Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"20" (and the week in training 12 23 12)

Pre-run pose (photo by Liliana)
During the last several weeks, I've been reading as much as I can about ultra marathons and trail running.  In addition to scouring the internet and finding sites like trailrunnernation.com , I've read a couple of different books including Neal Jamison's Running Through the Wall  (which includes several essays by a variety of ultrarunners) and Relentless Forward Progress by Byron Powell.  I'm learning "on the run" so to speak and I'm trying to incorporate these ideas into my training as I go.   One of the biggest challenges has been getting the longer runs accomplished during a busy work week.  As a result I've generally been doing a "shorter" long run on Saturday, followed by a long run on Sunday.  Since we are on vacation these two weeks, it has been somewhat easier to accomplish longer runs, but it's still a bit of a challenge.  I'm also still very interested in doing a fair amount of cross training to save my legs a little bit of the strain from running.  The other factor has been the cold weather.  Last Thursday, I was out the door at 5 a.m. for a very cold run (more on that in a moment).
5 mile loop
The end of this week found us in the mountains at my parents place.  Their home sits along a dirt road in the mountains at an elevation of approximately 8400 ft.  The area has many short, narrow, and hilly roads that are perfect for simulating the fire roads of the CPTR.  I've been anxious to get some running in at altitude with some real hills since that hasn't been much of an option in Pueblo.  After researching some options for different routes, I selected a 5 mile loop that included a good mixture of uphill and downhill running.  This would allow me to have an "aid station" every few miles as well as the option of stopping after 5, 10, or 15 miles.  My hope however, was to get a full 20 mile run completed.  I'm pleased to say that I managed to do so.  The loop option also seemed to be the "safest" option at this point.  I was tempted to do one longer loop of 20 miles but it would have put me on some roads and trails with which I wasn't as familiar.  
A little before noon on Saturday, my wife and I set out for some easy running.  We bundled up in anticipation of the twenty to thirty degree weather that awaited us.  Thankfully, the weather was ideal for running, and I probably overdressed a little bit, but after my "chilly" run earlier in the week, I wasn't going to take any chances (The best new addition to my running wardrobe are the gigantic ski mittens that I've kept up here.  Those suckers will be returning home with me this time around!).
Downhill section makes for easy running!
My lovely wife ran the first loop with me which was great.  A few years back, she would have balked at running in the cold weather, but she has done enough running in the winter now to appreciate it more.  One of the things that I've come to accept as part of longer trail running is the idea that it is okay, in fact necessary, to walk from time to time.  I would estimate that during this particular run, I walked at least 5 to 6 miles. Walking and a slower pace speaks to the social aspect of trail running and the fact you should be able to run at a pace that allows for conversation throughout.    During the first loop we did just that, walking at times and chatting the whole way.  But after 5 miles, she was headed inside and I was out for loop #2.
The second loop passed much like the first.  In fact, each of the first two loops took about 63 minutes, which is a touch over a 12 minute pace per mile (although they varied from 9 minutes to 16 minutes depending on the terrain).  I could have run each a little faster, but I was trying to stay mindful of my heart rate which induced me to pause throughout the the run.  HR training is certainly a different animal at altitude as I couldn't tackle any of the hills without quickly reaching my aerobic threshold. The loop that I was running had a lot of variety and broke down as follows:
Mile 1: The first half of this mile is mostly steep uphill, the second half is mostly downhill with just a few risers.
Mile 2: Starts with a moderate uphill of about a quarter mile, and then is almost entirely downhill.
Mile 3:  Much like the first mile with mostly uphill and then downhill the rest of the way.
Mile 4: Almost entirely downhill and fairly steep.
Mile 5: Almost entirely uphill, though gradual (a lot of walking in this stretch).
Dashing through the snow!
After 2 hours I returned to the start of the loop to find a water bottle and a note written in the snow.  Before she had gone inside, I'd asked Melisa to set these out for me as I was carrying no hydration or nutrition.  I quickly drank a little of the water and set out for loop #3.  I decided at the onset of this loop that I would take it very easy and try to save enough energy so that I would have something left to complete a fourth loop.  I was decidedly slower, but it was enjoyable to take my time and enjoy some of the scenery.  Knowing when to slow down is an important skill  to develop when running for distance as opposed to time.  When running a "loop" course like this, it's easy  to fixate on how the each loop compares to another, but that can cause one to lose sight of the true goal, which is actually about increasing the time and distance running.
Running a "loop" course also has a "psychological" component.  For example, during the first loop it seemed unreal to think that I would actually be passing by the same place at least three more times for the next several hours.  Later, just as I was close to completing the second loop, it was difficult to imagine that I was not quite halfway finished even though I'd already been running for two hours.  The third and fourth loops were a little easier because I knew that I was on the shorter side and had run further than I had left.  In fact, the fourth loop was in some ways the easiest and most enjoyable to do because I knew I would head inside once I had finished.
Still another challenge with running loops is that you pass by the "stopping" point several times, unlike a single loop or an out and back course.  The CPTR is a two-loop course that includes the option of changing from a 50 mile into a 25 mile if the runner chooses.  In my mind that is a blessing, but also a curse.  I think it will be important to feel especially strong at the turnaround point, knowing that there's the sanctioned option of shortening the run by half.  After 5+ hours of running, it will surely be tempting to call it a day.  As I get further into my training, I plan on doing a longer run that includes a turnaround point like this, for the sole purpose of practicing the willpower it will take to keep going.
The snow on the trail was never too deep and was hard packed in most spots.  I'm sure I lost a little bit of traction on some of the steeper hills, but it didn't detract from the run.
Notes in the snow at the "aid station."  I wrote 1-2-3 as I finished each lap.
The last loop of the day (#4) passed quickly and I did my best to run as much of it as I could.  Then sun was starting to fall behind the hills and the temperature got noticeably chillier.   By the time I finished I was well over four hours (4:21:57)which is closer to my marathon time than a twenty mile run.   I frequently hit my aerobic threshold even when going downhill, but it never got to crazy high levels.  I also did this run without any nutrition and I'd say that is probably something that I won't repeat.  I think that about 3 hours is the limit for running without any kind of nutrition and while I do feel that my nutrition needs have changed somewhat since I began Maffetone training a couple of months ago, I need to start integrating eating into my running routine.
Brooks Ghost V
I also did something that I normally wouldn't have done which was to run the entire 20 miles in a new pair of shoes.  On the way to the mountains I stopped and picked up a new pair of shoes that provided a little more cushioning than what I've been used to.  I wanted some shoes that provided extra cushioning given the time I'm spending on my feet.  My initial plan was to run the first 5 in new shoes and then switch to my older pair.  However, after the  first five miles, the new shoes felt just fine.  Same thing after I hit 10 miles.  After that, I kind of forgot about it all together and in fact, I didn't feel a blister or hot spot the entire time, so I just left them on.

Although I was quite tired when all was said and done, but recovery has been positive this morning.  I'm not overly sore or tired although I'm going to resist the urge to run today (a day of rest is in order).  I may try for some X-country skiing tomorrow morning if I can.  Seems like a good way to end the year!

This twenty mile run caps off my week.  Normally I would do my long run on Sunday but I was too eager to wait this week.  I'm now beginning a "down week" meaning fewer miles and which will conclude with  MAF Test #2 at the track provided that the weather is somewhat cooperative.  It has been a productive month of running for me, and the most that I've done in a long time (maybe ever in fact).  When all is said and done, I will have completed a hundred miles further this year than I did in 2011.  The numbers are still low by most standards, but it works for me.

This is how my week in training breaks down:

Sunday December 23, 2012: This was my long for the week of 16.64 miles.  I ran for an hour and then took a walk break of 5 minutes and repeated this three times.  Overall I felt pretty good during the run, but recovery was an issue.  At about 14 miles or so, my left leg was bothering me.  My plantars fasciitis was acting up (which usually doesn't happen during a run) and this was impacting my running form.  I began to feel a slight sting in my upper hamstring and was worried about pulling a muscle.  This set me to thinking if it wasn't time to get some new shoes with a little more cushioning and support.  I know that there are different theories about minimal shoes, etc., but my experience to date has been that for longer distances, I do better with more cushioning.

19 miles and still smiling (sort of!)
Wednesday December 26, 2012: After messing with a few flat tires, I managed to get a ride of an hour and twenty minutes on the trainer at a fairly steady pace.   Besides, I had recorded Battle Los Angeles, and I had to see the exciting conclusion.  I felt pretty good the entire time, and I believe the break of a couple of days from running also helped.

Thursday December 27, 2012: I went for a run at 5 a.m. this morning and it was an absolutely freezing outside.  I can't remember a time when I've been so cold.  I managed to get 10 miles in, but it was nothing but suffering!  I think that the temperature was about 2 degrees the whole time.  I had also read about increasing the frequency of walk breaks to a 5:1 ration (5 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking) and I wanted to see what this was like.  It was so cold that I don't know what to think of it at this point.  I'm looking forward to a run in warmer conditions to see how it goes.  I don't know how realistic that will be during the CPTR as I will have to respond more to the changing terrain, but I think it's still worth trying a few more times.

Friday December 28, 2012: 30 minutes of alternating core work and weights.  I'm going to work up to doing this a couple of times a week.

Saturday December 29, 2012: Twenty mile long run (see above).

For the week I wound up with a total of 46.64 miles of running (this due to the fact that I did my long run on Saturday instead of Sunday).  My total for the month comes in at 117 miles which is an average of just under 30 miles/ week.  Here's a few final snaps from the camera of the scenery during the long run on Saturday:

Looking back down the first half of the hill on Shawnee Road.

Aspen grove between Creedmore Lakes Road and Tiny Bob Road.

The gradual uphill at the bottom of Lone Pine Drive

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