Monday, May 13, 2013

Quad Rock 50 mile trail race

Quad Rock 50 profile

This past saturday we ran the Quad Rock 50, put on by the elite runner, Nick Clark. The run is in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a stepping stone race to the Hardrock 100, which is in 8 weeks. Looking at the profile above you can see that this is a challenge and good use for Hardrock prep. This year's course was 2 miles longer than last year, which was the first running. They had to do this course change to avoid a burn area....this kept me from my goal of sub 12 hours ;-)

Some of the trails were nice with great views

Going into the race, I was one of only two over 60 year old runners in the race and they didn't have an over 60 in the race last year (I guess we're a rarity). Deb's brother Drew was the only other over 60 runner at age 65, but showed up with a head cold and, as we learned afterward, ran with a slight he got in a good 25 mile training run for Hardrock.

A few weeks ago, while on a training run in White Rock, NM., Deb tripped on a steep downhill and slammed into some rocks, banging her knee on a pointy boulder. For a week she was sure her kneecap was fractured and still think there's a hairline break in it. She thought Quad Rock was not going to happen, but the weekend prior to the race, we went on an easy 10 mile run, she didn't feel any worse and decided to go and run the 25, knowing she has the Jemez trail run coming up in 2 weeks. So this was a 25 mile Hardrock training run for her, too and a fine way to spend Mother's day!

View of snowy mountains in the distance

As for my race, my plan is always to not have anyone older than me in front of me. With Drew sick, all I had to do was finish and that would happen....but I also had a goal of a sub 12 hour finishing time. At the turnaround I was 5:45, which didn't give me much cushion time for the 2nd loop, so as hard as I tried, I came up short by 16 minutes. The RD, Nick Clark, had to add about a mile per loop to avoid a burn area, so last year I might have done it! Official stats for me are 79th overall, out of just under 200 starters, 1st over 60 in 12:16:39. I can't really complain about that, I guess.

Lots of these uphill trails to test the climbing ability

Anyway, Quad Rock is a challenging race that will test even the best. Some climbs are several miles long and the downhills so technical, you can't run! The altitude isn't too bad for me, who sleeps at 8200', but could be a challenge for anyone living a lot lower. I never noticed the altitude, which goes up over 7000'.

Looks nice here, but just around the corner...

I had a good run until around mile 40ish (after the hail storm), when the wheels started coming off. Up to the point I was able to run a good portion of the trail up and down, but after the storm, all the rocks were slick and the mud was like grease. At that point I got too careful to be able to let it go, so just moseyed on in until the last downhill after Tower's Rd aid...pretty much pushed in that last 7 mostly downhill miles.

One of the nicer sections of runnable trail

Today, two days later and after an 8+ hour drive home yesterday, my legs don't feel too bad. They felt worse last night, but today I am standing at my desk as if no race happened.

...and one of the medium technical sections

I took many pictures and several videos, to see them, go here.

Oh, forgot the steps ;-)

              Photos of me and Deb in the race by the official race photographer Erin Bibeau

Now it's time to go into the final phase prep for Hardrock, which will be a lot of uphill hiking with poles. I figure about 5-6 weeks of training, then rest up for the big weekend. I also have the Last Chance Saloon aid station at the Jemez Trail Runs I am captain of, so next weekend will mostly be preparing for that. I brewed a batch of beer to serve the runners there, which is called "Mexican South of the Border Thirst Quencher", which is basically a Tecate or Corona clone. A lot of the prep will be Deb making soup and pumpkin pie for the runners and then the biggest challenge is, as always, carrying in to the aid station location, about 50 gallons of water. I generally do this alone the day before the race and is about 2/3rds of a mile round trip, so I consider this good training for Hardrock, too ;-) It's usually takes me 12-15 trips...

So that's about it, my next post will most likely be the days after the Jemez Race and will post the pics I take and just talk about how it went, then the final  several weeks leading to Hardrock will be nothing but eat, sleep, and Hardrock prep.

Happy trails!
Steve and Deb

PS: Wanted to mention that I wore my Montrail Fluid Flex trail shoes for the first time in a race and although I found them to be quite comfy in training, I don't think these have enough to take on the Hardrock. My shoes are destroyed after Quad Rock. I think i'm going to look into the highly rated Inov-8 Roclite 295's.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Re-inventing a runner

I just thought I'd write a quick post to talk about some things as I get ready to wake this thing up with the Quad Rock 50 coming up next weekend.

I am aging, as we all are....but i'm a runner, have been since 1975 when I saw Bill Rodgers cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Nothing in running has inspired me like that afternoon at 2:09PM on April 21st in a new American Record of 2:09.55. I was 24 years old that day and a bunch of us had walked across the bridge over the Charles River to watch the finish.

Bill Rodgers finishing the 1975 Boston Marathon
I was watching from on his left side

Like many do after watching Boston, I started running the next day and 4 years later ran a 2:49:06 at the Cape Cod Marathon to qualify for my first Boston in April of 1980.

Now 38 years later, I'm still running....and not for years have I had to rethink my training and racing, now I am. Basically, except for 1981 when I ran an average of 100 mpw over the 80/81 winter as an experiment, have I run much more than 50 mpw on average...and that was usually spread over 6-7 days per week. Even earlier this year, I had several 60+ mile weeks, but it was all slow/low HR training, more to build my aerobic base over the winter.

Me back in the day as a much faster runner
1999 Savoy 20 miler, MA.

Then near the end of the winter, I did feel old for the first time....I will be 62 in November. A senior citizen!

These images show how I've been feeling lately...

Something had to change!

I do all of my running from Mon thru Thursday in Albuquerque at 5300' altitude on a flat, paved bike path. Daily out and backs of 5-6 miles at a real easy pace, keeping my HR well under my lactate threshold. I sleep at 8200', so shouldn't be affected at this altitude in ABQ, but my legs felt dead almost all the time! Going out on my daily, noontime run was becoming a chore instead of the joy it had always been. I found myself needing to walk more to keep the HR down in the aerobic zone and started enjoying the walking sections and dreading when I had to start running.

I would love to be able to run like this Road Runner, which I see a lot of in ABQ

So I did lots of reading and came upon some great articles on the need for more recovery as we age. Part of this reading was Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run", where he proclaims the incredible recovery value of a Vegan diet. Deb's been a vegan for many years and had a great year last year. I ate a 90% vegetarian diet in 2010 with no issue until I moved to NM at altitude and started having the recovery issues. At the time I thought it was a need for more protein  but now don't believe that's the issue, I think I just need more rest/recovery time.

Some of the worlds largest animals live on leaves

Something else I started doing this year is standing at my computer at work. I was having some back issues from my 14+ hours in a sitting position. I drive 1.5 hours to and from work and work 10 hour days with an hour lunch, so 14 hours...then I go home and sit for a couple more hours before going to bed and starting another day of the same. 16 hours a day sitting! My Chiropractor recommended standing some at work and me being part German, I tend to do all or I started to stand for 10 hours a day. This may be the key to needing more recovery, but I'm not changing that because my back pain has all but disappeared.

So anyway, what to do? One great article I read was about how a runner who started slowing down in his 40's took charge and was successful re-inventing himself and getting back to where he had been running when he was younger. I also had some discussion with other runners who switched to 3-4 days per week of running with much success. Even though this went against my grain as a runner, I decided to give it a I'm now taking off Mon and Fridays for sure and also Wednesday if the legs feel tired that day. On those days off, I do go for a walk for 30-40 minutes to keep the legs from getting too stiff from standing all day.

How I "want" to feel when I run

So far my legs are beginning to feel better and the first test will be at the Quad Rock 50 this weekend, with the true test at the Hardrock 100 in July. As you can see, I'm also racing less this year to see if it helps me at Hardrock. I always in the past ran one race a month leading up to my "A" race using them as stepping stones to fitness...this year I'm only running Quad Rock, which is 2 months from Hardrock, rather than the past couple of years where I ran the San Juan Solstice 50 just three weeks before and most likely going into Hardrock with tired legs. I'll give some feedback here in the form of race reports as to how it all might go kaboom in the form of racing slower, but I think not.

That's about it, I'll be writing my first report next week after Quad Rock. I have no real goals there, other than my usual "have no one older than me ahead of me". There are only two people in my age group, me and Deb's brother Drew. Drew is coming up from Fort Worth, TX. and I expect that he may have some issue with the altitude in the 2nd loop....we'll see. I respect Drew as a runner and brother-in-law. He's a much stronger runner than I am and on equal turf, I don't have a chance, even though he's 3 years older than I am.

Drew while running the Grand Slam in 2010

I'm also planning on running a road marathon later in the year to try to again qualify for the Boston Marathon. I've run Boston 12-13 times (forget how many) back in the 80's and early 90's and realize that I'm slow. Slow from training for ultras with the exclusion of any speedwork. So will get back on that horse and hope to run the Pocatello marathon on August 31st in order to have a qualifier before reg opens. My qualifying time is 3:55, but I'd love a 3:35 to enter early :-) All depends on how much speed I can get back without getting injured in the process...

One of my running idols, Ed Whitlock
Ed ran a 3:15 marathon in his 80's and holds many age group world records

On another note, a few weeks ago we did a Grand Canyon double crossing (R2R2R) as a super long training run for Quad Rock and Hardrock. Our goal was to run it about the same as before, when we did it in 14 hours. It took us 15 hours, but we returned on the 3 mile longer Bright Angel trail, so the pace per mile was actually quicker. I think Deb and I would have done it even quicker, but a couple in our group had some problems that slowed us down a bit. We both finished strong and felt great the next day, even though this was the longest we had gone since Hardrock last year for me and Wasatch for Deb. Here is a link to the photos I took along the way.

As for Hardrock, the plan is to spend the next two months hiking up high at least every other weekend. We will arrive in Silverton on June 28th, will hike/run a MTNRNR series event called the Silverton Silver on Saturday, the 29th. Do a fastpack with some friends on Monday, then start course marking on Tuesday.

On some other news, Deb banged her knee up pretty bad on a downhill rocky trail and has been unable to run for 3 weeks. She decided, after running/hiking 10 miles with me yesterday, to go to Quad Rock and do at least one loop as a training run for the Jemez 50K on the 25th. She'll see how the rest of the week goes before her final decision, but my prediction is she does go, feels good at 25 miles and continues on and has a good 50 mile run. Nothing like a forced rest to make for rested legs!

So until next week, Happy Trails to you all!