Get up, stand up…

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that! ~ the Queen

Tues 2 March: 00:40, 4.9 miles, Boulder Creek Path surges
Wed 3 March: 1:48, 12.5 miles, Westview loop tempo
Thurs 4 March: 00:39, 4.4 miles, Mtn. Meadows/Beav easy

Still rolling consistent mileage. I felt a little whooped going into Wednesday’s tempo run and slightly blah about the whole endeavor. Once we got rolling, however, it ended up being a decent effort. I blew up quite dramatically at the end but still managed decent splits. Lessons: Pay attention to what your body is yelling at you, time your kick, push through the finish. One out of three isn’t great but gaining the knowledge of the other two makes up for their absence during the effort.

These runs aren’t all about time on my feet. They work as training for my head as well. Getting up for a daily run can be difficult. Some days, my brain tells me to just bag it, to take the day off and everything will be right with the world. These are the days that when I pull on the trainers and get moving, I can make that big, wuss part of my brain shut up for awhile and then I realize how much better I feel for having ignored the naysayer in me and gotten out for awhile. It is rare that I feel worse after having gone out for a run. And that is a big part of why I do it.

Americans are an “all or nothing” kind of society. Sometimes (when embracing the “all”), this works to our advantage and great discoveries are made, records are broken and we really shine. Unfortunately, the “nothing” takes over much of the time and we are left with generations of couch potatoes with carpal tunnel syndrome or video-game-thumb. I can’t count how many times I have had people ask me about running and comment that they would like to run a marathon (or half marathon or whatever) but that they just don’t have enough time. So they do nothing.

My advice is always this: If you only have 15 minutes to run, go run for 15 minutes. That’s it. Sure, the bigger goal may still loom out there but running 15 minutes will get you moving in the right direction where sitting on the couch will get you nowhere. It’s the same advice I give people who want to go vegan but just can’t give up food-item-x. So eat less of food-item-x… you will be doing yourself a favor and helping the planet. Strap on the trainers and go out for 10 minutes. That’s 10 minutes more than nothing. Which is much more than just a start.

~stubert.

Rocket Man…

Charles Corfield
The biggest buckle ever was Charles' award.

I’ve got some of this Mendocino Rocket Fuel, that’s supposed to be really… ~ Viv Savage

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Charles Corfield – LT100 3rd place finisher, Everest summiter, and all-around great guy. Charles took the time out of his busy schedule (I get the impression that he runs at 4 in the morning every day) to meet with me to discuss some ultra tips and tricks, his experience running and his famous Rocket Fuel mix.

Charles placed third at the 2007 Leadville Trail 100 race after being talked into running it by some friends. He had no real intention of running the LT100 and so just jumped into the fray and treated it like running two consecutive 50s. Apparently that worked pretty well as he finished without a crew or pacers in 19 hours 42 minutes. Solid effort.

During the course of our conversation, I learned a lot about how to approach racing, training, hydration and nutrition and discovered that Charles really thinks things through, does extensive research and, perhaps most importantly, experiments to find out what works. He is practical as well, often offering simple solutions to common problems vs. recommending expensive or cumbersome alternatives. He asks questions and then thoughtfully presents solutions. For example, when he inquired about my ’07 LT100 attempt and what, in my opinion, went wrong, I mentioned that blisters were an early issue that then escalated to other, larger problems. His solution: Superglue a sock into my shoes to work as a gaiter and superglue the tongue to the upper to keep dirt and grit out. Not particularly elegant but cost-effective, light, and efficient.

One item I really wanted to discuss was his hydration and nutrition regimen. Charles is very scientific about his nutrition needs and calculates exactly what he will need during any given race (or training event) to be sure that he is able to consume the right amount of fuel during the event. This keeps him from getting bogged down by too many calories or bonking from too few. Charles relies primarily (in fact, exclusively, I believe) on a mixture of amylopectin (Waxy Maize) and maltodextrin which has found the name “Rocket Fuel”. I started experimenting with the mix in January this year to see if the solution worked for me and I have found, thus far, for it to be a great supplement to, if not replacement for, my “normal” on-trail nutrition. Here is the formula for 3000kCals (~750g of solids):

  • 340g amylopectin
  • 340g maltodextrin
  • 25g protein (Charles uses whey. Being a vegan, I use soy.)
  • non-sugar flavoring to taste (cocoa, Kool-Aid, vanilla, almond, etc.)
  • some electrolytes (I take care of this with nuun) and antacids (ground up)
  • ~3 cups of water (to the thickness desired)

During my initial experiments, I was mixing about 3 Tablespoons in a bottle of water. Though this worked well, it was not concentrated enough to work as a stand-alone fuel source. I checked with Charles and he indicated that he mixes his to produce a fairly thick, gel-like consistency that then can be delivered via a fuel bottle vs. in a more “drinkable” form. I subsequently tried this as well and it definitely is the way to go.

During the Moab Red Hot 50K, I used Rocket Fuel from the start. I did make the mistake of mixing it a bit too thickly and this, coupled with very low temperatures, made the fuel a bit tough to work with during the race. I should have added water on the go, but in my hydration depleted state didn’t think of that. So really, had I been smarter about it, I know that the mix would have worked even better for me than it already did.

On top of all of this great information, one piece of advice Charles had for me was to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are craving salt, you probably are low on electrolytes. If you are feeling bloated and too “full” you probably have eaten too much too quickly (there are studies that show that we can only process 240-280 cal/hour). Just listen to what your body is telling you and you should do well.

~stubert.

Back on that pony…

Ya gots ta sass it. ~ Homer Simpson

Mon 22 Feb: 00:19, 2.375 miles, track barefoot
Tues 23 Feb: 00:48, 5.58 miles, North Boulder loop with surges
Wed 24 Feb: 1:41, 12.19 miles, Watson Park tempo
Thurs 25 Feb: 00:41, 4.2 miles, Neighborhood snow run

Great training so far this week supported, as usual by Rach’s yummy, vegan cooking. “Yummy” modifies “cooking” in case you mis-read. No vegans were cooked. It might be interesting to keep track of actual caloric intake sometime but given that everything Rach makes is from scratch, that might prove to be more of a challenge than it’s worth. But I am guessing the number is large. And probably a little scary.

I got back after it on Monday with a short run on the track. Opted to go with the Vibram KSOs to continue to hone the barefoot stride as it seems to not only be more efficient, but causing my calves to want to secede. Guessing it will just take a little time to get them to fall into line and actually, as runs progress, they start to loosen up. Anyone else out there running barefoot with advice? Any would be welcomed.

I also hit the weights for a couple of quick circuits. Really think adding strength training to the regimen is helping out. Thanks again to Duncan Callahan for the info.

Tuesday’s run, as Marcia Brady would say, was just dreamy. Dropped Sharkey III off at Super Rupair and spun a lap in North Boulder. About a quarter of the run was on the snowpacked Foothills Trail then I moved on to the slab for some surges. Really continued to work on the barefoot stride and I believe that the results were positive. Great run overall for sure.

I jammed back down to Boulder Wednesday morning for a run with the group. Warmed up around the Res for about 45 minutes then joined Art and Scott for tempo. We spun low 7s until Scott dropped the hammer and the group split up a bit. I continued to roll low 7s for 6 miles total then cooled down for about 15 minutes. Terrific run.

Today I headed out again, this time in a pretty serious blizzard. Felt good to get out there in crappy conditions and I spun easy sub 10s for about 40 minutes around the ‘hood. Felt great. Depending upon how much snow we get, I may have to head up to the slopes tomorrow morning for a few turns. Will play that one by ear and keep you posted.

~stubert.

Mistakes were made…

But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for. ~ Paulo Coelho

Fri 12 Feb: 00:29, 3.4 miles, Moab street run
Sat 13 Feb: 7:07, 32.5 miles, Moab Red Hot 50K

Jammed out to Moab Friday morning. Aside from spending what felt like a large portion of the drive on the phone, it went quickly and was fairly uneventful. Crazy roads around Copper were really the only distraction and I rolled into town with plenty of time to get checked into my hotel (La Quinta, which was perfect), go for a quick run (on which I felt awesome) and gather my race packet and some grub. For a tourist destination, Moab is seriously devoid of vegetarian fare so I ended up at La Hacienda. Nothing special here but it was food, I suppose, which was what I needed. Headed back to the hotel to get prepped for the race and relax and hit the sack around 9:30.

I did employ a few new techniques to try to keep myself fresh during- and post-drive that seemed to work. First, I wore compression stockings, which I got when I had knee surgery a few years ago. They seem to help and I recommend picking up a pair to help keep one’s legs feeling fresh – especially when traveling. I also stopped frequently (about every 1.5 hours) along the way to walk around and stretch. This seems like a major pain (and honestly, it is) but I do feel that it is the way to go to save your legs from getting too mucked up during longer drives. Once I arrived at the hotel, I stretched, flushed my legs by grabbing around my ankles and pulling upwards toward my thighs and resting near a wall with my legs up at about an 80° angle for a bit. Post-run, I also soaked in an ice bath for 10 minutes then followed that with a hot soak. Seemed to work.

I got up early on race day to get all my stuff together, stretch and compose myself before the event. Carpooled out to the start with a past work colleague Michele Delman. She and her husband, Reid, run a series of adventure races throughout the year. It was good to be able to catch up with Michele and have someone to hang with prior to the start.

The race…

It was chilly at the start so I warmed up in my puffy jacket and tights then stripped down to shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, vest, visor and gloves for the start. Did a few quick surges to get the blood flowing then, with little ceremony, someone gave a whistle and we were off!

The course heads generally south, paralleling the highway, and climbs steadily from the start. Moab has seen some snow this year and the first few miles of the course were on snowpacked dirt roads. I started out fairly quickly as I didn’t want to get caught up in the mess of people walking the first hill and felt pretty well on the first climb. Then I settled into a steady pace as the course moved on to frozen dirt and intermittent snow as it wound its way toward the first aid station.

I arrived at Aid 1 (~6 miles) way ahead of schedule and actually felt it to be a bit sooner than expected. I refueled, got more water, ditched my vest and kept moving up along the course to the big loop the 50K runners were to accomplish. The second 7 miles of the course were pretty brutal due to deep breakable crust conditions and unpackable sugar snow underneath. This portion of the course saw me lose any gains I had made during the first 6 miles and really made my abs angry. Beautiful terrain, I am sure, when dry, this portion of the course climbed steadily to a section that ran along a cliff band then dropped back down to Aid 2. I rolled into the second station still in decent shape time-wise (still a few minutes ahead of my projected “medium” finish pace) but starting to feel the effects of some wicked conditions.

Shortly after Aid 2 (~13 miles), I slipped on some black ice and almost ate it. This aggravated my already grumpy abs and made for a relatively unhappy return to Aid 3 (shared station with Aid 1). This section was mostly snowpacked and muddy and rolled generally downhill through open fields with amazing views of the La Sals and unique red sandstone monuments of the Moab valley. Definitely spectacular views when I was able to look up long enough to enjoy them.

Quickly, I made it to Aid 3 (~17 miles), gathered some fuel and headed out. I was still on pace for a decent finish at this point but during the next section things started to fall apart. This section of the course wound back down the course in reverse for a mile or so then turned south. Conditions were fairly mixed with lots of mud, snow and some slick rock to keep things interesting. I was starting to realize the effects of a couple of mistakes that compounded one another during this section and that would plague me for the remainder of the day. First, I was grossly over-optimistic about my ability to traverse this type of terrain in an efficient manner and so under-estimated the time it would take me to move from station to station. This left me in a bit of a lurch with hydration and I suffered horribly. Second, I was hoping to test-drive some different nutrition techniques during this race but the cold temps early on and my mixing the fuel too-thickly, made getting the right amount of calories down a real challenge. This also tapped into my water supply and I fought nausea most of the day.

I rolled into Aid 4 (~21 miles) well behind schedule, queasy, and starting to lose the hydration battle. I should have stayed at Aid 4 a bit longer to suck down more fluids but, feeling a bit delirious, didn’t make the connection between how I was feeling and poor hydration. I left Aid 4 with a full bottle and hopes of getting moving again to make good time to Aid 5 (~28 miles).

Normally, I would be able to cover 7 miles in no time but given my condition, this was not the case. I walked. A lot. Not only was this disheartening but it also probably doubled the amount of time it took me to get to the final aid station. I ran out of water very early and just walked. It was embarrassing, frankly, but I didn’t have many options. I would walk for a bit. Stop. Try to keep from throwing up whatever liquids I did happen to have in my system. Walk some more. Pathetic. I bummed a little water from a cameraman who was shooting the race and then he informed me that the 5th aid station  had been moved even farther down the course because they were unable to make it to the prescribed spot (should have been ~mile 28 but moved to ~30). Ugh. I finally hooked up with some very friendly mountain bikers who gave me a full bottle that then enabled me to move a bit faster and finally make it to the final station.

I stopped for a bit to get some liquids down, which enabled me to suck down some more fuel and then tackle the final 2.5 miles of the course. I seriously considered just dropping out but my spirits were buoyed by the short distance left to travel and the desire to just finish. I walked out of Aid 5 and just tried to keep a steady pace along the final 2.5 miles. After about a half mile, I decided to try running 50 paces and walking 50 paces. This seemed to work pretty well and quickly the run portion was extended to 60, 70, 100 to 50 walking then I was running again and feeling MUCH better. I ran the final 1.5 miles or so and finished in 7:07. Pretty poor showing but that’s racing, I suppose. I think I was 36th in my age group and was about 50 minutes off my slow-target pace. Oh well.

Apparently the conditions didn’t put too much of a damper on the front-runners’ efforts as Karl Meltzer won again in 4:19 or something. Way to go Karl!  Anita Ortiz stomped the women’s field in 4:44. I am pretty sure I ran next to her briefly at the start. Sweet!

Post-race, I grabbed a little food, hung out with Reid for a bit then headed back to the start to collect my car. The road was so crappy at this point that the van dropped us off about a mile from the cars and so I walked and jogged back to the Subaru (thanks, Rach!) and then headed back to the finish to collect my drop bag items which I had forgotten to pick up. Michele finished just before I arrived so it was great to talk with her about her day. Similar experience to mine. I then headed back to Moab to grab a shower at Poison Spider bike shop (even though they were very close to closing time, the young guy working there let me sneak in a quick shower), grabbed some snacks at the grocery store, and headed back home.

The drive home was a bit sketchy with poor road conditions starting around Glenwood Springs and one really wacky moment where a car was half-way in the ditch and half-way in the left-hand lane with its lights out as I was passing another car! The driver was using a flashlight to signal people so, after passing the wreck, I called the Highway Patrol to report it. Hopefully that turned out okay.

I got home around 11:15 making it a long day. Honestly, I didn’t feel particularly wrecked after the event nor am I very sore or messed up today. This leads me to believe that most of my problems were hydration/nutrition-based and not due to a lack of fitness per se. That is the theory on which I am going, at least. I do know that I under-estimated the difficulty of the course and over-estimated my ability to move across such varied terrain efficiently. All in all, it was a good experience.

~stubert.

The darkness…

Feb 4 Night run
Mtn. Meadows loops


The will to win means nothing if you haven’t the will to prepare. ~ Juma Ikangaa

Thurs 4 Feb: 00:29, 2.94 miles, Easy neighborhood night run

Snow flurries and light wind traced patterns in the glow of my headlamp as I made my way through Mountain Meadows  for my first night run in a long time. It was good to be back, honestly. I hope to make night runs a more regular part of my training since a) they mix things up a bit, providing some variety when moving along familiar terrain and b) to train myself to run in these conditions as night running is part of any longer ultra event.

I commented to Rach after my run how nice it is to be able to find a fixed average pace and keep that consistent along a variety of terrain. I ended up averaging just over 10-minute miles and kept my heartrate down to 140 bpm average. Not too shabby given that there are a couple of climbs along the route. Finished the run strongly and was treated to another in a long string of amazing meals prepared by my sweetie. Her ability to provide tasty treats is unparalleled. It’s like living with a master chef, only with less yelling, no goofy hats and 7 times the cute.

~stubert.