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.


Monday, June 20, 2011

What did we get ourselve into on Wesser Creek Trail

6/10 run/hike 3 hours 43 mins on Wesser Creek Trail in New Balance MT101's with a fully loaded 100oz CamelBak Lobo

HR avg 110 max 152

I guess I should have read the description before haplessly agreeing to the +1's plan.  The description states, "Hiking up to Wesser Bald and back (5 miles each way) is an all day affair requiring a lunch, plenty of water and lots of stamina."  She didn't tell me to bring lunch!  We started off with a nice run, not realizing what happens after the first mile.  I guess I should have figured out what was going to happen when she told me we were to finish with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.  After the first mile we began the climbing and switchback after switchback through overgrown vegetation.  No one else was on the trail and at points, it looked like no one had been on the trail in a LONG time.  A few parts were completely overgrown.  We did get some magnificent views and photos.  Thank goodness we didn't turn around.  There were two distinct points where we thought we were lost or confused about the distance.  I believe the actual distance is about 10 miles even though my garmin recorded 8 and my Timex got 8.5, which I think is the result of a combination of tree cover, elevation and switchbacks.  A peek at the gps data confirms this, as it resembles the result of an unsupervised 2 year old with a red crayon.  The +1 took so many beautiful pictures on this hike I wish I could share them all.  This trail is one of the most beautiful I've been on, but unless your name is Anton (get well soon!) I wouldn't say it's very runnable.  Here's a sample:

Our faithful steed survived a hailstorm and bottoming out on countless rocky dirt roads

Ohh, I guess that looks kind of like a trail!

I totally wanted to climb across these logs

What could possibly go wrong?

Honey says no... hence I am still alive to write this post

Just stunning

The canopy

A huge tree's roots had cut into the rock causing it to fall

Shot of me monkeying around for scale

This was before we realized how much climbing was ahead

so many beautiful water features

This was the coolest miniature waterfall

Made it to the Appalachian Trail intersection!

Mountain Laurel was in full bloom

So this is what they meant by "overlook"


Mountain's Majesty

It's worth it, but bring a lunch ;-)

Tsali right loop

6/9 run/hike 78 mins on Tsali right loop in New Balance Minimus MT10 with my CamelBak Lobo, 2 big dogs and the +1

HR avg 109 max 154

We brought both the dogs along for this one and left the bikes behind.  Saw lots of mountain bikers in the parking lot, but today right loop was reserved for hikers and horses.  Perhaps we didn't get far enough into the trail due our geriatric boxer, but I didn't find the trail to be particularly remarkable or special compared to some of the other trails in the area.  I would say it was flatter than most of the others and probably the only one that would be rideable on a mountain bike.
View from Tsali right loop

The damned drive to Nantahala Dam Drive

6/8-6/12 in celebration of our 3 years of marriage we decided to go somewhere without cellphone reception or straight roads.  This turned out to be a wonderful trip and we managed to run/hike almost everyday.  Although we never made it into a raft or kayak.  On the trip down we got caught in a wicked hailstorm in Asheville.  Thankfully my inability to follow simple GPS directions meant we weren't on the highway and I was able to take shelter in the service bay of Asheville Chevrolet.  Our car would be wrecked if not for the kindness of the folks at this dealership.  You should go buy a Volt or a ZR-1 from these guys.  I will do the same as soon as I win the lottery.

best pic I could get, autofocus was going nuts

Last lift before anniversary trip

6/6 lift power clean 5x205 deadlift 4x390 no auxiliaries

My lifting partner was crazy enough to do an orienteering/adventure race the day before that had him on a bicycle for about 10 hours, so between his baboon ass and my jetlag we had a decent 5x5 workout.  I only got four reps on my deadlift but I did move up 5lbs.  It's nice to finally feel like I'm moving past my back injury.  We got stuck with one day of lifting a week between the family events and my anniversary trip.

A few pics from MN trip

6/1-6/4 MN trip

After the funeral we spent some time with my Father-in-law's extended family going through all of her Grandfather's picture albums.  Here are a few I managed to save.  I have altered them to protect the innocent.  In the interest of equality, I promise to add some of my own awesome photos next time I go back home.
Something tells me I wouldn't have passed muster for go steady material
Apparently Duke was not his first choice ;-)

1. Depart Plane 2. Eat Chipotle 3. run 4. ??? 5. buy new underwear

6/1 run 34 mins on the sidewalks of MN in New Balance Trail Minimus MT10 with Drymax socks

HR avg 143 max 156

This was going to be a nice, easy run until I decided to wolf down some Chipotle on the way to the Mother-in-law's from the airport.  Thankfully the +1 was smart enough to stay in front of me on the run, although she did ask where those horrible noises were coming from on a few occasions.  I managed to not blowout my o-ring, but I think I did my part to push ahead some atmospheric climate change in MN.
Billy Mays' crowning achievement: Chipotlaway

Lift before Lift Off

5/31 lift box squat 5x300 towel close-grip bench 5x225 plus dumbell snatch 5x80, 3x102.5 pull-ups +55lbs

I moved up on the bench and my snatches are finally starting to improve.  Squats were a struggle, but that seems to be a recurring theme for me lately.  This was my last workout before we headed to MN for my Grandfather-in-law's funeral.   He was 86 and I was lucky to have known him.  This was a rough trip of 4.5 hour flights followed by 7 hour car rides, but it was great to learn more about my in-laws, or as I like to call it; a field study in chaos theory ;-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High of 94 degrees

5/30 run 70 mins on American Tobacco Trail soft side in New Balance MT101 w/ Balega socks and CamelBak Lobo

HR avg 158 max 169

I picked up a 100oz CamelBak Lobo at REI over the weekend and decided to take it for a test run on Memorial Day.  The pack is designed for mountain biking but it's a very lightweight design with minimal bulk and storage.  I wore a sleeveless mesh top and I didn't have any chafing issues.  Running around with over 6lbs of water on my back definitely slowed me down a bit and takes some getting used to.  I figured with the rising temps and my need for longer runs this would be my best option.  I filled it up with water and ice and away I went.  I put my gels in the top pocket, so I could reach behind my head and unzip the pouch with one hand and grab them with the other.  It works pretty well.  The added storage is great and doesn't make the pack bulky or interfere with your arm swing.

I had some trouble getting my heart rate under control between the ridiculous heat (I ran right before sundown) and the pack on my back.  I'm down to 3 weeks until my next race and the heat has me worried.  I got faster as the sun went down along with the temperature.  I'm looking forward to more runs with the CamelBak Lobo.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tick, Tick Boom!

5/28 run 67 mins @ Eno River on Shakori, Ridge trails in New Balance MT101 w/ drymax hot weather socks

HR avg 150 max 182

As you can see this post is a little late.  I've got a bunch of posts that I'm behind on but as I'm officially on vacation I will try and get caught up over the next few days.  We decided to bring along our LBD (large black dog) aka lab/newf mix aka Maddy Mud Butt.  She is a bit of a trail hog, even with her gentle leader but she loves to run.  This run felt more like an interval workout as the LBD is a natural sprinter.  On our return loop I felt something bite my ankle and found I already had a tick attached and several more crawling on me.  Apparently my 40% deet spray wasn't doing a very good job.  We promptly began decontamination procedures upon returning to the car and found a bunch more ticks.  Some attached and some not...  We left our shoes and socks in the back of the Jeep and slapped a fresh dose of Frontline Plus on Maddy as soon as we got home. 

To give you an idea of how bad the ticks were, TWO days later when I went for my next run I found 5 more ticks on our shoes and socks that we left in the car!  They were all very much alive and actively waiting for our return with open arms...  Here it is June 8th and the tick bites from this run are still itching me and the +1 has marked Shakori and Ridge off her list for awhile.