Category Archives: Training

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?

 

Holiday Marathon!

I’m going to Italy! And I’m going to run a marathon while I’m there!

My sister is in the Air Force, stationed at Aviano AFB. She’s been there for two (three?) years and is nearing retirement, at which point she’ll return to the states. Back in January, we were talking and I said I’d love to visit her before she left Aviano. And coincidentally,  I had enough frequent flyer miles to get to Italy.

Her response: “Book it!”  And so I did.

I looked for races around Italy, and found one in the city of Treviso. It a road marathon, and it’s point to point. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that didn’t finish where it started. It’s great because maybe I’ll see more sights. And I plan to carry a small point and shoot camera, so I don’t plan on running it fast. Of course I say that now, but once I’m in the thick of the pack, the run may very well turn into a race.

percorso-treviso-marathon-2

I’m hopeful that I can run every day, but we’ll see. Apparently the weather is pretty crummy right now -cold and rainy, definitely not a good combination. Pizza and gelato sounds like a much better combination!

Meanwhile,  I’ve been trying to take more photos when I’m out. Here are a few  neat things from my  last few runs.

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Today, saw the Spanish Moss gone wild!
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Termite trails! So cool like a line drawing.
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Veins of a cactus plant.

And the prettiest announcement of Spring…

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Texas Red Bud, I think.

 

WTF is Wrong with People?

Bear spray non-lethal conflict resolver! Photo credit: Arne Nordmann via Wikipedia
Bear mace: non-lethal conflict resolver!
Photo credit: Arne Nordmann via Wikipedia

Met up with some of the running group at 5 am to do hill repeats. (That’s right, I got up at 4 so I could drive across town to run up and down a hill several times. I still can’t get over how nuts that is.)

There were five of us. The plan was a short warmup, and then up and down the same biggish hill for 70 minutes. The area where we were running is half businesses, half residential, with lots of traffic during the day. However since it was so early, there was virtually no traffic.

So we started off on our warmup and are making our way up a smaller hill. The “trail” we were running was basically where the sidewalk would be if there were one. Four of us were on the “trail” and one girl, Kelli, was on the road running close to the curb.

At the top of the hill, an oncoming truck started honking like crazy as it approached us. I don’t recognize the truck, but I figured it must be a late runner. The truck came to a complete stop next to Kelli. I didn’t hear what the driver said initially, but I quickly got the gist of it when Kelli replied, “Are you aware that there are two lanes?”

The jackass driver then started yelling,  and threatened to call the cops if Kelli didn’t get off the road. He then called us a bunch of hippies and took off.

It all happened so quickly, and seemed so unbelievable that I think we were all shocked. At 5 in the morning, this guy felt compelled to stop and yell at a bunch of strangers because one girl happened to be running along the curb. Seriously dude, are you for real? Hippies?

This event is both baffling and infuriating.

I really do not understand how or why someone would act like this. Mr. Jackass, I ask you: Why do you feel like you have the right to tell us  to get off the road? Does the fact that you are driving a truck  grant you some special authority? Are we unworthy to travel the same road as you? Was the other lane not good enough for you? Is it because we were traveling on foot and are therefore “hippies”?

The worst part about this type of situation is I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s no way to show this misguided individual  the error of his ways. I really wanted to chuck a rock at his rear window, but as satisfying as that may have been, it obviously would have made things much worse.

I wish I knew the best way to deal with this sort of situation because Texas is a breeding ground for idiot truck drivers. It’s hard to let incidents like this slide, but maybe that is all I can do.  After all, no one was physically injured, it was all just words coming out of some d-bag’s mouth. At least one person of the group will be running again on Thursday, and I may join him. If I do, I will definitely stay off the roads so as not to re-antagonize Mr. Jackass or his brethren. And maybe carrying a  can of bear strength mace is in order.

Has something like this ever happened to you? If so, how did you deal with it? If not, how would you deal with it?

32 oz Bottle of Magic

32 ounces of award winning, plant based, fish free, NON GMO magic.

Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend

I’ve read about plenty of other runners that use Udo’s Oil and swear by it. Both Geoff Roes and Scott Jurek are on the Udo’s train, and they know a thing or two about running. I want to be like them (someday), so I’m getting on the Udo’s train.

“Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend contains the ideal balance of Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids (2:1)… Every cell, tissue, gland, and organ is dependent upon the presence of essential fatty acids. They are the main structural component of cell membranes and are necessary for cell growth and division.” – From the box.

Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s? Yeah, I’ve heard of them, but what exactly do these Omegas do for me? How do they fix my insides so that I can run faster or farther? Am I going to have to learn some basic biology again? (Really, I should.)

Since I currently don’t fully understand how it works, I might as well consider it “magic.” Hopefully it’s more magic than snakeoil.

Tuesday Long Run

Missed an opportunity to run at Bandera this past weekend, and wanted to make up for that.

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Hard to see, but some of the trees are turning red.

A beautiful sunny afternoon with temperatures in the forties, it was a perfect day to be out for several hours. The plan was to run to the Power Lines and then turn around, the Power Lines being a three mile stretch of hills that my running group uses for hill training. The trail runs beside electrical power lines, thus its name. Looking at Mapmyrun, the round trip looked to be around 22 miles, with the bulk of the mileage coming from just getting to the power lines. Setting out at noon, I figured on being out 4 – 4 1/2 hours, plenty of time to think about stuff.

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It begins…

I had a short sleeve wicking shirt over a long sleeve wicking shirt. Generally, for “cold” weather in Texas, this works out fine. But there were points where the wind picked up and chilled all the sweat in my shirts. I really felt that and it worried me. I did bring a spare shirt, but it was -surprise!- another wicking shirt. What would that accomplish? That’s when I realized, “That’s what a windbreaker’s for. You should get one of those.” Fortunately, the wind didn’t stick around, but I’ll definitely be looking for a windbreaker soon.

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Looking back, you can see the neighborhood going up. It looks all naked.

Cold hands are the worst! Gloves helped tremendously, but that’s pretty obvious. I was surprised that I could actually operate my phone’s touchscreen without having to take off my gloves. They aren’t those fancy gloves designed specifically for that purpose, so it took a few tries, but I could do it. This allowed me to take a few more photos than I would have if I had to remove my gloves every time, which is nice because one of my goals is to take more photos while out on runs.

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Looking up from directly beneath a tower.

A new thing for me was a Buff bandana thingie, which I was using as a neck gaiter. Holy cow, that works out great! I never realized how nice it is to have a warm neck. The Buff is a ridiculously simple thing, just a super thin tube of stretchy fabric, but it really provided some real comfort. Which is great considering it was ridiculously over priced – $25 at REI. If it continues to provide as much usefulness later on, say in the summer, then it will be totally worth it.

Buff bandana as neck gaiter. Dope!
Buff bandana as neck gaiter. Dope!

One more thing I want to mention is Hammer Perpetuem. It worked well for me in my last race, and it worked just as well on this run. The last two long runs, I didn’t carry much food since I relied on Perpetuem for calories. On this four hour run, other than the Perpetuem, I got by on two gels and a handful of beef jerky. To me, that’s nuts. To me, that says Perpetuem really works. The flavor is very subtle, and I’ve not had any GI issues with it. If you are in the market for liquid calories, you ought to check it out.

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What kind of birds are these? Pretty sure not vultures…

Final tally for the day was 21.22 Miles in 4:04.