Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter trail photos

Yesterday was my long run and I headed out to my usual training grounds to get some hill and distance training in. I took along my bulky camera and snapped some shots of the trail, since winter afternoons always seem to have such awesome lighting. I ran a little early before the best lighting right at sunset but still thought it was a great time to run. The run itself was terrible, I just couldn't keep my breath and my shoes are way past due for a replacement. My shins really took a pounding on the downhills. I have had inklings towards trying the La Sportiva Crosslite's instead of my Cascadia's I have been using for the last two years. I will have to try them on and see how I like them. My only concern is they really can't handle the roads like the Cascadia's based on reviews.

I really miss my really long gnarly trail runs and am anxious to start incorporating them back into my weekly routine again. I can tell that many of my trail stabilizer muscles have weakened a bit so I have some work to do. My hills are really poor so I can't wait to start pushing more elevation. It wasn't the best week for consistency or quality of runs but I am just working on my base and hopefully as my distances increase my weight will decrease and I can get back into that fit zone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Catching Up

The first snow of the year in Victoria and a frigid 20 F (-7C) run on Mount Doug.

It has a been two months since I updated last so suffice to say a lot has happened. The major events that happened in the last 8 weeks were the Haney to Harrison relay race I did on the 6th of November, finishing my PhD proposal, having my Candidacy meeting with my committee and laying out the topics of my exam.

Haney to Harrison Race Recap

My training leading up to this event was like all my running this year inconsistent. I trained well from the last week of September into the second week of October including a 70 mile week. I was consistent and really enjoying myself. Then I was hit with an upper respiratory infection and rather than risk getting sicker I took the next couple of weeks off from training. I figured that if I trained hard and got super sick I might not have a shot to compete but if I took the time off and got better I would be able to race and finish my leg it just wouldn't be fast. My plan worked well and my lungs cleared about the first of November. I got one or two small runs in the week of the race but really my fitness stunk so I just planned on relaxing and enjoying the run.

The family and I headed to Chilliwack a day before the race and met up with my good friend Rob who was excited to have us over for a pasta dinner and really made our stay in Chilliwack happen. He was going to run the second leg right before me but after the Iowa marathon in September he was concerned about a foot injury. So he decided to run support and did a great job with our team. I met the team first thing in the morning (4:30am) on the day of the race and quickly breathed a sigh of relief when I realized the team was comprised completely of amateurs so there was no pressure to kill myself on zero training. The weather was quite foggy and perhaps 40 degrees out. The lead leg gal ran a very slow time and finished her 8 km leg in over an hour which as far as speed goes is nearly walking but she was our oldest team mate and was quite positive, happy, and seemed to enjoy her whole leg other than the last slow gradual hill.

Our second leg runner was actually Rob's Dr. Office nutritionist and was a last minute replacement for Rob. She had an extremely hilly run with tons of ups and downs and nailed her 13 km's in about an hour and twenty. I was waiting anxiously at the change station and the line to the two porto pots was ridiculous so I hit the bushes and when I popped out I saw our team mate coming in to the station. I took a deep breath and jogged over just as she swiped the chip (with some difficulty and unsureness if it worked or not) and handed it over to me.

My leg was pretty awesome. The entire run was through the forest and consisted of about 750 feet of elevation right in the first mile with multiple switch-backs. It then was undulating for a few miles and then was a gradual down grade to the end, the total distance was about 16 Km or 10 miles. I ran the first mile extremely strong and passed multiple runners and stuck with some of the faster runners all the way up the switch backs. My legs felt great but the lungs were not happy due to the recent bout of respiratory drama I still hadn't quite gotten over. After the summit I quickly found a strong pace that allowed me to be comfortable but still kept things moving along. At about mile 4 I began to feel the effects of my strong push at the beginning and I completely melted down to a crawl. I fought through the tough spot and rallied two miles later. This rally carried me at a strong pace for the next 2.5 miles. I felt pretty good but could tell that I was going to crash before the finish. I slowed my pace down a bit and sure enough at 8.5 my lack of training caught up to me and I crashed hard. The next little bit was extremely painful and I just didn't have the speed work or a consistent base to draw from so I basically came to a crawl. I began to get passed by quite a few runners and I got a bit frustrated. I had to keep in mind the majority of the runners are not balancing family, candidacy, proposal, PhD research etc. So I dug deep and with a half mile to go I was chagrined to see Rob waiting to run me into the gate. I pushed like a mad man to match his pace and was able to finish quite strong. My total time was an embarrassing hour and twenty according to my watch but the official time was slower perhaps due to some issues with the transition at the second switch. I was tired but actually recovered quite quickly and could have ran another leg if they needed me to. I drank a gatorade and then we drove back to exchange vehicles and runners for our last four team mates.

I was looking forward to seeing Vye and the kids along the course and was hoping that Vye could snag a picture of me looking epic. Unfortunately I didn't see her along the way and actually spotted her on the freeway on our way back to Chilliwack. She looked visibly upset. After meeting up with her at the hotel she explained how every road was closed so she could not approach the course at all with the children and cameras etc. She finally drove to the finish line and by the time she found parking and made her way to the station the officials informed her I had finished 10 minutes earlier. She was crushed and frustrated and the kids were upset they missed their dad's race. After Vye and the kids settled down we went to the pool and I sat in the Jacuzzi for an hour. We ate and then drove to the finish line to meet up with the remainder of the team. It was fun to see the last person come in and though I believe our team was perhaps the slowest we had fun. I was happy to know that I ran my hilly 16 Km leg in just a few minutes slower than it took two of our team mates to run their 8 Km legs. So I feel even though I was slow and not in racing shape I still was the strongest of our funny little team and we all really enjoyed the experience especially because it was the last official running of the H2H with it being switched to Whistler next year.

Thesis Work

The Tuesday following my race was the date of my Candidacy committee meeting. I had to prepare a presentation to give to my committee and answer their questions. This left little time between getting back to Victoria Sunday night and the meeting two days later. I luckily got a presentation together and felt I nailed it. My advisor and committee then informed me what they would like me to study for my candidacy exam. All and all it well and now I know what to expect for that exam. The timing made it impossible to train for my race properly but I arranged my priorities and figured I have my whole life to run but my PhD is a one time shot so I better not blow it.

What's next?

My running since has actually improved a bunch. I nailed 5 runs last week and I am starting strong this week even though it is quite chilly (20 F or -7 C) and snowy. I am really just doing multiple short runs right now with some longer runs on the weekend and I am just using the next 6 weeks as a base-building phase and will take off with a more tailored training approach after I have been consistent for a bit.

My race goals for next year are nearly non-existent but the trails I would like to run are quite epic. I would love to run from Smith and Morehouse in Utah's Uinta Mountains to Bald Mountain with my friend Tim. I would also enjoy running Mt. Arrowsmith here on the island. I am planning on speed hiking the Golden Hinde as well. Additional plans include the Tushar Range in Central Utah and a few other peaks in the Northern Wasatch. We will see how it all plays out.

New Music
It has been 15 years since the synthpop band OMD (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark) has released an album. The band started by accident as the two main members used to play around on their synths in their mothers back room on Saturday afternoons. Friends told them to do a live show so they chose the first ridiculous name that came to mind not realizing they were about to become one of the biggest influences on the electronic scene for the next decade and a half. After many albums and hits around the world they broke up and now have released a new album earlier this Fall titled "History of Modern". I love that the band has stayed true to their original sound and though many bands try to reinvent themselves when releasing a new album OMD has taken a different approach and brought back many of the old sounds and styles of Synths from the 70's and 80's. They figured with all the new bands coming out that have a synth component and site OMD as one of their influences that if anyone should sound like OMD it is OMD and there is still a niche for their music. Today as I was chugging in the crystalline morning air one of their new songs was in my mind and powered me over the frozen terrain of Mount Doug "The History of Modern Part 1". I hope you enjoy their new stuff as much as me.