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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Long Weekend

Here we are on the front end of a long weekend. Exactly one week from now, at this very moment that I write this, I am hoping that I will be encroaching on the 50K (31 mi) mark of the 50 mile race.

This morning consisted of running a 2 hour trail run as the taper continues. There were a lot of mountain bikers on the trail so I had to keep my head up in order not to be overrun. It was a humid morning and the temperature may hit the century mark this afternoon. It's nice to run about 10 miles and still have a great amount of energy to carry out the plan of the day...what ever that may entail. For sure it will include watching the Fightn' Texas Aggies suit up and take the field tonight.

Occasionally I am asked if I know anyone else running The North Face 50 miler. The answer is, "well, kinda." Let me explain. Runner's World has a discussion forum on the web and one thread has been dedicated to this very race. For the past few months, there have been a group of runners that post the good, the bad, and the ugly of their training for this particular ultramarathon. We have never least that we know of. Despite that, there seems to exists a camaraderie amongst the runners. Here is the cool part. We are all going to meet Friday evening before the race to partake in a carbo load fest at Maggiano's. I am really looking forward to that.

On last surprise. My parents are coming in on Thursday to see the grand kids. Then they have volunteered to watch them the entire weekend so that my wife Brenda can make the trip to Virgina. I am excited about that as I really wanted her to be there to celebrate my first 50 mile finish with me...if all goes well. For those that know her, you know that SHE WILL NOT BE PACING ME. But she does plan on being there at on the course at one of the busier aid stations. I am pumped!

Until next time....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Taper, Swim Party, & The Olympics

Three subjects to be addressed in one post...not very elegant but I am sure you can deal with it.

First the Taper:
Taper does not mean not running or exercising. It does mean that you are giving you body the rest and recovery it needs for the attempted feat or race. At this point we are 2 weeks out from TNF 50 miler detonation (I was a Marine Mortorman...what did you expect with the word choice) . So my taper is to continue with the weekly spin class, speed work, core work ect. These workouts are never longer than 1 hour. The weekend long runs are cut way back and I do not run back to backs like I have been doing. The Long 7 hour runs are really what deplete the body of it's resources. Today, I woke up and ran an easy 15 Saturday will only be around 8 to 10 miles. The weekday workouts will remain as they have been, although I plan on backing off the intensity the week before the race.

Next topic - Swim Party:
Tonight is our end of summer bash swim party with my son's Cub Scout Pack. I am the Den Leader for Luke's den and really enjoy being active in the Scouting Program. It will be good to get back into the swing of things with Den Meetings, Camp outs and such. I grew up in the Scouting Program. My Granddad was active as a Scout Leader, my Uncle Jim is an Eagle Scout, and my both my brother and I earned the Eagle Award. When I was twelve, I completed my first 50 mile backpacking trek. It took 5 days and my pack was about 40% of my body weight. The other day I reflected back on this trek and thought, "my goodness, I am about to cover that 50 mile distance in less than a day...we hope.

Last - The Olympics:
I love the Olympics...always have! I remember when I was 6 years old watching Bruce Jenner win the Decathlon in Montreal. I even had 3 Bruce Jenner posters that grace my childhood bedroom walls. My favorite events of course are the track & field, but I always love watching an athlete dominate their event at the highest level. Thusly, I have become a big fan of Michael Phelps. With that being said, I still believe that a good track star is poetry in motion and watching that Bolt dude is truly a sight to behold. Tonight I am very excited to watch America's own Ryan Hall as he attempts something that Frank Shorter accomplished in 1972. To win the Marathon. Hall needs to go out tonight blazing. If there is a pack at mile 20 Hall may be trouble as I believe he is at a disadvantage with a tactical race. Let's hope he has conversed with that Bolt guy.

There you have...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Training is in the Bank...

...Let's just hope that I don't have to make a withdrawal larger than the deposit. This weekend was my last big workout before the pre-race taper begins for The North Face 50 Miler. It consisted of a 35 mile run on Saturday and a 10 mile run on Sunday. Because of some heavy rains Thursday, the Erwin park trial was really muddy and unrunnable. Muddy to the point that I would have spent more time getting the mud of the bottom of my shoes than running. So this was a road run and I tried to incorporate some North Texas Hills. Now the let the taper commence.

On a different front, I received some disappointing news this week. Marshall, my brother-in-law, was going to run the half marathon option of the The North Face Endurance Challenge. Because of circumstances beyond his control, he will be out of the country and not able to participate. This has left a bit of apprehension with my wife as I will be doing my first 50 mile ultra solo with no support. Personal, I do not believe this to be an issue as I have met some people via blogs and runner's forum participating in the event. Ultra runners tend to support each other in ways that are not common in road racing.

So there you have it. Three weeks till show time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Needs Sleep?

Here we are about a month out from The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. So with that said, we are peaking with the training, especially on the long runs, and back to back weekend workouts.

On Friday evening I was invited to participate in a North Texas Trail Runners Association night run on the Erwin Park mountain bike trail. The run was to commence at a little after 7:00 PM and was to go as long as you wanted. Great, I will go for my long run of 6 plus hours and was hoping to get in about 32 miles. There would be hydration stations at 3 locations along the 8 mile loop and a nutrition station at the hilltop pavilion. I want to say that there was about 15 runners that joined up for an evening/night of a good time was to be had by all.

The first 8 miles was very uneventful and the sun began to set. The head lamp was donned and the second loop was well underway. In the wooded part of the trail it was getting very dark and I was having trouble seeing the roots and stumps along the way. I realized that my batteries were low and at about the 3 mile marker left the trail to traverse back to my car for new batteries. I realized even with a good headlamp and handheld flashlight, this did not prevent some of the tree roots coming to life and actually grabbing one of my feet. More than once I was tripped up and stumbled along. One of these times actually resulted in a full force face plant into the trail. The going in the dark was going to have to be slower than I wanted…but so be it.

Although the temperatures were cooler than they were during the day, the humidity greatly increased as the night progressed. Around 1:30 AM I was crossing through the meadow and was told by a NTTR member that I was “The Last Warrior” on the trail. I was doing my share of suffering and told her I had another hour of insanity and angst before I was calling it a night. I finished at about 2:30AM and somewhere around 30 miles. After the 6 1/2 hour run I proceeded on the 30 minute trip back home. I grabbed some grub as I was hungry enough to eat the back end of a dead Rhino and then doused the body in a 3:00 AM ice bath. I crawled into bed at about 3:45 AM. Here’s the rub. If you have been following my training blog you know that I have had some hydration issues and have been very conscientious in taking water. I have solved that problem. … Up at 4:30 AM to go pee. Repeat at 5:15AM…Hey bladder just let me go to sleep.

At about 9:00AM I hear the kids…time to get up. Actually I did not feel that bad. Saturday I would be the primary caregiver to my wonderful 3 rug rats as my wife was going to see the musical “Jersey Boys” with her mother. Take care of 3 kids…go see the musical “Jersey Boys”…I won that deal. A great day was had by all as we goofed and played around. That evening my 7 year old son and I had a Cub Scout lock-in at the National Boy Scout Museum in Irving Texas. So the quality of sleep was going to be iffy for Saturday night as well. This was really a cool experience and we had a ball. Of course we didn’t get to bed till after midnight and it consisted of another night of poor sleeping. Here is where I have to get out of my Marine Corps mindset on not bringing an air mattress. A. I do not have to backpack it and B. I am not 18 years old and am to expected to be a bit softer. Sleeping directly on tile floor is not recommended.

Sunday morning Luke and I were up and at’em and traveled back to the homestead. By about 10:00 AM I was able to break away for a 10 mile run. The sun was high in the Texas Sky and so I knew this was going to be a tough run. To make it even tougher I decided to throw in a course with a multitude of hills. Sleep deprived, hot, dead legs and lots of hills….it is time to earn my keep.

I want to end on this note. I am currently reading and strongly recommend the book "Lone Survivor - The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" by Marcus Luttrell. Marcus is a native Texan and a decorated Navy Seal. In the book, he was recounting the brutality of the Navy Seal Training, especially during Hell Week. He tells of his instructors that tell him that they are there to train the mind, not the body. The body can handle the physical, it's the mind that needs the training. I concur. The 50 miler is going to be ran and completed between the ears.