Archive for November, 2014

Turkey Trotting

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by afuntanilla

Opted to run the local “Turkey Trot” run in town on Thanksgiving. I ran this for the 1st time 2 years ago. It’s totally informal; no registration fees, no t-shirts…just a bunch of people gathering at a local park and going for either a 4 or 6 mile walk or run. In lieu of fees, we were to bring food items for donation to a local food bank. It was great to see more people out versus 2 years ago and to see lots of food donated!!

IMG_1825

In addition to the holiday spirit, I wanted to do this run because it’s basically a loop I have been doing sporadically through my training. 1 mile of gradual uphill pavement into Helen Putnam Park, continue with 1 more mile of gradual-steep uphill thru the park, next 2 miles are varied up/down on wide then narrow trails; mile 4-5 is narrow flat, curvy trail and 6 is all downhill to the finish. I started with the first group (staggered start) and am happy to report there were probably only a few people in the 6 mile group that passed me. It was nice to see this as it reflects on my progress and its validating. I didn’t push hard as its too close to my race, so that’s also comforting to know. About 1500 ft total elevation.

Today, 2 days post-thanksgiving, I ran that same 6 mile loop. Slower, more deliberate, easy…it was a light drizzle at the start, not cold at all. As I my feet went further and further, the rain came down a little bit harder, but nothing dramatic. Lots of puddles along the trail and some splashes on my shoes. The early morning fog still lingered off in the distance. I wished I didn’t wear glasses on runs like this…would love to just feel the water all over my face….I love it all; the wetness, the cool Refreshing air, the eerily beautiful quiet. Ahhh….all the things I would miss if i couldn’t be OUTSIDE. Quite Thankful, indeed! So many things…my health, being able to be outside, to have all my senses working….may we not take anything for granted!

IMG_1829

 

IMG_1832

Advertisements

Altitude & Attitude

Posted in photos, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , on November 29, 2014 by afuntanilla

Man, it’s not easy to run at altitude, but it sure is pretty looking and pretty damn awesome!

IMG_1788.JPG

IMG_1790.jpg

IMG_1789.jpg

I was up in South Lake Tahoe last weekend and went for a short 5 miler on Saturday. I was in heaven.

The steady light rain and cool air felt so needed & refreshing on my face. I could sense my innards smiling. The gray skies followed me along the High Meadow Trail and through the woods. Not another human was around. Just me & the mighty, lengthy pines, rocks of various shapes & sizes, and the occasional rushing sound of water flowing in the nearby Cold Creek. I heard nothing and everything. I was on high alert, but then also in a kind of trance. Nature does that to us, doesn’t it? Feeling so singularly focused & present in the moment, but also kinda in lala land….because we are…there is no judgement, no expectations, no deadlines, nothing but the pure and simple ecstatic beauty of just what is…

The trail I was on was going to connect with Tahoe Rim Trail, which I had wanted to see, but I didn’t quite get there….That will definitely be for another day. Today was the first time I have ever run on Tahoe Trails and I can say this; I will be back! Stunning! And I only saw 5 miles today.
The next day, I went for just a 2 mile hike on a completely different trail. It, too, was stunning. After about 1/4 mile of easy walking, trail gets difficult as you are climbing, climbing, and then that you don’t even know where it is because there are huge rocks, boulders everywhere….where is the path?? As you look up and to the east, you are gifted with amazing views of Emerald Bay and then Lake Tahoe a bit further. To the north & west are gorgeous views of the Sierras, some had a bit of snow, but not much just yet. (Phone battery died so no pics of this trail)

As I looked around, I was just in awe and again, so Thankful for my body, my health, and for living where I can see such beauty. I wanna keep finding more places. I wanna keep going….

GET OUTSIDE!

Modifying Goals

Posted in photos, races, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by afuntanilla

50 miles. I entered a 50 mile trail race. I’ve been training for a 50 mile trail race. Well, as I completed these last 2 weeks/weekends of training, I’ve come to the gut-checking decision that I’m going to transfer my registration to the 50K distance instead. There has been a ping pong match going on inside my head about this for about the last month. As each week increased, the speed of the the little white ball as it crossed the net in my brain became faster and faster and I’m sure I have suffered some kind of delirium in the process.

50 miles. The distance I want to run and finish. The distance that has eluded me. The distance I don’t just want to finish, but finish “strong”, upright, smiling, exhausted, thrilled and spent. I’ve come to the reality-check conclusion that if I try to do the 50 miles on Dec 6th, I will not have this kind of experience. I believe I will suffer greatly in the last 15-20 miles, spend most of it shuffling along, exhausted, unable to lift my legs to run any sort of uphill, and generally, NOT have any fun. Let me say that I certainly don’t seek these races out to have fun….FUN, is sort of what incidentally happens…but it doesn’t happen when the goal is too far out of reach and suffering takes over the entire picture. I’ve been in that place before.

In addition to accumulating a lot of weekly mileage, my longest runs back to back have been:

NOV 1-2
15 miles
10 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,498

NOV 8-9
9.15 miles
17.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,231

And then last Saturday:

NOV 15
18.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 7,420

I think I can finish the 50 miles, but the experience will not be one I am after. If you would have asked me in July if I would take that experience of finishing, shuffling along, walking a lot in the later miles, I probably would have said “YES”, but my mind has shifted; my goal, I guess, has shifted. And, a lot of this has to do with being out on that course. I feel like I can offer these kind of pre-race assessments because I have spent hours out there on the stunning and heartbreaking trails. I know what they are asking of me. And now, I believe I know what I can try to answer.

Prior to 2 weeks ago, I kept thinking I don’t want to transfer to the 50k because I have already done that distance. And that’s still true. But, what I realized after these past 2 challenging weekends of training is that this 50k is a heck of a lot harder than the one I competed back in 2008! Hey, that was 6 years ago…that means I am 6 years older and I’m going for it again! How’s that for a rationalization plug!! Haha!

Seriously, here are the stats to support the difference on the level of difficulty. The Stumpjump 50k in Chattanooga has total elevation of 4,442. Well, as you can see, I have been already doing more than that in training. And believe me, my body is feeling it! The North Face 50k will have around 7,ooo elevation.

I have been encompassed by this race for about 4 months…each month getting more and more in the thick of it; learning more, putting my body thru more demands and then dealing with what happens as a result. Right now, I am trying to take care of some kind of left hamstring issue. It’s bizarre. I think I feel the pain mostly after switching from going long uphill to them sharp descents, especially on technical terrain. That’s when it bothers/hurts me the most…and then I’m just super aware of it the rest of the time. It is painful and I’m caring for it by the R.I.C.E. Method + massage. I’m aware of it, noticing some pain, even when not running so….
I probably need to have it checked out. I can’t quite figure exactly which muscle is the culprit: semitendinosous, popliteal, ??
It doesn’t really hurt throughout the run, just when I make the transitions and then it subsides. Overall, obviously, not good and I’m sure I need to truly REST but I feel confident about taking care of this after Race day.

Anyway, as I’ve been knee deep in all this preparation, I’ve been learning a lot :

1) how much it takes to prepare for this distance and do it well. I thought I was preparing correctly, but in reality, I haven’t. I should have been doing longer miles in the week and longer on weekends. (It’s tough to say this because I have trained more for this race than any other race!!) but, that’s part of the reality check.

2) still learning and getting much better at how to fuel; what to eat, when, etc…this is a  HUGE piece that I think probably doesn’t get enough attention for ultra running. You can be physically & mentally fit, but if you don’t have the nutrition thing down, there will be problems. All the willpower and determination won’t make you go faster if you are nutritionally depleted!

3) learning that I probably could have benefited from training with others sometimes. Just haven’t put in the effort to make is happen.
4) I should have had a better base going in to this training. Could have done a lot more strength work to help me more on the uphills.

So. There you have it. It sort of sounds like this is already a post-race report. Of course it’s not, I’m just in taper mode now and I can reflect and assess what has happened so far. I won’t get any faster in the next 2+ weeks. I certainly cannot go back in time and add in more weeks to add more miles. I’ve done what I could do so far and I believe the 50k is the distance I am best prepared for…I know how hard the 17 miler was, how hard the 18 miler was. 30 is going to push me. It’s gonna hurt. It will pull everything out of me and I will give it everything I can.

Time to take care of my nagging hamstring, get some massage, do easy running, and be as prepared as possible.

Oh yeah, regarding shoes; I’ve picked up The Hoka Stinson ATR shoes. These are a lot more specific to trail running than the other Hoka’s I’ve been using; the Huaka’s. The Stinson have better grip, but are also heavier. 9.3 oz compared to 7.8 oz on Huaka. I can really feel the difference in the weight and don’t necessarily like it, but…they are doing the job on the trails. The Huaka’s were getting pretty beat up (i need to see how many mile i have on those) and I really noticed the bottoms losing tread and i was sliding a lot on some of the trails that are simply loose rock. I like both these shoes, but man, they are not cheap! The picture below is of the Stinson…now much more appropriately dirty!  🙂

IMG_1719

 

The trails of Marin will humble you…that’s for damn sure. But, that’s what they are supposed to do. I sure as hell didn’t sign up for easy!

IMG_1769

Moving up?

Posted in photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by afuntanilla

Well….what’s that saying…? ‘Be careful what you wish for’
Yeah…that…
Well, I DID GET IN TO THE NORTH FACE 5O MILER.

50 Miles. All trail. Somewhere between 9-10k feet of total elevation. All up, down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until you get to mile 50!

So. I finally got the word about 2 weeks ago and of course, am relieved & delighted to have a spot. And scared. And excited. And scared.

I completed another solid month of training in October.
Final numbers are:

Miles: approx 117
Elevation: 35,409

Most miles I have run in a single month all year and most elevation ever in a single month. (on top of what i have done the months prior) And you know what, it might not be enough. Of course, I’m still not done training. In terms of long runs, I have this weekend and then not sure if I will do my last push Nov 8-9th or Nov 15-16th.

I will see how it all goes and assess if it would be better to change to the 50k.
I hate to even write that, but that’s where I am. I’ve been preparing to the best of my ability and I am feeling like it’s still not enough. I become frustrated over how my body recovers of lack thereof from the long, demanding runs. I’m not careless with things….eating well and getting proper nutrients into my body. So much of it just seems to be strictly leg recovery. After my 15 miles today, aerobically, I felt like I could keep going, but my legs were pretty beat. A bit frustrating.

What does it mean when I say “it may not be enough”….i guess it means a few things.
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler in a way I want…I.e. Not completely dead at the end.

I see that I am assessing where I am, where I want to be, where I think I will be and what experience do I want and will be ready for?
As I was running today along the Tennessee Valley Trails; Rodeo Valley, Bobcat, Alta, Miwok, Old Springs & Marincello, I thought to myself: “I wish there was a 40 mile distance. 50 does seem a bit far, and 30 (~50k) seems too short….

Why I don’t want to run the 50k;
-because I already did this distance. In Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Rock Creek Stump Jump. 2007
-because the 50 Miler is a distance I have yet to conquer. Pretty simple.

Even with 2-3 more weeks of adding miles, I can honestly say this; I did not prepare this much for the New Zealand race last year. (DNF at mile ~27 of a 37.2 (60k) race because I was totally spent)

I did not train this much for the 1st 50 miler I attempted; The JFK 50 Miler. (Missed the time cut-off at mile 34.4)

So….this will be an interesting next few weeks to truly assess what I think I am capable of…..

Stay tuned.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear and no fear unmingled with hope” – Baruch Spinoza

IMG_1624

IMG_1620

IMG_1651_2