Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reservoir Dogs 35k

Last race for the summer!  Some time during the long slog that was Rodeo Valley, I decided to take a couple month break from races.  But this would be a good one, on fairly remote trails I’ve wanted to run for a while.  

Photo by ITR volunteer
Starting at the San Pablo boat launch, the course follows single track south and the east, making a counter-clockwise loop of Briones Reservoir.  I ran the first few miles at a good pace, but started hiking the uphills at the first big climb, since I had a tight tendon in one foot that was irritating me.  That turned out to be a good call for later in the race, as I was really able to pick up the pace the last five or so miles.

The south side of the reservoir is mostly wooded single track, with very few people out who were not in the race.  Heading north, it follows a fire road on the eastern shore before heading uphill onto a ridge, where everything got very hot.  Reaching the ridge, I stopped for a stretch break before taking an easy pace until the long downhill started.  This part of the course feels like a more secluded version of Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, running along a ridge that lets you see half the east bay.  I’ll have to come back and run the loop part of this course in the winter/spring to see it in the rainy season.  

Once making it to the downhill, I really picked up the pace and passed quite a few people during the last five miles, forcing myself to relax and run through the irritated foot muscle.  Ironically, this helped loosen it up, and by the end of the race, it wasn’t bothering me.  I sprinted most of the last half mile, finishing tired and beat, which is the best way to finish.  It’s freeing knowing that I don’t need to race, or even plan to run a long run, for a while, since it gave me no reason to hold anything back the last part of the course.

Photo by ITR volunteer

I finished in 4:13:22, 53 out of 79.  Slower relative to the overall group of runners than usual, but a half hour faster than my prior 35k.  Another highlight, I had none of the calf stiffness that’s annoyed me for the last few months; regular massage, heat therapy, and strength training seems to be working.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

22, 21: Digging In

Monday July 7.  12.5 mile ride and 2050 yard swim.  Another ride on Grizzly Peak/Skyline.  I took this at a faster effort than usual, since I haven't timed a road ride in quite a while.  I'm finally riding drops consistently on downhills.  20x fast 50s in the swim, a repeat of last week.  It felt slower, but was actually faster.  I suppose that's good.

Tuesday July 8.  15.2 mile trainer ride and 4.5 mile run.  The ride was 3 4-minute intervals.  The run was 8x 30 paces.  I ran it on Grizzly Peak, taking each interval on a slight uphill.

Wednesday July 9.  5.4 mile run and 3450 yard swim.  Since I'm planning to race less, I'm looking for new places to run and ride for the summer, instead of repeating a lot of the same routes.  This was planned to compulsively connect a few disconnected portions of my Strava running heat map.  Yeah, it's compulsive, but it's a fun way to find places I don't think of to run/ride.  I started at Inspiration Point and ran the EBMUD Inspiration Trail down to San Pablo Reservoir.  It turned out to be an awesome trail; a coyote jumped away after I startled it, and two large groups of wild turkeys were running the trail.  Legs were sore from Tuesday's intervals, so it was really slow going, and the big uphills were mostly hiking.  After getting back I made a quick loop over to the Seaview Trail, followed by a short sprint on the paved trail.  Most of my summer running plan includes a speed session, a "longer" mid-week run (90 minutes or so), and a brick.  The plan I'm following has the longer run the day after the intervals, but I didn't get what I wanted out of this in terms of effort, so I'm going to separate those instead.  I'm trying to rejigger things to get rid of slower workouts to keep everything at higher intensity until fall.  The swim focused on 3x500.    

Thursday July 10.  2000 yard swim.  10x100, focus on speed.  Tired again after the first few, like last week.

Friday July 11.  30.7 miles biking at 1800 yards swimming.  I woke up early this morning with a really tired core/back, and I went back to bed.  Yeah I woke up this morning, and I went right back to bed.  Then I finally went out for my ride to work, and I cut 10 miles off the distance to make up for it.  Part of the ride was on roads I haven't been on, down Claremont, out on Russell, and then some extra riding on the bay trail.  Later, 1800 yards, focusing on form and stroke count, which was a nice break after two weeks of mostly speed-focused swim workouts.  I immediately followed this by the ride home, which I lengthened to make up for the shorter ride in the morning.  Back on the bay trail, which is nice for road speed training, and around the UC Berkeley campus and up Tunnel.  

Saturday July 12.  13.6 mile ride and 4.2 mile run.  Trying a new riding loop that includes the Tunnel Rd climb, connecting from Montclair to Tunnel through Temescal Park.  Quads were really tired/stiff after the long climb, and I pushed speed on the run.  This left me beat up.

Sunday July 13.  2:12/27.7 miles kiting.  Third to the Coyote launch and back.  Feeling only moderately tired/sore compared to the last kiting run, I had some fun with speed runs and jumping at the end, quitting when I got sloppy.

Monday July 14.  Triple day #1.  12.4 mile ride, 4.2 mile run, 2000 yard swim.  This is a front-loaded week because of scheduling and the need to take a few days easier.  The ride was sunny, what's becoming my usual morning out-and-back on Grizzly Peak/Skyline.  The run was 12x15" all-out intervals.  They're starting to hurt less after the fact, and I'm consistently getting below a 5:30 pace on these now.  The swim was 10x100 at a moderate/strong pace.  Swimming feels tired/plateued.  Good thing it's an easier week overall.

Tuesday July 15.  Triple day #2.  45 mins weight training,  2300 yards swimming, 13.5 miles cycling on the trainer.  Weights felt good, and swimming was focused on a half hour straight through at a moderate effort.  Cycling was 5x3 minute intervals.  With legs getting frequently tired when riding on hills, I reconfigured my garmin to show cadence to start working on targeting 90.  I kept this through the ride and geared to maintain it.  It was much easier to get my heart rate up.  This combination of workouts did beat me up quite a bit, which I expected, but there's three off/easy days planned next.

Wednesday July 16.  Off.  Well needed.  Tired/stiff from two hard days.

Thursday July 17.  2000 yards swimming, moderate effort.  The focus was a steady pace through 10x100.  I dropped the long run planned for the morning, which I expected to do, to get extra recovery time in.

Friday July 18.  A couple miles of hiking with PL, MC, and EB, who's visiting.  We hiked around a couple batteries in the southern part of the headlands, and then went to Muir woods, taking the valley trails and a small loop on the Bootjack/Camp Eastwood trails.

Saturday July 19.  13 mile ride and 3.3 mile run.  A near repeat of last weekend's brick workout.  A ride down to Mountain, up Tunnel, an out-and-back-on Grizzly Peak, and back on skyline.  Followed by a run down the Shepherd Canyon Railroad Trail and back.  I geared down this time to focus on cadence on the ride, and had about the same overall time, with much less leg fatigue.  The run was also more cadence focused than speed focused.  After last week's mid-week close-to-crash, I'm going to back off the pace on non-speed workouts to focus on form.  I picked up the pace on the last part of the run, and finished this feeling much better than after last last week's brick.

Sunday July 20.  2:38/29.7 miles kiting.  The bay is covered in a marine layer, so off to Sherman Island.  It's the first time this season, which wasn't planned, just a quirk of scheduling.  It was blowing 21-29, so I took out the 9m, and left line extensions on, given the wide range.  I had a bit of a sketchy launch in which the kite powered up rather quickly into a gust, and I was less than a second away from punching out to ditch it.  Better kite damage than me damage.  But the gust backed off quickly and I got it under control.  Hitting the water, I was either well overpowered or about to stall for the first half hour, until I got upwind of the river bend.  I made a long steady upwind cruise past M6, and turned around for a fast downwinder.  These are fun, since they you play with the board a lot.  I worked on toeside a bit and then hung out around M10 jumping for almost an hour.  I had a couple high jumps with spectacular wipeouts, and a handful of jumps to the right, my weak side.  I'm realizing that to port I'm mostly working on landing safely, and could probably jump much higher if I wanted to.  The couple high jumps were enough to scare me just a little, which is something I'm aiming for on a consistent basis now, to make sure I'm not staying too much inside my comfort zone, where I learn less.  I got tired of jumping, and finished by riding another upwinder/downwinder.

This was weeks 2 and 3 of the slightly-broken-up 10 week summer training plan.  In hindsight, I'm pushing too hard on some of these; I'm going to back off the effort a bit on non-speed workouts.  I'm also considering adjusting the gearing on my bike to make climbing more efficient; I can't always hit a decent cadence on climbs, which is doing a fair amount of muscle beat-up.  I'm using this an excuse to read up on how all these bicycle parts work.  It was fun not caring for almost a year.  But I did realize that I have, for the most part, pretty decent components on my bike.

I keep telling myself that I'll stop keeping my training log here, since strava tracks everything too.  But the two-week cycle of writing/editing these makes me notice medium size (few week) trends (and mistakes) more.   So I'll keep it going.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Double Dipsea

An article I read about the Dipsea trail race a few years ago was a big inspiration to start trail running.  It has a kind of insane pseudo-lottery registration, which is too complicated for my patience, so I had either the double or quad dipsea somewhere in the back of my mind as a race to eventually do.  After covering most of the trail back in January, I started occasionally looking into it, finding no updates, but then signed up once Brazen announced they were taking it on.  It wasn't timed well for a good speed run, but I'm a sucker for a lot of climbing.

I really like Stinson Beach as a race staging area, since there's a breakfast/coffee stand that opens early and very cold water to wade in after finishing.  It's a handicap race, and I had none, so I had fun cheering on the oldest starters, some of whom started an hour before me.

Once starting, I took a sustainable pace out, switching between running and hiking to keep my heart rate steady.  It worked well, and I had my fastest climb up to Cardiac Hill, with no muscle stiffness, unlike the prior week at Rodeo Valley.  The run downhill to Muir woods was slower than I'd like, stability was still low.  The climb back up to Panoramic Highway was also a good, steady-paced climb.  The Mill Valley stairs were new to me, but scenic and fun.  

Turning around, I had to climb them.  I just counted and kept going at a steady, sustainable pace without stopping.  Reaching the top, I could tell I'd feel them for the rest of the race, as everything tightened up in my legs.  Despite this, I was able to jog a fair amount of uphill for the rest of the course, which I didn't expect, but downhills were even slower.  Patiently toughing it out, I eventually finished in 3:43:09.  Not very fast, but I had no clue what to expect with the volume of stairs on this course.  Splits were 1:40:10 and 2:02:59--the stair effect.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rodeo Valley 50k

I don’t know why I signed up for a 50k two weeks after my first half ironman.  Ok, I know why I did, but I didn’t make the mental connection that it was only two weeks later.  The Hawaii 70.3 was a mental release at the end of a long period of training, and this was after that, so I didn’t think about it much ahead of time.  Anyway, I wanted to run a 50k in June, and it’s been a while since I ran some of these trails, so I was in.

…for about the slowest plod of a race I’ve ever done.  I could list lots of reasons, but nothing felt great going into it, and I knew I’d just be going in to get the distance, enjoy the course, and finish.  DL was running this too, but with much different intentions.  At the start, I held back, slowly running the first long hill.  Then I realized that while my hamstrings were burning, they were moving fine, albeit slowly.  But my calves hurt.  I didn’t expect that, since I haven’t pushed them hard in a while.  I switched to mixing up running and hiking the uphills, until the trail got up into the scenic parts with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and the bay.  Intending to pick up speed, nothing moved like it should.  It felt like running in molasses.  But I had fun with it and kept going.  Marincello was a long downhill on this route, which is much nicer than the long uphill I’ve always taken on it.  

Passing the Tennessee Valley aid station, I was on trails that were new to me, taking Miwok and the Coastal trail out to the coast.  The view opened up and was amazing.  This stretch of coast is one of the reasons I wanted to do this run.  Since I was way behind on time, relative to where I wanted to be, I started putzing around a bit and taking photos.  The next climb out of Pirate's Cove was steep and took a bit out of me.  Passing the aid station again, I started the next long climb, again switching running and walking until I hit the top, where the course stays fairly flat for a while.  Again, I couldn’t take this at any speed, since nothing wanted to move as fast as it should, so I just kept going.  New to me on ITR’s take on the course, we went through a number of old batteries, a tunnel, and past ruined shelters, none of which I’ve seen before.  I took the downhill to Rodeo Beach at a decent clip, and DL lapped me coming into the last aid station (which I was expecting, knowing his speed).

Yeah, that's racing pace.

Heading back out and past the start/finish area, I turned on my iPod, since I was just speed hiking the uphills at this point, and needed something to pass the time.  I kept approximate pace with three others for the remainder of the course, which passes back through most of the first loop.  The second loop was all about just getting the course done, and my speed dropped precipitously.  It certainly met the endurance training goal that motivated signing up for it, since I finished seconds over eight hours on a course that should have taken me about 6:30.  But I had fun.  

Somewhere along the way, I got tired of this, and made a decision to take a two month racing break for most of the summer.  I had a couple more races scheduled, which I finished.  Unless I change my mind dramatically, I’m going to skip out on racing and focus on speed and strength until fall, when I’ll pick up the distance again to train for a 50 miler.  I also made a mental note to start treating 50ks more like races now, since I think I understand more of what my body goes through over the course of the distance now.  I’m planning to do two or three in the fall as part of the 50 miler training.   

Sunday, July 06, 2014

24, 23: New training focus

Monday June 23.  5.9 mile run.  Small Emeryville Peninsula to Berkeley Pier and back.  Intending to take most of this fast, I backed off after a mile or so to focus on loosening up what was still stiff from Dipsea.  I eventually settled on half mile efforts at a slightly faster speed.

Tuesday June 24.  11.6 mile ride.  Skyline/Grizzly Peak.  Lots of turkeys on the road.

Wednesday June 25.  13 mile trainer ride and 4.4 mile run.  The 5 x 3 minute trainer intervals.  The run was more of a slow jog and hike in Redwood, out on the French Trail and back on the Stream Trail.

Thursday June 26.  3750 yards swimming, centered on a 1000 yard strong effort.

Friday June 27.  24.7 mile ride and 2.4 mile run.  Waking up early, I rode up to Inspiration Point, then down through Orinda, Moraga, Canyon, and back.  I'm moving my long rides to Friday's for a while to free up weekend time.  The run was centered on 4 20 second all-out intervals, the first interval set of the plan I'm following for the summer.  They increase in count/duration for 10 weeks, with the goal of improving running speed at 10k distances.

Saturday June 28.  2100 yard swim.  An unusual Saturday pool swim.  15 100's.  I bailed on a morning bike ride to get extra rest.

Sunday June 29.  2 or 2 1/2 hours kitesurfing.  I launched from Third Ave and rode up into the Coyote Point launch, the furthest I've ever ridden upwind in the peninsula.  Mostly just riding and working on board skills, since I was generally tired.

Monday June 30.  4.2 mile run in Redwood Regional Park.  I ran my original regular loop through the park, taking it at speed.  Since I haven't run this route in a long time, I watched my heart rate on the uphill, as I didn't want to beat myself up this week.  I sprinted up a steep part of the climb and speed-hiked the rest of the uphill, since my heart rate stayed high after the sprint.  And the goats are out for the summer.

Tuesday July 1.  10.3 mile ride and 2050 yard swim.  The usual Skyline/Grizzly Peak out and back, with the densest fog I've seen up here.  The swim was 20 fast 50's.

Wednesday July 2.  6.2 mile run and 3550 yard swim.  I took out a new pair of road shoes for a lunch run up to University Ave and back, doing pre-race strides every half mile.  The Torins have started to get annoying on faster (interval) workouts, since the padding movement makes me feel like my feet are sliding, and also causes heat built-up inside the shoe.  I picked up a pair of One^2s, and I was really happy with them for running at speed on roads.  I'll probably switch between both for road runs.  The main set of the swim was 3x500 at race pace; I swam it a little faster than my recent race pace.

Thursday July 3.  2000 yard swim.  The main set was 10x100 at speed.  This faster swimming has felt  good after the long endurance-focused push leading up to Hawai'i.

Friday July 4.  11.5 mile ride and 3.4 mile walk.  The usual easy out/back on Skyline/Grizzly Peak, focusing on riding the drops.  I've very quickly gotten comfortable with them, after ignoring them until now.  Later, a fireworks walk on the Emeryville peninsula.

Saturday July 5.  ITR Reservoir Dogs 35k.  More elsewhere.

This starts a 10 week training effort that focuses on speed and strength.  I'm backing off on running volume a lot to get a lot of shorter, faster runs in, but will slowly ramp it up to get back into longer races later in the fall.   The second week dropped the harder run/bike parts of the plan as a short taper for the race.  It's also my last race until fall, since I feel like having too many fun races is now motivating me to avoid some better speed/strength workouts.  And I want more weekend free time for the summer.

26, 25: Two Fun Races

Monday June 9.  2600 yard swim.  This starts a couple weeks of fun, but harder workouts, to get ready for the next training focus, which will be strength and speed for the summer.  I pulled a workout off of the internet and swam at a fairly quick pace.

Tuesday June 10.  5 mile run.  Around huckleberry and sibley, getting hill time in.  

Wednesday June 11.  2200 yard swim, form focused, but at strong effort.  I added some tri-targeted weight training too, another part of the plan for the summer.

Thursday June 12.  Rest.  The weight training is having a surprisingly big effect on leg flexibility, so everything's out except stretching and light swimming until Saturday.

Friday June 13.  1200 yard swim.  Just moving, stretching legs a lot.

Saturday June 14.  50k run.  Rodeo Valley.  More elsewhere, but a warm, sunny, very long and slow run on very stiff/tight/weak legs.

Sunday June 15.  Rest.

Monday June 16.  2750 yard swim.  Lots of pulling in a workout I pulled off the internet.  

Tuesday June 17.  Rest.  Putting the bike and kiteboard back together.

Wednesday June 18.  10.9 mile ride and 1000 yard swim.  First ride after picking up the bike, heading out on Skyline/Grizzly Peak.  5x200 free at speed.

Thursday June 19.  2.4 mile run.  Huckleberry Loop at a decent pace, running all uphills.  First run after taking a break from running for most of the week.

Friday June 20.  1000 yard swim.  200 free, 200 breast, 200 free, 200 breast, 200 free.  Just moving and loosening up legs for Saturday.

Saturday June 21.  13.7 mile run.  Double Dipsea, much better than Rodeo Valley, but still physically tired in a number of places.  A fun warm day though, it was my first time covering the full trail.  

I'm posting this late, like most recent entries.  This was the calm before summer training gets started.  Both races were fun races, and I was tired and/or sore going into each, but happy to experience the courses/races.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Hawai'i (Honu)

Finally here, tho has been the main focus of training since last fall.  It's amazing to think about how much effort, both physical and mental, went into the training, especially with having a baby along the way.  A year ago I didn't own a road bike, I had just recently started open water swimming, and I had finished a well-interrupted golden gate swim.  I had signed up for a triathlon to try it out (Malibu), but was far from finishing one.

Then PL and I vacationed in Hawaii, staying in a small town in North Kohala, and we discovered a couple notable triathlons were here.  I knew nothing about them until finding a sign at the harbor in Kailua-Kona marking the world championship start.  Researching it later, the Honu 70.3 caught my attention as something that would be a challenge to finish, but quite doable.  I was ready in terms of swimming and running, but cycling had a long way to go.  Again, I still didn't own a bike.  It turned out a few friends were doing this too, so I was in.

Then we found out we had a baby on the way, so I had no clue what would happen.  But these kinds of life challenges are fun, and keep me really engaged.  A few key months of training would be really disrupted, especially for cycling, since it's easier to fit impromptu swims and runs into my schedule.  

MC came along, and all went well, so we made our first family vacation out of it.  After  a few days of exploring south-western big island, race logistics took over everything.  Bike pickup, small bike upgrades to handle the distance, paperwork, more paperwork, race bags, briefings, etc.  

Saturday dawned early; I slept four solid hours, much more than I expected.  Juggling baby care and learning how to travel with a baby had me completely not-nervous about the race, but it was time to start.

The second wave was all age-group men, in a mass start from the water, at Hapuna Beach.  I expected chaos, and had positioned myself somewhere in the middle, but found the packed swim to be fairly easy to deal with.  Swimming over sand and coral reefs in unbelievably clear water, I had mostly cleared my head of the race effort itself and let my thoughts wonder.  These moments in races are my favorite, when you're not even thinking and just going, knowing what to do subconsciously.  
Hapuna Beach, a couple days before.

The swim finished, I was at 43:53, slightly faster than I expected.  I had some chafing on my shoulders, unexpectedly.  I washed the salt off, packed on sunscreen and vaseline to protected the chafed shoulders, and got through T1 fairly easily.

T1 prep the day before.

The bike portion would be hardest, I just don't have the experience and technical skills to either ride through gusty wind well or take downhills at full speed, so I set out to just finish it.  The start of the ride was an out and back on the Queen Kaahumanu highway to Mauna Lani.  This was all through vast lava fields on long slow subtle hills, with enough wind to keep me holding back speed in favor of stability.  The course continued north through Kawaihae, where the cross-island wind died off, and the mostly uphill route to Hawi begins.  

Riding to Hawi, I kept a steady, but conservative pace.  The route is gorgeous; it was driving this road a year ago that made me want to finish this course. Getting further north, the Alenuihaha channel winds picked up, as a long steady uphill to the turnaround begins.  This was the long part.  I would say hard, but it wasn't really, since I just kept my effort steady.  And I knew that a mostly downhill reward was coming.  

We turned around as we got into Hawi, to head back to Mauna Lani.  The first downhill was a welcome relief, and the remaining hills in North Kohala all went well.  Getting past Kawaihae, the heat from the lava fields started to come into play, and I picked up my fluid intake significantly.  My left foot was feeling sore near the ball, which has happened before.  Since I had a number of miles left, I adjusted form a number of times before realizing that I stretch one heel down too far.  Concentrating on this for the rest of the ride, it let up and didn't bother me the rest of the race.  I passed a group of enthusiastically cheering friends as I wrapped up the ride and headed into T2.  The ride was 4:08:43, comfortably under my just-get-it-done goal.

Getting through T2 was a relief; I had just finished my longest ride and was getting started on a sport I understand better.  The run course passes through a golf course and along roads through the lava fields of the resort.  The first few miles went well, I kept up a pace better than my best half marathon.  Then two things happened: the heat got me and hamstring tightness from the ride set in.  I could have pushed through the hamstring tightness, but not the heat.  I backed off the pace a lot, using timed walking breaks, stretch short breaks, along with many cups of ice and cold sponges from the copious amount of aid stations to keep the heat and muscle tightness in check.  Never have I taken advantage of so many aid stations in such a short run.  But even with the slow-for-me pace, I spent the entire run passing people, one phychological benefit of being a much more experienced runner than cyclist.  

After mile 12, I started keeping pace with a local in his 60's who was doing this race for his third time.  He missed a year due to cancer, but he was back out and finishing it again.  After talking a while, and hearing his turn-by-turn take on the last part of the course, he told me to go ahead.  I was enjoying the conversation, but took off, since I wanted to finish strong after the generally slow run.  I finished the run in 2:37:19, with an overall time of 7:45:26.  Right about where I thought I would be, but with a faster cycling time and slower run than I expected.  Friends and family were at the finish cheering us all in, and they hand-made leis for us while we were out on the course for the day!  A quick shower, some food, and family time followed.  A key highlight was collectively cheering in RR as he finished.  

Awesome photo by AN.

Of all the races I've done, this is the only one I've seriously trained and seriously tapered for, even with backing off on intended training plans to welcome a new baby into our lives.  Everything worked, and nothing was really sore after; just muscle stiffness, shoulder chafing, and sunburn.  Everyone's friends and family provided amazing support, getting us moved around and fed and cheering us on.  The numerous volunteers were amazingly helpful; I had been at registration for only a few minutes before a volunteer was telling me what it meant to him to have everyone here at this race.  

Finishing this race has given me a lot to reflect on--in some ways it was as much a mental challenge to logically plan a new level of training and my first race with significant travel while learning how to wrangle a newborn, as it was a physical challenge.  The race itself was amazing, a time to move and to reflect and to take everything in.  

Thing learned:
Really hot run = back off pace from beginning.
More uphill east ridge trail or diablo runs in the afternoon at home to better handle the heat.
Tailwind worked awesome.  I need a better way to refill running bottle with it.
More sunscreen.  Carry some during the bike and run.
I need a better swim top.  Maintaining a consistently strong stroke increases chafing.
Sunscreen in both transitions 
Pick up pace on brick runs, and move them to roads.  Hamstring tightness was a frustrating hit on the run.
Move cleats on bike shoes back to balance out form.
Work on downhill speed and handling in wind on the bike