Adventures In Running

Monday, March 30, 2009

Time for a change in plans

OK - Time for pity is behind me.  Time to refocus is ahead of me.

This next week I am taking off of running.  I might do some walking, but I think I need to let my IT Band cool down.  I will be taking anti-inflammatories, icing, rolling it on the styrofoam roller and stretching.  My original plan was to take the week off after finishing 50 miles and it seems logical now.

I really think that the compression shorts were the cause of the injury.  I had worn them in trial runs up to about 10 miles and did feel like they were using my muscles a little differently - but nothing that concerned me. On the bright side - they worked good for my hernia situation. 

I have also let myself slide physically since I had surgery in 2008. Prior to that time, I was weight lifting 3-4 times a week and had lost a lot of weight with a trainer. Post surgery, I then moved, went to Italy and the started a new focus on actually becoming a runner.  Time to get back to what worked.  I will go back to the gym and get into a workout schedule with weights. Some adaptation  may need to be done around the hernia - but that is easily enough done.

I am also getting rid of the junk food and going to learn to eat healthy again. I am going to compile my recipes as I try new things to make me a quick and easy cookbook for single runners.

I am also going to get into yoga, pilates, plyometrics and the dreaded intervals.  I need to push myself more on my runs  2-3 times a week with a plan in mind (ie intervals, tempo runs) and not have junk miles unless they are mental destressing days.

The last Saturday in October is the OV (Ogden Valley) 50 miler.  It is all on roads, so easily accessible.  Leslie and I invite all our friends who want to pace us on different sections to put that on your calendars now. 

DNF at the Buffalo Run 50 miler


My first DNF.  Pretty sad for me - but the right thing to do.

This was supposed to be my first 50 miler.  I chose to DNF in order to be able to run the rest of the year.

It was beautiful weather for the run.  I was a bit concerned with all the rain and snow this week, but it was supposed to be relatively mild today.  I was also concerned because I was sick again on Thursday, but felt fine today.

Woke up at 4 a.m. Got ready for the race including sun screen and all my efforts to prevent chafing.  I tried a new product today by Glide (a liquid powder) on all my usual spots and am happy to announce that I had no chafing or blisters or even hot spots.

My sister drove me to the island and we arrived about 5:15.  Dropped off all my drop bags and then we sat around a campfire to get warm.  It was mild enough I decided to start the race with a knit cap, light weight gloves, running bra, long sleeved running shirt, vest, sleeves, compression shorts, socks, shoes and gaiters.  As the weather warmed up I could drop layers easily enough.

The race started fairly promptly.  It was my first early morning (in the dark) start of a trail race and it was pretty cool seeing all the bobbing lights ahead and behind me as we headed up the switchbacks.  I was glad to have both a headlamp and handheld flashlight because my headlamp decided it wasn't going to stay on - guess it didn't like me washing it after my 35 miler.

The sky was light enough as we headed across the saddle in White Rock Bay that I turned off my lights.  I ran the entire saddle and down White Rock Bay because I knew the killer hill (I think we should call it puke hill) by Lone Tree was up ahead and I would have to walk that.

Ran through the first aid station and onto the out and back of Elephant Head.  My conditioning was definitely better this year and I could run most of this 3.6 mile out and back.  Half way out there were about 7-8 bison wheeling around and around - not too happy about the runners.  I started yelling to get them to move on and they finally darted across the trail.  I yelled at a runner coming around a rocky outcrop to stop and he did. A few more feet and he would have been in there path.  Of course, one of the Japanese runners was happily standing there filming it all. Dropped my cap and vest and switched to a running hat.

Next was the Split Rock Bay loop. I chose to run the 2 mile downhill and walk the switchbacks - knowing I could run about half of them. I did talk to another runner that kept switching places with me off and on for another mile.

Grabbed some gatorade and food as I passed the aid station and ate as I ran.  I was making good time and getting ahead of my planned schedule.  After dropping off the saddle onto the new switchback trail - I started to experience some pain in my left IT Band.  It was very unexpected because I have not had any problems with it at all this year. The first twinges started around mile 16 and it started slowing me down on downhills around mile 18.  I planned to wrap the knee and take ibuprofen when I passed the White Rock Aid Station.

After mile 19 - headed across the island to the East side of the island.  My sister passed me in her van about mile 20 and I mentioned that I was in pain and coping with it. Around mile 22 I found that I could no longer run any steep downhills without significant pain and had to walk them.  This got me worried because I counted on downhills to make up time.

Some boggy, wet and muddy sections of the trail for about 2 miles. During this time I was trying to run 100 steps, walk 50 steps - but found the knee pain was starting earlier each repetition.  About mile 24 I could no longer run at all because the pain was so sharp next to the knee.  I was trying to decide if I could walk the rest of the race and still finish in time, but had to slow down my walking because even walking started hurting and by trying not to limp - I was starting to have the right knee hurt.  By 25.5 I knew that I was going to have to DNF - or else choose to be injured most of the summer.  I was walking pretty slowly and trying to figure out how I would get hold of Leslie and my sister, Marcia.

At almost mile 27, Les and Marcia came out to meet me from the Lower Frary Aid Station.  They were cheering me on and it started me bawling as I announced I had to DNF. I just felt like I was letting myself, my family, Leslie, and my online running pals down. 


1st 10 miles: 14:12 (uphill)/15:42 (uphill)/13:20/11:40/11:12/14:49 (uphill)/14:12/13:48/13:15/11:11

2nd 10 miles: 16:57 (uphill)/16:25 (uphill)/13:47/13:40/13:21/13:42/13:42/12:55/15:06 (downhill :( )/15:47 (downhill)

Last 7 miles: 14:40/14:49/15:16/14:11/14:59/16:35/17:53

Les was asking what lessons I learned.  My nutrition as right on until I got hurt (then I started focusing). My clothing was good (one notable exception). My drop bags were a good learning experience.

My training was pretty good. At the time I quit I was not tired. My lungs were fine. My muscles were not even tired.  I just couldn't take the pain and knew it would be serious injury time if I kept on.

What I did wrong - it is just a guess, but the only thing I changed was the compression shorts I used to keep my hernia from hurting.  I think they adjusted the muscles and tendons in the legs and caused the IT issues.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just a touch of love (and spring)

I was coming home early from work to get some rest when they called and told me I had just had some flowers delivered. I went back to work and found this beautiful bouquet send by my daughter, son-in-law, and grandkitties in Italy. This was their way of being with me for the race. Thank you so much, Jenn & Jeremy! I love you.

My son called this afternoon and also wanted to extend his good wishes for the race. I had some great conversations with both children this afternoon.

It means a lot to me that my children are supportive of my running endeavors and get excited by my races. They and my sister are my biggest fans and it is so great to have them behind me.


I'm sick of this

One of the greatest benefits I have enjoyed from all my crazy training is that I rarely get sick any more and - when I do - it usually is gone within 24-48 hours.

Last week I came down with a virus that kept dragging on. It was finally starting to clear up on Tuesday and then I got hit with another cold yesterday afternoon. Can I say that I am very frustrated with this occurring right before my big race?

Another thing I am sick of is SNOW! Yes, that white stuff is very pretty and we need the moisture - but snow 4 times this week? Hasn't anyone told the weather it is spring? They are predicting clear, cool weather on Saturday - but with the snow coming down again today, that means mud, soft sand and other moist conditions to add to the race challenge.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

My advice to aid station volunteers

This was taken from an email I wrote to my sister - who will be helping out at my first 50 mile race:
You saw how at the end of a marathon some people need help. Well, in an ultramarathon - we are all mental, so need help in different ways. You are going to have to decide at times when to be a nurse and when to not be.

Lie - tell us we are looking good, we can finish strong, we are moving well - anything like that.

Don't ask how we are doing - there are high points and low points - but at the time you will see us - we will all be hurting. If we are tired, sore, our legs hurt, we want to puke, etc - encourage us to keep moving.

Get people in and out of the station as quickly as you can. Encourage them to eat and drink. Fill their water bottles for them to help speed them out. If one thing sounds horrible to us, try another. Be concerned if someone is looking dazed and like they need real medical attention - but you will have the advantage of being near the end and people will be trying their best to finish.

If someone is near a time limit - encourage them to push on as fast as they can. DNF (Did not finish) and getting 'cut off' are two of the things ultra runners fear the most.

At that point in time - unless a blister is just starting, people are living with blisters and will probably just move on and cope with the pain. I don't know what supplies Jim will have - he says he will have a first aid kit - but I've heard duct tape is great. You might also want to have some towels and buckets of water handy if you want to bandage feet. Bandages don't stick to dirty sweaty feet.

Things not to say:

* You are almost there or you are almost finished. Instead - say something like - "this is the last aid station - you are going to finish this puppy!"
* It's all downhill from here. No - it's not - and we hate hearing it.
* C'mon - you can go faster than that. Nope - or we would be doing it.

If people want to know what is up ahead - there is a 3.5 mile section of single track. It wraps around the northwest corner of the hill and eventually ends up in White Rock Bay. At that point in time they get on roads and have one uphill - but will see the finish and can handle it. There is a point about 1 to 1.5 miles from the aid station where it gets really rocky and you might want to caution them to be careful - but it only last for less than a half mile. They will be facing some small uphills - but the worst of the course is over.

I am so excited about this weekend!


The excitement builds - drop bags and such

Wow - the time until the race starts on Saturday morning is flying by. I am going to start packing my gear today - just because I have found that the early I prepare, the less I need to stress as the big day draws close.

I will be driving up to Strider's in Layton after work on Friday to get my race pack. Twilight will be coming along. We are spending the night at my sister, Marcia Nielsen's, house in West Haven. She is going to drop me on Antelope Island in the morning (I want to be there by 5:15 at the latest to get my drop bags out early enough), then she is coming back to help run the Bridger Bay Campground Aid Station (about mile 45) in the afternoon, cheer me in at the finishing line, and drive me back to her house for the night. I have driven after 50K races and get pretty shaky - there is no way I want to drive after a 50 miler.

The temperature is supposed to be between high 30's to low 50's on race day. That should be a perfect temperature. Right now they are predicting no rain and that the wind will not be too bad (I am praying for nothing like today's breezes). If the temperature predictions hold I am hoping to be able to get by starting the race in my new compression shorts, a short sleeved running shirt, removable arm sleeves, and a long sleeved running shirt on top. If it is any cooler I will also throw on a vest for body heat until the sun comes up. On top of that I will also have shoes and socks and gaiters (used to keep small rocks and dirt out of your shoes), light weight gloves and possibly a ear warmer headband on top of my running cap. I will also be wearing a head lamp for the first hour and maybe carrying a small flashlight. Most of the extra objects can get dropped at the aid station back by Elephant Head, since I will actually pass this station 3 different times in the first 20 miles.

I am going to wear my new Nathan running backpack/vest (70 oz bladder for water) and try to carry as little as possible. My base load for this vest is:
suntan stick
toilet paper (small baggies with enough for 3-4 emergency pit stops)
s caps (electrolyte replacement tabs)
basic first aid bag
5 hr energy drink
ipod & headphones
2 inch corban
lip gloss
spare watch (to be worn on my right wrist to check my drinking/eating/walk breaks
Garmin (left wrist - for mileage and splits)

The start/finish line is also a drop station that I will pass at around 20 miles. I plan to have a Base Box there, containing the following supplies:
blanket (before and after the race)
coat (before and after the race)
dry warm clothes - really important for after the race. If I get my upper body warm the hypothermia won't set in and start me shaking as badly.
vegetable cans (for the Buffalo stew after the race)

For the uninitiated - drop bags are used on ultramarathons to provide runners a place to replenish supplies. On even longer races, they can also be strategically placed to allow you to change clothes for night time and get head lamps and such. I like to use the HUGE Ziplock bags (I think they are 3 gallons). I write my name on them and they are easy to find and see what I want to grab out of them. Also, they keep my gear dry if it rains and can be easily replaced if they are worn out from handling.

Drop bags (Bag 1 is the aid station out by Elephant Head that is passed 3 times on the first loop/ Base is the Start/Finish line and passed at mile 20/Ranch is Fielding Garr Ranch at mile 33):
gu or shot blocks (# servings) - 4 (bag 1)/2 (base)/5 (ranch)
5 hour energy drink (ranch)
hand bottle (base) -- (I don't want to carry an electrolyte drink bottle for the first 20 miles and will rely on the aid stations and S-caps for the first 2/5 of the race)
spare hat & gloves (ranch) - in case it gets cold and I need dry gear
socks (base)(ranch) - in case of foot problems and/or wet socks
shoes (ranch) - in case my feet are swelling or the other shoes are rubbing
Toilet Paper bag (base) (ranch) (bag 1)
meds bag (base) (ranch) (bag 1)
first aid bag (base) (ranch) (bag 1)
2 Ensure (base) (ranch) (bag 1) - I have found that my body can handle Ensure at times when I cannot force other food down
ipod shuffle & headphones (ranch)
treat bag (base) (ranch) (bag 1)
3 " corban (ranch)
StopPain (ranch)
damp washcloth in baggie (ranch) - to wash my feet and also to clean off my hands after coating legs with StopPain
dry shirt (base) (ranch) - if current shirt is chafing or too wet
bandana (base) (ranch) (bag 1) - good for head or neck covering/wiping face/etc.

I want to have small snack size ziplock bags with supplies, if I have used supplies in the previous section, then I can just drop the bag I am carrying and grab a new one for the next section.

meds bags will contain -
ginger chews

first aid bags will contain -
eye drops
pain rub
blister packs
other lubricants

treats bags will contain -
jolly ranchers
lemon drops

It will be interesting to review these lists/plans after the race and see if my preparation needs adjusting for future races.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Twilight Update - Nearly 5 months old

Several people have asked me for an update on the puppy. Twilight is almost 5 months old now.

She has me very well trained. Twilight now knows how to respond to "sit" and "down" and is really good at playing "fetch". We have some good routines. After I run in the morning, she likes to play fetch. Each time she returns a toy I have her go into a sit or down and in return she gets a piece of her breakfast.

We usually take a short walk in the morning and a longer walk at night. When she wants to take a walk, she will bring me her collar or leash and then goes and sits by the basement door. She has gone on walks up to 2 miles long.

When Twilight wants to snuggle, she runs upstairs and jumps on the bed and barks as her signal to me to come and pay attention to her. As I said - she has me trained.

Up until two weeks ago, Twilight spent most of the time when I was gone in a 4 foot by 4 foot cage in the kitchen.

Now that she is mainly housetrained and better behaved, I have bought a gate to allow her access to the full kitchen and also provide more room for all of us to maneuver in the kitchen.

My lower balcony is her 'poop deck'. This week I am putting in a puppy door on the sliding door on my balcony so that she can go in and out when I am home.

Preparing for my first 50 mile race

I am less than two weeks out from my first 50 mile race - The 2009 Buffalo Run 50 Mile Race on March 28th, 2009. My emotions the last few months have ranged from total excitement to total terror and I am mixed with thinking how cool this will be with how idiotic it will be.

The biggest preparation has taken a couple of years - in order to finish a 50 mile race I had to get fast enough to be able to finish the race in a time limit and I knew I would have to become a runner in order to do this. Yes - I might have been able to as a speed walker - but I was not looking forward to the pressure that would have put on me the entire race. In order to complete this race in the 12 1/2 hour time limit - I need to maintain an average pace of a minimum of 4 miles per hour - including time at rest stops and bathroom breaks. Now that most of my running miles are comfortably under 11 minutes per mile, I think I can maintain this for that many hours.

The next preparation was making sure that I had enough time on my feet and endurance. Time on my feet has been building since I started training seriously in 2004 and increased significantly last year. My endurance has also jumped steadily up since I started running non-stop last October. The 35 mile training run from 3 weeks ago indicate that I have the capability of doing 50 miles. Until I actually do this first race, I won't know the challenges ahead of me - but I think I can persevere and finish the course.

So - the mental and physical preparation are behind me. The next two weeks will consist of 'fine-tuning' my plans and being as ready as I can. The biggest step - avoiding any injuries.

In order to avoid any injuries - I need to let my body rest and heal. For this first race I want to do a serious taper. My plans for the pre race and post race taper periods are as follows:
  • Monday - 5 miles - including some explosive sprint sessions
  • Tuesday - 4 easy miles - including some hills
  • Wednesday - 5 miles
  • Thursday - 4 miles a.m. & 4 miles p.m.
  • Friday - rest day
  • Saturday - 10-12 miles, last 3 miles at marathon speed
  • Sunday - rest day
  • Monday & Wednesday - 5 miles - including some explosive sprint sessions
  • Tuesday, Thursday - walk to and from work
  • Friday - rest day
  • Saturday - race day
  • Sunday - rest day
  • Monday to Friday - no running - if I feel up to it, walk or bike to and from work
  • Saturday - alternate a little running and walking if I feel up to it - preferably on trails and slow
MY PACER - Leslie Peterson will be pacing me starting around mile 33. Her job will be to get me to the finish line under the time limit and keep me motivated. I am providing her some pacing instructions and a map and am relying on sharing the fun of this with her and then helping her finish her first 50 mile race this fall. My first marathon I had another running friend, Vic Mason, bring me in from mile 19 on and this will be the same. While I have run all the trails on Antelope Island - the distance starting at 35 miles will all be 'new territory' and it will help to have her there to push me on when I am starting to sag.

Drop Bags and Gear - I will be writing up lists of good weather, bad weather and mixed weather plans for both my drop bags and gear I will be carrying. Check back in a couple of days for another post with those details.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jordan River Parkway Trail

I ran on the Jordan River Parkway Trail today with Leslie from Murray into West Valley City and back.

It is nice to see signs of spring on the run. The first hour or so we could see mist over the Jordan River and the trees were covered with frost. It made for pretty but cold viewing. Later we were able to enjoy the sun coming up and see new growth. Plus, the ground started getting softer so we ran into a few muddy sections.

I started at the parking lot off Winchester and ran North to 5400 South. Salt Lake Running Company was providing water every two miles on the trail and that was nice - didn't have to carry as much this way. I was running with my new Nathan Sport pack and ran into some problems with it. 1) The temperature was cool enough that the mouthpiece froze solid. I solved this by tucking the mouthpiece and tubing under my shirt until it warmed up. 2) I was having problems getting the mouthpiece to open sufficiently to get fluid. Later I figured out that this was probably due to it freezing shut earlier.

Leslie had not run in a week because she had been sick, so we kept our speed to what felt good on her tired lungs. There were lots of runners and cyclists on the trail. In addition to Salt Lake Running Company, Team in Training also had water stops on the trail (they rotated almost every mile) and it seemed like it was the 'place to be' that day.

I stuck with Leslie most of the run. We did go over on the equestrian trail any time we could to get our trail training in. I am looking forward to the warmer temperatures because it will mean more trails opening up soon. The last few miles we ran together I had some excess energy, so would run ahead for a few minutes and then turn around and run back to Leslie. Probably pretty annoying to her, but it kept my juices flowing.

As we ran together we made lots of plans for training this summer and getting ready for the Ogden Valley 50 Miler (OV50) in October. I think Leslie and I need to both get more comfortable running hills if we want to be successful and enjoy 50 mile races. My primary suggestion for this is for us to do the Little Cottonwood Trail once or more a week all summer. The first month focus on running uphill at least one mile before walking at all. The next month make it to two miles and then run the entire trail (a little over 3 miles each way) after that. I did this once before the end of last summer. It was hard and I was slow - but I can tell that my hill running improved a lot last year. A lot of it is mental and that is a hard battle to win.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Antelope Island/Legacy Parkway Trails and More

I'm getting pretty excited - the 50 miler is 3 weeks from today.

There was a scheduled training run for the Buffalo Run on Antelope Island today and I drove up to Syracuse to join in on the run. I was glad I had turned around and picked up the top running layer I had forgotten when I opened my car door and was hit with the icy breeze that bit right through our clothes. No fun!

I was glad that I had gone for the run because I found that the race director, Jim Skaggs, had changed the beginning of the race. Instead of heading South along the coast by White Rock Bay, the race heads East and South up a series of switchbacks. After the first half mile, I spent a lot of the next few miles walking the uphills. Basically, he took what used to be my favorite part of the previous race (the long downhills on these switchbacks) and made them my least favorite part. It means I have to mentally make some adjustments about the first 6+ miles of the race. I am also very happy that I changed from the 50K to the 50 miler because I don't have to do that portion twice.

Shortly after starting the run I hooked up with a couple of men that were running the trails. I ended up running most of 16.3 miles with Joe. This will be his first ultra marathon, so we talked a lot about what he could expect. I was very impressed, his 50th birthday is next week and he is doing the 50K as a birthday celebration. He had a knee replacement in 2007 and was challenging himself to see what his knee would allow him to do.

The day turned out to be a nice sunny day. Good for running. The first few hours the ground was solid - so footing was good. After a couple of hours, the mud started thawing and we ran through some sections where our shoes got pretty heavy.

After going around the first half of White Rock Bay and around the Split Rock Bay loop, we came back and headed down the new section of trail cut in White Rock Bay. I ran this once before in December and it was a lot more solid. Joe and I were both a little concerned about turning an ankle because the soil/sandy was quite loose and pitted, so you not only had to watch for ankle turning steps ahead, but you were not sure that your ankle would roll if the soil shifted under you. I hope that this gets pack a lot more this summer because it is a pretty section of trial to run if you are not worrying about your steps.

I have been concerned the past six or so weeks about a pain in my lower right-side abdominal muscles and a personal trainer was working with me this week and thinks it is a hernia. I had my sister look at it last night and she agrees with him. Unfortunately, the pain is located right under one of my incisions from surgery last May and this probably left a week spot that has caused the hernia. I will be seeing a doctor about it this week, but today I really noticed on the loose section that having to adjust with my stabilizer muscles is causing a lot of sudden pains. I think I will need to find a truss or girdle or something for my lower abs for the 50 miler.

I was going to do 20+ miles on the island, but had a fitness seminar to go to, so left after 16.3 miles and went to the nutrition seminar at LifeLong Fitness. I also stopped next door at Striders and bought a new running pack I am going to experiment with the next few weeks and use for the 50 miler. I found having a pack around my waist was also aggravating the hernia area, so want to shift the weight a little higher.

On my way home, I wanted to put in more miles, so found a way to get off the Legacy Highway and finally found the running trail. I did an out and back along that trail to get my mileage for the day up to 22 miles. It is a nice path, but I think it would be better for biking and roller-blading and runners/walkers looking for an easy, flat trail.

I also found that it is sorely lacking in bathroom facilities - which is fun when you are in full view of both the Legacy Highway and I-15. I had to hide in some depressions to take care of my potty necessities. Another complaint I have about the trail - it is very hard to find access to it. I actually found that it is easier to access off of I-15. Parking was another issue. Do they honestly think everyone is going to run or bike to get on the trail? I never saw any marked parking and finally just pulled over on the shoulder of the road.