Friday, February 29, 2008

Week 8 - Training Report

Well, one week I did not keep a good record and now I cannot remember exactly what I did this week! I am improvising below....
  • S: Attempted a short run around the neighborhood and hit the wall after 4 miles. Ended up walking a bit.
  • M: Rest. Monday is always a busy day for me. I have a lot of packing & shipping to do, plus I have to get ready for Greek school.
  • T: I think this day I went for another trail/photo run. Took Snowville downhill to the buckeye trail, took pictures with my Horseman 3D camera, then back home through Columbia.
  • W: Not sure what I did... possibly a 5 mile run in the neighborhood.
  • T: I am drawing a blank this day too.
  • F: Rest. I had a dental appointment & oral surgery. It was not too bad, but the dentist did not want me to run the next day.
  • S: AMA (Against Medical Advice) I joined the “Vertical Runner” group. I skipped the 6:30 group, so I started with the 7:30 group. We did the reverse "Shamrock" route. This was 12.2 miles at a fast pace, about 8 min/mile. The route is tough with lots of hills. For the rest of the day I was exhausted and it showed up the next day too!

Total for the week = 27 miles – Average weight 168 lbs

Buckeye 50K Winter Trail Fun Run - REPORT

Friday January 25th, 6 pm, my wife asked me: “Are you sure you want to do this?” “This” refers to waking up in the crack of dawn and going out on a 20F weather to run for 6 hours, to cover 31 miles on snow/ice packed trails. A reasonable question to ask, even coming from a runner.

To understand how I ended up in this situation, we have to go back a few months. My association with trail running started last summer when I saw a notice about a group (organized by Vertical Runner) training for the 50K Summer Trail race. Without any previous trail-running experience I joined the group, completed the training runs, and, with some hesitation, signed up for the race. The weather on race day was beautiful, sunny and cool. I had a great time and finished with the respectable time of 5:15. Not only was I not injured (as I had feared) but I recovered right away. After that, I became a trail-running enthusiast.

So I had no hesitation to sign up for the Winter 50K run. But, as I soon learned, winter trail-running is very different than summer trail-running. Depending on the temperature, rain and/or snowfall, the trails can be muddy, or covered with snow and/or ice, which makes running a lot harder and less enjoyable.

Training for the Winter 50K was tough. I refused to run in the rain or when the trails were flooded or with too much snow or ice. I had to train mostly on my own, running weird days and times, like middle of the week, early afternoon, a mix or roads and trails. My longest run was 20 miles which I did twice, two days apart, a week before the race. My longest run on the trail was only 16 miles. My mileage peaked one week before the race and I took it easy the week of the race. To get back to my wife’s question, yes, I was as ready as I could possibly be. I would not miss it after all this training. So, there I was, at the Boston Store, ready to go at 7:00 am.

The race route consists of 2 “loops” (out and back actually). The short loop (S - From Boston to Brandywine Falls, top part of the map) is 5 miles and the long loop (L - From Boston to Pine Lane, bottom part of the map) is 8. Runners can run for 1/2M, 18 miles, Marathon, or 50K, depending on how many loops they do. It goes like this: S + L = 1/2M + S = 18 + L = Marathon + S = 50K. So to complete the 50K you had to run the small loop 3 times and the large loop 2 times.

Everyone pays the same entry fee and gets the same beautiful “Brooks hunter green warm up jacket”. It does not really matter what you signed for. You can always complete a different distance. This opens the possibility of stopping the run earlier if things don’t go well, or keep going for more if you feel like it.

About 100 people signed for the 50K & marathon and 100 people for the 1/2 Marathon. To make things easier, the two groups started in opposite directions. The race is labeled "Fun Run". We had timing chips but at the end, we had to tell them how much distance we covered (the chips only gave our final time.) There were no awards. The nice jacket and the pride of finishing a challenging race was our reward.

Before the race I ate a good breakfast and filled my carry-on bottle with fresh orange juice. There were aid stations every 3-4 miles where I would fill my bottle. This is the first time I ran carrying a bottle and it helps distribute fluids more evenly. I ended up eating chocolate cake and drinking Mountain Dew. A terrible diet for a runner, but it felt great during the run.

This is also the first time I ran with an MP3 player so I can listen to the radio. Around 10 am I was laughing, listening to “Car Talk”. After 3 hours of running, the other runners must have thought that I was losing my mind at this point.

The temperature the week before the race was in the 20s so the ground was frozen. The morning of the race the temperature was 20F and it went up to 25F, so it stayed well below freezing. According to some runners, the running surface was perfect, but not for me. Somehow the frozen mud was very rough and it felt as if was running on sharp rocks. After a while, this took a toll on my running.

In these smaller races, my pace usually brings me in competition with the top female runner. My secret goal is to finish ahead of all the women in the course. It was a tough battle. The top female runner for most of the race was a 23 year old from Indiana. She passed me around mile 7 but I caught up with her 2 miles later and this went on and on for the entire race. She was faster in the flat/downhill portions of the trail, but I would catch up with her in the uphill portions (we both walked, only I walked faster) or the aid stations.

My peak running was around the middle of the L loop (about 9 miles) were I went fast downhill and passed quite a few runners, including the “Indiana” girl. My low point was returning the second time on the L loop (about mile 22). My legs were tired of the hard surface and my pace had slowed to 12 min/mile. “Indiana” passed me at this point and she looked fresh and unstoppable.

Surprisingly, after 26 miles, and with only the small 5 mile loop to finish, I felt very good. My wife joined me for a mile or so. At the middle of this last loop, while approaching the aid station and running uphill, I spotted “Indiana”, and started running faster. I caught up with her and pulled ahead. And here is the bummer: With one mile left to go, another female runner came from the back, running really fast. She beat us both handily! Well, I did not really care, but this must have been a disappointment for the “Indiana” since, despite leading for 30 miles, she missed the honor of being the first female. (Again, there are no awards, only the honor and pride).

My final time was 5:31 (pace: 10:41/mile), better than expected (my goal was 11 min/mile, 6 hours). My final mile was done in 8:24 (to see all my mile splits, click at the data here (from my Gamrin)). I have no idea where this strength came from. The human body/mind is an amazing thing.

After the race we were treated to hot chili. I wanted to take 3d pictures but was too tired to walk to the car to get the camera and back, so I just went home. If you want to see pictures or a video from a fellow runner, check out (type “buckeye 50K”) or the blogs of various runners.

Here are some pleasant surprises from this race: 1) I did not fall, not even once. 2) I did not get any blisters. 3) I recovered surprisingly fast. The day after the run I was a bit stiff but ready to resume running (after a marathon it usually takes me a couple of days to be able to walk!) I think the difference is the slower pace, the variation in pace and the softer running surface. Trail-running is definitely easier for the body.

And here is the burning question: Will I do it again? I am ready to sign up for the summer 50K. I have to think about the winter. Training was tough, but the race was fun, so I think I will go for it. Do I recommend this to other runners? I definitely recommend trying trail-running. You might find it more fun and addictive than road running.

If you want to check the results of this or previous 50K races, or to sign up for future races, the Buckeye Trail web site is here:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week 7 - Training Report

  • S: After my unplanned longer run last Saturday, I started the week with a rest day!
  • M: It was cold (15F) and this is the first time I put a face mask. I ran 6 miles in Columbia road and back. Roads were covered with snow. A bit dangerous, but not much traffic.
  • T: 5 miles around the neighborhood. No watch. Fitness class was cancelled because of predicted bad weather (freezing rain) that never really came in full force.
  • W: 4 miles with Liz around the neighborhood.
  • T: Beautiful sunny 30F day. I decided to run in the afternnon with two cameras (RBT S1 and Yashica with 25mm lenses). I took the reverse route, Snowville to Buckeye Trail (were I shot at least two rolls) and out to Columbia road and from there up and home. Skipped fitness because of Tony’s practice.
  • F: Rest
  • S: Joined the “Vertical Runner” group. This time I decided to join the 6:30 am group because I enjoyed the run last week. We ran 6 miles. Then I joined the 7:30 group for 12 miles. In this group I met Melissa, who I had “met” in the joy_of_running email discussion list. Melissa wanted to do 20 miles in preparation of her upcoming marathon. So, after completing my 18 miles (12 for her) we went for 8 more. I think we did about 7 miles, one of which was walking. I counted 25 miles for this run. Somehow my Garmin stopped two times so I don't have the exact mileage, but it does not matter. Here are my splits with the first group: 9:07 8:32 8:28 8:18 8:35 9:02. Splits with the 2nd group: 9:04 8:04 8:11 8:16, My Garmin was off for 3 miles at this point. The final miles were in the 11-12 min/mile slow pace. It was a good run and I did not feel particularly tired for the rest of the day. I even attempted a run the next day but I had to abort it. I guess I need more rest!

    Total for the week = 45 miles – Average weight 168 lbs (my “diet” broke down again!)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Week 6 - Training Report

  • S: Started the week with a slow neighborhood run with Liz, 5.4 miles.
  • M: Start w/Liz one mile, then Columbia and back, 6.8 mi.
  • T: Same, 6.9 mi. No fitness. Club meeting instead.
  • W: No running (too tired). Ate pizza, etc. all day long, not good!
  • T: Columbia, Riverview, Snowville loop. 5.1 mi but challenging hill.
  • F: Rest
  • S: Joined “Vertical Runner” group. Originally, I was going to run with the 7:30 am group for 12 miles. But the kitty woke me up at 6 am so I decided to join the 6:30 am group. I did 5 miles with the first group and them 11 miles or so with the 2nd group. Normally, I would be done at this point, but I made a new friend, Mark, in this 2nd group. Mark wanted to run 5 more (slower) miles at the towpath. I decided to join him. This brought my mileage to an unplanned 21 miles! I forgot my Garmin watch so I don’t know the mile splits but some miles were as fast as 8min/mile or faster, while towards the end we had slowed to 9:30 min/mile. Overall, it was a very nice run!

    Total for the week = 45 miles – Average weight 166 lbs

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Week 5 - Training report

  • S: I started the week with a rest day, after my 50K Buckeye winter trail. Surprisingly, I felt very good and ready to resume running right away.
  • M: 7m run, following my new favorite route: Snowville to Columbia, to the Buckeye trail to Snowville and then back home. While I was 0.5 mi into the run, I decided to go back home and get my RBT S1 stereo camera. It was a nice cold day with some sun. This is the first time I took the stereo camera on a trail run by myself. Average page 10:10.
  • T: 5 mi around Echo Hill. Fitness w/Steve in the evening.
  • W: I went with Liz (my wife) for a 4 mile neighborhood run, that she calls the “Comrades” because it is hilly. It was cold, 15F and windy and I was frozen. I did not enjoy the run but Liz did. Our pace was 9:28, slow for me, fast for her.
  • T: 5K run at the rec center (indoors track), followed by fitness (w/Steve) class.
  • F: Rest
  • S: I joined the "Vertical Runner" group for a 10 mile run. It was rather hard route, from Peninsula to Boston via the frozen/slippery Towpath, then up Hinnes road, to the Bike & Trail and then down Boston Mills road and back to Peninsula via Riverview road (this might be shorter than the towpath but it is hillier). My mile splits for this run: 9:28 8:47 8:54 8:56 8:25 7:51 7:57 8:04 8:28 7:42. Started slow, but then picked up the pace. Considering the monster hills, this was a rather fast pace. I was tired and hungry for the rest of the day.

This week I made another attempt to diet and stopped eating sugar, which includes chocolate and hot cocoa (ouch!) So far so good.

Total for the week = 29 miles – Average weight 167 lbs

Why Blog?

Hi, this is my first blog! Which begs the question, “why blog”? I like to run and I like to write about running. I like to post race reports. Until today, I posted my reports and running thoughts in one of two running mailing lists, mainly joy_of_running. Lately, I have been searching the internet and found that many of my running friends have blogs. I came to realize that a blog is a useful way of communicating. I can post my race reports and thoughts here. So, here it is! DrT’s Running Blog!