Saturday, December 7, 2013

Under-estimating A Good Warm Up No More

Lately, I've begun to appreciate a good warm up before a run. Considering I've been running quite a while, I'm surprised it took me this long to learn this, but better late than never.

The simple truth is that I have discovered that I run better when fully warmed up than when not.

A good warm up had never been that important to me. I'd get to where I was going to run and...well, start running. If it was a fartlek run, I'd get off the car and start fartleking. If it was a tempo run, I'd get off the car and start tempo-ing. You get the picture. I'm sure I'd been risking injury all this time by just starting cold, but I guess I'd been really lucky.

No more Mr. Don't Warm Up guy!

When I say warm up, I'm not talking 1/2 mile or a mile. I'm talking a couple miles...maybe even 3. Yes, I've noticed (that for me) the longer the warm up, the better the run. Some of my best runs have been after a nice and easy 3 mile warm up.

When I finally decided to give warming up a try, my thought was that I shouldn't get too fatigued - I still had my workout/run/race to do. I needed to be "fresh" before starting. Nothing could be further from the truth. I've discovered I can warm up at a nice/decent pace and still have plenty in the tank for when it counts.

I'm still trying to incorporate more stretching into my routine as well, but, for now, this'll have to do. Little by little, it'll get done - it's a work in progress.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Running Happy!!!

The last month of 2013 is upon us, and I think I am ending the year on a few positive notes:  my running's really coming along well with few (if any) running aches/pains. Plus, I'm also seeing some significant improvement, and I'm hoping to carry this over to some trail runs in the near future (specifically, Bandera 100k).

I'm also really looking forward to this week for a couple reasons and thought I'd share:

1.  My long Cross Country season finally comes to an end. I love coaching, but I'm looking forward to ending my day at 4:15pm and going home...to run, of course. Yes, I'm being a bit selfish, but it's been quite stressful at work, and sometimes I do wanna make it all about me. I will admit that some days are so stressful that Cross Country practice is my outlet - especially since it usually means I will be running with the team. Nevertheless, it'll be coming to an end, I had quite a few of eager young runners, and they all improved from week 1 'til now.

2.  Later this week I find out if I (and/or some of my buddies) get selected to run Western States 100. The lottery/selection takes place on Saturday, and although we have a 6.4% chance of getting selected, I'm still thinking positive...talk about a loooooong shot.

3.  Tomorrow I start coaching a local group of runners locally a few times a week: Running 101, and I'm really excited. Meeting new people interested in running always excites me. Perhaps, it's their excitement - it's contagious.

4.  Finally, tomorrow I (finally) start running with some friends at 5am...well...I'm a little flexible on this one, but as of right now, I am in!!!

Run happy, y'all.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cactus Rose 2013

Going into CR, I felt really good. I was rested; I was injury-free, and anxious to run. I'd trained harder than last year and felt more focused.  
We got to Bandera around 5pm, quickly caught a bit of the trail briefing and off we went to set up our drop bags.

After a sleepless night, we were ready to begin.
Loop 1:
I started at a pretty good clip. Looking back, it was kinda humid, so I began to worry a bit. I really was expecting the same temps as last year, but it was not to be.

I felt a bit too comfortable because I could tell I was going much faster than I had planned. I figured I was pushing in an attempt to get catch up to my friends, so I decided to slow down quite a bit. My goal was to average 7 hours per loop, and I was on pace for a 6 hour loop. I decided to walk more this loop…even the flats. I still had a long way to go.
It turned out that 1 of my friends, Ace, was actually behind me. He caught up several miles later.
The 1st 15 or so miles of the first loop were pretty tame, but I knew the hard part was about to come the last 10 miles. And it did, but I still felt really well when I finished. I ate a pretty ginormous taco and after 10 minutes, was ready to go at it again.
Loop 2:
In retrospect, I ate a little too much, because I felt sluggish right from the get go. I couldn’t explain it: how could I finish loop 1 feeling so well and then start loop 2 so poorly? I hoped that I’d regain my mojo soon, but it only appeared here and there.
After the initial tough 10 miles, I was pretty exhausted but glad I had about 15 ‘easy’ miles before finishing up the 2nd loop.
I didn’t have a lot of food in my drop bags, but I had a lot of a lot. I’d decided to eat different foods at each station since I tend to get tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and get stomach issues.
With about 10 miles to go to finish up the 2nd loop, I started feeling a little twinge on the outside of my right knee and the top of my right ankle. Plus, the inside/back of my left knee was bothering me quite a bit. Since I always get aches and pains here and there, I figured it’d go away soon…but it didn’t.
Upon finishing loop 2, one of my friends, David, gave me an ice pack to put on my knee. I also decided to wait around ‘til Ace came in. We’d gotten separated sometime during the last 10 miles or so.
I rested, ate some soup and iced my knee for about 45 minutes.
Loop 3:
I could kinda feel like I was in a bit of trouble. My knee pain was pretty unbearable. Other than that, I felt like I was still good. I asked my trusted partner, Sami, if she would pace me this loop instead of the last. “What about the last loop?” she asked. I told her – I’ll worry about the last loop when it gets here. Right now, I’m just worried about this loop. She quickly got ready and we took off.
From the lodge to equestrian was a death crawl. I couldn’t bend my knee or step onto anything. The 1st incline coming out of the lodge was extremely painful. I noticed I was stepping oddly just to avoid or compensate for the pain. We tried running several times, but it was pretty ugly.
It took us almost 2 hours to do the 5 miles to equestrian. I knew I’d never do the next 10 miles OR the more difficult sections on time. Forget the time, I didn’t think I could physically do it with my knee acting like it was.
As we approached equestrian, I told Sami that I thought that’s as far as I could go. I felt really disappointed for stopping at mid 50. I’d like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance level, so I think it was reached.
I decided to call it right then and there. I also said I’d take a long break from trail running and probably was done with attempting another 100 miler.
We went to our cabin and after a painful shower (from the stiffness setting in and the sotol cuts), Sami taped me up with K tape which made a big difference.
We went back in the morning to pick up my drop bags and cheer on some of the other runners who were out there. Unfortunately, we only got to see a couple runners at Nachos which I think was mile 90. Those guys were HARDCORE!!!
It’s been a few days, and I have had time to think about my DNF. I don’t know how I was able to do that last year. I didn’t start hurting ‘til mile 90ish, and this time, it happened much much earlier.
Despite my DNF, I had a really good time.
Oh, and about taking time off from trail running? Well, I’m debating about doing the 50k or 100k for Bandera…so…so much for taking time off.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Preparing My Drop Bags...Like I needed more stress.

Preparing a drop bag can be very stressful...let alone preparing 4.

During last year's Cactus Rose 100, I fully stocked my drop bags.  Over-stocked, I would say. I ended up bringing more than half of my stuff back. As a matter of fact, Halloween was only a few days later, and I ended up giving the trick or treaters nutritiously caffeinated fuel-filled goodies (GUs, stinger waffles, fig newtons, etc...you're welcomed, parents).

Looking through some of the FB posts lately has made me really nervous. Everybody looks so prepared, and I feel so under prepared.

I feel like my 4 (1 less than last year AND smaller) drop bags are enough for me, though. My thinking is that I've got just what I think I'll need - no more. No less.

Plus, the whole I gotta haul it back after the race thing is what I'm not looking forward to. I don't really think I'll be in the mood to carry it back to our car. I wasn't last year, and I needed my friends/pacers to help me.

I hope I don't regret it (but I think I've thought about everything)...besides, my new approach is: less is more.

BUT if you see me crawling on the trail this weekend dehydrated and near starvation, well...it didn't work.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ultra Spire Spry Hydration Vest



I'm not a big fan of handhelds, so I'm always on the lookout for a super duper hydration vest. One that fits just right.

I think I've come close to it in the ultraspire spry. Truth be told: I had access to this minimalist vest minus the bladder. Recently, I ordered a bladder for it and wah-la!!!

It's a minimalist vest and I liked it's...minimalistness. The fit was really snug and comfortable.

Personally, I don't really care for 1.5 liter bladders. I think they're just a little too much. Its 1 liter bladder works really well. It's the perfect size for those shorter distance runs or when aid stations are spaced pretty close together.

The bladder was really easy to close. Unlike the salomon s lab (my current second favorite), I didn't have to work at making sure there was no air in it. It closed/sealed easily and it was really quiet. There was no sloshing around during the run, and trust me: the sloshing can annoy you or those around you.

The 2 chest pockets came in handy for my headlamp on a recent run - no bounce. A couple of gels/gus or whatever you fuel on fit in the other pocket comfortably. I'm sure I could even fit a water bottle in there.

My only complain is that the hose connecting the hydration bladder is very long. It wasn't a big deal, though, I just creatively maneuvered the hose around a bit, but it did not affect my level of comfort.

As an added bonus, you can take the bladder out and use the vest by itself. It's a win-win.

It runs around 70$, but in my opinion, it's a worthy investment.

I'm even trying it out this weekend as I tackle 100 miles.

If (like me) you aren't a fan of bulky hydration vests or handhelds, this is just for you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lighthouse Hill Ranch 10/20 Mile/ 50K Trail Run Recap


Since I usually have a difficult time running any distance longer than 20 miles here locally, I was going to run the Lighthouse 50k as my weekly long run. Sometimes, it is an expensive thing to do my long run during a race. I know. I know. I can run it bandit, but I prefer not to.

My goal was to run it conservatively and just finish. Besides, it’d been raining all week, so I didn’t want to risk any sort of fall/injury. The fact that it rained the entire drive to Johnson City only reinforced my thinking. I actually thought “Do I wanna run in mud for 31 miles?”

The night before and the morning was actually really nice and cool. It was odd, because the day before, it’d been in the high 90s, and here I was less than 24 hours later wishing I’d pack a sweater.

I was pleasantly surprised that the morning of the race, the course was not very muddy. The temperature was cool, and no rain in sight.

Loop 1:

Lately, I’ve been very fatigued, so I was worried with the few “easy” climbs during the 1st couple of miles because I felt sluggish. I guess after I warmed up (and coincidentally the climbs were over with), I began feeling stronger.

The course was fairly flat. As I was running, I could see huge hills I was headed towards. The course ended up going around them instead of over them. I was glad, but a little disappointed. These races in the hill country are my only opportunities to get some hill work done.

The rest of the course was very runnable. It passed through several pastures/brush areas – typical hill country minus the rocks and hills. There were quite a bit of longhorns and cattle along the course. Several times, I had to give some of them the right of way – more like I had to stop dead in my tracks while they crossed or even skedaddled down the same trail I was running.

I managed to run the 1st loop in 1:36. I felt really strong and confident. I skipped each aid station since it was nice and cool, and I had my own handheld. I felt I was in pretty good shape downing a couple s caps and a couple stinger waffles. Besides, the aid stations were not manned yet, and truth be told, I sometimes prefer the volunteers to the goodies.

Loop 2:

Having restocked on haterade and finding out how many of my frunners were doing (some did the 10/20/50k), I began my 2nd loop. Again, I began feeling sluggish the 1st several inclines/miles. “How could this be?” I asked myself. “I felt great 5 minutes ago!” My only guess was that maybe I took too long at the start (10 minutes) that my body got out of it’s “zone.”

By mile 3, I felt much better and continued running well. I continued taking my s caps and nutrition at the top of the hour every hour.

The 2nd loop was completed in 1:45.

So far, I was pretty content with my splits. If only I could be consistent during the last loop, I told myself.

Loop 3:

By the start of loop 3, the sun had come out and it was beginning to get warm out there. Again, yes, again, I struggled the 1st 3 miles. The heat didn’t make it any easier on me. This time, it took me about 4 or 5 miles to regain my mojo.

At mile 5, when I was finally able to go fast (since it was a pretty steep downhill), a longhorn appeared out of nowhere and started taking its time on the trail. I came to an immediate halt. I started having an inner debate with myself:

What’s the proper thing to do when you’re running and a longhorn gets on the trail in front of you?

1.       Do you go around it? If so, will it chase me? (I decided not to chance it)

2.       Are longhorns like bulls? (Probably not, but not gonna chance it)

3.       Do they chase people? (I just don’t know)

4.       I’m tired. Can I outrun a longhorn? (Probably not)

5.       Should I “shoooo!” it? (I tried. It didn’t work)

6.       Should I throw a rock at it? (I just couldn’t do that. I threw the rock near it)

I ended up doing what any rational runner would do…I walked behind it for a couple of minutes until it went off trail. It served as a rest period, I convinced myself.

This time around, I was stopping at each aid station and pouring water over my head. The heat was becoming very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I able to finish this loop in 2:04.

Overall, it was a nice race. Not too tough. Not too easy. I slowed the last loop but managed to place 1st in my age group AND set a 50k PR by 17 minutes (5:26).
Photo courtesy of Run In Texas

 
 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Is There Ever Enough Time In A Day???

One of the benefits of being a public school teacher is being off the entire summer. My plan was to run early in the mornings and then (possibly) in the evenings this summer. The beloved 2 a days. Now that the summer has ended, I can admit that I only ran once in the morning. My bed was just too comfortable. The rest of my runs were in the afternoon/evening.

School's begun, and I get home tired and sometimes with work to do. By the time I get my run in, it's late, and it feels like I just get home in time to run, eat and then go to sleep.

How best to juggle school and my (lack of a) personal life is a difficult question.

I've run early a couple times since school began, but that's torture. I had to get up at 4:30am to at least get in 10 miles and be at school kinda early.

But it looks like I'll have to do some early morning runs to be able to juggle all that I have to juggle.

I'm curious how y'all juggle running, life and everything else that comes your way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rough Creek Death March...


The race on Saturday would be 3 13ish mile loops. I’d read race reports that the course would be exposed with little shade and to expect some crazy climbs. After upping my training the last several weeks, I wasn't expecting much more than just a finish to a really long run.

After getting lost a bit, we finally found the race location with less than an hour before the start. We got our bibs and began to get ready.

Loop 1:

Immediately, at the start of the race, I realized my hydration vest bladder had a leak. It was a slow leak, and my back and butt was soaked with Gatorade. I hoped that it was a slow leak and would not affect me much. Besides, I had no back up.

I ran this loop alongside Ace Gallegos and finished the loop around 2:40ish. We were running at a pretty good clip and were so self sufficient that we didn’t stop at any aid station. I began and continued eating something and taking an s cap at the top of each hour. About 10 miles of the course were pretty runnable with the exception of about 3 miles which had some crazy climbs. Looking back, I’d call them obstacle course type climbs. There were runners climbing the steep hills on all fours. We took about 10 minutes at the start before beginning our 2nd loop.  

Loop 2:

The weather during the 1st loop was pretty reasonable, and I knew it’d be getting hot pretty quickly during the 2nd loop. My buddy, Ace, changed into a long sleeve shirt and cap with flaps that he had submerged in ice water before starting the 2nd loop. I’d soon come to realize I should’ve done the same. Ace had an extra hydration bladder that seemed to fit my salomon vest. I quickly realized that it was a 2 liter bladder that was filled to the rim. I noticed the weight difference immediately but thought little of it.

7 or so miles into the 2nd loop, the heat became unbearable. I felt exhausted, dizzy and just plain overheated. My calves and quads were screaming from the hill workout I’d just put them through. I found a tree that had some shade and sat my butt down. I rested for about 30 minutes before deciding I wasn’t going to chance it any further – I was gonna call it a day.

My plan all along was to treat this as a long run…a 40 mile long run. Truth be told, I’m more  likely to do a long run if it’s a race. I’ve never been able to complete a long run of over 20 miles otherwise.

I told myself to keep my eye on the prize, Cactus Rose 100, and not sweat this DNF. Nevertheless, I’ve already begun making a contingency plan for CR in case the heat becomes a factor.

A special shout out to my 1 & only, Sami, for completing her 1st marathon. That day, the heat and course was too much for me…not for her.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Colorado Bend 60k Recap

Having DNF'd (or not continuing after 30k) at the Muleshoe 60k a few weeks earlier, I felt like I needed a good run at Colorado Bend.

The plan was to pace myself (something I am unable to do frequently) the 1st 30k loop so that I could finish well the 2nd 30k loop. We (Sami/me) started at the very end of the pack with the 60kers. My only concern was to finish the 1st loop before 1am (the cut off to start the 2nd loop is 1am).

I also wanted to work on my power walking/hiking up the tough climbs. This is something I need to start doing more - as practice for Cactus Rose because last year I did a lot of walking towards the latter part...if I can call it walking. It was more like crawling.

Loop 1 / 1st 30k:

The 1st 3 miles leading to the 1st aid station were very technical and tough. The next 5 to the next aid station seemed to be more of the same. Up until this point, I'd power hiked/walked all the way. At around this time, one of our friends, Donna, caught up to us and asked if she could tag along. Of course, we said it was cool. At this point, they said it was cool if I went up ahead. I ended up 5 miles or so with another runner, Rick.

My favorite part of the loop was a little dark section which seemed to be about 1.5 miles that was the most runnable part. It was narrow, surrounded by waist high weeds and next to a river/lake. It was eerily quiet, but I hauled it in this section.

Right after the last aid station, it was a return to the 1st/last 3 miles. At this point, I'd caught up to a lot of my friends who were doing the 30k. They appeared tired, but I was happy for them they were almost done. Also, seeing other runners who were starting their 2nd loop gave me that little extra boost.

I finished the 1st 30k in 5:15ish. The best part of it was that I still felt pretty well. I'd been taking my s caps hourly and drinking a steady stream of liquid calories. I took about 15 minutes to eat and fill up my hydration vest before starting the final loop

2nd Loop/2nd 30k:

I tried to hurry in the beginning of this loop, because I wanted to catch up to Nancy Marks. I knew it'd be tough, because she has a steady pace. So steady, that I'm kinda jealous of it. I ran into Sami/Donna at about 2 miles in, told them they had about 2 miles and to keep up the good work.

After the 1st aid station, I began to tire. I know this because I was not picking up my feet. I kept kicking rocks...it was the most painful thing I have ever felt. Little did I know that this would be a continuous thing.

I wish I could tell you more about the 2nd 30k, but the only thing I remember is kicking rocks over and over and over again. I was even afraid to take off my shoes/socks to see the damage at the aid station.

At the last aid station, Peter Bray, told me I had 3 miles and an hour and a half to do it in. I was almost done. These last 3 miles were the most interesting, though: my headlamp began to badly dim. It made this technical section even more treacherous.

Finally, I hit the little dirt road which meant I had less than 1/2 mile to go. Once I saw the time clock, I knew I was there.

Thanks to Alex Segovia who I ran into immediately as I hit the dirt road. He said he was about to go into the trail on a 1 man search party to see what had happened to me. I think he'd still been celebrating since coming in 3rd in the 30k 8 hours earlier.

Final Thoughts:

This course was a lot tougher than I remember it from last year, but it is also my favorite of the Capt. Karl night series due to its scenic awesomeness.

I ended up finishing in 11:35. Yes, 11 hours and 35 minutes. I ended up finishing 2nd from the last, and you know what? I'm a little disappointed. I woulda worn the DFL title proudly. Oh well...maybe next time.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Foam (Rockin' &) Rollin'

Every foam rolling session begins painfully - especially my calves and my IT band area - but it always gets more tolerable. I have begun foam rolling on days I don't run or almost immediately after a run. Ouch! The pain! The good pain!

My current roller is called "The Stick" which is from the gurus at Valley Running Co., but I've used a monster roller before that was some thing that you find in the middle of carpet rolls. Yep, you read right.

How hard to roll is always an issue with me. I begin gingerly and gradually increase the pressure. As I begin, I can feel the "knots", but by the end of the session, it's almost as if they've disappeared. I guess they get "knotted out".

A good buddy of mine (running cyborg that he is), Ross, recently said something that just made sense. I was admiring his ability to effortlessly put in 90+ miles a week when he mentioned that he does a lot of maintenance on his body. My body starts balking at my running whenever my mileage gets in the mid 40s range. Until recently, maintenance was not a concern of mine. It became a concern as I got older and the aches became more noticeable.

He is 100% correct: gotta maintain the body/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pampering My Body

Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to pamper my body and feet by getting a sports massage. I've done this once before, but since I'd been a little achy lately, I decided to do it ASAP again.

As I blogged before, I've recently incorporated stretching and rolling into my running routine, so it made sense to get a massage.

I made an appointment for 9pm. I was a little nervous since I was scheduled to run a 20 miler the next morning. What if I was too sore? What if I'd be unable to run? Luckily, the soreness wouldn't end up settling in 'til about 24 hours later.

My massage began with a foot rub/massage. Despite having sensitive feet, it felt great. I won't lie, it was...kinda painful but not in a pain pain kinda way (if that makes sense).

What followed, was the most intense massage ever. There was quite a bit of moaning and grunting coming from that room. Several times I wondered if the room was sound-proof or what others in the building might think was going on. Yes, it was that loud.

Finally, the stretching began.  I've been stretching for a while, but prior to that, stretching (before or after a run) was a foreign concept. The massage therapist said I lacked flexibility...as if I didn't already know this.

This morning I ran 20 miles, and I felt really good. As a matter of fact, I hadn't had as good of a run as I did this morning in a looooong time. In addition to tweeking my hydration/diet during my run, I am sure the stretch the night before had quite a bit to do with it.

As I write this, the soreness is slowly creeping in.

As I've aged, I've re-discovered stretching and taking better care of my body thru diet and stretching mainly. Besides, I ask a lot of my body...it's only right I pamper it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pedernales Falls 60k: A Plan That Didn't Go As Planned

Dang, that's a long time.
The weeks prior to the Pedernales Falls 60k, I began doing the unthinkable: I started stretching prior to my runs, so it makes sense that I started stretching about 20 minutes before the start of the race last Saturday night. It turns out this was not such a great idea. As my awesome girlfriend, Sami, was helping me stretch, I felt a "twinge" on my upper butt cheek. It wasn't painful, but I felt it enough to immediately stop stretching.

My plan was to run at a steady 10 -12 minute pace. My main problem at each (yes, 100% of the time) race/run has been that I start too fast. Way too fast - at the expense of the latter part of the race. I'd also decided to make a better effort to drink fluids more than I usually do.

The final piece of my plan was to run the 1st loop under 4 hours, and the next one in about 4.5 hours.

The run of two 18.something mile loops began at 7pm. I had my handheld, my s caps, some stinger waffles/GUs and off I went.

The first couple miles were pretty runnable. The first "difficult" part came after running about 1/2 mile on a riverbed. I really enjoyed slab hopping. Immediately after this was a pretty gnarly incline that I decided on the spot to walk.

Pretty much the entire course was runnable. The most memorable points to me were:

1. the awesome dry riverbed.
2. that little tough incline immediately after the riverbed.
3. that dang fence line. It seemed to go on forever.
4. the steep incline (that seemed to never arrive) leading to the 3rd (and only manned aid station).

I managed to finish the 1st loop at around 3:40 which was a little faster than I'd wanted. I was a little concerned at this point because my lower back/upper butt cheek area was really bothering me. This caused me to modify my so called plan of mine.

Feeling pretty crappy at the end of the 1st loop, I made the decision right then/there that I wasn't going to reach my finishing goal. I think I probably didn't eat and drink as much as I should've.

At my buddy, David's, urging (and it didn't take much to convince me), I decided to take a little while before starting the 2nd and final loop. I took about 15 minutes. During this time, there were quite a few runners coming/going onto their 2nd loop.

Dang, all the runners leaving looked (and I'm sure felt) the opposite of how I felt. I figured I'd try to "latch" on to 1 of them and try to keep up.

I ended up running with Gumaro Rodriguez. We began chatting almost immediately and didn't stop until about mile 36.

I had a terrible 2nd loop. Nausea settled in quickly. Gumaro ran with me the entire loop. I kept telling him to take off and not wait for me, but he refused. He said he was good. I owe him a big thank you, because if I had to run that loop by my lonesome, I probably would've DNF'd. No doubt about it. I considered stopping at several points, since I felt so crappy. I almost turned back at the dreaded incline after the riverbed, but Nancy Marks, convinced me otherwise (without even telling me not to do it).

All this time, I continued telling Gumaro to take off, but he just wouldn't. That guy is 1 tough runner. I'm envious.

Finally, he took me up on my offer, and took off around mile 36. At around that time, I could hear noise and see some lighting coming from the start/finish area. This encouraged me to run a little faster to get there quicker.

As soon as I got to the finish line, Gumaro, my awesome girlfriend, Sami (who had a really nice run in the 30k herself) and a couple other runners who had finished anywhere from 5 minutes ago to a couple hours ago were there to greet me. I thought that finish line would never get there.

My 1 & only.
I finished in 9 hours and 57 minutes - quite a bit slower than I planned...who am I kidding??? Quite a lot slower than I planned.

Sami asked me if I was hungry or I told her I was hungry - I forget. Anyway, 1 of the disadvantages of being a slow runner is that all the faster runners have eaten all the food. She handed me a plate of pickles, onions and tomatos - they looked delicious, but I could only eat a bit.

My plan didn't quite work out the way I wanted it to, but you know what??? It's ok. I made friends with new runners, met some old running friends I had not seen in a while, and had a great time.

All in all, it was a great time, and I can't wait for the next 60k in 3 weeks...well, maybe the 30k this time.


SLUG  LIFE: gangstas - that's how we roll.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Phantom Pains : The Runners' Sickness

There's a new malady going around, but the odd thing is that it only seems to afflict runners. The funniest thing of all is that it strikes days prior to a run/race.

Its name? Phantom pain.

I have been a victim of it many times. Heading into Saturday's Pedernales Falls 60k, I thought I'd been cured. Lately, I've felt great!!!

...but I spoke too soon.

During yesterday's 10 miler, my lower back began aching. After the run, my achilles heel decided to join in on the fun.

I woke up today stiff & limping. WTF, is wrong with me??? Is it real??? Is it psychosomatic??? Am I not vaccinated against this illness???

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cheating On My Hokas With The Altra Torin...

Several weeks ago, I made the decision to switch from my beloved Hokas to a "less bulky" running shoe. I'm not sure if it's just me, but deciding on a shoe is pretty difficult - especially when you're breaking up with a shoe that's done you no wrong (I'm willing to overlook a lot more rolled ankles lately). It took a while, but I narrowed the choices down to three: Altra, Inov8 and Pearl Izumi (while leaning towards the Altras).

Anyway, despite thinking that my running was coming along pretty well in my Hokas, I kinda wanted to find 'less' of a shoe while not completely going over to the other side - the minimal side. I felt (and still do) that I've gone as fast as I will ever go in my Hokas, I have been wanting to improve my endurance and swiftness lately. I needed a shoe that can go fast and the distance. Don't get me wrong, though, my Hokas have been, are, and will be, my distance trail shoe probably forever.

I'll admit that prior to a couple months ago, I had no idea what a phrase like zero drop meant. Several months ago, one of my friends told me that my Hokas were 04 mm drop shoes - whatever that meant. Once he explained that it meant that was the difference between the heel height and the midfoot height (if I'm paraphrasing him correctly), it kinda made sense. Hey, I'm just a dumb & crazy runner. I don't need much explanation - just point me in the right direction and tell me to run. 

This past weekend we visited Houston and made it a point to stop by Luke's Locker. I kinda had my mind set on Altras, but I went in there with an open mind. I tried on some Altras, Inov8s, Montrail and even a shoe I didn't expect to see...Scott EVO shoe. Just a side note, I've read a lot of positive things about it in several mags, but it just didn't feel 'right' to me.

I tried on quite a bit of shoes since they had a huge selection, but in the end I decided to go with the Altra Torrin. I liked their look, the cushioning and the wiiiiiiiide toe box - my toes gotta breathe & move around.

The day I was going to do a 10 miler in 'em, I decided to wear them to work. I wanted to see if I'd feel a difference. I usually wear my older (but reliable) Asics 2170 to work since I'm on my feet all day. I've got to say that they gave me more of a 'flat foot' feel, but, overall, no problemo.

That same evening, I did my first run in a non Hoka shoe in over a year. I was a little hesitant initially because I've felt absolutely no foot pain in my Hokas and was afraid my feet would feel the difference from all that cushioning to less...plus the whole zero drop thing.

From the get go, I felt myself running...dare I say - graceful. Keep in mind that I've never used that word to describe my running. I'm used to running and wanting to smash everything in sight, but I really couldn't do that with the Torins - I knew I'd feel it. I felt like a ballerina. Almost.

We ended up doing a speedy (in terms of me) 11 miler on the sidewalk/pavement. It definately was a different feel when compared to my Hokas. I felt lighter and like I was running a bit faster which I may have since I was more or less right on splits I wanted to hit.

My feet were a little sore afterwards but nothing unusual I think. I told myself I'd feel a difference since I was running in a less cushioned shoe. I say less cushioned but it's not really that accurate of a description. I think that I'm destined to think shoes are not or less cushioned since I value my Hokas so highly.

Any complaints? Well, I thought and still think the traction is not the best. I've run a bit on a light dirt trail, and I found myself slipping and at times sliding. Not a good combination to a clumsy runner like moi (that's 'me' in French - I think).

I felt so comfortable in them, that there is a slight chance that I'll be running in them for my next race - The Pedernales Falls 60k Night Trail Race.

I'll feel more comfortable about 'em as I get more mileage & wear & tear in 'em, but for now, they're a thumbs up.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Teacher Appreciation Week Attacks

Recently, very recently, I began eating better. My diet used to consist of twinkies, Oreos & assorted fast foods. I really can't call it unhealthy eating because I didn't know any better, and most importantly (to me at the time) I felt fine. At least I thought so.

Plus, eating better means no junk food in the apartment ready to be devoured. If it was readily available, I'm sure I'd resort to my old junk food habit. It's kinda disgusting when I think about it now.

Fast forward about 2.5 months, and now I know what eating & feeling better is like. Since substituting more of a plant-based diet for the twinkies, cookies & assorted processed fast food, I've noticed a change in my running. I'm sure it's had a better impact in other areas but especially my running.

I've also noticed that I really don't crave junk food very much anymore. Who woulda thunk it. Well, I have woken up in the middle of the night looking for junk food and've discovered none. The biggest surprise has been that I go back to bed and not to the nearest convenience store. I used to call it midnight snacking.

Last week was teacher appreciation week, and our school had sweets everyday & every period. What did I do? I indulged. Big time. I had cake, cookies, more cake. This was the case for 5 straight days from 8:30a-4pm. So, yes, I fell off the wagon.

Just yesterday, I made a connection: all of last week I was sluggish & had several terrible lack-of-energy workouts. I thought I was just having an "off" day, but I think the junk food did me in.

I learned my lesson.

Lack-of-energy workouts suck.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pandora's Box Of Rox - Race Report

Leading up to Pandora's Marathon, we'd decided to camp out. Having always stayed somewhere the night before a tejas trails event, this'd be new, and I was looking forward to it.

We got there around 11pm and suddenly realized how cold it was. Fortunately, we set up our tent in record time. We stayed up for a bit trying to stay warm. It was so cold that I decided to park my car inches from the tent - in the hopes that the heat from the engine would provide some heat. That didn't work out too well. Apologies for Tim Smith & co. for being kinda loud and waking them up.

I woke up freezing at 5am. I decided to thaw out in the car since I was already sore from sleeping on the floor (next time, I'm getting a pad of some sort). Btw, my car's thermometer said it was 37 degrees. 37 degrees!!!

I quickly changed and ended up napping on/off until I heard Joe P's distant voice saying "3 minutes...3 minutes...". We ran to the start line, I lined up towards the front. Not too close to the front, but pretty close. I always start questioning myself when lining up for races...do I belong close to the front? should I line up towards the middle? the back? Argh!!! I don't have to tell you I tend to overthink things.

I'd decided earlier in the week to run w/o a handheld since the weather was going to be pretty mild. This was the only thing that made me nervous. I felt pretty comfortable about my fitness level, the rocky terrain, etc. This race was supposed to be a gauge for how much I'd improved or not since I'd decided very recently to get a little more serious about my running.

Loop 1: I started pretty quick - on purpose. I was going to go out at a somewhat (for me) aggressive pace. Other than my fingers freezing, I felt well. Having run this course once before (at night), I'd forgotten how rocky & treacherous this course was. I rolled my ankle several times and my achille's heel was burning from miles 3-7ish. I forced myself to drink a cup of gatorade and water and have a 1/4 of orange at each aid station. Overall, this loop was pretty swift. Despite rolling my ankle several times and having a serious upset stomach, I finished it in 2:02ish.

Observations from Loop 1 - I didn't regret starting w/o any hydration. My ankles were on fire from a couple really nasty twists...and I regret having tried something new to eat the night before.

Loop 2: As I came in from loop 1, I ran directly to the restroom. 3 minutes later, I started loop 2. My plan was to not waste any time in between loops and at the aid stations. So far so good. At around mile 16, I rolled my ankle again. This time, I had to walk. I walked for what seemed like a couple miles. It was pretty painful, and I considered calling it a day. After taking a couple aspirin, the pain went away, and I was able to continue running. I caught up to my friends (Carlos, Alex & Billy) several miles later and began running w/ them. I think I was beginning to fatigue because I kept tripping so many times. They were all close calls, but I managed to not fall. I, finally, reached the last aid station and knew there was only about 1.7 miles left. I tried to finish strong, but it was starting to warm up a bit, and I could feel it affecting me. Luckliy, it was over pretty soon afterwards.

I ended up finishing in 4:35.

Observations from Loop 2 - My ankles took a beating from all the rollings/twists. I only regretted not using some sort of hydration the last couple miles. Perhaps I'm justifying it to myself, but I know I would've used a handheld or my hydration vest if it was a little longer distance...I think.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my running. For the longest time, my average ROAD marathon finish time was 4:30ish. The fact that I ran a 4:35 considering the terrain, has me feeling pretty good going into my next race (whichever that will be).

I'm also considering the unthinkable - switching to INOV8 shoes. I thought I'd never quit my Hokas, but several people think that they may be responsible for the increased ankle twists. Although, I feel I've become faster (thanks to my Hokas), I'm open minded and am willing to be unfaithful to them.

- Picures courtesy of Jackie Dove -




Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Trail Running Rules...

I recently had quite a bit of time of my hands and started thinking about how more peeps should be trail running. I get it...I get it...you may like running road, but it doesn't mean I can't try to convince you otherwise.

So I started percolating about some of the reasons I've heard runners say why they can't (or won't) run trails...

Myth #1: I'm gonna twist an ankle.

The reality is that you could twist an ankle no matter where you run - the sidewalk, the track, the street, etc. As a matter of fact, you could, really, twist your ankle walking to your kitchen. I know. I've been trail running for about 3 years and have only twisted/rolled my ankle once or twice.

Myth #2: I'll need trail shoes.



I've only purchased trail shoes once. I think I've run about 10 trail ultras ranging in distance from 30k to 100 miles, and each 1 was run in regular road shoes. In my opinion, you can run just about any trail run/race in road shoes. Spare yourself the expense, I say, and just run.

Myth #3: I'll need special/more trail clothing.


You'll actually need less clothes.

Myth #4: I have bad knees.

I think (depending on the trail, of course), that a runner would benefit from the softer surface of trails. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that dirt is softer than pavement/road...wait...

So there you go...like you needed a reason to run trail.

Friday, April 26, 2013

TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp Review

Being on the hunt for a new headlamp, local running store owner/guru, German Madrazo (of the Valley Running Co.), loaned me a headlamp to check out a few weeks ago. We had a trail night run scheduled for a few days later, so I anxiously awaited trying it out.

It was the TIKKA XP 2 headlamp.

First of all, the specifics for all of us night running nerds:

 - it has a white LED & a red LED
 - 80 lumens of power
 - 3 white lighting modes (high, low and disco...I mean strobe)
 - allows wearer to use long distance beam or flood
 - white light on low level provides up to 190 hrs. of use and high level up to 70 hrs

Going on a little 5 mile trail run at darkfall was a perfect opportunity to try it out.

PROs: It provides quite a bit of light & it is comfortable no matter how big your noggin is. The adjustable band adjusted well and kept it from sliding. The light also allowed to pivot the lamp up/down. The biggest selling point was the re-chargeableness (rechargeable battery option) of it. No more batteries - just usb it & you're ready to go.

CONs:The only concern that I have is not really fair since I haven't checked this out, but I'm curious how long the re-charged battery will last (although it claims up to 70 hours on high) on some of those much longer nite races that may of us will be doing soon. But I guess there's only 1 way to find out.

 Looks good, shines good, feels good...so it must be good. Yep, that's how I see it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Repeating Cycle (of running)

I'm due for my yearly physical very soon. I'm actually looking forward to it this time around because I've been incredibly fatigued this year. I'd like blame it on my (lack of a) thyroid (condition) but I think it's the fact that I've been running non stop pretty much for going on 2 years.

I was nerding on my past racing schedule (since I started keeping track of it) and I found that it's been pretty steady since the summer of 2011.

I tried listing the ones I have a record of (finisher's bling, bib, diary (yes, diary), etc), butbthere are some 5k/10ks in there that I'm sure I missed.  On top of everything else, I've been pretty lucky to have avoided major injuries.


July 2011 30k
August 2011 60k
August 2011 30k
November 2011 13.1
January 2012 50k
March 2012 50k
April 2012 50m
July 2012 60k
August 2012 30k
September 2012 60k
October 2012 50k
October 2012 100m
January 2013 100k
February 2013 100m
February 2013 13.1
February 2013 13.1
March 2013 50m
March 2013 30k

Within the last month, I've rested more than ever. Trust me, taking it easy for a month is big for me, but now it's time to start back up. The racing calendar looks pretty full starting in a couple of weeks. I've got either a 30k or 60k starting this month until August...and then the fun begins: CR 100, Bandera, and it doesn't slow down for a while.

Friday, April 12, 2013

How To Fix A Bad Day

had a pretty crappy day at work this past Monday. It wasn't pretty. I kept telling myself: 'just breathe' and 'it's not the end of the world' but it really wasn't working. 

What could I do to make myself feel better? At the top of my list was to go for a run, but I couldn't do that 'til the end of the day, and I really couldn't wait. 

2nd on my list? Drink a strong scalding cappuccino, but I couldn't really get away. Dang. 

I finally thought of something: register for a race!!! Duh, why didn't I think of this earlier?

I registered for Pandora's Box of Rox Trail marathon, and you know what? I suddenly felt better. Much better. 

This could be an expensive solution to my bad days, but I think I'm gonna be looking forward to those types of days...

Tejas Trails
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Running (and beyond)

We've been filling up our 2013 race calendar during the last couple months. I didn't realize how time consuming it could be deciding what race and what distance to run. And how expensive it can quickly get.

The idea was to keep it at a race a month but have cheated a couple times and registered for a couple in the same month. 

We even made a wall calendar to write down the races, but this proved to be not such a good idea. Why? Well, now, we see an empty month and immediately start searching for races that we might be able to do. 

March - Nueces 50 miler
            - The Maze 30k
April - Hell's Hills 25k
May - Pandora's Box of Rox Marathon
June - Substituting a music fest for a run (but may be a cheat month)
July - Mule Shoe Bend 60k
August - Colorado Bend 60k
             - Reveille Ranch 30 or 60k
September - searching
October - Cactus Rose Relay, 50 or (maybe even ) 100 (again)
November - searching
December - searching

We stopped at 2013 because we already know what we are running Jan/Feb/March 2014, and think this calendar planning thing could go on forever...and, really, that is not a bad thing.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Challenge Accepted

It's apparent that when we don't have a race coming up the upcoming weekend, we have too much time on our hands. We do things...desperate things. A couple days ago, my running machine of a partner & I decided to try a little experiment: to see if we could go the entire day without talking (to each other) about running. Full disclosure: we could talk to others about running, but we just couldn't talk to each other about it.

Let me give you a little background: we both love running. We can spend hours talking about the hydration vest we must must have, the handheld we like, our running bucket list races, watching informercial videos of handhelds. Yes, videos of handhelds (if you run, this is probably not that strange). We're totally ok with just lounging around the sofa talking about...'it'.

I was a little worried almost immediately as the day began. We had a couple do overs and/or had to remind each other that we were on the verge of talking running. We tried (at least I did) being sneaky about it...you know, referring to it as "it". Sami was a bit sneaky also - saying something (that made no sense to me) and then 'wink wink'. "Oh, I get it...you mean 'it'".

Plus, sending links to each other about the best running dog breeds or the newest altra shoe doesn't really count as cheating. The link (about running) was sent...'it' wasn't talked about. Attorney mode: ON.

It wasn't as difficult as we thought it'd be. Overall, we proved it could be done. We graded ourselves/each other yesterday. I gave us a 95 and Sami gave us a 90. An 'A' is still good, right?

The best part of this experiment? It was only a 1 day challenge. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nueces 50 Mile Race Report...sort of.




The game plan for the Nueces 50 miler was simple: I was going to run the 50 miler and my g/f, Sami, was going to run the 10k. Once she was done w/ her 10k, she’d pace me the last 16.7 of my 50. I was really looking forward to running w/ her...maybe more so than the actual run. Just sayin'.

We left for Camp Eagle around 6:30pm Friday evening. To make a long story short: we got lost and had no phone signal. We ended up arriving at the room at about 2:30am. We took a 1.5 hour nap and then were ready to run.

We got up at 4am and were ready to run…well...1st thing's 1st ~ coffee 1st.

Loop 1: I started quite fast because I felt good. I started w/ a group of about 4 runners for a big chunk of the loop. Several of them commented that they were probably starting a little faster than they should. I agreed, but it felt too good. Besides, I didn’t remember this course being as runnable as it was. The total time for the 1st loop was 2:5.

Loop 2: The result of starting out too fast seemed to take its toll on me. I struggled for the majority of the loop but still managed to finish in 3:30. I felt a lack of energy during this loop eventhough I was eating at the aid stations and drinking as much as I could. The few monster climbs started taking its toll on my quads. The thought of my pacer waiting for me kept me going. “I just have to finish this loop and then I’m running with Sami” I kept telling myself.

As I finished the loop, I immediately saw Sami and she had a baked potato for me. I knew I had banked a lot of time (and had time to spare) so I decided to take my time and eat. I took about 30 minutes before we started the final loop, and it turned out to be a life saver.

Loop 3: The highlight of my run (for obvious reasons). We enjoyed the pain/rocks/sights of the last loop. We’d told ourselves that we wanted to: finish, finish before the cafeteria closed (Sami told me that the dinner special was enchiladas - I kept thinking of 'em) and finish before it got dark. Mission accomplished.

Gear:

I got to run w/ my brand new Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set Hydration Pack (which was gifted to me by...well, you probably know who). It felt like it was a part of me. No bouncing, no shifting, no nothing. I only had a little difficulty in making sure there was no air in the hydration bladder. It was a little tricky. I had to figure it out - the sloshing of the water was too annoying/loud.

Hydration:

Sami surprised me with water with lemon and ginger shavings in it. I drank it during the entire run - not counting the obligatory (craving for) coke here and there. The last several ultras, (crystalized) ginger (snaps) has been very good to me. It's kept me from having stomach issues or nausea. I only felt sick on 1 occassion, but it quickly passed. The streak continues...

Observations:
 
1.      I think everybody, other than me, tends to fall gracefully. I saw Sami fall twice – wait…actually, I didn’t see her fall. I should say I heard a (very) light thud and when I turned around, she was on the floor. My falls? I tend to trip, stumble wildly for at least 10 feet and then I hit the floor. On a positive note, I didn’t fall at all during the 50 miler, but (I must admit) I was a little jealous of her falling style.

2.        I think my hokas finally met their match: after about 30 miles, my feet were very achy. They were definitely feeling the rocks they were crushing. Nevertheless, they will continue to be my shoe of choice – I can’t quit them.

3.     I think I run better on almost no sleep. We arrived at Camp Eagle at 2:30a on Saturday. Our plan was to get up at 4am to get ready to run at 6am. After a 90 minute siesta, we were up and ready to go. Of course, we hit the sack hard immediately after dinner after the race. Hard.

4.     I PR’d by over 30 minutes.

5.  When your car gets sprayed by a skunk, the odor lasts for days. We almost ran over a skunk, but, instead, scared it and it sprayed my car. The odor penetrated through the inside of my car. Now, my car and garage smells like skunk.

5.     …and to the couple negative nancies we came across, isn’t running supposed to make you happy? It does us.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. I got a 50 miler in and Sami got in almost a 23 miler in total. We spent alot of time together...running, talking & planning our runs together. We’ve got tons of plans to pace each other, race each other, crew for each other, etc.

Run happy. We did.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rocky Raccoon 100 - Finishing With A Smile

After DNF'ing Rocky Raccoon 100 miler last year, I was pretty determined to finish it this time. It was gonna happen...1 way or the other. Plus, I had a pretty sweet granite slab shaped like the state of Texas waiting for me (for finishing the Tejas 300 - Cactus Rose 100, Bandera 100k & Rocky Raccoon 100).

The course consisted of 5 x 20 mile loops of pretty flat-ish & rooty trails. Actually, there were quite a few rolling hills, but after having run my 1st 100 miler in Bandera & a 100k within the last 3 months, this was a welcomed course.

I awoke at 4am...well, actually, I didn't sleep. I just got up at 4am. I was starving, so I convinced my friends that we should make a quick good food stop (a.k.a. - fast food restaurant). We stopped at Jack in The Box, and I had some sort of egg hamburger thing.

As we were waiting to start, Ben P. showed me the sweet granite slab that was waiting for me at the end of the 100 miles. Just to sweeten the motivation, he told me that nobody that was up for the granite slab at Rocky Raccoon had ever not made it. I don't know if he was being serious, but it gave me goose bumps thinking about it.

I'm always a fuzzy math person, so after doing the math, I decided I'd leave my headlamp at Damnation (aid station). I figured I'd be passing by around 5pm later in afternoon or about 11 hours and 46ish miles later. I didn't think that I'd be starting at 6pm, and it'd still be dark. Hellooooo??? Luckily, my buddy David gifted me his spare flashlight.

The 1st 2 loops were kinda terrible for me. I felt sluggish and even asked myself a couple times if I could (or wanted to) do this for 60 more miles feeling this way.

Then, suddenly, at the beginning of the 3rd loop, I got my second wind. I suddenly felt fresh, strong and good to go. For the most part, I felt this way for the rest of the loops. I had some stomach issues for about a 10 mile stretch but nothing too bad.

At around mile 70 or 10pm(ish), my (lack of) sleep caught up to me. I was having a really really difficult time keeping my eyes open. Several times, I dozed off while running. I just could not stay awake. I even began hallucinating. Once I even saw a butterfly land on my glasses. I stopped...tried to pick it up with my fingers and then...poof - it vanished. I started to get worried that I may be in trouble. My lack of sleep the night before may have started catching up to me. I started asking runners that were passing me if they had any coffee candy/beans. I finally made contact with my friends at mile 72, and 1 of them had some chocolate covered coffee candy drops. I took several and put the rest in my pocket. Unfortunately, they did nothing for me. Right around this time, I began asking for coffee at the aid stations. I was eating quesadillas and about 1/2 a cup of coffee. The only reason I didn't drink more was because it was a quick affair. The 1/2 cup of coffee would keep me awake until the next aid station, so I repeated this for the rest of the night.

I'm going to fast forward to the last 8 miles because these were the most fun. I ran into a lot of friends, and being so close to the finish, you could tell their excitement. I even sat down for a full cup of coffee and a pancake at the Damnation aid station. I knew I had plenty of time to finish so decided to just enjoy the moment (and coffee/pancakes).

Upon arriving at the last aid station before the finish, I felt even better. I decided to run it in, and I did.

Crossing that finish line/mat was surreal. 28 hours and 09 minutes later, I'd finished.

During this time, I met so many new friends as well as old friends. As a friend of mine told me yesterday, "Trail runners have a down to earth vibe." I agree. They do. We do.




Just prior to the finish line, there was a sign that read "Finish With A Smile." I did.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dog Day Afternoon...

In all my years of running, I've had several close calls with dogs almost biting me, but it had never happened...until this weekend.

I always kid that the instances where I've been chased by dogs served as my speed workout. The close calls have been funny or humorous stories, but not the real thing. It's actually kinda scary - before, during and after.

The plan was to spend Saturday with my son, niece and parents about 20 miles away. I'm always trying to squeeze in a run, so I took my running stuff with me. I figured I'd sneak away for a couple of hours and do a longish run.

After having gone shopping (I needed my mom's good taste in chosing linens) and out for a bite (pun intended), I decided to run at a local park with a 1 mile dirt loop. Immediately upon starting, I thought: "10 loops? This'll get boring fast." So I decided to go off road and follow some canals that we often run on.
This particular canal runs along some fields on 1 side and fenced houses on the other - the backyards, to be more specific. I've gotten used to hearing the dogs barking as I run by, but they're always in the fenced in backyard.

After about 1.5 miles, I suddenly saw 4 dogs about 10 feet in front of me run onto the dirt road. I froze in my tracks as 1 of them growled at me. They started running towards me, and I did the only thing I could think of at the time: started backpedalling slowly. As they got around me, I stopped, turned around and (for some odd reason) raised my arms. I guess it was my way of saying "I give up!!!"

As the dogs were around me, I felt what I can only describe as a pinch in the ass. Yes, my ass!!! I'd like to say that I let out a manly yell, but in reality, I think I screamed as I felt the bite. I think I screamed because the dogs (luckily) ran off immediately.

What was the 1st thing I did? Well, I pulled my shorts down to check my ass. My left butt cheek was red and slightly bleeding. I had 3 small teeth punctures. In my ass!!! I pulled my shorts back up and ran back to my car. This was the longest 1.5 miles. I kept thinking: "What if I get rabies?" "What if I die?"

I texted a friend of mine who is a nurse, and she asked me questions about the dog (which I couldn't remember). She gave me some quick instructions on what to put on it, how to clean it, etc.

My mind was racing because I couldn't think of what to do, so I did the only logical thing: I finished my run. I ran 8 more miles - the whole time my butt cheek throbbing. It probably was not the 1st thing I should've done, but it's all I could do to calm down.

2 days later (Monday morning), I drove by the canal to see if I could see those dogs in somebody's back yard and guess what??? I did. I managed to get their owner to come out, and I told him what had happened. Considering that he had his dogs unleased or loose, he seemed like a nice guy. He assured me that they were vaccinated, gave me his name and phone number. I wanted to see the vaccine record, but at the same time, the thought of going into his backyard or waiting there while the dogs were barking was too much.

I drove to the local police department and filed a report which according to the officer, would be forwarded to health services.

A doc's visit was next which alleviated my fears. I'm lucky that all that's required is some anti-biotic cream.

I really don't blame the dogs. I blame the owner. Just because you live out in the country, shouldn't mean your dogs can roam freely - in my opinion. Because of your carelessness, my butt cheek is bruised, purple and sore.

One of my friends runs with mace all the time, and another runs with a pocket knife. Yes, I am serious. I'm not much of a fan of running with anything on my hand (I can barely hold a handheld during long races), but I may have to reconsider this.

It would be so much easier if (so called) animal lovers kept their pets leashed or made sure they wouldn't get out of their backyards.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bandera 100k The Way I Saw It...

I was a little worried going into my 100k at Bandera since I'd hurt my knee at Cactus Rose 100 and ran very little in November. This race was supposed to be the 2nd of my trifecta: Cactus 100, Bandera 100k & Rocky Raccoon 100. I was afraid of injuring myself and not having enough time to recover since Rocky is in about 3 weeks.

The plan was to finish. Just finish. Even if it took me the entire 24 hours. Of course, I really didn't want to be out there that long unless I really had to.

My sole sister, Laura, had agreed to pace me the 2nd 31 miles, last 50k, and she was looking forward to it. Well, so was I.

1st Loop:

I began the 1st loop cautiously - afraid of slipping and/or falling. It was drizzly and it made the surface muddy and the rocks slippery. I figured I'd run a little less gingerly as I got more comfortable.

It was muddy and, at points, it felt like I was playing hopscotch out there - trying not to land on muddy slippery rocks. I was afraid I was working 'too hard' considering all the skipping I seemed to be doing. Not to mention that the temperature was in the high 50s. Nice, but a little to humid for all that mileage.

It was a little muggy but overcast. I tend to get cold very easily, so I started w/ a jacket, but started sweating pretty quickly and decided to note my mileage at leave my jacket behind a tree. I made a mental note of the tree I left it under. Sure, I'll find it the 2nd time around, I told myself. Don't laugh. It worked but more of that in a bit.

At 1 point, there was a pretty long flat muddy section where my hokas picked up a lot of mud. A lot. Another runner wearing hokas told me "Like we need any more padding." My hokas' thread is pretty worn out - smooth, really, and I think that helped repel a lot of mud buildup, as opposed, to making it more slick.

I ran into my buddy, Carlos, at the CrossRoads aid station, and we decided to finish up the 1st loop together. Truth be told, he slowed down to run with me as opposed to the other way around.

Hydration? The entire 1st loop's liquid intake was water. I tend to easily get tired of the taste of water, but I'm not much of a heed fan, so I had little choice. It's weird, but I drank and drank and drank.

The landscape out there was beautiful. The fog and mist made it impossible to see majestic hilltops in the distance. Only the bottom 2/3 we visible. It looked like a tropical paradise...with a little pain intertwined. Unfortunately, I was unable to take as many pictures as I wanted: the condensation on my iPhone (being drenched, myself) made it impossible to touch navigate my phone. Ugh!!!

I finished the 1st loop in 7:30. Right on time. I told Carlos that I wanted to take no more than 15 minutes before starting the next 1/2 of the race. My friend's gf gave me a couple of tacos, and I felt really good and confident.

2nd Loop:

Something happened between loops 1 and 2.

Immediately, after starting the 2nd loop, I was fatigued and winded. I figured that with my pacer, Laura, Carlos and his pacer, Andy, we were in business. I began not only walking the uphills but walking everything. everything. I began to question and doubt myself whether I could (or wanted to) do 20+ more miles feeling this way. I think this is a mental game I play with myself for motivation. I think I question myself each race - to make myself do it.

I think I may have eaten a little too much before starting the 2nd half. I guess, the food finally digested after the Chiapas aid station (10ish miles or 41ish cumulative) because as soon as we left, we ran. It was as if I'd gotten my second wind.

I have to hand it to my pacer. This is the 2nd race she has paced me. As I told her, she's 2 for 2 pacing me. She talked when I needed talking to. She pushed me when I needed pushing...and she gave me the silent treatment when she could tell I didn't feel like talking. Typical convo when I was tiring and frustrating:

     Laura:  ...So how are things between you and 'blank'?

     Me: Can I tell you when I feel better?

     Laura: Ok.

Right at around mile 41ish, a cool front blew in. Literally. It got cold and windy.

We kept telling ourselves - mainly, I kept telling Laura: 1 aid station at a time. 1 at a time. We were going to finish at 5 mile increments.

The last 4.7 miles were an adventure. The wind was so strong that a lot of the reflective ribbons on trees had blown off. It seemed like stretches would go by without seeing any, and we began to question whether we were heading the right direction. I was in no mood to turn back and re route.

Luckily, my pacer was alert and had her wits about her (as usual), and we found the finish line.

18:32:54 later, Joe P. handed me my buckle.

I often tell my friends who don't run trail: how many races does the Race Director meet you at the finish, shake your hand and hand you your medal/buckle? Not many.

What's next? Rocky Raccoon 100. Let's do this!!!

PS - I managed to find my jacket the 2nd loop. Yep, under the tree I'd left it under.

PS2 - It was awesome running into/with so many great friends that I hadn't seen in a while.