Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I would like to start by thanking all those how have kept the wolf from the doorstep for over 200 years and especially for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in doing so. I have received a few thank you notes this weekend for my service; and frankly feel a bit embarrassed for such. During my service in the Marine Corps I never was in grave harms way. God Bless America and protect those defending it.

On the training front, it has been a good weekend. Saturday morning I got up and began a run in the dark on a trial I had never ran before. Erwin State park in McKinney Texas has a mountain bike trail that consist of an 8 mile loop. The weather could be described as sultry as it was 80 degrees at 5:00 AM and about 80% relative humidity. I ran the loop twice resupplying with water and fuel at the 8 mile interval. Needless to say at the end of 16 miles I was a bit dehydrated. I had pushed maybe a little too hard as my legs were also hammered. On Sunday afternoon the weather was no less brutal as temperatures climbed up to 98 degrees. I had planned to go at least 8 miles. I started the run with pushing my 2 year Hope in the baby jogger the first 5 miles. I then dropped her off at the house and ran the last 4 for miles hard, totaling about 9 miles. This gave me a boost in confidence for pushing two days back to back and performing under such weather conditions.

Next Friday my family and I make the pilgrimage to Austin Texas to meet up with Bren's brother, Marshall. Sunday, June 1 is the second in a three race off road series called the Loop. We will run the 30K (18.6 mi.) option. Marshall has ran the course twice and nicknamed it "bone crusher" as it consist of about 85% limestone. More to follow!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Funny, Like Crazy Funny

A few days ago I was at a local bookstore perusing the magazine rack and reviewing the latest Runner's World periodical. They had a story about Bart Yasso running the Badwater 135. For those who are not atuned to the ultramarathon world, it is a 135 mile race through the Mohave Desert during the summertime. The article mentioned that Bart had to change his shoes ever 10 miles due to the pavement melting the midsoles.

I mumbled under my breath that, "that is crazy!" The portly lady who was employed by the bookstore asked," What is Crazy?" I explained about the Badwater 135 and then mumbled something like, "and I think running 50 miles is going to be hard." The lady looked right at me like I was stone cold insane and said, "I guess 'Crazy' is always the next step."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Recovery Weekend...Are you Sure?

Every 4th week I back off of the long run distance, the speed work, and the mileage in general. This would typically be the week to back off. It gives me a chance to let my body recover, my head to get screwed on straight, and it postpones burnout. The issue that I have with this week is timing of the next race. It is a 30K (18.6 mile) off road race in Austin Texas on June 1. (I will detail this in a later blog.) So my hope was to go hard for four straight weeks and recover the 5th week, leaving one week before the race.

So this Saturday, May 17, I get up and have predetermined to go 20 miles. The problem: my throat hurt, my head hurt, my body was not revved up like it usually is for a long run. But when your up as 4:30 A.M. might as well try to run, get the blood flowing and who knows...things may begin to click. So off I go.

Mile 1 is always brutal and stiff. Mile 2 tends to begin to find the rhythm and by mile 3 all cylinders are typical firing. This morning is not typical. By mile 3, I am now sweating profusely, my legs are now beginning to ache and by mile 4 I am wondering if I can make it home. At mile 5 my body says, "Dude, I'm cashing in the chips; I'm DONE!" I go home. Mentally this messes with me. There is always pain involved somewhere in the long run, usually at the end...not at mile 5. I always question whether I am wimping out or being smart. Ten years ago I would have finished the run and for the next 2 weeks battle either a sickness, an injury or both. Good call to let it go...go recover.

So on Sunday, I am ready for an easy 6 miles or so. It's up to 90 degrees in the afternoon and I'm loving the warm weather. I train by myself and sometimes this gets to be monotonious. The next door neighbors' kids are back from college and they play varsity soccer for a Division I school, Penn State. They are great people and my family has come to really appreciate them as awesome neighbors. To stay fit, the oldest likes to run and so I invite them on the Sunday easy afternoon jog. It will be great to break the monotony. She kicked my butt! Yeah, Allie Daus can run. We ran out about 2.5 miles. I kept up with her pace the first 2.5 miles and on the way back I told her that if she didn't slow down she would be calling an ambulance. Come to find out she was offered a track scholarship out of high school and that she won state in the 400 meters. I'm not 21 anymore. She was humble enough to slow down. When we got to the turn off for home, she mentioned that she was going further down the road. Thank goodness...I could bring myself out the anaerobic state that I had been in for the past 15 minutes...breath deep, get the heart rate down. It was a good 5 mile run. I had intended to go 6. Thanks Allie. Two weeks to the Rogue Race Series - The Loop.....more to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Bren, my wife is not a runner. She won't run. She doesn't understand why someone likes to run. She may run if someone is chasing her but only after she has determined that she couldn't whip'em. With that being said, she fully supports my running...she does not claim to understand it...just supports it.

After reading Dean Karnanzes book, Ultramarathon Man, I came to a realization that my running should have minimum impact on the family schedule. What this means is that I do my long runs on Saturdays and that they commence some time around 4:30 AM. That way I can finish most of these long runs before 9:30 AM. 4:30 in the morning is no more pleasant waking up for runners as it is for anybody else, but the thought of missing a training run is worst than than rolling out of bed at that ungodly hour. This is where my wife's tough love disguised as encouragement comes into play. More than once, when the alarm went off at 4 bells, I lay there contemplating whether I really need to go 20 plus miles and get up so early. Bren will then mumble something about, "you will hate yourself for the rest of the day." Those few words always do the trick and off I go running into the night.

On Mother's day, we tend to reflect back on our moms and our wives. I have a great mom. I have a great wife. My wife is a stay at home mom that runs the central command of the Elliott Base which constitutes four children of Luke (7) , Macy (5), Hope (2) and Dave (38). OK, three actually children and one that at times can be considered a child. She never misses a beat with scheduling, being the family taxi driver, aiding in school work, organizing play dates, being the estate chef, and generally making sure things go smoothly. As anyone who has participated in the endurance sports realm knows, they rarely go it alone. There has to be a top notch crew that encourages and supports such endeavors. My wife is that crew.

Bren, thank you for your support. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Cross to Bear

We all have our crosses to bear, the proverbial thorn in the side. Growing up, my thorn was asthma. At age 5, I was diagnosed with the disease and there was more than once that I ended up in the E.R. attempting to dilate the bronchial tubes and raise O2 levels. At one point, I was actually admitted to the hospital for extended stay due to the severity of an asthma attack. The doctor told my parents that sports was out of the question. Fortunately, they didn't I grew up playing soccer, basketball, baseball and football. In the the 7th grade I came to the grave realization that God did not bless me with a great deal of natural athletic ability. Couple that truth with asthma, I new that I was playing for the love of the game.

As I grew older the symptoms of asthma waned. That is until about 3 years ago. At one point my coughing, hacking and shortness of breath became such an issue that I succumbed to seeing an asthma specialist. Dr. William Nguyen reviewed the situation and confirmed that a common thought in the medical field today is that asthmatics do not outgrow asthma but that the symptoms go dormant only to return later. My lung capacity was at 57% and my O2 levels in the tank. Dr. Nguyen put me on some medication. A year later my lung capacity was 82%. This past March (08), my lung capacity was 92% and my O2 was 100%. Both Dr. Nguyen and myself attribute this increase to getting back to running. (important note: Dr. Nguyen is an endurance cyclist and advocate of aerobic exercise)

So why my frustration? Endurance guys pay attention to their VO2 max. VO2 max is the measurement of the body's effect/efficiency in obtaining and utilization of oxygen during aerobic activity. It relates to Cardio/Pulmonary systems, Red blood cell/hemoglobin count, Cellular Mitochondria efficiencies, etc. (It's actually more complex than that, but unless your a nerd as I am that will suffice for explanation.) Lance Armstrong's VO2 Max is 84; elite marathoner, Frank Shorter's is 75. A 38 year old male in above average running condition (ie 1:40 half marathon) is about 46. Mine is 35. In short, I can't run as fast as I want to...isn't that always the case?

Is this because of scar tissue on the lungs caused by asthma? I don't know. I do know that the more I run, the more speed work I put in on the track; the better I run, the easier it is to keep a good pace the and faster I become. Will I ever qualify for the Boston Marathon? If I don't it won't be because I had a lack of effort.

That's why I like the idea of running Ultramarathons. Most people quite before they get to 50 miles in a race.