Sunday, January 16, 2011

Third up-week complete!

Week 3 came and went rather quickly and like the previous week had some ups and downs. First the ups. Like I mentioned in this post I had a strong run Monday with 1500' of hill repeats, which is 500 additional feet from last week. I handled the elevation quite well and found my times for each repeat improved drastically from last week.

The second positive of this week was my long run. I was able to go 1.5 miles further than last week and only tack on an extra 5 minutes to my time from last weeks time. I ran at a much quicker pace and looking at my splits it is easy to see I made up all of my time on the longer uphill portions of the course. My flats and down hills showed small improvements but nothing to be excited about. I definitely feel that my strength is up hill running. I just love it and seem to be able to handle a good buildup of lactic acid before needing to power hike etc. My long run was in the evening because I had to tend to some of my experiments in the lab earlier in the day. It rained on me the entire run but it was actually quite warm with temps pushing 10 degree C or 50 degrees F. I actually was sweating more than usual and had to take off my toque to let some heat vent off. The top of the mountain was shrouded in a thick bank of fog that was almost like breathing in water. It was pretty dramatic up top but as you descended 100 feet you would be back below the clouds. The run got brutal toward the end mainly because I think I was sweating more than usual and needed some calories as well. I finished pretty strong and worked on the mental aspect of the long run, really pushing myself to plod on even when I felt my legs couldn't handle it. I look forward to another long run so I can go further! It is an addiction!

As for the negatives from this week Wednesday night saw me reach my breaking point. After hill repeats on Monday I took Tuesday as a rest day with the intention of running two faster 1 hour runs on Wednesday and Thursday. I put off my Wednesday run right until 9:30 PM partially because I was procrastinating due to really blustery weather and also I was trying to buy my legs as much recovery time as possible. I could feel I was walking that fine line between the maximum punishment my legs could handle and too much. I started Wednesday's run in the dark and rainy weather. I was pushing extremely hard and was thinking I was improving from the previous week's times drastically. About 15 minutes into it my lower legs (calves and shins) were on fire and each foot plant would send shots of pain up each lower leg. This in turn altered my stride as I tried to minimize the impact. Finally at 25 minutes into the run I looked at my watch under my light and was frustrated to see that even with all my extra effort I was much slower than my previous weeks times. I struggled for a few more minutes and then crashed. I realized if I pushed it any further I could risk shin splints or strained calves so I decided to turn around and start the long walk home. It was now after 10 PM and the rain was drenching me. I was dressed just warm enough keep me comfortable while running but I was not dressed properly for walking in the rain. I soon found myself chilled and slightly deflated as I made slow painful progress back home. I decided it was not a complete loss because I ran in the first place even though between the late hour, sore legs, and terrible weather I had many excuses to just call it off for the night. Even a month ago I wouldn't have had the self-discipline to force myself out the door. Secondly I rediscovered where my limit is and was reminded what too much feels like so hopefully next time this crops up I can chill out and perhaps not push the pace and salvage the run rather than force it. I ended up not running Thursday or Friday so I could run on Saturday and it ended up working out well.

Week three was a success and I am happy with what I have accomplished with my training. I feel I made vast improvements and I am getting consistent. It is starting to feel like a habit again. This is really the strongest I have ran since Fall of 2009. I feel that having my friends train with me has been a major boost to my moral and having this trail run planned for early July is also really great motivation.

During my long run on Saturday as I approached my first summit of Mount Doug in the dense fog a song from 2001 popped into my head. The song is from the Swordfish Soundtrack which was produced by electronic trance phenom Paul Oakenfold. The song that popped into my head was Oakenfold's remix of Muse's song "New Born". I really love this remix and have listened to it since it came out in 2001. I can remember bouncing along many dirt roads in the early morning hours, with this song thumping in the truck, creating the backdrop for another epic adventure. I am not sure why this song was in my head while running in the fog on Saturday but it was a great one to play in my head none the less. I hope you enjoy! I chose this video to embed just because I like the song juxtaposed with the cosmic images.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hill repeats in an evening blizzard!

Today was hill repeat day. One of my favorites as far as training goes. The idea was to run a total of 1500' up and down in less than an hour. I had Vye drop me off on the mountain because she was taking the kids to swimming lessons at the nearby rec center. I told her to pick me up in an hour and off I went. It started to flurry about the second I started my run. It was really peaceful, tranquil and the mountain was almost devoid of life (my last few runs there have been terribly crowded). I warmed up for 5 minutes up to where the trail turns right up the south face. I really focused on pushing myself much harder than last week and nailed my first 500' quite quickly. I tightened my shoes in preparation for the steep downhill and began to realize that the slope was going to be quite slippy from the newly fallen snow. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson from Saturday's icy descent because I just flew right down the steep South slope of Doug with no questions asked. There was one time where I almost lost my footing which is surprising considering this pair of Brooks I am running have over 1000 miles on them and their tread is basically gone. I exited the rocks and really flew down the steep dirt trails below the rocks. I find I am a lot slower on my downhill currently than the last two years and I need to make some improvements in that arena (thats what these hill repeats are for). The second summit was a bit harder and I ended up running weakly nearly the entire 500' up. I chalk this up to mental weakness, because on my third and final summit of the day I decided I needed to stop being a wuss and hammer it. So with a 1000' behind me I hammered the last 500' with reckless abandon. The snow really began to fly and it almost pushed me to run harder. Within minutes of starting my final summit my legs found a strong pace where I was taking quick bites out of the hill. At the summit the skies opened up and as I began my descent the city below was swallowed up in a swirling blizzard. It really was an amazing site. I was concerned that Vye would arrive at the parking lot before I did and worry I was dead on the side of the hill so I really pushed and sprinted the last 500 meters to the meeting spot. I ended up beating her there by about 8 minutes and finished my entire run in about 57 minutes. I honestly have no idea what sort of distance I covered but know roughly what the elevation is. What a great run. Can't wait to nail 2000' next week!

As I flew down the steep snowy slopes and slipped on the rocks I began to think how easy it would be to get killed if I wasn't careful or just made a clumsy error. This put a song called "Death" in my head by a group called "White Lies". The group is a Indie Pop group from England and were influenced by Talking Heads, Tears for Fears, Joy Division, and Interpol. I am including the original and a remix by Crystal Castles whom I posted a song from last post. I like both versions of the song and prefer one over the other depending on my mood. I realize the lyrics and song title are a little dark but hey, when your are gripping to the side of a snow-covered rocky slope by your worn out Brooks these thoughts are not unrealistic. I hope you enjoy! (I couldn't embed the originals so if you are interested in the actual video you will have to go to you tube to watch).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week two of training for the "S&M to Baldy"

Week two of my training for the Smith and Morehouse to Bald Mountain went well. I started the week with hill repeats on Mount Doug. I absolutely love hill repeats, and I believe that hill repeats on steep terrain propel my fitness forward quicker than any other form of training (with the exception of long runs). After a brutal long run last week I took Sunday to rest and then hammered the hills hard on Monday. On Tuesday I had my best run in perhaps 6 months (probably a combination of the previous long run and the hills) and I actually had my first runner's high in some time despite the down pour. I ended up having some pain with my biceps femoris ligament in my right leg pit. Two days of rest and I was good to go.

Saturday's long run was amazing, it was one of those runs where you can feel your body making the change towards being more efficient and fit. I decided to crank out a full Mount Doug Gutbuster (2009 course) along with my distance from my house and back. Distance-wise it is about a half marathon, but what was so exciting is how much longer I could run (40 minutes longer) than last week's long run. Not only that, but I ran considerably stronger this week. I was able to keep drawing from strength and reserves that last week just weren't there. I must admit that I have upped my calorie intake each day this week up to nearly 2200 from last weeks 1600 and that has made a major difference. The Gutbuster was challenging in that Vic has been pounded by rain this week with almost 4 days without a break. The trail conditions were terrible as far as speed goes but they were fun and muddy. Half the trails were running streams, draining all the rain from the wooded water-logged slopes of Mount Doug. The flats were riddled with standing water in many locations, and every trail was muddy except those composed of solid bedrock. Speaking of bedrock, the north descent down the "bedrock buster" was absolutely treacherous. They were the most dangerous conditions I have ever experienced on the Mountain. The cold north-slope spends the majority of each winter day in shadow and as a result the entire route was laced in a solid glaze of black ice from the draining mountain. Every step was a roll of the dice as to whether you would still be standing or not. I did quite well up until the bottom quarter where I finally reached a point where the icy-rock, my speed, and gravity made the perfect storm and I went down hard. I bounced pretty good off my left butt cheek and caught myself with my left arm nearly busting my wrist and hand. I slid about 15 feet until I caught. I quickly picked myself up, did a quick triage (quickly realizing all was well) and then carried on. I sometimes forget that one wrong step could spell disaster and cost me a season of training and running or worse. Next time the bedrock buster is icy I will choose an alternate route down the mountain so I don't bust something and cause problems. Below is a picture of the upper reaches of the bedrock buster in Summer without the ice.

"Bedrock buster" in Summer. Picture it covered in a layer of black ice and then run down it (treacherous)!

I find myself daydreaming almost constantly about different runs I would like to do, and I am almost always concocting plans to run epic trails and bag legendary summits. This is dangerous because it is so easy to lose focus of my research goals. I seem to find myself on Google Earth, Topo, and Summitpost more and more trying to find or formulate the holy grail of trail runs. It is almost an addiction (OK it is an addiction) of trying to build the perfect run, combining amazing scenery, technical trails, and major summits. Some of the areas I have been looking at are Bryce Canyon in Utah and Delano Peak in the Tushar Range. Another drawback to this daydreaming is the reality that time and funds make it impossible to even attempt more than one or two of these runs a year. I will definitely still give it a red hot go though!

The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are beckoning me to come and run in their shadows!

The 12,000' + Delano Peak in the Tushar range is high on my priority list for trails and peaks to run!

This week was a good one for music because I was able to discover multiple songs that I really like. I have been in a bit of a dry spell as far as finding music that I really love and keep listening to over and over again. The first song I found this past week was a Cover of Platinum Blonde's 80's song "Not in Love". The cover was by the Toronto based thrasher duo "Crystal Castles" and features the vocals of Robert Smith of The Cure. I really like how the song easily resonates out of the 80's yet has carried the sound into the now. Smith's vocals compliment the electronic music beautifully and this song played over and over in my head on my Saturday long run and I enjoyed every minute of it as I ran through streams, jumped puddles, slid on ice, and cranked out a great run. Great song and Cover. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter Motivation and Smith & Morehouse to Bald Mountain

I now have my next major goal event planned for mid-summer. I am very excited because I have gathered together an amazing group of guys to run this with me. My best friend Tim and I wanted to do an awesome run this Summer. One of our favorite places in the world is the Uinta Mountain range in Northeastern Utah. It is a very nostalgic spot for us because it is really where we grew up hiking, camping and fishing as well as both of our dads. I couldn't think of a better arena to host this event. I have wanted to do the Smith and Morehouse trail to Trial lake many times before but it has never happened.

Photo of Bald Mountain courtesy of Kevin Mikkelsen Photography Outdoors

I have also always wanted to summit Bald but just haven't gotten around to it. So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to combine the two into one epic 21 mile trail run. The trail is really pretty straight forward with reasonable distance and elevation gain. However the majority of the trail is quite high with an average elevation of about 10,200 feet elevation. We began to solidify details and then I decided to send a handful of invitations to a small group of our close friends. They have all confirmed that they will begin training for the Smith and Morehouse to Bald Mountain. I couldn't be more excited and now that we have made the commitment we can all work towards our goals of preparing to run in this amazing corner of the Earth.

I have began training seriously this week and I am doing 5 days a week with a rest day prior to back-to-back long runs and a rest day following. Yesterdays long run was brutal because I had not properly fueled before hand and by the 90 minute mark I was starving to death. I was able to complete it and even snagged a summit of Mt. Doug in there as well but it was difficult. Today will be a slow long trail run on Doug and will be the second long one in a row. I should be sufficiently knackered by the end of it. I love having this event on the horizon. My motivation is through the roof at the moment and I am working hard to prepare. I look forward to improving drastically over the months to come. A funny side note is on my run yesterday I passed a tree that was blossoming! I have seen trees in Vic blossom in late January but never December! I have a feeling that may be a bit too early. Just thought I would throw that observation out there.

I have to say whenever I feel I need motivation I can almost always count on Krupicka to deliver. After seeing his end of year stats on his blog I am in awe. Below is a video of Krupicka running in the snow in Colorado Springs up Green Mountain and I find it really motivating and it makes my mild Victorian Winter seem like a warm holiday. (I had to post the link because the embedded video was automatically playing).

Additionally I found this interview on Scott Jurek and thought it was motivating as well.

As far as music goes I was mainly listening to Christmas music the last month or so. I haven't really had a chance to think of what I might post but I have been feeling a little sci-fi-ish lately so I decided to post an odd one. Why not? This is "The Oh of Pleasure" by Ray Lynch and has been featured on movies (Gentlemen Broncos) and games. I know most people might not like this sort of stuff but I really like it and it is a nice soundscape for various activities. Enjoy!