Monday, February 27, 2012

Big Week and Black Forest Trail Fun

The start of the Black Forest Trail (photo from my 2006 hike)

Another big and fun-filled week for me.  Of course when I say fun, I mean punishing hill workouts and very tough long runs.  The big news was of course finding out about my Badwater invitation.  I still cannot believe it, but have started to already work out some logistics.  The Race Director sent me a link for rooms that have been set aside for the race and I was able to book a room for the weekend at the Furnace Creek Inn near the start of the race.  I've booked my rental van as well.  As far as crew, my family is coming through big here, but I've also had some bites on my public invitation.  Both my mom and sister are interested in coming out to help and would fulfill my mandatory 2-person requirement.  I have had three responses on-line from fellow ultrarunners who have also expressed an interest, and I do hope that at least one will be able to come out too.  I would love to have the help of a fellow runner out there and it would be especially nice to have a pacer for some of the race at the end too (assuming I make it that far).  Lastly, I have applied for a Mt. Whitney pass to allow me to climb to the summit after completing the race.   

I also found out that the Athletic Building here on campus does have a sauna, and I will be investigating how I can get access to it.  Need to step up my "heat training"

As far as the week of training, I have again hit 90 miles.  It was supposed to be a step-back week, but was far from it.  I had decided sometime earlier in the week on a list of must-dos in the next 4-5 weeks.  That list is as follows:
  1. Run an ultra-length, full-day, hilly, long run (at least 8000' gain)
  2. Run/Hike a 24-36 hr non-stop, unfamiliar trail.  This is to train for navigation, sleep deprivation, and what to carry to be self-sufficient.
  3. Spend a full day in Rothrock "bushwacking" up steep hill-sides using only map/compass navigation
  4. Buy all remaining gear and print out (and laminate) all necessary maps
  5. Some "on-site" event training.
  6. Get plenty of rest!
This past week I decided to knock out number 1 on my list.  Back in 2006 I spent three days hiking the 42-mile long Black Forest Trail in Central Pennsylvania.  I remembered it being a tough trail, but one with a lot of nice vistas.  I decided that this weekend I would drive up to the trailhead before sunrise, and knock out the trail in a single day.  This gave me the opportunity to play around with how much food to carry, how much water to carry, and what sort of supplies I might need.  Sitting here now on Monday I can say that the experience was a success, BUT, I am definitely in need of a rest.  The entire "run" along the course ended up being a lot of hiking.  I was lethargic for much of the day and no matter what I ate, was never really able to kick it in to gear.  It ended up taking me 11 hours to go 43 miles.  Granted there was over 9000' of gain and I stopped for two full lunch breaks...but 11 hours is just too long.  So....why so tired?

Over the past three weeks I've gone non-stop with my training.  Meaning: NO rest days.  Not sure why I was on this self-imposed "streak", but it stops today.  I need rest days.  So after a nearly a month of going non-stop, I am taking at least one day off (and maybe two).  My body needs some recovery.  More power to those out there who go months or even years without taking a day off......but I will not be one of them.

...Add to that the fact that there was a solid 3" of icy snow peppering the entire 43 miles of the BFT, and it made for slow-going.  Try to imagine:  *crunch* *crunch* *crunch*....for over 11 hours.  It was like running in sand.

So as far as the list, this knocks out number 1.  I will be attacking numbers 2 and 3 over the next two weeks.  For the 24-36 hour endeavor, I will be do roughly 80+ miles of the Mid-State Trail that I am completely unfamiliar with... and through the night, carrying all my own supplies.  I am actually quite excited about this one.  The other numbers are pretty self-explanatory.

At any rate, here are some stats for the week.:

Miles: 5.5
Ascent: -
Notes: - 
Super easy bike-path run

Miles: 12
Ascent: 3360'
Notes: -
5x repeat up-and-down Mt. Nittany (7 miles) followed by an easy 5 miler that night.

Mt. Nittany Repeats

Miles: 12
Ascent: 1700'
Notes: Headlamp
Door to summit run to Mt. Nittany and back.  Same as last week without extra mile added on.  Came down the summit the same way I went up this time too.

Mt. Nittany Run from Apt. Door

Miles: 7.2
Ascent: 3200'
Notes: Headlamp
I did a 2x out and back in Rothrock.  Up Spruce Gap Trail, down Kettle Trail, and back.  I did this twice for 1600' gain each go.  I forgot my GPS, so no plot.

Miles: 4
Ascent: -
Notes: -
Bike Path

Miles: 6.5
Ascent: -
Notes: - 
Bike Path

Miles: 43
Ascent: ~9000'
Notes: Headlamp for last 2 miles
This was an all out blitz of the Black Forest Trail.  I did finish the entire trail but not until just after dark.  Rivers were swollen and in the first mile I had to ford Slate Run.  Nothing like an entire day of wet feet.  Food/Water worked out ok, but I was sluggish ALL day.  A bit sore too.  Gonna rest a bit this week.  The trail is actually 42 miles, but a couple of wrong turns and having to wander up and down some creeks to find good crossings, added about another mile.

Profile from the BFT.  The total gain registered was a bit high..should be about 9000'

The track from the run

Nat-Geo TOPO map of the BFT

Weekly Totals
Total Miles: 90.2
Total Ascent: ~17,300'

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Badwater Ultramarathon

282' below sea level - Badwater Basin

Something remarkable happened this morning.  Something that I'm still not sure I've fully digested yet.  Like most mornings, I got up, showered, ate some cereal, and set out to begin my day.....

First some background.  A few weeks ago, I went through the motions again of submitting an application to the world famous Badwater Ultramarathon.  Arguably one of the top 5 toughest foot races in the world.  It was not my first time applying and I have always been declined on previous attempts,for obvious reasons (a weak ultra resume).  This year again I figured it would be no different, so after hitting that "submit" button, I frankly put it out of my mind and didn't get too excited about it.  I figured my chances would again be slim.

I have been single in focus for the past month and a half.  I have an enormous personal challenge of sorts coming up sometime in the next 6 weeks that I've been training for harder than I have for any other previous event.  Needless to say, this upcoming event is very important to me. is also something I've decided not to share with anyone. It is a personal challenge that I will face alone...and perhaps talk about once it's over.  The thought of other ultras has been so far from my mind right now as I focus on this singular event that I honestly have not been even thinking about what races I have already scheduled.  Races like Leadville, and Massanutten, and far from my mind.

But then, something unexpected happened.  I opened my email this morning and saw this:

"Hello John!

Congratulations! You have been accepted to compete in the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon, presented by AdventureCORPS, Inc. You are part of a select group who will participate in what is recognized across the globe as “the world’s toughest footrace.” In the near future, we will include your name and biographical information on the online roster."

holy crap. 
holy crap.
holy crap.
I'm in. the hell to pay for it....

I'm gonna need some crew too, and white clothes, and reflectors, and sprayers, and minivans....  ahhhhh, so much to think about now!  I'm trying not to think too much about this new development as I work to continue my current training program for my more impending challenge in a few short weeks.

It's taking all of my willpower to not get giddy excited about the fact that I'll be running Thee Badwater race.  The one and only...but I have to keep and maintain my focus more to the present for now.  Believe it or not, what I have coming next month is actually even more important to me and something that I can say in all honesty that I'm more proud, honored, and truly humbled to be a part of.


No matter what comes of it....2012 is going to be a great year indeed.

(oh and I will say, that the Mt. Whitney summit is a part of the course in my book, even if not officially....just an fyi)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Training Week Feb 13-19

Just two weeks ago I wrote about how I had hit a new weekly training high of 73 miles.  My plan throughout February and early March is to gradually step up my total mileage and elevation using what I call the step-back approach.  In other words after a high-mileage week, step back for a week, before jumping my totals up again.  Last week I totaled a respectable 58 miles, so I was in line for another jump up this week. I was shooting for something around 80 miles. usual, I got a little carried away and hit a ridiculous new high-mileage total of 92, with over 17,500 ft of total ascent (35,000 ft of elevation change).  I was shooting for somewhere between 15-20,000' was right were I wanted to be on this stat.  Since getting back from Antarctica, I finally feel like I'm starting to get into proper shape for what awaits me.

The key to this week was going out every day, and throwing in a long run, mid-week.  I had over 50 miles before the weekend was even here, so I had a fair idea I'd come closer to 90.  I also really tried to focus on my hills and climbs this past week.  For both my weekend runs, I planned my course so that I would hit the maximum number of tough climbs over the shortest distances.  Today (Sunday), I had just under 5500' of gain by mile 18.  I am definitely noticing that I am much stronger on the long/steep climbs overall.

The shoe experiment is progressing well and I've already picked a couple of favourites, and one pair that just isn't doing it for me.  On a random fueling note, I found an incredible energy-packed sandwich to make for long runs:  Peanut butter, nutella, and bananas...on homemade bread.  Mmmmmmm.  Also, I started testing Hammer's Perpetuem Solids.  They are...well...interesting.  They get stuck in my teeth pretty bad, but they actually taste fairly good.  For now, I'm mostly sticking with Hammer and Clif gels along with Powerbar "Energy Blasts" gummies.  As usual, I still rely heavily on Larabars and Clif Bars for the big calories and the S-caps for salts.

Next week will again be a step back week before I go for my peak week.  I had always wondered if I was capable of a 100-mile training week, and with this past week under my belt, I feel confident that it is.  Shoot, if I really wanted to, I could go out for an easy 8-miler tonight to finish it off (but I won't).  I am planning on doing an ultra-distance long run two weekends from now for my peak week as well.  I have been toying with the idea of running the entire 42-mile Black Forest Trail in central PA as it features 8500ft of gain and isn't too far of a drive from State College.  I back-packed it in 2006 and remember it being feisty.  Sounds perfect...

Quick Weekly Recap:
Miles: 7
Ascent: -
Notes: -
After tough weekend, I went out for a nice-and-easy 7-miler along the bike path.  It was an uneventful easy run.  While there is a few hundred feet of gain on this run, I'm leaving it as zero.

Miles: 13
Ascent: 2600'
Notes: -
I did a 4x repeat up/down Mt. Nittany in the morning, followed by another easy 7-miler that night. (My only 2-a-day for the week)

Mt. Nittany Repeats

Miles: 14.2
Ascent: 2000'
Notes: Headlamp
Went for a mid-week long run from my backdoor to the top of Mt. Nittany.  (I came down from the summit along the alternate north-east blue-blazed trail).

Mid-Week Mt. Nittany Long run

Miles: 10.6
Ascent: 3060'
Notes: Headlamp
Monster hill workout.  4x repeats up gas-line cut, followed by a 5+ mile trail run along Tussey Ridge and eventually back to car.

Tough Hills

Miles: 7
Ascent: -
Notes: -
Very easy bike-path run...the usual.

Miles: 19.4
Ascent: 4600'
Notes: New wildcat climb is fantastic.
Went with the typical Rothrock 30k course (in reverse), but changed around one of the climbs to make it a little tougher (mile 12).  Overall it was a good day and a good run.  Fueling went fairly well and I had no toe pain.

Modified Rothrock 30k Hilly Trail Run

Miles: 21
Ascent: 5500'
Notes:  Great elevation workout.  Perfect day.
This was a tough one.  I came up with a new route that really highlighted the climbs.  It ended up being a combination of two different out-n-backs.  The day was beautiful...lots of sunshine and warm breezes.  Awesome day for a run!  Definitely tired tonight.  The toe is still pain-free by the way...which is awesome!

Long hill day in Rothrock

Weekly Totals:
Miles: 92.2
Ascent: 17,760'

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Race, Snowy Hills, and Happy Feet

The snow has come to PA

Well it's been an interesting week of running for me.  I told myself that I was going to take a slight step back this week, focus more on light hill work, and keep the mileage totals a little lower.  For the most part I stuck to this plan, but also managed to throw in a few curve balls into the mix.

Let me first start off by saying, that winter is finally here in central PA.  For the past two weeks I've been able to enjoy some beautiful trail running through Rothrock State Forest.  Well...with a new, fresh 6" or so out there now, it makes running on the trails pretty dicey...especially considering how rocky and gnarly they are without the snow.  So I've been relegated to a lot of road running.  Thankfully, with a little creativity, I managed to put together a pretty nice week for myself.

A quick foot update.  For the first time in almost 8 months, I've gone three days completely pain-free in my right big toe.  I had a few final followup doc visits and the short story is that I simply have some mild arthritis in the one joint, and running 50-70 miles a week isn't helping.  No matter what I've tried...this damned recalcitrant toe, just doesn't want to cooperate.  Well, I've temporarily increased my ibuprofin intake, finished off every evening with a warm foot-bath, and I've been wearing dancer's pads. I ordered both the felt and foam pads and have been wearing them around the apartment and while running.  Lastly, I've been wearing new shoes, with a much firmer fore-foot...and it has been like night and day.  My foot hasn't felt this good since last May...and I ran 58 miles this week (including a race)!

Typical Dancer Pad - Keeps pressure off of the 
big toe's first joint (Metatarsophalangeal Joint)

So on to some quick weekly numbers:
Rather than do two back-to-back long/hill runs this weekend, I opted for a longer Saturday coupled with a shorter intense hill workout Sunday.  I popped onto the local Nittany Valley Runner Club page this week and saw that the first of six "Tussey Teaser" races was going to be this Saturday.  A 5.8 mile out-n-back on leg 9 of the Tussey 50 miler course.  I haven't done any sort of competitive race this year and I thought it would be a good idea to see how I fared.  So, I parked my car about 9 miles away from the start of the race, and had a nice hilly run to the starting line.  At 10:00 am, about 40 of us headed out into the 30 degree, snowy oblivion.  I was very surprised at how well I was able to maintain a fast pace (7 min/mile) without breathing too hard.  I guess all the training has been paying off.  I passed people left and right and finished the 5.8 mile snow covered course in about 41 minutes.  I finished in 5th place, so I was very pleased.  After the race, I put my Nathan pack back on, and ran about 11 miles back to my car (via different trails).  This gave me a nice 19-mile long run, with a ~6 mile race thrown in.  Great day!

(I am in one of the pics somewhere)

- As far as hill workouts, this week was a lot tougher to get in the overall elevation.  The snow makes the really steep trails quite scary to navigate and difficult to get good footing on.  I will say that the new Brooks Cascadia 7s held up very well and had excellent traction on the slippery rocks.  While my own verdict on the new Cascadia's is not quite out yet, I was very glad to have such stable footing all week.

- I was able to get in a solid 4x repeat up-and-down on Mt. Nittany on Tuesday before the snow hit.  I am getting noticeably faster with this climb.  I ran quite a bit of the uphills.

- On thursday, I made my way to Broad Mtn again, but after one climb up, I realized that the trail was way to sketchy to be doing and instead settled for a moderate run along the fire road.

- I was starting to get a bit worried about what I'd be able to find to do proper hill workouts on.  The snow is really putting a kink in my plans and even Mt. Nittany Trail is pretty slick now.  But alas, things always work out.  While I was looking over my map for something to run that best mimics the type of climb that I'll be faced with in a few short weeks, I discovered something that hadn't occurred to me.  I had an outside-the-box sort of epiphany and found what I was looking for.  And what exactly did I find you ask?  Well, I found the magical "gas-line cut".  Similar in style to to a "powerline cut", the "gas-line cut" runs right through Rothrock and goes straight up...and straight down the ridges.  No switchbacks, no trails, no simple way about it.  This is EXACTLY what I was looking for.  Something steep, something unmaintained, and something relatively clear of snow.  For whatever meteorological reason, the way the wind blows through the cut, keeps a lot of snow from accumulating.  This was a big bonus.  And while the cuts aren't a complete "bush-wack" (which I will also like to train through), it is a step in the right direction.  So today I had a "fun" field day playing on the gas-line cuts.

Cut 1:
The first cut seemed perfect.  1250 feet of gain in just under 1 mile.  This is the closest I've been able to find to what I will actually be dealing with.  This was the type of climb that I found myself on all fours several times.  I was surprised at how strong I powered up it...but then reality hit.  This particular climb was extremely rocky.  I hadn't really paid much attention, but on the way down, I was frankly terrified.  I slipped several times and decided that doing two more passes just wasn't worth the risk.  After about 15 minutes in my car of feeling rather dejected...I set out to find another cut to play on.  It was tempting to simply drive home.  After all, I ran almost 26 miles yesterday, it was about 20F outside with gusting wind, and I was tired.  But as I started to drive away, I decided to take a look at one other place that looked promising on the map, that was also on the way back home.

Cut 1:  It doesn't look that ominous, but don't be fooled.  It is 1250ft in 0.95 miles

Once up, once down was enough for me
(I will definitely try this cut again once the snow melts though)

Cut 2:
The second cut was noticeably lower in elevation, but also noticeably "grassier".   The total elevation was about 700ft in 1/2 about the same steepness.  I figured this was a good compromise and started up it.  There ended up actually being a sort-of goat-path along the left side.  I wouldn't call it a trail, but it gave me a vague path to follow.  This climb was considerably less rocky and I was able to power up and down it 4 me over 2700ft of ascent in just under 4 miles.  The best part about this cut is that at the very top, it crosses the Tussey Mountain trail.  I see a lot of potential here for combined long/hill workouts.

Cut 2:  A more subdued 700ft of climb in 0.5 miles.  

Cut 2 repeats.  I ran along the Tussey Trail for a bit after the fourth climb,
and I added a cool-down run once back at my car (Total 5 miles)

The hill workouts are really starting to add up.  It's hard not living in someplace like Boulder where I could go up and down a single peak every morning for 3000ft of gain.  I have to do the best with what I have here.  So far, I feel that I've been pretty creative in what I've come up with: steep and rocky trail work, with some long runs thrown in.

- For this particular week, I managed just under 12,000 ft of total Ascent, ~58 miles, and a good showing at my first race!
- I did also manage to get in a little compass work today.  I practiced getting bearings, and picking proper headings to various landmarks.  In all, it was mostly a refresh just to make sure I remembered how to use my compass.  I plan to do a more intense refresher in the weeks to come.

Hill Ascent totals so far

Next week, I'm hoping to step it back up to about 60-65 miles.  I will undoubtedly be using my new found gas-line cut often and would like to get in at least 15-20,000 feet of gain for the week.

By the way, for those that are interested in how to calculate "steepness" vs "percentage" vs "gradient", here's the easy guide:

  • Slope, gradient, grade, incline, and pitch, are all the same thing.
  • Slope is usually expressed as a percentage, angle, or ratio.
  • Slope is determined by dividing the "rise" over the "run".
  • "Run" can be determined either on a map, or very crudely by using the pythagorean theorem.
  • Mutiply (Rise/Run) by 100 to express slope as a percentage.
  • To express the slope angle in degrees, take the arctangent of (Rise/Run).
Example from Cut 1, yesterday:

1.  I ran just under a mile from my car to the top of the cut....or 5000 ft.
2.  I climbed 1250 ft of total ascent.  This would be the "RISE"
3.  To determine the RUN, I will use the pythagorean theorem.
    (Obviously using a map is the better way to go here to get the actual "RUN"distance since I did not run a perfect angle on a perfect triangle - but this will give a rough estimate)
                 RUN^2 + RISE^2 = AB^2    OR  RUN = SQRT(AB^2 - RISE^2)
                 RUN = approx 4841 ft
4.  So, the Slope (ratio), or GRADE, is RISE/RUN = 1250/4841 or 0.258.
5.  Expressed as a percent, it would be 0.258 * 100, or 25.8%.
6.  The angle in degrees would be expressed as arctan(1250/4841) or, ~14.5 degrees.
7.  Of couse this is an average slope integrated over the length of the run.  Obviously some parts are steeper than others.

Note:  Using a map to determine an exact RUN distance by using the scale bar on the map, I get a RUN of about 4600 ft...which results in a Slope of 1250/4600 or 0.271 (27.1%).  This would equate to an average degree-angle of roughly 15.2 degrees.

One last thing...
My Great 2012 Shoe Experiment:
Something I haven't talked about but I will mention briefly, is I also plan to conduct my own personalized running shoe study.  In addition to the dancer pads, my doctor also suggested I try two different shoe routes to help with my toe (even though it has now been pain-free for over 3 days).  He suggested either a more robust shoe with a stiffer fore-foot, or a shoe with added cushioning/padding.  So far I'm very pleased with my new Cascadias, and am proud to be a "Friend of Brooks", but wanted to at least be scientific about this.  With the help of some incredible deals on a few outlet websites, I managed to acquire two additional pairs of shoes that I will be testing over the next couple of weeks.  This is all I'm going to say about it right now, but will do a complete review following my experiment.  Needless to say, there aren't any minimalist shoes in the mix.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The NEW Colorado Trail Handbook

Yogi's New CT Handbook!

Back in 2008, following three weeks of work at the National Ice Core Lab in Denver, I had the incredible opportunity to do a rather quick thru-hike of the 485-mile Colorado Trail.  It was my first foray into the world of alpine hiking.  I hadn't ever dealt with altitudes over 7000 ft,  afternoon thunderstorms, real lightning threats, extreme night-time temps, or big river fords.  Before any sort of PCT thru-hike was even considerable, I needed to prove to myself that I could fare well through a tough, albeit shorter, mountain hike.  A CT thru-hike seemed the logical way.  I was excited, but also a bit timid.  I wasn't sure what to expect, or how I would do so "exposed" above the tree-line.

At the end of the 485-Mile Colorado Trail (2008)

At the time, there weren't a lot of resources for planning.  I used a data book published by the CT foundation, along with some pages from an old guide book.  Other than that, I pretty much just poked around on forums and asked a lot of questions on-line.  I did ok, but had kind of wished there was a better resource out there.

Fast forward two years to the summer of 2010 and I did find myself trudging through the mountains and deserts along the PCT.  For this hike, I had the luxury of a wonderful planning and town guide courtesy of Ms. Jackie McDonnell....aka...Yogi.  There's not a single hiker along the PCT that doesn't know of Yogi's books.  Her guidebook was an absolute life-saver for me.  I carried it the entire PCT and used it often to plan town-stops and for pointers on various water sources.

PCT Mile 0, with Yogi's Guide Book in side pocket

PCT Mile 2650, with Yogi's Guide Book in side pocket

Sometime last year, I received an email from Yogi asking me for input for a new Colorado Trail book she was putting together in the style of her very successful PCT and CDT books.  I happily agreed to help her out as best I could.  She forwarded me a detailed questionnaire and I did my best at filling it out.  I was in the middle of studying for my PhD candidacy at the time and it gave me a nice distraction from studying differential equations.  It was nice escaping in my Colorado Trail memories.  I sent in my finished questionnaire and pretty much forgot about it. 

Well, last week Yogi informed me that the book was finished and that she used a lot of my input.  Cool! Today in the mail, I received a full kit from her with the new planning and town guide books.  They came out really well...and I'm not just saying this because I'm featured in them (although it is pretty cool to know that perhaps some of my experiences may help others in their planning).

I don't generally outright "plug" many products on here, but I am definitely doing it now.  Thank you Yogi for what you do for helping all of us hiker trash out here with your wonderful guidebooks, town-stop cards, and planning books.  So if you are reading this, and are also planning a CT hike, think about picking up Yogi's new books.  You can get them over on her website here:   YOGI's WEBSITE.

One other thing that I would like to add.  Not only does Yogi make these wonderful resources in her free time, for all of us to use, but she also has an attitude that is so hard to find these attitude that many of us yearn for.  She is always encouraging us to "get out there" and "see the world".

I'll leave you with this bit of text that is from my own little "writing project" that maybe one day I'll put out.  It's from Chapter 4, titled: "Springer Fever"

"Once I started the planning process, I found myself digging through various trail and preparation guides. On one random evening while pouring over mountains of text, photos, and advice from previous hikers on how to plan my latest adventure properly, I came across a paragraph written by a fairly well-known thru-hiker: Jackie “Yogi” McDonnell. Yogi had compiled all of her own notes and experiences while thru-hiking the PCT several years ago, along with some comment from others, and created series of guidebooks to aid future hikers in their PCT hiking endeavors. The quote I found on this particular evening from Yogi’s book read,

'It didn't take long after thru-hiking the AT for me to realize what I had found. A different world. A world full of good things. Simplicity. Relaxation. Freedom. Self-confidence. Camaraderie. Before hiking the AT, "the trail" represented images of dirt paths, mountains, streams, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, camping stoves, etc. Mostly physical things. After returning home, I quickly realized that "the trail" represents more of a feeling. A feeling of being INVINCIBLE. I want that feeling again. I want to go back.'"

I know exactly what you mean Yogi.  Exactly.

Here are some pics from the new book.  I took them with my iTouch so they are low quality.  I have comments throughout the entire book on various tips and tricks based on my CT experience.  I hope they prove to helpful to some of you out there!  

Hike on my friends.

The full CT kit that I received today!  Thanks Yogi!
(This pic is from Yogi's Website)

My Blurb in the Planning Guide

A typical comment of mine taken from the questionnaire

My blurb at the end of the book

Monday, February 6, 2012

Some Weekly Training Numbers

Definitely tired and sore today.  Thought I'd take a quick break from thinking all things ice, to post some quick numbers from last week.  I have officially hit a new high water mark for training.  Not only did I do over 12,000 feet of hill workouts, but I have now run my highest mileage training week ever:  73 Miles.

Of course my highest mileage weeks ever, were last summer when I had something like 123.5 miles the week that I ran Leadville, and of course my 222-mile week of hiking in July on the PCT back in 2010.  As far as pure training goes though, 73 is currently it.  And this is after a nearly 60-mile week the previous week.  To all the elite ultrarunners out there, a 73-mile week is probably considered a "light week" or a "taper week".  For me, I am pretty happy with how my training has picked up.  I am starting to notice my nagging turf-toe/sesamoiditis symptoms coming back though and it is really aggravating.  I have decided to make this current week a step-back week...and give the ol' toe a break.  I will continue to hit the hills, but with much lower intensity.  I need to give my foot a rest.  I've also finally scheduled a followup doc visit just to make sure there's not anything else going on down there other than irritation.  Lastly, I've got some pads and inserts that I am going to start wearing in my shoes that allow my big toe to float a bit more and relieve some pressure on it.  It's more-or-less the equivalent of a dancer's pad.  The woes of having high arches.  Of course with all this said, I will never, and I stress NEVER, wear minimalist shoes again.  

The Plan:
Step back to 40-50 miles this week and then pick it up again for the following two weeks.  I'm hoping to maybe break 80 miles.  Of course this will all depend on how my foot is doing.  I really need to keep up with the hill workouts this week even if it means hiking.  In two weeks I hope to start doing some off-trail hill workouts.  In other words, very steep, bushwacking type climbs.  Lastly, I need to start practicing and refreshing my orienteering skills.  I hope to get out next weekend for some compass work.

The run through:
Throughout the week I did about 13 miles of pure hills, with another 19-miler on Saturday through Rothrock doing a long/hill workout.  On Sunday, I again ran in Rothrock, but instead chose to stick to the fire roads.  The 18.8-miler still featured 2500 ft of gain, but was much more rolling.  by mile 16 I was so exhausted, that I found myself walking.  Definitely a long week.  Today, I am taking off.

Since starting my self-imposed Hill workouts, I've totaled over 22,000 ft of gain

Finally broke 70 miles in a week for training.

Sunday Fire-Road Run in Rothrock

Rolling Hills in Rothrock (Sunday)

Two quick side notes:

1.  Congratulations to my friend and 2011 Leadville Pacer Sophia for breaking 24 hours at the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler!  Huge accomplishment.  Wear that belt buckle with pride Sophia, and I will see you in Leadville.

2.  I finally got my copy of JourneyFilm's "Unbreakable"...the story of the 2010 Western States 100.  I won't go through a full review of it, but will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was well done.  There were a few scenes that I thought it could have done without, but for the most part I thought the story was well told, and the camera work phenomenal.  It was also very cool to get the story of Gordy Ansleigh in there as well.  Overall, I'd give a 4/5 stars and say that it is worth the purchase for sure.

Friday, February 3, 2012

...and More Hills

8 Mile Hill Course on Broad Mountain

Remember last week when I was all excited about doing hill workouts and and I even used the word "fun" several times to describe it?  Well I've determined that feeling to be rather ephemeral.  In fact, in just a week I've come to realize that I both fear and loathe hill workouts, despite how much they are doing for me and my race preparedness.

Quite simply, they suck....but in that satisfying sort-of-way?  Type 2 fun vs type 1...or something like that.  You know, when it's terrible while you're doing it, but great afterward?

At any rate, I could run and hide...or I could embrace them.  I've chosen to embrace them in all of their wretched glory.  And so this weekend will again be chock full of hilly long runs.

But first, a quick recap:

On Saturday and Sunday I did my back-to-back Rothrock 19-milers.  This course was a nice combination of both distance and hills.  I had great weather for it and was able to spend 5 hours out each day.  In a nutshell, I really enjoyed Saturday, but Sunday was a bit much.  Needless to say, I was pretty whooped on Sunday evening.

Rothrock 19-Mile Long Run - Profile

Rothrock 19-mile Course

Total "Hill" Miles: 38
Total Ascent 9000ft
Time: ~10 hrs total

After a leisurely saunter around the flat neighborhood on Monday, I went out for my first mid-week hill workout on Tuesday morning.  I thought it would be "fun" (there's that word again), to do repeats up and down Mt. know, the "pride and symbol of Happy Valley" and University namesake (blah blah).  The climb from the parking lot is about I decided to do it three times, adding on an extra summit push on the last loop.  I quickly remembered that hill workouts take significantly longer than normal workouts.

Mt. Nittany Repeats - Profile

Mt. Nittany Repeats - Course

Total "Hill" Miles: 4.6
Total Ascent 2000ft
Time: ~ 1 hr

On Wednesday, I went out for a nice 9 miler through the neighborhood to give myself a break from the hills and focus on normal-paced miles.  But then I thrust myself into the fray again yesterday for a brutal trip up and down Broad Mountain.  I basically took out the topo maps for Rothrock State Park and said to myself, "Where is the single most brutal climb in the entire park that's on a marked trail?".  This is what I found.  So what did I do?  I ran it twice.  Of course it will soon get to be even more fun when I start doing hill workouts by bush-wacking my way up steep, 40% graded, non-marked routes....but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.   Anyhoo...this workout was an ass kicker.  I did a full loop around the mountain, but on the 2nd pass simply did an up-and-down to the summit.  It turned out to be 8 miles of ridiculousness.  My headlamp failed and I was running in the dark, getting lost, name it.  You might almost say it was.........wait for  That's just crazy talk.

8 Mile Broad Mtn Hills - Profile

8 Mile Broad Mtn Hills - Course

Total "Hill" Miles: 8
Total Ascent 3100ft
Time: ~ 2 hrs

RUNNING TOTALS (Starting Last Tuesday 1/24/12):
Total "Hill" Miles: 53.9
Total Ascent 15,200ft

...And this weekend you ask?  Well it'll be another back-to-backer in Rothrock.  Probably the same course as last week.  I'm actually excited about Saturday...undecided about Sunday just yet.


oh and one other thing.
The 7's are finally out, in my possession,...and oooooo...I'm excited.