Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Snow stress and muscle memory

A bit of S&M recently. The first snowy run a week ago brought with it a slightly scary refresher course in winter running. It was as if I'd never run on snow and ice before. With an altered, heel-crashing stride, my hip flexors didn't like it at all. They had been tight since the Grizzly Ultra and all its crazy downhill trails.
2 days later, it seemed like I'd been running in sub-zero weather all summer. I noticed how I could tell what I was about to step on (what was under the snow - ice or none, etc) by looking at a spot a few metres ahead. That's quite a relief as it's usually this time of year that I'm backing off to fully recover and slowly get used to the (extreme) cold before ramping up for training again in January. No time for that with 4 1/2 weeks till Sacramento.
Sunday's 28k run was a little rough. Either going through snow or slush (very porous shoes!) was draining, now I need to revert to out-and-backs on the prepared pathways which will make for rather boring long runs. I had also done hot yoga that morning 4 hours before, instead of the usual saturday late afternoon. I found myself walking up the last hill 1k before the end, about 4 hours of accumulated workout. Not bad considering. When I got to the top, I had to say out loud "and running in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.." Yesterday (monday) I felt to stiff and exhausted to do my recovery run. To my delight though, legs and energy seemed to come back to me in the afternoon.
So, no more yoga before a run on the same day. For November then it's a matter of keeping myself just the healthy side of exhaustion until taper time.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Next stop Sacramento

The California International Marathon is on December 2nd. With some 8,000 runners, it'll be the biggest race I've taken part in. The end of October is usually down time until training begins in January for spring races. In a sense then I'm not looking forward to the next 5 sundays of 24, 28, 30, 32 and 30k. I know however that it'll be worth it for race day, and if I waited until Dec 31 for the ritual of the Resolution Run 5k, I'll be chewing the sofa for want of a race. 
The Grizzly Ultra gave my quads such a thrashing on the downhills that it looked like I might end up nursing myself to the startline a little like the Calgary Marathon at the end of May. Right at the top of the hip flexors I could feel a pulling, which is very pronounced when doing a lunge. My chiropractor seemed concerned, and told me to come back in just 2 weeks.
It seems that this trouble is slowly fading though. My first yoga session after the Grizzly worked very well to getting the flexability back. I've avoided any hill work, and take any downward gradient with very short steps. Instead of making wednesdays and fridays long intervals and marathon tempos, I've made them both marathon tempos. The reduction in speed, i.e. the elimination of the long intervals, has helped as well. It might also help in slowing me down at the start and not running at 10k pace in giddy excitement.
The giddy excitement is coming from the Gopro Hero 3 camera I just ordered. The hope is that my headcam vids, an extra passion of mine, will look less earthquaky. I aim to use it as a general camcorder too, helps justify the cost. I am calling it an early Christmas present, though a PB on December 2 would be the real gift.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Grizzly Ultra Canmore race report

"You did an ultra?!" I hear all 3 of you yelling incredulously. Leg 2, at least. I've never done a trail race before, so why not when Rich (of Harvest Half and general fame) asked me to fill a space in his company team.
The Canmore Nordic Centre hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic cross-country and biathlon events. I am a complete novice in the trail world, but I think it's a good place for an event like this. There were 5 legs, each starting and finishing at the Nordic Centre. Some were doing it as part of a relay, others solo. My fastest friend Scott was doing the solo, his first ultra. 8 days post-Harvest Half, my aim was to enjoy it and not lose any body parts.

It was sunny most of the day, though slightly chilly. Brent started for us, amidst a field of serious soloists and teams as well as those happy to finish and a team of guys dressed as chickens turkeys.
Back indoors for an hour to keep warm and then my turn. My barely used Salomons got an outing, and my feet had superb grip for the entire leg. I now have a Garmin forerunner 410, a GPS watch, which I still have trouble finding my way around.
I have no idea what I'm doing here.
Brent came in for the handover, and I had to be reminded to take my coat off. Rich, who was going to be doing leg #3, reminded me to take the chip-armband off when I got back for a quick handover.
My watch went back to normal time mode when I got the chip, so I spent half of the first hill stabbing my wrist getting it going/ set. That was the least of my worries. Having not seen a couple of the signs, I must have taken a hairpin bend too many. Without signs I could see, I followed the 2 guys in front. Their fault. Stopping for a brief conference, I suggested keeping going away from the Nordic centre, and after about 10 minutes saw leg #2 signs again.
Most of my leg was spent being passed/ re-passing an experienced trail runner, doing the entire race solo. He would tend to fly past on the downhills and I'd re-pass on the uphills. I tried to follow the line he picked, and also which surface - sometimes the grass edge, or mud or gravel, etc. Some of the rockier sections - 10 cm loose rocks, he was able to effortlessly skip across while I would walk in the fear of turning my ankle.
One solo lady runner was passing/ repassing me later on in a similar manner. I passed her at the halfway drink stop. When she re-passed I thought she'd disappear into the distance. When I came over a brow however, she was stretching her hamstring. After this, I was swapping places with both of these 2 until the finish of the leg, which was only halfway for them.
The view of the Rockies never gets old...
My 12k leg was, according to my new watch, 12.7 including the wrong turn. I finished up in 1 hour 6 minutes.
I had the chip ready to hand over, and Rich arrived from a bio-break a few seconds later. Apparently, I appeared at the top of the hill just seconds before he went.
Rich overtook Scott right at the end of his leg. This was about 38 km into it for Scott by this point, and must be the first time I've seen him looking fatigued.
Nicole headed out for leg #4. My camera work was all over the place (holding headcam in hand), so no action shots I could really use. She's in orange above. Ashley is below, next to guy in black.
I had the camera pointing up at the end, so missed Ashley bringing it home for the team. Quite pleased after the finish though. We finished 12th in the team event, with a time of 4 hours 31 minutes.
Scott managed 5th place in the solo event, picking up a couple of places in the last 10k from good pacing.
A week later, my hip flexors are somewhat paying for the downhills, though I wouldn't have traded this for mere rest. What new thing's next? A sub-3:20 marathon (road!) on December 2..
The headcam movie is here. I am seriously contemplating upgrading to a gopro, I would like California International Marathon to not look like I'm disappearing down the San Andreas fault.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Harvest Half Marathon 2012 video

Feeling surprisingly good one week after this best race ever of mine. Once I sat down to watch my headcam vid, I realized I didn't have the strap done up tight enough which limited the amount of non-vertigo inducing footage to choose from. A-Chang suggested I should bow to the inevitable and get a go-pro, an xmas present perhaps.
Here's the link to the vid, hope it entertains :)