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!