Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nanny Goat recount

I actually wrote this a while back but lost it when I cleaned the blog up so thought I'd repost it once again for tracking purposes since it was my first 24hr attempt.

I first found out about the Nanny Goat ultra when my friend Jeff posted that he was going to try for 100 miles in 24hrs.  I thought it would be kinda cool to join him and Terry for the day and possibly help out where I could and maybe run a few laps with him.  For some reason the 24hr time didn't register and I thought I could make the drive Sunday morning and help out then.  The problem was that the race was to end at 8am Sunday morning.  Hmmm.

A couple days before the race I went to the website where I saw that they also had a 12hr option.  Having just done 40 miles in 8.5hrs at Mind the Ducks a couple of weeks ago I figured I'd enter the 12hr option and shoot for my first 50 miler.  And then the brain started playing tricks on me.  What if I finished the 12hrs and wanted to keep on running?  How possible would it be for ME to shoot for 100 miles?  With a distance PR of 40 miles, could I even run for 24hrs?  And so I sent an email off to Steve Harvey the race director.  Since the entry price is the same regardless the option you want to run, Steve informed me that if I quit before the 12hrs is up I would be credited for the 12hr option.  If I run after the 12hr option is up, I would get credit for the 24hr option.  Simple.  And so I decided to go ahead and sign up for the 24hr option.  I later got a facebook message for Jeff congratulating me on signing up for the 100 miler.  What?  A finger slip or was my sub-conscious telling me to shoot for more?  Whatever!  My brain is always fucking with me.

I have no idea on how to tackle a 100 mile attempt but realized that I couldn't just wing it like I did MTD.  I wouldn't survive.  And so on Friday I did some math and figured that I would try to run 4 laps at a 12:00 pace and then do 1 lap while drinking fluids.  Every 5 circuits of this I would stop and eat as well as take a couple of salt stick tablets and then just wing everything else.

And yes, I was scared shitless.

For nutrition I decided I'd go as paleo as possible and bought some cans of sardines, a few avocados, some veggies and fruit, and a bottle of tequila.  Yes, tequila.  I thought I'd make it a party and celebrate every 10 miles with a shot of anejo.  Have I ever mentioned that my brain is out to do me in?

I planned to drive up race day morning thinking I could leave at 5am and make it there in time for the 8am start.  I woke up at 1am due to anxiety and couldn't get back to sleep.  Got up around 3am and packed everything.  Maybe too much.  Guess there is no such thing as too much when you are talking about running an ultra though.  Got bored and decided to leave the house at 4:30am, stopped at 7-11 for some coffee and drove up to Riverside.  Uneventful drive but I could feel that the lack of sleep was going to kick my ass later in the day.

I met Terry as soon as I arrived.  They had an elaborate setup with a sweet tent and a canopy.  I set my stuff out in a section of theirs and decided to try to figure out the course I'd be running.  I made it halfway around and met up with Jeff.  Neither of us could figure out the course and decided to head back.  At the camp I met up with a few others I knew.  Ed "Fancy Pants" and "Jo-Jo Starbucks" are a couple guys I have met before.  I also recognized Yolanda Holder and Endorphin Dude from previous races.  A FB friend named Kimberly also introduced herself and her husband to me, recognizing me from the kilt I was wearing.  

After a quick speach from Steve, we were off!  The first 10 miles went off without a hitch and I gladly took my shot of tequila.  Whoa!  The next lap was interesting.  Lots of belching and my stomach started going sour.  A couple miles later and I was normal once again.  At mile 20 I was a little hungry and so I opened a can of sardines and grubbed.  The heat of the sun was starting to impact me and the sardines were a tad difficult to get down.  Chased with a shot of tequila of course.  The next couple of miles were very interesting.  Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.  It was at this point that I switched from the Luna sandals over to the Vibram Treks.

I made it to mile 30 and things started falling apart.  Between the heat, the dust, and the sardines/tequila, I wasn't feeling it.  Plus the monotonous 1 mile loop was getting on my nerves.  I was bored with this adventure and mentally checked out.  This is a problem I have that I really need to work on since once my mind checks out on a race, I have no initiative to continue on and come up with all sorts of lame excuses to quit.  Every little ache and pain multiplies 10-fold.  Today I whined about the dust and smog screwing with my breathing.  Saying this out loud made it even more so.  Yes I could have continued on but I really didn't want to.  And so I sat in my Sweeney Chair (Thanks Pat!).  

Every once in a while I would get up and run a lap but then would quickly sit back in the chair.  I was probably only running one mile for every hour of sitting around.  Pathetic.  I was so mentally checked out on this race that I didn't even remember to swipe my badge on a couple of laps.  Maybe I would feel more motivated after the sun sets and it cools down?

Right before sunset I decided to give it another go.  I had run over 35 miles and physically I felt great but for some reason, I still didn't feel motivated enough to continue on.  On one of the laps I encountered a gopher and I nudged it with my foot to get it off the trail.  Afterwards I turned to continue on and felt a small pop in the left foot near the 4th metatarsal.  I continued on but was very nervous with this and upon arriving back at the start I decided to call it quits.  And so I turned in my badge and received my medal.  I counted 38 laps but think I'll only get credit for 36 since I know I didn't swipe the card a couple of times.

Wrap - up:  Even thought I didn't accomplish what I initially set out to do, overall I had a good time.  Just didn't enjoy much of the running aspect of the day.  It was great hanging with Jeff and Terry for the day.  I also met Mary Lou who was camped next to us.  Very remarkable lady who never quit and just continued running into the night.  Jeff didn't have a very good day out there but as always, his perseverance and willpower was amazing to witness.  Ed was amazing as well, with his colorful outfits he never slowed down.  And he is always quick to high five and shout inspiration to everyone he passed.  Very happy that Dr Liu came out to run a couple laps with me.  Am also very happy that Rachel had offered to come out and run through the night with me (I texted her and told her not to bother though).  The running community never ceases to amaze me.  These people are genuine and will go out of their way to support and care for those they know and even those they don't know.  Most times I feel unworthy to be included amongst them.  I am blessed to know such amazing people


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paleo Challenge

This image is a good depiction for how I felt last week.  Monday I ran up the stairs at work and was saddened by how much jiggling was taking place.  It's amazing how much weight you can gain when you let down your guard and "reward" yourself that just one more.  As an active runner I like to grant myself a cheat day after a hard run, namely a nice serving of some good Mexican food and some type of alcohol.  The problem with these rewards is that one always leads to another and pretty soon the entire week turns into one big reward.
I have always enjoyed trying various diets to judge their impact on me and earlier this year fell in love with the Paleo diet.  I had some great success on it and was able to get my body weight down to 155lbs and earned myself a sub 3:30 marathon time in the process.  My only beef with Paleo (pun fully intended) is that it is gaining in popularity and with popularity comes the marketers.  Everyone seems to have jumped on the bandwagon and are trying to sell their books and products.  There are now so many people trying to convince others the proper way to follow the paleo diet that it is just ridiculous.  Lean protein vs high fat.  Low carb vs moderate carb.  Starch vs no starch.  Fruits vs no fruits.  Nuts/seeds vs no nuts/seeds.  Dairy vs no dairy vs some dairy.  This diet is so simple that it shouldn't even be considered a diet but rather a lifestyle and these people are making things overcomplicated.  And then there is the group that prefer to let their meat spoil a bit before consumption.  
Anyways, I have my own rules regarding Paleo that I like to follow which worked for me just fine earlier this year.  Hey, maybe I should write a book about it!  But this time I tend to go a bit more strict on it and go as organic and grass-fed as much as possible.  Luckily I found a farmer a couple hours a way who sells beef, goat, and sheep.  He is islamic and all the meat he sells is halal and is exceptionally clean.  And he has a few fruit trees that he graciously lets us pick from as well.  Well worth the drive and money spent in my opinion.
Vanessa and I have discussed the 30 day Paleo challenge and decided we'd start it immediately following Monday after the Noble Canyon 50k.  I actually plan to follow it a few days longer just so I can be 100% Paleo going into the Los Pinos 50k.  It shall be interesting to see how we fare for the next few days.
Our guidelines:
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No corn
  • No soy
  • No dairy (unless raw or fermented)
  • No processed foods (including foods with unecessary additives)
  • No sugar 
  • Grass-fed as much as possible
  • No calorie counting!
If I am unwilling to eat a food in it's raw natural state, then it has no business being on my plate.
I feel we should be taking photos of ourselves for a before/after comparison but I'll spare the world that vision and just post my beginning stats instead.  Both measurements were taken on my personal at home scale.  Although it may not be the most accurate method, at least it gives me a comparison point.
Weight - 170lbs
BF% - 20%
Today is day 3 and I am starting to feel better already.  My belly didn't jiggle as I ran up the stairs this morning.
A few links on the Paleo lifestyle:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Noble Canyon 2011

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Noble Canyon.  Or rather I should say a hard spot, perhaps you could even call it a callous.
The Noble Canyon trail has always been a thorn in my side.  Almost every training run I've had out there has been a personal failure and so it was no surprise that the 2010 race resulted in a 9:40 finish time.  Well, actually it was a little surprising with how bad I did out there that particular day.  But in my defense, it was my first 50k and I had no clue as what to do for nutrition AND the temperatures were well over 100 degrees (115 I believe).
Now enter 2011.  I got my yearly injury out of the way early on and managed to stay relatively healthy for the summer.  Due to past performances, I recognized that my huaraches or Vibrams were not going to get me through a 50k painfree and started experimenting with a couple other minimalist shoes.  I settled on the New Balance MT101s for various reasons (shoe review will happen some day).  I wore them for a few training runs on the Noble Canyon trails and my feet have always come away in pretty nice shape.  I am not saying I survived the training runs in nice shape though as I'm usually the one doing a very slow crawl on the final miles.
Leading up to the day of the race I was getting a little excited due to the expected temperatures.  The forecast was calling for a low of 45 with a high of 71.  This was awesome considering last years heat wave!  But the course still had me on edge since I know how easily it can chew you up.
Race day morning quickly snuck up on us and we had ourselves a 4am wakeup.  We were expecting our new friend Kimberly at 4:45 for carpooling and wanted to be ready to go as soon as she arrived.  I showered, got dressed, and then packed a gym bag with a change of clothes as well as a cooler filled with drinks (including beer), and another bag full of dry goods to snack on.  Note - upon returning home later in the day we discovered that I had left the bag full of dry goods on the front porch.
Kim showed up right on time and we all hop in my car and make the drive out to Mount Laguna at the Al Bahr campgrounds where the race would start and finish.  We make pretty good time, arriving not shortly after checkin had opened up.  But holy crap was it cold!  Temp gauge was reading 47 and we decided to stay in the car with the heater running a bit longer.  Eventually we got out to go check in, pick up our race packet, use the bathroom facilities, and say hi to friends and acquaintances.  At 6:45 we all had to congregate in the main room for the race director's pre-race speach.  It was the usual chat about the route, what to expect, how many ultra virgins were running, etc.  After that, everyone heads out to the start line to get ready to run.  Damn it's cold!  I was wearing a kilt for this race and had contemplated going commando underneath but the cold temperatures convinced me otherwise.
Mile 0 - 13.2 (elevation: 5600' - 3500')
The start of the race wound through the campground leading to an asphalt road which we stuck to for the first mile.  We were then herded onto a narrow singletrack that was too narrow to pass at the beginning.  I was running with my friend Jennifer and we got stuck behind a few slow runners.  I was perfectly content with this since my game plan was to go slow for the first 4 or 5 miles in order to acclimate to the elevation and then pick up the pace once we start heading down the canyon.  Jennifer had other plans and she darted around at the first chance she got and went on ahead.  I was happy where I was but eventually my bunny appeared to be slowing down and so I darted around him as well.  At mile 4 we hit the Penny Pines station which is the entry for the Noble Canyon trail head.  This trail would be our home for the next couple of hours.  The next couple of miles involved some rolling hills but miles 6 - 13 was downhill and I was able to pick up some speed and pass a few people.  I was even able to catch and pass Jennifer, who would in turn pass me near the bottom and take the lead for the rest of the day.
For the most part, I felt pretty good in this section.  I did make one BIG mistake which I would pay for later on.  Last year there was an aid station at what would be near the 9 or 10 mile mark of this year's course and I was relying on it.  I was carrying 2 water bottles and that was it.  I had a small baggie of  Navita snack bites but wanted them later on.  Instead I was going to rely on the aid station offerings.  Anyways, I had plenty of water by the time I reached the Big Tree 1 aid station (mile 6.5) and so I just yelled out my bib number and ran through, with the idea of stopping at the next one to grab something to eat and to refill my water bottles.  Upon reaching the area where I thought the station would be I stopped in shock and did a silent WTF?!  I realized that the next station would be at the bottom of the hill at mile 13 and more than likely I would be starving and out of water.  Time to HTFU and get going.
I soon started running out of energy and I was rationing the water to make it last.  My "fun run" was starting to get bleak and I was being passed again and again.  But I eventually made it to the aid station and handed off my bottles for a refill.  I grabbed a couple of drinks and chugged them and grabbed some fig newtons figuring they'd fill me up quickly and revitalize me.  I grabbed my water bottles back and headed on back up the hill at a slow jog.
Mile 13.2 - 19.6 (elevation: 3500'- 5200')
I soon realized that I just didn't have the energy to run and decided to start walking.  I encountered Vanessa on her way down, gave her a quick kiss and wished her luck.  The way I was feeling I was certain she was going to catch up to me.  But at least I can walk relatively fast and so that's what I did...walk as fast as I could on the uphills and jog anything resembling a downhill.  This worked for the most part but I was frustrated with myself since it was still early on in the day and I didn't want this race to best me two years in a row.
From miles 15 on was a complete hell for me.  I was bonking hard and wanting to drink a lot of water but afraid to due to fear of running out.  Everytime I crossed a stream I would stop and pour water over my head and ensure my shirt and bandanna were soaked, just trying to keep my body cool.  It was a challenge keeping my mind clear of negative thoughts and so I resorted looking at nature and taking pleasure in the scenery around me.  Runners were passing me going up the hill while bikers and hikers were passing me going the other direction and I was saying a hearty "hello" and "good job" to as many as I could.  I did somehow manage to pass one guy who appeared to be struggling just as bad as I was and wished him the best.  Right after I passed him I came across another stream crossing and spent a few minutes soaking.  I saw him right when I was finishing up and never saw him again.  I suppose he took a cue from me and decided to cool off in the stream as well.
Shortly after drinking the last of my water bottles, I finally stumbled into the Big Tree 2 aid station.  Just in time since I was feeling like complete crap.  I recognized two of my friends, Mary Lou and Rachel, both of whom saved my day and got my spirits lifted.  Rachel grabbed my water bottles and Mary Lou was recommending foods for me to eat.  My stomach wasn't feeling good but she suggested watermelon dipped in salt and that turned into a very wise choice.  I also grabbed a couple cups of what I believe was Mountain Dew.  Whatever it was, by the time Rachel handed me my water bottles, I felt 100% better and wanted to run!
Mile 19.6 - 27 (elevation: 5200' - 5800')
I was overjoyed to have this new found energy and ran for almost the entire way to the next aid station, which was only 2.5 miles away.  There were a few uphill sections that I walked but every chance I got, I spun the wheels as much as I could.  The section entering the Penny Pines 2 aid station is mostly all downhill and I felt as if I was sprinting pretty good when I reached it.  I got a great laugh seeing Carl holding up a sign that Carlos drew for me and being able to laugh lifted my spirits even more.
As soon as I reached the tables, Stephen grabbed my bottles and asked what I wanted.  At the previous aid station I had asked for one bottle to be filled with carb drink but it was too sweet and so I asked Stephen to water it down and to fill the other with water.  I then moved over to the food and grazed on some more watermelon dipped in salt.  This was good stuff and something I'll try to ingest at future races.
This next section of trail has a nice long uphill section and I brought along my Creative Labs Mosaic MP3 player to keep me entertained during it.  I give thanks to Patrick Sweeney for hyping up his player and then later sending me a link he found on some refurbished ones.  I am normally against listening to music while running but these things have a built in speaker and fit nicely in my water bottle pouch.  I have a playlist loaded on it containing a mix of Jack Johnson, Matt Costa, Jimmy Buffet, and Amy Winehouse, a mix that I enjoy quite a bit.
I say my goodbyes to Stephan and am out.  The section leading to the hill is a meandering rolling trail that I enjoy.  I turn on the mp3 player and start running and singing out loud...well not too loud since I don't want to scare my fellow runners in case I happen upon any of them.  I see a few people in front of me and am able to catch a couple of them but not all of them.  And then I hit the hill.  I decide to walk almost all of it since I wanted to save my strength on the downhill section.  Also, this section is wide open and exposed and I didn't want to overheat and wear myself out.  Lots of hikers and bikers on this section who wish me luck and tell me I'm looking good.  Still feeling good and am happy to finally reach the crest (6000'!) and begin the downhill section leading to the next aid station called the Rat Hole.
This section is enjoyable to run since there are trees to give you shade and the course wanders around enough to keep me interested and entertained.  Plus I have some great tune playing.  The time flys by and it feels as if I am as well and I soon roll into the Rat Hole to be greated by Jesse and Keira, two new found ultra heroes of mine as well as cover models for Ink n Burn.  Jesse congratulates me and tells me I should win the award for best dressed and Keira grabs my water bottles and asks me why there is music coming from one.  While I am chatting with her, Keith comes out of nowhere and flips up my kilt and starts laughing at me.  I'm more puzzled than anything and just ignore him for the most part and continue talking to the lovely Keira while eating watermelon.
Mile 27-31.2 (elevation: 5800' - 5500')
I thank the aid station crew and head over to the highway crossing where Keith is hiding and say my goodbyes and start running once again.  I got a second wind (or would this be my third?) and am feeling light on my feet and start humming along to a Matt Costa song.  I catch and pass a few more runners and slowed down to chat with a guy running in Vibrams.  I recall him passing me during my low spell earlier in the morning and am happy to have caught him.  I congratulate him tackling the course in Vibrams mentioning that I ran the course in Huaraches last year and ended up with very tired feet.  He tells me he ran it as well and remembered seeing me.  I wish him the best and tell him I'll see him in a couple miles and I take off once again.
When I reached the lake I could see a couple more runners way off in the distance and I decided that I'd try to catch them.  The first one was pretty easy to catch but the second one was a bit more of a challenge.  I guess he knew what my plan was and set a goal for himself because although I gained on him, I was never going to catch him.  About 1.5 miles from the finish line we hit the asphalt and I concede to him, deciding to walk a bit while he kept on running.  This asphalt section sucked all of my willpower out of me.  I was having fun on the the nice single tracks for the past couple of hours and now this?  I soon entered the campgrounds and decide to run a bit more realizing how close I was to the finish line.  But then either the route got kinda crazy or my brain was getting foggy because I was getting easily confused.  I could see the orange flags but weren't sure where they were telling me to go.  I recognized a bridge that we ran over near the start and so I head across it to find another orange flag telling me I was going the right direction.  I ended up walking a bit more trying to figure out where the finish line is and then hear the crowd and start running towards the noise.  I see a row of flags leading to the Start/Finish banner and start running as fast as I can and am happy to hear people calling out my name.  And of course I run the wrong direction and have to have people guide me the right way.  But I finish and can finally kiss that friggin' ugly rat, something I could not do last year since I failed to meet the cutoff time.  Last year's race director is there to shake my hand and congratulate me, hanging the finishers medal around my neck.  He then points to a box of injinji gear and asks me to select an item of my choosing.  Oooh injinji socks!  Wait, a hat!  But I could always use more socks!  He tells me to hurry up and make up my mind and so I grab the hat and head over to where my friends are waiting.  A medic stops me to ensure I'm doing ok and I assure him I feel great.  In fact, I feel amazing!  My legs are a tad tired but I feel like I could continue running.  Wow!
JL hands me a beer and we sit, BS, and cheer on the rest of the runners.  Shortly after, Vanessa sprints in and I'm happy to see that she looks like she is ready to continue running as well.  Soon other friends finish up and join us, sharing stories, taking photos, and cheering on each runner as they come in.  Vanessa and I stay until the cutoff time and then say our goodbyes and head on home.
It was a beautiful day for a run and I am very thankful I got to share it with so many friends and wonderful people.  And I'm looking forward to my next date with the canyon

What a difference a year makes:

Finish Line 2010 (9:40)


Finish Line 2011 (6:48)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm back

Time for a do over.
I figured I'd revive the 'ole blog and dust off the cobwebs and share my adventures.  I now have a new person in my life who can be found loitering over at Vanessaruns.  I dragged her down to San Diego all the way from Toronto, Canada.  She's an active blogger who has inspired me to give it another try myself. 
Lately, Vanessa has been hooking us up with some freebies.  Therefore, amongst my ramblings I think I'll throw in a product review now and again.  Besides, it seems as if all barefoot runners have a blog and are reviewing items so why shouldn't I try to emulate?  Who knows, maybe some day my blog will be popular and companies will be scratching at my door to do reviews for them!
A short list of items I'd like to do reviews on in the upcoming days:
  • Luna Sandals - this includes the Originals, Recylclados, and Catamounts
  • Merrell Trail Gloves
  • New Balance MT101
  • Vivobarefoot Neo Trail
  • and a few food items
I would review some Vibrams but it seems everyone and their grandmother own a pair now so it'd be kinda pointless.  Besides, I don't run in mine anymore but rather use them as workshoes these days.

Another interest of mine is to try a few various diets and see what kind of impact they have on me and my marathon and ultramarathon endeavors.  These diets would include things such as Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, and a few others as long as I don't think they appear to be nutritionally handicapped or costly.  These diets would be strictly followed for a full 30 days and then blogged about.

Well that's it for now.  Stay tuned.

BTW, my next ultra is the Noble Canyon 50k which is taking place this Saturday.  I have not been following any sort of training or diet so I will use it as a baseline.  Note that this is the same ultra that was my very first and promptly kicked my ass, leading to a 9 1/2 hour deathmarch in 110 degree temperatures.  Ugh!