Friday, June 21, 2013

Preview - 2013 San Diego 100-Mile Race Report

I started this entry a couple weeks after running SD100 but now about a month has passed and I figured I owe it to the two people that have been following and reading this blog to let them know how it went for me. And although I'm almost feeling normal again, this entry will mostly be to remind myself how miserable I was and how finishing the race has changed me...or if it even has...I'll hopefully figure that last part out as I relive the experience....

I honestly have to say that I approached this race with a negative mindset. Not negative about whether or not I would or could finish, just negative about running. I was really burned out, and even jaded, over running and racing last year and I guess I just never got over it. There were several reasons why I signed up to do this race but the biggest one was because I got caught up in the 100-mile fever that everyone I knew seemed to have gotten. I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to join in the small group of runners that have completed a 100-miler. But there wasn't really a good reason for me to do this and I really shouldn't have. 

Even with proper coaching and a solid training plan with Tim Long from Footfeathers Coaching, I didn't put in the effort that I should have. Most of my training runs felt subpar. I kept having issues with my achilles and heel, especially after doing tempo runs, so I ended up taking those workouts out of my training. I had an acute case ITBS from pounding hills one week that took me out of running for a bit. Training started feeling more like a chore and I just wasn't into it anymore. The "fever" passed and I wasn't as excited about doing a 100-miler as I was back in December. 

The biggest thing that I needed to work on was my attitude. I still believe that if you put in some training, you could finish a 100-miler. Most of being able to finish has to do with your mental toughness and how much you want to or are willing to endure because everyone will eventually feel miserable during the race. I'm nothing special and I eventually made it to the finish. 

I haven't done much running since, actually other than pacing 22 miles at Western States, I haven't ran at all. And that's ok. I just need to get away from running for a bit. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


It's been just over a week now since I ran the San Diego 100-mile Endurance Run. (Race report to follow) I was looking forward to finishing the race so I could get back to living a "normal" life. I haven't really been in to the whole racing scene lately, but I still enjoyed being outdoors, on the trails and hanging out with like minded folk.

I wanted to get back to running trails with no structure. Just figure out an estimated distance or time, grab a pack, some food and maybe a water filter and go. There are several trails that I've backpacked that I want to go back out to and run them in a day or as an overnight trip. Other than running for "fun" again, I'd like to just spend some time camping and relaxing this summer. I was lucky and got started with that this past weekend at Zephyr Cove in South Lake Tahoe. Tyler and HK were up there for the weekend for the TRT training runs and reserved a campsite that I was able to set up a tent and hammock and crash at. I was able to convince Nellie, who was still exhausted from the prior weekend with San Diego 100, to come up at the last minute so we were able to take both Tahoe and Sophie up to enjoy some sun and fresh mountain air.  

But last night, I was looking at more places to go camping on my weekends when I'm actually off on the weekend and asked where Nellie wants to go, and she said, "Can't we just spend a weekend where we're not doing something?" Traveling to get away from the rough city life is completely exhausting and spending that time sleeping on the ground isn't exactly restful, so I understand where she's coming from. I don't mind spending some time at home, but I need to be outside. I feel like I'm a better person when I'm free to just be but I feel like I'm restricted from doing that when there's so much "structure" here. Luckily, my work schedule allows for the balance, but it's also nice to have someone to hang out with when I'm outdoors. 
Sophie enjoys running when she's not leashed
Another funny thing happened last night. I dreamt I was running another 100 miler. I don't know where or what race it was. It was just as hot as San Diego. But this time, I actually felt great and knew what I was doing. I exchanged smiles with Jeff Browning (SD100 winner 2012, 2013) as we crossed paths on an out and back section. I felt free…

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Unofficially Legit. AR50

Last year's American River 50-Mile Endurance Run was my first 50-miler. I had such a horrible time because of GI issues that I almost dropped out of the race....several times. Thanks to my great crew, I stuck to it and finished with a time of 7:53. This year, I was using it as a long training run; another workout towards my goal of finishing San Diego this June. I thought if I could make it through the race without GI or fueling issues, I'd consider it a win, or a solid training run.

One of my new running friends, and Ironman, HK, was gracious enough to allow us to crash at his house in Sacramento, which was less than 10 minutes away from the start. We arrived at the starting area around 5:30, dropped our drop-bags off and greeted other friends as we made our way up to the starting line.

It was still dark when the race started and would continue to stay so for a couple miles as you run south along the ARP bike path for a mile and then turn back and make your way up to Folsom. I slowly passed runners as I settled into a comfortable 8:20 min/mi pace. It only took a mile into the run before I started to get hot. It didn't start out that cold, but I wanted to wear my PI WXB raincoat. I must have look like I was struggling because a runner asked if she could help hold my jacket while I put my hydration pack back on. That was very nice of her. I kindly declined and got squared away. About 2 miles in, I heard someone cheer for me and looked over and saw Lavy. She was there to pace Patrick M. so made her way around the course cheering on folks until that point. Another participant in the 50-mile run, Amy Burton, asked me if that was Lavy, and I said yes. Then she asked if I was Tanford. So I introduced myself to her and found out that she is running Tahoe Rim Trail 100, and is having Lavy pace her there. Tyler, who was also there to pace HK, and crew, was just another 100 ft up the pathway. I handed her my jacket and continued on.

Amy and I ran together for the next 8 miles before she stopped for a bathroom stop. Then for the next 10 miles, I was alone. For a race that has over 800 participants, this is highly unusual. There were several people ahead of me, but far enough that if the trail turned, I'd lose sight of them. Then, there were several people a few hundred feet behind me. This made for the perfect condition for me missing a turn-off a little before mile 20. I ended up staying on the bike path and looping back around to the Main Bar AS at 19.2, adding on 3 additional miles.

Apparently someone had pulled down the course ribbons that marked the left turn onto the trail from the bike path. I told the captain of the AS what had happened and he said they sent someone down to put ribbons back up. The few people who were behind me and followed me, making the same mistake weren't too happy about it. I hope I don't end up in their race report as the guy that messed up their race. Oh well, things happen. But the second time around, there were about 5 ribbons up, and a volunteer standing there as a course monitor. Stuff like this is common in races. There are folks who don't care too much for runners and will take down ribbons, or people who just don't know what the ribbons are for and would pull them off.

I laughed it off and figured that as long as I can keep up the pace, I'll just count it as extra training miles. I wanted to finish the race feeling like I could run another 10-20 I guess I only would need to feel like I could go another 7-17 miles. I passed by that random porta-potty that saved my life at mile 19.5 and figured I should take a photo of it since it saved me from completely pooping my shorts.

But because of those extra 3 miles, I got to Beale's Point AS about 4 hours in to the run. But I got an unofficial 50k PR of 4:20, (and an unofficial 50-mile PR of 7:50.) I felt solid running the trails. I got to Buzzard's Cove looking forward to some ice cream. I wanted a cone last year but with the GI issues, nothing was appealing enough to eat. I passed through Buzzard's Cove with a few other guys, but was the only one that stopped for a cone.
I caught up to the front of that pack still with cone in hand and when I finished it, made my way around that runner and continued on.

 The only other significant event that happened was a fall around mile 48 (officially mile 45 of the race) where I tripped over a rock, and threw my foot down to stop my fall, but that caused my right calf to spasm and cramp up, causing me to fall anyway. It took me a good minute to stretch that calf out enough to relax the muscle so I could stand up again. Meanwhile two runners passed me, briefly slowing down to ask if I needed help. Most trail runners so are nice. I eventually caught back up to these guys right before we started the last 3 miles of climbing to the finish.

I felt strong, and surprisingly fresh, but I think I just wanted to race to be over so I could go enjoy a beer. I ran the last 3 miles up to the finish, briefly stopping at the Last Gasp AS to take a photo (of the hunky dudes that were manning the aid station to encourage the ladies to finish strong)
and take in a cup of coke, running those last three miles in 11:19, 9:03 and 9:40, respectively, finishing with an official time of 8:16:01.

With today's recovery run, I finished out the week with 80 miles, 8,500 ft of elevation gain (7,200ft loss) and 12:55 of time spent on my feet.

Special thanks to NorCal Ultras race director, Julie Fingar, for putting on a great race, all the volunteers that made the race possible, HK, Tyler, and Diana for providing us with beers, driving us back and providing a cold pool to soak our legs post race.

Edit: I had half a cup of chicken noodle soup at Granite Bay AS, drinking all the soup but only taking in some of the pasta and chicken. The chicken was quite dry and I ended up cheeking it for a bit. Five minutes later, the chicken bits are still in my mouth and getting drier. When we hit a little uphill section, I took a deep breath and took some of that chicken and started choking. After few minutes of coughing an trying to clear my throat, everything was all good and I continued on. Had to laugh about that too...and noted here to remember to not eat the chicken.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gear Review - Roll Recovery R8

The latest thing to join foam rollers, Trigger Point, and The Stick in the self massaging tool market is a product called Roll Recovery R8, or just the R8. Developed by Colorado endurance athlete, Jeremy Nelson, the R8 is specifically designed to target your legs and glutes.

The R8's main body is designed like a c-clamp that has high tension springs on it's corners that keep the clamp closed. At the end of the "clamp," where it makes contact with your leg, are 2 sets of 4 rollerblade type wheels. The tension from the springs provide the force needed for the massage, so you don't need to add any addition pressure (unless you wanted to) like you would with The Stick. The R8's design also keeps you from having to roll on the ground like you would with foam rollers because you hold it with your hands and roll it where you need. Another benefit of the R8, is that my arms don't get tired when using it. When I use the foam roller, I'm holding up a lot of my body weight with my arms, which eventually gets tired and ends my rolling session, and my shoulders tire out fairly easily when I use The Stick.

As far as pressure goes, nothing beats the foam roller because you're using a majority of your body weight to press down on whatever you're targeting, but sometimes all that pressure, or too much pressure, is more harmful than beneficial. You can reproduce the same desired pressure from The Stick, but like I mentioned earlier, my arms and shoulders get pretty tired. The only spot I can't seem to get a good massage with using foam rollers or The Stick is my hamstrings. I either can't get my hamstrings to relax enough when I use the foam roller or a deep enough pressure from The Stick without feeling like I'm about to snap it in half. But with the R8, I'm able to get right in there and work the entire length of my hamstrings and into my glutes.

If you want more information, check out their website at

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breakthrough Week

After struggling with subpar runs and injuries for the past three months, I finally had a decent week of solid running, breaking 50 miles. It wasn't perfect as my knees are paying for it, but with less than 10 weeks until San Diego, I'll have to balance on that fine line that will allow me to push my training without completely injuring myself.

I started the week out with two easy runs following a DNF at CTR's Canyon Meadow. I was signed up to run the 50k, but dropped to the marathon distance (Garmin showed 25M) because of an acute case of ITBS on my left knee. A visit to Dr. Blum at Financial District Chiropractic for some ART/Graston got me back out by Wednesday.

I got in 15-mile night run on Friday in the headlands, this time with NoƩ and Janeth for company.

Followed by a 16 miler Saturday morning and wanted to round out the week with an even number so I headed down to Montara Mountain and got in 13 miles with John.

John making the climb back up Montara Mtn Rd

 My Garmin data totals are lower than this, finishing the week out with 60.5 miles and total elevation gain of 10,400ft. 

All that's left to do now is keep my knees in check, get in some heat training and I should make it to San Diego feeling a bit more confident.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Runs...I've Got Them

All my training this year, races included, at least for the first part of the year, is to achieve one finish my first 100-miler, The San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run. I probably have no business attempting a run of this distance, especially after being so burned out last year with running and starting this year with about 3 months of no running, or very little time on my feet and another flare up of achilles tendinitis and PF. But I'll give it a shot. I've just now gotten consistent 50-mile weeks with decent hilly runs, but that's also coming at a cost with my first overuse injury, acute ITBS. Mid-week runs aren't happening as often as they should so I've been running one big day per weekend for the past three.

Way Too Cool was my first 50k of the year. With my fitness level not being close to where it was last year at this time, and the achilles issues, I wasn't expecting to PR, but since I had 11 weeks of coaching up to that point, I was hoping to run within 10 minutes of my time of 4:28 last year. I can't say I had a solid run, but I ended up finishing 4:35. I didn't have consistent pacing throughout the race, speeding up drastically to keep up with runners that I'd catch up to who decided that they weren't going to let me pass so easily. Then slowing and even walking most of the hills that I ran up last year. I had a couple mile splits that were 1:00-1:30 slower than last year.

The following week, I headed down to San Diego to do some course recon. The 15-mile section starting from Pine Creek AS (mile 36 of the race) up through Pioneer Mail AS (mile 44) to Sunrise AS (mile 51) is suppose to be the toughest section of the course. I got to Sunrise just as the sun was rising on Friday morning and headed out to the PCT to backtrack down to Pine Creek. I'm not sure if it was the altitude of the course (about a mile up) or the heat, but by the time I got down to Pine Creek, I was 3+ hours into the run, hot, exhausted and about halfway through my 110 ounce of fluids that I had with me. There was one point where I saw a small gray pig charging me but when I bent over to put my arms out to block it, it disappeared. Heat related delusions? Maybe. I've never experienced anything like that before. Well, seven and a half hours later, and texts to Nel to when I had signal to let her know I was struggling but still alive and making my way back, I made it back to the car two 20-oz bottles of Tailwind, 4 ViFuel gels, and 70-oz of water and 7 pounds lighter.

Run #3 was suppose to be a 50k this past Sunday at CTR's Canyon Meadow Train Run. Two 13.1 mile loops followed by a 5-mile loop. It ended up being 25 miles and my first DNF. With the high mileage days and hill runs, my ITB was irritated enough to cause a severe enough pain to make me slow down from mile 19-24 and then finally walking the last mile or so back to the start/finish area. I couldn't take a step on the downhills without numbing pain shooting up my left leg. I'm fine with the DNF. It was just a training run. I felt I had a solid run otherwise.

I think my legs are getting accustomed to the long runs again. I took Monday and Tuesday off. I had an ART/Graston treatment on Tuesday and am pretty much pain free today. Other than feeling some residual heaviness, my legs aren't getting sore after the 25-30 mile runs.

I'm hoping to get in one more 20+ mile day this weekend and ease up next week to get ready for AR50. Hopefully we'll have a string of warmer weather so I can head over to Mt. Diablo to do some hills and heat. I think if I can get in solid distances, hills, and heat, I should be okay for San long as my legs and body holds up. It's slow going, but I have another 11 weeks to peak.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gear Review - Tailwind Nutrition

Unless you're exclusively running and racing short distances, chances are you've consumed many-a gels, chews, water, electrolyte drinks and tabs, cookies, chips, candy, bacon or what have you, to keep your energy levels high enough to get you across that finish line. (Although, there has been a time when I've stopped and gotten water in the middle of a 4-mile xc race...don't judge, I guess I'm just programmed to stop when I see a table with water.) I've also been unfortunate enough to not be blessed with an iron stomach so choosing the right fuel and fueling at the right times has been just as difficult as running the ultramarathon distances themselves.

What gels taste the best? Which one offers more? How about salt tabs? Does one contain more sodium and potassium than the other? How about electrolyte drinks? Is Gatorade no longer acceptable?

Who knows? I don't and honestly, I may never know. But after countless races and training runs of vomiting up my gels, having upset stomachs from sports drinks, or having salt tabs the size of a horse pill stuck sideways in my throat, I finally came across something that worked for me.
Tailwind Nutrition.

Developed by an endurance athlete who also dealt with GI issues, his recent claim is it's "All you need, all day. Really."

Each serving (1 scoop with provided scooper) contains 303mg of sodium, 88mg of potassium, 25g of total carbs, 26mg of Calcium, and 14mg of Magnesium. One bottle per hour takes care of my nutritional/fueling needs for a 50k. I used it at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-Mile, but miscalculated the amount I needed so I ran out before the race ended. Around mile 35, I started tanking because all I had for the 6 prior miles was just water and the Tailwind residue that was in my bottle. But for the 35 miles, I felt great.

Now it's all I use on runs longer than 2 hours. I'll still carry a gel or two, in case, but lately it's been to help other runners who haven't found Tailwind yet.