Saturday, July 31, 2010

Long Training Run

After a nice 5 day break to let the ankle recover a little it was time to start moving again. The 24 Hours Around the Lake in Wakefield, Mass was our venue to get in at least 5 hours on our feet. Way more fun doing a long workout at an event like this than just doing loops around the neighborhood. Brian's goal was to stick to a sub 10 minute mile pace, and mine was just to walk, and maybe sprinkle in some running if the ankle felt up to it. The race started at 7pm and the race was to see how many 3.18 mile (5K) laps around a lake one could complete in either 12hrs or 24 hours. There was also a marathon option (8 laps).
Here is a photo at the pre race announcement. Lots of interesting characters at these ultra events.
Team GingerBalls pre start. Game faces on.
Sun setting, I think I took this on the first lap. Beautiful lake.
Coming across the finish line. 12:30 at night. Brian did 34 miles, I did 26.2. We completed the last lap together.
Avg Heart Rate was 101bpm. When walking it would be around 85-90bpm, when running I never let it get over 120, was usually in the 113 range. Ankle felt OK until the last lap when it started to get tired. Only issues were some blistering and swelling in my feet. But I guess that was to be expected; I was wearing technical trail shoes with low profile, stiff soles (i.e. little cushioning) Vasque Transistors for first 4 laps, Salomon 3D Ultra for last 4 laps. Nothing too serious though. I used compression socks for the first 5 laps, and then removed just the one on the right foot so I could use my Injinji sock instead to help with blistering on that foot. Learned that I actually preferred not having the compression sock on. No perceptible difference in fatigue, and was noticeably cooler without sock.

Here is some video...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Escarpment Trail 30K

I can tell you right now that this post will not do the experience justice. It was a big experience, and as many things that I learned, I'd also like to forget about this race. So I'm keeping this post super brief.

Elevation Profile. Trail starts at the right of the map, and ends on the left.

Yep, that's me and Brian feeling pretty good at the start... Weather was nice, and Kristin had just dubbed us Team Ginger Balls (a name we will take with us to the Trans Rockies). But after that things did not go as smoothly as planned. This trail was no joke. Incredibly technical, challenging terrain, just something I don't think either of us was ready for. We saw some nasty spills out there. It was a very new and enjoyable experience for both of us for a while. Seeing how much faster other people were covering ground versus us was a little eye-opening. I thought our fitness level was pretty good, but for this type of event, experience running on tough trails plays a major role. I found out the hard way. As we were entering the third rest stop, I took my eyes off the trail for a second, and boom, sprained ankle. I could tell by the reaction of the volunteers that it wasn't pretty. Learning that it was like a three mile hike down to civilization from there, I decided that we should press on... If I had only known that the most challenging part of the course was coming up. The climb up Blackhead (seen briefly in the video below), and then the descent down the other side, I would have definitely pulled the plug and stopped racing. That mountain was brutal. Brian was nice enough to hang with me for the race, and then patient enough with my super slow pace after the sprain, and then smart enough to decide that we were done when we got to the the 12 mile mark aid station. So after 3:32 minutes, we decided to 'DNF' and walked off the trail to get picked up. It took us 45 mins to get to a road, but fortunately, thanks to a volunteer remembering the name of the road (Stork's Nest) and Kristin having navigation in the car, we were saved. And I was really happy that was over with.

Now I'm nursing a sprained ankle. The good news is that it is healing quickly, probably due to the fact that I had no ligaments left in my ankle to really sprain. Because of so many injuries my ankle is pretty much just supported by muscle, and maybe muscle heals faster than ligaments? Who knows, just a crazy theory. I'm just psyched that the pain and swelling are coming down nicely. Haven't done anything but intense ice and compression since Sunday, but may give walking a few miles at the 24 Hours Around the Lake race this weekend a try. See how it goes. If all goes well I'll hop on the MTB on Sunday for the Darkhorse 40 which I'm signed up for as a relay with Rick.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Tubing is not the ideal day before a race activity, but what the hell. It was like 98 degrees, and our good freinds with an awesome boat invited us out last minute. We had a great time, even though I'm pretty sure I cracked a rib about 2 seconds after Kristin caught this photo of me holding on for dear life.

Didn't bother me at all for the race, or for 2 days after, but I'm really feeling it now...
Anyhow, on Sunday I left home at 3:45am and drove the 3 hours to Grafton Lakes (a little northeast of Albany, NY). Arrived, signed in, warmed up and was ready to race. The race started about 30 mins later than planned because heavy storms had rolled through the night before and there were some trees/debries that needed to be cleared from the trails.
Swim: Started with a 300 yd beach run then 500 yds swim, then 400yd beach run and 500yd swim. I took it easy on the first beach run, and jumped in the water towards the back of the pack and then maintained a steady pace. Was 10th after the first loop, and then 4th after the second and into T2.
Bike: Came out of T2 next to a buddy of mine, we worked together for the 2.5 miles or so on fire roads, but then when we got to the single track and hills I couldn't hang with him anymore, and just rode my own race for the rest of the 20K bike leg. Course was technical rocky and muddy/slippery.
Run: Super technical single track, with lots of boulders and mud, one long steep climb up a fire road and then back down down before completeing the loop around the lake. I felt great, was focusing on my footwork, and was making up ground on the 2 people ahead of me, but just didn't have enough to catch them.
Finished 9th overall, 3rd in my Age Group with a 1:44:27
Official Results HERE

Muddy day, here is the bike after the race...
Right now I'm ranked 1st in the Northeast Region for XTERRA Races (M30-M34)... That will change over the next few weeks as there are a few races that I will be missing. I'm sure Dave and a few others will overtake me... But I should have enough points to remain in the top 8 now, and thus earn a slot in Nationals!!!
Oh yeah, I tried out these Aquasphere Seal XP goggles for the first time. They were perfect, no leakage at all, no fogging, very comfortable, and great open water swimming visibility. Think I'm going to stick with them for a while.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Something Different

Going to attempt the Escarpment Trail 30K with Brian in two weeks. Probably the best race description I've read in a long time...

"It is extremely rocky and a runner must expect to navigate over boulders, downed trees, gullies and hidden roots the entire distance... There are sections of the course that travel along cliffs. If you're not careful, you could fall to your death. Very few runners go the distance without taking at least one painful spill"

Yikes! More here: