Category Archives: Training

Speedgoat 50K

I had gotten on the course twice a few weeks prior with some success staying on course. Despite having a course map and GPS on my phone, I still managed to get off trail. The second time I was a bit more successful, but still only ran the first 9 miles. During the race, I don’t think my course preview did much for me. Part of it was just my inexperience with GPS mapping, and part of it was just not running far enough.

Knowing a course can make a huge difference in how well your race goes.

The more obvious reason is staying on course. Twice during the race I went off course. Once with two other runners and once by myself. Luckily, there were runners nearby to correct me. It is super important to be mindful that you are actively looking for the proper flagging and not just blindly following the runner in front of you. For this very reason, I prefer to run in front of people because it forces me to pay attention.

The more subtle way course knowledge affects you is how you pace yourself. How long is this hill going to last? How many more big climbs are left? how hard can I take this downhill? How many f*cking switchbacks are there before the finish? Knowing where and when to push yourself and when to hold back allows to be more judicious with your precious energy.

Not knowing what’s coming up can be demoralizing. After I reached the second main peak around mile 24, I mistakenly thought it was all downhill from there. But it wasn’t. There was still another major climb. I should have known since the race claimed around 12,000 feet of vertical and my Garmin was around 9,000 feet.

Let’s talk about the actual race distance. How far is it, really? Just because the race has 50K (Or whatever distance) in the name doesn’t necessarily mean that is the actual distance. It could be longer or even shorter. The Speedgoat race was a bit more than 50K, which is not surprising, since it’s a hard race anyway. I’m fine with a few extra miles, as long as I know in advance. Finding out that instead of the 3 miles you’ve been fixating on is actually 6 more miles is tough. So in the future, if the distance isn’t listed explicitly, just assume that you might very well have “bonus” miles. If you finish at the expected distance, awesome! But if your watch says you should be done and the finish is nowhere in sight, you won’t be as upset.

Finally, if you are familiar with a course, it just seems shorter. It’s like when you are driving to a place you’ve never been before. You are taking in all sorts of sensory information about the scenery around you. So getting there takes forever. But on the way back, it seems much quicker. It’s sort of the same thing with a race course. Once you become familiar with it, your brain stops taking in all the minute details and just sees big landmarks, which breaks things into bigger chunks. Now you can’t always get on the actual course, but you can look at maps, YouTube videos, and read about the course.

Some other minor things.

I’ve only been in Utah for about 2 months now, and I’ve seen at least 4 guys suffering from heat stroke, only one during the race. Not sweating, the chills, sunburn. I don’t know much about heat stroke, but I think these are three obvious symptoms. I plan to have an extra stash of salt pills and crystalized ginger (or even pepto pills) and maybe sunscreen for those unlucky souls. If you know you are going to be in the sun all day, use sunscreen and/or cover up. Hydrate properly and take electrolyte/ salt tablets.

 

Late in the race, my inner thighs started to cramp up in a major way while I was climbing a short steep hill. I had to sit down. Once during a 100K gravel ride my legs quads locked up in a similar fashion. It was nuts. I think it might have been an overuse issue combined with an electrolyte imbalance, or it might have just been too much steep climbing. Once I made it up the section, and it flattened out, I was able to run just fine. So that is an interesting mystery. In the future, I’ll go back to having two liquids with me at all times, water and some sports drink. I think that will help keep my electrolytes in balance, provide some additional calories, and avoid flavor fatigue of warm water.

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The wildflowers were amazing.
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No idea where the hell this was..

I was honestly worried about finishing. I haven’t had any runs over 20 miles in what seems like forever. And my knees were sore after 4 miles the other day, how would they handle 30? Things turned out fine, and it gives me a bit of hope heading into Bigfoot 200. A lot of this dumb sport is mental. You sign up for a race, you’re at the race waiting for the start, you start, there’s non stop mental anguish for however many hours, then you finish and drive home and think,” Holy shit the race is over.” And life goes on.

Overall, I think this was a great race. Great location, super challenging course, great schwag (although we didn’t get finisher’s medals because of a snafu, but they are available), super aid stations with choice options (it wasn’t all just candy) and great post race options (although I didn’t get to spend much time there afterwards.) So if you are considering running Speedgoat, I’d highly recommend it.

Gettin Good at Gettin Lost. Even w/ GPS

So I tried to get on the Speedgoat course today with mixed results.

In Texas, there wasn’t really ever any need for GPS or knowing a course because there aren’t that many options and whatever options there are don’t go far, so it’s not a big deal to get lost. After today, I realize that I need to up my navigation game. Which is to say, I need to get one.

Today I was using the Gaia app with a GPX file downloaded from a guy on Strava. I want to get familiar with it because that is the app we are supposed to use for Bigfoot 200. I used it last week navigating to Lone Peak and also managed to get off trail. I also supplemented the app with Google Maps and that helped.

Some of the things I came away with:

Study the course! This is probably obvious to everyone but me, but now I get it. I can’t always rely on your magical electronic map to get me where I want to go. I have to have some idea of where the hell I’m going. This is super important when I’m out on my own like today. If I get myself lost 10 miles up a mountain, it’s going to be a long night. Which leads to my next take away

When going somewhere unfamiliar and I plan on being out there for several hours, pack more calories than I think I need. I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out where I needed to go it added a couple hours to my time. Which means I’m burning precious calories. And if I get even loster, It’ll make thinking that much harder. You don’t want your stomach to be the cause of bad decisions.

I thought I might try some really nice olive oil and bread and salt or cheese next time. Food needs to be calorie dense, sturdy and portable. Also a small Ziploc for garbage would be helpful. I had a small can of tuna which needed a bag to keep my pack clean.

I brought a bunch of Endurolytes. Twice I’ve encountered guys suffering from heatstroke. They are small and light and could really help someone out. That and crystallized ginger and a first aid kit.

And it wasn’t an issue on this outing, but in the future, having the ability to filter stream water is important. In Texas, this was never a consideration for many reasons. But here, you simply can’t carry enough water for an intense all day outing, and you don’t necessarily need to since there are often flowing water sources. So I have to learn what all is involved in filtering water. It doesn’t seem too complicated. But we’ll see.

Snow baskets. I think that’s what they are called. Those are the wider discs that go on the bottom of trekking poles for the snow. Today my poles would just punch through the snow. Those attachments help spread the force and keep them from sinking so far in the snow. Along with that, two point trail gaiters don’t cut it in the snow. Several times the snow found its way into my shoes.

Glissading can be fun if you plan for it. I slipped and slid and got a cut on my backside. I was lucky it wasn’t worse. There is probably some technique for doing it properly. It also probably requires something to slide on. My chintzy shorts were of no protection whatsoever.

Looking forward to the next chance to run the course.

 

DIE HARD

DIE HARD FLYER

Awhile ago I had an idea for a fatass that would be the “Dumbest Idea Ever,” or the DIE HARD on the Powerlines. I wanted a 24 hour and 12 hour timed event instead of a distance event. My friend Don and I had put on a 25k and 50K fatass on this course before, so I wanted to up the challenge. I put together my idea, and sent it out to the group. I added a 6 hour event because I figured more folks would join. The final list had around 40 folks signed up. Unfortunately, two of the other runners that signed up for the 24 hour event had to bow out due to injury. I would be the sole 24 hour runner.

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Rear and Front of the hoodie.

The week before was a mad scramble trying to purchase hoodies and then screen print them. The screen printing went okay, but I had a two color image that I didn’t have proper registration and/ or printing technique, so they came out a bit wonky. Still cool.

I worked the night before the event. Slept in till like 10, went to work at 11, got home at 8, packed all my food and gear. Ate at Whataburger at 11. Got to the Powerlines at 11:30. Took a 15 min power nap. Blaine and Daniel showed up. Jake was also there to cheer our start. I was bummed that he wouldn’t be joining me for the 24 hour, but thankful that Blaine and Daniel were starting with me. At midnight, the three of us unceremoniously took off. The moon was full and the weather was slightly chilly, perfect for running.

They took the lead and just fell to the back. Both of them were training for Bighorn, which they and a few other runners had signed up for after a few drinks at the bar. We talked about their plans and preparations and I found out that Daniel had never run an ultra before, and somehow signed up to run 100 miles? Hmmm…

The clouds began to roll in. Daniel called it quits after two laps due to a knee issue. Blaine called it quits after three laps due to a foot issue. After they left, I took another 15 minute power nap. I was kind of cold and wanted to warm up and mentally prepare for running solo till noon.

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Luckily for me, my friend Loren showed up. We ran together for a while, and then his military buddies show up – in road shoes. Then another surprise, Huw showed up. I ran with him while Loren guided his buddies. Huw and I ran into CJ and Anabel. By then it was around 9 or 10 and more people showed up. I started taking pictures of people as I saw them. I went old school with a point and shoot.

Throughout the day, I ran with almost a dozen people. They run for the time their schedule allowed and then depart. With it being Easter weekend, many people had family obligations.

At noon, the 12 hour people started. Had I planned better, I would have been there to see them off. The clouds had all burned off and it was getting warm. The 12 hour folks were in for a rough start.

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Blaine rocking the faux crop top

We talked about how daunting the power lines seem when you’re there to do two or more repeats. But now, because we had a bigger frame of reference, two didn’t seem like a big deal. Just keep plugging along and get through the mile you’re in. Before you know it, you’ve got 50K and still going for more. Crazy how the mind works like that.

Larry the Legend came out and kept trying to sell his 1994 Volvo with questionable transmission to us for $500. It was pretty amusing how he kept going on about it, despite the fact that we had zero interest in the deal. Amazingly, he did manage to get it sold that afternoon. He had promised to have his “popsicle stand” set up for the event. (He had done this for a previous fatass on these trails.) When we found out he hadn’t gotten any popsicles, we gave him quite a bit of grief. To our surprise, he came through later in the day when it was getting warm and the popsicles were greatly appreciated.

Jazzy kept me entertained for a good while as my “pacer.” She kept me in good spirits and managed to score two awesome carpet tiles from some of the fresh junk that had been dumped. I scored one blue tile. Jazzy told me she wanted to buy a Tacoma to tow her trailer (or whatever) and that she was selling her 2011 Subaru Outback… and now I am in the process of trying to buy that car. Test driving it tomorrow!

Got to send off the 6 hour runners. So anticlimactic.

Ran with Stephanie and she might be able to pace/ crew for me at Bigfoot, which would be huge. In the race recap email, I mentioned this and another runner emailed me saying that she would be interested in pacing/ crewing! Two possibles in two days! Lucky!

 

I learned that my dumb Garmin cannot be charged during a run. I plugged it in to my battery bank and when I was ready to go back out, the watch had reset. It’s not a big deal, but dammit Garmin! Make a watch for ultrarunners! I don’t need all the crazy fancy features, I JUST WANT A LOOOONG BATTERY LIFE. LIKE FOUR DAYS LONG. OR AT THE VERY LEAST, FIGURE OUT A WAY THAT ALLOWS US TO CHARGE THE WATCH DURING A WORKOUT.  IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?? SHEESH!

I had planned to hike more and eventually use my poles, but was feeling pretty good throughout the day. Like surprisingly good enough that I ran pretty much the whole time, never even thought about my poles, and was able to keep up with Stefan pushing me to my fastest miles at mile 70 and 71 (!!!)

This was definitely the highlight of the event for me.

It was just before sundown. Stefan, Blaine and I were running together. I put on some uptempo music on my phone and we started to pick up the pace. The music really got us going. Before you know it, were just like kids hauling ass down the trail. It felt wonderful to open up, I was surprised I was able to go as fast as I did for as long as I did. But eventually the adrenaline wore off and I was brought to a screeching hike. I was done. The return trip was slow, but Stefan stuck with me. I started formulating my excuse as to why I wanted to quit.

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Stefan the pusher

I had three more hours left, which should have been enough for one more loop to make it 79 miles, but I decided to call it a day because I didn’t want to deal with the rocks in the dark being as sleep deprived as I was. Kind of a lame excuse and I half wish someone had talked me out of it. At the same time, I was happy to take a nap and then watch the other runners come in and finish.

One by one, we saw the headlamps come down the hill. Brian was the last one 10 minutes past. Several of us hung out and had well deserved adult beverages. Tanya and Jason made an encore appearance fresh from Final Four festivities downtown, and they were trashed. I handed out Hoodies to a few people. On the way home, I got a burrito.

Overall, it was a great run for me. I finished 12 loops for 73 miles, 15k of vertical in 21 hours. I felt good during and pretty good after. There are three things I can possibly attribute to feeling as good as I did:

  1. I started being more consistent about core workouts. I started following the workouts from this book, and I do believe that they are making a difference. I feel like I have noticed it in my general running, it was even more pronounced at the event. Seeing the positive effects makes me want to continue working out.
  2. I was fanatical about taking Endurolytes every hour. I think two pills is the normal dosage, but I took just one each hour. (Two makes me gag.) My hands never swelled up, which I think means something.
  3.  I’ve been doing “speed workouts.” Not really the proper interval type, but just pushing myself to run faster. Running fast is fun, but it takes effort. If I end a run sweating profusely, I know that was a good hard workout.

It was a fun event. I have a hard time at writing about these things, but plan to try to write more often, so that it gets easier. In conclusion, the end.

 

200 to 200

Hadn’t run much this week, wanted to make up for it with a long run. Was very inspired, motivated after hanging out with Dustin at Julie and Joe’s house. Julie gave us some insight on doing that long of a race.

Took my poles with me to “practice” using. I can use them just fine. I have my techniques down pretty well, but sometimes my arms hurt after using them extensively. I might have bad form?

Carried my windbreaker, glad I had that. Part of the day was chilly. Luckily there was no rain. My raincoat issue still has not been solved.

Did a bit of hiking as well. Felt like I was moving well. Kept decent track of calorie intake. Stopped at the gas station and got drinks and a hot dog. Hot dogs are def something I want to put on my list of foods to have at races. Nice and salty, good bite to them, easy to digest. Ketchup being the only acceptable topping due to its sweetness.

Learned and thought about a few things in regards to Bigfoot on the run:

It was hard modulating my temperature with the windbreaker. I took it off and put it back on several times during the run. I think a vest with arm sleeves might be something to look into. Or getting a jacket with pit zips or some sort of easy venting. Also, all my sweat condensated inside the jacket, especially around the crook of the arms.

Finally figured out a spot to attach my mouthpiece for the bladder. Hooked it on the loop of the top strap. So whenever I take off the strap, the hose goes with it. Smart!

That stupid whistle needs to go. It clicks non stop. Dammit Salomon, just build the whistle into the buckle like everyone else! That backpack should come with instructions. And it should NOT be one size fits all. The zippers on the sides are annoying. I felt like my arms kept rubbing against the sides. Def need to wear sleeves, otherwise that could lead to chafing.

Thought I should tape my nipples just in case. 108 hours is a long time.

Put tape or something around the middle of the poles. If it’s cold, especially at night, the poles are cold. Tape or something to hold on when it’s cold.

The Injini socks I have are not going to cut it as liners. When I took them off, they had slid down a bit and I think could very well have been a blister issue. So taller liner socks it is! If only Darn Tough and Injini could have a sock baby.

Need to figure out how I will carry my Garmin as it’s charging because the cable plugs in perpendicular to the watch. That’s some dumbness right there. Also need to time how long it takes to charge. And figure out all the settings.

Bought two liters of water at the gas station since they were cheaper by the pair and I thought one wasn’t going to be enough. But one was enough and I had to ditch the other bottle. Realized I should know by sight how much my bladder can hold.

Did some exploring, which was nice. It is some much more interesting when you run somewhere new than running something you’ve run a million times before. Ran up Branson Falls! Found some new hills in the neighborhood next to the Powerlines. Also a bonus hill in the neighborhood next to Crownridge. Also found a new trail off of Prue road. It was anything spectacular, but it was still some place I’d never run before, and there was a hill along the way. Also hopped a locked fence!

Got two errands done, dropped off books at the libary, and bought some things at Joanns.

Overall, pretty good run. Goal was 20, got 26.6. Need to follow it up with 15-20 miler really early. But don’t know if that’ll happen.

Capt’n Karls 60K Muleshoe Bend

Seems silly to report on a 60K, but here I am. Four 9 mile loops. Boring and uneventful, this is more to get in the habit of writing a race report.

I have a goal of doing a race every month, and since there aren’t any other races this month, I signed up. Wish I had planned better since the price was an extra $20. I had run parts of the trails on two separate occasions for work a few months back, so I didn’t plan much. I knew it was going to be hot and muggy; I loaded up my big cooler with 3 coconut waters, 2 Arizona tea tall boys, 3 sparkling waters, 2 mama chia drinks, and a big chocolate milk, and a Budweiser tall boy. That was the extent of my planning.

It’s a night race. The day of the race, my schedule seemed like there was plenty of time to get stuff done and then drive two hours to the race. Being on time stresses me out, so next time I’ll get everything done the day before and leave earlier. As much as possible, it’s best to avoid mental stress before a race. Planning and preparation is key.

On the way up, there were ominous looking clouds and a few brief showers. Once again, I hadn’t checked the weather report. I was prepared for heat, but not for rain, and that had me worried. I got there about 1.5 hours before the start. The sky still looked like it might rain, but fortunately, it never did. I managed a 15 min cat nap right before the start.

Start of the race, I chatted with Julie a bit. Once the single track got going, I stayed with the group for a bit, thinking take it easy to start. But after a while, I would just jump past the parade leader. It annoys me that people don’t step aside to let others pass when they have a whole train behind them. I didn’t want someone else determining my pace this early in the race. Eventually the field spread out and I had my space.

Expected the humidity to be an issue, it wasn’t.

Breezed through aid stations without dilly dallying: filled up a bottle, grabbed a few snacks, and took off. Every thirty minutes or so, popped an Endurolyte. Last race I was taking two at a time, and the second one was tough to swallow. They have an unpleasant flavor when you put them in your mouth. But they kept my fingers from swelling like sausages, so I believe they did whatever it is they are supposed to do. (Balance electrolytes levels.)

Watermelon, orange slices and fig newtons were the majority of my fuel. Had various liquids including tailwind. Had a lifesaver candy which was nice for a while, and at the last aid stone on the final loop, has two pieces of gum. That was pretty huge. Kept my mouth from drying out. Funny, I remember how I used to rave about gum, but stopped chewing it. But since I was chewing for less than three miles, my jaws didn’t get tired. So gum may make it into my next race plan.

And the one time I don’t carry spare batteries. I heard a thump behind me. A lady had tripped. I stopped to make sure she was okay. Apparently it was her first night race and her headlamp was super dim. She said it was a piece of crap headlamp, but more likely the batteries just needed to be changed. Normally, I’d have some on me, but this time I didn’t.

I was kind bummed because I was moving well when I heard her fall. I really wanted to keep running, but that’s not cool. Now I was thinking I was going to have to run her into the next aid station. She followed me for a bit, I tried to light the way. But then she took off ahead of me and sped off. That was a relief.

The course at night is like a nightmare. It seems like you’re running in place, nothing seems to change much. Also because the course is so snaky, you’ll see people on an adjacent path and you can’t tell if they are ahead of you or behind you. Super annoying.

Keep thinking about how hard can I push myself? I never push real hard in races because I don’t want to empty the tank. But honestly I don’t know how much my tank holds. I do think that the box step ups I did for a few days helped. Or I want to believe they did. Def need to be doing more of those. Didn’t have any music, that didn’t bother me too much.

First loop went by quickly. Second loop felt good, thought I was probably running a bit too fast. Third loop was okay. Fourth loop wasn’t bad, but there was definitely more walking. Overall, was a decent race. Need to find a why or a goal.

Next race:
weather report / bring everything and prepare for anything.
Endurolyte every 30 min
spare batteries, gum
motivation?
socks: toe socks and darn tough hiking, Altra lone peaks.

 

 

 

 

 

Touting the Twofer

I love my library. I love that I can borrow books, music cd’s, movies, and magazines. So much information available for free and all I have to do is return it on time. What a deal! The best part is there’s a branch not far from where I run most often. So I will run to the library to pick up or drop off items – literally running an errand. That was one of my first “Twofers.”

A few months ago, I started doing hot yoga, aka Bikram. My right knee felt weak and I asked one of the instructors for advice on how to strengthen it. He suggested trying the Cr***fit workouts at the Hollywood Park location. Since it’s part of my yoga membership, I figured I’d give it a try.

I went a few times, and it was actually “fun.” It certainly wasn’t as aggro as I imagined it would be. (But that’s probably because it’s a beginner’s class.) It was like going to the gym, but instead of having to figure out what to work on, someone tells me what to do and I try to do it. I liked that aspect very much and kept going back.

It takes about a half hour to drive to the location, so I decided to put that drive time to use. I started listening to my Thai language audio tapes. I don’t know how well it works since I’m half paying attention (since I’m driving) but I’m going to keep at it.

So the yoga studio is next door, and I would always see everyone in there practicing. It eventually occurred to me that I ought to try a Twofer. I was concerned I would be too tired to do an hour thirty in the hot room, but decided to give it a try. It was tough at first (and still is) but I got through it. It’s not so bad and now I look at he Cr***fit workout as a warmup to the hot yoga. The best part is I don’t have to think about when to go to yoga, at minimum, I go Tuesday and Thursday.

Today, I’m going to do a new Twofer- running to Yoga. The Huebner studio is only about 4.5 miles from my house, so that should be a pretty easy run. The weather today is perfect: cool and sunny. Once I get some new tires on my bike, I think riding to yoga would be another great Twofer option.

I use Strava to log my miles, and recently started taking Instagrams during runs – another Twofer! – and I’ll include those when I get back.

 

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Another Flower Gallery

Ran for three and a half hours on 50/50 trail and pavement. Recent rains have got the wildflowers all up in a tizzy! I’m trying to document as many different types of flowers as possible. These were all shot today on the same run. Nuts, right? There were so many flowers, it was ruining my running rhythm; I’d stop every few feet to take another picture.

Focusing on iPhone is a b!tch. It’s so hard to tell in the bright  sunlight. Getting it to focus on the right thing is especially tricky.  I preset the AF/AE lock and then try to frame the image, but often can’t find the right focal range. More practice, I guess!

The run was tough. When I started, there was some awesome cloud cover. Sadly, it burned off quickly and the humidity set in .

I ran in my Hoka Stinsons for the first time. As much as I want to like them, not the best initial impression. Definitely issues on uneven trail surfaces. Unfortunate, as the reason for buying them was to save my tootsies from the rocks at Bandera.  Need more miles before rendering a final verdict, although I’m paranoid this will mean that I won’t be able to return them.

Also using Tailwind for the third time. Lemon something or other flavor. I’m not sold on the efficacy just yet. I bonked pretty good today. I left the house with only 400 calories, about half of what I should have had for a (planned) 15 mile run. After I consumed my bottle of Tailwind and two gels, I stopped at a gas station and bought a Gatorade and a Reeses peanut butter cup. I never do that. The Reese’s was righteous, and it helped a bit, but I was still dragging.

The weird thing is how tired I felt after only 10 miles or so. I thought to myself, “You think you’re tired now?? Wait till you’ve been up for 20 hours and you’re at mile 80. How the hell are you going to manage that?” Either I exhausted my glycogen yesterday, I didn’t consume enough calories during the week, or something, but this shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. Which reminds me, I want to start my running diary. That sounds so…

For the day, did a lot of walking and finished with 14, a mile short of goal.

Running / Water

We’ve had a good bit of sorely need rain the past few days. The other day I got caught in a downpour, and it was glorious. There’s just something about running in the rain that is so fun. Once you get over the fact that you’re soaked to the bone, it’s not so bad. The creek (or crick as some would say) beds are normally bone dry, but they were (alive with running water. The creek is not an active creek, more of a drainage creek, which is far less charming, but it’s nice to see it’s doing its thing.

Last night we got even more rain. I didn’t think about how that would affect my run to the gym until I saw the water. There were at least five spots where the path was flooded over. But it’s just water! I took off my shoes and socks and walked through. Putting my toe socks on five times was a bit of a chore.

The other day I saw a deer, which is not unusual. They are generally skittish and don’t stay still for pictures, but this one was in a clearing that allowed for a clear-ish shot.  One day, I’ll get a good shot of a deer. Also saw a gathering of what looked like vultures at a watering hole. They all scampered off when I ran by except for one guy. That would have been a much better shot with his friends.

Today I saw a heron (?), a vibrant green snake that surprisingly didn’t slither away before I could take its picture, and a snail. Yes, a snail. Oh and I always see cardinals, but they are so fast – by the time I think to take out my camera – they’re gone. One day… I don’t know much about animals, but it’s cool to see them on the trail.

Ran through some drainage channels in the neighborhood behind my gym. This appears to be where the a bunch of seventh grade graffiti artists hang out. (It’s not very good graffiti.) I thought perhaps I should bring a can of spray paint and see if I can do any better.

Got to the gym sweaty and stinking to high heaven. Worked out for an hour and headed back out. By then it was noon and hot and HUMID.  I was surprised I wasn’t more tired. I downed a citrus flavor Clif gel which was pretty good. It tasted like a Pop Ice, those colored frozen stick pop things. Great flavor for hot weather.

Took a shorter way home, and this time I didn’t bother to un-shoe myself through the flooded spots. Just plowed right through. The water was cool and felt great. So great in fact, I took a break and sat down waist deep in the creek. It was nowhere near as nice as sitting in the creek at the Grand Canyon, but it did the trick. And yeah, the water’s brown and filthy, but as a trail runner, so am I!

Weekend @ Guadalupe Mountain

Wow. I got a taste of mountain running and I want more!

Eight of us went and camped at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It’s a 7 hour drive but luckily I didn’t have any driving responsibilities. (Hello naptime!)  We got there Friday afternoon, set up camp, and suited up to run. The weather was dry and cool, but the nonstop wind made it rather chilly. None of us expected it to be as “cold.”

The first day we hiked up Guadalupe Mountain. The starting elevation was about 5800′ and topped out at 8700′ for a gain of 2900′. That isn’t that big for a mountain, but it’s way bigger than anything we have in town.

The rocky terrain was pretty challenging. You pretty much had to keep your eyes glued to the trail. If you wanted to take in the view, you had to stop. There were a couple of scary vertical-cliff-so-don’t-look-or-you’ll-fall-off points along the trail. There were  also some runnable portions , but they were few and brief.

The peak was marked with a big pyramid monument and had a book to sign for posterity. We hung out there for a bit, soaking in the view. But before long we were off, ready to enjoy the downhill payoff.

 

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Strava Report Day 1

 

*   *   *   *   *      Day 2

The second day we ran Bush Mountain. This was all sorts of awesome. The initial climb was a slog fest. It seemed like there was an inexhaustible amount of uphill. But I focused on the trail in front of me and kept on pushing onward. Once we reached the peak, the views were fantastic. (Although they don’t look very fantastic in any of my pictures or videos.)

 

 

The best part of the run was the final few miles of downhill which were very runnable. It was a blast to be able to cruise along after having to dodge rocks all day. Lorenzo and Stefan full out raced the last miles and I would have liked to have joined them, but I was a bit more cautious.

We finished early in the afternoon. I had a few beers which put me into power nap mode which is unfortunate, because a few of them went out and ran a picturesque 5 miler. I was bummed when they got back and I saw the photos. So save the beer for the evening when you’re sure the running is done for the day!

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Strava Report Day 2

 

*   *   *   *   *    Day 3

On Sunday we did Guadalupe Peak again, which I thought was weird. But it was still fun, even if the vicious wind turned me into a popsicle. Always be prepared for cold weather in the mountains, even Texas mountains. A simple shell jacket, gloves, a buff, these small things can make a huge difference.

This might sound/seem dumb, but one of the things I was excited about was seeing the profile of the climbs we did. It’s sort of like looking at the results from a race, seeing your efforts measured and recorded in black and white. I almost feel like I should print out and frame the profile until I run another mountain.

TLDR: I ran some mountains, it was AWESOME!

 

Racing Thor

In our group email forum,  one group member mentioned that he held the Strava course record for the 1/2 mile long hill climb that a bunch of us were planning to do repeats on. He offered a light-hearted challenge to beat his record. I was not a Strava user, but I’d certainly entertain an open challenge.

Last Thursday, I met up with almost the same group of people from Tuesday, – Rachel, +Stefan, +Thor. (Yes, that’s his name. He is fast, having recently run a 3 hour marathon in New Orleans. ) We did an easy mile warm up, thankfully without running into the angry driver. We stashed our bottles at the bottom of the hill and slowly began our hill repeats.

The first two laps I fell in behind the group. Someone mentioned the email challenge, but everyone seemed content to trudge onward.  (Actually the running joke was to have Thor carry everyone’s GPS.) The third lap, I’d had enough following and got out in front and went a bit harder. And then I think it was the fourth lap, I ended up racing Thor up the hill. Or, it seemed like a race, so that’s how I took it.

He took off incredibly fast. My brain says, “Forget it, you whipped.” Almost immediately, I was sucking wind and wanted to stop and walk. And then I was reminded of the time I’d been dropped exactly like this by a girl.

Know when you’re beat

But I kept running. My brain kept telling me, “Stop! This is ridiculous!” My heart replied, “Stupid brain, you shut up now.” Coming in second is perfectly acceptable, quitting is not. Keep running!

Maybe three quarters to the top, I realize  I’m actually closing in on him… and then… I catch up to him… and… I pass him! My legs feel like lead but I run the last stretch as hard as I can…. I make it to the stop light and practically collapse. Holy Crap! I caught up to him and passed him. Did not see that coming.

Thor is two or three seconds behind. He stops, says “Good job,” and gives me a high five. He is pretty nonchalant. Was he even trying?  I struggle to catch my breath as we wait for the others to summit.

I don’t know Thor  well enough to gauge his competitiveness, but if he’s like me,  he was not pleased that I managed to catch him and next time he will really be cranking up the hill next time. Which means I’ll have to do the same. This will create a feedback loop of intensity that will undoubtedly result in some great hill workouts and probably some new course records. That’s my hope, anyway.

This little race up the hill reminded me of being a kid. Pure and simple, let’s race and see who’s faster. What I realized is that Direct competition is a great way to really push yourself. It is a tool that can propel you and also allow you to gauge your efforts afterwards.

Yes, (ultra) running is mainly a competition with yourself,  but what better way to test yourself than by directly competing with someone else who is also pushing himself?

*   *   *   *Are you competitive?  What’s your take on competition?