Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back In The Game

So I didn't do jack all week last week, I mean no running, no walking, no spinning no weights, no stretching, not a single thing that can be misconstrued as athletic. Unlike Kettle Moraine where I was in training mode the moment I got back from Wisconsin, this time, having no big races left in the summer, I just took the whole week off. I may have over did the rest I think. I could have walked and did some light stretching. I could have ice bathed. Nope. I just slept, cleaned house, ate and slept some more. I was exhausted, maybe it was the added effect of the altitude but I was more tired than usual after a hundred. I did nothing and it felt perfect. It was a good break physically and mentally.

Couch potato week is done now however and I was back in training mode yesterday. I don't have any 100s left on my schedule for the year but I'd like to run some fast 50k's, I'm also planning on running Firetrails 50-miler again in October and there's a chance I will be at Quad Dipsea again in November, looking for my 6th finish there. Coming up soon though, in two weeks, is the Headlands Hundred and I just committed to pacing my friend Lem on the last 50-miles. It should be fine. We won't be screaming through those last 50 miles. He's Filipino too and I wonder if he understands Tagalog, the national language. I can draw on my grade school knowledge of the language, refreshed by countless bad Filipino movies from Netflix (think Bollywood films). I can tell jokes in Tagalog with my "American" accent. If that doesn't drive him crazy and forward I don't know what will. We'll see, I need to rent more movies to refresh my language skills.

Anyway so nothing is broken, everything is fine. I'll test the speed today at track practice. I won't be doing another 100 until I sort out the issues with the left leg. I seem to be fine for 50-miles or less and...and...I'm still finishing up the super long report for those of you that really want to read about the nitty gritty details of Tahoe Rim Trail 100. Until then...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tahoe Rim Trail 100

DSCN0229I didn't take many pictures this past weekend. During the race itself I only carried the camera until mile 12, took just enough pictures for the blog. Of the pictures that I did take however I had a hard time choosing a cover. I chose this one because of the great comeback this athlete has had from injury and the amazing year he is having now. This is Kevin Swisher, we met on the trail at the Ohlone 50k back in 2006. We spoke as I passed him in the later stages of the race and got reacquainted with him at the finish. It was his first ultra. Last year after posting a great time at the American River 50-miler he was injured and missed most of the year. In October of that year I passed him before the halfway point of the Firetrails 50-miler. I almost didn't recognize him, he gained weight, he looked off his game and I believe he didn't even finish the race that day. Well he has made his comeback this year, coming in 4th overall at Ohlone 50k amidst a very competitive field on a very hot day that saw two runners airlifted with heat related injuries. This past weekend at TRT100 he came in 6th overall, posting a sub-23 hour run. A sub-24 would be an accomplishment on that course. His comeback is an inspiration and it couldn't happen to a better and gracious runner.

For the rest of the photos, click here.

TRT100, hmmm... well it was at least a good first half, haha, ouch! It was another sufferfest. The course was not the toughest I've seen but the way things unfolded for me personally it was the toughest event I've ever experienced. That stinkin race beat me, beat me some more and beat on me some more for good measure. It was hard on all of us, only 60% completed the run despite good weather. I'd hate to see that course in the heat or rain. I had my problems out there, more than the usual and there was a moment during the night when I wished I did have a pacer. I don't begrudged people who use pacers or crew, I've used both and have fulfilled both roles myself for other runners, it's just that lately I've wanted that extra degree of difficulty in my events. I'm also being cheap! I didn't want to pay for lodging and transportation for a pacer. Anyway the low's were deep, dark and long and no music for inspiration or distraction. There is a no headphones policy for the entire event. That hurt me more than not having a pacer or crew. Regardless of the difficulties and the setbacks I did finish. On this weekend at least I was still tougher than the course, I survived my mistakes and weaknesses and finished not too long after first light on Sunday morning. It was the hardest mental battle and it took a whole lot out of me but it's nothing a few good nights of sleep, a few beers and good food won't cure.

Overall I'm not too disappointed with how the day turned out and I'm thankful for the small victories along the way that made it such a positive experience for me. I could have done better but considering the day I could also have easily not finished. The several problems I had really slowed me down and hurt me mentally but two of them I overcame with the help of fellow runners and fantastic volunteers. By mile 75, 17.5 hours into the race I still had a chance to come in under the 24 hour mark. However the return of my knee problem, same one that forced me to a shuffle at KM100, forced me to call off the time goal and simply survive. Exhausted, fuzzy brained and with a bum knee, I walked it in from mile 77. I knew it was going to be long, slow, lonely and torturous but the prospect of a dnf was even more unappealing. It's a heck of a thing to look at your watch, tired, exhausted, miserable and suffering and think to yourself, "if I'm blessed I get to do this for another 8 hours and finish".

I was convinced that I wouldn't try the course again any time soon, as I publicly announced to several volunteers but at the awards ceremony, as I was looking at my silver buckle (your time is imprinted on the back), I was already thinking of next time. Typical no? My overall time was fine but I didn't finish the race under my own terms and that's what matters most. I can't have a trail dictating to me when and how I will finish.

Despite my day I finished in the top 20 with a time of 26:23:49, that's not a testament to my speed and strength but the high attrition rate and the number of people who were having worse problems than I had. I'll have a blow by blow report to follow for you folks who like the gritty details. Thanks for all the support and I'll leave you all with this mental image:

It's early in the morning before sunrise and a very bright almost full moon is shining. You are on the rim and exposed, the wind is gusting and howling in your ears. It threatens to go right through your shell and you are thankful this one came with a hood. There is no sign of running lights in front or behind you. You take a deep breath, your vision is fuzzy and you are bone tired. Despite all that you take another step, fix your eyes on the trail ahead and think to yourself, "I am going to finish this!". Most of all you feel fragile and insignificant yet blessed and more than human at the same time.

That was me around mile 92, looking for my last major aid station, the last weigh in and the final push for home amidst the first signs of a lightening sky.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Uh-Oh I'm Behind

You are probably wondering about the report. I'm cranking, I'm cranking. I'm late, too many things going on. Let this be a hint to as how the day, the race, ultimately unfolded for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To TRT100

Three big events this weekend, we have the Vineman Half-Ironman, the Trans Tahoe Relay and my event the Tahoe Rim Trail 100.

Yeah I'm pretty excited to be racing another hundred again. Is my body recovered from KM100? Yeah for the most part. I ended up getting some Active Release Therapy on my left leg and it's been a very good thing but the problems with that leg lay deep in the hamstring. I have an old injury there that has failed to heal completely and the problems I'm having now is a result of the other muscles compensating for that injured muscle. ART has been a positive and helpful experience for me. I'm glad I did it and when the damaged muscle is brought back to it's full strength I may be able to run faster without the issues I'm dealing with now. Good news no?

It continued to be a crazy schedule with the work thing and up till late last night I was pounding away at the keyboard but most of it is done now and I can race in peace. Sometimes it's not so crazy sometimes it is, the usual. See you all on the other side of TRT 100. I plan to push real hard and just go all out. I can come out of this with a really great time or a dnf. I plan to push hard as I have on my last races and just see where it goes from there.

Still smoky up there but the event hasn't been cancelled. Hopefully most of that junk in the air has cleared for the most part. As long as no new fires start we should be ok.

I hope you guys have a great weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 4th

Wow it's been crazy busy around here. Mother in town and deadlines, deadlines and deadlines. Good to have Mom and good to have work, luckily I'm on taper. I get to put all that free time this weekend to get caught up. So I apologize for the lack of posts. Sometimes when it rains it pours but it's all good things, good problems.

These are pics from July 4th, we had a Mexican theme going, not sure why. A good day; food, drinks, good friends, day off from training, no work and the Olympic Trials. The fog was heavy and instead of heading out to see the light show we just stayed in and watch the trials. I ate too much, rested and ate again, we were like cows grazing on grass. Felt a lot like Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. A blessing to have such good friends.

DSCN4223.JPGBrian, Charlie and Chris. Brian and Chris were part of the group I was tracking at Ironman Coeur d'Alene - both finished.

DSCN4241.JPGStop growling at me Dana, I didn't know you wanted the last chip!

For the photoset,
click here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

It's quiet out, kind of nice. I just got back from the sauna, from heat training. Despite the cold shower and the cool San Francisco air I can't stop sweating. The sauna in my regular gym was broken so I went to the next location, same distance from place but up a hill and in a large big time hotel. Nice facilities with two options on the heat; dry or steam. I went with what I knew which was steam and that room is set at a higher temperature setting with steam coming out in regular intervals. In my gym you have to hose down the thermometer to trick it into letting out more steam. Maybe it's time to transfer to this gym.

Anyway I am off for some July 4th celebrating myself. A bbq with close friends, the same triathlete crowd I've been powing around with - good people. Great athletes who don't take themselves too seriously. People who know know their wine and are great cooks to boot. Gotta love that.

Before I go one question. This weekend is my last hard training weekend before I start my taper. During my taper I'm planning on getting some work done on my left leg. It's incredibly tight and the IT is not doing as well as I want it to. I would rather spend the money on some new gear that I need but the last thing I want is to be in the middle of TRT 100 thinking I should have gotten the therapy done instead. I need someone to unlock those muscles in addition to the stretching and foam roller exercises that I've been doing. I've got two in mind, Graston or ART (Active Release Therapy). Any of you guys out there have any experience with one or both of these? Some input would be appreciated. Thanks.