Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pickled Feet 6 hour Run

I am quite happy with my run last night, even if it was brief.  I was nervous about the shin acting up, so I taped heavily and took a few aspirin to dull it.  I wanted to warm up on the run without any hitch in my stride, which could cause more damage if I was limpy.  The aspirin worked to get me through the warm up pain-free...but I came to find out has some side effects.

Brandi and I drove down from McCall in the late morning, did a few errands in Boise and arrived at Eagle Island State Park.  We set up our camping tent and I set up the SCOTT tent as I would be doing rep work for the event, while I was not running.  We visited with friends and got ready to run.

I went out feeling great, a little too fast, as my watch was giving me bogus splits.  After 20 miles or so, I noticed the pace was slipping to about 6:50 and I had pain in my lower intestines.  A few speedy guys jumped in to pace me a bit with Ben Blessing doing one lap and Matt Tock giving me 3 good ones.  As darkness fell, the pace dipped again to 7:20 ish and I began to stumble and trip over the rocks and uneven grassy terrain.  It became clear that I would not be able to keep the pace up to hit 50+ miles in the dark.  I had tried to bank enough miles in the daylight, but darkness fell quickly and it took a good bite from my speed, even with a headlamp and hand light.  I hit the 10 lap/mile 25 mark in 2:50.  Matt joined me for one last lap and the pace just fell apart as my guts were tied in knots.

My belly felt great, energy was great from Vespa and VFuel, but something was bad in the lower GI tract.  I will spare you the details, but give you all a warning to be careful with aspirin.  When I finished the 11th lap and 27.5 miles at around 3:10, I "discovered" I had lost a significant amount of blood!  That was good enough for me.  I pulled the plug right there and felt glad to get a great run in and spare myself the damage of 3 more hours of running.  Brandi soldiered on a few more hours and bagged it at the 5 hour mark with 25 miles.  We had a great time getting some sun and running on some dirt.  It's going to be a long season, but this was a very promising start for both of us.  I am walking around fine and planning a recovery workout for tonight and a good run tomorrow.

Life is good.

SCOTT stuff!

B at the start.

1 lap down.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Around in circles...

Testing the waters today with a different kind of ultra than I am accustomed to.  The "Pickled Feet" 6/12/24 hour and 100 Mile race will start today.  I will see if I can last 6 hours of 2.5 mile scenic dirt loops along the Boise River.  Brandi and I will run from 6 pm to midnight.  I am approaching this as nothing more than a long, fast workout and some fun.  If anything acts up, I'm dropping.  You hear that self...dropping!  I've had some tendonitis-y feelings in the left shin of late- the same that I've had every March since I started running.  Not too bad this time, but definitely cause for concern.  It only happens in winter and is gone when it warms up- Juneish.  Not sure what it is, but I have thought about it for thousands of hours, picking my brain for answers.  I welcome any and all advice and comments as to what this "condition" is and how it may be handled.  It could help me to put this in writing and get a different take on the "problem."

Here are a few leading theories:

1. I run too fast, too often?  Nope...I kept all that in check this winter.

2. Too much volume? has come whether I run 20 miles per week and cross train, or more miles, like during this winter.

3. Cold related- tissues are too cold?  Nope...I bundled up every single run this winter.  Wore compression sleeves a ton this winter.

4. Hard and consistent surfaces?  There are no trails for me to run while everything is buried under snow.  I run the TMill, roads, etc to do what I can.  I manage this the best I can, but I feel it is a factor.

5. Vitamin D deficiency?  My tissues seem to degrade by winters end from getting basically no sun at all
for 5-6 months, then I get inflammations throughout my body- headaches, shin splints, hip pain, etc. I supplement 3x daily and eat a diet high in D, but it is just not the same as a mountain run without a shirt on.  I have read that a long run with good sun exposure can create 10x the Vitamin D than the USRDA level.  Dr. Phil Maffetone says Vitamin D is like steroids.  When the sun comes out, I can feel my strength grow daily.  Last year, that did not happen until late June.  This year, I am hoping this comes along a little sooner.
This is one of the many hardships of living in the high country for me.  When the sun comes out, I have been bulletproof from July until December.

6. Arthritis in my genome?  About 15 years ago, I got iritis in my right eye.  This is a terrible inflammation of the iris (colored part) of the eye.  It lasted over 1 month and required specialists and steroids to cure it.  I was worried I would lose the eye.  It looked like it was going to fall out.  Part of my treatment was testing me for an arthritis gene that makes me prone to inflammations.  Sure enough, I had it.  My closest relatives on my mother's side have suffered from arthritis and pain all their lives.  My joints are fine, so it is not true arthritis in my case (arthro=joint, -itis=inflammation), but I feel this has something to do with my pains.  I can feel it coming on and it is accompanied by headaches- one of the key reasons I quit running when I was 12.  I just could not stomach another headache.  Once the tissues get inflamed, it is weeks before I can kick it.  I feel as if I have missed a good 2/3 of the training I am capable of because of these issues- mostly the shin splints.  Everything I have accomplished in running has been on a less than 40 miles per week average.

7. Biomechanics?  Probably.  I need help here and I know it.  I have studied and tried to apply what I've learned, but I feel there are still strength differences causing my injuries in my shins.  I know from my shoe wear patterns that I supinate- meaning I strike on the outside of my foot and fail to pronate adequately- or roll onto the medial side of my foot and push off the big toe.  This causes a few things to happen.  My peroneal tendons and muscles (up the lateral side of lower leg) are punished and the medial shin muscles (posterior tibialis) works hard to pull that supination over, but winds up shearing the connections of that muscle from the shin bone.  Occasionally, the anterior tibial muscle will act up- the one that lifts the foot toward my face- from trying to take on jobs it is not built for, once the other muscles fail.  The entire left lower leg falls into chaos and I have to take time off.

8.  Not enough physical therapy (PT), stretching, rolling out?  Impossible. I do this stuff 10 times as much as I run.  Maybe I do it too much and cause tissue aggrevation?

9. Wrong shoes?  I've tried them all.  My shins are crap when it's cold and hard as steel during mountain running season.

10. Diet?  I have experimented with this with great attention to what seems to help or hurt.  I eat super clean- mostly wild game meat and vegetables.  I had the same troubles when I ate whatever I wanted- no better no, worse.

11. A blessing?  Maybe.  All this forces me to rest during much of the winter and cross train with things that balance me out.  This makes for a great summer, but causes all sorts of grief when I try to race in the early season.

Feel free to armchair MD this one.  Not sure it will help me this year, as Spring seems to be creeping up on the Mountains of Idaho and with it the trails begin to melt.  I know I have it pretty good, and this is a petty thing to concern myself with such grief.  However, figuring out this puzzle could unlock the next levels of my fitness and bring me closer to my dreams.


Challenger Track Club...fer life!  This was the Old Man's jersey.  I still have mine, less than half this size.

Cows...just a different kind.

Jug Mountain Ranch SNOWY 45K Fat tire bike race.

Manning the SCOTT booth with Julie and her Maker's Mark.

Brandi represents team "Shrink and Pink" 

Team Oompa Loompa climbs the Unimog to claim their last place, "Little Red Caboose" prize.  Jug Mountain Resort owner David Carey functions as human step.  Gravity Sports owner Michelle Reagan looks on in hideous Team Shrink and Pink garb reminiscent of Kentucky Derby wear.  Notice the Jug of beer in the bed.  Yep it was that kind of race.  We are really excited to host our McCall Trailrunning Classic 10/20/40 milers this year at JMR.  We love this place!

The victors!

Packing up.  A great day of volunteering for me and racing for B.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Use COUPON CODE "A-StayVertical" to get 20% off your Order!

I am excited to announce that I have signed on with VFuel to be my one and only source of energy gel! 
This was no easy nut to crack.  They are a small start-up and these guys get after it.  I had to track them down over a period of months, begging and pleading to get their attention and let them know I was not accepting "NO" as an answer.  I had a few run-ins with their product in 2012.  Josh Arthur gave me a few after the Cascade Crest 100 and in October, Eric Lee gave me a bag full at my IMTUF 100 race.  This was enough.  There was no going back.   I am still learning why it works so well.  Lots of sciencey stuff to devour.  A full review is forthcoming, with a give away contest.  

For now, I am sure of 3 things:

1.  Best taste.  No comparison.  Vanilla and Peach Cobbler are without equal.  As a gel eater/100 miler, this is #1 in my book.  No garbage gut in the world can consume 50 gels a day if they taste bad.  FACT!

2. The fat (MCT Oil) in the gel means I need to eat it less frequently.  

3. The consistency is perfect for mixing into water bottles or adding to gel flasks.  Drains easily and completely from a flask at -15F.  Try a Hammer Gel at -15F.  Like taffy.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"A warning shot across the bow"

"During the 18th Century, a warning shot (in nautical terms, often called a shot across the bow) could be fired towards any ship whose "colours" (nationality) had to be ascertained. According to the law of the sea, a ship thus hailed had to fly her flag and confirm it with a gunshot. Warning shots may still be used in modern times to signal a vessel to stop or keep off and may be fired from other ships, boats, or aircraft."  Wikipedia

My warning shot this week was to alert my body of the incredible intensity that is to come starting in about 3 weeks. After 16 miles and 6000' of vertical at Rapid River, I found myself back at the old standbye measuring stick...the Jim Jones Kool Aid Hill! The place of toil and sweat and pain. The place I have been dreading to compare my current fitness to my personal record time of 7:26. I remember how bad that effort hurt and how deep I dug to attain it last year. Was I up to the ego check it was sure to bestow upon me now? Only one way to find out. The ego was bracing for failure and already had the excuse ready of the tired state it was in from the hills it had been climbing all day.

All this drama for 3/4 mile...

I remembered my strategy from last year...easy to the 1/4 mile tree at the trail more than 160 HR to there. Let the HR go up to 165 through the mid-point easier grades, then all out to the grave...a la muerte. I began what felt like a really slow cadence up the opening steeps toward the fork- 15-20% grade for a short pitch.  HR rose to 155 and energy already was tanking. Low HR and high perceived exertion (PE) is a definite sign of exhaustion, so things were not looking good- the ego was making concessions with each step.  The HR stuck there as I worked harder and sweat streaked my face, so maybe I could break 8 minutes today.  That would be a victory- right?  The ego and its 100 heads are so sneaky in the way they convince you that GOOD is good enough.  But GOOD is the arch enemy of GREAT.  It is settling for GOOD that makes GREAT unreachable for us.  I fought this battle 3 times already in the first 1/4 mile.  This is why I love running so much.  Nowhere to hide.  You either do it or you don't.  

You either talk about it, or you BE ABOUT IT.  

Suddenly, I realized during all this thinking that the next 1/4 mile had slipped past and my stride was really long.  It still felt slow, but the knees were coming up, the hip extension was solid and I was making 5-6 foot strides.  Maybe 7:40 was possible?  That would set me up to PR within the next month!

Then, I tasted it.  Acrid bile and copper coin flavor.  The ammonia smell in my nostrils of Anaerobia...the state of cardiovascular pain that I haven't enjoyed since last autumn.  Careful Jerful.  A quick check of the vitals...shins are cool, calves are good.  The T2K's are flying.  That last Vi gel I took seems to be burning hot.  100 yards and this thing is toast.  A marker in the sand to build on.  7:30 will be mine.

I pushed and swung my arms.  All that pool running I've been doing had a noticeable effect on the velocity of my arm swings- they felt like pistons.  HR up to 170.  Pretty high for me.  I panted and hacked as the breaths became less and less useful.  I rounded the crest of the hill and loped towards the grave for the final 30 yards and stabbed at the lap button...7:05.  A proper warning shot.  21 seconds shaved off the PR...a 5% improvement.  Now the task of convincing the ego that it can go 6:30 by June.

Lots happening this week, but my camera is really crapping out so the pics don't do it justice. I'm sending it to Panasonic for some warranty service- so no pics for a while.  Getting really hungry to go fast.  I'm probably racing later this month- low-key.  More on that soon.

  Got some verty on the Treadmill this week.  Been mixing many more strides and fartleks into the base runs as the time nears for speedwork.  3 strength/stability/core sessions and 4 hours of shoveling on top of this.  I'll take it.  

Rapid River TH
Few climbing pics from Red Rocks.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

IMTUF 100 Registration is OPEN!!!!

Bigger and better in 2013.  Register at Ultrasignup today to lock in best pricing and secure your spot.

I'm happy to help with any questions on the race, travel, logistics, etc.  Just comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I stop running...