Sunday, December 12, 2010

Working on Mysteries, 2011

The big event that put all other plans temporarily on hold has come and gone.  I’m in for Western States.  I can now start to put 2011 together, but it also provided a very nice 1 month mental running vacation, that I think I really needed.  I only ran when I had nothing else to do, instead of planning my days around my running.  I ran 71 miles for the month of November, it’s been good for my legs, good for my head and good for my life.

Now, my next 6 months will be preparing for Western States.  I’ll figure out some races between here and there, but everything will point to the 100 miles between Squaw Valley and Auburn on June 25th.  I ran my first longish, 16 miles, run since October this morning.  I actually ran 14 miles last weekend but it was with friends, talking the whole way.  I really think that hours spent running alone in your own head is as much a part of ultra training as miles on the legs.  I’ve spent the majority of my 7 years running, thinking that the way to make running harder is to run faster, and I still think that’s true, but I need to learn some new things.  I need to search out some hurdles that I generally avoid.  The big one is hills.  I don’t mind running hills, and I ran some pretty big ones last year, but I don’t go looking for them.  And I need to be running downhills as much as up hills.  That’s almost the entire Western States course, you’re either going up steep, or coming down steep.  If it’s windy, I usually try and start into the wind and finish with a tail wind, I need to start reversing that when I can too.  On runs over 3 hours, if Jeanne crews me, I need to have predetermined breaks, like an aid station would be rather than have her where ever I decide I want a break.  I’m not sure how it got stuck, but the Bob Seger song Night Moves has been stuck in my head, “working on mysteries, without any clues”.

So this morning I started out with a pretty strong wind at my back, yesterdays heavy rain having also enticed thousands of worms onto the road.  As I left the pavement and headed into the Baskett Slough my road companions changed from worms to newts, everywhere.  I ran some hills, not big ones, but enough to make me think.

As I was getting dressed to run, I was watching a show about poachers in Africa and the effects they have on different species.  Their concerns were the same problems that humans hunting creates in general, that we search out the largest, most dominant male animals.  This leaves lesser males to reproduce, which weakens the breed of the species over time.  As I was running through the Baskett Slough, I thought about how many friends I know that have chosen to not have children.  Smart, strong, healthy people deciding to not breed, while Harvey Danger Lyrics, “Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding”, rattle around in my head.  I wonder if, as a species, we aren’t poaching ourselves, and why?  Careers, travel, not wanting to bring children into a cruel world, “my dogs are my children”, I know all the words, but I don’t know if that answers why.  Maybe it’s pretentious to believe that having children betters the world in some way, but millions will be born every year without those hopes, anyway.

As I made the turn to head south at Van Duzer Vineyards, with 5 miles to go, the headwind brought me back to running.  I could see rain coming over the coast mountains and figured I should make it home before it hit.  I could feel fatigue in my legs during the last few miles, strange to feel that after 15 miles at an easy pace.  The oak trees are bare with the exception of moss and mistletoe, by the time they have their leaves, these 16 mile runs through the Baskett Slough will be an easy day, and Western States will be getting close.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010 A Space Oddity

I had three goals for 2010.  I had a lot of things I wanted to do, but only three that could really be considered goals.  Those three were, PR in both the 10k and Half Marathon, and complete a 100 mile event.

Then, some funny things happened on the way to the Forum.  For starters, I didn’t even run a half marathon, all year.  I did PR in the 10k, minutes after learning Nathaniel had been in a car accident that brought a house down....well at least a garage.  My 100 mile attempt, while a great learning experience, ended much the same way Nathaniel's car and said garage did.

So, I thought I’d salvage what was left of a Summer of hard work with an attempt at Qualifying for Boston at the Tri Cities Marathon, in Richland WA last weekend.  I needed 3:30 to qualify for Boston, 8:00 minute pace.  It’s not so much that I’ve gone out too fast in the last few, it’s more what those early miles have taken out of me mentally. 

Just before the start.
 Halloween Day, I ran my smartest and probably best marathon ever. I didn't hit the split button on my watch, I just was casually aware of my time.  I know the first mile was 7:47.  I know at mile 6 I was 12 seconds behind pace.  I know at mile 9 I was about 30 seconds back.  I know that I went over the half marathon mat just under 1:46.  I know that miles 14 and 15 were both just under 8:00 minute pace because I was worried that I was slowing down, but thought it strange that nobody was passing me.  I was more relaxed being a minute behind pace than I’ve ever been being a minute or two ahead.  

Mile 14 and blue skies.
 Mile 16 was up and over the cable bridge with the now very strong cold winds at my back.  The short distance with a tail wind wasn’t worth the tightening in my back.  Coming off the bridge I slowed quite a bit and tried to get my back loose.  Once I got back up on the river path with the wind in the face my back felt better, this was really the first time, at mile 17, that I really concerned myself with my
time.  I was now 2 minutes back.  I felt strong and was ready for work to begin.  The wind was now 25 mph straight into our face and would be that way the entire 10 miles coming back in.  I ran as hard as I've ever run in a marathon from 17 to 20, but my times were 8:15, 8:21 and 8:23, this felt like 7:30 effort and maybe it was.  The wind was so strong at times that it would blow me off line, at mile 20, almost 4 minutes down and not able to get close to 8:00 pace.  I went through a very strange 2 minutes of pragmatism arguing with desperation and realized, it was over.  I took my foot off the gas and enjoyed an easy run in.

While 2010 won’t end with a long list of accomplishments, it might be my most satisfying year running.  The run from The Dalles to Sisters really cemented my love for multi day journey running that will be a big part of my running in the future.  I also think I truly understand some things that I thought I knew, but I really didn’t comprehend.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for 2011, but all of those decisions will have to wait until after Dec 4th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Raised from the dead

I've been fine.  I realized, in the week following Lean Horse, that I had a ton of base miles in my legs that didn't get used up.  So,  I picked a marathon 8 weeks out. I've been putting in a lot of speed and tempo runs.  And so, at the risk of jinxing myself, I'm in pretty good form to take a shot at a Boston Qualifying time on October 31 at the Tri Cities Marathon in Richland, WA. 

2011 Boston Marathon sold out in 8 hours when registration opened this week, so if I do run under 3:30, I'll be qualifying for 2012.

I've made a few other conditional decisions.  I'm going to enter the Western States Lottery next month.  My qualifying time is still good.  If I get in, I'll assume this is the universe guiding me.  If I don't, I'll figure some other things out.  Regardless, I'm about 99% committed to running across Oregon next summer.  I'll run from the California border to the Washington border along hwy 97.  When, in the summer, will depend on Western States.

My last long run is home from work tomorrow.  I've been working half day on Saturdays for the last 6 weeks, so my long runs have been the 18 miles home from work, plus what ever extra miles I need.  Tomorrow I just need the 18, which is nice.

9 days to Richland.  Weather looks good, low of 42, high of 59, with no rain.  I'm feeling pretty good about this! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wild, crazy and dead: Lean Horse Hundred 2010

Lean Horse, my first 100 miler.  It would be tempting to start at the end and get it over with but.....Jeanne and I flew into Billings Montana on Thursday.  It was the closest airport we could use frequent flyer miles, but it required a 5 hour car drive to Hot Springs.  It was 103 degrees when we landed, and “big sky country” was as advertised.  As we drove, I found myself grateful for the way the plan had worked out.  The long drive gave a sense of arrival, I anticipated a long drive back as a sense of victorious departure.  With a belly full of purchased food and from an air conditioned car it’s easy to appreciate the beautiful emptiness of Montana and Wyoming.  But as we drove past the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn, without seeing the buffalo roam, or the deer and the antelope play, it's hard to imagine wars fought over this desolation.

Where buffalo roam.
We did see deer and antelope and even buffalo but not in the same quantities of another nomadic species.  Sparkling Harleys, rolling, like middle aged water, downhill toward Sturgis.  It’s strange how it is that some people get stuck in places others escape to.  And most of these places shared one of three adjectives; wild, crazy or dead.  

The Black Hills of South Dakota are absolutely beautiful.  Lean Horse is a very well organized event, and the town of Hot Springs and everybody affiliated with the race made this seem like the perfect choice for my first hundred.  I was well trained and well rested, and I fully expected to have very fresh legs early.  I also had a plan, and in the end it was having a plan that proved to be my undoing.
Just before the start.
There were aid stations every 4.5 to 6.5 miles apart.  The third aid station was at mile 16 and this was the first one that Jeanne could meet me at.  My plan was to start with two bottles of Infinit, that would last me until I met Jeanne at 16.  After that, I figured it would take me less than an hour to go from aid station to aid station so I would pick up one bottle of Infinit at each aid station.  The Harbach aid station was at mile 35 with 6.5 miles of moderate uphill after.  I planned on getting to Harbach around 1:00 PM and figured it would be getting hot around then.  I figured that would be the first time I’d take 2 bottles with me.
On the Mickelson Trail

This might not have been a bad plan, but the mistake was having no alternative plan.  The first 16 miles took me longer than expected, I felt a little sluggish to start and the Argyle road hill from mile 4 to 16 is a pretty decent climb frequently into a headwind.  It was also close to 80 degrees by 9:00am as I came into Argyle aid station.  I had used up my 2 bottles and had been out for 3 hours, I should have taken 2 new bottles but I didn’t, because that wasn’t the plan.  This lack of adaptation created a death spiral for myself.  The more dehydrated I got, the longer it took me to get from aid station to aid station, the longer it took me, the more dehydrated I got.  I was really struggling at mile 25, I tried to go pee but couldn’t.  I was worried about how far behind my expected paced I was and I panicked.  Had I taken the time to rest, hydrate and pee at that point, I think I could have corrected my earlier mistakes, but I didn’t.  I had already thrown up once so I didn’t want more food, I took one bottle and off I went.  By the time I hit Harbach at mile 35 I was 2 hours behind where I expected to be, but I took a break anyway.  I drank some coke, changed my socks and toweled down with a cold wet towel.  I left that aid station with 2 bottles and ran that 6.5 better than I had for quite a while.  Jeanne was surprised to see me when I got there, and I told her that I thought I was starting to “come around”.  I was even starting to think positively, I told myself that if I just took it easy through the heat of the day, and it was now in the 90’s, and kept making progress that when it cooled down at night I’d be ok.  The slight downhill out of the Mountain aid station brought with it a new problem, a stabbing pain in my lower back with each step.  It was ok if I walked but almost unbearable if I ran.  I initially thought it was muscle cramping, but as I went along it felt less and less like muscle pain.  As the trail flattened out around the 45 mile aid station it didn’t hurt quite as bad as it had on the downhill. I took 2 more bottles and a little food.  In addition to already obvious dehydration issues I had created for myself, I also wasn’t eating enough.  The Infinit is 220 calories per bottle, above and beyond that, I’d had a few bites of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, half a granola bar, a cliff shots gel and a half a banana.  All by itself I don’t think this would have been a problem and I think I would have eaten more once the weather cooled down, had I made it that far.  I reached the turn around in just over 12 hours, still well under the cutoff but more than 2 hours later than I’d expected.  My lower back hurt every time I tried to run and I started thinking about the prospects of walking the 50 miles back.  I say thinking, I did the math and realized it could be done, but the idea of walking more than half of something I had referred to as a race I just couldn’t reconcile.  

“The saddest of times were when I was racing and no one else was aware of it.”
John E. Morelock, Run gently out there, 2010

As I walked the bridge that crossed the highway leading to Hill City, I just couldn’t convince myself that I wanted to walk for 16 to18 hours through the night.  I decided somewhat by submission that if I couldn’t run, I didn’t want to continue.  It was around this time that I looked down and for the first time noticed that my stomach was huge.  And then pieces started really falling in and out of place, and I also realized for the first time, that I hadn’t peed all day.  I didn’t know what it would take to get myself back to being able to run, I knew I’d have to get rid of the water my body was collecting.  I wondered if I kept walking, would I eventually pee and would I then be ok.  I wondered if I rested for an hour, would that help.  It was in these wondering moments that I lost the will to continue.  I knew something was wrong me, though I didn’t believe, at the time, it was dehydration.  I told the people at the aid station I couldn’t be dehydrated, “I’ve had 40 oz of fluid per hour all day” and I believed that.  After I officially dropped out, Jeanne drove me back to the Harbach station with medical aide to have someone “look at me”.  They said I was severely dehydrated and insisted I go to the hospital.  I argued with them too, insisting I’d had plenty of fluids.  I told the same story when I arrived in the emergency room.  By now, however,  I was fighting against armed resistance, a prostate exam revealed an enlarged prostate that would not allow a catheter to be inserted despite 2 valiant attempts on their part and a lot of screaming and crying on my part.  As they were preparing for a third attempt I begged for other alternatives, even offering to drink Drano if necessary.  I eventually convinced them to let me try and pee on my own.  I managed to produce a few ounces of something that looked like iced tea, which gave them something to analyze and allowed them to start an IV.  I had to stay until I could pee again on my own and that took several hours but I did, it still looked like iced tea.  My lab results indicated a low grade infection, but it also showed my electrolyte levels to be good.  By this time I had started thinking about each aid station, and Jeanne had my splits recorded and I began to realize my big mistake. My plan had no back up plan. It feels really stupid to say this now but, I truly didn’t anticipate or prepare for any deviation from this plan until around mile 60.

I’ve been examined by my doctor, once home, and had new lab work done and according to Dr. Weaver I’m “Back to perfectly normal”.  I don’t think there was anything wrong with me other than dehydration and bad decisions.  I’m back running, feel great and on to new challenges.

There is more to it than that, and maybe it’s why it’s taken me so long to write this.  We lie to ourselves all the time, sometimes it’s for the best, sometimes not.  Sometimes it allows us to gain perspective on things, sometimes it allows us to postpone feelings until we can deal with them later.  But regardless of the reasons, or explanations of subconscious, I’ve always maintained that at 2:00 AM, staring at the ceiling, everybody knows the truth about themselves.  This was my first DNF, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve quit.  Despite slogans like “Just Do It”, and phrases of “giving a 110%” and “laying it all on the line”, most of life is really just an exploration into what makes us surrender.  I’ve never run a race without a goal time.  I’ve never had a goal time that I didn’t think I could accomplish.  Sometimes I beat this goal time but I usually don’t.  At some point in any race, if you push hard enough you will find out where you quit.  When I hear marathon runners or now ultra marathon runners refer to a 5k as “easy” I know, they’ve never tried running one fast enough then.  We all will quit if pushed hard enough.  What made this DNF so hard to swallow was it wasn’t because of how hard I pushed, it was because of decisions I made.  At mile 55, in the condition I was in, I know I made the right decision to quit.  But the truth is, I was intimidated by 100 miles.  I expected to have no problems until mile 60 because my brain needed to have no problems until mile 60, because I couldn’t get my head all the way around 100. When I struggled, early, I panicked.  I’m intelligent enough to have done the arithmetic to figure out how much fluid I needed given the pace and the heat, I just refused to address a problem in the first 60 miles because I was scared.  That was a lot of training, a lot of money and a lot of patience on Jeanne’s part for me to come to that conclusion, but it’s the truth.

Friday, August 20, 2010

8 days to Lean Horse

It's getting really close.  2 days ago, this was titled 10 days to Lean Horse, then I didn't finish it, then I ran some more, now it's 8 days to Lean Horse, I'm starting to get really fidgety.  Last Wednesday, I had it in my mind that under no circumstances did I want to run the route home from work again, so with no real plan in mind other than to try and meet up with friends for part of it I ran aimlessly all over Salem.  I ended up with 18 miles instead of 20 and felt really worthless for the effort.  Saturday and Sunday, I put clear plans together, followed the route, the food plan etc. and had very good 20 and 16 miles runs in very hot conditions, there is something to that whole positive thinking crap.  This Wednesday I just sucked it up and ran home from work, with no drama.  I had a good planning ahead moment and a bad one this past week.  The good one involved shoes.  There is a movie called Spirit of the Marathon, it's an ok documentary following several runners as they prepare for the Chicago Marathon a few years ago.  One of the runners the film follows is Deena Kastor the American Women's marathon record holder.  There is a scene in the movie where Denna receives her shoes from her sponsor company, Asics.  She receives a huge case of them!  Probably 20 pairs of shoes.  Not 20 different kinds for her to try out, 20 of the exact same shoe because at 120 to 140 miles a week, you go through a lot of shoes!  Well I ordered 2 pairs at a time for the first time and it reminded me of that scene, I even said "Look, I'm Deena Kastor light".

Shoes for Lean Horse arrived in plenty of time.

LH1 and LH2
Each shoe will have about 50 miles of "break in" miles.  I'm not planning on changing shoes during the race, but will have a second pair ready just in case.  The bad decision, was with my Infinit Nutrition Drink.  I can't believe after my miscalculation on my run to Sisters, that I almost let it happen again, but I would not have had enough for Lean Horse.  So I had to make an emergency purchase, pay for 2nd day shipping etc.  That's gonna be some expensive koolaid.

Last full week, 68 miles total with a long of 20.  I have a 20 miler this Saturday and 12 slow on Monday, other than that just easy 3 to 5 mile runs each day to keep loose......crazy close now!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3 weeks to Lean Horse

The highlight of last weeks running was my 6 hour night time run in The Basket Slough.  This is my favorite local place to run.  It is the scene of my embarrassing Virgin in the Dark night time running episode.  I chose it for this run to force myself to use a headlamp for a long run, but I may also have chosen it to exorcise some “things that go bump in the night” demons.  Sure enough, first pass through, all I see are glowing eyes everywhere I look, and I have this overwhelming sensation of being watched and it is seriously creepy.  Second pass through, I force myself to stop and look into the trees and brush and confirm that yep, there are dozens of deer everywhere.  Once I convinced myself they were deer, I learned to take some comfort in their presence, figuring that if they were there, nothing higher on the food chain was.  The run was very successful, I ran through the transition from dusk to dark, and ran until 2:30 AM so I experienced running sleepy.  Many people complain about motion sickness from running with a headlamp.  I don’t ever get motion sickness from anything, so I didn’t expect any problems, but it’s nice to know that I can go that long with a headlamp with no issues. I had some uncomfortable chafing issues chronicled in a separate post if you’re morbidly curious.  I added grilled chicken to my approved foods list, I meant to try chicken broth too, but forgot all about it.  That 30 miles was my last “long” run before Lean Horse.  I’ve got a few more 16 and 20 milers, but I get to start slowly decreasing my overall miles.  The only downside is I’ve been eating like crazy, and have grown especially fond of chocolate milkshakes, at all times of day.  I’ll need to start cranking the calories back as I taper the miles, which is too bad.

For the week.  64 miles with a long of 30.  I’m feeling pretty good about where I am right now.  I just need to take care of the little things, like lists and supplies and chafing recovery!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fear and Chafing

Warning, this blog contains subject matter that may be considered mature in nature.  Seriously, a warning.....if you keep reading, you can’t TMI or WTF me later......stop now.


I have long contended that Runners World was not intended for runners that actually run a lot.  Because if it was written for runners that run a lot of miles, every other article would be about chafing or diarrhea or urine color or frostbite on seemingly valuable appendages.  There’s an old runners quote, “Run long enough and something is bound to happen”.  This is true, and that something frequently involves losing skin from someplace painful.

I use Body Glide to prevent chafing.  Like many things running related, there may be better products available, I experimented until I found something that worked, then I stopped trying other things.  I need it more in the winter when my skin is either cold and/or wet, and usually use it on runs 20 miles or longer regardless of the weather.  It used to go on (from top to bottom), the inside of my arms, my nipples, the small of my back at my shorts line, pretty much everywhere inside my shorts/between my legs and all over my feet.  At my current weight, 148 thanks for asking, I don’t need it on my arms and small of my back.

I ran out of Body Glide a week or so ago.  It’s not a big emergency in the Summer, I run without a shirt most of the time, and I needed to go to Portland to get more shoes and figured I’d get more Glide when I was there.  Then, the trip to Portland kept getting delayed, and before I knew it it was Saturday Night and I was getting ready for a 30+ mile run in the middle of the night and knew that I needed Glide.  I get these little sample bottles of different anti chafing stuff in race bags all the time and usually just throw them in a box full of stuff I don’t know why I save.  I retrieved one and applied it everywhere Glide goes.

I am here to report that not all anti chafing lubricants are created equal.  It was cold and pretty windy in the Basket Slough Saturday night.  It’s 3 miles from one entrance to the other, so I was basically running the same three miles back and forth, into the wind one way, with the wind the other. By my third trip into the wind, my nipples were rubbed raw.  As I came up to the car at the Hwy 22 entrance I asked Jeanne to grab me a new shirt, thinking that might help, it didn’t.  For a while I was running with one hand in my shirt to hold it away from my chest, then decided to tie the shirt around my waist and be cold.  At some point I glanced at my watch, which I wear on the underside of my wrist (in running mode) and noticed red spots all over the palm of my hand.  It took a minute for me to realize what it was from but when I turned the beam of my head lamp onto my chest I looked like a nursing mother for a vampire baby!

I arrived at the Hwy 99 side and found Lynn waiting with Jeanne and taking pictures.  He also offered band aid advice, which turned out to be a great suggestion and meant I got a picture with P n J sammich in my mouth and bandaids on my tits!  They did work.  I was able to wear a shirt over them and had no further issues......well, until the hot water of the shower hit them at 3:00 AM!

Jeanne waiting for me at 11:00 PM

18 miles raw

 Sammiches and Bandaids

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

4 weeks to Lean Horse

If I didn’t keep a running log it might be difficult to go back and piece together the week of running before the wedding.  Jewelia and Tyler are married and somewhere on the California Coast I presume.  There was surreal light on the Oregon Coast for the wedding, William Bragg, an amazing Salem Photographer has posted one shot from the wedding, we all can’t wait for more.  I set out to run an easy 8 miles last Monday and let myself get sucked into 8 hill repeats at Bush Park in the middle.  Wednesday was one of my toughest 20 miles home from work runs in quite a while.  Hectic day at work, not enough to eat that day, hot, grouchy, no energy from step one.  At mile 5 I said to myself, “self, what’s the worse that happens, you get home at 8:00?”  Things didn’t get any better from there, but they didn’t get any worse.  I’ve got 7 long runs left between now and Lean Horse, they aren’t all gonna be perfect.  I had a very good chiro visit and very painful massage on Thursday and ran 9 miles in Lincoln City Saturday morning, pretty fast.  I’m not running fast very often these days and it felt really good.  I said when I got back, “I could have raced today”.  Then I found out good friends Bill and Steve had finished first and second at the Liberty House 10k in Salem that morning!

I’m continuing to experiment with foods.  Everything I ate on Wednesday I didn’t like, but that might just have been me, I didn’t like anything Wednesday.  A 6 hour night run, back to back 20’s and then 4 other 20 milers and then I better be ready.  As I have no real idea what’s ahead of me, I feel ignorant saying this, but I feel ready.  My weight is dropping but strength is staying.  I was 148 this morning and I’ve never been this low, this far away from a big race.  I’ve also never felt this strong at this weight before.  I’m pretty confidant in the training I’ve done so far, and what’s left as far as training goes doesn’t scare me.....well the 6 hours at night does a little.

For the week.  43 miles with a long of 20.  My legs feel really good after an easy week and the stress of the wedding behind me.  I’m looking forward to a week where running is the challenge!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

5 weeks to Lean Horse

I’ve decided to do weekly update on my preparations for my first 100 mile race, The Lean Horse Hundred in Hot Springs South Dakota.  A good friend of mine crewed his father in law for a 50 miler this weekend and his father in law had to drop at 30 miles, due to stomach issues.  I jokingly suggested that he blame his crew.  As it turns out he was trying an electrolyte replacement drink he’d never used before on race day.  I sometimes think I over obsess about race details.  I know, back in the old days, guys just showed up and ran.  They drank out of streams or garden hoses, ate whatever they could find, or nothing at all and from all reports, did just fine.  Of course, these mostly oral traditions have probably left out all of the details of when that lack of planning didn’t work out.

I got quite a bit of warm weather running in this last week.  I got a little dehydrated on my 20 mile run on Wednesday, just got caught on a longish stretch with no water anywhere.  I’m trying to really tune into and fine tune my understanding of my bodies requirements for fluids, food and electrolytes.  I experimented with some different foods on my 35 mile run on Saturday.  I’m trying to add anything to my current list of foods I can eat while running.  Prior to Saturday, that was a list of 1, P n J sammiches.  Well I guess Fritos and Coke would make it 3.  I have now added Clif Shots raspberry gel, and bananas to the approved foods list.  If anybody receives a grant to study the affects of Coca Cola on athletes late in an ultra event, I want to be first in line as a test subject.  It’s almost spiritual.

35 miles went really well on Saturday.  I woke up early and couldn't fall back to sleep so I got a 40 minute head start on my day.  It was pretty hot by the time I finished so the early start was nice.  I ran 4 miles on my own, then 7 ish with Jane, who drove all the way out from Salem to get an early run in and beat the heat.  Jeanne met me on the road at mile 18 and road crewed me the rest of the way.  I ran into a little bit of blues between mile 18 and 22, but then recovered and ran the last 7 really strong.  Then my 3rd burger of July and a beer at Block 15 in Corvallis, love love love that place.

For the week.  76 miles with a long of 35.  This weeks mileage will be down a little, what with Jewelia and Tyler’s impending nuptials....funny word.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Epilogue, Sisters to Sisters

 Smith Rocks

To begin, I hate excuses.  I followed a shirt in the Newport Marathon several years ago that said, paraphrasing, “After all the explanations and all the excuses, at the end of the day, what you accomplish is exactly what you intended”.  Having said that, I did a lot of things right and I made some mistakes, and hopefully I learned some things.  I think the challenge was fair.  I think completing it in 4 days was within my abilities and I think I trained well for it.  I’ve broken my thoughts into a couple of categories.

The course and daily mileage.  Putting big miles and big hills together early took it’s toll but I’m not sure how I could have broken the miles up any differently.  Doing less miles on either Day 1 or Day 2 probably would not have saved the day 3 meltdown (much more on that later) and I would have just been further from the finish.  If anything, maybe 2 or 3 more miles on Day 1 and/or getting all the way to the bottom of Cow Canyon on Day 2 might have helped but these thoughts are exclusively with the benefit of hindsight, so I think I planned the course about as well as I could.

The heat.  When I planned this run back in the Winter, I knew it would be hot.  When we had such a mild early Summer, I started getting the feeling that the first heat wave of the year would hit on my week.  When the forecast was going up with each day closer to the start I was mentally preparing myself for heat.  In the week before the run I tried to schedule all of my runs for the heat of the day, but these days were rarely even in the 70’s.  No amount of mental preparation was going to help a jump from the 60’s to the 90’s.  I got a late start on Day 1 and spent more time in the heat than I needed to, other than that I was starting at dawn each day.  As tough as the heat was I think the constant exposure to the sun was worse.  It was hotter on my run up the Gorge last year but I was moving from shade to sun regularly.  On this run I was never in the shade, ever!

Calories, salt and water.  Here is where I made some big mistakes.  I rely on a drink blend from Infinit Nutrition to provide me with 220 calories and enough sodium and electrolytes in 20 oz of water per hour.  This has worked very well for me for a while now.  But, I have a confession.  I don’t know if I made an arithmetic error or I didn’t realize how much Infinit drink I would go through or a combination of the two, but it was obvious after Day 1 that I did not bring enough Infinit.  I have a back up plan, S Caps, a sodium and electrolyte pill, just in case I get to the point where I can’t keep Infinit down.  I have a second confession.  I have a bad habit, when I’m feeling strong, of thinking I don’t need anything.  It’s stupid, maybe even semi machismo, to wave off volunteers at an aid station or to tell Jeanne, I’m fine, I don’t need anything.  A few things happened on Day 2, which was the hottest day, had the biggest hill and was my longest mileage day.  I started mentally rationing Infinit knowing I didn’t have as much as I need.  In retrospect, this would have been ok had I started taking the S Caps or some other means of getting salt, but I didn’t.  I also didn’t eat much on Day 2, because I felt good and wanted to just keep going.  I didn't pay for this mistake on Day 2 and still felt good when I finished but I had very little energy that night, and very little appetite.  So I was in a pretty deep hole for calories and salt when I started Day 3.  I was still thinking that I needed to ration the Infinit, saving it for later in the day when it was hotter.  By the time I decided to eat at mile 8, it was too late.  I recognized the symptoms of hyponatremia, nausea, swollen fingers and hands, but as it’s happening, for the first time, it’s difficult to figure out what to do.  You are thirsty, and your impulse is to drink water, but that just makes the problem worse.  People say “listen to your body”, but some times, and this is one of them, it’s not good advice.

The upside of these mistakes is I got it figured out, recovered and finished in good health.  I've learned that I need a schedule for water, calories and salt.  I feel good about the completion, grateful for the hard lesson and thankful that I had Jeanne with me.

My sights are now set on the Lean Horse 100 August 28th.  And I've already started thinking about journey runs for next Summer.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 5, Sisters to Sisters

Nothing but blue skies.

This was easily the most beautiful and scenic part of the run, and it was beautiful the whole way.  It was exceptionally clear today.  I could see the three peaks of Sisters almost the whole way, and it was really cool to watch them get closer and closer.  I had a similar feeling running from Portland to The Dalles last summer, how cool it is to run far enough to run from one ecosystem to another.  I started out surrounded by sage brush and ended up surrounded in pines.  The one constant that I haven't talked about yet was the bugs!  I can tell they changed because the bites changed but they were everywhere and always there, and the bites are everywhere!

I felt good running today, and at a much faster pace than earlier days.  I even pushed the last hill really hard and my legs were burning by the top.  That's when I was informed that our mapping of gravel roads from Terrebonne to Cloverdale were off by a bit and I had a mile further to go than I thought.  I laughed thinking how I would have felt about that had I decided to try and run the remainder yesterday.  Today ended up at 17 miles making the entire journey a 132 miles.

The peaks of Sisters in my sights.

I'm finished, I feel good about the completion, but I'm a little disappointed that I didn't make it in four days as plannedI've given a lot of thought to what went wrong on Friday and what I could have done differently, but I'll save that for tomorrow, today I'm just happy to be done and home.  Thanks to everybody that emailed and texted words of support and encouragement, and there is absolutely no way I could have even considered this without Jeanne helping mile after mile.

You may not get the joke but, some people call me Maurice.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 4, Sisters to Sisters

A pretty weak attempt at a game face.

I went into today with a pretty wide range of expectations. Worse case, I commit to doing everything I can to take care of myself and to start, run as long as I can and when I can't go any further, reevaluate at that point.  Best case, I rebound completely and run the remaining 43 miles today.

The weather changed a little, it was still warm, but there were early morning clouds, a little humid and a wind coming from the southwest.  Early on, I didn't like having a headwind but as it warmed it felt good to have it in my face.

 Not really the 100 mile point but close enough for symbolism.

I ran pretty well today, considering how poorly I felt yesterday, I felt really good.  I was very careful with hydration and sodium, Jeanne did a great job of keeping me on target with fluids and food.  I have a bad habit of when I feel good, I don't want anything, no food, little to drink, I did this on Thursday and paid dearly for it yesterday.

I had fun watching the plovers run in front of me feigning that they couldn't fly to lure me away from their nests. I added porcupine to my list of types of animals I've seen dead on the side of the road.  I saw a large gopher snake stretched across the path to the Crooked River Gorge foot bridge, and heard a rattle snake. 

 With road crew extraordinaire high above the Crooked River.

At the rest stop at the Crooked River bridge, mile 18, I decided that I didn't have 43 miles in me today.  I wasn't making very good time due to the head wind, and the clouds had burned off and it was warming up quickly.  So the only question left was how much to run today and how much to leave for tomorrow.  I ran to a lower canyon crossing of the Crooked River and called it a day at 27 miles.  I have 16 miles to mop up in the morning.
Cooling my legs down in the Crooked River.

I sat in the river for a while, changed and we headed back to Madras.  We have completely exhausted all dining possibilities in Madras so we went into Terrebonne looking for someplace to eat.  We found a road side pub and were going to settle for it, when I noticed there was a rock climbing store near by and wanted to go in.  We got to talking with the guy in the shop and he strongly encouraged us to try The Terrebonne Depot 
for lunch.  What an unbelievable cool place with fantastic food.

Fantastic Fish Tacos with rare Ahi Tuna.

I've learned a lot on this journey, it's not over yet so I'll save the analysis of mistakes and good decisions til after tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to not getting up quite as early as we have been, knocking out a quick 16 and heading for home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 3, Sisters to Sisters

 I was in pretty good spirits at the start.

There won't be too many pictures, and I'll try and keep the descriptions of today's events semi discreet.  I had 2 miles of down hill left of the descent into Cow Canyon and felt pretty good early.  The down hill was a little fools gold I think but I ran pretty well to the 6 mile point and the base of the first hill of the day.  Just about everything started going wrong at that point, and it never got better.  I had no energy in my legs for the first hill and felt horrible.  The plan was to eat at mile 8 at the top of the hill and I had half a P n J.  I threw it and everything else up before mile 9.  I tried drinking some Infinit which I've never had any stomach issues with and promptly threw it up too.  By mile 11 I knew I didn't have enough electrolytes or calories in me and took an S Cap, electrolyte pill, and continued drinking water.  I tried to drink as much water as I could but I was very weak.  At mile 14, my hands and fingers were starting to swell and I hadn't peed all day.  I've heard of this happening to runners but had never experienced it before.  I tried laying down in the back of the car for a little while and tried eating a little more but nothing seemed to help.

Freshly dead.

I had to stop at 21 miles.  I was starting to weave on the side of the highway and was going so slow I wasn't making much progress anyway.  I'm not sure what this means for the rest of the journey.  I realized that I'm eating about the same as last year and trying to run 50% further.  I also am having a difficult time adjusting to the heat.  I can do something about the calories, yesterday took a lot out of me and I didn't have much of an appetite last night and didn't eat enough.  I've eaten much better this evening.  Tomorrow is supposed  to be a few degrees cooler.  I have 44 miles left.  I'm committed to taking care of myself as best I can and starting tomorrow, we'll see what happens from there.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 2, Sisters to Sisters

An earlier start today.

I will find out where Lebron James is signing while I write this so expect a comment somewhere.  I was really scared of today's run.  I tried not to let it show, but I couldn't get my head around an 18 mile hill.  I knew I had 10 miles to the base and my goal was to just get to the Deschutes River with as little drama as possible.  I got a very early start, 5:15, and made sure I ate just before getting to the river, correcting 2 mistakes from yesterday.  It was pretty drama free, despite the fact that from the moment I came up out of Tygh Valley I was staring straight into the mountains that would be with me for the rest of day.

In Maupin, on the Deschutes River bridge.

And then, came the hill.  I was really surprised by how good I felt early on the hill and had to keep reminding myself how long it was and to take it easy.  I usually manage a run in my head by breaking it into smaller pieces.  I never was able to break an 18 mile hill up into anything that made sense or helped.  I don't remember exactly where it was but I had the thought that this is what it must have been like for boxers to fight Muhammad Ali.  You just keep getting hit with that left jab, over and over again.  It's relentless.  If you try and get mad or frustrated about it and hit back, wham, you get nailed with the right cross!  Eventually, you realize that you can only hope to survive, you can just resign yourself to the jab.  It hurt.  I've never experienced anything like this climb to Criterion Summit.  I know there are much bigger climbs out there in the world.

The Miami HEAT!!!!!  STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!!!!!!  If you care so much about your "Legacy", and most people with legacies never cared about them before they had one, this is the worst choice you could make.  If you win, it's discounted, and if you don't win, whoooooo boy, you just went from one of the greatest players ever to forgotten!

I'm back, just before the top of the summit I saw Sisters for the first time.  Well, I saw two of the peaks but that was enough, I got a pretty big surge of energy.  Several times, Jeanne walked with me for a little while after the car and that helped a bunch too.  She also had some cold Coke in the ice chest and I have become such a huge believer in the psychological powers of Coke late in a long run, it's amazing.
Just another bug on the road, with Mt. Hood in the distance.

The Summit

I made an error in measuring yesterday, I think I was closer to 32 miles than 33.  Today, I logged 35 before calling it quits for the day.  All the big climbs are behind me.  I still have 64 miles of running in very hot weather, and I'm not taking that lightly, but I am very relieved to be up and over that hill!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 1, Sisters to Sisters

 From Sorosis Park in The Dalles, OR.  Mount Adams in the background.

This is a pretty big piece of meat I've bitten off.  I was as mentally prepared for the heat as I think I could be, but I wasn't ready.  Not only is it hot, there is absolutely no shade, anywhere.  A few days running in the 80's, or even the 70's might have helped.  It was very tough to go from the 60's to the 90's. But before the gory details, 2 very big hotel endorsements.

I can't recommend enough the Balch Hotel in Dufur OR.  I'm not sure Dufur would be at the top of anybodies destination list but it is "along the way" to many.  The Balch was originally built in 1907.  Jeff and Samantha Irwin have restored it and it is absolutely beautiful.

Not to be outdone, we stayed last night at The Oak Street Hotel in Hood River.  Due to a mix up in reservations last year, the Oak Street Hotel offered me a free room.  It wasn't completely their fault and they didn't have to do it, but it was awesome that they did.  The Oak Street Hotel was originally built in 1909 and is also wonderfully restored.  If you can't tell, I love stuff like this.  Drives me crazy to see new building built while old ones sit vacant.

Back to Day 1 run, I got a late start.  In retrospect, I planned to start too late and I started later than I planned.  It was 6:30 before I left Sorosis Park in The Dalles and headed out through about 6 miles of rolling hills and Cherry Orchards.  I remember thinking some of these early hills were pretty tough, that seems funny now.  It was pretty disheartening to see some of the migrant farm workers living quarters.  It made me think that if the results of the Mexican American war had been different, these people might have been working in a casino instead of a cherry orchard.  I hit highway 197 around mile 7 and headed toward Dufur.  Jeanne had met me at every road change getting out of The Dalles, but once we hit the highway and everything was ok, I had her go ahead to Dufur.  This proved to be my second mistake of the day.  By the time I hit Dufur at mile 16 my energy was pretty low.  I usually drink coffee in the morning before a run, well before anything really, but didn't have any today.  I also started out with just water in my bottle and hadn't eaten anything yet.  I think the low energy was just a combination of no fuel and/or caffeine.  I sat down for a little while in Dufur and had half a P n J, filled my bottle up with Infinit and headed out.  The 9 mile hill out of Dufur is brutal.  I know tomorrows hill is worse, but I'm trying not to think about that right now.  I had several miles, trying to recalculate this trip so that I didn't have to complete today.  I even for a while was thinking about making it a 5 day run instead of 4.  I knew I had 5 miles of downhill at the end, at times it just didn't seem possible to get there.  Using the old tricks, 'just run for another 2 miles then decide', I made it to the top of Tygh Ridge and was feeling much better, physically and emotionally.

So happy to see to see this sign

Taking a break at the top of Tygh Ridge, Mt Hood in the background.

Started at Elevation 450.

Yeah, this is the brown side of Oregon.  The down hill felt good, the Tygh Valley Canyon is beautiful.  I had a venue of vultures following me for a while, but thankfully they gave up, maybe I looked better than I thought.  I made it to White River, where Tygh Creek empties into the river.  I made it to my intended stopping point for the day, 33.5 miles.  I had a secret plan to try and go further today and make it up and out of the valley, one less hill tomorrow, but I just couldn't today. 

I really wanted to soak my legs in the river but didn't want to scramble down a steep river bank.  Jeanne found a little path down to Tygh Creek that was very easy to get to.

This beats an ice bath any day.

From the minute I first started putting this trip together I knew Day 2 would be the hardest.  I'm gonna go get some dinner and try not to think about hills for a while.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Prefontaine Classic

I've watched a lot of Track and Field.  I've been a Hayward Field season ticket holder for many years.  I attended all 8 days of the Olympic Trials and every day of last years US National Championships.  I think this was my 10th consecutive Prefontaine Classic.  Today's Pre Classic was the single greatest day of Track and Field I've aver attended, it could probably be argued that it was the best in US history.  I keep remembering moments that I've temporarily lost in the splendor of others, so I've decided to write it all down while it's fresh.

Jeanne and I got General Admission tickets and got there early hoping to get decent seats in the East Grandstand.  It was already packed when we arrived so we sat in the sun, on the concrete steps, generally the student section.  What a blast!  Several U of O athletes not participating were just hanging out soaking it in and being fans.

Race after race had times so fast, at times, I couldn't figure the splits out.  Last year Maggie Vessey won the Women's 800 here.  this year she bettered her time from last year by more than a second....and finished 9th!  
8 women ran under 2:00 in the 800, including Phoebe Wright of Tennessee finishing 4th breaking the Collegiate record 1:58.22.

Sometimes records get silly, like track records or meet records, but not at Hayward Field.  On American soil records is a little odd, but when you think about how many great runners have run in the US it's amazing to think that no runner has ever gone sub 13:00 in a 5k on US soil.  Tariku Bekele ran 12:58.93 and Dejen Gebremeskel  12:59.30.  Chris Solinski got left for dead with 800 meters to go and finished in 13:08.11

Asbel Kiprop won the mile in 3:49.75.  They actually ran 2 heats of the mile.  10 went under 3:58 in the first and another 10 went under 3:58 in the second.  Andrew Wheating ran 3:51.74 shattering the University of Oregon School record previously held by Joaquim Cruz set in 1984.  AJ Acosta ran 3:53 and Galen Rupp ran 3:57, and I almost forgot about them.

American records are a pretty big deal.  David Oliver tied the American record in the 110 hurdles in 12.90.

I don't know much about the Shot Put.  I know anything over 70 feet is really good.  I know the landing area isn't much further than that.  Christian Cantwell had already thrown over 70 feet and had won the competition.  He threw 73.5 feet on his final throw.

I also don't know much about the Hammer throw but the top two women threw the five best throws ever on US soil between them.

Tirunesh Dibaba set the Hayward Field Track record in the women's 5k in 14:34.07  Shalane Flanagan ran a great race finishing second in 14:49.08

1000 meters isn't run very often but Abubaker Kaki just missed the US soil record in 2:13.62  Nick Symmonds was 3rd in 2:16.35.

Walter Dix won the 200 in 19.72 just ahead of an obviously healthy Tyson Gay 19.76.

Kara Patterson threw 216 feet to win the Javelin.
The meet certainly lacked the drama of the 800 in the Olympic trials, but the performances were absolutely amazing.  I still think about what I saw and can't really believe that many runners ran that fast in one meet!  The whole drive home, I wanted to be let out of the car to run home, it's not that far!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bald Peak to Hagg Lake

If fate had smiled favorably on me, I would have been running the Western States 100 today, where by the way, both Geoff Roes 15:07 and Anton Krupicka 15:13 broke the course record.  Instead I have 62 days left until my 100, which is probably just as well.  I noticed that last week I said I had 72 days til Sisters to Sisters, haha, nope, that's what I get for having my brain on too many events at one time.  Today was my last big training run before Sisters to Sisters which will be here in a little over a week.  I started in Laurel, OR, if you don't know where that is, don't worry, neither did I.  I ran up and over Bald Peak, big long steep 3 mile hill up to a beautiful view. 

 Then down a very steep hill to Laurelwood.  I felt really good early and probably was running too fast.  But a major map snafu slowed me down.  I had mapped the route on and Jeanne and I both had it on our phones but, we had limited phone coverage for internet access and some of the map road names were not the same as street signs so miles 6 through 12 included several stops and conferences to make sure we were going the right way.  From now on, if I have no idea where I'm going and I have the luxury of a road crew, printed maps!!!
While figuring out where I was going I decide to take advantage of the slowed pace and eat something, then I realized that I had forgotten to put the food I had prepared in the car.  I was about 10 miles into 30 and in a seriously bad mood, I was pissed at how many stops I had to make and then the prospect of no food for the entire run.  Jeanne saved the day by finding a small store and getting me some crackers and peanut butter.  She got one more day saver but that comes later.
Once I started seeing signs directing me to Hagg Lake and now knowing I had food waiting for me when I got there my mood improved quite a bit and I ran really well to the lake.  I had intended to run the lake counter clockwise to get the big hills done earlier but I assumed that I could pick up the trail on the north side of the dam and directed Jeanne to drive ahead of me.  There was no trail access so we ended up going over the dam to the South side.  Realizing the mistake and not wanting to get all pissy again I just decided to run clockwise.  I ate some peanut butter and crackers and refilled my bottle with Infinit and took to the trails.  I'm really not crazy about trails.  I know they're serene and beautiful, and you're suppose to have some spiritual awakening while running them, but you end up having to watch your feet so much it really doesn't matter how beautiful the scenery around you is.  Here's an example, this is what the brochure would look like

And here is what most of the trails looked like.

Around mile 20 I started really struggling, looking back the majority of it was mental.  I was frustrated with the trail, I had rolled my ankle a few times and was starting to think about how beat up I felt after Forest Park.  About half way around the lake I took to the road and felt better, then I was quickly reminded that the big hills are on the North side of the lake.  Now I was struggling a little with the hills. At mile 24 I found out that Jeanne had also bought a Coke for me.  I learned in the Helen Klein 50 miler the magic properties of Coca Cola late in a long run or race.  Maybe it's a placebo effect, but within minutes of adding Coke to my bottle I felt really good. I ran really well in from there and even enjoyed the scenery a bit.
I wasn't sure how much switching to the roads changed the mileage so I ran back toward Gaston to finished with a smile on my face.
 Oh, one last thing I almost forgot, I found this glass like slipper on the side of the road, and I picked it up.  Upon completion I found out, much to my chagrin, that I am NOT Cinderella.
Next stop, Day 1 from The Dalles.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Walk or Not to Walk

To walk or not to walk, no one piece of Ultra running has perplexed me more than this.  Ultra running has required learning or relearning many things.  I'd never tried to eat in the middle of a run before, but knew that I would need to, and I learned how.  With food, it was math ish.  Finite energy storage, calories expended over x period of time, required calories consumed before I was done.  People can make this very complicated, but the bottom line was I needed to eat, and so, I do.

Walking though?  Of course, the further the distance, the slower you go.  And of course, you learn to try and run slower early and save something for late.  It doesn't always work out that way, but that's a wise plan to follow.  So at some point, distance really, going slower becomes walking.  And, following this logic, if you know you're going to walk some of a given distance, it's wise to walk early, but it feels wrong.  What feels right is to run until you just can't anymore and then survive.  But I would never have a marathon plan that was, run 10k pace until you just can't anymore and then survive.  I told you this has perplexed me.

So, I'm going to share my recent experiences and experiments, and reveal a plan that will have buried in it, a prediction of sorts for the Lean Horse Hundred, my first 100 miler in August.  I can't reveal the plan without the prediction being obvious, but there is little to no boasting in the prediction.  The appeal of Ultras to me is the flirting with failure, and I'm very well aware of the potential for failure.

Eh, walking.  When I first started running, I learned the Galloway training method, which has you run a certain amount of time and then walk a certain amount, 5 minutes run, 1 minute walk.  I always felt stupid doing it in races.  Every body that I knew that ran, used this, and I was warned that if I didn't walk, bad things would happen to me, that might even involve my soul.  Like may religious warnings, I decided to take my chances, and stopped walking.  Nothing happened, except I got much faster.  But, even since that apostasy I have walked in races.  I've blown up in marathons and walked some of the last few miles in.  I walked in the Crater Lake Half Marathon when the hill was so steep that I thought it would be faster to walk, it wasn't. 

And I walked in my first Ultra, a 50 miler, last October.  In that, I walked with a plan, sort of.  The plan was 30 minutes run, 2 minutes walk, eat a little every hour.  I didn't come close to following that plan.  With the exception of slowing briefly at aid stations to get a full bottle, I didn't walk until I was 15 miles in, it just seemed silly to walk sooner than that, even though that was my plan. I walked quite a bit from mile 28 to 30, then recovered and ran/walked on a schedule until mile 36, then the schedule was driving me crazy, so I ran when I felt like it, even a pretty quick 42nd mile and walked when I needed to to the finish.  I was pleased with my finish and my time, but did feel like a little saved early would have served me well late. 

This brought me to the really perplexing part of walking, how slow is too slow? I do think there is speed, where to go any slower is not really saving any energy, you're just not as far down the trail as you would have been.  Maybe some people derive more psychological benefit from resting early, but I'm little high strung, and get antsy waaaay too easy.  I know that I can't trust myself and that I need a schedule.  I also know that any schedule works well on long run workouts.  So, I've decided to go with a run for an hour, walk 5 ish minutes ish.  I know that early in the race the walks won't be 5 minutes and that towards the end the run won't be an hour but the better I manage that transition the better I'll do.

I can't think this far and not start doing some arithmetic, and I can't do that with having some expectations.  Not really a prediction, but I have to believe in my training and need to have a goal.  And so the thinking goes this way, running slow and easy and walking 5 minutes once an hour is around 9:30 a mile.  I think my training will allow me to maintain that for the first 60 miles.  That gets me to 60 miles in 10 hours, then, I know, things will get interesting.  I'll be over the moon giddy to go under 20 hours, very happy with anything under 22 hours and completely satisfied with a sub 24.  Walking and eating P n J sammiches.