Thursday, April 26, 2012


I guess it's become a tradition that before any significant race, I have some kind of a "taper" or "pre-race" entry. This time is no different.

With the fairly nasty weather we've been experiencing lately, this taper is more than welcome. Last weekend's 2-ish loops run at Sulphur Springs was the second time in a row where the weather has been cold and windy. At least this time, it wasn't pouring frigid rain. I'm ready for warm weather.

Next stop: Bear Mountain 50 miler. Total elevation gain: 7034 feet. As far as I can tell from the elevation chart, not a flat surface anywhere and possibly some vertical ones.

I feel that I'm ready to tackle the course. Derrick did a good job of pushing me to run way more than I usually do on my own. It's good that I feel that confident because it means that I'm able to go into the race without the confidence builder of running a 50K race prior to this difficult 50 miler. A couple of people in our little group are running Pick Your Poison (50K) this weekend. As much as I would love to see everyone, I just can't see an upside for me. If I ran 50k, my legs wouldn't fully recover in a week. If I ran 25k, I would probably run it too fast, being in a race and all. They say that training takes almost 3 weeks to take hold. What I mean is that today's run takes 2-3 weeks before it translates into body adaptation. There's nothing that I can do now that will improve my fitness by race day. The only thing i can do is screw it up or not keep what I gained. As we all know, we lose fitness much faster than we gain.

So the plan is to keep training reasonably and try not to gain any weight. My weight loss has plateau'd as soon as I stopped counting calories a few weeks ago. I'm not where I want to be yet, so that's something I need to address soon. I'm just so hungry all the time now.

It will be interesting to see how people in our little group perform at the race. There is little doubt that I will be the slowest of the four although one of them (and you know who you are) has barely been training and two of the group plan to bust up their quads at PYP this weekend (including mister minimal training). Who said the universe was fair?

That being said, I plan on running a solid race. I've mentioned my nutrition problems many times in the past. I've been working really hard at staying on top of it, but it hasn't really been hot yet and that's usually when nutrition becomes difficult to manage. Hopefully, the weather won't be ridiculously hot. That always makes things worse, especially this early in the season.

I got a new pair of shoes this week, a pair of La Sportiva Skylites 2.0. I had high hopes for those shoes because they are so similar to the Crosslites. If the trails were dry at Bear Mountain, my plan was to wear them for most, if not all, the race. Unfortunately, when I wore them on my long run last weekend, I didn't find them as comfortable at the original Crosslites. The trails were wet and I was fully expecting traction to suck, because the Skylites have no lugs, but I wasn't expecting the various pressure points that started to be annoying after only 5km or so. When I got back to the car, I switched back to my Crosslites and I knew I was going to race in them. I could probably get used to the Skylites, but why would I? This kind of made me worried that maybe the new Crosslites 2 have had the same "improvements" and that they may not be as perfect as the Crosslites. What would happen if (when) La Sportiva stops making the originals? The hunt for a replacement shoe resumes. I've tried so many shoes over the last couple of years. Damn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top Shape

Racing season is fast approaching. Last weekend was the OUS Spring Warmup, a sure sign that I will be doing  something stupid, like running ridiculous distances, in the coming weeks. Ah, the smell of Spring!

Less than 3 weeks to Bear Mountain. I haven't raced a 50 miler since Sulphur Springs in 2010 and that didn't work out so well for me. I'd like to think that I'm at a better place in my training than I was two years ago. My training has been solid, I feel great, I feel strong. I under no illusion: Bear Mountain will be a b!tch. It will be my slowest 50 miles ever. It's the nature of that course. This should be an awesome, fun filled trip though. Should be a hoot and a half.

As I mentioned above, training is going well. Quite frankly, I don't remember ever having such a solid base going into the season. My training going into 2009, following Norrie Williamson's book "Everyone's Guide to Distance Running" was close, but included very little trail running outside of races themselves. My experience is that road hills are not up to the task when it comes to preparing for trails. Most road runners, when confronted with the dramatic inclines in most trail races, throw up their hands in the air and declare that trail running is not really running. I find that road runners are often obsessed with their pace and can't handle it when they have to slow down, regardless of the terrain. That's why they hate hills so much. When I'm in Sedona, how many times have I stared in amazement at runners on the sidewalk, wondering why on earth they would run on pavement when they could be out on the hundred of kilometers of amazing trails a few hundred feet from their current location. After talking to a couple of people about this, apparently the answer is pace. Who knew? More trails for us!  That being said, looking at how popular trail running is becoming, I guess that more and more people agree with us that pace isn't everything.

So, this year I've got a deeper and wider base than ever before. Hopefully, this will pay off at Bear Mountain. My biggest problem with that race is how hard to race it. When do I run up a hill rather than walk? I've run only three 50 milers and my last two have been a lesson in bonking. My first one went well, but I nearly passed out at 35 miles at Haliburton in 2009 and almost quit at 43 miles at Sulphur. Hopefully, the additional training and experience will help.

If I'm totally honest though, the thing that freaks me out the most about Bear Mountain is the deer black flies. I was reading Chris' Bear Mountain race report and he mentions swallowing a few. I can't handle deer  ANY flies, I just hate them. At least, mosquitoes respect DEET. You squirt a few shots on yourself and you're pretty much safe from them. Not so with deer (horse, black, take your pick, I hate them all) flies, who are just too fucking stupid to care. They drive me nuts, going round and round, waiting to take a chunk of flesh out of you and I'm not sure I can handle them. Yes, it is that bad. I guess we'll see.