Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mt. Wilson, capping a 91 mile week

Ah, its great to be alive...I awoke this morning at 4:45am ahead of my watch alarm; got up and made an espresso, mixed a half gallon of my briny cranberry juice mix and hit the trailhead at Eaton Canyon at 5:30am  for the second half of my weekend double header, a 20 miler up Mt Wilson and back.  The day broke warm and humid and my legs were a bit stiff from yesterday's adventure circumnavigating Eaton Canyon via Mt Lowe and Mt Wilson. The plan was to powerwalk up to the summit (9.8miles),  hit the faucet, reload, and then run down.  Last week I made the summit in 2:33 and completed the out and back in 4:15;  today I made it in 2:50 up and 4:14 total round trip, go figure.

June 30 Mt Wilson run
The track shows a slow degradation in pace as the climb progressed:  But when I ran down I felt great and burned it up, making  up the time lost in my slower hike up the mountain.  This bodes well- fast downhill running takes strength but uses not so much energy, and I hope to run like this at AC100:  Walk the ups, run the downs, and run them fast.  The training program I am on is developing my walking muscles-  hip extension, toe lift, but I am also gaining the strength to run reasonably well downhill.

I ran again in the Merrell Ascend Gloves:  Normally I do runs that are 20 miles or less in the TrailGloves, but I was thinking to go easy on my feet given the high total mileage this week.  Really, the Ascend Glove is a superb trail shoe; its very effectively armored with a good rock plate, but as I've written before, the footstrike is totally natural in these shoes, I forget that I am wearing shoes.  Also today was my first test drive wearing gaiters.  I'd ordered "Dirty girl gaiters" on the recommendation of a friend;  made of spandex, they breath well and put a complete stop to the problem of getting rocks and sand in my shoes.  It was worth the awkward explanations I had to make to my wife yesterday when a mysterious package labelled "Dirty girl garters"...err, gaiters showed up in the mail :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mt. Wilson loop, 27 miles: Water, electrolytes, bears, and shoes

This morning I hit the trail at 6:00am sharp to do the 27 mile Mt Wilson loop, and did it in 5:24 run time (6:15 total time with water pumping and screwing around mixing stuff and taking pictures).  This is I think the fastest runtime I've put down on this course...which was a bit surprising.   I intentionally walked the first 2.7 miles on the steep lower Sam Merrill Trail  to warm up the prima donna calf;  and I decided in advance that I would walk out of Idlehour in the sun as there was no way I was going to be able to keep up a running pace going uphill in the direct sun today.  Plus, the calf is still a bit iffy...I felt it during the warm up walk and didn't want to over do it.   Looking at the Garmin track, the difference is that my uphill running speed has improved and the downhill on the Sam Merrill was blistering.  I credit the Merrill Ascend Gloves for that-  solid footplants, great traction and enough armor to deal with the sharp granite on that trail, my feet feel pretty good.

Getting up and running out there is such a blessing.  I saw a bear today heading into Idlehour but the encounter was too fast and too shocking for me to get the iPhone out to snap a picture.  Here is a pic of the trail heading down into Idlehour taken a few minutes after my bear encounter:

When I got into Idlehour I filtered stream water:  I love this place, as there is a beautiful sound of stream water, its cool and refreshing, in stark contrast to the hot sun exposed granite trails heading in and out the canyon.  Here is a photo of the lovely Idlehour stream crossing:
The stream at Idlehour...heaven on earth

The temperature reached 94F in Pasadena by noon;  I'd seen predictions that it would reach over 100F so I had carried a backpack with a water filter and extra bottles as usual, and had prepared myself for a long hot slog.  I ran with the legs on my Columbia pants removed for a bit more ventilation, as i was wearing CEP compression socks as the calf is still coming up to speed.  When I got home my better half found the fusion of the Willy Nelson upper half of me with the Charlie Brown knee socks lower half of me, to be  pretty amusing:
( the REAL reason I wear long pants running)

In the course of the run I consumed 14 bottles w/ 22 oz of fluids  each-  that equates to 19 pounds of fluids, or 13% of my body weight if you can believe that.  I came back from the run 5 lbs down (as usual), 3% of my body weight.  I drank  salted diluted cranberry juice with 3/4 tsp salt to the half gallon; some electrolyte mix, and some water.  Fortunately when I was at the Mt Wilson gate a car came in so I was able to sneak in and access the I needed it.  Inspired by my buddy who won RAW a couple weeks ago, I also experimented with carrying a can of soup, the poptop can variety,  and consumed that -  unheated-  at Mt Wilson.  It was great!  Just have to watch out for accidental inhalation of chicken.  Its a terrific way to consume nutrition and salt, while avoiding the cloying sweetness of running food supplements like goos and bars, these get really awful after a while, especially when its approaching 100F out.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Idlehour 19miles, feeling good

Got up at 5am this morning for the second of this weekend's double header:  An out and back to Idlehour via the Sam Merrill trail.  It was beautiful morning with a thick marine layer socking in Pasadena, but by Echo Mountian I had broken clear of it:

I mostly powerhiked up to the saddle(6 miles), taking the Mt Lowe Railway route from Echo to get a little extra distance  as part of the calf rehab plan;  then I ran down the single track towards Idlehour.  I love the sheer vertical relief in upper Eaton Canyon:

By the time I run/hiked out of the canyon it was heating up:

When I returned to the saddle (location of the Sam Merrill checkpoint in AC100) I ran into a couple that were out training for Wasatch.  The husband was wearing an AC100 finishers shirt from last year.  They were out doing a loop around Wilson, but going counter clockwise.  Nice couple, very much in love, complimentary towards each other, very nice to see.

I charged down the railway and then the lower Sam Merrill;  total time was 4:03 for 19.0 miles.  Not bad considering that I went into this weekend thinking I would only be able to walk.  Total weekly miles:  70.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On the road back....Mt Wilson 20 miles, feeling good (or how I rehab'ed a calf strain)

My recovery plan this week has been to walk in order to rehab the prima-donna calf muscle;  at the same time the idea is to keep up my foot toughness; maintain time on the feet, and strengthen my walking muscles to enable fast uphill walking in the AC100.  During the last week on weekdays  I walked  30 miles and certainly by the end of the week my walking speed had  improved.  This morning I tackled Mt Wilson:  I walked up (9.85 miles) in 2:33 -  this is as compared to the same route run last October in 2:16.    Not a heck of a lot of point burning oneself up running a 10% grade from these stats!  I'm very pleased that I clocked out solid 4 miles per hour walking given the roughly 5000 ft of climb on this route.  I lost a bit of time in the last half mile gulping down a burrito.  A couple times during the powerwalk up, I tested the calf by running on flatter sections and it had a sharp feeling to it-  no joy.

At the summit I hit the spigot to reload my bottles and started walking back.  Coming around the bush behind which the spigot is hidden I saw some of my running buddies who had come up out of Chantry for a point to point  run ending at Eaton Canyon nature center -  same as my return trip.  So I started to run back with them, having disclaimed that I might be walking back depending on how the calf felt.  Much to my surprise the prima-donna calf felt fine running downhill.  I completed the 20 mile circuit in 4:15...we took our time on the descent.  Two of my 3 friends were nursing injuries so no one was racing today.  The last mile was flat (in Eaton Canyon park) and the calf felt fine in contrast to the sharpness I'd experienced running flats in the first half of this excursion.  Go figure!  This is the second time a persistent calf strain has been worked out by a long (10 mile) walk (first time being the March walk up Mt Wilson, 2 weeks before Leona Divide)...must be that its the equivalent of a really good deep tissue massage session (that lasts 2 1/2 hours!).

Here are the guys at the end of the run at the Nature Center:

Tommorrow I plan to do Sam Merrill to Idlehour, an 18 mile out and back.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Crewing RAW; state of the old calf injury site.

Just got back from crewing a friend in the Race Across the West...860 mile solo bike race from Oceanside CA to Durango CO.  My friend won the solo race in 2d 15h 55m.  It was the most impressive display of mental and physical toughness I have ever personally witnessed.  Running through desert heat consistently above 100F, in fact reaching 114F in the Anza Borrega desert cooled down to 100F by midnight or friend did this event like a machine, with a total sleep of 2 hours made up of catnaps.  By the second day he was in a zone of focus like I've never seen.  It was a privledge to be a part of this.

Here is a water handoff in the first day of the race:

I ran opportunistically during the days while we were leapfrogging my friend.  I was coming off a  rest as my right calf has an injury- the same injury as I had in December-  medial gastroc just at the head where it joins the soleus.  Not sure how this happened...felt perfectly fine through Memorial Day, at the end of an 82 mile week, where I felt absolutely indestructible; the last run was on Sunday before Memorial day when I  did a fast hill run and was up on my toes running up 10-15% grades.  Felt fine!  Next day I  got on  a plane to Japan for a business trip;   the first hint of trouble was in Japan stepping off the plane after 15 or so hours immobile on the darned flight over....very tight calves and felt a knot.  Rested last week; it felt better this week while crewing, but I was aware of the calf...right up to the point where i made a sprint handoff of  a water bottle at a leapfrog stop in Arizona on Wednesday...and zapped the calf.  Still, I ran on it on thursday in Navaho land and again once I reached Durango -  where I  had a good 2.5 hour  run in Horse Gulch, an amazing little trail system a mile from my hotel.  But  while running down off a bluff I tripped and suddenly was on the ground with my long pants torn, knee bruised;  hands OK protected by my carry-bottles;  and a toe that at first felt broken but feels better now:
But in that instantaneous  sprint attempt to keep from face-planting I dinged the calf AGAIN.  So yesterday and today its sore and I decide to skip the planned long runs and do a fathers' day Mtn Bike ride w/ my eldest boy.  Plan now is to walk once its feeling better, and get in 2 a day walks to get the mileage up while the calf knits. I think I can get in 60 miles this week walking this way and maintain most of the foot/hip/hamstring toughness;  But the challenge will be to get the running mileage up for 3-4 weeks before AC100.  Bottom line here is that there must be some latent weakness in the rt calf that never properly healed last December.January and I didnt rest enough when i did re-injure it.  So I am not injury free, but still learning.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A rest week...

This last week was a planned rest week, as I am trying to achieve a training cadence of 3 weeks hard & ramping followed by a rest week with lower volume.  The plan was to do 60 miles this week;  as it worked out the timing was convenient as it was necessary for me to fly out to Japan early  on Monday, Memorial day for business.  I arrived Tuesday evening Japan time.  Monday /Tuesday training was therefore  out (I haven't seen a hotel in Japan with a treadmill or fitness center yet);  I did get in an hour run in a park in Kyoto early Wednesday morning, and a 2 hr run early morning run on Thursday out in the country.  That run was cool as I followed a river some distance though mixed farm/residential areas and caught a warm summer morning rain.

One thing I noticed though was the calves were really tight after getting off the plane.  The runs did me some good but towards the end of the 2hr  run the right medial soleus was a bit tender at the head of the gastroc...not the old calf-heart-attack, but nonetheless, a sign of some kind of strain or overuse.  One mistake:  I left the foam roller at home as I wanted to avoid checking luggage.

I flew back Thursday afternoon, landing Thursday afternoon  in LA (gotta love international date lines) and was too cashed with jet lag to run.  I did a double work out Friday and decided to extend my noon warmup walk because of the tender calf.  Ran 14 on Saturday up Brown mountain..again still sore;  and today I  cut off my sunday run early, at 18 miles,  due to the calf issue.  On the plus side, I ran in the Ascend Gloves for the long Sunday run and it reaffirmed how much I love those shoes.  Feet were comfy the whole way including the steep descents, in contrast to the Saturday run over similar terrain which left the feet feeling fairly worked (I'd run in the Trail Gloves).

The next 2 days I will walk rather than run and see how it progresses.  I can still run, but the calf is on the wrong side of the border between hard training and incipient injury.  I am working it with the foam roller and wearing compression socks.