Tag Archives: training

#NotAClimber

So I’ve been climbing a lot. Like probably to the detriment of my “training” for Franklins 200. My mileage has been erratic. I certainly am not overtraining. Probably climbing is just a way to avoid being disciplined and actually putting in the work. For sure, climbing has opened up a whole ‘nother world for me. And I’m really happy about it.

Lexi, Self Proclaimed Bad Beta Contest Winner

My friend Zach and I used to climb back in high school, which was over 20 years ago. We were pretty consistent about doing it for maybe three years. Then life went on, I moved away, then moved back. We tried to climb again, but it wasn’t the same. We didn’t have the same free time and strength and youth. We dicked around on his small climbing wall, but nothing ever came of it. We definitely never went anywhere to rope climb or even boulder.

Brian, Mr Onsight Everything

And now I’m here in Utah. I work at REI and there is a Momentum gym literally next door. I hesitated about getting a membership because I was afraid I’d not go often enough to make it worth having. I bought a month pass, and I was pretty much hooked within the first two weeks. It really helped that there are so many climbers that work in our store. Black Friday offered a 6 month pass and I snapped that up, and I’m glad I did.

Annette, also getting back into climbing.

It took a few weeks to get to where I was “in shape.” The first two or three weeks, my forearms would get pumped super quick. The only thing I could get on were the purple V0 and V1’s with the giant holds. Much of my time then would be spent sitting and watching others climb as I waited for my forearms to relax. But I’ve made pretty decent progress, and a 2 -3 hour session in the gym isn’t unusual.

Nate, aka saltiest guy on earth.

Probably the best part is the social aspect of it. Not everyone likes to run, but almost everyone likes to climb. I can now engage with some of my coworkers in a sport that we both enjoy. If I hadn’t ventured into the gym and started climbing with them, I wouldn’t know them nearly as well. I’ve told everyone that I am always up to climb, and And there are a few of them that I get to share both sports with, and that is really cool.

Ethan, AKA Big Cat, chillest dude ever.

Perhaps the funniest thing (to me) is that I still don’t consider myself a climber. Even though I’m climbing quite a bit, I have yet to fully embrace that as part of my identity. Maybe because it’s all been gym climbing thus far, maybe it will change once I get outdoors.

Omar, #notaclimber, but giving it a go.

And now I understand my friend Dustin’s point of view. During an ultramarathon, he told me he didn’t consider himself an ultra runner. I was thoroughly confused. I was like, “Dude, you’re running an ultramarathon right now. How the heck could you not consider yourself an ultra runner?”

So yeah, Dustin, I get it now. Even though I’m climbing in this gym, every time I jump off the wall, I’m thinking #notaclimber.

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!

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?

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.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Clock

A few weeks ago, I discovered a “hidden” function on my Garmin that has since provided me with greater peace of mind. The function? Keys Locked.

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Stop Worrying and Just Run!

As a road runner, I used to obsess about my times, pace in particular. Pace was the measure of my progress as a runner. The faster my pace, the better I felt. And in order to keep that pace nice and shiny, if I stopped, walked, got a drink of water, had to stretch, take a sh*t, or whatever, I would stop my watch. I mean, why would you track the parts of your run when you’re not running, right?

I don’t completely know why I did this. Maybe because my running buddy always did (and still does) the same thing. Maybe this was just to seem faster without actually having to be faster. Maybe it was just wanting to have good numbers to look at at the end of the run. This bad habit stuck with me as I transitioned to trail running.

Whatever the reasons -or justifications- there was a problem with this constant watch-stopping. On far too many occasions I would forget to restart my watch. These miles were “lost,” and my weekly totals would be lower. And for a trail runner, mileage is more important than pace. Losing mileage was worse than a slow pace!

I tried using both types of the auto pause function and those were somewhat successful. After a few trials, I went back to the old fashioned manual stopping. Then when I forgot to restart my watch, I started chalking up the lost miles as offerings to the Trail Gods. That seemed like an absurdly acceptable solution.

While I would like to be a pious trail runner, I was offering more miles than necessary to the Trail Gods. Perhaps the Gods had been appeased and decided to take mercy on me: they showed me the Keys Locked function.

Near the start of a run, I had pressed some combination of buttons and accidentally locked the keys. I couldn’t figure out how to unlock it, so I just said the heck with it and ran. I realized I didn’t have to worry about stopping or restarting my watch. All I had to do was run. My pace might be slower, but so what? I realized how silly it is to stop your watch anytime you stop for something. You don’t stop your watch during a race, so why should you during training? You’re only fooling yourself if you’re not counting your down time during a run.

When I finished my run, I dinked around pressing different combinations of buttons and eventually figured it out (MODE and the UP ARROW). I was amazed how liberating it was to not worry about the time. Since that run, I lock my keys and let the clock roll, Pace and Time be damned. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I still obsess about pace, but I realize it only really matters during a race. And even then, it only matters in a road race.

So if you are a watch-stopper, stop stopping your watch and lock your keys!

Procrastinate Later, Write NOW!

I’m sure I’m not alone in my constant procrastination, and it’s time to do something about it.

Blogging has been on the backburner for too long. Good things are happening, and it’s time to share. I’m not going to worry some much about “crafting” my writing (since I’m not a writer), I’m just going to write. The biggest news for me: Running is fun again!

My Achilles seems to be pretty good for the most part. There are occasionally still times when it hurts, but the intensity and duration are lessened. I’m on 5 days a week, mostly following a Hal Higdon marathon schedule. Last week I ran with the R-U-N group for the first time in a million years and that was a blast. There’s a guy David who is pretty fast and I tried to keep up with him, and that was a great chase. The group is meeting again tonight and I have just enough time to write something…

An observation for you: I’m running the same greenway 5 days a week, at about the same time each day. Without fail, I see the same little old man walking the path. He seems very happy, and probably he waves or smiles at everyone. Whenever I passed him, I’d wave at him and he’d wave back. We don’t know each other, and I’ve never stopped and talked to the guy. But I’ve seen him so many times, I sort of feel like I know him. And now it’s gotten to the point where I can’t stop smiling when I see this old guy out there, in the heat, walking and smiling at everyone.

I’m tempted to stop and ask his name, just so I can say “Hi Fred! (or whatever his name is) when I see him. But I’m not skilled in the art of introduction, so I may just let that go. It may be enough to enjoy things as they are, and not want more.

*   *   *   *   *

I just completed the fourth week of the 100 push up program! I’m elated, but not looking forward to week 5 and 6. This week was tough and I’m thinking about repeating the week. I will make 100 pushups. Perhaps this weekend I’ll see how many I can do in a single go.

That’s my entry to get myself back on track. An injury sucked all the gun out of running, but now, things are starting to look up. There’s plenty more good news I’d like to share.

Next up: Juicing!

Jeebus Answers Prayers

Jeebus-Plaque-Car-Emblem-(2235)Running has been difficult the last two months. So I’ve tried to push running out of my mind. As a result, writing about running has been impossible. However, things may have just turned around.

I’ve been running shorter runs (8 miles or less) to ease back into running since aggravating my Achilles. Yesterday I ran a short out-and-back, 4.5 miles. At first I my Achilles was sore, but it warmed up. On the way back, I unintentionally started running fartleks. I ran fast for a bit, which felt great, but each burst was short-lived as my endurance is shot. So I’d walk for a minute and catch my breath. Then take off again.

On one of the sprints, I was trying to concentrate on my form. I could very well have imagined it, but I thought I heard and/or felt a weird crunching sound from my heel.  Immediately after hearing that, I stopped and walked. My Achilles felt slightly warm -like I could feel the blood flowing through it- and remarkably loose. I twisted it all around and there was no pain at all.  It felt like a big ugly knot just broken up and instantly dissolved.

I don’t know what happened, but it’s nothing short of a miracle.

This whole Achilles thing has been scary because I was afraid it was going to ruin two races.  But that might not be the case after all. When I got home I looked up Hal Higdon’s marathon training program. I pencilled that onto my calendar. I’m already two weeks behind, but that’s okay.

Even more heartening is that when I woke up, there was no residual soreness in my Achilles. Hallelujah! I’m supposed to run 3 miles today. My brain says take it easy, do JUST 3 MILES. But my heart has other ideas…

The Good News Part II

THE ZOO

Sadly, the entrance is the best part of the zoo
Sadly, the entrance is the best part.

The first week I ran up to the zoo. I’d run there once on a previous visit, so I knew I’d be safe. There are just a few houses on the way to the zoo, and thus the dog threat diminished, but I was still leery. Only once I got passed the gates did I feel at ease.

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The beginning of the hill…

The hill at the zoo
In case you didn’t realize the hill was steep, here’s a sign.

Inside the gates, all I had to worry about was dying from exertion trying to make it up the hill. It was a pretty decent grade, gaining almost 400 ft elevation over two miles, which might be peanuts to some folks, but it was a tough workout for me.

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The small shrine at the zoo

Offerings
Offering stage

One of my cousins works at the zoo. I was chugging up the hill and I saw her at the small shrine where the workers make offerings. When I saw her, I was like, “She looks familiar. Do I know her…Oh snap, that’s my cousin!” I waved. She didn’t recognize me at first either. I didn’t stop to chat, which I later realized is really is rude, sorry, but lesson learned.

The downhill run was super fun though. It was hard to slow down. I was flying! I’m sure the workers there were thinking “Crazy Farang (foreigner).” Actually, most of Thai people that saw me running had a confused look on their face, that I understood as, “What is that idiot doing?”

THROUGH FARMLAND AND THE WOODS

My earliest run. It was awesome!
My earliest run. The sun was a super intense orange, simply awesome.

The next few runs were out through some farmland. I wanted to be adventurous and go explore. Running in an unfamiliar location is thrilling in that you have no idea where you are, so it’s very easy to get lost – and that’s the best part! You just go. You don’t know where you’re going or what you’ll run into, but you’ll find out when you get there.

I  followed this dirt road for what seemed like eternity. Running unfamiliar locations has that effect, making distances seem greater than they actually are. Eventually the road ended and I turned around. The next time I ran the same course, but ventured out a bit more at the end of the road. And I ran the course a third time and ventured even further.

Thrilling as it was, the idea of getting lost was scary. After all, I couldn’t exactly tell anyone where I was going, since I didn’t know myself. So they wouldn’t know where to look for me if something happened. Often, I was in the middle of nowhere and if I had been injured, it would be hours or days before I saw a person.

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Much of the area had recently burned.

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For all I know, the sign says, “TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT”

I tried to take mental notes about where I was running. I figured worst case scenario, I could simply backtrack. But after a certain point, my brain could recall only so many  “unique” rocks or trees or whatever. And when it’s a million degrees and you’ve been running for an hour… all of a sudden backtracking isn’t so easy. I also had an idea of leaving a trail of bits of torn up neon colored paper, but I tried it and that wasn’t as good an idea in practice as in theory. Big surprise there!

A posted sign however, is unmistakable. This sign was my landmark for where the “road” ended and I ventured off into the woods. There was always a sense of relief when I saw the sign on my way back. I was cautious on those runs and didn’t get lost. So naturally, I stopped being cautious.

It’s Go Time!

Last month I read The Longest Race by Ed Ayres.

The Longest Race, kind of a boring book
The Longest Race, kind of a boring book

It sounded like an interesting read. It’s about Ayres’ running the JFK 50 miler. He runs the race, and as he talks about how the race is progressing, he segues into related ideas and thoughts from other aspects of his life. About stuff. And then he comes back to the running.

I felt like more of the book was his thoughts on the human condition than the actual running of the race, and that kind of bugged me. Or bored me, rather. It was mildly interesting, but definitely not a page turner. But there were two things that I found noteworthy.

The first was about the virtue of letting the land go fallow which was somehow related to some aspect of running. (Or at least I think that’s what I remember. I can’t find the quote. It might not even be from that book. But I’m pretty sure.) Regardless of the details, when I read that, I realized that if you’re struggling to keep up with something, if possible, just drop it for awhile. Put it on the back burner, let things stew and percolate. I did that with my art and when I resumed making art, it was actually fun to paint again. If running is becoming a chore for you, take a week off.

This blog is another example. I started all hot and heavy at the beginning, and then ran out of steam. I started out at a ridiculous pace I couldn’t sustain. Classic rookie mistake! But after this post, the blog will be allowed to go fallow, because I’m going to Thailand for two months and I won’t have internet. I’ll be able to think about where I want to go with this and how to get there. I want to keep up with this blog as well as I keep up with my running.

While I’m in Thailand, I plan to continue running, God willing. I’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn to avoid the scorching sun, but that’s just how it is. I also plan to do the 100 Push Ups Program, http://www.hundredpushups.com/index.html, and possibly the squat or situp program. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, but for sure, I should be able to handle running and pushups.I had better do some running since 90% of what I’m bringing with me is running stuff! Check it out.

This is everything I'm bringing with me.
This is everything I’m bringing with me.

This is everything I am bringing with me, most of which is running stuff.

  • 2 short sleeve shirt, 2 tank tops
  • 1 swim trunks
  • 3 pair shorts
  • sandals
  • Cascadias
  • 2 running tank tops
  • 3 pairs running shorts
  • 4 pairs running socks
  • old Minimus – Close to being retired.
  • belt – To be worn on the plane.
  • prescription glasses, running sunglasses, fashion sunglasses
  • 1 box contacts – 45 day supply. Wear glasses on non-running days.
  • toiletries
  • 3 running magazines
  • Thai Made Easy book / Charlie Brown book (gift)
  • jeans and boxers – To be worn on the plane.
  • hat and headlamp
  • Garmin – To be worn on the plane. / charger
  • iPod shuffle / headphones
  • The Stick
  • Camelback
  • passport / cash / credit cards
  • flashlight – Probably don’t need this.
  • iPod touch – For use as a camera on runs.
  • 2 16-Gig data sticks -To back up photos.
  • shirt and hoodie – To be worn on the plane.
  • camera bag / camera / extra lens
  • laptop / drawing pens / pencils

That sure seems like a lot! But I managed to fit almost everything in my backpack. I couldn’t fit the Thai Made Easy book, so I’ll have to hand carry that. Which isn’t too big of a deal.

This is everything smallified.
This is everything smallified.

The other thing I gleaned from Ayres’ book:

“Reaching the highest possible performance as a runner is a year-long, even lifetime, venture. By the time you get to the starting line, 95 percent of what you’ll accomplish in the race has already been done.”

That’s a great realization. All the time and preparation before the race may well determine how well your race goes. You put in your miles and then all you have to do is run your race. I can attest to this after putting in three solid months of training for Bandera (my first 50K). I was super tired afterwards, but I felt I ran a good race. And it explains why I was so nervous about doing Nueces (my first 50 miler) on only 5 weeks of training. I was super-duper tired and thought I was going to die afterwards, and I felt I could have run a better race, if I’d had more time to prepare.

Ayres’ quote really makes me think about is how important weekly training is. Every mile you run is money in the bank, so to speak. And it adds up. The Chicago marathon is six months away. I want to run a 3:10. For the next two months I can put miles in the bank toward that goal, or I can slack off, waste an opportunity, and have to play catch-up when I return.

Do you have an upcoming race that you need to prepare for? Are you putting in the miles or putting off the miles? Do you wanna pay now or pay later? What’s it going to be?

See you in two months!!