Saturday, February 28, 2009

My first Ultra-Marathon The Elk 50 on May 2nd

Well I took the plunge and officially entered my first Ultra Marathon.  I have been running since March of 2008 with the goal of running ultras.  This seemed like a very lofty goal at first but I have worked my butt off and actually feel I am ready (well almost).  

This last week was crazy, logging over 50 miles or 87 Km of hard core trail running, including a 30 Km long run last Thursday.  I was running like I was possessed.  I summited Mount Doug over 12 times while training hills.  As a result of this crazy week, I felt inspired to enter this ultra marathon in 8 weeks. I was completely hammered from all the running and decided to take it easy the last few days. 

This is where the reality of just how difficult of a challenge this is, comes in to play.  Today was my long run, and I planned on another 30 Km run at Elk.  Well I had a strong 10 Km first lap logging a time of about 50 minutes, but then it happened.  I can't explain it, but my lower calve just crapped out on me.  I fear it is an over-usage injury, because I can't think of any one instance that could have caused it.  Tuesday I noticed my calve becoming sore after my Mount Doug hill runs. 

So I only ran 15 Km today, and with the race in 8 weeks I feel this is unacceptable.  I can't have another low mileage long run, and expect to be able to compete in this event.  To stick to my schedule I am supposed to run 17 Km tomorrow.  That means I either have to sit out my runs until my injury is healed, or I have to run through the pain, and hope it doesn't get worse.  

This is quite a predicament.  I knew that Ultra and injuries can be and are associated together (especially for rookies), but it just stinks that this injury manifested itself immediately following my registration for my first ultra-event.  My long runs are essential for building a strategy to find a way to keep my body moving forward over vast distances for many many hours.  I still have to sort out the best electrolyte replacement drink, which food I can digest and use while running, and what pace and running technique I will use to achieve the fastest personal time.  This is a huge setback.  I am going to see how I feel tomorrow, and try to sneak in my 17 Kms moving very slow, and perhaps if I do it early enough I will get my distance in before my injury wakes up.  

I love ultra-distance.  I just love running non-stop for hours on end in some of the most beautiful places BC has to offer.  There is something so simplifying about running for long distances.  All other anxieties go away and your only focus is to keep moving forward.  You enter these zombie- like trances in which your body enters a rhythm and performs almost effortlessly as you gulp in beautiful scene after beautiful scene.  I began my last 30 Km run at 6:00 AM.  It was still dark and I was the only one on the trail.  I could just glimpse the approaching dawn on the Douglas fir- strewn horizon.   My feet fell in perfect rhythm, and the light thumping of my trail runners was the only sound to be heard.  I hypnotically floated around the lake for the first 10 Km.  The next human to join me was a lone rower executing his morning work out.  Soon the Eastern sky was dancing with deep pinks and purples as the sun began to paint the ceiling.  My second 10 Kms were nearly flawless like the first.  My body was fluid and poured itself over the undulating terrain.  My mind was completely clear, I wasn't thinking, only drinking in the omni-morphing terrain.  The first few morning recreational joggers began their 10 km journeys just as the sun's first rays kissed the lake with a citrus glow.  I passed a dozen various stumps and logs protruding from the water, and each one was occupied by a great blue heron.  These magnificent birds followed me with their crested heads and almost seemed to bid me luck on my journey.  My next 10 Km was a different story.  From 20 - 25 kms I was able to focus on my run and felt ok.  By this time the "blue hairs" and the canine lovers began to choke the trail with their 4 wide moving road blocks, and always hyperactive annoying mongrel.  The sun had reached the height in the sky in which the rich hues of sunrise fade into the washed out morning canvas.  27 Km's saw the end of my effortless joyful jaunt, and welcomed in the brutal onslaught of the pressing "Bonk".  The 28th Km decided to stretch itself into a 10 mile torture.  My every effort was spent on keeping my now failing legs in motion.  I began to use every disassociative technique I could think of, but to no avail.  Worrying I was going to completely bonk, I slowed to a pace that was better suited for one of the resident banana slugs.  At the close of the 29th Km I felt I was going to die and decided to walk the last hill.  To my horror, I saw a slow dog walker on the hill, and my ego couldn't allow myself to walk in front of another human being.  I gave it my all up the hill but as soon as I was out of view, I quickly began to speed walk, and my running form resembled that of Mister Burns from the Simpson's.  I walked a minute or two, regained my composure, and gave the last Km everything I had.  Two hours fifty two minutes and thirty five seconds from my first step of the morning ended abruptly at the sight of my car.  I thought who in their right minds would want to do this for 100 miles?  I got in my car and already began to dream of my next long run.  In fact the thought of 100 miles sent a thrill through my entire body.  I was ready to run again and wished I hadn't stopped at 30.

I love Ultras.  It has changed my life!  I hope this little injury is only a small moment, and I can get back to training for my first official ultra.  

Since last year at this time, I have shaved off 26 inches from my body, including 4 inches off my waist.  I have lost 29 lbs.  Since January of this year I have ran over 250 miles.  This will soon be my monthly distance, as long as I can stay healthy, therein lies my challenge.


So here is my 6th folder and 6th picture.
This is a photo from my trip to Argentina.  I snapped this quick shot as we started to enter the Andes from Mendoza.  These beauties are "foot hills" yet still stretch beyond 15,000 feet.  The Andes are remarkable.  I was amazed at how dry the East side of this range was.  Everything about this range is larger.  There are alluvial fans and river terraces that are a 100 meters tall and more.  Aconcagua was a massive chunk of andesite looming over the allready rediculously tall mountains.  The sun at these elevations was intense and I found myself quickly burnt and dehydrated.  These elevations can do a number on you in a hurry.  I look forward to taking my family there in the future.  I would love to spend more time doing geology here.  It was an experience I cherish, I only wish I could have shared it with family and friends.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The missing Power Point

I had to do a presentation this week in my petrology and tectonics class.  The subject was on mantle roasting and redox.  I had spent 30 hours perhaps, doing background reading and submerging myself in the subject.  Twelve hours of putting together one of my best presentations I had ever given, was about to be for nothing.  For some reason the jump drive I was saving to must not have been fully plugged in, needless to say I did not save my presentation.  I discovered this small fact 15 minutes before going to my class to present.  I think I handeled it quite well.  I took the remaining 15 minutes to slap together some quick slides and ugly figures.  This was the best I could do, and I went to the class and gave my lecture from memory without my masterpiece slide show.  It went as well as I could have hoped, but it was frustrating.  I really had a great presentation to share with everyone.  The four professors including my advisor were understanding but my score will not reflect what was really put into the project.  The moral of this story is save things in two or more places constantly.  With all the technology and projects I have worked on over the years you would think I would have a simple save procedure nailed, and yet here I am blogging about my missing power point.