Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race - Fail...

Epic fail at The Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race, for the one reason that I would not have ever suspected would be the cause - my feet. The New Balance MT1010's really let me down today. First two laps (25 miles) in 4:15. 3rd lap - 8:35 elapsed - missing the cutoff for starting the final lap by just under 5 minutes. I wouldn't have made it the 37.5 miles that I did without the support of my awesome wife and my 'baby' girls (who will always be my babies). And, the support of a great friend that would give you the shoes off his feet (literally) - Chris Boyack.  Race report to follow...

Update: In hindsight, the MT1010's didn't let me down - I let myself down.  Can't blame the shoes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race Tomorrow...

I picked up my race packet for the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race today and will be #120 this year.  Race starts at 6:30am MST tomorrow - Sunday, September 30, 2012.

#120 for the Bear Chase 50 Mile
Time to get the drop bag ready and get everything sorted out.

Here are my pace goals - - unlike last year where my goal was to finish, I'm shooting for sub 10 hours this year.

I've been feeling pretty good, and my taper has been good too.  If anything, I'm probably under-trained. But better to be under than over...

You can track the race online here -

If you are an app person, there are these:

iPhone -

Android -

Good luck to all the 10k, 1/2 marathon, 50k and 50 mile runners tomorrow!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pacing Chart for Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race...

The Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race (Sunday, September 30, 2012) consists of 4 x 12.5 mile laps.  Last year, the Bear Chase being my first 50 miler, or race of any distance actually, I managed:

Lap 1 - 2:18 (11:02 pace)
Lap 2 - 2:40 (12:48 pace)
Lap 3 - 3:10 (15:12 pace)
Lap 4 - 3:30 (16:48 pace)

Total time: 11:40.

This year, with better fitness and more ultra experience under my belt (not much experience - only a 40 mile pacing effort at the LT100 and the North Fork 50 mile), I'm going to shoot for;

Lap 1 - 2:10 (10:24 pace)
Lap 2 - 2:23 (11:26 pace)
Lap 3 - 2:36 (12:29 pace)
Lap 4 - 2:50 (13:36 pace)

Total time: 9:59.

Now, there is no way it will ever pan out exactly as planned.  No run, race or not, ever seems to.  There will be something to deal with; weather conditions, hydration issues, fueling issues, spent legs, etc., etc..  And, there is the possibility (definitely highly likely) that I am just over-estimating my abilities over 50 miles.

I'll be somewhat disappointed with a +11:00 hour finish.  I'll be very happy with a 10:30 finish, but would be over-the-moon (a harvest moon at that on September 30!) with a sub 10:00 hour finish.

Training - 09/17/12 - 09/23/12

25.19 miles this week.  Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race is now less than a week away. With so much smoke in the air from all the wildfires from Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington, my breathing has definitely been affected.  I’m an asthmatic, allergy induced, but very rarely have to ever use a rescue inhaler.  The smoke in the air has left me short of breath recently though.  The other night I found myself having to take ‘talking breaks’ during normal conversation, just so that I could catch my breath.  On runs, I’ve been consciously telling myself to ‘look up’ and ‘raise your head’.  As a trail runner, I typically keep my gaze fairly low, to watch for obstacles, etc., on the ground.  Lifting my chin up higher seems to help open my airways some and lets me get more air in – albeit crappy quality air.  

Overall I'm feeling good about my training, despite the low miles.  I've been consistent with a 10:00'ish pace on similar terrain, and climbing, as to what the Bear Chase 50 will be.  And my HR is responding better and better all the time.

Monday, September 17 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 163.4 lbs.

Tuesday, September 18 - 7.08 Miles, 10:06 pace, 155 HR. 161.0 lbs.  It was a rough outing again – this time at the Boneyard.  Legs are sore and heavy.  I tried to do some harder efforts occasionally to try and shake things out.  That seemed to work a bit, and was feeling a bit better by the end of the run.  Gotta wonder how much the air quality is affecting me, and my legs.  And, am I still fighting some kind of cold, or flu shot side-effects?

Wednesday, September 19 - 0 miles - Rest day. 162.0  lbs. Took the day off of work and spent the day hangin’ with Diana.  Worst nutrition day in a LONG time.  It all started with Lamar’s Donuts for a coffee and an apple fritter in the morning.  It was all downhill from there.  Lost count of how many Mexican Cokes (natural sugar – no HFCS at least) I drank.  And then there was pizza and calzones.  It was my first gluten or dairy in two and a half weeks – and, as always, I felt like total garbage with some major stomach and GI issues as a reward.

Thursday, September 20 – 8.05 Miles, 9:59 pace, 156 HR. 164.8 lbs.  Stats show a good day at the Boneyard for me.  Besides the lingering stomach and GI issues, my legs and feet were telling me otherwise the whole time though.  Legs were heavy, tired, and burning – though I wonder how much the gluten, dairy, and gluttony on Wednesday is to blame for that, on top of air quality.  But my feet were the worst.  I’ve suddenly developed extremely painful arches, with my right foot being the worst.  Am I possibly over-trained, or maybe under-trained?  I like the fact that my average HR was only 156 at that pace at the Boneyard.  That reinforces that my fitness should be good for the Bear Chase, but right now, the legs and especially the feet are bit of a concern.  Wondering if I should dial back my taper even more – if that is even possible.

Friday, September 21 - 0 miles - Rest day. 161.8 lbs.

Saturday, September 22 - 0 miles - Forced rest day. 162.6 lbs.  Logistics to run today just didn't work out and I was NOT motivated to get up at 3am to get in a 10 miler.

Sunday, September 23 10.06 Miles, 10:02 pace, 149 HR. 163.6  lbs. It's my long taper run day and decided to do the Bluffs, in both directions.  Motivation was very hard to come by and it was rough getting out of bed.  The run felt like a mixed bag to me today.  At times it was very rough, other times I felt pretty good.  That's what next Sunday's BC50 will be like so it was probably a good thing for my mental preparation.  The foot pain in my arches was less of a factor today, and am confident that with a very low mileage taper week, that I'll be fine for the race.  I'm excited, and a bit puzzled, that my HR was so low on this run. Typically I'd be around 155 - 160 on an effort like this with almost 960' of climbing.  I typically down 18oz of H2O when I wake up - today, I only took in 8oz.  And while running, I took in only 24oz of H2O.  The more I read about people's experiences, the more I think about less H2O and less calories in.  I'm going to test that out more this fall.

Nutrition - Nutrition was not good overall, and my weight reflects that.  I’m not going to change anything now, but we’ll see what post Bear Chase will bring as far as my diet/eating plan.

My biggest problems as a food addict are;
*Cheating.  If I cheat at all, it's game over.  I binge and can't stop myself.  I have to be 100% strict to be successful.
*Quantity.  I may be eating healthy food, but my portions/serving could feed three or four people.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Training - 09/10/12 - 09/16/12

32.92 miles this week. Miles have been really low leading up to the Bear Chase 50 Mile, now only two weeks away.  I've been trying to do every-other-day runs since I seem to be best recovered that way. I'd rather be under-trained than over-trained and I've been feeling good so I'm not too concerned about the low miles, which may come back to haunt me.  I've been getting in a decent long run every weekend too - until this one - so that is a positive as well.

Monday, September 10 - 9.51 Miles, 10:14 pace, 158 HR. 163.2 lbs. Boneyard run with Chris. Felt good and strong at first, but was tired after mile 5 from keeping up with Chris on some faster pace stuff.  Did a couple of small hill sprints at the end just for giggles.  Good day.

Tuesday, September 11 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 161.6 lbs

Wednesday, September 12 - 0 miles - Forced rest day. 161.2  lbs. Terrible weather outside so decided on Thursday/Friday back-to-back days -which I typically suck at.  Hindsight - should have just toughed it out.

Thursday, September 13 - 6.10 Miles, 9:16 pace, 161 HR. 161.4  lbs. Plan was for intervals with Chris, and 10 miles, on the High Line Canal.  Got a phone call from my wife that my oldest daughter had had an allergic reaction at school (she has a peanut allergy) and obviously called it a day right way to go see her - but I was 3 miles away from my car.  Fortunately it wasn't a reaction to peanuts, but something environmental, so no EpiPens needed.

Friday, September 14 - 10.20 Miles, 9:54 pace, 159 HR. 161.0 lbs. Great day at the Boneyard today. I was pretty tired by mile 7 but find that when I push my pace to just beyond comfortable, and don't just sit back at that comfortable pace, I tend to have pretty good days.

Saturday, September 15 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 159.4  lbs. Feeling really lousy today so glad it's a rest day.

Sunday, September 16-  7.11 Miles, 11:47 pace, 136 HR. 160.0  lbs. Headed out to get 18 miles on my weekly long run.  Before even getting out of bed (30 minutes late at 4:10am) I knew it was gonna be rough.  Motivation was in the negatives and I was feeling lousy.  By mile 2 I had resigned myself to getting in only 7 by at least completing a single lap of the Bluffs, at whatever pace I could muster.  Fighting a cold or something, plus maybe having some symptoms from the flu shot I got on Thursday afternoon. Two weeks until Bear Chase.  Don't need this nonsense now.  If there is one positive I can take away, it's still doing a sub 12:00 pace, feeling like garbage, and walking so friggin' much.

Nutrition - Nutrition was good, until Sunday. Feeling lousy, I lit it up on Sunday night.  Definitely nothing wrong with my appetite.  I stayed gluten and dairy free (two straight weeks now), but I'm not even trying to do paleo or follow my training diet.  I've been feeling really strong and really good - why mess with it?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Reflecting on Pacing at the LT100...

More than a few weeks have passed since the Leadville Trail 100, and I've been thinking a lot about how things went, what I could have done differently, and where to go and what to do from here.

Push the pace?

At the LT100, and over my almost 40 miles of pacing, could I have pushed Chris more?  Helped more to get an even better result than his 28:45 finish?  BTW, you can read his race report here, and my pacing report here.

Well, I'm not 100% convinced I could have helped more.  Chris is a veteran ultra-runner, and knows the course, and his abilities, very well.  Based on his fueling, hydrating, and pacing plan, I expected him to come into Twin Lakes in good shape, but he came in with dodgy lungs.  The same thing has happened to him in the past at Leadville, along with severe swelling issues, but fortunately this year wasn't quite as bad.  There were times though when his breathing was so bad that he would start a sentence, but couldn't get more than a couple of words out.  If it were that it was just his legs that were tired and sore - well, that's a different story - but his lungs, that's serious, and I was being cautious.  At least he had no swelling issues this year.  Sometimes, unprompted, he would try to jog/run, and would have to shut it down, so it wasn't like he really needed the motivation to at least try to run.  Maybe I could have suggested more than the 4 -5 times that I did to maybe try a little run, but most likely it would have resulted in a well deserved 'Get bent!'

Hydration - too much, not enough, just right?

There is so much conflicting information out there to find about hydration.  Some people say that in general, you're drinking too much, that you should just drink to thirst.  Personally, I think that's not enough - at least for me.  A co-worker of my wife's also participated in the LT100 this year.  He got a DNF after dropping at Winfield.  When I asked him what he thought was the root cause, he said; "I listened to the Doctor."  I guess at the pre-race meeting (I wasn't there), everyone was told by the resident Doc that most people will over-hydrate and risk hyponatremia and/or hypervolemia - that you should only drink to thirst.  So, he did that. Boom.  Done.

Based on Chris's past troubles at Leadville, he and I did some research pre-race and could find nothing that didn't lead down the road of just more confusion and more questions.  Add salt and electrolytes into the equation and it's a total nightmare.  Here are a couple of sources we came across in our research; - I carried this chart with me at Leadville. - Hammer Nutrition's Little Red Book. A fantastic resource and one of the best nutrition and fueling reference guides I've found - though, I do think they cater mostly to marathoners and to triathletes.

And, in my opinion, one of the best and complete general ultra-running reference guides out there - the Western States 100 Participant's Guide (though it preaches drink to thirst!);

With constantly changing conditions over such a long distance, well, that just adds even more variables in there.  Hot during the day, cold at night, ascending, descending, pace, altitude, humidity, breathing rate, vomiting, urinating, defecating, etc., etc..  All these variables are going to affect you; your sweat rate, excretion rate, the rate at which you lose water just breathing...  Now, I'm not saying pour as much H2O, or whatever your drink of choice is, down your throat as fast as possible (that would be extremely dangerous!) - but I think that once you are thirsty, it's already too late - you're dehydrated - and you and your performance are going to suffer.  Can you bounce back from that with-in the confines of the race time limits?  Maybe.

For both Chris and I, during our time together, we stopped A LOT for pee breaks.  Like every 20 minutes or so I would guesstimate.  We weren't drinking excessively as far as I was concerned (Chris had only 2 water bottles on him), and I chalk it up to the brain/body regulating fluid levels to maintain a proper hydration level.  I think that your brain does a pretty good job of regulating your body - within limits - as long as you can keep things within moderation.  On endurance events like this though, that can truly be a thin line.  Hopefully you are in tune with your body enough, and have experimented enough in training, to recognize warning signs and know how to respond to them.  I think with each passing month/week/run I get better at being able to do that - but I'm not there yet.  Only way to get there is through time and experience.

Fueling - too much, not enough, just right?

Mostly on my mind is, how much is too much?  I've read in different places that the body can only process about 250 - 300 calories per hour.  Any more than that and, under these extreme endurance conditions, you're probably gonna puke or have some tummy troubles.  Other people I read about, they're taking in as many calories that they can, as often as they can (mostly at aid stations where the supply is endless).  What way is the right way to go?  If you don't fuel enough you'll bonk. But, if you're burning anywhere from 500 - 1000 calories (maybe more, maybe less - and I've read that you burn more calories, faster, at altitude) an hour, and you can only process 300 an hour - the inevitable will happen. Toast. Is it possible to throw 500 - 1000'ish calories down your throat in an hour and not spew?  Can your body actually process that much?  Maybe elite folks can. Schlubs like me? Probably not.

I've given some thought to just taking in as much gel, carbs, etc., as I possibly can on my long runs just to see what happens. Then I go and read something like this;

Earlier in the year I was doing the glycogen debt training thing, and I was eating paleo as strictly as I could (which wasn't very strict most times on weekends).  During that time, I was running fairly strong too - on a low-carb diet and no-carb training.  In addition to testing taking in as many calories/carbs as possible, I think I need to get back to trying this again too.  Running without carrying a ton of gels, chomps, bloks, etc., has huge appeal to me.  I've got enough fuel on my body (fat) to carry me a LONG ways.  I just need to train my body to utilize it efficiently, and efficiently enough to carry me long distances at a decent pace (not walking).  The potential risk there, according to some, is muscle cannibalism.

With all that being said, at Leadville, I think that my mixture of gels, potato chips, Roctane/GU drinks, and ramen noodles worked very well for me.  I never had any stomach issues, no tummy/GI issues, no bonk...  nothing.  Pace and HR probably had a lot to do with me not bonking, staying out of glycogen debt.

Electrolytes - too much, not enough, just right?

I've never been one to suffer from leg cramps.  I can count on one hand how many leg cramps I've had in my entire life and not one of those fingers would be for when I was running.  Chris told me that at one point on Hope Pass, he had to sit.  While sitting, his calves were twitching uncontrollably, so he popped some salt caps and that fixed him up.  Other than that, he avoided salt caps.  That was his plan going in, and I think that it was a good one.  We had talked a lot about salt, and that it was critical to not over-do it.  It was going to be a reactive process, instead of proactive, and that worked.  One test I've read about, and actually had an aid station volunteer tell me to try during a race, is to lick your arm.  Does the salt taste good?  If it does, then you may need salt.  Does the salt taste bad?  If it does, you may be over-doing it on the salt.  Personally, I didn't take any salt-caps while performing my pacing duties.  Like Chris, I got enough from all the nutrition/fuel that I took in over my 12+ hours on the trail.

So, what was my biggest challenge on the trail?  Probably just the length of time on my feet.  My legs were tired and they were sore - but that's 12 hours at Leadville (or anywhere really) for you.  More fitness and more training would have helped, sure, but there aren't too many people that can say that that wouldn't help.  Having more opportunity to train at Leadville altitudes would have been huge, but you do what you can with what you have.  I get to train at 6,000' every day so can't complain much.  But training at 9,000' - 12,600' is a whole different ballgame.  And the climbing, well ya - there's the climbing that you can't duplicate anywhere.  Would hydrating more, or taking in more calories have helped?  Not convinced of that. Was I over-hydrated or over-fueled?  Not convinced of that either.  I'm pretty sure that my nutrition, fueling and hydration were dialed in just right.  Equipment, gear, etc.?  I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Since Leadville, it's the oddest thing, but I've been longing to run in the mountains and for climbing - most specifically - Powerline.  I'd really like to try out Hope Pass too, but I've done powerline two times now, and each time kicked my arse.  I'd like to get to a point where powerline isn't such an arse kicker for me - but that may never happen.  I'm not a great climber, and I can probably only improve at it, so that is a positive!

My main takeaway from all of this, and I've said it before, is that 'Everyone is Different'.  You have to experiment, be prepared to fail, and to struggle, but at the same time learn and gain knowledge.  I still have a TON of that to do...

As far as my first-time pacing experience...  Would I do it again?  Yup.  In a heartbeat.  It was an amazing experience, and can't thank Chris enough, for asking me to be a part of it with him, and for my family for supporting me!

What's next?  I have the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race on September 30th.  It will be my third ultra and my second time doing it.  I'm going to use that as a gauge.  A gauge for what?  If, with my family's support, I should attempt the LT100 next year myself...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Training - 09/03/12 - 09/09/12

34.55 Miles.  Even less miles than last week.  Not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing, leading up to the Bear Chase 50 mile.  I'd rather be under-trained than over-trained though so I'm not too worried - and I'm feeling stronger than I ever have.

Monday, September 03 - 2.74 mile hike (not counted) - 160.6 lbs.  Holiday Monday!  My girls and I hiked Devil's Head and had a great time. Spectacular views and weather both.

View from Devil's Head.

View from Devil's Head.

My girls!

View from Devil's Head.

View from Devil's Head.
Tuesday,   September 04 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 162.8 lbs.

Wednesday,   September 05 - 7.09 miles, 9:40 pace, 162 HR - 161.2 lbs.  Boneyard run and I felt great. Any time I can do sub-10:00 pace at the Boneyard is a great day for me.  I didn't walk/hike at all but was ready to be done after 6 miles.

Thursday,   September 06 - 7.36 Miles, 9:49 pace, 155 HR. - 160.8 lbs.  High Line Canal today.  Legs were tired and feeling heavy. I was toast after only 4 miles at an easy pace.

Friday,   September 07 -  0 Miles - Rest day. 159.2 lbs.

Saturday,  September 08 -  20.10 miles, 11:08 pace, 152HR - 160.4 lbs.  Long run in the HRBC and Douglas County East West Trails. Not too happy with my pace today. Lots of hiking/walking, which is more my norm, but a 180 from last weekends long run.  Ran into Woody Anderson on my way back home and chatted for a bit. Cold and dark at 3:00am, with no clouds.

Sunday,  September 09 -   0 Miles - Rest day. 161.2 lbs. It was nice to sleep in after Saturday's 2:40am alarm clock.

Nutrition - Saturday night date night again. Popcorn at The Landmark Theater, Coke Zero, a glass of red wine, and some organic chocolate covered espresso beans. Figured I'd earned it with my 3am, 20 mile, run. Oh, and on the way home, some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from Safeway.  Sunday night I was ravenous, and hit buttered popcorn at home, some Late July - Sea Salt by the Seashore - Organic Corn Chips, and a Sprite Zero.  Still, I managed to stay gluten free, and dairy free - though definitely not paleo.  I've started drinking coffee too - black.  Just a cup a day kind of thing. I started easing into it a couple of weeks ago. So far, so good. Plan is to keep on doing what I'm doing until race day - Sunday, September 30th.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Training - 08/27/12 - 09/02/12

35.93 Miles.  Not high mileage, but overall I'm happy with the week - especially my week-ending long run.  I did have high HR issues early in the week, but seems to have sorted itself out by Sunday. Only 4 weeks until the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race.

Monday, August 27 - 7.85 Miles, 9:56 pace, 164 HR - 166.6 lbs.  Ran the High Line Canal.  First 3 miles felt really good - then I died a thousand deaths.  Probably chalk it up to dehydration, how bloody hot it is, the terrible air quality because of all the wildfires in the North West, and the fact I'm probably not recovered fully from Leadville.

Tuesday,  August 28 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 162.6 lbs.

Wednesday,  August  29 - 5.54 miles, 10:44 pace, 157 HR - 162.6 lbs.  Ran the Bone Yard today, and it was a very rough outing. I had absolutely no energy.  It was strange - my legs felt good, and strong, but I just had zero energy to keep 'em turning over.  Very hot out, and again with the high HR (though not quite as bad as Monday).

Thursday,  August 30 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 161.0 lbs.

Friday,  August 31 -  8.06 Miles, 9:48 pace, 161 HR - Rest day. 160.0 lbs.  High Line Canal again.  Decent day overall.  I can feel a new level of fitness in my legs, though I still have that deep down fatigue from Leadville. I'm feeling stronger on the hills, and my average pace is better.  Wasn't quite as hot today, and my HR was a bit better again. Slowly coming around.

Saturday,  September 1 -  0 Miles - Rest day. 160.6  lbs.

Sunday,  September 2 -   14.48 Miles, 10:06 pace, 160 HR - 160.6  lbs.  Long run on the East West Trail and Highlands Ranch Back Country. This was probably one of my most consistent and strongest runs - ever.     I usually walk a fair bit on this course, but today I hardly walked at all - only very short periods on the steepest sections. Definitely have reached a new level of fitness. My legs are feeling so much stronger, and the normal lactic acid burn that typically slows me down and brings me to walking (often) was a non-factor today. It would be GREAT if it stayed that way! I started to get a bit tired at mile 8, but at mile 13, I was ready to be done. Still don't have that endurance. Only three more long runs until BC50.

Nutrition - I did pretty good this week. I was very disciplined. Only really bad stuff was Sunday night date night. Popcorn (buttered - which is actually some kind of 'healthy' coconut/canola oil concoction they serve at The Landmark Theater), Coke Zero, and a glass of red wine.  And Ted's Montana Grill before the movie - glass of red wine, and a bison burger (sans bun and cheese) with sweet potato fries.  Other than that, I did really well, and never gorged or binged even once.  Despite that, I'm still in the 160's - but my body is feeling pretty strong.