end of the year, and it would be illogical for me to not find some other race between now and the end of the year so that I at least have an average of a race every 2 weeks for the year. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the king of hobbies. I am an addict for change and hobbies. Guitars, Whitewater Kayaking, Cycling, Running, Photography, etc. Trail running I feel might stick, just because it implements, running, hiking, camping and photography, all in the outdoors. It's everything I want out of life. Everything I have always enjoyed. I am going to try to start running with a camera. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully I will have pictures to post in the future to make the blog a little more fun to read.  

Take care.