Sunday, December 4, 2011

Run at the Rock 14 mile report

12/3 race 143 mins @ Run at the Rock 14 mile in Altra Lone Peaks (their first race)

temp COLD (40's)
HR avg 161 max 179

Two years ago, before the +1 one strong armed me into doing this running stuff, she had signed up to do R@tR.   I went with her a few days before the race to check out the course.  I remember it was muddy with poor footing.  That's a pretty good description of the course circa 2 years later.  I was surprised at the amount of shoe sucking mud in places.

I really only had one goal for today and that was to run 14 miles.  I've never run more than about 12 miles, as this is what I can cover on a 2 hour long run.  I figured running a 14 mile race would be a good way to increase my long run distance in preparation for Uwharrie and gain some experience on an unfamiliar trail.  I was also jonesing to try out my Altra Lone Peaks in a trail race and this was the perfect opportunity.

He's got L'eggs, let's hope he knows how to use them
 I decided on a very fashion forward combo of running shorts over L'eggs pantyhose, sadly the REI brand doesn't come in the cool plastic egg.  Technically it's not shorts over tights, so it's not a running faux pas...or so I'm told.  My pair was even pre-distressed in the crotch (don't ask).

A few minutes before the 9am start I went to find my rightful place at the back of the pack, only to run into current R@tR race to the race blog champion, Scott.  He was sporting the Altra Instincts and went on to a great finish before making a donation to everyone's favorite handicapped runner charity case

I was surprised at how fast everyone went out, but I soon learned the reason for this when we hit the bottleneck entering onto the single track portion.  On the brightside, these early bottlenecks allowed me pull off some negative splits even though I know I was slower on the second loop.  The first 2 miles were face plant central.  I was just starting to admire the Trail Minimus on the guy in front of me when he did a barrel roll and I had to leap over him.  Soon after I saw a woman perform a similar maneuver, but she popped up so fast it was as if she never broke her stride.  The low sun combined with excellent leaf coverage made the roots a real problem for many.  I managed to roll my ankle pretty good on the 2nd lap.

Since the 7 milers and the 14 milers share the same start, it's as if you are running two different races.  The first lap is hot and heavy, or at least that is how I would describe the breathing I heard from many of the 7 mile participants.  I felt exceptionally bad for one lady who's husband/boyfriend was clearly trying to push her into an early grave.  He would run ahead of her and shout words of encouragement back like, "come on you aren't even doing a 10 minute mile."  From the sounds she was making, I'm pretty sure she was on her way to a pr and possibly a good puke as well.  It didn't really make sense to race too hard in the beginning but I got caught up doing it anyway on a few occasions.  I finally throttled back as we approached the end of the first lap and then the 2nd race began.  Suddenly all the other competitors were gone.  It felt more like the race was over and I was back to doing a solo long run in the woods.  I paced myself pretty well, but the hills were giving me some serious heavy leg syndrome.  The race actually went by pretty quick.  My hip issues showed up after the 7 mile mark and the foot pain kicked in around 9 but nothing bad enough to require an adjustment.  I'm not quite sure what was going on but on the 2nd lap I would go through periods of being really cold and then warm again.  I chomped down 3 clif shot bloks and 1 salt tab during the race along with a few bottles of water.

I was hoping to finish under 2:30, which I managed.  I would have really liked to beat last year's average time of 2:11, but I guess we can't all achieve the pinnacle of an average performance.  Apparently I can't figure out how to put on a shirt either, as I wore my Bull City Running Tank inside out the whole time.  If anyone asks I'll just tell them Kim made me turn it inside out when she saw how slow I was to finish the first loop :-) At least my stupidity was hidden at the start by the shirt I had on over it.  I'd like to thank all the race volunteers and a special thanks to my very own +1 moral support volunteer, who was kind enough hang out the whole time.
My failed attempt to rep Bull City Running

The Altra Lone Peaks performed admirably.  I was able to race downhill with reckless abandon thanks to their great traction and footbed protection.  I'm still getting used to the added weight of such a sturdy shoe and I really started to feel it on the hills toward the end.  I also have to be extra careful about picking my feet up, as I can't maneuver as quickly in a heavier shoe.  I'm still undecided about the trail rudder.  When I would step into shoe engulfing mud, I could feel the rudder helping the mud to suck the shoes off my feet.  I now have a little over 40 miles on them and they have broken in to the point where they fit the same as my Instincts.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Medoc Mountain Trail 10 Miler DFL race report

10/15 race 93 mins @ Medoc Mountain Trail 10 Miler in Altra Instincts

temp 40's
HR avg 167 max 177 (this is what happens when I start in the middle of the pack and realize I don't like being passed..)

Ok, I wasn't DFL in the race, but my race report certainly is!  Here it is over a month later and I have something like 4 race reports to write...  Not only does some crazy guy in his underwear have to win the race, he has to win the race to the race report too!

Let's see what I can recall about this one.  I wore my Altra Instincts, which did a good job for the most part, although the rocks started to get to me toward the end of the race.  I ran harder than I intended on this (with Tough Mudder the following weekend) and put in my best race showing to date.  I think my average pace was a 9:22, which is pretty good for me, especially on a technical course with some elevation.  I was ready to be done by the time I crossed the finish line and the +1 was there waiting for me, I'm not sure what she said to me as I lost track of her for the next 20 mins due to my brain fog.  I think I saw a couple of blog friends, but you can never be sure so I didn't want to come off like a crazy internet stalker.

You could say I ran a little too hard, as the following Tuesday I went out to run intervals only to find anything under about a 12:30 min mile caused me horrible right knee pain.  I must have looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame as I turned my regular interval workout into a lurching limp run between 12 and 13 min/mile.  Thankfully everything healed up although Tough Mudder didn't help things..but that's a story in and of itself.

Here's a good photo of me looking tired and sweaty.  You can see the sunglasses and the headband have come off.
you can almost smell the sweat...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumped Up Kicks (Altra Lone Peak)

I promise to finish my race reports for Medoc and Tough Mudder, but in the mean time, I present to you my new kicks:

Altra Running Lone Peak
I've done 2 runs in them, totalling a little over 10 miles.  One on the ATT doing mile repeats and another at Eno River on Fanny to Cox Mountain back to Fanny (the real reason I bought them).  I've been having some really bad problems with rocks and pain in the ball of my left foot after a coupe of miles.  I was hoping something with a decent amount of midsole and rock plate would do the trick.

So far I really like them.  They are definitely a good bit heavier than my Altra Instincts, but also much sturdier.  The rock plate sits directly under the foot bed, on top of the midsole, so the shoe has a very firm feel to it and ground feel is minimal.  I still had quite a bit of pain toward the end of my Eno River loops, but with the ground covered in dead leaves, it was impossible to avoid the bad rocks.  So I would think if I had worn my Instincts I would be a total cripple right now.

One feature I'm still undecided about is the trail rudder on the back of the shoe.  It's a bit of shovel shaped rubber sticking off the back with extra cleats.  I could see how it might help if your foot starts to slide out from under you, but  I've found it's very good at scooping up dead leaves and dropping them into my socks as I run.  This gets to be annoying after awhile, but I figure taller socks or gators would resolve this.  I doubt it will be a problem once all the leaves decay.

The shoe also has some nice rubberized material around the toes and lower sides to add some rigidity and durability to the shoe.  Overall I'm very pleased with them and I'll post an update after I've put some more miles on.  I plan to keep wearing my Instincts on the ATT and use the Lone Peaks for Eno, Umstead and other rocky single track.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Run the Gauntlet Boone, NC

So many of these obstacle/mud run type events love to throw around words like "extreme"and brag about how "macho" and "crazy" they are, that I glaze over these descriptions without really paying attention to anything other than distance and number of obstacles.  Now if I was smart I should have taken the course map for this run and overlaid it with the elevation chart for the area, but if I did that I would have probably stayed in bed this morning.  One of the articles I saw online mentioned a "211 foot hill with a 33% grade", to which I thought wow that's a tough hill but it's only 211 feet.  The article neglects to mention they have you running up and down this same hill or one of it's many cousins for almost the entire 4.5 miles.  I've never been so happy to see an obstacle in my life and there weren't many and they were almost exclusively things to climb over, but I'm totally okay with that as the terrain on this course was ridiculous.
up, down, repeat

If you enjoy being able to reach out and touch the ground in front of you due to the steepness of the climbs or having to descend sitting on your butt or backwards in order to avoid doing a barrel roll down the hills, then this is the course for you!

We arrived in time to see the individual winners finish.  These guys looked like they would be REALLY fast, but the winner stopped the clock at around 45 minutes.  This was my first inkling of trouble.  I hadn't really given this race its due and looked at it as more of a tune-up precursor to Medoc and Tough Mudder.  We had signed up in two person teams consisting of myself and my #INSANITY friend.  I figured I had probably logged a few more runs, but based on his tweets, he was burning something like a thousand calories a day doing Insanity workouts, so I figured we would make a good team.  My lifting partner was teamed up with his wife.  The course starts in a field and then we head uphill down the road, while the individual competitors are returning at about the same time on the other side of the road.  This is where I really got worried, some of these people looked like high level athletes and they looked exhausted!  I remember seeing the first woman coming down the road, she looked like a serious fitness competitor, but the look on her face indicated she was running on willpower only at this point.  Soon we reached the turn off from the paved road and up the first of many steep logging roads.  This is where our two teams separated.  I paced myself up the climb and many of the other competitors who started too fast began to walk as the climbing went on and on.  I was thinking my teammate wouldn't have the hill running experience to keep up, but I looked back and to my surprise he was right there!  So we decided to keep pushing and then wait for our other team at the first obstacle.  Well, by the time the first obstacle rolled around we knew the gap was too large and decided to just push the pace and see what we could do on the course.  The hills seemed to keep coming and they kept getting steeper and steeper.  I was the one struggling and #INSANITY was whooping my butt up these things!  He really helped pull me through.  I finally found my groove toward the end of the race and I think he started to fade a little so we really did make a good team, pushing each other at just the right times.  This is probably my best finish so far, as we were the 6th place two person team out of a small field.

steeper than it looks
This is a great race for someone who can't get enough hills and really wants to test their willpower.  Quite a few are completely unrunnable and barely walkable.  The descents are just as bad, if not worse, due to the thorns and poor footing.  I found I did best descending backwards, while many would try to scoot down on their butts, which had to really suck with all the thorns.  The creek portions are great, as the cool water helps the feet feel better, although the footing is quite treacherous.  There was no mud, unless you stepped in a cow paddy or hit a naturally wet spot on the course.
feels like a prison break

I really enjoyed the race, although if you had asked me at the finish line, I would have said never again.  We plan to do it next year and I think we have husbands versus wives teams.  I'd like to do their Uwharrie Gauntlet, as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

WARRIORS...Come out and PAY-YAY $$$

8/28 race 5k @ the Warrior Dash in my MT101's with the +1!!

Just as itchy as it looks :-)
Wow, I've been sitting on writing this race report for nearly a month and allowed it back up all my workout logs in the process.  It was a hot Sunday afternoon, as that was the only slot left when we finally signed up.  My training partners and I originally planned to to do this one together, but we waited too long and none of the time slots available worked for all of us.  So in a moment of weakness, the wife agreed to join me on an obstacle filled adventure!  I figured she could push me on the run portions and I could laugh at her while she tried to climb over things.  We would be a perfect match!  I think she was secretly hoping Irene would head straight for Charlotte and take out the course before Sunday arrived.  No such luck.

The event was pretty well organized, although the staging area felt more like a cross between a renaissance fair and an 80's hair band rock festival due to the weird combination of rednecks smoking and drinking plus people dressed in funny costumes.  Ohh and there were some bands playing and turkey legs and beer for sale.  Speaking of which the event wasn't that expensive, but then having to pay $10 dollars to park in an open field is a little ridiculous.  Also the cost of food and drinks rivaled good rock concerts!  I can't hate on an event too much that gives you furry hats with horns though.

The terrain of the course was pretty flat with a LONG run to the first obstacle, barricade hurdles, immediately followed by the second obstacle, junkyard hurdles (tires, dumpsters, more tires).  The wife wasn't very happy about having to climb over all this mess right at the beginning, but she took off after the first water station and I could barely keep up.  Next up was the rope wall, which is basically a wall with slats to stand on and a rope to pull yourself up.  She did a great job and completed it without any assistance.  Next we came to a balance beam obstacle which started out pretty wide and then got to a narrow section by the end.  I always think I'm going to fall off these things, but it hasn't happened yet.  After that was the "blackout," which I thought to mean a dark tent crawl through muddy water, but it turns out it was just a dark sweaty tent crawl through dusty, dry sand.  This was made extra unpleasant by the heat of the afternoon.   After this was the "crossover" which is an elevated rope web supported by a wooden frame.  She whipped through it without any trouble.  I was disappointed to see quite a few people using the support beams to cheat and walk across instead of actually crawling over the ropes, but there are cheaters on every course.  Next up was this thing called the "escape" which is a few wooden steps up followed by a poll to slide down.  I was getting concerned as up to this point there was no mud or water related obstacles (unless you count the water at the aid stations).  There is nothing that irritates me more than an obstacle course that only has mud at the very end.  Thankfully we ran up next to a disgusting looking lagoon.  I jokingly told the wife she was going to have to jump in that for the next obstacle and it turned out I was right.  I jumped right in first and she slammed on the brakes behind me, causing a rather humorous traffic jam as all the folks behind her scattered, while she gave me this, "I have to jump in that???" look.  She gingerly eased herself into the lagoon and we made our way over a couple floating logs.  On the first log, this fat dude jumped on it right as I was climbing over and nearly pinned my leg underneath.  I think there was another elevated climb over obstacle after this and maybe a rope net we had to climb up and over.  I don't remember the exact order.  This was followed by jumping over two rows of duraflame logs before the finish obstacle.  The finish obstacle guessed it... a muddy pit crawl under barbed wire.  If it wasn't for the water obstacle earlier I would have been really pissed about this, but at least it wasn't the only water/mud obstacle.  I had to navigate around a bunch of slow people that felt the need to wallow in the filth.  Once I made it to the other side, I got to watch the wife complete her crawl through the muck.  At least by this point, I think she was just happy to be at the finish line and not as concerned about getting dirty.  So we crossed the line together, although the event photographers somehow managed to only get shots of each of us with other random people.

Now to discuss something I forgot to mention earlier.  The first thing I do when I arrive at one of these mud run events is to try and scope out the clean up facilities, as this is a BIG deal if you don't drive a car with an interior that can be hosed out.  My initial looking around didn't turn up anything too positive.  No makeshift showers or bathroom with shower facilities and only water/hose trucks.  I was hoping the small heat size would help things, as usually the crowds in the past at the hose trucks are so large, you are lucky if you even get your hair wet.  To make things even better, since we were the last group of the day, the water truck was empty when we finished, so we had to wait around for another water truck to show up and I think the heat before us was still waiting when we got there.  Once the truck arrived, the crowd was so large and tightly packed we barely got enough water to wash our hands and faces off.  This is just unacceptable for an international event company.  I've been to enough events and it's not that hard to build up a frame and drill the pvc to setup a makeshift shower area large enough to support an event with heats this size.

So, overall, the obstacles weren't bad.  The horns and turkey legs were cool although I never found out if they were gluten free (so I didn't buy one).  I would recommend a Spartan race or the USMC Mud Run over the Warrior on the quality and quantity of the obstacles (plus decent cleanup facilities), but if you are looking for an easier event to get into obstacle course races, don't mind trashing the interior of your vehicle afterwards and can afford $10 dollars for parking, the Warrior is a good choice, plus you get a horny fur hat.

P.S. the +1 said this was harder than a marathon, but I think she is just trying to trick me, as she said she would do another obstacle event with me if I run a marathon with her.  I told her it's going to be awhile...
oh sh*, duraflames, those things burn for like 4 hours

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back on the Mountain Bike

8/25 bike 60+ mins at Lake Crabtree on the TORC beginner/intermediate ride

HR avg 160 max 176

Somehow I ended up being the only beginner on the ride, so I spent most of my time struggling to keep up with everyone.  Taking three weeks off since my last ride, didn't help either, as I was full on white knuckle in the beginning, especially with the faster pace of the group.  Toward the second half I started to calm down (or was that exhaustion) and began to remember how to position my weight on the bike and relax my death grip.  I wouldn't say I made any progress from my last ride, but I managed to stay upright again.  I did screw up a couple of the more difficult obstacles.  I really need to make a point of doing one of these each week if intend to improve at all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Riggsbee Rd and Riggsbee Av are miles really

8/24 run 42 mins @ Fullsteam Brewery with Fullsteam Ahead! Run Club in Altra Instincts

temp low 80's
HR avg ??? max ??? (strapless)

Visual representation of me using a car GPS
So the wife talked me into attending Fullsteam Ahead! Run Club again.  Normally I like to sit on my butt Wednesday nights, after my lifting sessions, but I wanted to do the TORC ride on Thursday and I also needed to get in another run before the weekend, so it seemed like a good idea.  I get my stuff together like normal and hop in the car about 5:30, which should give me plenty of time to get there before 6.  I pull up the History in my GPS and find 726 Riggsbee, perfect!  So off we go, the route seemed a little odd, but I figured the GPS was doing it's usual magic and routing me around all the nasty traffic on Durham Freeway.  The +1 calls and I remark on the phone about the unusual route it seems to be taking but trusting in the power of technology I think nothing of it, plus I'm kind of busy between talking on the phone and trying not to get murdered by all the aggressive after work drivers.  Somehow I don't realize I'm headed the wrong way on Erwin road, until the gps chirps away that I should be at my destination...crap, this not right.  On the phone with her still, the +1 says, "wait, did you say Riggsbee Road or Riggsbee Avenue."  Me, "well, the GPS just said arriving at Riggsbee Road but I'm in the middle of nowhere."  Her, "umm, it's Riggsbee Avenue."  Me, "WHARRGRRRBL."  I frantically punch in the full address only to find I'm at least 20 minutes away from where I'm supposed to be.  How the wrong address got saved in my GPS history I have no idea, as I don't recall ever going to 726 Riggsbee Road before.  So by the time I get there she's waiting with her BIL and she's none too happy.  So we do our own little Fullsteam run.  She used my extra driving time to pull up the route and transcribe it to her hand.

Running on Empty

8/23 run 37 mins (6x400m) @ ATT soft side in Altra Instincts

6x400m with 60 sec rest
1. 1:54  HR avg 164
2. 1:58  HR avg 168
3. 1:54  HR avg 167
4. 2:04  HR avg 170
5. 2:08  HR avg 171
6. 1:59  HR avg 173

temp 81 (about 1:20pm start)
HR avg 153 max 182 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 60 second rest intervals)

I hadn't done intervals since the beginning of the month, so I was happy to have a slightly easier workout for them today.  This was meant to be the race week workout in the book I've been using, so I only had to do 6x400m but with 60 seconds rest.  The rest was a real killer.  I jogged the first rest, but after that I resorted to walking as I needed every second to try and get my heart rate down.  Sadly the best I could do was to get into the low 150's and by the end, I couldn't even get below 160 during the minute rest (my 60 second rests had an average bpm of 170 by the end).  Cooler days should help, or if I could just get my ass out of bed a little earlier :-)

In order to get out the door sooner, I skipped eating breakfast and just went ahead with the run.  This didn't seem to bother me too much, so I think I will start doing it more often, in order to save myself some time.

Weekly Weight Recap

8/22 lift box squat 3x315 close-grip towel bench press 3x250 dumbell snatches 5x85,3x105, *x115 pull-ups +60lbs and farmer's walk with 115 and 125lb dumbells

If I had stuck to my plan I should have only done 305, at most 310 on the squat, but my training partner inspired me with a great set (and I didn't want to have to take off those 45lb plates).  I also moved up another 5lbs on the towel bench.  Hopefully I can keep up this progress.

8/24 lift power clean 3x220 deadlift 3x410 plus strict dumbell presses 40,45lbs

These lifts were HARD.  Doing a triple with 410 seemed ALOT harder than doing the heavier doubles and singles of the past weeks.  I moved up on the power clean by 5lbs, which is my first increase since March on the triple.  We also moved our presses to Wednesdays.  I mixed in some rotator cuff band work after the presses to balance things out.

8/26 lift squat 3*x285 close-grip bench press 3x235 pull-ups +65lbs and atlas stone carry supersets x3

Today was another tough workout.  The problem with Friday 3x3 is all three sets are very close in weight, so even though we are only talking about 9 reps, each rep is a struggle.   I put a * on my squats, as I didn't get deep enough on my 3rd rep, but it's my fault for getting greedy and putting 10lbs on the bar.  I also moved up 5lbs on the bench, which felt good today and didn't give me any troubles.  The stone kicked my butt as usual.  Adding 5lbs on the pull-ups didn't help things.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wheel on my spin bike keeps on turning

8/21 spin 56 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's class with the +1

HR avg 149 max 174

I was looking forward to this class to help flush out my legs after the long run on Saturday, even though I didn't feel that beat up.  I managed to figure out some of the "traveling" on the bike and we had a pretty great mix of Journey and other music.  How can you not like a class when the last track is Don't Stop Believin'?

A Genuine Long Run

8/20 run 96 mins @ ATT soft side in Altra Instincts (total time 118 mins with cooldown)

temp 89 (about 2pm start)
HR avg 150 max 161 (for the 96 min run)

The +1 did her long run with the Bull City training group that morning, and, as usual, I slept through it (since I have to work overnight).  It was my luck that she had a very busy morning and was still out of the house when it came time for me to run.  She encouraged me to go ahead and do it, so I did.  I've been cutting my carbs to see if it helps with my runs and using VESPA.  So, today, I ate eggs, uncured bacon and an avocado before my run.  I think that was it.  During the run I had my two 24 ounce bottles.  I put a Thermotab in one bottle and a NUUN in the other.  I also brought along 3 more Thermotabs (no you don't need $30 per bottle salt tabs, the $8 ones work just as well).  I ended up using all the salt tabs.  After what Peter Defty said and with the temp at nearly 90 degrees, I used one every 30 minutes.

My plan was to refill my bottles at the first road crossing, where SYNC Studio leaves out a complimentary water cooler.  This plan was working great until I got to the cooler and found it to be empty.  Not a drop left.  I still had about half of one bottle left at this point and quite a ways to go before I would turn around.  I decided to continue on in the hopes of encountering another water cooler.  This turned out to be a good strategy, although I did have to overshoot my initial turn around goal to hit the next water cooler, which is why I ended up with a total of 118 minutes instead of my planned 90 minute run.  I walked the last 21 minutes as I was out of water again by this point and I didn't want to go crazy on my first long run, especially with the ball of my foot bothering me.

I'm delighted to say I felt great during this run and I didn't have any soreness that evening or the next day.  I made sure to keep myself right under 155 bpm the whole time.  Maybe the extended cooldown did it.  Maybe it was the increased electrolyte intake.  I will definitely start doing my dynamic cooldown exercises after all my runs, as that is what I did during those 21 minutes.  The Altra Instincts are doing great, by the way.  I'm not sure how well they will work on a real trail, but they are keeping my lower legs healthy and pain free so far.

Stop feeding the atlas stone

8/19 lift squat 6x255 close-grip bench press 6x210 pull-ups +60lbs and atlas stone carry supersets x3 strict dumbell presses with 40,45lbs

These "high rep" weeks are hard, when you compare them to say 3x3 week, where you only have 9 total reps versus 10,8,6.  I made a move back towards my old weight on the squats and I'm 15lbs away from my previous best for 6 reps on the bench prior to the shoulder issues.  So far everything is holding together and the added shoulder presses haven't caused any residual pain.  The stone carry really sucked today :-)

1st Duke Forest Run

8/18 run 55 mins at Duke Forest entrance off Whitfield Rd in Altra Instincts (2nd run in these!)

temp 80ish
HR avg 150 max 173

I remember it actually felt sort of cool outside when we started this run.  The +1 had wanted to show me this loop for awhile and I was looking forward to trying out a new unpaved place to run with some decent hills.  The hills weren't too steep but they were LONG, so proper pacing was key.  I quickly realized I should have tightened up my shoes a bit more during that first, long downhill section.  The Altra Instincts did a good job of keeping the rocks out and where I've been having issues on the ball of my left foot didn't bother me too much.  Instead of running along the side of the road at the end, I think next time, I'll just turn around and run the same route back to the start, as the cars along that stretch are going really fast and there isn't a whole lot of shoulder to run on.  We started on a second loop, so I don't think the extra miles will be too big of a difference.

An Evening with Peter Defty and Vespa

Vespa CV-25 and Junior
I think a lot of people didn't know what they were getting into when they decided to attend this information session.  For those of you who don't know, Peter is a very accomplished ultra runner and the Vespa rep for North America.  He coaches MANY high level ultra runners.  His ideas are radical and controversial as they would require a complete overhaul in the diet of the average runner (and the average American).  The payoff for these changes can be huge especially for marathon and ultra distance runners.  Dale Humphrey has a good blog post that details some of the dietary changes and product usage strategies.  I'm going to list out some of the things I noted from the information session and some of the books he brought with him and others he recommended.

The goal of all of this is to get the body to burn fat for energy instead of the 1500 calories or so of glycogen it has available on an average day.  By burning fat you can reduce/eliminate your need for calorie ingestion during training (which has many benefits), reduce muscle fatigue/post workout recovery and increase sustained performance during longer events.  In order to prime your body for burning more fat Peter advocates a low carb diet.  This is especially interesting to me, being a larger runner, as I find dealing with calorie and fluid requirements for longer runs to be quite daunting.  I've already had some great results experimenting with reducing my daily carbohydrate intake and using the product on runs over the last few months.


Some of the books Peter recommended:
New Atkins for a New You
Protein Power
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living
Authors/Research Institutes:
Dr. Eric Westman
Weston A. Price Foundation


He recommended using the following formula for heart rate based training, which is a bit more aggressive than standard Maffetone Method based sessions.

180 - age + 15

Peter advocated making sure to take a VERY LONG TIME TO WARMUP in each training session to ensure the body will burn fat over carbohydrate.  He also emphasized the importance of fluid and electrolytes for ketosis (fat burning).  I could be mistaken, but I believe he said he ran Western States on up to 60 oz of water and 1500mg of sodium per hour.  These number seem huge, but if the body isn't also trying to digest food at the same time I can see how this could be possible and a requirement to sustain such high effort for nearly 24 hours, 100 miles and temps up to 115 degrees.  He also recommended UVB treatments for athletes, although I didn't have time to discuss this point with him.


If you are not used to eating low carbohydrate, using VESPA during the transition can reduce the side effects a person may experience during the first couple of weeks (brain fog, lack of energy, craving carbs etc).  He recommends a rare steak and a baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream the night before a race.  I didn't have a chance to write down much else, but I hope to have more information to share as I continue experimenting with the product and my diet.  Since I already have to be gluten free, my carbs aren't very high to begin with, but I've made a point to drop them even more and replace those foods with more healthy fats and proteins.  Using VESPA, I have stopped needing to take in gels during a run and my recovery seems to have improved tremendously between workouts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breaking More Records

8/17 lift power clean 2x230 deadlift 2x420

In some ways, I'm more proud of a record on a double than I am of a new record on a single.  I finally moved up on the power clean for my double.  I think I've been doing 225 for like 6 months or more.  I stuck to my 5lbs on the deadlift, which puts me 5lbs off my single.  The key I'm finding is to make sure I complete my exhale and start my inhale before I start descending for the next rep, otherwise I can't get in enough air while descending with all the weight and I end up feeling like I'm going to pass out.

I had to take the tests and qualification on Tuesday for the training I did over the weekend, so I didn't have time to workout that day.  Also, I attended the Vespa information session with Peter Defty at Bull City Running on Tuesday night.  I'll do a separate post to talk about that.  I've been using Vespa when I run (although those runs have been few and far between lately).

Monday Quickie

8/15 lift box squat 6x280 close-grip towel bench press 6x220

I had a dentist appointment afterwards, so I didn't have time to do any auxiliary lifts today.  I was sore and super tired before the workout as I was working overnight the whole weekend and in training from 8-5 during the day.  Hopefully I can stop burning the candle at both ends after Tuesday and catch up on some rest!

New Territory

8/12 lift squat 1x285 close-grip bench press 1x265 pull-ups +60lbs and atlas stone carry supersets x3 dumbell presses 10x40,3x55,6x40

Thursday I had to practice for some training I am attending over the weekend, so I didn't have time to get in a workout.  So here we are at Friday squats and bench again.  The day I skip the most due to my work schedule.  This is also probably the most important day of the program.  I continue to stay conservative on the squat and move only 5lbs a week in order to make sure I don't miss any lifts.

Today was a landmark day on the bench, as I singled the weight I did prior to my shoulder injury.  I bridged a little but nothing too bad.  So far my shoulders feel great, so I'm really excited to see where I can go over the next few months while I am still healthy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Records!

8/10 lift power clean 1x240 deadlift 1x425

The lighter sets weren't very foreboding, as they all felt heavy to me, but I pulled off a couple records for my current body weight.  Looking forward to seeing if I can keep moving up next month!  I did miss my first attempt at the power clean and my right knee did something weird on the second by I made the catch.

I hate asphalt

8/9 run 48 mins on ATT by Bull City Running in Altra Instincts (1st shoe run!)

temp 95+ (after dynamic stretch workshop)
HR avg 162 max 175

The +1 is doing the Bull program through Bull City Running, so she had a 50 min run tonight, but first she wanted to check out the dynamic stretch workshop at BCR, so I figured I would tag along.  I think the two combined to work against me, but I'll get to that in a minute.  I brought my new running shoes, the Altra Instinct, and wore my flip-flops for the clinic as I'm most comfortable practically barefoot and I hate to start a run with sweaty feet.

So turns out the workshop is being held outside in the heat on the concrete and we all get to practice alongside the instructor.  Normally this isn't a big deal and it didn't bother me at the time to run around barefoot doing various drills but as soon as I put my shoes on started running the balls of my feet felt like they were on fire.  This feeling only got worse the longer we ran.  I don't know if the concrete took of some skin and the sweat was burning me or if it was just some kind of weird hot spot, but it felt like I was running on giant blood blisters the whole time.  I'm thinking the combination of barefoot concrete warmups, the new shoes and running on pavement created a bit of a perfect storm.  My feet look any worse for wear after the run but they continued to hurt for a day or two.

The run itself started off great, but the relentless pace of the +1 and the oppressive heat began to take its toll toward the end.  I was ready to be done and felt like I was trying to sprint by the last 10 minutes.  I definitely need to be running more and not using the bike as my excuse.

Monday Singles

8/8 lift box squat 1x310 close-grip towel bench press 1x265 dumbell snatches 5x85,3x105, *x115 pull-ups +60lbs and farmer's walk with 115 and 125lb dumbells

This workout seemed to take a long time, but we got everything done and made all our lifts.  The farmer's walks are a new addition.  Should be a great exercise for adapting the body to dealing with heavier loads, especially in motion.  The pickup makes my right shoulder pop a bit.  I have some lofty numbers to hit this week.  Hopefully the plan comes together :)

The Substitute

8/7 run spin 54 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's Kristin's class WITHOUT the +1

HR avg 155 max 175

The +1 ran 10 miles this morning, so she bowed out of spin class again.  I don't blame her, as I wouldn't have gone either if I ran 10 miles (or even 3 for that matter).  It was very different from the usual Sunday class, as Kristin looks to weigh about 40lbs and moves with the speed of a humming bird.  I did my best to keep up.  I got in a pretty good workout but I wasn't feeling the music today.

Keep on Keeping on

8/5 lift squat 5x265 close-grip bench press 4x225 pull-ups +60lbs and atlas stone carry supersets x3 dumbell presses 6x40 (testing out the shoulder)

Added in some extra shoulder work, now that my shoulders are feeling good.  Keeping my elbows in on the bench is working great so far, although I need to make sure I don't bridge.  A pretty good day all around.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I think I'm getting the hang of this...

8/4 bike 82 mins at Lake Crabtree on the TORC beginner/intermediate ride

HR avg 144 max 182

So today wasn't quite so terrifying, ok, it wasn't terrifying at all.  Except for maybe when we watched the crazy guys at the pump/jump track thing.  I didn't fall, and I managed to complete almost all the obstacles I attempted.  Michael, who led the group, spent a good amount of time explaining various skills and techniques as we encountered opportunities to practice them on the trails. I feel like I learned a lot and I only hope I can implement it on my next ride.  Brian, who led our first ride the week before, was there too, but he went with the intermediate group today.  Our friends, E&C were there along with their friend Will.  The +1 was out sick, so she missed out on lots of tips, hopefully these added techniques will give me the edge I need to keep up with her on the next ride :-)

Early workout

8/3 lift power clean 5x205 deadlift 5x395

I had to take my Dad in for a bone marrow biopsy today, so we worked out early since I had to hit the road for Greenville to take him to his appointment.  The workout was tough and I'm shocked I was able to pull 395 on my fifth set.  It was difficult, but if I make a concerted effort to breathe out at the top of the rep and inhale as I lower the weight I'm able to finish without breaking form.  I did pause for a second at the top on my fourth rep to get an extra breath, but I figured it was better than blacking out...

So regarding the bone marrow biopsy thing, I ended up being front row for the whole procedure and trust me, you never want to have one of these done.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it.  Hopefully all the tests will comeback ok.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3 mile core meltdown

8/2 run 51 mins (3x1600m) @ ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus

3x1600m with 60 sec rest
1. 8:52  HR avg 168
2. 9:37  HR avg 170
3. 10:30  HR avg 174

temp 95 (about 6:40pm start)
HR avg 161 max 180 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 60 second rest intervals)

This was a nice "welcome back" to running after taking a two week hiatus.  Ok, I just lied, it was hot, unpleasant and I was pretty miserable.  This was my first time running with 60 seconds of rest between intervals.  I tried to pace myself, but without a pool to jump into in between intervals I just start to burn up the longer I'm out there.  It was all I could do to keep my legs moving on that last mile.  Not fun, but not a bad workout for having skipped all my runs since the 14th.  Looking back at march I did a similar set of 2 mile repeats in 8:15 and 8:37, so hopefully it's just the heat making slow.

Back to the Snatch

8/1 lift box squat 5x290 close-grip towel bench press 5x230 dumbell snatches 5x85,3x105, *x115 and pull-ups +60lbs

Our hands are mostly healed from the sauna crossfit episode, so we are back to our regularly scheduled exercises.  Also, in exciting Craigslist news, I managed to snag some more dumbells!  The seller claimed to have a set of 105,115 and 125lb dumbells, but turns out the only ones they had over 100lbs were the 115's and the 125's.  So we picked up both sets.  They are a slightly different design, where the plates on either side of the handle are loose and the caps are welded on.  It makes them difficult to snatch, as you have 115lbs of plates rattling and moving around in a slightly different direction from the handle.  I gave the 115 a shot on both sides, but I couldn't get it.  I wish we could find a set of 105's or 110's somewhere.   Also, added another 5lbs to the pull-ups, which is a couple months overdue.   I find pull-ups never get easier, you just have to progressively add weight, which makes the lighter ones feel easier by comparison.

Alone in a sea of Lululemon

7/31 run spin 52 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's class WITHOUT the +1

HR avg 161 max 180

The wife was struck down by illness following her 11 miler on Saturday, so I had to go it alone to spinning class.  I would have gladly skipped, but seeing as how I slacked off on Saturday and didn't do my run again <insert heat related excuse> I knew I had to do some kind of cardio plus I already paid my 15 dollars.  Either my conditioning is getting worse or I'm working myself progressively harder in this class.  I still can't copy all the fancy bike "traveling" moves, but I try to keep my pedals in sync with the instructor.  My back bothers me a little bit during the class, but so far I've been able to avoid any residual pain, which is great and has allowed me to keep coming back week after week.

Apparently fear makes for a great cardio workout

7/28 bike 75 mins of sheer terror at Lake Crabtree on the TORC beginner/intermediate ride

HR avg 162 max 181

I haven't ridden my mountain bike since February on the Tobacco Trail and I haven't been on a real "mountain bike trail" since my first and only time over a year ago on the beginner trail at Harris Lake.   The first time was slightly scary, in part, due to the pogo stick I had for a front fork at the time and my somewhat non-functional derailleurs.  I've made the necessary repairs and improvements to the bike over the last couple months and I was finally ready to ride again!  When we went to Harris Lake over a year ago, it was pretty obvious the wife was much better at this than I am.  I also managed to crash, which didn't help things.

After picking up my newly repaired bike from REI, during my test ride around the backyard I managed to crash, and I probably should have seen this as an omen of things to come.  I was expecting a nice ride on some rolling bridle trails, but what I got was more of a white knuckle single track experience.  We met up with the beginner group and set off in single file, I talked the wife into going in front of me thinking I would have no trouble keeping up and this way I didn't have to worry about her running me over when I crashed, adding insult to injury.  She quickly disappeared into the distance with the lead pack and I was left feeling like I was trapped in an out of control Camry going the wrong way on the freeway at rush hour.  Now, I know the seasoned mountain bikers out there consider the trails at Lake Crabtree to be beginner stuff.  They still scared the crap out of me.  I only truly crashed once, and it was actually in a non-scary portion of the trail due to loose dirt/pine straw, but I had PLENTY of close calls.  How I didn't face plant into a tree I'll never know.  There was one really huge drop into a banked right hander that I walked down, but this was after seeing the wife go flying in rather spectacular fashion.  I would learn later this was due to the guy in front of her and not any lack of skill on her part.  Maybe next Thursday will go better....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The weight is over

7/27 lift squat 3x275 close-grip bench press 3x230 pull-ups +55lbs and atlas stone carry supersets x3

Woohoo, my three days of weights are over!  We got all our workouts and I managed to make all my lifts this week.  It feels good to finish a week without any failures on the books.  I'm not sure if four days off is a good thing or not, but hopefully I can rest up and get in some cardio.  The soreness was starting to catch up to us today.  I can only imagine how my body will feel tomorrow.  Already made some progress or "re-progress" on the squats.  Now if only the heat would let up so I could get in a decent run without worrying about stroking out.

two down, one to go

7/26 lift power clean 3x215 deadlift 3x405 plus some rotator cuff band work

This was not a fun workout to do back to back.  I'm hanging in there with both exercises, but I need to make some adjustments if I want to get stronger.  Now to just figure out what those adjustments are...

The trouble with a triple of triples

7/25 lift box squat 3x305 close-grip towel bench 3x245 plus push press 5,7x55lbs* and pull-ups*

With my hands messed up I wasn't going to try and do snatches or weighted pull-ups today.  Due to my training partner's impending vacation, we are doing our regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday workout on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  This week is only three sets of three reps for core exercises, so we actually have a chance of completing this crazy plan!  I think I had a little assist on one of the box squat reps, but everything else went well.  I need to do more traditional overhead presses.

creating a pattern

7/24 run spin 52 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's class with the +1

HR avg 153 max 174

Decided to keep my cardio indoors for another weekend.  Yes, I also setup on the bike directly beside the fan, so I can imagine everyone in the back row gets to enjoy my manly fragrance throughout the class.  I wore what I consider my "control top" bike undershorts for this class.  I call them "control top" because their tight spandex front crushes my gut, making it hard for me to breath, but not being a one of those cool roadbike guys I see who look like they dressed for the Tour de France, but somehow got lost in my neighborhood, spandex is foreign to me, so maybe this is a normal feeling.

I didn't work quite as hard as last week, but I got a pretty decent workout all things considered.  Looking forward to getting in some time on mountain bike now that I have it back.  I'll see about doing a post this weekend for all the bike geeks out there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Skin, how I miss you.

7/22 lift squat 6x245 close-grip bench press 6x215 plus pull-ups/atlas stone carry supersets

My missing calluses are a real pain.  They keep trying to heal, only to be cracked open again the next time I reach or grip something.  Grinding the scabs into knurled bars and concrete stones doesn't help either.  The squats were challenging, but all my reps were clean and I feel I've found a good starting point to build from again.  Kept my bench weight the same as last month.

Dang it, I need that callus!

7/21 crossfit 21,15,9 right arm kettlebell snatches, left arm kettlebell snatches with 50lb kettlebell, toes to pull-up bar

1 mile run prior to exercises

This workout sucked pretty bad, mainly because I don't do high reps with kettlebells all that much as they aggravate my back.  Now what really sucks is the super duper heat and humidity when we did this workout tonight resulted in my calluses softening up enough that I ripped the ones off my palms at my index finger on both hands.  One of my training partners managed to do the same thing.  I think it started with the left hand during the first 21 and the right hand went before the 15 set was done. I taped them to finish the workout but it's going to make the next week pretty painful.

one plus one doesn't equal two

7/20 lift power clean 2x225 (1+1) deadlift 2x415 (1+1)

If you read my last post, you know I've been having some health problems that are jacking up my workouts.  I'm still got some of those problems as it takes awhile for my body to heal itself after it's been done wrong.  I think my struggles today are the results of me not being at 100% yet.  I got my lifts but I  missed my attempt at doing them in standard double fashion and I had to take a break and regroup between reps.  I got my 5lbs on the deadlift, at least.  Hopefully I'll be feeling better and showing more improvements as the weeks go on, and I think this is a big part of why I haven't been feeling up to making my runs or perhaps it's the 100 degree heat ;-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gluten Free does not always mean Hakuna Matata

So I don't make a point to talk about it all that much, but I have Coeliac disease.  Which means I have to be careful about what I eat and I don't eat anything with gluten of any kind in it.  I also don't eat oats because they contain a similar protein (avenin) that could trigger a response and it's just not worth the risk to me.  One thing which I haven't touched since being diagnosed that I used to enjoy were wheat grass shots and greens products.  I used to use Lightforce greens a lot when I was grappling at a high level and found it to really help with my cardio.  Wheat grass is supposed to be harvested prior to the formation of gluten proteins but I've never seen a product that guaranteed this until now.
Gluten Free perhaps but still not safe for me

So the wife discovered a product called Amazing Grass that apparently tests their greens products for gluten and assures they are all gluten free.  So she received her first order around 7/8 and I tried some of the products around that time.  This is also around the time I started having problems again.  I don't know why I didn't put this together until 2 days ago.  I guess because it's such a small thing in the scheme of a day to shotgun 5 grams of powder, that I didn't pay that much attention to when I was doing it and I didn't do it everyday.  I started having the same symptoms I had when I was originally diagnosed.  Abdominal pain, breaking out in a sweat at random, feeling like crap etc.  At first, after following Der Scott's lead and consulting Dr. Google I thought I might be having Gallbladder attacks or I had begun menopause (I guess this is why Dr. Google isn't a real doctor).  Then it seemed like I was having problems all the time and I was feeling more and more rundown each day.  So it's been 48 hours since I last took Amazing Grass and I'm feeling much better.  I did some searching on the Celiac forums and some Coeliacs blogs to find that I'm not the only person with Coeliacs who had a bad reaction to this product.  I guess it's common for us to have a wheat/barley allergy or something.  Either way I won't be trying any wheat/barley grass related products again.  In retrospect I can't believe how haphazard I was in my use of this product.  Normally I over scrutinize everything I put into my body to avoid the chance of getting sick, but I think the large "GLUTEN FREE" markings on these products waylaid my fears.  It seems to take awhile for me to get all the "evil" out of my system, so hopefully I'll be feeling back to normal in a week, but after 48 hours I'm already feeling a lot better.

The Rundown

7/18 lift box squat 6x275 close-grip towel bench press 6x215 dumbell snatches 5x80,3x105 and pull-ups +55lbs

I've been feeling like crap for over a week now and it's been getting worse.  Initially I wasn't sure if it was something I was eating, the crazy amount of work I've been dealing with recently or some other new health problem yet to be diagnosed...  I think  I finally figure out what it was but I'm going to make that a separate post.

Today I felt exhausted and what little energy I had seemed to leave me during the box squats.  My legs were already beatdown from my return to squats and another spin class.  As soon as I finished my 3rd and final set on the box squat I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep.  I struggled through the bench and I think the snatch got some adrenaline moving again.  I guess the fear of dropping 105lbs on your head can wake you up.  A decent workout overall.  I cutback my box squat weights as part of my plan to drop back and build up again.  Kept the same weights on the towel bench and the other exercises.

woohoo 80's music week

7/17 run spin 59 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's class with the +1

HR avg 155 max 176

My legs were already wrecked from my first deep squat workout in three weeks (and it was a max out day), so I wasn't expecting much out of them for this spin class.  My main goal was to work out some of the stiffness and get them moving again.  I probably would have skipped the class if not for the lure of 80's music...  There I said it.  I love me some 80's music for spin classes.  I can get pumped up for some Bon Jovi, Queen, Billy Idol etc.  I think it's actually how pumped up the rest of class gets that really helps me push myself.  There are a lot of closet 80's fans out there.  Admit it.

The class went really well.  There were a couple of assistant instructor dudes in the front row and for whatever reason it's easier for me copy their movements than a female instructor.  I think guys just move in a slower, stiffer, and more lumbering manner or something.  Either way I focused on my pedals and keeping my lower back in a safe position through out the whole class.  I could tell my back was getting fatigued toward the end, but it's been a few days and I'm feeling much better than after last week's class.  I think I just have to be conscious of exactly what my lower back is doing throughout every minute of the class in order to avoid having problems later.


7/15 lift squat 1x275 close-grip bench press 1x260 pull-ups +55lbs and atlas stone carry supersets

I cut back my squat weights in order to establish what is going on with these lifts.  I think the combination of missing some squat workouts and then missing some lifts when I do the workouts is adding up to a big slide in these numbers.  I'm cutting back the weights a bit in order to complete all my reps.

Moved up on the bench again, I'm within 15lbs of my previous wide grip efforts without any residual shoulder pain.  I still have shoulder pain issues with incline dumbells and probably any press where the elbows aren't tight to the body.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Andrew's 5000

7/14 run 63 mins (5x1000m) @ ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus

1. 5:01  HR avg 166
2. 5:36  HR avg 173
3. 5:19  HR avg 172
4. 5:15  HR avg 175
5. 5:43  HR avg 175

temp 87 (about 5:40pm start)
HR avg 156 max 181 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 400m rest intervals)

Thanks to some mechanical issues with my '91 Jeep, I didn't get in my run on Tuesday.  Ok, I should come clean, a combination of hubris and mechanical issues.  Let me explain.  I've had an ongoing issue with the Jeep and warm engine+weather starts.  The issue would get worse as the temperature rises, so naturally, a 100+ degree day, a full list of stop/start errands and a Jeep with a warm start problem is not a good combination.  On the bright side, all I have to do is give it enough time to cool off and it starts fine, which ended up being over an hour the third time.  After this I wised up and swapped cars.

Today was hot, but not unbearable.  I was running at a busy time on the trail, so the other people and their pets were a nice distraction from my own inner turmoil.  I believe this is the largest volume of interval work I've done in one workout, which isn't saying much, but I definitely feel it today.  Got plans for another spin class this weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And On The 5th Try, He Cleaned

7/13 lift power clean 1x235 deadlift 1x420 (did 5x5,4,3,2,1 this workout)

Yes, it took me five attempts to clean 235.  Going into the workout, I honestly thought I had no chance of hitting the single after my horrible showing on the box squat, Monday and my nagging back pain.  Somehow I pulled it off with good form too.  Each time I tweaked my pull a little bit, as I just wasn't getting the bar high enough to make the catch on the first 4 attempts.

After all the extra effort I expended on the clean, my hopes for moving up on max deadlift had dropped from slim to none.  My lifting partner had a great showing though and this helped motivate me to stick with my 5lb increase.  I had a great lift with no issues at all.  He thought I should have done more, but I'm going to stick with 5lbs a month for now.  I think this is a good plan, as I'm trying to increase my running mileage and add in some additional training over the next few months.

skipped Friday workout = crappy Monday workout

7/11 lift box squat 1x295* close-grip towel bench 1x260 plus snatches 5x80, 3x105 pull-ups +55lbs and 3 atlas stone carries (main lifts done 3x5,3,1)

Another busy Friday of work combined with dinner/movie with the wife left me no time to get in my lifting.  This means I missed the ever important squats, which is clearly not helping my box squats on the following Monday.  I'm coming to the realization that I can't miss another one of these if I want to improve on the box squat.

I'm getting closer to my previous max on the towel-bench and my shoulders aren't bothering me, so I'll continue to stick with my narrow grip and elbows tucked into my sides for now.  I got all my snatches with the left arm plus 2 near misses.  I made up my stone carries today, as well.  The stone actually wasn't as bad as I remembered it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ride to Nowhere

7/10 run spin 55 mins at SYNCstudio in Laurissa's class with the +1

HR avg 151 max 169

This is why the +1 puts me in the back row
Every time I go to SYNCstudio I am reminded of exactly how little natural rhythm I possess.  I can spin my pedals ok and with the correct tension, but I'm always the guy going left or on the down stroke when the rest of the class is doing the opposite.

It was fun to get in some time on a bike though, as I've been waiting with giddy anticipation for the "rebirth" of my ancient mountain bike from the REI bike shop.  REI has a huge backlog of repairs, so the bike won't be ready until after the 20th.  This has given me a lot of time to re-imagine my riding abilities and obsess over all kinds of newfangled parts and upgrades that I probably don't need, certainly don't understand and would be better served on a bike that isn't 12 years old.  This all started when my 4" (100mm") suspension fork went from mostly non-functional to instantly bottoming under the weight of my fat ass.  I'm going to resist geeking out on bike stuff right now, so I can save it for the post after I get the bike back.

Ok, back on track, spin class.  Laurissa is a great teacher, and her music choices are even better.  I would do more spin classes, but they always seem to aggravate my back.  I don't know if it's bike size issue (handlebars don't seem high enough for me), mechanics issue or just the result of having had a back injury in the past.  Either way, I'm finishing up this post on Wednesday night and my back is still bothering me.  The pain seems to be very low, possibly my SI or close to it.  Feels like I over stretched it.  I'm planning to repeat this class next Sunday, so hopefully I can come up with a solution, even if it means I need to bring a handlebar riser or something.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Back on the Trails

7/7 run 60 mins @ Eno River on Cox Mountain Trail and Fanny's Ford Trail in MT101's

temp 80's
HR avg 154 max 171

I was all packed up and ready to head out at 2:30pm when the thunderstorms rolled in.  I figured I probably shouldn't tempt fate again, so I waited until a little after 5pm to start my run after the thunder and lightning had passed.  My pace feels slow as a snail, but looking at my past runs I'm pretty much in line with those times.  I tried to grind out all the climbs today just to put in a little extra effort and use the flatter sections to balance out my heart rate.  I feel like my running performance has been slipping lately, but it's probably just the heat.  I need to get in a longer run this weekend, but at an HR of 155 or less.  My plan for next Thursday is to run at Umstead so I can compare with my data from this past winter.

I started to get kind of sick after this run, so I skipped my crossfit workout tonight.  I've been playing with Vespa CV-25, so I've cut out all my caloric nutrition on my runs for the last month or so.  I'll just run with NUUN in my water bottle or just plain water in the CamelBak.  I'm not ready to pass judgement on the product one way or the other.  I blame getting sick more on not eating lunch due to delaying the run than on anything else.  Once I got home and wolfed down some dinner I started to feel a lot better.  I'm not sure how I'll fuel for this weekend's run, as I want to run at least 90 mins.  I will say I feel like my recovery has been better since I started using the Vespa.  This could also be related to me shortening or skipping my weekend long runs.  I do feel like my interval work isn't beating me up as much.  I haven't used my compression socks for recovery in at least a month or more.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


7/6 lift power clean 5x205 deadlift 5x390 (3 sets each)

I'm feeling weak and overtrained lately.  The cleans felt really heavy and I had to reset on the deadlifts at least once.  I find my breathing is getting out of whack on the deadlifts, which throws off my integrity between reps.  We'll get through this week and see where things are at next week for max outs.

All Over the Place on Intervals

7/5 run 59 mins (4x1200m) @ ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus

1. 6:26  HR avg 166
2. 6:33  HR avg 173
3. 6:39  HR avg 174
4. 7:03  HR avg 174

temp 85+ (about 7pm start)
HR avg 157 max 180 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 400m rest intervals)

I think these times give a pretty clear picture of what the heat does to my performance over time.  I've started walking all my rest intervals in the heat as my heart rate never drops below 135 anyway.  It's interesting to look at how my heart rate during my 400m rest intervals creeps upward from interval to interval.  I think this is just a result of my body trying to cool itself.  I went back and looked at some of my speed work data from the cooler months and it seems I was able to recover consistently between intervals, so it definitely looks like it's the heat/humidity that's getting me.

The Most Dangerous Day of the Year

7/4 lift box squat 5x300 close-grip towel bench 5x230 plus snatches 5x80, 3x105* and pull-ups +55lbs

Not much to say.  Struggling on the box squats and having issues with lockout of left arm on the snatches.  Moved up a hair on the bench.  Feeling a little burned out, which is weird, as I haven't worked out since last wednesday!  We are also cutting back to 3 sets of 5 instead of 5x5's.  I figure we'll play with the volume a bit before we reorganize things.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Purple Leg

6/29 lift power clean 3x215 deadlift 1+1+1x405 plus incline dumbell presses

I didn't notice until Tuesday, but it seems I managed to tear something in the hamstring/adductor area of my right leg during the Spartan Race.  It has manifested as a large purple/yellow area on the inside/back of my right leg.  I think affecting some of my lifts, but otherwise I don't really notice it unless I bump the area.  I have a pretty good idea of which obstacle did it too. 

There was a mud pit obstacle with 10-12 foot climb out on a sheer clay/mud face using a rope.  When I got to the top of the rope and had to transition out of the pit, I threw my left leg over the edge and pulled myself up.  In doing so, something in my groin locked up with enough pain to blur my vision.  This was at an aid station, so I ended up leaning against a bulldozer for a minute or two while the rest of my team helped each other out of the pit.  Once I started running again the pain went away, but I think that's what did it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Much like the postal service

6/28 run 51 mins (6x800m) @ ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus (in the middle of hurricane)

1. 4:00  HR avg 164
2. 4:05  HR avg 164
3. 4:18  HR avg 171
4. 4:21  HR avg 169
5. 4:22  HR avg 172
6. 4:44  HR avg 170 (U-turn mid-lap to grab my shirt)

note: direct correlation between deterioration of weather and increase in time

temp 73! with torrential downpours, thunder and lightning (yes, I am an idiot)
HR avg 156 max 178 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 7 min cool-down and 90 second rest intervals)

I got up around 10 today and thought I should probably go ahead and run, but instead I sat down to a nice country breakfast.  Checked the weather and the high was listed as 91, not too bad, I thought.  So a few hours go by and I'm thinking I better go ahead and knock out this run.  That's when I step outside and realize it's actually 95.  Quick change of plans,  I text the wife to tell her I'm going to run at sundown.  She says she wants in, as today is one of her double run days.  Well around 5:30pm when she gets home, all hell breaks loose outside.  Torrential downpours, thunder, lightning and high winds.  She moves forward with dinner and skips the run.  I actually like running in the rain, so I figure the storm can't keep up this intensity forever and I've got a little over 3 hours before sundown.  Sure enough, a little after 7, I stop hearing thunder and the rain slacks off to a mild drizzle.  I seize the opportunity and hop in the car to head over to my ATT spot across from New Hope.  It's still drizzling when I arrive, thankfully I wore my hat to keep the rain out of my eyes.  I start my 10 minute warmup and about the time I'm down to 3 minutes left in the warmup, the bottom of the giant bucket in the sky cuts loose.  It starts pouring.  After my second interval, the amount of water has made it impossible to navigate around puddles and the trail is just one giant stream at this point.  This is also the time my shirt starts to feel like it weighs at least 4lbs.  So I decide there is only one thing I can do. 

I must enter "shirtless douchebag" mode.  Thankfully I'm the only douchebag dumb enough to be on the trail in the middle of a hurricane.  So no one will be subjected to my jiggly rendition of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, or so I thought.   I start hearing thunder again about the time I get to the break in the trees where the powerlines cut across the trail.  I figure lightning will have trouble hitting a moving target so I run like my ass is on fire through the clearing and back into the tree covered side.  I hit the road crossing at a full sprint and this is where it gets funny.  As I go flying across the road I see people sitting in their cars on either side waiting for a possible break in the weather.  I can only imagine what was going through their minds when they saw this shirtless douchebag go flying out of the woods and across the road in the middle of a hurricane.  Within 100 feet of crossing the road I hit my 90 second rest and as the trail ahead has even less cover I figured I better turn around.  So not 15 seconds later they got to see the same shirtless douchebag huffing and puffing his way back across the road.  The wind has also picked up and I'm having to grab my hat periodically to keep it from blowing off and the rain is coming at me nearly sideways.  The trail has also filled with water to the point that I'm sloshing through 4-6 inches of water with each step.  Thankfully I only have one more interval to go, so I doubleback to grab my shirt.  It's fallen off the bench I left it on and is almost completely submerged in the water below.  I grab it and make a U-turn back in the direction of the car.  Water is splashing everywhere as I finish my last interval.  Naturally, the rain starts to slack up during my cooldown.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

back to our regularly scheduled program

6/27 box squat 2x300 close-grip towel bench press 3x245 plus snatches 5x85, 3x105* and pull-ups +55

I added the * as I couldn't quite reach lockout with my left hand on the dumbell snatches with 105.  Probably just weak from the race on Saturday and the lack of sleep.  My squat should have been 3x320, but that didn't happen.  I didn't realize it at the time but it appears I have a grade 1 (mild) tear of my adductor/hamstring on my right leg.  I'll try and post a pic later.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Carolinas Super Spartan race report aka I'm Thuper Thanks for Asking

***preliminary report, I'll update once I get some pics and some more sleep*** 

6/25 <120 mins @ Carolinas Super Spartan (Carolina Adventure World) in New Balance MT101's with Injinji socks

Thanks to careful planning by our four man team, we left at 4am and managed to arrive over 2.5 hours early for our 9:30am start time.  Not that the extra hour of sleep would have helped me.  I got to bed with only 90 mins to sleep Friday night, as I didn't finish with work until almost 1am.  I never actually fell asleep during the 90 minutes I was lying there.  Thankfully, my body sucked it up and I felt fine for the race.

We had plenty of time to check-in and scope out the parts of the course that were visible from the staging area.  This place is insane.  People are camped out in massive RV's with an array of dirtbikes, ATV's and all-terrain golf carts running around all over the place and that doesn't even include the Super Spartan Race.  From the start you can see the race begins with a massive hill, followed by the wall of fire at the top.  The finish runs parallel and runs back down the same side of this hill.  On the finish side, we could see the wall of fire again, spear throw targets, soapy upside-down V wall with rope climb and "American Gladiators" style finish with two dudes probably going by Lazer and Zap who try to hit you with one of those staffs with pads on either end.

I'll start by saying this event was top notch.  I would do one every weekend if I could.  The staff was friendly, they had plenty of volunteers to explain the obstacles and make sure everyone was safe during the more dangerous ones.  Being a bit of an obstacle race veteran I was seriously impressed.  The Spartan Race crew set a very high bar and I'll be curious to see if the Tough Mudder in October will be able to match it.  One of my teammates managed to roll his ankle badly within the first mile due to the highly technical terrain and bottleneck of competitors in our heat, so our time could have been a lot faster, but we all had fun and enjoyed every minute.  I was shocked by how many hills there are in South Carolina.  This course was approaching Uwharrie in technical difficulty.  We would pass back and forth across single-track dirtbike trails into the woods and through streams and creeks.  Lots of up and down.  Even without the obstacles, this would have been a bad ass 8+ mile trail race.  I'm just glad none of the plants I had to run through were poison ivy.  I'll update this tomorrow with what I remember of the obstacles.   I found someone's video of the race!  Whoever took this, thanks for wearing the GoPro! (I haven't watched the whole thing yet)

week of 6/20-6/26 catchup post aka Up in Smoke

6/20 lift box squat 5x275 close-grip towel bench 6x215 plus dumbell snatch 5x85 3+1x105 pull-ups +55lbs
6/22 lift power clean 2x225 deadlift 2x410
6/22 crossfit consisting of 2 man alternating between burpees and 100lb sandbag run with 10 ring dips each time we switched
6/24 rest last day before the Carolina Super Spartan, although I worked 17.5 hours and slept 1.5 hours..

A few notes on the lifting this week.  My squats are still suffering thanks to the running and added Crossfit.  I pulled off my deadlifts and had some really good snatches.  Had too much work on Friday to get in a lift, but probably for the best with the race the following morning.

6/21 run 54 mins (supposed to be 10x400m) @ ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus

1. 2:00  HR avg 162
2. 1:55  HR avg 163
3. 1:57  HR avg 165
4. 2:06  HR avg 167
5. 2:15  HR avg 169
6. 4:19 HR avg 138 (walked thanks to the smoke and the heat)
7. 2:06 HR avg 166
8. 2:12 HR avg 169
9. skipped (smoke + heat = sad panda)
10. 2:09 HR avg 168

temp 90-94
HR avg 151 max 179 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 90 second rest intervals)

This was the day the smoke from all the wildfires moved into the triangle.  I remember getting up and looking outside my window and thinking one of the houses on my street must be on fire.  I couldn't see down the road in either direction.  Opening the door to let the dog out brought in the pungent odor of wood smoke.  I decided I would run anyways, in the hopes the air might be a bit cleaner on the side of ATT where I run.

When I got to the Tobacco Trail, it wasn't any better, if anything it worse than at my house.  This was around 1pm and I was just glad the smell didn't give me a headache on the ride over.  On the upside, the heavy smoke blocked out some of the sun's rays.  It was still hot as heck, but at least the sun wasn't beating me down quite as much.  I started off at a good clip, but the smoke really messed with my breathing.  I felt like I couldn't get a full breath and my body would try to settle into it's natural rhythm of breathing only to feel like I wasn't getting enough oxygen.  To make matters worse, this was the day I switched from 400m rest intervals to 90 second rest intervals.  This adaptation alone was going to make my recovery between sprints difficult.  Long story short, I walked one and skipped one, so I ended up only doing 8x400m.  Looking back at my HR and times, I should have been able to push at least a little bit more, but I think the smoke caused my breathing to get out of control.

6/23 run 62 mins @ start of ATT down by Jordan lake in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus

temp 82ish (around 7pm)
HR avg 150 max 160

This was my last run before the Carolina Super Spartan on Saturday, so my goal was to take it super easy and just work on relaxing and settling in.  This worked out ok, although I continue to have issues where no matter how easy of a pace I start, my heart rate will climb once my body reaches sort of a heat saturation point and it's almost as if I can't run slow enough to bring it back down again.  Overall a pretty good run.  The +1 came along and was complaining about how slow she was going to be before she proceeded to dust me :-)

week of 6/13-6/19 catchup post aka slow burn

6/13 lift box squat 2x305 close-grip towel bench 1x255 plus dumbell snatch 5x80 3x105 pull-ups +55lbs
6/14 crossfit chelsea (don't ask)
6/15 lift power clean 1x235 deadlift 1x415
6/16 crossfit (some other workout named after a girl) consisting of handstand push-ups, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, squat to overhead press, burpees and some other exercises I think it was 5-7 reps of each done in a rotation like 15 times maybe?
6/17 lift squat 2x265 close-grip bench press1x255 plus 3x170lb atlas stone carry and pull-ups +55lbs

6/14 run 53 mins (1600, 1200, 800, 400) on ATT soft side in New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail

1. 8:38  HR avg 167
2. 6:45  HR avg 174
3. 4:39  HR avg 174
4. 2:02  HR avg 175

temp 83
HR avg 157 max 181 (average heart rate includes 10 min warm-up, 10 min cool-down and 400m rest intervals)

I did this workout at 2:30pm and I remember thinking it was hotter than blazes at the time.  Looking back I see it was only about 83 that day.  This was my first interval workout in a LONG time and I tried to pace myself for it.  This worked pretty well and the reduced length of each interval makes it a much easier workout from a mental perspective.  It's funny how looking back each of my runs got progressively worse simply due to the temperature and humidity.

6/16 run 63 mins @ Eno River on Cox Mountain Trail and Fanny's Ford Trail in MT101's and Balega socks with Maddy the labnewftard

temp 89
HR avg 156 max 171

This was meant to be an easier run, but the heat and Maddy the dogbeast got me going a bit harder than I intended.  We did have to stop twice so she could roll around in the river.  If I was smarter, I would have done the same.  I could tell when she was ready for another soaking session as she would start to look back at me with these looks like, "Dad, can I jump in here?"  She is a great runner though, as most dogs with a jet black double coat would have stroked out, but she just keeps on going.

6/18 run 65 mins @ ATT soft side in MT101's with CamelBak Lobo

temp 90-94
HR avg 162 max 171

This run was all about the HEAT.  I had to run at 12:40pm, so the sun was almost directly overhead, which meant finding any shade on either side of the trail was nearly impossible.  I honestly felt like I was going to stroke out on this run and I seemed to just get slower and slower.  I would move into an open area and my heart rate would sky rocket as I was convection baked by the sun.  I'm not sure if it's my size that causes it but I am averaging a loss of over 2 minutes per mile and that is at a higher heart rate and level of effort!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dog Days on the Bartram Trail

6/11 run/hike 1hr 45 mins on Bartram Trail in New Balance MT101's with CamelBak Lobo and dogs
6/12 run/hike 44 mins on Batram Trail before heading home with the dogs

HR not recorded

The access point for this section of the Bartram Trail was only about a 5 min walk from where we were staying, which made it great for taking the dogs.  For those of you not familiar with the Bartram Trail (like me), it spans over 70 miles with yellow blazes through Nantahala National Forest.  Within the first mile it became apparent that we were probably the only people on this section of the trail, so we unleashed the beasts.  Maddy can hold her own, but poor Tyson can't pace himself for sh*t.  Being a boxer, his brachycephalic head is excellent at spreading slobber onto anyone and anything but does a poor job of cooling and respiration.  Once off leash, he decided his best strategy for keeping up would be to run ahead of us at full speed, then stop dead in the trail to catch his breath.  This would take him awhile, so we would all pass him and then he would try and do it again.  Talk about bad trail etiquette.  Myself and the wife would have to jump out of the way to avoid knocking him off the trail when he would try to pass us again.  Maddy, being a lab/newftard, has unlimited stamina and climbs like a billy goat, so she decided to zig-zag back and forth across the trail and up and down the mountain side for most of the hike.  She probably covered about 4x the distance.

We planned our turnaround point for whenever Tyson puttered out.  He lets us know by lying down in the middle of the trail.  I believe this section of the trail leads to some very nice waterfalls, but we never got that far thanks to Mr. Tyson.  Here's a pictorial narrative of what happened, as captured by my wife:
Woohoo, we're free!  Hurry, escape from the humans!

Ugghh, I'm out of breath.  Me too.  Let's see what the humans are doing.

Cool pathway through the trees

Hey, I think I found some water!  I'll lay in it while you drink it.

He seems to know where he's going, I'll follow him!
Screw this, it's nap time!
The human is leaking water and it's cold and delicious!
Ok. Ok.  I promise to go a little further, but you better find me some more water.

Hey, I think I found some water over here!

Woohoo, let's go check it out!

Oh yeah, I just need to cool off my junk for a bit.

Hey, does anyone else think this tastes like balls?

Cough. Cough ugh.  Must get taste out...of mouth.