May 31, 2010

Taper blues

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend, enjoyed your barbecues, and listened to Sousa. For those of you running races next weekend and (hopefully) tapering, this might be a very frustrating time - a three day weekend passes by and nothing to put on the training log. Any other time, this would've been a perfect opportunity to shoot for higher mileage. Oh well. So here's how my taper is progressing in the last few weeks:

Not running as much is making me restless. I can't seem to remember how a long run feels like! On the one hand, I'm drooling at the thought of running long distance and on the other I'm a little nervous.

Here is some general wisdom on tapering:

  • Sleep well (several days of 8+ hrs of sleep before the race).
  • Cut down caffeine
  • Reduce work stress (yeah, right!)
  • Relax, do yoga or, if you can, meditate.
  • Drink fluids. And then drink more.
  • I don't drink alcohol but if you do, stop it at least three weeks before the race.
  • Eat well

May 25, 2010

Tapering is hard to do

Here's my mileage for the last few weeks:

Week 18 - 65.5
Week 19 - 68.7
Week 20 - 70.1
Last week - 55.4

This week I'm planning to bring it down to 30. (I already did 11.4 yesterday). The projection for next week  (race week) will be easy 10 miles in the beginning of the week followed by 50 miles on race day (Saturday).

Taper is hard. Especially when you're used thinking I'm-bored-let-me-go-for-a-run and I get bored/distracted from work often :( So, this week I'm going to suck it up and taper!

May 21, 2010

Midweek Summary

The weather has been particularly good this week. Here's a midweek summary:

Sun  - 32 @ 8:39 min/mile
Mon - 2 @ 9:00 min/mile
Tue  - 8 @ 8:08 min/mile
Thu  - 23.2 @ 7:38 min/mile

Just keeping the runs simple. I won't be doing anything crazy this week. This is week -2 for the upcoming race. Next week will be the official taper week. I've had trouble tapering during my previous marathons but it worked out anyways. This race is going to be different. I will need all the legs I can muster to make sure I don't DNF and finish the race in a reasonable time. You don't have to quit the race to DNF; there are two hard cutoff times to meet @ miles 21.7 and 35.4. So, yes next week is all about taper.

May 18, 2010

What did I sign up for?

Here's a profile of the craziness (in a good way) I'm looking forward to in two weeks:

Over the next few days, I will be posting notes about my preparation for this run. The 32 mile run on Sunday was the best thing I ever did and I felt strong later to do an hour long Yoga and groceries (touch wood). Looking back into my training log, I feel excited about this race. But there are somethings I need to worry about:
1. Gear - I am running this without crew support. For the first time, I will have to worry about packing & changing gears in a race. The race also mandated a headlamp at start that I bought recently.
2. Distance - I'm now in taper mode as far as this race is concerned and most likely will not be doing a training run longer than 32 miles before the race. So, I have no idea what to expect during the additional 18 miles.
3. Race diet - I will be eating solid foods during a race for the first time. I have had little time to experiment what works but have to go beyond the traditional gels to keep going the additional distance.
4. Pacing - If you start with a wrong pace in marathons chances are you might only affect your time but in an ultra a bad starting pace can easily lead to a DNF or not making the cut off time.
5. Shoes - This race is mostly on the trails but I haven't run once in trail running shoes. Finding a shoe that works for you can take months. At this point, I don't see any way of experimenting with a trail shoe.
6. Starting point - As a car-less student runner, getting to a starting point in the middle of nowhere is something I've never had to worry about running marathons held in big cities.

There's a first for everything. Interestingly when I ran my first marathon without running any kind of race before I never had to think much. I just went there and did it. That's my attitude for this race too. Just go there and do it.

May 16, 2010

Sunday run: First 50K

Today's run was mental. Ever since I decided to do the 50 miler, the fact that I haven't run an ultra before was bothering me. I crossed that mental barrier today morning doing a 32 mile run; a tad bit more than the standard 50K but I was loving it! Also the great 60s weather helped a lot too. So, I did my first ultra without any fanfare or a medal to show.

Miles 1-10:
Apart from the mental prep, I set out two packs of Gu and a bottle of Gatorade -- something I never do in my usual long runs.  I started out as usual towards the Harbor and then headed towards Eastern ave passing through little Italy and the latino neighborhood. After a brief detour at the Patterson Park, I made my way back to the harbor expecting the bottle of Gatorade to be near the flower bed where I had hid it. It was gone!

Miles 11-20:
This was mostly in the Canton area. I took the familiar Boston St. route. At mile 18, I briefly stopped at a  Starbucks and downed the first pack of Gu with the free water. Still the loss of Gatorade was on my mind. I didn't know if I needed it but didn't want it to f*k with my mind.

Miles 21-32:
This is where I started running towards Fort McHenry. I had to stop at the Royal Farms on Key Hwy to buy a bottle of Gatorade. Peace of mind. I continued running to the Fort. My Fort runs are never boring. The gorgeous weather inspired people and geese alike to enjoy the Fort. I made 7 loops around the Fort and the beginning of my second loop I saw this lovely old couple setting up picnic basket at a table overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. By loop three, I saw them eating cereal. Loop four, the lady was spreading jelly over a croissant. This made me hungry! It was mile 25 and I thought if this was the actual race, I would be half done. The Gatorade was unopened, so I had to have it merely to justify my purchase. Two quick gulps and I continued my loops watching the couple with great interest. The romance, the spark they had at this ripe old age was amazing and inspiring. During one of my loops I saw them seated, holding hands, and the husband showing a bird to his wife using his binoculars. My faith in the world is reassured. This brief anthropological curiosity made me run without realizing how far I had gotten. It was mile 29 already. This was going to be my last loop; I waved at the couple and headed home. La vie est belle!

Here's what a 50K in Baltimore looks like:

32.01 miles in 04:37:12

A summary of the week that was:
Mon - 7 miles @ 7:08 min/mile
Tue  - 7 miles @ 7:30 min/mile
Wed - 8 miles @ 6:52 min/mile
Thu  - 3 miles @ 8:20 min/mile
Fri    - 3 miles @ 8:20 min/mile
Sat   - 9 miles @  9:00 min/mile
Sun  - 32 miles @ 8:39 min/mile

May 13, 2010

Out of the closet: 50 mile race

It's official. I'm coming out and admitting on this blog about my entry to the 50miler in DC on June 5th. 23 days people and I'm psyched! Although I registered for it more than a month back it took me a while to post it here; this reticence was from self-doubt due to the recent Piriformis injury.

The night before the Mountain Maryland Marathon, I was trying to calm my race nerves by shopping for other marathons to run before Chicago. After not finding anything interesting that was inexpensive, out of a whim I started looking for ultras in the neighborhood. I missed the HAT 50K run in Maryland but fortunately the North Face Endurance Challenge in DC was open.

Why 50mile? I don't know. Just to see if I can do it? Anybody who runs knows the effort is not proportional to distance. I've been having a consistent & reasonable mileage but under different conditions. Being in the city and not having a car, I rarely get to run on trails. Also I haven't run an ultra before. So, my expectations from this race is rather low. I'm running it as opposed to racing it. My goal for this race is to avoid a DNF.

I will leave you guys with the immortal words of the poet William Blake:

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom; for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough."

Thursday: The week so far

Sun  - 25.2 miles @ 8:46 min/mile
Mon - 7 miles @ 7:08 min/mile
Tue  - 7 miles @ 7:30 min/mile
Wed - 8 miles @ 6:52 min/mile

Ideally, Monday should've been my recovery run but Jay joined me and I didn't want to slow him down.

May 9, 2010

Sunday run: Marathon - 1

After a yucky weather last Sunday, Baltimore got a great weather this weekend that could make any runner go the extra mile. I was looking forward to today's run and planned to run 25 miles today. This planning is very unlike me but then given the last week's nasty weather, I had to take full advantage of today's weather.

The run was on the familiar Canton-Fort route but on my way to the Fort, I tripped on a pavement, fell, and busted my Gu packet. Fortunately, the backup packet came handy. On training runs that are 20 or less, I don't take Gu or water but I needed the encouragement for the extra 5 miles I was planning to put in.

25.2 miles @ 8.7 min/mile

A summary of the week that was:

Mon -  8 miles @ 7.5 min/mile
Tue  -  4 miles @ 7.2 min/mile
Wed -  3 miles @ 7.0 min/mile
Thu - 10 miles @ 7.8 min/mile
Fri -     8 miles @ 7.1 min/mile
Sat -  10.5 miles @ 8.0 min/mile
Sun - 25.2 miles @ 8.7 min/mile

May 7, 2010

Thursday: Port and Fort

The week so far:
Mon - 8 miles @ 7.5 min/mile
Tue  - 4 miles @ 7.2 min/mile
Wed - 3 miles @ 7.0 min/mile
Today - 10 miles @ 7.8 min/mile

Today's run was not very unusual. Except I felt like going on Pratt. Running towards the Fort seems to be the favorite route of many Baltimore city runners. While running, I see many runners doing wrong things that I have to resist my urge to stop and correct them. But occasionally you can also spot elite runners - or at least runners who know what they are doing. What gives that away? Running form. Running form is like obscenity -- you know it when you see it. I will write more about what I learnt about my form later when the homework pile is not so intimidating.

May 2, 2010

Weekend Runs: The worse is yet to come

Sat - 10 mi @ 8:30 min/mi
Sun - 17.16 @ 8:12 min/mi

Today's run was the usual Fort-Canton-Harbor run but the weather in just a period of two days has turned hot and humid. By the time I finished my run today (around 9:20am) I was soaked in sweat and dehydrated. Running in the following weeks will be challenging. Suddenly, running in those horrible winter months appear more appealing.

Sunday run - Fort/Canton/Harbor - 17.16 miles