Monday, June 23, 2008

Anatomy of a 30 mile run

So this weekend I thought it would be fun to get up at three o'clock (after having gotten to bed just after midnight) so that I could run thirty miles before it got too hot. We also had a church BBQ to go to that started at ten. I needed to be done by then. I figured seven hours would be plenty to run the miles and get cleaned up afterwards.

When my alarm went off at three, it seemed a bit early. I turned it off and just laid there for a few minutes, I finally realized that I could only run if I got out of bed, so I hopped out and got ready. Downstairs I ate a banana and a Powerbar. I also drank quite a bit of water. I had prepared everything the night before so I didn't have to think about things too much. I loaded up my ipod, energy gels, cell phone, money, water bottle and flashlight (that's right it's dark that early) and took off. I left the house about 3:30AM. My route for the day would be an out and back and out and back and out and back and out and back. I would go five out then four back, then four out then four back, then four out then four back, then two out then three back. Was that confusing, or what? Basically, I ran along the same five mile section of road the entire time.

The first couple miles were going well. I had to slow down though at about mile four because I needed a bathroom. That was still a mile away, so I just had to go pretty slow.

Mile 5, 56 minutes, this is where I made my first stop. At the gas station, I used the restroom and bought a Gatorade. I felt much better and was able to pick up the pace quite a bit.

It was a little tricky carrying the flashlight and the water bottle and a Gatorade. I drank the Gatorade within the next mile though and threw the bottle away in a dumpster. It is really nice that early in the morning. It was not too hot. There were not many cars on the road, although more than I would have thought. Running south now, I could see lightning off in the distance. That was pretty cool to see.

Mile 9, 1 hour 44 minutes, this is where I ditched my flashlight. I could tell it was going to get light in the next half hour, and I was only a mile from my house, so I dropped off the flashlight behind a fence post. It was really neat watching it go from complete darkness, aside from the stars and moon, to daylight. This next section of running was perfect. I didn't need the flashlight, but the sun was still below the horizon. It was very nice.

Mile 13, 2 hours 23 minutes, sun still below the horizon. This was the same place I had stopped before. I just filled my water bottle with ice and water. I talked with the lady there for a couple minutes. Turns out she is a sports massage therapist. She works at events like the Panama City Ironman. Maybe I should have gone back after my run. oh well. I went on my way now feeling pretty good.

Mile 17, 3 hours 3 minutes. The sun rose during this section, but it stayed behind clouds most of the time. On a long run like this you have a lot of time to think. You'll probably think I'm weird, but I imagined myself on a fifty mile or a hundred mile race coming in to an aid station where my family was there cheering me on. I thought that they might have a video camera rolling and ask me what I was thinking about. I told them that I had been thinking about my dad. He is really an inspiration to me. Not that he ever ran. He rode his bike a lot though. He thought it would sound fun to ride his bicycle over 3300 miles across the country. I think that sounds crazy enough to try one day. But, just like that is the ultimate distance for a bike ride, an ultra marathon is the ultimate distance for a runner.

Mile 21, 3 hours 42 minutes. At the gas station this time I bought a bag of sunflower seeds and another Gatorade. I also filled my water bottle with ice and water. I didn't have the flashlight this time, so it was easier to carry. I was a little tired though and needed to walk just a bit to eat my food. I walked for a half to three quarters of the next mile while I ate most of my sunflower seeds and drank all of the Gatorade. By the time that I started running again, my legs had started to tighten up. It didn't hurt, they were just tight. It took a mile or so before I loosened up again and felt good running.

Mile 25, 4 hours 35 minutes. I was getting just a little tired at this point. I was motivated though to see that I only had five miles to go before I was over. It was getting pretty warm too. I had to ring out my hat to prevent the sweat from dripping into my eyes. It was about this point that I got sick of listening to music. That doesn't' happen very often, but I needed to focus more on my body, breathing and the like. Besides that, four and a half hours of music in your ears will make your ears ring. I took the ear buds out of my ears for the rest of the run and felt pretty good about it.

Mile 27, 4 hours 55 minutes. Now I am half a mile from a gas station, and three miles from home. There is no question that I will finish, but my legs are definitely heavier now than they were 25 miles ago.

Mile 28, 5 hours 12 minutes. I stopped at that gas station just to buy a Gatorade. There were two people in front of me and one of them had to buy like 50 lottery tickets. It seemed to take forever. I was so close to being home, I just wanted to keep running. While I waited I filled my water bottle with ice and put the Gatorade into my bottle. I finished the Gatorade, then I paid for it. After leaving the store there was a nice down hill.

Mile 29, 5 hours 22 minutes. I had told myself absolutely no stopping for this mile. It wasn't that hard to keep going when you are that close to home. I picked up my flashlight and kept going. I felt a little foolish carrying a flashlight when it was several hours past sunrise. There was plenty of light to go around, but you never know when the lights will go out and you'll need a flashlight. Anyway, just one mile to go.

Mile 30, 5 hours 32 minutes 35 seconds. I realized there would be no way to finish this last mile in less than eight minutes, so I just jogged it on in. I guess if I really wanted to I could have ran my guts out and tried for a fast mile, but I wasn't too concerned, it just would have been nice to break 5:30. Oh well, it turned out to be a good run. It averaged out to be a 11:06 overall pace. That is including all the stops along the way. If you take those out my running time is probably more like a ten minute pace, but in a 50 mile race, they don't care how long you stop at aid stations, the clock doesn't stop until you cross the finish line.

I was done. Normally I get home and lounge around a little bit. Today it was straight to the freezer for the ice. I got some ice water and chugged. Then I realized I had some of that new low sugar Powerade Zero, so I chugged some of that. Then I went straight up to the bathtub with all of the ice from the freezer and started filling, within a few minutes I was soaking in an ice bath with some magic minty alcohol juice. That felt good except for when I got in the water I realized that I was chaffed pretty bad. It stung really bad for a few minutes, then I got used to it. I really need to get something for that.

I normally try not to take any Motrin or anything too, but I could tell that I was going to be stiff after this run, so I took a couple to help relax my muscles. Within a half hour we left the house to go to the BBQ. It wasn't like after the two marathons I did where I could barely get around for a few days. I was able to get around just fine. It was just standing up that took an extra few seconds.

After only having had about three hours of sleep and then running thirty miles, I was pretty tired. I managed to get about a three or four hour nap when the kids were napping. That felt good. I didn't really want to get up, but I did.

Yesterday afternoon I looked at my running log and it told me that I burned 4000 calories. Wow! I immediately felt very hungry and had the urge to eat 4000 calories to make up for all the calories I had burned. I am still feeling more hungry then normal, but that's alright. I have the right now to eat as much ice cream as I want, right?

So, who's going to run the next 30 mile run with me? I am going to run 32 to 35 miles on July 5th. Let me know and we can run with each other for six hours or so. Seriously, let me know. Or, am I the only crazy one around here. Actually I found a guy yesterday at church who runs a lot, he's done the JFK 50 several times.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lack of Running, Ouch!

So, I've been a bit of a slacker. We had family in town this week and so things got really hectic. I managed to run eight miles last Monday then ten on Tuesday but then I didn't run the rest of the week. My legs really didn't like that. My left calf even cramped up pretty bad on Saturday night. I managed to go six miles yesterday and I did 5.4 on the elliptical today. Now that our visitors are gone, I should be able to get back into the swing of things. I really want to do a long run this weekend. It's been a few weeks since I've done anything more than ten except for the 20k race.

On top of not running for six days I was eating terribly. There was junk food gallor and a big birthday cake and ice cream. After my race on the seventh i weighed 169. I weighed myself just one week later on the 14th and i was 179. I know some of it was just water weight, but even after my workout today I was still 175. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really complaining about my weight, I'm just letting you how badly I ate this week. It'll probably take a few weeks to get back down to what I was and to flush out my body of all this crap food I ate. I really should eat better.

I have just five and a half weeks until the White River 50. I'm getting pretty excited. My family might actually decide to come up with me. We'll have to see how that goes, it would be fun, but we'll see. I think I will run close to 30 miles this Saturday, then do a 32-33 mile run on July 5th two weeks later. That will be my peak. Three weeks after that I will run 50 miles. I don't really have any expectation for the run. It is my first ultra marathon and so I just don't want to really set any time goals. The main thing in a race like this is to just finish. I'd like to think that I can do it in about 8 hours, but that more than likely is way out of my reach. I think I'll plan for a 10 hour time, but I won't get upset at all so long as I finish the race. 10 hours would be a 12 minute pace and I have never gone that slow, even for my 28 mile run several weeks ago I did about 10:30 pace. Yeah ten hours seems like a good aim. but like I said if I get out there on the course and find it harder than I had expected, then I'd be fine with slowing down to walk up the hills and such.

On another note, I really like the runners log that I use on I like being able to keep track of all my running and even other workouts. It's nice to be able to see weekly totals, monthly totals and annual totals. It's also nice to be able to graph them out to see my progress. I would recommend to any of you out there to use that tool they have. It's really easy to use to.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oak Mountain Race Photos

As promised here are the photos from my race.

First up we have me here in line to register for the race. I was all excited.
Me pinning my number on my shirt, which by the way ripped my shirt. I've never had that happen before. Crazy.
You can see me there under the starting arch.
Apparently my wife tried to tell me to get on the other side of the side walk so that she could get good photos of me. I didn't really understand what she was saying, so her I am on the far side of the sidewalk.
And there I go.

These next three are at the half way point. The course was all up on the trails and Amanda coulnd't have hauled the kids up there to take photos and get back in time to see me at the start/finish area. They put a hair tie around everyones wrist to show that you had been around once and were going again. I'm getting my "bracelet" here

Amanda liked how my muscles seem to be bulging.

And there I go off on the second loop.

Here I am coming into the finish area.I know it looks like I'm dead there and I'm giving up or something, but it was really in celebration.
As I crossed the finish line, they handed this to me. Wow, that was quick. As soon as I crossed it must have triggered the printer and there it was.

Nice cool refreshment. That was much needed.
Nothing could have been nicer than a few minutes in this cool misting tent. It was actually more like a raining tent. I'm sitting in about two inches of water right there.
To finish it off really quickly I jumped into the lake with my kids. We didn't have much time, and Alex got hurt, so we only played for about five minutes.

And there you have it. If you looked at Amanda's blog, then I'm sorry you had to see these pictures again. Let me see if I can find some more photos that didn't make it onto her blog...

Okay, I found one. This is at the half way point in the race. If you'll notice it looks like there is something that is floating just above my head. Well, the runner right behind me took his shirt off and threw it to his family that was there. Amanda just happened to snap a photo right after he had thrown it. So, that is the shirt of the guy that was just behind me. kinda funny I think

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oak Mountain State Park, Xterra Fun Run

I've been slow about posting on here about my race. I wanted to put some pictures on here, but I can't right now. My wife has been really busy with the computer all week, so I haven't had the chance to. I finally decided to write this up on this computer and I'll add some photos when I get the chance. Or you can just go look at Amanda's blog and see some photos from the race.

They day started at about 6:20 when I rolled out of bed and started getting dressed. Breakfast at the hotel started at 6:30, so we were there right when it started. We ate quickly and headed on out. Even with the kids, we were pretty quick. We grabbed everything in case we couldn't make it back before checkout time. Our hotel was just about a five minute drive from the State Park. When we got there we went straight over to the Xterra Village they had set up. It was pretty cool. I registered for the 21k race. We had just a little bit of time to stand around waiting for the race to start. I ended up at the start of the pack, but i kept inching my way back from the starting line. I knew I wasn't going to lead the whole thing, so I got about ten feet back from the start. They told us just before they shot off the cannon that it was really only about 20 kilometers and not a true half marathon. It is pretty hard to get an established trail to change lengths. Finally the little cannon was fired and we were off. There were only about 80 of us in the race. We went about 200 feet up the sidewalk, then took a sharp right for another 200-300 feet up to the road. Then we were on the side of the road for about three quarters of a mile before we turned up onto the trails.

The first aide station was right there but I passed it by because I had my watter bottle with me. I had not seen the trail or even a profile of the trail, so I really didn't know what to expect. The first mile or two of trail was perfect. It rolled back and forth and only a little up and down. When we hit our first big hill I noticed that everyone was walking up it. I though that was a bit strange, but when I got to it, I realized why they were walking and I joined in. I was probably going faster with a walk than I would have been running anyway. About half way up, I told someone that this hill was going to kill me the second time around (it was two loops of 10k).

Just before reaching the top I thought I might be able to power up and over the top. I managed, but then coming down the other side I realized that going down was going to be just as hard as getting up the hills. On my way down the hills I would make sure that I had my one free hand ready to catch the trees to help slow my decent. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the trails were pretty well covered with rocks and roots and stuff. There were only a few times that I was brave enough to look up from the trail to look around at the beauty. It really was a pretty area. I was very grateful for all the trees. I thought that we might break out of the trees towards the top, but we didn't there were only a few places along the whole course that I saw the sun. That being said, it was still about 85 degrees and very humid. There were three main hills along the course. There were three or four bridges to run across. There were also two streams without bridges to jump across.

By the time that I broke out of the trails onto the road, i was completely soaked in sweat. My water was warm and I needed to get some more to cool down. there was about a half mile on the road to get back to the starting area. Amanda was ready with the camera and the kids helped cheer me on. I tried to go faster on the road because it was much easier to run on the smooth pavement. Just before I got to the trails, I downed my second energy gel. At the aide station I filled my water bottle with cold water, man that felt nice. I also grabbed a cup of Gatorade. Now that I knew what to expect on the course, I took this part of the course a little harder. I knew it would be about two miles before I hit any hills. By this point everyone was pretty much settle in to where they were going to finish. coming up the last hill, I saw two people that I wanted to pass. I caught up to and passed one of them. I caught up to the next guy at the top of that last hill, but he seemed to have more experience on trails that I did, because he cruised down the hill creating about a 100 foot lead. Coming out of the trail onto the pavement, I thought I wouldn't have any trouble catching him, but he picked his pace up just like I did. I finished the last half mile really strong, but only managed to shorten the lead he had on my to about 30 feet before crossing the finish line.

I finished in 1:58:43. I was 18 of 80 overall, 16 of 56 males, and 6 of 9 in my age group. I was very pleased with being able to finish in less than two hours. That is right about what I thought I was going to do. I ate some post race snacks then sat down in the mist tent to cool down. After just a bit, we took the kids over to the lake and let them swim for just a little bit. after only abut five minutes Alex tripped and cut his hand open, so we just left. Overall it was a fantastic day. I had a lot of fun. I am really glad that I chose to do this short trail run (yes 20 kilometers is short) before just heading out on the trail for the White River 50. It gave me the experience that I need to be more prepared for WR50.

Well, like I said I will post some pictures later.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I run a lot

Running is a hobby of mine. It is something I do for fun. I am able to relax and blow off stress when I run. For the month of May I managed to total 201 miles. For the last week though, it has been hard to pull myself out and run. It was my shortest week in over two months. Even today when I thought going for a run would make me feel better it just made me more tired. I'm now sitting here feeling very exhausted. I think that I need to go to bed earlier and maybe eat better too. I am however excited about running a half marathon up in Alabama this weekend. I really think that I will have my energy level back by then. It will be a fun trail run at Oak Mountain State Park. Maybe my wife will even take some photos so that you can actually see me run. Not that a tired, sweaty guy is really something worth looking at, but it should be a pretty place too. I'm sure we'll have lots of fun in the Birmingham area on Friday and Saturday. I might be able to get Friday off.

Keep running.