Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Day Well Spent

I took a day of vacation today! In 2009 I have worked everyday. No holidays off, no inauguration day off, no snow/ice days-when no patients showed up anyway-and 80% of the staff "couldn't make it in", no nothing off. But today was a great play day! I pretended I was a pro athlete. I awoke leisurely, walked my dog, ate a healthy breakfast, watched some TV, got around my gear, then headed out for a 26 miler on the trails. Upon finishing I got a nice sandwich, a big gulp soda from 7/11, had a shower, took a nap, and now am blogging. What a great life this would be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This run was my last big training effort for the MMT 100, which is now a mere 18 days away. I got in some rock hopping along the potomac heritage trail. I ran in the heat and humidity (and horrible pollen) and then got on the C&O tow path for some miles with nothing in the tank. During the entire 4:22 of running I only ingested one 200cal sleeve of clifshot blocks. Hungry "bonk" runs are great for training the old body (I did turn 35 on Sunday) how to mobilize and burn fat. I am getting very efficient as I was not really suffering that badly and was able to run 8:45 pace the last 14 miles despite taking 60sec walk breaks every mile.

I am excited, and let visions of rocking the night section of MMT play in my head the last few miles today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hills, Heat, Humidity, Horrible Pollen = MMT

The 4 H's were in effect this weekend. Wow!

This weekend I went out and got in some good MMT training and actually did a hill repeat workout for the first time in a long while. I managed to run 12 x 2-4 minute long hills here in Arlington. It ended up being over an hour of constant up then down then up then down running on a concrete sidewalk. Not rock hopping for sure but actually physiologically really good. Not to mention that it was 85+ degrees.

The whole workout had me thinking back to 2001 when I would routinely run the 1.4 mile blacktop loop on O-hill on the UVA grounds. My best workout ever was a 10x loop workout done in April the week of BRR 50 and the Monday that the Barkley was finishing up. Read below for a flashback...............to April 2001.............


With the continued Barkley updates a fever began to bubble inside me and I knew there was only one thing I could do to stop the trembling and that was to go for a run. After spending 2 miserable hours on Sunday jumping streams and freezing in cold rain I cut my run short and
felt like a punk. Good thing I did not go down to Barkley, I am not ready for that.... So as redemption or Self punishment, or maybe as a way of proving me to myself? I planned a killer workout for a Monday evening run.
I headed onto campus and settled in to a nice warm up 2 miles to the base of Observatory hill. This is no "big hell" but it is an impressive climb with a nice downhill. In total a 1.4 mile blacktop loop. I started my watch and sprinted off climbing strong, trying not to over run early as the climb takes 6:00 and gets me to my max HR before I begin the 4min. downhill to complete the loop.

I crested my first hill in 5:38 a new PR... wow, I am fit, but way to excited..."get control Loomis".. I say to myself and begin the eccentric quad busting downhill part of the loop. I reach the bottom completing loop number one in 9:31. The fastest I have ever run. I continue on with out stopping, attacking hill number 2 with my thoughts on David Horton and Blake Wood approaching the finish in TN as I run. Wow, what great runners! 58 hours of continuous movement on THAT terrain. Unbelievable. I crest the hill in 5:44 and continue around, loop 2 done in 9:37, Loop three goes well and I am amazed at my consistency: 9:40. On loop four I begin to feel the effects of the lactate build up and my stride shortens. It is a huge effort to maintain this pace. But press on I do. I study the cars parked along the road, watch a mountain biker fly by on a trail
next to my road loop.

I begin to blank out, to turn off the pain, to move without effort. Detachment they call it. "The Zone".. feels like floating. Loop 4 done in 9:36, loop 5 in 9:35, on loop 6 I am no longer a human being running. I am a machine. My legs and arms propel and pump without my telling them
too. My mind is in ultra-tolerate mode. The pain will end soon, just continue, I tell it. The noise from my panting breath is almost a surprise and every now and then I come back to grips with how hard I am actually running. Wow, this is a great workout! Wait, what David and
Blake are doing is great, this... this is kiddie stuff. I run harder.

Loop 6 done in 9:34, I tell myself you can quit now, you have never done a workout this good before, anything more will cross the line between training you will recover from and overdoing. I continue on without a hitch; loop 7 in 9:33. I feel a blister forming on the downhill from all the continuous sliding forward with each pounding footplant. Bad socks. I block this out too and think about the chafe I am experiencing. Huge white salt line mounds are now forming on my
shoulders, and my face feels gritty. I can taste the salt on my lips.

I am over an hour in to the workout now and feel a bit hungry. My throat is soooooooooooooo dry: my tongue a cotton wad. Loop 8 passes and I reach that point where David has talked about where you KNOW you WILL finish, just not sure how long it will take....the way he felt in
'98 barkley before getting lost... I think of them now, they must be close to touching the gate.
I begin Loop 9 and feel my bad calf getting tighter and tighter on the steep climb, my hamstrings no longer allow me to stride out at all. I must continue though.... I am so close. The 9th down hill hurts worse than the up as my quads are shredding apart. One more, I think, as I look at the 9:38 split.

Charging into the last loop I sight a mountain biker ahead. She is on my hill! on my ROAD! I become possessive and really sprint off after her. I have passed the half marathon split in 1:28..not bad since it has 3,000 or so feet of climb. Somehow I find it in me to go just a
bit faster and 10 feet from the top I catch and pass her. A small victory sure, but hey life is all about SMALL victories. It is all down hill from here now and I pound on down for the last time. Loop #10 complete in 9:23............... my fastest ever.

14 miles of hill repeats.. I am done.

During the cool down jog home I have to stop and walk. I am wrecked. Hmmm have they finished yet??? I can't wait any longer and as soon as I get home I call Steve's cell phone and actually get him there at Frozen head. They just finished! he says. Wow, I am close to tears as
David says "It was hard..Real hard" when I congratulate him. Why do we do the things we do????
Does Pain=peace, does stressing oneself to your limit allow you to "find yourself"? Are we really more HUMAN when reduced to a weak, shaking, staggering and starving heap?????

I contemplate all this as I lay on the floor trying for 4 full minutes to take off my shoes. I have no idea. I Just know that on days like this I am happy to be alive and I to understand what
that truly means. I think the realization of what we are actually capable of is all that really matters.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bull Run Run #5

Sun- 10.5 miles- route record 1:25- one strong mile= 5:51
Mon- 10.5 miles- easy
Tues- off
Wed- 7 miles easy on treadmill
Thurs 4 miles AM, 11 miles PM, 4 mile walk evening
Fri- off
Sat- 50 miles- 7:34 (8th/314 @ BRR 50)

While I have done a lot of races over the years the only race I have ever completed five times is the VHTRC's signature event the Bull Run run 50 mile. And this happened yesterday underneath a beautiful blue sky with temps climbing all the way to 80. This course is beautiful, close in, superiorly well managed and is the absolute perfect fit for my skills as a trail runner with road runner speed tendencies.

This was to be a biggy race for me in my build up to the MMT 100. However, I did not want to taper as I still need some big mile weeks heading into MMT. I also wanted to take some self induced pressure off by going into the event a bit tired. Then if for some reason I did not run well...its because I was tired and not because I suck:-) ....So with a strong week under my belt I toed the line with 300+ others Sat. morning feeling pretty good but not super peppy.

As always the first 5 minute loop at BRR is really fast as all the guns take off to sort themselves out before the single track trail narrows the field down. I tried to get out strong without breathing heavy and managed to hit the trail around 17th or so. I quickly settled in and began to do some walking on some of the early steep climbs while those around me continued to press. Soon a few more folks passed me including first women Amy Sproston and VHTRC legend Derrick Carr. Derrick is a great guy and super consistent runner and when he sarcastically asked "is this a 50k?" I knew the two of us were on the same wavelength. I settled in with him and we would run together for the next 3 hours.

Compared to the runners around me I tend to run at a faster pace, but stop to walk for longer breaks and more frequently. This was true with Derrick and superstar senior Mike Campbell (who managed to run an insane 8:06 at age 59!) We all leap frogged back and forth as I took my walk breaks, had two off trail pit stops, but then would bomb all the downhills at 6:00 min pace in an effort to beat up my quads and would catch back up.

The miles rolled by and after falling to as low as 23rd place we began to work our way up through the field. After the first 16.6 miles of out and back we arrived at the start/ finish aid station at 2:24. Memory of last years too fast early start and sketchy math told me this was likely a really good pace. I felt very comfortable and my stomach (despite the pit stops) was feeling fine. I was eating shot blocks and sharkies every 20-40 minutes and drinking just water with salt tabs on the hour. All was going well and we rolled thru the next ten miles at 9:00 mile pace despite the challenging terrain of rolling hills.

My brand new Asics 2130 trail shoes felt fine, but needed a tightening up of the laces around 20 miles as I felt like my toes were sliding forward in the shoes too much. This did the trick and I had no foot issues the rest of the day.

After reaching the amazingly decorated wolf-run aid station (26.1 miles-3:49) I knew I was going to be able to have a sub-8hr run if I could stay smart and not fall apart. Temps were hot and I began drinking a cup of something at each aid station in addition to filling my bottle. Leaving this aid station I really felt great and began to press a bit more as we continued to pass some runners who were now beginning to fade in the heat and from the overly quick early pace. Around 28 miles I left Mike and Derrick for good and began to chase after Amy and good buddy Keith Knipling.

Approaching the infamous do loop I felt strong but hot. The super folks at the aid station told me I was mere 10-15 minutes behind and this news further fueled my fire to "chase em all down". I had reached the start of the do loop under the 5 hour mark and continued to think that something in the 7:30-8:00 range was definitely possible. The do loop is ugly though and all the leaves and poorly laid out trails are confusing and frustrating. Being toward the front of the field this year no trodden path thru the leaves was evident making the route finding more difficult. I could not wait to leave the loop knowing I only had a short bit with better footing yet to go.

Once back at the aid station having see no one in the loop I was excited to hear I at least made up time on those in front, but a bit bummed to learn I still had nearly 15 miles to go. It had to be less than that!?! I shoved off feeling strong and running with purpose. some of the next miles clicked off at 8:30 pace. At Fountainhead I learned I was now only 2 minutes back and was encouraged by the "you look great" comments. I continued to press and hoped that by wolf run I would catch someone in front of me. No luck.... but once there the volunteers told me that someone just left. So as fast as I could I again gave strong chase having now covered 40 miles in 5:59.

5 minutes later I began to see folks in front of me. I got one, then another, then a third. Then after passing super photographer Aaron S and crossing yet another stream I finally caught Keith. We chatted a bit and I pressed on with his knowledge that Amy was "just ahead". Two minutes later I caught a glimpse of her. She was brightly dressed in pink as part of the WUS-pink mafia team. Two more minutes and we were running together.

Having really red-lined a bit the last 4-5 miles I had to tone it down and settled in with Amy thinking that I would recoup for a while then continue to press on for more places but the pace she was setting was damn fast! She was destroying the BRR course and in its 17 year history no other women besides the legend Anne Lundblad would run the course as fast as Amy.

We stayed together for the next few miles with me again walking more of the ups-- falling behind--- only to pound quickly the downs and catch back up. The heat of the day was beginning to really suck and I kept getting twinges of cramps in my calves and anterior tibialis's. I swallowed my last salt tab, ate my last shot block, and hoped for the best. At the last aid station (6:40) we had 5. something miles to go and I knew we could break 7:40. Rough and slow footing trail remained along the river but Amy's desire to set a PR on this course was strong and together we toughed it out finally reaching the last big climb. A strong hike to the top and run on in brought us home in 8th place overall in 7:34. A mere 2 minutes of the CR for her and just 11 minutes off my best on the course from 2001.

At the finish I had no appetite, felt ridiculously hot and thirsty, and had my pec muscle cramp as I gave a celebratory fist pump. Ugh! What a day! All in all I could not ask for a better tune up race and feel pretty confident now heading in to MMT. In 2001 and 2002 I managed top 8 finishes at BRR and followed these with top 5 finishes at MMT. These days MMT is more competitive but I do think a sub 24hr race there is within reach.

Now the question of what to do next weekend for my last big beat down training effort remains.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pounding it out for 40

Well after a poor week with tons of work on the house but only two run days (15 miles each day) I got myself out on the Potomac heritage trail and the C& O canal for a strong 40 miler in 6:25. The last 28 miles were all under 9:00 miles. I did a 60sec walk break at each mile marker but managed to run steady 8:50's pace. That was very encouraging. During the 40 miles I took in 1100 calories and never felt hungry or bonky at all. A good sign of efficiency.

I did get in a strong 15 miler cut down run with the last 7 miles in 7:50, 7:40, 7:30, 7:12, 7:02 6:52, 6:39. Problem with the fast stuff is it kills my calves for two days following.

Hoping for a consistent week this coming week with a biggy on Saturday the 18th. Bull Run Run 50. Goal is a sub 8:00 finish, and a strong showing by my Wahooligans team.