Thursday, April 29, 2010

Biking at Beaverdam

So last weekend's Captain Thurmond practice run got me going on the bike, really it was my first time on trails this year. Wednesday I felt my legs were ok, and even though my butt ached from hill intervals on Tuesday, I figured it wouldn't affect riding so I went to Beaverdam to ride the Southloop.

I probably rode this loop only three or four times overall. At first nothing was familiar but I knew there was no other trails around here. After awhile some landmarks and trails marks become familiar. I didn't bother with dropzone, since I had no idea how my legs would respond to this loop after not riding the entire winter.

I was definitely not fast, but all those running in the winter did make one difference that I noticed. Even though I could climb no faster than before, I recover faster. I used to have to either ride very slowly or stop after any size hills, but now I seem to recover breathing and leg strength without much of a rest after hills.

Finished the loop in 1 hour and 11 minutes. Not exactly fast, but not turtle slow either, I hope.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Captain Thurmond's Challenge training at Harris Lake

There are a bunch of us planning to do Captain Thurmond's Challenge this year. I have proposed we do a training run closer to here sometimes in the spring. After 35 or so email exchanges we finally settled on Saturday, my birthday.

We decide to follow the event sequence of the real race. So start with the biking segment. I have never biked at Harris Lake before, so had to reply on Todd, Bob and Elizabeth for ideas. They settled on a counterclockwise loop of all three loops. So I had it nailed in my head to take every right. It was also Jade's first time here.

Todd bolted from the start and I never saw him again. Soon I let Bob pass me so he's not sticking to my ass so annoyingly. On my own, I managed the right side of the first two loops without issues. Crossing the road I start on the more advanced section. A good bit hillier with more logs to jump and lots whoopy doos. I stopped a few times to sip water and rest. Soon I find myself doing the same section of whoopy doos twice. What heck. I stopped and stared at this place for awhile, trying to figure out what I did wrong. Turned out I missed a right, and while I was pondering the situation, Elizabeth caught to me and pointed me to the correct direction. Off I went, and after a bit I caught a glance of Bob coming back on a loop and figured I was maybe two minutes behind him. Finished rest of the advanced loop without mishaps, crossed the road and soon find myself riding on the shoulder of the road. Hmm......back track and ah, there it is, the turned I missed. Off I went, and a bit later, finding myself heading toward a parking lot, not the one we parked. Turn around, back track and Elizabeth is at an intersection pointing out the correct direction again. Leading her, soon I find myself heading toward the same parking lot. One more back track and she and I finished the bike ride together.

Bob and Todd's bikes are on their truck and boats are gone. So I know they are somewhere on the lake.

Elizabeth's husband Tripp is suppose to switch babysitting duty with her at 10. So she only had another 30 minutes left to paddle. Not having to deal with her biking gear, she made the transition to paddling about 5 minutes faster than me. I also had unload Jade's boat since I know she will have trouble with that heavy boat on top of the van. Once in the water, it took me about 15 minutes to catch Elizabeth since my Dagger Green is almost 4ft longer than her Dagger Mamba. She turned around since she was out of time. We said good bye and I continued. The plan was to paddle around the tip of the peninsula and go to the closest tower supporting the power line, for a 2 mile out and 2 mile back paddle. It took me almost to the tip of the peninsula to find my rhythm. Once I go around the tip, I saw Todd coming back toward me from the distance. We chatted briefly and continued. I passed by a fishing boat and asked them to borrow their outboard motor, they got a kick out of it. Bob was maybe 15 or 20 minutes behind Todd. Finally I rounded the power line tower, the turn around at around 27 minutes or so.

Coming back to the point of peninsula, I saw Jade paddling toward me. She's about 30 minutes behind me and didn't want be that far out, so she turned around and paddled back with me. We both got back to the van at the same time, changed to running clothes. I wolfed down two wedges of PBJ, and took off on the trails.

The trail was flat in the first mile, with soft pine needle surface. Perfect stuff. On the other side of the peninsula, it rolled into gradual hills and still not hard enough to throw off rhythm. A few slight confusions near the end and I popped out on the road 200 yards from the van. Todd was already sleepy by then, and Bob was also waiting. We waited another 15 minutes and Jade finished.

Looking at my GPS, it took me between 50 to 55 minutes for each segment. Not bad, not fast either. The race's biking and running segment will double the effort of this practice run. It'll be a fun one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Longest run ever

This past Thursday I ran 26 miles of mostly single track trails as my second to last long run for Chattooga.

I spend an hour the previous night fussing over what I should eat and drink for the run. Previously I survived on Gatorade, Gels, Sports Beans and Sharkies. So far I haven't had to empty my GI on the run so pretty much always after the run, my GI runs. So new strategy is required.

Plan for the day: breakfast of oatmeal, craisin, banana and almond nuts with coffee. Yeah, I eat a lot before running. Since it'll be two loops with stop at car in between, I planned to carry 2 quarter PBJ wedges and a Honey Stinger and one gel. The gel and Honey Stinger are backups in case the PBJ fails. The Camelbak was filled with 2L of half diluted Gatorage. For the first time ever I even packed toilet paper in the pack.

The first 4.3 miles took me through Graylyn, down N. Turkey Creek to the trailhead of Loblolly trail on bridle road. I kept it slow and intentionally walked a few steep hills for practice, so by Loblolly trailhead I was averaging 12 min/mile. Followed Loblolly for almost 3 miles, with lots up and down. Herr I power walked a lot steep sections and ran up some lesser hills. I tried to keep the HR under 150, so anytime I see the HR creeping past 153-155, I walk. I had set the Garmin to the normla 4-1 interval but I ignored it often especially on long flat and downhill sections where I ran through the walk breaks knowing I'll be walking soon on uphills.

At the Harris Ave. entrance parking lot I ate my first PBJ while walking across the parking lot. Company Mill trail starts with a long down hill section which I ran through, walked a few small but steep up hills then crossed the bridge at Crabtree Creek. Here I took a left and ran along the beautiful creek for almost a mile, then turned up hill to the long climb toward Reedy Creek Rd. Lots walking here and now my overall pace had slowed to about 12:40, so I figured I was doing just over 13 on the single tracks. I caught up and surprised a woman hiker at the trail head at Reedy Creek rd, and she commented I was such a quiet runner. I like to think I'm efficient, but the pine straw covered trail probably did more to mask my approach. I mentally added the numbers and realized I'll be a bit short of 13 if I kept going on Company Mill, so I took a detour spur toward the airport for a bit while eating the second PBJ, then came back and continued on Company Mill and soon surprised my fellow hiker again. It's mostly running here with trail descending toward Sycamore creek. Crossing the stone bridge on Graylyn, then hopping on Sycamore Loop trail took me back to the car, at 12.9 miles and 2:44 run time.

I had to sneak in a few pieces of Honey Stinger about a mile before the car since I was starting to feel hungry. Didn't want to be caught hungry on the second loop, I ate like a pig. One whole banana, 1/2 of PBJ, a few chips, a few sips of flat coke, and some more gulps of Gatorade and water. Refilling my Camelbak I discovered I only drank about half it, so one liter over 13 miles. I was a bit stuffed heading out. The stop took 9 minutes.

Running mostly downhill until the split in Sycamore Loop. I took a left and crossed Graylyn and down the other side. Mostly running here on downhill and I start to feel a stitch or cramp in my stomach. Must be all the food and coke. Had to walk here and there to let cramp settle. Around the beautiful Sycamore Loop was awesome, lots fast and flat sections with only one major climb. Then once I crossed Graylyn and hopped on Company Mill, the fun was over. Mostly going up, lots walks, I had discovered I couldn't run much uphill at all without breaching my self imposed HR limit. Once I crossed Reedy Creek Rd., it was all downhill for over a mile to Crabtree Creek and I was happy once again.

At the bridge over Crabtree Creek, I had a choice. Continue on Company Mill and circle back to the car then another 4.5 miles on Sycamore Trail and Pots Branch Trail, or cross the bridge toward Loblolly trail and finish on the bridle road. I decided on the latter. The one mile climb back to the Harrison Ave. parking was hard. Lots walk and my quads begin to scream at me. Finally on the top, I walked across the parking lot eating another 1/4 wedge of PBJ. Loblolly starts with almost a mile of flat and gentle downhill, perfect for making up some time. Then crossing Reedy Creek, it climbs, and climbs and climbs. More burning quads and walks and finally I hit Reedy Creek Road. My right quad starts to tingle, so I stop to stretch it a bit. Don't want it to blow up. The last 0.7 mile of Loblolly is a series of up and downs and I was getting fairly tired.

Finally hitting South Turkey Creek, and at 21.6 mile on my Garmin. I finally was able to relax and run brainlessly for awhile at 11min pace toward the bridges. It's getting hot now with sun bearing down, but at least here I'm in the shade. When I got to the bridge, I walked to finish my last PBJ, knowing I'll need the energy for the last 2.5 mile up North Turkey Creek. There is nothing fun about this section, with lots power walks and more burning quads. It was getting really hot and I constantly sipped from the Camelbak.

I got back to the Sycamore parking field and GPS showed 25.8. So I run around a bit and got 26. It took 5:46 to do the run.

Tired, but not completely wore out. I could have gone on a bit if need to. I stretched, drank the Endurox, ate more PBJ and an boiled egg.

Overall I ran 17.4 miles of single track and 8.6 miles of bridle road. Long, but I made it and not totally gone. Never hit any kind of wall so I managed my energy level well. The PBJ/Banana combination worked well with diluted Gatorade. The Camelbak required cinching the shoulder straps every mile or so, which got a bit annoying after awhile.

Chattooga will be harder. Still not sure how I'll handle those latter mile climbs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Getting ready for my longest trail run tomorrow

I was brave enough to sign up for a 50K trail race in June. Maybe it was more about stupidity and ignorance than been brave. The race, Chattooga River 50K, has more elevation gradient than anything around here, so training for it will be interesting.

Tomorrow is my day off from school. Since we're going to Florida this weekend for a family function, I moved my long run to tomorrow. I'm going to try to do 26 miles of mostly trails in Umstead. I mapped out a loop that's about 10 miles of single track and 3 miles of bridle trail there. Two laps gives me 26. This way by the time I'm really tired, hopefully I'll be at the point of no return on the second lap, so it'll force me to finish.

Having paced my wife for the entire Tobacco Road Marathon, next paced a friend a week later at Umstead 100 for 25 miles, I feel 26 mile trail run should be well within my ability as long as I'm patient enough to do it slowly. Pacing my friend during his 100 mile race showed me how to conserve energy and yet still not loose too much time. He was averaging just under 13 min/miles at around 85 mile mark, even with power walks up the hills. So tomorrow I'm going to try to incorporate some power talking into the run, especially at a few undesirable hills. Chattooga River 50K will have far more steeper and longer hills than Umstead, so I better get used to power walking.

Reading Jonathan's blog entries gave me some new idea about how to prepare for long trail runs. We'll see how it works out. Plan to start at 7am when the park opens.