Tuesday, September 27, 2011

T. A. P. E. R.

Yesterday was Monday, Rest Day.  Today is the beginning of a new running week.  A new friend of mine, David S., commented on my blog yesterday and used the word
“T. A. P. E. R.”   He called it a “mind game” so as I set out on my easy 5 miles today, I wondered what he meant by T. A. P. E. R.   His comment inspired me and I wrote this blog in my head while running. 
And so, I thought about my tapering plan for this week during my run.  That, and relaxed ankles, allowing pelvic rotation, short stride and 180 cadence, arm swing on hills, all my ChiRunning mentors and friends, and on and on.  Oh, and of course, cool music on the ipod like Cold Play, Elton John, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Boston.  I like to multitask. 

This week, the plan is to run between 40 and 45 miles with two long back to backs, but not as long as last week’s.  Tomorrow, it will be a 15 miler out and back on the TRT from Kingsbury Grade to “the bench” towards Genoa Peak with my friends Ron and Ted and probably 3 or 4 dogs.  Then, on Thursday, I’ll do 10 to 12 on the Tahoe Meadows TRT towards Diamond Peak Ski Area.

Friday will be a 5 to 10 miler.  Saturday might be a waterskiing day.  I know Dave wants to get at least one more weekend in.  So somewhere between Saturday and Sunday I will have to find 10 miles.

I fully expected to be a bit slow on my run today even after the day off yesterday.  I just didn’t know if I’d recovered from the 11 on Sunday and the big 50 mile week last week.  Much to my surprise and joy, I found myself trotting easily along my well run route up behind my house to the creek above the green water tower.

If you click on "View Details" you can see my stats.  I LOVE my Garmin!

In fact, it was one of the fastest times I’d done this route that has over 700 feet of climb.  My heart rate stayed below 130 (not sure where that 180 was at the beginning - I think I was adjusting my HR monitor, either that or I had a run of PVC's - let's hope not!) and I easily averaged 10 minute miles with a best pace of 7:32 going downhill.  It was easy.  I smiled as I floated along.  My legs felt light and relaxed.  There was little tension in my right foot, my nemesis, and my constant focus of relaxation during every one of my runs.  How nice to run and enjoy a short distance during this long distance training!

I began thinking about my tapering plan and David’s “T.A.P.E.R.”  Ok, what could that mean to me? (what does it mean to him?) I thought I knew how to taper for a marathon, so I’m really just translating those principles to twice the distance, just higher mileage.  But what’s really intriguing about tapering is the mind game, indeed.  As I get closer to The Day, it's my mind that I have to contend with.  So here’s my version of T.A.P.E.R.  I’d love to hear yours!

T – Talk positively to myself and others about the event - be an inspiration.

A – Acknowledge that I’ve done the work and I’m ready.

P – Pray and prepare for the weather, for the morning’s activities, and my mind chatter.

E – Eat well and mindfully.

R – RELAX and Run like the wind!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crunch Time

This past week was crunch time.  Less than 3 weeks until the race on October 15.  This was the “I did my homework” week, and the “if I haven’t put in the miles and time by now, it’s too late”, week.   My plan was for two back to back runs, one of at least 20 miles.  Ron, my training buddy, and I decided to do the easy 22 miles from Tahoe Meadows at the top of Mt. Rose at 8500 feet to Spooner Summit last Wednesday.  The gain in elevation would be 2600 feet with 4000 feet of descent.  Two major climbs contributed to the challenge - one up to Marlette peak and the other to Snow Valley Peak.  Tuesday night, I was excited about the run.  The discovery of how my body would perform over the next few days was the unknown and I had some trepidation, self doubt and the usual morning jitters before the attempt of a big goal.

I woke up early Wednesday morning, had my coffee, did e-mails, had a regular breakfast and packed my stuff.  I would bring an 80 oz. Camelback filled with water, crackers, Nature Valley Bars and a peanut butter and honey sandwich.  I would also bring my camera, my ipod and my waist pack with a 22 oz bottle filled with half strength NUNN.  When I hefted my pack it was heavy – I’m guessing maybe 15 pounds.  I decided to bring my 50 oz Camelback just in case I decided at the last minute that the big Camel would be too much.  Ha – it turns out I was lucky I did!

Ron and I met at Spooner Summit at 8 a.m. which is on the east side of Lake Tahoe at the top of Highway 50.  We both arrived within minutes of each other and on time.  Ah, I thought, this is a good start!  Ron and I greeted each other with hugs and howdies.  We were both excited to be doing this point to point run on such a gorgeous fall day on one of the most beautiful trails in the world – the Tahoe Rim Trail.  Ron pulled out his Camelback, an almost identical version of the one I had and exclaimed at how heavy it was.  I said, yes, mine was heavy, too as I reached behind the front seat of my car to retrieve it.  Alas, it was not there!

I had forgotten it at home.  I immediately visualized it sitting there next to the door so I wouldn’t forget it!  Well, thank the running gods that I had brought my other Camelback.  Ron reassured me that he had 100 ounces and could share if we needed to.  Although temps were projected to be in the 90’s in Reno, we were at 9000 feet and hopefully, wouldn’t feel much more than 80 degrees.  Water shouldn’t be an issue.

Leaving my truck at Spooner, we hopped in Ron's Subaru and headed for a quick stop at 7-11 in Incline Village where we bought breakfast sausage muffins for both of us, some cookies and another Nature Valley bar.  Ron’s positive, no worries attitude, cured my annoyance at having forgotten my pack and we were soon on our way up to the Tahoe Meadows near the Mt. Rose summit.

We arrived at the TRT/Tahoe Meadows trailhead before 9 am, locked up Ron’s Subaru and were about ready to start trotting away when Ron asked me if I brought my car keys.  Glad he asked, because I had left them in his car.  Gees, almost blew it again!  Back to the car, grabbed the keys and my drivers license, and put them in my waist pack. The usual jokes about being blond made us both chuckle.

Unfortunately, I had left my camera in my pack at home so I don’t have pictures to share here.  The run was spectacularly beautiful.  The views of Marlette Lake with Lake Tahoe below it are breathtaking from the Tahoe Rim Trail which travels the top of the ridge bisecting views east from west.  Washoe Valley on the eastern side of the Sierras with Washoe Lake, Carson City and to the north the casinos of Reno are clearly visible.  And to the west, the Tahoe Sierras frame Lake Tahoe, snow still gracing the high mountains in the Desolation Wilderness on the west side of Lake Tahoe.

Purple wild flowers carpeted the shoulders of Snow Valley Peak.  The forest, green and lush, appeared as it would in mid-August, not late September!

We did this run in a VERY leisurely fashion.  We finished the 22 miles in less than 6 hours so nothing speedy.  The last miles were downhill and I finished them at a good strong pace.  My average heart rate for the run was only 107 bpm and I didn't exceed 131 bpm.

Thursday, the next day, I began to get ready to go run and realized that I couldn’t find my drivers license.  I searched everywhere and thought that I must have dropped it near my car the day before.  Late that afternoon, I drove up to Mt. Rose and did 12 miles alone on the TRT, the same trail we had started on yesterday, but at a faster pace.  My legs weren’t sore, just a bit tired.  Maintaining a constant 180 cadence eliminated the feeling of going slow.  I was amazed at how easily the miles went by.  ChiRunning at its finest.

Trail in first miles from Tahoe Meadows trailhead

Trail thru green forest at 8500 feet

Diamond Peak Ski Area lift bullwheel seen from trail - aid station site during TRT races

Trail just below Diamont Peak Ski Lift

Overlooking Washoe Valley to the east

Washoe Lake below

I think my brain was pretty fuzzy at the end of that run because I decided to do the lower meadow loop not knowing how far it would be.  Not a good choice to explore trail I'd never been on right at dusk! I guessed maybe a mile and a half and judged that I would have enough daylight left to complete it.  Well, I misjudged the distance and ended up still in the forest in the fading light hoping that the trail would turn back to my car before it really got dark.  Eventually it did, and thankfully I didn’t stumble over anything, no evening critters came out to scare me and I got the miles I wanted that day.  The moon was out when I arrived at my truck.

The next day, I went to the DMV to get a duplicate license and was lucky to spend only 30 minutes there!  Lucky me, they used my old picture and my U.S. Passport hadn’t expired yet. 

Saturday was spent teaching a ChiRunning Workshop to five enthusiastic students who loved the class and were thrilled to see progress in their running form that day.

Sunday, Dave and I drove to the Five Lakes Trailhead off of Alpine Meadows Road and ran an 11 mile out and back with 2300 feet of climb.  Right before I left, I found my old drivers license safely tucked inside my pack where I had put it. It was the one place I hadn’t looked!  I had spent a lot of time trying to find that stupid thing on Thursday morning!!!  ARRGH!  Oh well, now I'll have two

The relentless climb up the Five Lakes trail

View of Alpine Meadows Ski Area from trail (Trail is far left)


One of the Five Lakes

The week is over and I ran 50 miles with two major back to backs.  It had taken me three days to recover from the 34 miles I had run over two days, but I had experienced the ability to run comfortably when fatigued both in mind and body.  The 12 miles I completed the day after the 22 was relaxed and fluid.  A great accomplishment for the week.  My homework is done.  Now it's time to maintain and taper, then take the test in 19 days.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moments of Clarity - the week's report

I started my training this past week with what seemed to be a huge goal because it would be a repeat of last week – run at least 40 miles, preferably 45.   In addition, that goal included eating well, sleeping well, recovering well and enjoying it!  My only change this week was to run no longer than 12 or 13 miles which translated to runs no more than two and half hours long.  So the difference would be to sustain these longer runs more frequently during the week and be able to maintain the same mileage.  I thought that if I was successful carrying out this plan, then I could do a long run of at least 20 miles next week with my long distance training buddies, Ron and Ted.

My week began last Monday after an easy walking rest day on Sunday.  Monday was an out and back trail run for 8 miles with 1200 feet of climb at an easy pace.  The long climb up through the sage brush with Mt. Rose rising in front of me seemed restful.  I was amazed that I felt so comfortable climbing.  The more I relaxed, the easier it was. 

Up the rocky trail with a view of a bit of snow on Mt. Rose
 As I flew down the long, gradual decent back to home I had the realization that I could run for a very long time.  This was easy, my legs felt light.  Running this week would not be as difficult as I thought.

 Tuesday arrived with the realization that I must do at least 5 or 6 miles today in order to maintain my mileage if my plan was to do two more 10 mile runs at the end of the week. Also, I would be driving 5 hours to my sister’s house in the bay area to teach a ChiRunning workshop to her and a friend so I knew that I would need to get in a good run before I left.  Once again, I finished an easy 6 and ½ miles with almost 700 feet of climb.  My plan was falling in to place. 

Wednesday was an exhausting, but quite satisfying day of teaching ChiRunning to my sister and ChiWalking to her friend, a courageous woman with multiple medical issues and a serious functional challenge which limited her to walking only.  The suggested changes to her posture and feet alignment were significant as were changes to her cadence and stride length.  By the end of the workshop, she expressed how much easier it was for her to walk hills!  What an awesome reward for me.

At the end of the day, me and my sister had an engaging conversation about family issues and wound up opening a bottle of wine.  When her husband came home, he opened another.  Needless to say, I didn’t get a run in on Wednesday. 

That kind of worried me, but I knew I could make it up.  The next morning, Thursday, my sister and I went for a short, easy run.  I coached her throughout so that she could focus on the lessons she had learned the day before.  Three children later and a few pounds heavier, she is eager to get back into her size 6 jeans!  She loved the run and the coaching and was thrilled that she could run the entire three miles without stopping over hills she usually walked!  It was a great way to end my visit, and a few hours later, I started the 250 mile drive back home to Reno. 

I stopped at Donner Summit and ran a very slow 6 mile out and back over hilly trail at 8000 feet.  I was tired after the long drive and the run in the morning with my sister.  But once again, I could clearly see that I could finish whatever run I set out for myself this week.  My ability to relax when I was tired was improving daily.  When I got home, I stretched for a while.  A trigger point in my right soleus muscle responded well to massage and relieved any mild soreness in my right Achilles.  My feet had felt strong running in my New Balance 101’s.

Friday saw a short 4 mile run completely on pavement and as level as I could possibly find out my back door.  It was slow, but my legs felt strong.  No real speed in them, but that was not the point I continued to remind myself.  My form was in place and I cycled constantly through the ChiRunning focuses:  engaged core, lengthening my spine, aligned feet, soft ankles, floating ankles, relaxed shoulders, allowing pelvic rotation. Over and over. Running meditation.

Saturday morning, I met a woman for the first time through Meetup.com for a trail run on the Tahoe Rim Trail.  It’s difficult to find people who like to run long distance on trails, especially women, so I relished the opportunity to meet someone new and pass the time on the trail getting to know them.  It turned out that she and I have a lot in common – no kids, cats, pilots (she has made a career out of flying and I haven't flown since 1996), and of course, loves to run on trails.  We ran an easy 12 miles on rolling trail enjoying the beautiful scenery and views of the forest and Lake Tahoe.  And of course, I shared how ChiRunning had changed my life and gave her some tips over the course of the 2 hours on the trail.

Me and my new trail running friend, Tiffany

Trail on Tunnel Creek Road with Lake Tahoe in the distance

Today, I ran 9 miles up the trail behind my house.  When I started, I knew with certainty that I would finish this last run of the week with strength, good form, no pain and love every second.  Well almost every second.  The last mile was a bit of a slog.  I actually completed it at a good pace despite my fatigue.  I remember seeing an object silhouetted against the sky sitting on top of a huge earthmoving machine around my seventh mile.  It looked like a hawk, but as I approached it, I could see that it was just an exhaust pipe!  My mind was indeed fuzzy.  Half strength electrolyte solution saved me during that run which was just under two hours.  The temp was in the 80s when I finished.
The trail about a mile from my house
I ran almost 50 miles this week in about fifteen and a half hours.  I did two runs of 12 and 9 miles, back to back.  I slept great, ate healthy, and that unplanned recovery/rest day with two bottles of wine with my sister and brother in law was just the ticket! 

Thinking about doing 50 miles in one day in 12 hours seems absolutely daunting.  But this week was about getting closer to knowing that however I feel I can continue to run. 

The race is four weeks away.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ChiRunning Phoenix

My story about how I arrived at the decision to do a 50 mile race wouldn’t be complete without writing about ChiRunning.  For those of you who know me, you know that I recently became a Certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking Instructor.  Thoroughly learning and practicing ChiRunning has been life changing for me.  I would not be training for a 50 mile race without it.  So here's my "rising from the ashes" story of discouraged and injured running...

In my 30’s, I ran lots of long distance, even completed a couple of 50Ks and paced my boyfriend in several ultra events.  I was fairly fit.  Long distance running was a great way to stay fit and required less time than triathlon training.  Life served up multiple changes in career and living situations, and I wound up in my 40s unable to run much more than 3 or 4 miles and no more than 20 a week before I would get terrible shin splints and bad medial knee pain bilaterally.  In addition, I underwent two more knee surgeries, one an ACL reconstruction in 2001, and then another minor cartilage trimming several years later.  Most of my injuries were from snow skiing, but running didn’t help my knees feel any better.
Skiing the bumps on the Comet at Heavenly Valley February, 2011
Last summer, a girlfriend of mine, who incidentally lost 135 pounds using only diet and exercise, was reading the ChiRunning book by Danny DreyerI asked her about it, read a few lines and absentmindedly bought it on a whim.  I remember July 2, 2010 vividly.  I was reading the book as we drove home from the bay area.  Dave and I stopped at Donner Summit for a run.  I’d only read about 100 pages of the book.  I thought about some of the things I had read – specifically “loose ankles, and allowing the foot to float up.”  I tried it and was amazed at how easily I ran and how relaxed my legs were.  I was ecstatic!  Could this stuff really work? 

Two days later, on the Fourth of July, 2010, Dave and I hiked Mt. Rose and I continued to apply the ChiRunning principles.  The hike was miraculously easy.  I remember raising my arms in triumph as we reached the summit.  Dave had struggled to keep up with me!  I was hooked.  There really was something to this!

Six weeks later, I found myself in a ChiRunning workshop in Denver with Master Instructor Mary Lindahl, and eight months later, I completed all the requirements to become a Certified Instructor.

To say that ChiRunning transformed my life is an understatement and probably sounds corny, but is really true.  I know this sounds like a testimonial/ad for ChiRunning – so beit, but I wouldn’t be running between 40 and 60 miles a week without it.  I went from being resigned that I could never run long distance again, to thinking I could run an ultra.  Five months ago, I stopped wearing the custom made orthotics that I had always run with for 20 years.  Today, I run in either a minimalist shoe or a transition shoe for all my training miles.  I have lost 15 pounds, and although my percent of body fat is probably higher than it was 15 years ago, my weight is nearly the same.  I’m not injured and I LOVE to run.  And now, I see that I really could run for 12 hours and complete 50 miles because I know how to run correctly.

For the last year, the question has been: "Could I fully participate in competitive running and JUST enjoy it and not take myself too seriously?"   I think maybe "yes" now that the summer has been about immersing myself back into the running culture and community: Pacing my friend Ron at the American River 50 Mile,
Ron N. finishing the AR 50 Mile Race
then again for 30 miles at the TRT 100; racing in small local races and having a blast with 11 other sweaty men and women in two vans for 31 hours at the Hood To Coast 200 mile Relay race.  And now, 50 miles to top off the season.  It's ALL been FUN!

Dave and I at the start of the Hood to Coast 200 Mile Relay.  We were on the Stupid Fast Team!
The trail running community is fairly small, so I’m a newbie around here.   Or, as Ron has said, “a has-been” making a come back.  Yes, I’m a “has-been”, but I prefer a “Phoenix”!  Let’s just hope I don’t crash and burn again on October 15!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The results - Do It All Again Next Week?

I write this on 9-11-11.  A sobering reminder of how life changed for America 10 years ago.  Like many Americans, I watched all the memorial events on TV last night and today – tears welling up as the National Anthem was sung at the Raven – Steelers’ game.  God Bless America, the victims of 9/11 and all those who serve to protect our precious freedoms.

Contemplating my blessings and especially that I get to live and run in the Lake Tahoe area, I became introspective and decided to write.  Yesterday I ran an 8 mile out and back  at the Mt. Rose highway summit, about 8500 feet.  I’ll scatter a few pics of this spectacular trail throughout this report.

The start of the TRT at Tahoe Meadows, the Mt. Rose Highway
Hopefully, you won’t read the title of this entry like a weather report about the miles I did this week.  My goal in writing about my journey to complete 50 miles in one day is to get at what it feels like to train, emotionally and physically.  I record miles, time, the shoes that I wore, weather, clothing and a short statement about how my body and mind felt in my training log with the hopes that the data there will serve me when I need it.  And it does. 

One of my goals in completing this 50 Mile race is to do it mindfully and joyfully.  In order to do that, I must pay attention to detail, but always with joy and passion for running.  It’s about the journey, right?  So, I thought I would write about one of the things I focused on this week - my nutrition before, during and after training.  But first, wildflowers in September???!!

Not sure this photo does them justice, but the flowers were glorious!
 I’ve noticed that I’ve always experienced some degree of mild nausea before a race that is most likely due to nerves.  Also, I’m afraid to eat much before an event, or training, just because I know my stomach won’t empty and I’ll get a side ache.  At the same time, I recognize that I need some small amount of carbohydrate to fuel the fat burning fire that I hope will kick in sooner rather than later.  Finding the right combination of food and timing before running was my mission this week.

So this week, I experimented with different kinds of foods eaten less than two hours before running.  Here’s what I found:  toast with butter on it gives me mild nausea.  I think it’s the butter.  Peaches and bananas work wonderfully.  So much so, that I can eat this tasty fruit less than an hour before running without any problem at all.

I also tried drinking NUNN after about 45 minutes into my 3 ½ hour run.  NUNN is an electrolyte supplement that comes in the form of a tablet that you put in your water bottle.  I selected the Mandarin Orange – Ginger flavor with the hopes that if I had some nausea, the ginger would provide relief.  And it did!  The day I tried the toast with butter was right before that really long 16 miler this week.  A couple of long swigs of NUNN, which I used half strength, did the trick.  The taste was great and I think next time I’ll use a full tablet in my 20 ounce water bottle. It was a nice alternative to straight water which I carried in my Camelback.

Mt. Rose Ski Area - The Chutes, in the background
 I also noticed this week that I consistently start feeling hungry around 2 hours into a run.  I always bring a Nature Valley bar with me, but rarely do I take it out to eat it.  My next long run this coming week, I need to eat before I get hungry if I plan a run longer than 2 ½ hours.  I think it will help me in those last miles as well as assist me with recovery.  Also, for 50 miles I will be running much longer than 4 hours!  I need to practice eating.  I also know, from pacing Ron N. 30 miles of the TRT 100 last July, that I love and can tolerate all that aid station stuff they put out for you!

After a workout, most experts will tell you that the first 30 minutes immediately after stopping is the best time to replete the muscles with glycogen and that eating at least 50 grams of carbohydrate is recommended to do that.  I’m finding that the best I can do immediately after a run is drink orange juice in that 30 minutes.  I just lose my appetite for at least an hour after finishing, even if I feel hungry during a long run.  But after that, I can eat anything and usually satisfy my hunger with a huge serving of fruit. 

By the way, I’m not a vegetarian.  I love red meat, chicken, eggs and fish.  Cheese is a staple.  And soy milk is a wonderful phyto-estrogen useful in my successful war against hot flashes!  My intake of carbs has increased, but so has my protein giving me a total caloric intake of around 2500 to 3000 calories per day on a training day.  I could probably stand to lose 3 to 5 more pounds and get really lean, but I'm not focused on it.  I weigh only 5 pounds more than what I did 20 years ago. I’m reducing those fun carbs like chips, but sometimes I just gotta have some!  I salt my food liberally mostly because I don’t cook with any since my husband is on a very low salt diet.  Oh, and I love beer and wine.  Microbrews like Alaskan Amber are my favorites.  Dave likes Budweiser.  No comment.

As for the week’s mileage and stats – here’s the weather report:  I ran about 43 miles from Monday through today according to my Garmin.  My best pace was about a 6:30 pace during a very fun and fast 8 mile trail run.  My average pace for all my runs with over 5,000 feet of climbing was about 12:30 minutes per mile.  I’m taking today off with a short 3 mile walk around my neighborhood just to get the blood moving.

This trail makes you want to run forever!
 The challenge for next week will be to do it all again!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

GO SLOW - a battle with ego

I’m inspired by all of you who are supporting me in this!  Thank you for thinking of me and taking the time to read about my journey.  When I was young and thought I was immortal, my friends’ and family’s support didn’t impact me when I was training for something.  I think that means that I really didn’t appreciate that they wanted me to be successful.  I believed that I didn’t need the energy generated by those who cared about me to achieve things.  I just didn't value it.  OUCH.  Now, as age brings some wisdom, I realize that life is ONLY about the people who care about you.  It’s not the end result that matters so much as how you get there that describes success.  Sharing this journey publicly is a first for me in appreciating your energy and support.

As I begin this short documentary (the race is less than 6 weeks away – YIKES!) chapter, I realize how important the people in my life are. 

Ok, enough unoriginal writing.  Why is it that the corny stuff really does mean something?

This note is about my ego.  I guess blogging is about ego, tho, since it's about me!  Yesterday, Wednesday, I woke up excitedly ready to complete a 16 mile run, unrested.   On Tuesday I had run an easy, slow 4 miles and on Monday, a hilly quick 8.2 at 8,000 feet (the Mt. Rose loop, I call it.)   I felt good, but knew that 16 would be a challenge.  I decided to create my run using my several loops which consist of climbing about 2100 feet above my house for the first 6 miles, and then a long 10 mile gradual descent on the run back home.  Most of the run was on trail, but the last 6 would be on the Mt. Rose Highway and neighborhood roads.

A few miles in with Mt Rose in the background.

My strategy was to GO SLOW.  At the 4 mile mark, after a long steady climb, I was a full 10 minutes slower than my usual pace so I was good and proud of myself for keeping my strategy and sensing my pace.  I even stopped for a few minutes to chat with BLM workers at the Thomas Creek Trail Head about the work they were doing to regrade the dirt road to improve drainage.  I headed up the steeper trail towards Dry Pond. 

Start of the Dry Pond Loop at the Thomas Creek Trailhead.

Map of the Jones/Whites/Thomas Creek Trail System

Soon an older man ran past me on the trail.  His stride was long and inefficient.  His shoulders were tense and he was breathing hard.  I greeted him, but he didn’t reply as I moved over to let him pass.  I watched him struggle to maintain his speed and soon he slowed.  Soon, I caught him and breathing easily, passed him at my casual pace.  I said something like, "you slowed down a bit - great work!"  He said something, but I couldn't understand him.  Hmm, probably didn't like the fact that he was getting passed.  I could hear him breathing hard behind me and he tried to stay with me.

 The climb up to Dry Pond

For the next 2 miles up the mountain which is about 800 feet of climb, I could hear him struggle to keep up with me.  I would hear him close to my heels, then back away, and then close again, always his breathing labored and unsustainable.  I had told myself before I left that morning that on the steeper pitches I would walk and never exceed a PRE (Perceived Rate of Exertion) greater than 4 or 5.   My pace would always be conversational.  Now my pace was steady, gentle, even slower than what I would usually run this loop at a tempo pace, yet I clearly had abandoned my strategy today to GO SLOW and walk the steeper sections.  

By the time I was about a ½ mile from the top, I was breathing at a pretty good rate, still not stressed or fast, but running, not walking. 

Dry Pond with Mt. Rose Ski Area in the background

My friend, freeloading off my pace, had dropped off and at last I was free to really slow down.  (Don’t get me wrong – my ego was flattered to lead!)  Holy cow, I thought, MY EGO has certainly gotten the best of me today and I will be paying dearly later!

 the long run down the Mt. Rose highway - I chose this route to make sure I got the miles in

And sure enough, about 4 miles from home, my whole body was talking to me about how I had not kept to my strategy to GO SLOW!  I had succumbed to looking good running up that hill and passing that poor gasping man, and my ego had won.  So I walked twice for a few minutes during those last few miles.  It was hot, but I wasn’t injured and I had done it – over 2100 feet of climbing up to 8000 feet altitude, with a moving time of 3 hours and 23 minutes and an average pace of 12:30 minutes per mile.  Not bad for a training run on unrested legs. 

Next time, it would be a good exercise for me to not pass him back and simply follow him slowly up the hill.  My ego would lose, who I am would shine, and I would maintain my training strategy.  Oh gees, that would be too easy!

Rest is scheduled for tomorrow.  I hope that ego won't get in the way of that one!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My first post - I DID IT!

An amazing thing happened last night.  And as a result, this is the first entry in my blog where I will begin writing about my experiences training for my first 50 Mile Run.  I’ve been thinking about blogging for a while now.  Now I have a reason to, and if anyone finds value in it, great, but for now it is mostly for me.

So here’s the amazing thing - I did it! After talking to my friend Ron Nageotte, a veteran of 50 Mile runs and ultras, I decided to do it… last night I registered for my first 50 Mile Race – The Rock ‘N River 50, October 15, 2011.  As soon as I did it, I was scared.  Could I really do this?  I had done two Hawaii Ironman Triathlons in 1982 at the tender age of 21.  I had no idea what I was doing back then and simply raced on my youth and talent.  Now I’m 52 and actually think I can do 50 miles in 12 hours?  That’s about 14 ½ minute miles for 12 hours.  I did the Ironman in 11 ½ hours.  I guess I should be able to run for that long at that slow of a pace.

So today, I started some serious long distance training.  “Speed is not important now, it's all about the distance...long and slow,” Ron wrote to me last night after I told him I was registered.  Even now, as I coach others in ChiRunning, it is awesome to have someone to coach me.  Ron’s experience as an ultrarunner is invaluable to me.  He clearly knows the value of long slow distance training.  After completing the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile run on July 16, he took his time recovering, enjoying easy runs at whatever length pleased him.  Then, on August 21, with training runs no longer than 10 miles he finished the Run on The Sly 50K with a PR of 6:18, 30 minutes faster than his 2010 time and winning his age group easily on a difficult, hilly trail run.

My easy 4 mile run today was a full 13 minutes slower than what I usually do this loop.  I kept my heart rate in the 120s.  Tomorrow, I will do a 15 mile run at the same very slow pace.  Long slow distance at a low heart rate.  I can do this.

And so it begins.  Serious training for a serious event.  I’m excited, not scared now.  I have confidence I can complete the 50 miles, but not certainty.  That is a good challenge to have and what a great thing to accomplish!