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 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.