Sunday, February 26, 2012

Point To Point Long Run

This past thursday on the schedule was a long run. Only this long run was going to be totally different than what I have done in the past. In fact it was a lot easier on me mentlly. I decided, after talking to Coach Nikon that a point to point was in order, starting from my place and going up to Auburn via the parkway and the single track trails. We both thought that this epic run would be roughly 27-29 miles. Now the only problem was finding someone to give me a ride. But I didn't have to look far, I asked my sister and she was more than happy to pick me up at the Overlook.

With the plan in place now all I had to do was execute it.

I was ready to go by 6:15ish on Thursday morning. I decided not to bring Traildog as I didn't think I would have enough water for the both of us. So off I went in the dark making my way to the Overlook. The first 5.5 miles were on the American River Parkway and during this part my legs felt dead. I felt like I couldn't get any sort of rythym. Was it because I had  a long ways to go? I don't know, but I just kept plugging along knowing that eventually everything would fall into place.

Once I arrvied at Beals I took my first Gel and hit the levee for a few miles. Slowly my legs came back and it was just in time as the fire road was up next with it's great rollers. I hit the single track in a positive mind frame with my legs feeling strong. I had decided that at granit bay I would refill my pack and use the bathroom, and I also took in another Gel. I didn't want to fall behind on my fueling as I was on a tight schedule and had about 5-5.5 hours to arrive at the Overlook and I was unsure of the distance.

After Granit bay I just locked into a nice steady pace and enjoyed the single track trail. I was enjoying my music and I was enjoying my time on the trails. I was focused, I knew I had a dead line and I knew that I could do it. The miles were ticking by. I was fueling about 1 gel every 30 minutes and I kept reminding myself to drink, even if it was just a sip here and a sip there.

As I was running along I noticed that my body didn't feel right. Something was off, my legs felt funny and I noticed that mentally I was fatigued and my thoughts were becoming negative. I didn't wait long to make a decision, I took in a Gel and a salt and not long after I was feeling much better and I was back on track. Fuel, I needed fuel.

Now that I was feeling better and stronger I hustled onto Horseshoe bar. I knew from my past runs that once I arrived at horseshoe it was only 11.5 miles to the Overlook. Which could take me at least 2.5 hours as the dam hill is 3.3 miles up. I hit horseshoe feeling pretty strong and just kept moving. I had about 2 hours to get to the Overlook so I had to find another gear.

I was pushing the pace running every chance I could even when my head was screaming at me to hike that hill I would run it. I was making some good time along this section of the trail. I just put my head down and ran. I stopped a few times to stetch my hamstrings out and to fuel. I had to dig deep. I pushed on knowing that I was almost there. Soon I could see the dam hill and I knew that I was going to have push myself.

I hit the base and power hiked the steep part and took in a Gel. Than I started running, I just put my head down and ran, one foot in front of the other. Running with my head down actually helped because all I focused on was a few steps in front of me instead of the bigger picture of how far I had to go. Slowly I was making my way up. When I hiked I was hiking with a purpose, I was on a mission. The hiking was only to let my legs recover and once they had recoved I would put my head down and start running. I was almost there, just a mile to go, than only half a mile. I was in the home stretch. I hit the Overlook in 5:15, 27.5 miles. It was 11:30 and I was right was on time.

My sister was waiting for me which was great. I grabbed a towel and made my way down to the canal to get in and take my ice bath. The canal was really cold, so cold my toes were freezing. But it felt so good on my legs. When I arrived back at the car my sister had all sort of snacks for me and a coke. I was in ultra runner bliss. A coke and snacks; I couldn't have asked for anything more ohhh and a ride home of course.

Thank you Kristina for taking time out of your day to pick me up. I appreciate it so much. A point to point was just what I needed and having the pressure to arrive on time really kept me focused and on track all morning.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

24 Miles with My Best Bud

Yesterday on the agenda was 24 fabulous miles, OK so maybe they weren't that fabulous but it was still 24 miles and time on my feet. I switched things up and decided to do my long run on Friday as I had taken it off from work, but maybe that wasn't such a good idea or maybe it wasn't a good idea to go out and have some beer the night before. I was probably a bit dehydrated and didn't set myself up for a successful run. But lesson learned and all I can do is move on from it.

Traildog came with me and he was super excited to get started, so excited that he was having a hard time waiting while I tied my shoes. Not only did I have to pack enough fuel for me but I also had to make sure I had enough fuel for Traildog. We started out and headed down the DAM hill and hit the single track in no time at all. As soon as we hit the single track I took Traildog off his leash and let him go. He was so happy to be out and about. He even made a huge leap over that little dip, it was pretty exciting to see.

My legs were feeling pretty good it was my mental mind frame that was a different story. For some reason I had a lot of different thoughts running through my head and I couldn't get it under control, I couldn't turn it off so all I could do was try and embrace it but that ended up being pretty hard.

The trail was nice and the ground tacky and the sun was shining it was a beautiful day, but I wasn't having too much fun on the trail. Traildog on the other hand was having a blast, he was running ahead of me and than would stop and wait and if I took too long he would come running back to me with such enthusiasm. Once he saw me and we made eye contact he would turn around and take off. I really wonder how many miles he actually put in with all that coming and going.

The miles were ticking by but not as quickly as I needed. I needed to change my thinking so that I could hopefully turn this run around. I hit Avery's Pond and that put a little smile on my face and I found that little bit of happiness that I needed. We continued on and I slowly found a good rhythm as I neared Rattlesnake bar. I was cruising and was feeling pretty good, physically and mentally. Amazing how things can turn around during a run, that is great thing about ultras the highs and lows. During those low points I know I need to find something to hold on to to keep me going and yesterday it was Traildog. I saw how much fun he was having and that brought joy to me.

Soon we hit our turnaround in 2:05 and there I spent time refueling and feeding Traildog some puppy chow. We headed back and man did the Overlook feel so far away. It felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere with a huge task in front of me. I really didn't want to head back, I was not looking forward to it and I knew it was going to be a tough run back.

I started back and Traildog took the lead, he was off and to the races and even missed a few key turns. I had to yell for him and he came flying down the trail. Slowly the miles went by and next thing I knew I was back at Avery's Pond. Only 8 miles to go. Piece of cake. Right?

I kept pushing forward knowing this was more of a mental battle than anything else. Just keep moving, just keep moving is what I kept telling myself. Just keep moving is what we did. The really runnable sections I ran, I focused on running, I was trying to push myself during the areas that I knew were runnable as there are going to be times during races that I will feel like this. But by pushing on and running even though my mind is saying stop will only make me a stronger runner.

Soon we arrived at the base of the DAM hill, only this was going to be a totally different experience from the last time I ran it. This was going to be mental challenge as I was completely defeated. I hiked and hiked and hiked, than I ran and ran and ran than I hiked. It was slow progress but slowly but surely we were making our way up. Just keep moving forward. With 1.5 to go a gear hit and I was running, I was pushing myself and I could see Traildog pushing himself. Together we were pushing each other. We pushed that little bit and finished as strong as we could. 24 miles in the book and one tough run for that is for sure.

I know this run will make me a stronger runner as I didn't give up. I kept pushing on. I am glad that Traildog was with me as he helped me get focused again and he helped me during those tough times.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeling Stronger and Faster!

Usually on my shorter runs I don't wear a Garmin. I just run how my body feels. But I decided to change things up and I strapped on the Garmin and headed out the door. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when I looked down during my run and saw my pace. My average pace yesterday hovered around 8:33. Here is the breakdown:

Mile 1: 8:31
Mile 2: 8:25
Mile 3: 8:18 where did that come from?
Mile 4: 8:31
Mile 5: 8:21
Mile 6: 8:25
Mile 7: 8:47
Mile 8: 9:27

I haven't seen these times in awhile, well I guess I wouldn't know since I haven't been wearing my Garmin. I would like to think that all those tough runs after work actually made me stronger physically and mentally.

I know that I have been mentally fatigued lately but this run I felt focused and on fire. It is weird how I actually was able to clear my mind. It is the strangest sensation, to not have a single thought pass through because I was so focused on the task at hand. Almost as if I am watching from the side line on what is going on. It is hard to explain, but a feeling that I want to have on the regular basis.

After my run I have started a new regiment. I have been incorporating some plyometric exercises, which is to help me build speed and power. I have been doing these for four days. I start with lunges 3 sets of 30, followed by 3 sets of 30 wall jumps. The wall jumps are quick and explosive with no rest in between the jumps. Than I do 3 sets at 1 minute of wall sits. Those hurt! After that I do 3 sets of 30 box jumps. Again this is explosive jumps.

I would like to think that I have already noticed a difference as I am feeling stronger and my leg turnover seems to be quicker. It also has helped to stretch my legs and also unloads all the junk that builds up after my runs. I am not as stiff as I once was and I plan on doing these exercises and little by little increasing the repetitions and the height of the wall jumps and box jumps.

Today I had another fantastic workout, I ran 7 miles in an hour. That is an average pace of 8:42 per mile though some miles were faster. I did start to feel yesterdays work out on the last 2 miles but I just pushed myself harder and focused on relaxing and next thing I knew I was back.

Again after the workout I did the lunges, wall jumps, and wall sits and box jumps. Tomorrow I will take it nice and easy and just have a nice relaxed run so that I can get myself ready for my long runs this weekend. Before I know it, Way Too Cool 50k will be here. Can't wait for my first race to see where I stand. Looking forward to some quick runs and getting stronger while doing it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Tough Run

This week I have had to change things up a bit. Instead of running long on the weekend I had to go long on Thursday, due to the fact that it is my weekend to work. Only when Thursday came it took everything I had to not talk myself out of running. I really just wasn't feeling this run. Mentally I was tired, I was tired from the weeks activities at work. But I managed to pack what I needed, pack what Traildog would need and get to the Auburn Overlook by 6:45. I was ready to run if I wanted to or not.

Now this would be Traildog's first time seeing the DAM hill and also this trail and this would be the second time in 5 days I have run this portion of the trail. Off we went, happy as could be ohh wait that was Traildog. He was happy and having a great time and I was thinking of every excuse in the book to turn around and call it a day. But I kept on going, my legs felt stiff and sore and I really wasn't focused. I was busy thinking of work and all that needed to happen over the next few days.

I kept going and eventually we hit the single track. About half a mile on the single track I decided to let Traildog run free, but for a bit he was suppose to stay behind me. That didn't last long as he was running so close to me that every time I had to take a step up I would accidentally hit him with my foot. So I took a chance and let him run free in front of me. And run free he did. He wasted no time and just took off on down the trail. I took off after him and while I watched Traildog run back and forth I completely forgot everything else that was going on in my head.

Traildog would run ahead and than stop and look back. If he saw me he would make sure I saw him and than take off and run some more. When I was too slow for him he would run back to me wagging his little tail. He was having a blast just running back and forth and waiting. I thought it was pretty cute and soon we had made our way to the bridge. Pretty soon we would be turning around as I had decided to turn around at Avery's Pond, about 8 miles. My legs were not liking the trail and my hamstrings were pretty tight, plus I had some things I needed to get done back at home. At least I pushed myself this far, I mean I still had to get back up the DAM hill.

At Avery's Pond Traildog enjoyed some puppy chow while I took in a GU and a salt and than we headed back. Mt attitude had change slightly, I was still in a rough place mentally but I knew I had to pull it together. I focused on following Traildog, he was setting a nice and steady pace and I just followed. I let my mind go, I stopped thinking and just ran. I ran and I ran, slowly the miles clicked by and I was slowly nearing the DAM hill. My legs were still feeling funky.

Traildog was setting a nice pace and than out of nowhere he picked his pace up. Almost seemed like his puppy chow had kicked in. This was a nice surprise as it brought me back to my running and I ever so slowly increased my pace trying to keep up with him. I caught him just as we neared a split in the trail and he went the wrong way. I yelled for him and he eventually came. We were near the base of the DAM hill and unlike last time where I had visualized myself running up it before I arrived, this time I just left defeated

This is of course not what I needed to be thinking at this time. It was going to be a slow climb out this time. I was tired and feeling it, I probably should have eaten more as I only had 2 GU's. My stomach was growling. Traildog on the other hand would have run up the entire thing if I could have kept up with him. Slowly but surely I made my way up, running some but not much. My legs were stiff and hurting. Once I finally made it back up it was 16 miles all said and done in 3 hours. A bit slow, but it is time on my feet.

I know that every run isn't going to be fantastic and it is the tough runs that makes one stronger. But it doesn't always feel that way when one is in the moment. Lessons learned; eat more, get focused sooner, don't talk myself out a run. In short, get it done!

I am glad I managed to get the miles in, I am also happy that Traildog did so well on the trial. He kept a nice and steady pace, listened when he needed to, and I am pretty sure that if he hadn't come with I probably would have turned around sooner. A tough run indeed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

23 Awesome Miles

Yesterday was a awesome day on the trails of Auburn. I had been planning on running 23 miles yesterday and that is just what I did. My longest run up to this point was 14 miles. Life has happened and I have had to alter my training program a bit.

So last week was a down week, as I was watching my nephew and helping out with the family and work has caused me some headache and I just didn't find the time to run. But with a down week, meant my body could heal and get some much needed rest as I have been building my mileage over the past few months.

It was dark when I arrived at the Overlook. My dinky little flash light wasn't much help when I started but luckily the sun was slowly coming up and I really didn't need it. I did miss having Traildog with me. I had left him at home to get some rest. I headed down the dam hill with the one thought in my head, oh crap, I have to run back up this. Now if you haven't run this hill, it is 3.3 miles of up hill running and that will really cause ones legs to burn. I cruised down it not wanting to blow up my quads and just really enjoyed being out on the trails.

I hit the single track and my legs were feeling pretty good, no aches no pains and I was cruising nicely at a 9:30 pace during some sections of this trail. The trail was fast and tacky and the footing was great. I was able to find my rhythm and all felt right. I was mentally focused, I was in tune with my body, and I was running smooth. It felt awesome to be this comfortable on the trail.

As the miles clicked by I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was already 5 miles in my run and it hadn't even been an hour. I hit 6 miles right at an hour, I did the math in my head and I was doing 10 minute miles with some 9:30 thrown in. It felt awesome. I was excited because I had planned on turning around at 2 hours and than pushing myself on the return knowing I had the DAM hill to get up. I fueled at 6 miles, took in a GU and a salt.

My body was feeling strong and I was powering up the small rollers like I have never done before. I was moving. I arrived at Avery's Pond and like always chuckled and thought of Trailmomma. "How will I know when I arrive at Avery's Pond?" It never fails, I always laugh and play out that conversation. How I miss running with her. The answer; there is a sign!

I was almost to Rattlesnake and I was still feeling strong. I wasn't having any issues. I was staying on top of my fueling and hydration. I was still mentally focused, which surprised me because a few days ago I wasn't focused at all. I hit my turn around in 2 hours, 11.5 miles. Here I took off my long sleeve, took a GU and a salt and headed back.

On the return I knew it was going to be challenge to negative split it as going back there is a bit more hills than coming down. But I was up for the challenge and having this challenge allowed my mind to focus on the small goal for the day. I took it mile by mile, power hiking when I needed too and running. Eventually I heard Anthony's voice in my head and remembered how runnable this section of trail could be and I started to push myself once again. I was occasionally having to stop and stretch as my legs were aching, which is normal.

Just like when I started, going back the miles were flying by, soon enough I would be at the base of the DAM hill and only have 3.3 miles of uphill running left to do. I knew that once I arrived at the base of the DAM hill that it was/is runnable, but I had to be in the right mind frame. I couldn't let the hill get into my head. As I neared the base I slowly visualised myself running up it and I think that helped me get focused. As once I arrived at the base I was mentally ready and I had my plan of attack.

I power hiked the first part as it was pretty steep, but slowly I gave myself goals to reach for. I would run -to that sigh-, now I would run to that rock. Small steps/goals is all it took. I broke the hill down into manageable parts this way it wouldn't feel so overwhelming and slowly but surly I was making it up to the top. Small goals, mind tricks is how I kept going.

I arrived at the top in total time 4:19, not bad only adding 19 minutes to the return knowing how slowly the return trip really is. 23 awesome miles on the beautiful trails of Auburn. Not bad.

My training this year thus far has been far different than the past two years. Now that I am living on my own I am taking Traildog out almost everyday and when I run with him I am literally running speed every day (which I do not advice) So my leg turnover is quicker. I have taken him on the trails with me a couple of times and there he also pushes the pace, forcing me to run far faster than I ever thought possible. This has given me the confidence to work harder and push myself when I run by myself like yesterday's 23.

I am looking forward to my next long and I only hope it will be just as great as this one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Exciting News!

On January 20, 2012 my baby niece was welcomed to his world. Only she was 5 weeks early and tiny weighing in at 5lbs 5ozs. She is the most precious little girl in the world. She is still in the NICU, but has graduated to a crib as she is able to hold he her own body temperature.

Baby Kaylee

When she first arrived she had a feeding tube as she was not eating as much as the doctors wanted and her weight yo yo ed back and forth. But now she is feeding on demand and the family is only waiting for the OK from the doctor that she can come home. They are thinking sometime this weekend.

Precious baby girl

But let me tell you about the twin intuition. On Wednesday of that week, I was in a lot of pain. I shouldn't have been in this much pain and my team at work even asked me if I was feeling OK. There was no reason for this pain and I just passed it off. I was sore I was stiff I was cramping, it was very uncomfortable. I just chalked it up to over doing it at work and with my training. Later I learned that my sister was having some minor issues. Thursday was just another day for me, but Friday wasn't.

Her Feet Look Big

I went out for my run that morning and came home and cleaned up and I was sitting on the couch when I had this incredible feeling that was just overwhelming. The feeling wouldn't go away. I got up put my jacket on and just drove over to my sisters house. Now typically I will call or text before just showing up on the door. Not this time, the feeling was so strong that I just needed to get over there.

But not Really, look how tiny those feet are

My sister answered the door and was surprised to see me. I said that I just wanted to stop by and she told me she was having some minor complications and has a doctors appointment. She had been having some leakage and some pain in the lower abdomen. She was thinking that maybe it was a bladder infection. I offered to watch Lil Man but they had already made plans to bring him over to grandma house as they didn't know what my schedule looked like. (I was off that day and all weekend) I didn't tell my sister until a few days later as to why I just stopped by.

Daddy's Little Girl

Around 6 that evening I was out with Anthony and I received a call from my other sister and she told me Kristina's water had broke. Wow! Sounds like the baby is coming. Exciting but scary at the same time as the baby is really early. Around 7 I received the text that my little niece had arrived. My sister was in labor for only 3 hours. Talk about a quick delivery and a totally different delivery than what she experienced with Lil Man.

Brent feeding his baby girl!

So my intuition was right. I will never second guess that feeling again.

All last week I was watching Lil Man and he even had a sleep over at my house. I picked him up from pre school each day and stayed with him until his dad came home from the hospital. I enjoyed all the time I spent with Lil Man and I was glad that I could help my family out when they needed it. My sister is doing really well and really wants to bring the little one home.

Welcome to this world baby Kaylee. I can't wait to spoil you like crazy!