Friday, April 29, 2011

Sick Interval Workout in MN

4/29 run 60 mins (4x1000m repeats) on the sod patch/sidewalks of suburbia land in the Twin Cities wearing New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail w/ Injinji socks

1. 5:17  HR avg 170
2. 5:44  HR avg 169
3. 5:45  HR avg 171
4. 5:52  HR avg 171

HR avg 159 max 175 (average heart rate includes warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals)

The plan was to find my way onto some dirt roads leading to the state park, but I was struck by a severe case of suburbia syndrome within the first 10 minutes and ended up running in the one mile circle of death that follows the housing development tract.  The combination of my already sore throat and wheezing hacking cough plus the dry air, light rain and strong gusts of wind made for a rather uninspired run.  I was hoping whatever has taken root in my chest would hack its way out during the run, but no such luck as I sit here hacking and coughing even more.

I really needed to run and thanks to the different timezone I was able to squeeze one in at dusk after work here in MN.  It's been a long time since I did intervals thanks to a combination of injury and other obligations.  I have to start getting my consistency back and building again.  I also need to stop running on hard surfaces or at least get a pair of Altra Instincts or something else with a bit of cushion.  I tried to implement some of the tips I got from the Altra "Learn To Run" clinic.  I'll post more on that when I get a chance.  The +1 is running the "Get in Gear" half marathon here in the Twin Cities.  I will be sleeping :)  Ok, I might catch her at the finish line.  Hope everyone has a good weekend and goodluck to those of you competing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Short and Sweet

3/27 lift power clean 3x215 deadlift 3x395

We both had a bunch of stuff to get done today so not much to report.  My back felt really good having not done any deadlifts the week before, but my quads were hitting their DOMS peak from Monday's squats.  All the sets and lifts went well, with no misses or failures.  Headed to the "Learn to Run" clinic tonight put on by the guys of Altra Running and then packing up to fly out to Minnesota bright and early on Thursday.  This should make for another week of messed up workouts!

Monday, April 25, 2011

no more squats this week!

4/25 lift squat 3x275 close-grip bench press 3x225 plus Kettlebell C&P 3x80 and pull-ups +55lbs

It feels like a month since I picked up a weight, but it's only been a week.  We decided to make up the workouts we missed last week, instead of starting in on 5 sets of 5 reps.  I'll be leaving again on Thursday so we went ahead and did regular squats today, which we normally do on Friday.  I made some "progress" by moving up to 275, but this is only considered progress due to the bad weeks I've been having, which had me back at 265 four weeks ago.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eno River Western Django Run and Photo Shoot

4/23 run 1:37+ on Buckquarter Creek Trail, Holden Mill Trail, Shakori Trail and Ridge Trail @ Eno River State Park in New Balance MT101 (no Superfeet!) with Balega socks

HR avg 152 max 177

The +1 needed to get in a good long run before the half marathon with her family in Minnesota next weekend.  I was looking forward to getting back on the trails again.  She put together a beautiful run through the Western Trails of Eno River State Park.  This included two "strenuous" trails, a river/creek crossing and navigating some serious rock outcroppings.

We took our time, stopping to take photos along the way.  I didn't bring the camera, but thankfully she had her iPhone with.
Eno River Rapids (Hi Everybody)
Running along Holden Mill Trail, it seems as if the path disappears until you realize it continues on the other side of the rock outcropping in front you.
Trail straight ahead!
Shakori Trail is loaded with some fun climbs and feels like it's only a season away from being reclaimed by the wilderness.
Going up!
Ridge trail had some fast downhills, climbs and a serious creek crossing!
Yes, those rocks are "the trail" unless you like wet feet
Probably our slowest run ever, but we both had a great time and got a good workout when we weren't stopping to take photos.  Special thanks to my beautiful wife for taking all the great pictures!

Insert your favorite Robert Frost line

My Feet Hurt

4/21 run 60 mins on pavement in southern Delaware wearing New Balance Trail Minimus MT10 with Injinji socks

HR avg 149 max 159

Ouch, why must we cover so many natural surfaces with hard concrete and asphalt.  At least that's what my feet started asking me after about 15 minutes.  I put in some time running along the highway today.  Crosswinds were a little rough, but the temperature was perfect at around 60 degrees.  My knee is feeling pretty good now, but the top of my right foot is jacked.  Not sure why, but I'm having trouble flexing my big toe upward and when I put my hand on top of it; it's like I can feel the tendon rubbing/squeaking as it moves, weird I know.  My left foot has been doing much better and my plantar fasciitis is pretty minimal at this point thanks to the Darco Body Armor Night Splint.  I never make it through the whole night with it on, but I put it on before bed and rip the thing off at some point during the night.  I think I probably get in around 4 hours with it on.  Seems to be doing the trick though, combined with nightly calf stretches.  The splint gets really hot at night, but otherwise it's the only one I've found that's actually wearable.

Running on the side of a 50mph highway is not a good time, but no one ran me over, and it did have a wide shoulder.  Wider than any of the narrow in town streets.  The good thing is, by running out of town on the highway, it forced me to run longer as I had to turn around and run the whole way back too.  Not at the top of my list for scenic runs, but better than sitting at home!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lower Slower is Hotter Flatter

4/20 run 30 mins on the mean streets of southern Delaware in New Balance Trail Minimus MT10 with Injinji socks

HR avg 151 max 164

I felt like an egg on a frying pan today.  No shade, no wind and just asphalt and concrete helping to convection bake my ass.  It doesn't help that I never run on streets or sidewalks either.  The temperature was around 84 and sun was out in full force.  My plan was to run for an hour, but being the hottest day I've run so far this year and my knee bother me; I wasn't feeling it.  The temperature will be back in the 60's tomorrow and if my knee is up to it, I'll try to redeem myself.

I've come to a few conclusions today.  I still don't like running on the road.  The MT10 does everything well for a minimalist shoe, including roads.  Delaware is completely flat.  My body needs more time to adapt to the summer heat.  Some people say a cucumber tastes better pickled.

"Down Time"

4/18 lift box squat 3x315 towel bench 3x235 plus snatches 3x100 pull-ups +55lbs and rotator cuff bands

I need some time to heal up after back to back races and heavy lifting throughout.  I'm hoping the next two weeks will provide me with a bit of a reprieve.  I do have two trips planned though.  This means I will be out of my element for rest, food and training.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 USMC Mud Run Quickie Report

4/16 run 1:37 @ USMC Mud Run in my MT101's with Superfeet Green and Injinji socks

34 obstacles in 5.2 miles this year made comparison with last year's time more difficult.  We also found ourselves helping out other teams more often, but that is what this event is all about, team work.  Some highlights include me completing the Arm Walk on the first try this year.  I also made it through the Weaver again without falling off, although it left its mark.  My left arm and the back of my left leg are scraped up (along with about 50% of my body).  Now, the new problem obstacle is called Tarzan and Jane.  It consists of a series of about 5 ropes equally spread apart over a pit.  The bottom of the rope is about 8 feet from the bottom of the water pit below.  The two problems with this obstacle are the ropes are small diameter and they are very far apart.  You can only reach the next rope on a full swing from the previous rope.  I got a good swing off the bank on the first rope, grabbed the second one with my left and then my right hand, only to suddenly feel as if my hands caught fire.  The rain, mud and small diameter of the rope combined resulting in a full slide to the bottom of the rope.  This messed up my hands pretty good and really pissed me off.  I didn't see anyone complete this obstacle and I'd really like to get some strategy for it.  If I had some pine pitch, or a way to clean my hands off I think I could have made it.  None of our team managed to complete or saw anyone complete it for that matter (I don't think I saw anyone make it onto the second rope successfully even).  Good thing is, this year, they were enforcing time penalties.  Although it was on the honor system, they had DI's at each obstacle to PT your team for the duration of the time penalty or for however long they felt like it.

The Arm Walk with multiple transitions to higher and lower bars make it a real killer (stock photo)

The Weaver doesn't look so bad, until you realize it's 8 ft off the ground and you have to transition over and under logs sideways (stock photo)

Another obstacle I don't remember from last year was the creek walk.  This was VERY long and full of stumps, tree limbs, and sink holes below the water's surface.  I think we all managed to twist an ankle or bang up a knee on this one.  The only way to go fast was to run along the bank barely in the water, which some teams did.  The run didn't mess up my contacts as bad this year as I would use the aid station water cups as an eye wash.

Now probably the biggest obstacle was our drive back.  I'm not sure how we did it, but it seems we were driving on the edge of the "super cell" storms that came through the area.  At times the dust from the fields along 95 was so bad you couldn't see the car in front of you.  About the time we arrived in Raleigh (from Gaston, SC) the storm caught up to us, as power and traffic lights were going out as we drove through the Crossroads area after dropping off two members of our team.  Somehow the storms completely missed my home in Durham.  I'll update with some event photos as soon as they are posted.  Hope everyone made it through the storm safely.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday lifting session

4/15 lift squat 10x205, 8x225 close-grip bench press 6x205 plus kettlebell clean & press 3x80 and pull-ups +55lbs

Right knee is still an issue.  This made the squats pretty painful and with the Mud Run the next day, I stopped after 2 sets.  My training partner managed to pull a muscle in his thigh, so this should make for a gimpy team run tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hanging out with Umstead's slutty sister

4/14 run 60 mins @ Eno River on Cox Mountain Trail and Fanny's Ford Trail in MT101 with Superfeet Green

HR avg 152 max 172

My plan was to head back to the Cole Mill Road entrance for a nice, easy run on the same trails we ran the Saturday before Mountains-to-Sea.  I remembered roughly how to get there, but decided to consult my car GPS just in case.  So I searched "Eno River State Park" and picked out the one that said "Cole Mill", this is where the problems started.  See, if I had brought a park map with me I would have known there are two different park access points on Cole Mill Road.  So things looked kind of familiar as I made my way into the park, but nothing looked quite right and next thing I know, the road dead ends into a parking lot.  I manage to catch one of the nearby park signs by the picnic benches and I see it reads "Cox Mountain".  Hmm, m-o-u-n-t-a-i-n that sounds like a nice easy trail.  Now I do remember a few things from the park map at home, one being that Cox Mountain is listed as a strenuous trail and with a name like that I'm expecting a few climbs.  By this time I'm already an hour behind schedule thanks to the UPS Store and a funeral procession.  I needed to drop off a package, but instead I got to watch them wrap some guy's fishing pole for 20 minutes.  Then, on my way to the Durham Freeway, I run into the most baller funeral procession I've ever seen.  I counted at least 5 Durham Police and Sheriff Harley Davidsons, countless patrol cars, 4 limos and 3 hearses.  So instead of trying to figure out where I went wrong with the directions, I figure I'll just wing it.  I make sure to text the +1 my whereabouts so I don't have to chew off a limb if things go bad.

I check out the park maps by the picnic tables and see there are two trails in this section.  My plan will be to hit both of them to give me about an hour of running time.  I also grab my completely not running friendly digital camera from the car after being inspired by the great work of Shannon Johnstone during the Mountains-to-Sea-Trail Race last weekend.  Here's a comparison of the western trail map and what my gps watch shows.  I only missed one turn, which shows up as the little point going off into the river at the top of the gps data (no, I did not try to run through the Eno River).
 The two most memorable sections are the ridiculous climb near the beginning of Cox Mountain Trail and the equally, if not more so, ridiculous downhill section.  Now there are a lot of shorter ascents and descents throughout the trail, but if you run this you will know the two sections I'm talking about.  I was wanting an easy run to get the stiffness out and practice keeping my heart rate under 155, but what I got was more of a quad grinding, ankle busting slog session.  I could feel the pressure increasing in my knee once I got on the flatter Fanny's Ford Trail, but by then the quickest way out was to finish the trail.

This is another beautiful set of trails and Cox Mountain is definitely a bit more demanding than anything I've run at Umstead.  I can't wait to run these when I'm healthy again!  Here are some photos I managed to snap on the go.  I took 83 photos and all but 16 turned out ok.  I'll post a few here and if anyone wants to see the rest let me know and I'll see about posting them somewhere.

access trail to suspension bridge
To the Footbridge!
Eno River pre-trail
So apparently you aren't supposed to run on suspension bridges
going up!
Down by the river
So I heard you like the roots
Up? Down?  I don't even know anymore.
Beautiful day on Fanny's Ford Trail
Running through a trench

So I spent another day with Umstead's slutty sister and I have to say she's wild, fun and a real free spirit, but much like a real slutty sister, she's probably going to get you in trouble if you hang out with her too much.  I only saw one other person and that was on the way out.  Compared to many other trails, there is a real sense of wilderness here.  It's hard to describe.  Maybe it's the number of other creatures I experienced on the run combined with the isolation from humanity.  It's nice to feel outnumbered for a change.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Keeping my back on track

4/13 lift power clean 2x225 deadlift 2x395 plus dips +55lbs and 21's with 95lbs

I was worried about locking up my back again, like I did last week.  My knee is still swollen but it's gone down considerably and I'm planning to run again tomorrow.  I figured skipping my Tuesday run would give the back and knee a bit more time to rest, plus I ran out of time trying to mow the lawn anyways.

Power cleans went better than they have in weeks.  Lately it seems I will always miss the first rep on my heaviest set of power cleans, almost like my body wants to do a run through at half speed, but this is after I've already done 2-4 working sets!  Today, I nailed both reps on the first try.  My form wasn't perfect and I wouldn't say they felt strong, but I would say they felt better than 4 weeks ago.

Deadlifts felt heavy, but they went off without any problems.  My back feels like it's still getting better, so I don't think I slowed things down too much by adding 5lbs.  I've got the USMC Mud Run on Saturday, which means 4.5 hours in a car each way to make a 9:20AM start time.  The run doesn't concern me, it's what 9 hours in the backseat of a car is going to do to my back that has me worried.

Lawn Mower Man

4/12 mow 3.5 hrs @ my yard in flip-flops

Being a bit of a cheap skate I tend to buy a lot of used stuff.  This extends to pretty much my entire complement of yard equipment.  About 2 years ago, I stumbled upon this Frankenstein's monster of a mower.  It's a very early Exmark 36" walk-behind that has been MacGyver'd or more like MacGruber'd back together thousands of times.  I think it has survived 15+ years in commercial service and a few tours in Afghanistan.  Being a nice wide 36" cut with a 14hp motor it rips through my hilly and inhospitable yard in no time flat... at least it does when it's working.
Get to da mowa!
 Now this isn't my first time mowing this season, but every mow feels like the first.  You see, the mower leaks gas, burns oil and spits belts off like an angry dragon.  Not to mention it's a pull start on a Kawasaki FB460v 14hp engine, which is akin to playing tug of war with a bunch of angry chimpanzees.  So I top it up on fluids again and proceed to dislocate my shoulder getting it started.  This only takes about 30 mins, hey I'm ahead of schedule!  I kick the lever to engage the blades, no problems so far!  Drop the safeties to release the pistol grips and we lurch forward followed by some angry noises and then it rolls to a dead stop.  The engine is still going, so I immediately know I've lost the drive belt again...  This happens about once a year and is a huge pain in the ass, as I have to drop the axle to get it back on.  I have no idea how it manages to spit the drive belt with the axle in the way but it does.  Being a stubborn idiot sometimes, I figure if it can spit the belt around the axle, then I can get it back on that way.  So I struggle for another half hour rolling around in the dirt by my shed trying to get the belt on.
Note red axle blocking my access to the drive pulley above
Finally I admit defeat and proceed to push the 250lb beast uphill to my garage so I can drop the axle and put the belt back on.  This is made even more fun by my footwear selection, which happens to be a pair of flip-flops with the soles worn smooth from use (I can't wear my dress flip-flops to cut the lawn, ya know).  About this time, my wife comes home from work to laugh at me before heading inside.  I would much rather work on a car than a mower, I'm always afraid this beast is going to fall on me and cut off my arm or my head every time I have to work underneath it.  I got the belt back on and the axle bolted back in place after much cursing and knuckle busting.  Now I can begin the fun part, the actual cutting.  Being an older mower, this model seems to pre-date all safety mechanisms.  It's controlled by two pistol grips, one for each drive wheel.  Much like a grenade, when each grip is locked in the fully squeezed position, the mower is stopped, but as soon as you release the lock, you better hold on, because if you let go, the grips go full open, which means full speed, which means the mower doesn't stop until it hits something or it runs out of gas.  The only way to stop it is to squeeze the grips completely.  This makes for quite a wild ride or should I say run around my yard.  I can only imagine what the neighbors think when they see me running after this loud smoking beast in flip-flops.
View from the cockpit (note: my yard has grass, this is just the dirt patch by the shed)
So that's my long-winded excuse for why I didn't run today.  Ohh, and today's PSA:  you should never mow in flip-flops and always wear ear and eye protection, or if you have children, you should never have to mow, just make them do it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's harder than running 12 miles?

4/11 lift box squat 6x295 close-grip towel bench 6x205 plus snatches 5x70 kettlebell C&P 3x80 and pull-ups with +55lbs

I'll tell you what's harder than running 12 miles, trying to workout again afterwards!  My knee is still too swollen for power cleans, good thing today was box squats.  The pain eased up after the first set and the pain in my lower back was replaced by fatigue.  Today was hard.  My nutrition was screwed up on Sunday as I was too beat up to think about eating 3 square meals and didn't get enough quality calories in my system.

Mixed things up today with some kettlebell clean and presses.  I think we might add these in on Fridays to boost our snatches.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MST19.3K not your average race report AND CONTEST!

4/9 race 2:15 @ The Mountains-to-Sea Trail 12-Mile Challenge in MT101 with Superfeet Green and Injinji socks

HR avg 165 max 175

"a race report from the back of the pack"

Alarm rings at 5:30 (last shuttle at 7:30), by this point I think the wife is probably 2 hours into her pre-race preparation rituals.  I ignore the ringing for about 10 minutes and finally drag myself out of bed to figure out what I might need today.  Both GPS watches and heart strap, check.  Umstead 100 poser shirt, check (hey, I volunteered).  Random shorts with pockets from Dick's, check.  Dual handhelds, check.  Injinji socks, check (I figured they would protect my toes and give me a little extra shoe room over my Balega's).  MT101's with Superfeet green, check.  I had already stuffed 2 gels into each handheld pouch (2 pineapple rocctane, 1 raspberry clif gel and 1 lemon-lime gu), along with a package of GU chomps.  I won't touch any of the caffeinated gels if I can help it, as I don't drink coffee or soda.  The last thing I wanted was a nutritional issue to factor into my first 12 mile run.  I filled one handheld with water and the other with around 90 cals of Cytosport Monster Amino plus an additional 5 grams of BCAA's for around 9 grams total of branched-chain amino acids.  I do whatever I can to keep from burning muscle when I run.

As we head out the door, I can't help but notice how pleasantly warm the weather is today.  We pile into the car and I chomp down some gluten-free french toast sticks with chocolate almond butter, a banana and drink part of a protein shake on the way.  As we arrive there is already a large crowd waiting for shuttle bus service.  As soon as I open the car door, the wind hits me.  Not sure how there can be such a huge weather differential after only a 20 minute drive, but it's freezing in the parking lot by Kohl's.  We both immediately root through our drop bags for pants and jackets to put on while we wait.  I proceed to lace up my kicks while we huddle for warmth waiting for the passenger vans and I chomp down a package of Clif margarita shot bloks and start to down my water bottle.  We load up into the second van, which feels like it's about 100 degrees inside on our scenic drive to the start.

The houses seem to get larger, the scenery prettier and the road names stranger as we rode to the start.  Opossum fart drive turns into rooster bush lane followed by tree rat circle...ok, I made up most of those but you get the point.  Upon exiting the van with over 20 minutes to spare, we head for the bathrooms to unload before we line up, now here is where the fun begins.  There are only two porta-potties instead of four like the pre-race info stated.  Kim informs us as we stand in line for the next 20 minutes that they ordered four but the company only dropped off two, jerks!  It seems like I spend forever staring at these two blue turd Tardises while I wait my turn and wonder if I will make the start on time.  I figure with timing chips, it shouldn't be a big issue if I'm a little late, more on that later.  Finally the plastic latch flips from red to green and it's my turn!  I sprint toward the door, fling it open and hop inside (by this point my bladder is so full the race is a minor concern).

What greets me behind this blue plastic door is the stuff of nightmare and legend.  The odor hits me first as someone has left the seat in the up position.  I immediately take my place at the plastic urinal to the left but much like the Eye of Sauron, I am willed to look into the pit of despair to my right.  What I see is burned into my brain forever.  Upon the chemically blue ocean below, I see what appears to be a massive volcanic island forming it's peak at the mouth of the pit...only it's made up entirely of paper and "other stuff."  Much like Circe's island, Aeaea, it's not the island but it's brown completely exposed "occupant" that was "enchanting" me with it's smell.  The sound of Kim's voice on the PA system broke me free from it's deadly trance and I tumbled out of the porta-potty backwards coughing and disoriented.  I grabbed my gear and stripped off my tracksuit just in time for us to line up at the back of the pack as the race was starting.

The wife is bummed that we are at the back to start, being the experienced trail machine she is, she knows how much of a pain it is to pass people on single track and she's roughly half my size...  The race starts on the road and we manage to pass a number of folks before we hit the queue to enter the actual trail.  There is a decent amount of standing around at this point due to the number of folks that have to enter single file.  Pretty soon we are finally moving again and on an actual trail!  This being our first race together we hadn't really discussed passing in advance, so I'm sure we lost some time in the beginning as we both wanted to stay together.  After things thinned out a bit, we were able to start passing folks as space allowed.  I have trouble remembering the terrain on the individual sections, but I will say the first 3 miles were very congested and we spent most of the time passing or waiting to pass.  I had planned a strict nutrition schedule of one full gel every 30 mins and we stuck to it, with her doing a half a gel.  By the time we reached the 3 mile aid station my water bottle was empty and being a race newb I went to the cooler to fill it instead of grabbing the cups.  This cost us some time and I eventually gave up after only refilling about half my bottle.  We started running again and had managed to maintain our position pretty well.  The trail is very technical and narrow with lots of bridges and every one of them seemed to be slick from the night's rain.  I believe the +1 turned her ankle in the first 6 miles but she didn't miss a step doing it.  I was following at the time and I remember seeing it and, that looked painful!  We hit the 6 mile aid station and my water bottle was again empty after I polished off another gel.  This time I was smart and grabbed several cups to fill my bottle.  We were off again pretty quick this time.  I think this was around the point we switched and she started following while I lead.  I'm not sure why but this race was the opposite of all our training runs together, where I normally start strong and get weaker, but today I felt weak at the start and had trouble the few times I was leading us in the beginning.  After the 6 mile point I feel like the people got fewer and further between as we would only come upon small groups of 2-4 runners at a time.  This section seemed to have more hills and more fast rollers where you really had to carry your momentum to get through them.  I started to stuff a gu chomp in my mouth whenever I wasn't sucking down an actual gu/gel.  I would also sip from my BCAA drink bottle here and there.  By the time we reached the 9 mile aid station, my feet were definitely regretting the sock choice and my water bottle was again empty.  I dumped another 3 cups in to refill it and off we went.  I remember hearing another runner comment to my wife that her shoe was untied as we started off again and I thought to myself, "ha, oldest trick in the book."  The only problem was her shoe really was untied!  So she stopped and quickly tied it and off we went again.  The balls of my feet started to feel like they were breaking around this point but it wasn't bad enough to make me slow down as I couldn't do anything about it anyways.  At around one hour 50 minutes I asked the wife what her Garmin 310xt was showing for mileage.  I find that both my Timex and my Garmin 405 can be off by quite a bit and my 405 had lost satellite at least once already.  The 2 hour mark is my kryptonite as I'd never run more than 2 hours before or 9 miles for that matter up to this point.  My legs were starting to feel heavy and sluggish, even though I had done my 90 minute gel and had a chomp stuffed in my mouth at the time.  I think it's more a mental issue, as I used to have the same problem when I had never run over 30 minutes.  I made it to the 2 hour mark by keeping my arms moving and checking my heart rate.  Even though my perceived effort was going up, my heart rate was dropping into the lower 160's, so I knew I could push harder.  I hit my 2 hour gel and felt some life come back into my legs, I also figured we couldn't be too far from the finish as we started to run into volunteers giving words of encouragement (thanks to all of you!).  Although I have to say most of you are dirty liars!  I can't even count how many people told me I was "almost there" or "only another 100 yards to go."  This went on for a large bridge crossing at least two road crossings followed by another run down the side of the road and back into the woods before we finally entered the last clearing to see the finish line ahead.  I asked the wife if she wanted to hold hands for the finish.  Being the dirty trickster I am, I knew she would think this was a sweet gesture of our unity and love for one another, when in reality, I just didn't have a sprint left in me and I wanted to make sure she didn't blow me out at the finish line!  (she doesn't read this blog, right?....oh crap, back in the doghouse I go...)  I heard someone say we get the cutest finishers award, but they must hand that one out separately as I don't see it in the race results.  I even managed to beat one guy in my age group...yeah suck it! (I kid.. I kid..)  Now, if my right knee could just return to its normal size and I could bend my big toe again I would be happy.

Thanks for reading and for those of you counting at home there was a superhero, a sci-fi and a fantasy reference plus a whole paragraph of turd mythology.  You also get a bonus point if you got the obscure tv show referenced in the title.  Whoever comments/emails with names of all the references correctly wins the stick of Body Glide pictured.  Get on this, I promise it's got a lot of life left in it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Moving Weights and Furniture

4/8 lift squat 3x255 (3 sets only for pre-race) close-grip bench press 1x235 plus pull-ups with +55lbs

I skipped my Thursday run in favor of driving all over God's green earth to pick up some new (to us) furniture for the house.  Needless to say, my back is very unhappy with me right now.  I guess I shouldn't say I skipped it, as I had every intention of running, I just ran out of time thanks to the long drive time and rush hour traffic.

Lifting today went pretty well.  I still feel very weak in my squat, which is really irritating, as I used warmup with 225.  I cut the squats short in hopes of saving some juice for the run tomorrow.  I'm sticking with the close-grip on the bench and keeping my elbows into my body.  It's working ok, but holy cow, with my arms in close my lockout point has the bar about twice as high as the pins for racking it.  Talk about a long push.  My shoulder is grinding a little bit but not to the point that I need to change anything up.

Looking forward to a good run on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail 12-Mile Challenge!  This should be an awesome race, and it's going to be my first time running more than about 9 miles.  My plan is to keep my heart rate under 155 for the first 8 miles and gu every 30 mins just in case.  These plans could all go out the window, but my main goal is to have fun and not mess myself up as we return to the USMC Leatherneck next weekend.  Goodluck to all the runners!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Barbells and Nagging Injuries

4/6 lift power clean 1x230 deadlift 1x405 plus curls, dips and rotator cuff band work

Of all the days to make a change in equipment, we pick the day I have to pull 405lbs, which is my first attempt at this weight since I injured my back a year ago.  We've been using an old chrome finished barbell I got off Craigslist since we started for floor exercises.  It's not even close to straight and the bolt through ends have to be tightened after each set.  We should probably just be glad it's held up as well as it has for the amount of weight we've been using.  After using the CAP, I might even blame the old bar for when I re-injured my back.  So today, we switched it for the CAP 1200lb barbell we got with the bumper plates, and we used the 45lb bumper plates in combination with my other 45lb steel plates, as I only have six 45lb plates, so, in the past, we would use a combination of 35lb and 10lb plates to make 405lbs.

The higher quality CAP barbell doesn't have nearly as much flex as the cheap unit we were using.  This is something most people don't notice, as it doesn't make a huge difference unless you are doing some type of dead pull from the a deadlift or a power clean.  That little bit of flex you get from a barbell when you go to pull it from the floor can make a big difference.  This is why you see the guys who set records using things like the Texas Deadlift Bar or the Okie bar, as they have more flex, which allows you to load up and get several inches into your pull before you are fully loaded.  The CAP barbell was definitely a wake-up call for both of us.  This was the first time I could land both ends of the barbell at the same time, every time.  With the old barbell, when I would lower the weight one side would always hit the ground first, as the barbell had a serious bend in it.  It got me second guessing my form and turning more than I should.

Now, the bad part about all this is the extra effort it required.  My back was already mad at me from the intervals on Tuesday and 5 sets of power cleans followed by 5 sets of deadlifts have left me feeling like I have a pair angry serpents going through their death spasms locked onto either side of my spine.  Hopefully some rest and an easy run tomorrow will loosen things up before Saturday.

Speaking of trail runs,  I got the word from Bull City Running Company that they had received a shipment of the new Altra Running shoes.  I went by to check them out, hoping to snag a pair of Lone Peaks (trail shoe), but all they had were Instincts (road shoe).  I brought my Superfeet Green to try, as I'm looking for a zero drop, low profile shoe I can wear with my Superfeet until my foot heals up.  I've been managing in my MT101's but they don't really have enough room to accommodate a standard insole and my feet are getting a bit mangled in the process.  The good news is, even though it's kind of a weird looking shoe, the Instinct felt great and it's designed for use with an insole (comes with two from the factory).  Jason is going to see about getting a pair of Lone Peaks for me.  I'll let you know what I think when I get my hands on them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Pyramid scheme to progress

4/5 run 61 mins (200,400,600,800,800,600,400,200m intervals) on American Tobacco Trail soft side in New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail w/ Injinji socks

1. :52
2. 1:56
3. 2:51
4. 3:54
5. 3:56
6. 2:56
7. 1:57
8. :57

note: all interval times are recorded using custom workouts on a Garmin 405

HR avg ??? max ??? (average heart rate includes warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals)

I got roped into watching the brother-in-law's crazy puppy and forgot to bring my heart strap.  Any other day this would have been a problem, but today was intervals so the only goal is to go as hard as I can for as long as I can...with consistency, of course.  Last week I did my long run on Tuesday and skipped Thursday in favor of a roadtrip, so this was my first hard run in over a week.  I'm glad it was a pyramid workout instead of mile repeats as it took me awhile to find my rhythm.  This is also the first time I've jogged most of my rest intervals (I walked the 800m rest intervals).  This is the first workout where it seems I got some decent consistency in my times!  I had no idea what my times were until I uploaded the data after I got home.  I'm not sure if the heart rate is just an added distraction or it's coincidence, but I'm happy to finally dial in some of my times.  Now when I look at the graphs for each interval, my pace does fluctuate quite a bit, but that could also be the Garmin playing tricks on me.  All of my intervals were at a sub-8 pace, so it was great to hit that goal as well.  We had a big rainstorm last night,  so the surface wasn't the best either.  I also made a point to not turn around in the middle of an interval.  In the past if I reached the road crossing on either end of this stretch of trail I would turn around and head back, but this was screwing up my times even further, so this time I ran them out no matter where I was at and I would u-turn on the rest interval.  Thankfully I didn't have to stop for traffic.

I really love my New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus, I know I said I would write a full review, but with my left foot plantar fasciitis flaring up again, it's limited my ability to do longer runs on gnarly terrain in minimal shoes.  They've been relegated to intervals on the flat but rocky American Tobacco Trail instead.  I'm doing everything I can to get my foot healed again, as I have high hopes of using the MT10 for all but my longest runs in the future.  The shoe fits so well and allows for excellent ground feel without rock bruising issues.   I feel like my form and efficiency improves every time I put them on.

Now, I have to say a few words about the Strassburg Sock.  I've been struggling with it for almost a week now and I'm giving up and ordering a real boot.  I figured the pain and hot spots on the end of my toes would go away after a few days of adaptation, but instead I now have blisters on the tips of several toes from the damn thing.  Now, I will say, I have some messed up feet and wife refers to them as Mr. Deeds' feet.  I've tried adjusting the tension of the strap, but loosening seems to put even more pressure on the tips of my toes.  I figured I would throw this out there for anyone who is looking at one of these socks.  It does help, but in the exact same way as the boot, and there are about a 100 models to choose from, most of which don't rub the ends of your toes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maxing Out before Mountains to Sea

4/4 lift box squat 1x315 close-grip towel bench 1x225 dumbell snatches 5x100 righthand and pull-ups +55lbs

I don't know how or why anyone would do squats outside of a power rack.  Today when I was doing my 3x295lb set, I exploded off the box and got too far forward to balance the weight.  I would have done a face plant into the ground with 295 on my shoulders, if not for the power rack.  With the power rack stops set at the proper height, it was drama free for me to lean forward and dump the weight.  I'm struggling to find my power on the box it seems, now that I'm squatting again, but at least I managed to match my single from 4 weeks ago.  It's good to be doing all the main exercises again and I realize the importance of not missing a single core exercise if I can help it.

Close-grip on the towel bench was another feeling out period as we both picked a medium heavy weight to max out.  I definitely feel like I can do a lot more even with the close grip.  My shoulder is still doing just fine with these, although the snatches were a different story.  I think I managed one clean dumbell snatch on the left side, so clearly something is still going on with that shoulder.  The funny thing is my lifting partner is the opposite even though we are both right handed.  His right side is the problem.  I guess someone could create a pretty strong Frankenstein's monster from the two of us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eno River Run and Umstead 100

4/2 run 72 mins Pea Creek Trail, Cole Mill Trail, Bobbitt's Hole Trail and Dunnagan's Trail @ Eno River State Park in New Balance MT101 with Superfeet Green

HR avg 154 max 170

Being a proud resident of Durham, I'm always on the lookout for good running trails that are closer to home.  I had looked at trail maps for Eno River before and I was always put off by the short distances of the trails and their interconnected design.  I'm used to planning each run around a single trail.  On paper, it seems like an easy way to get lost on a run and I admit it could be challenging to track your distance and pace without a gps device.

Seeing as how I'm psycho enough to run with two gps devices, this is not a problem!  The +1 slapped me around that morning, as we had to be out the door bright and early in order to make our date with Umstead in the afternoon (that's right we were two-timing her!).  We arrived with plenty of time and there was ample parking with only a few cars to be seen at 10:30AM.

My first run on a trail, I always find myself missing out on the scenery and the actual trail, as I worry about my footing and following the trail markers.  Even with those distractions, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty of this park.  Our path was sort of an out and back loop along 4 trails that follow the edge of the Eno River.  We followed Pea Creek Trail to Cole Mill Trail and Bobbitt's Hole Trail and back to Pea Creek Trail which crosses the parking area to Dunnagan's Trail.  The arrow you see in the second screenshot below is for the Pea Creek Trail label.  You can also see the start/stop break in my gps capture at the Parking area off of Cole Mill Road.

Timex GPS data from Google Maps
Eno River State Park Map
The trails follow the bank of the Eno River with some very technical off camber single track in many places, then they loop into the woods for some moderate climbs.  The range of scenery from the flowing river to fields of tall grass and ancient hardwoods is magnificent.  The sound of the trees in the wind was even slightly spooky at times.  I'm already planning to do my last pre-race run here on Thursday.  I promise to bring a camera and I can't wait to checkout the western trails, as several of those are listed as "strenuous," but not until after next weekend.

Later that day we headed over to Umstead 100 Aid Station #2, which is called Tom's Tavern to put in 4 hours gawking at the folks crazy enough to run 100 miles.  The +1 had originally signed up to run the 50 option, but had dropped out due to her piriformis issues.  When we first arrived it felt like a too many cooks in the kitchen situation, as they had an abundance of volunteers at that time, but within a few minutes it thinned out and we took up residence at the main table when you enter the tent.  To our left was the cooking area and to our right were the other food tables and drop bag area.  I spent most of my time cutting baked potatoes, orange slices, cantaloupe and bananas, while the wife made sandwiches and relayed the soup and hot food orders to the kitchen.  It was a great learning experience for me and really interesting to see what people want to eat when they stop by after around 40-50 miles of running.  As you can tell by what we spent our time doing, baked potatoes dipped in salt, orange slices and turkey sandwiches were very popular.  The potato and later, chicken and rice soup also grew in popularity as dinner time approached.  Not that I would ever consider running 50 or even 100 miles in 30 hours, but it was great to see what kinds of gluten free options I would have available, as most of what was offered I couldn't eat.  The top two requested items were gels and fresh legs, of which we had none.  I did see one guy in Vibran KSO treks with rainbow Injinjis and another in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus.  I was surprised by the number of Newtons I saw and most people had gaiters.  There also seemed to be a lot "lucky t-shirts" either that or there was a rogue mountain lion on the course attacking participants and shredding their t-shirts.  One of my friends normally works this station overnight and he says it's a totally different experience as many runners dropout at that point and those who continue are in rough shape.  I can't imagine the accumulation of mental and physical stress on a person after 50+ miles combined with the plummeting temperature and added difficulties of night running.  I am inspired by all those I saw and I was especially impressed by the few Clydesdales :-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

End of another 5x5 week!

4/1 lift squat 4x265 close-grip bench press 5x205 pull-ups +55lbs and ab roller work

I widened my foot placement to allow a more upright posture, while still keeping my shoulders aligned over my ankles.  This adjustment seems to have helped me to maintain the same rate of ascent for my shoulders and my hips when I come out of the bottom of the squat.  I think my squat form has become more and more screwed up over the last year as I worked around my back injury.

I made sure to keep my elbows in tight to my body and my left shoulder didn't bother me at all today.  Although, the weights are around 50lbs off of what I would do with a normal grip.  My plan is to stick with the narrow grip and build things up slowly.