October 28, 2008

Running The Grand Canyon

So its now official. Last Friday I booked my flight to Flagstaff. I'll be joining Kevin, Jeff and other deranged endorphin junkies to run "the big ditch", otherwise known as the Grand Canyon. We plan to start Saturday, November 8 at 4 am to embark on a run from "rim to rim to rim". Our planned route is estimated to be 48 miles and will take us on from the south rim to north rim and back. I'm told the total elevation gain/loss is around 22,600' (down, up, down, up). We'll be taking the Bright Angel Trail which is a little longer than the South Kaibab route. Running this time of year can be cold on the rim (20's in the am) but should warm into the high 60s as we get into the canyon. Clothing will be a focus.

Other than having to run 48 miles up and down 22,000 feet, I'm really looking forward to this event. I've only been to the Grand Canyon once, and it was part of a Las Vegas trip when I won $2,200 cash playing video poker. This was the only thing I've ever won in Vegas. To say the least I enjoyed that trip immensely. The feel of the cash...I mean Canyon...was incredible, as I recall, and I can't wait to see it again, this time while I run.

I promise many photos on this one and possibly a video post. Stay tuned.

October 19, 2008

Taking the Blue Planet Run 30-Mile Challenge

Yesterday I was going through my blogroll and read Peter Lubber's post on the Blue Planet Run Foundation's 30-Mile Challenge. The Blue Planet Run Foundation is a non profit organization dedicated to raising global awareness about the lack of safe drinking water, and funding working solutions today for the billion, yes BILLION, people living without ready access to the life sustaining resource.

Crystal Cove Beach Today

The Foundation's Blue Planet Run 30-Mile Challenge is inviting runners to run 30 miles in the month of October to raise funds for three schools in Tanzania. Runners can do 30 miles all in one day, or spread over many days. As I read this I realized that I was already planning on doing a long run, so I signed up! It took 5 minutes on their web site to complete the form and I'm very glad I did. Today I did the 30 miles and "Made the Miles Matter".

In the spirit of the Blue Planet Run Challenge, I ran up to the top of El Moro and descended into the canyon to the ocean. At mile 14 I jumped in the ocean, yelled out loud (coooold), then jogged to the shower, and was back on the road. Today was my first 30 mile training run since before the Western States was cancelled. I felt good today. The legs were a little rusty, but overall the old system is still in tact. Good to make the miles matter, too.

October 18, 2008

Blue Stillness

Back Bay, Newport Beach, CA. Looking South.

I've always enjoyed running along this side of the Back Bay. The canals are so cool, and on a calm day, smooth as glass. One day I want to paddle a kayak slowly through these canals, and pierce their blue stillness. One day.

October 11, 2008

When to Say Goobye, Shoes

Several years ago I knew of a man who lived in his car. He wasn't a homeless man. In fact he owned a very nice home, in a nice neighborhood. I knew of this man because his house was across the street from my house. In front of his place was his car, where he actually slept at night. Turns out this man was a pack rat, and he packed so much S%&T in his house that he literally didn't have enough room to sleep in it!

I wouldn't consider myself a pack rat, but the other day I had a weird experience. I was trying to get something out of my closet and a mountain of running shoes was blocking my way. Dozens of pairs! As I was stumbling over this mess, a thought crossed my mind - why in god's name do I need dozens of old, worn out running shoes? It was then the visual crossed my mind of waking up one early morning snuggled in the back seat of my car parked in front of my house!

It then occurred to me. I had to say goodbye to this old heap of shoes. Keeping an extra "retired" pair or two of running shoes to walk around Lego Land or a swap meet in is one thing, but having a different pair to wear every day of the month just ain't sane.

Turning the old soles in

I packed a hefty bag full of these sullen soles and carried them off to Goodwill donation center. I recommend Goodwill even for those "green" runners out there. Goodwill has committed to recycle shoes if they can't be sold.

So I ask myself, what's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Rock it!

October 4, 2008

The Five Training Principles I Live By

When the sun rises at 5:15 a.m. on June 27, 2009, I will be taking my first steps on the Western States 100 mile trail. But those first steps will also be the final steps on a much longer road, the road to prepare for that day. That morning I will have already traveled over 2,000 miles by foot during the previous 10 months. I will have encountered many obstacles. I will have experienced bouts of frustration, self-doubt, and even despair along this road. But these experiences, however difficult, will actually help me during those final steps on that day.

I'm told there are no short cuts on the road to Western States. It is long, and unforgiving. To endure it requires knowledge and planning. It also requires dedication and a lot of training. The road I plan to take to Western States will be similar to the road I took this year, with some variations based on what I learned along this road. Starting in March, like last year, I’ll start building my weekly miles up until I peak somewhere between 80 and 90 miles per week. I’ll try to sustain this until I begin my taper three weeks before the race.

I’m not one to write out a really detailed, daily training schedule. What I have learned in my days as a runner is that if I can set and achieve weekly goals, such as total miles, a long run, interval or hill work, I’m better off not establishing a daily (anal) schedule. I might plan a track or hill workout for the week, but I'll wait to do it late in the week if I have to. This flexibility helps because I can’t predict how quickly or slowly my body will recover from training the previous week or weekend. If I plan on doing a hard run on Tuesday, but I’m not ready to do it

My Girls -- Keep Running in Perspective

until Wednesday or Thursday, my experience tells me to wait until I’m ready, or face injury. I also don’t know what my family and work schedule will allow. Weekly goals give me the flexibility to adapt to the unexpected and the ability to focus on key workouts.

I have always been an avid reader of training philosophies and techniques. Indeed, next to my bed sit dozens of books on how to train for endurance running. Some of my favorite books on training, which tend to be loaded with many types of workouts, include Advanced Marathoning, The Maffetone Method, and the Competitive Runners Handbook. What I have learned through reading over the years is that there are hundreds of workouts one can do, but there are really only a few training principles that I need to follow. Sticking to these principles "in the long run" is more important than focusing on specific workouts.

There are five basic principles in my training program. These are quite simple.

Principle Number 1: build and maintain the aerobic base. In its most basic form this is simply building up and sustaining weekly miles.

Principle Number 2: develop the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. This requires doing a long run every other week.

Principle Number 3: grow the body's capacity to run faster at a lower heart rate. There are many methods to do this, but running intervals and/or hill repeats are pretty fail safe. As a ultra runner, I'm running these at or below my anaerobic threshold.

Principle Number 4: teach the mind to deal with the adversity that it will face come race day. This requires doing long runs and races on similar terrain and under similar conditions as the race I'm training for. Be it heat or hills or both, training in these elements prior to race day is critical not only to perform well but to be safe.

Principle Number 5: keep smiling while the mind and body want to scream out loud. This is my sanity check. It means to take it easy on easy days, to always recover well after hard workouts, and to simply stop once and a while to look at the sky, the clouds or whatever is around me!

So, come next June, as I pass through the hot canyons, and make my way up the long, sweltering switch backs of Devils Thumb, my mind will begin to drift. It will drift back to the road I took to get there, and the challenges I faced along that road. And as I near the river crossing, and the sun has begun to set, my mind will turn back to the task at hand. It is then that it will encounter familiar signs. Frustration, self-doubt, and despair. But, by then, my mind will know these experiences as old friends. And it will know they are only there as companions to see me along my way.