Monday, December 21, 2015

Dear Brother: The Johnny Walker Commercial

     With one view, and the hundred or so that have transpired since I'm not so sure whether it's the video or the poem that strikes me the most.  I had two step brothers growing up, one I knew better than the other.  But, neither well.  I substituted good friends in a brothers place over the years, and my commitment to them has never wavered, however that commitment may not always be prominent.  I'll let you flesh out your opinions:

Walking the roads of our youth,
Through the land of our childhood, our home, and our truth,
Be near me, guide me, always stay beside me so I can be free.
Let’s roam this place, familiar and vast,
Our playground of green frames, our past,
We were wanderers. Never lost, always home,
And every place was fenceless and time was endless.
Our ways were always the same.
Calm my demons and walk with me brother,
Until our roads lead us away from each other.
And if your heart’s full of sorrow, keep walking. Don’t rest.
And promise me from heart to chest to never let your memories,
Die. Never.
I will always be alive and by your side. In your mind,
I am free.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Grand Canyon 2015

     Have you ever been to the big ditch?  If not, you should go.  This was my 3rd trip. Once in 2011, 2014, and now 2015.  After 2011 I fell in love with this blonde beauty, who didn't return my affections.  However the last two times I went because of my step brother Jason.  But since we're not really step-brothers anymore, I'll just call him my brother.  Last year, he completed a Rim 2 Rim and took the shuttle back.  This year he went down South Kaibab to Cottonwood, Ribbon Falls, and back up the Bright Angel trail. 
     The "funny" thing about the Grand Canyon is that once you drop off the rim, you're fucked. Mostly because you gotta get back out, on your own.  And brother, it's killer.  This year was also special because my friend and confidant, Gina made the Rim2Rim2Rim trip with me.  After last year Jason wanted to go back and complete the whole enchilada.  However, due to work and kid obligations, he was not exactly ready for an out n back. Kinda like all of us who've aspired to run big. And do big stuff under the power of our own locomotion. 
     When we were kids we'd watch wrestling and then go out in the yard and wrestle for hours, to see who was a tuff mutha phuka.  Hacksaw Jim Dugan and Ric Flair, you know.  4 thousand horseman. hahah.  Can you say choke hold? 
     We parted ways at Cottonwood.  Gina and I up to the North Rim and Jason to Ribbon Falls and back out.  Gina and I ran like hell to make it to Phantom Ranch before last call which is at 1530, and we made it with 3 minutes to spare. We met up with a buddy named Jay who also ran with us at Vol State. Us three ran together from Supai Tunnel up to North Rim and back to South Rim via Bright Angel Trail.
     When the cashier at Phantom Ranch Canteen said, "You can't take those with you." After I ordered five Budweiser thirty minutes before close, I replied, "Yea bruh, I got this."  We also bought Gina a headlight since she forgot hers, again. 
     We reached the 3 mile water stop as I was singing George Strait and quoting lines from Cool Hand Luke.  We heard a faint voice, "Hey John, is that you?"  I replied, "Well yea bro. Who else would it be. You alright?"  Jason said, "Yea man, I'm good, just tired."  I sent Gina and Jay along and hung with Jason for a bit, checking on his status.  All was well. 
     The crux and crucible of the Grand Canyon was apparent.  We chatted and he said he was okay, so I went ahead.  Was he in a bind?  Gott dammed right he was.  But, it was his time.  He suffered with the best of anyone who's ever suffered doing big stuff. 
     About an hour after we topped out, here came Jason.  In my view, he got more out of the trip than we did.  He got to stare into the abyss, and come out the other side with a new found confidence in how much suffering he really can endure. 
     We hit the pizza place for shitty pizza and shittier service, and then made our way back to the room to finish off the Fireball and fall asleep.  The trip was awesome,  I mean, if you can excuse the shitty "Mexican" food we tried all over the state.  Hey Arizona, if you wanta learn how to cook, come to San Antonio.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Training into the 2016 Season - Year 3

     I'm going into my year three of serious running training. While it's true that I'm going into my 9th year of running, the first 6 I didn't really train much. My training years run from Sept to Sept.  It just worked out that I started running in Sept of 2007.  And, the mountain running season is during the summer so by Sept/Oct all the big mountain hundos are over.
      In the 2013-2014 running year I ran about 2300 miles give or take, and the 2014-2015 season I ran about 3200 give or take. This past year was a breakout year into the multi-day world and I had numerous 100 mile plus training weeks. So where am I going from here?
      For 2016 I really only have one priority and that is completing the Nolan's 14 line. Of course I will be putting in for Hardrock and Ronda dels Cims is on the table.  And I'll sign up for The Bear 100.  The Bear sign up is in case of no Hardrock or Ronda, I'll still need to keep a qualifier for the Hardrock lottery in 2017. 
      I was able to speak with a few pretty awesome running coaches this year and 3 things are evident.
1. I've got a huge aerobic base
2. I don't do any LT training.
3. My downhill running sucks.

     Doing my own research for myself and for my own clients I found some interesting information that I'll generalize here.  SkiMo, Rowers, and Cyclists train about 25 hours a week and generally have the highest Vo2 MAX. Runners train about 15 hours a week. How much time is spent in what zone etc.??  I didn't look to hard for that.  However, I'm firmly convinced that one needs to train for a long time and very consistently to cause significant eccentric growth of the left ventricle. And the majority of that time needs to be 80% or less max HR.  Based on this, I'm working this mix until Januarary.
     Since I've got as much time as I need during the week/weekend being young, sexy, single, and all I can train up to 25 to 30 hours per week.  However, I don't want to spend all that time running because I want to limit my running time to around 8 to 9 hours or 50 to 60 miles a week for now, until January.  To make up the difference in "cardio hours" I'll be using the Versa Climber, Incline Treadmill walking, AirDyne bike riding, Cycling, Indoor Rowing, and hopefully some skulling on the lake in Austin. 
     On Running, Tuesday will be 300M downhill repeats. Thursday will be 800 to 1600 M repeats. Saturday will be local 5K or 10K.  W/F/Su will be runs under 80% max HR varying from 5 to 15 miles or so. The Tu/Th/Sa runs are way intense up to 165 to 180 BPM. The downhill repeats are for turnover!
     I've been trailing riding my bike to work and that is not so bad.  I can get about 1 hour per day pretty easily.  The VersaClimber is fun and 3K a day is a great goal but can go to 5K. The Concept2 is a bit boring but you can get a great workout at 5K or hopefully 10K a day.  A caveat on the Concept2 and AirDyne is the upper body training you get out of it.  Most every account I read in Milroy's "Training for Ultraunning" regarding multi-day is the need for upper body strength. On the Treadmill to keep my climbing efficiency, I'll be working up to 40% grade with 40lbs vest and prob create some various protocols that keep you engaged. The extra cycling and lake rowing I hope to do on the weekends which will encourage me to get out of the house and go see the world even more!
     Of course this is my general plan. One still needs to do a bit of core work and foam rolling etc.. I'll be logging this training pretty well and hope to repeat quite a few of these workouts each week so there is objective data come January.  With this and a great diet, I should really see some step increases in performance over last year.  I'll state it now, I want to run under 30 hours at Hardrock if I get in.  So that is what I'll be working on.  The type of fitness that is required for my Hardrock goal will be the same that I'll need for Nolan's 14. 
     This is what is on my mind for training, what plans do you have?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mountains No Mas

     I'm sitting in my cube here at work.  The mountains are no longer vivid. The faint whisper of a dream is all that remains of my epic summer in the Sawatch.  I owe so much thanks to Gina and Will for their help with our Nolan's Project.  I think I understand now, what the hell is going on out there.  I'm looking forward to 2016 and I'll be organizing my schedule to focus exclusively on another attempt.  Of course I'll put in for Barkley and Hardrock, but outside of that my focus is on the Nolan's Line.  The training that will be necessary for each of these events is very similar and complimentary.
     I have about 8 or 9 handwritten pages which tells the story of the summer of 2015. The scouting, the pacing, the beer drinking, the attempt, and the fun times in Leadville.  I'll publish that later on this week.  What did I learn? 
     Two things.  The African proverb is true, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."  In this case, the Virgina Slims marketing campaign was also right, "You've come a long way, baby." 
      So, go out there and find something big to do.  Real big, commensurate with your current ability level.  Grab some of your friends and go for it.  Don't look back, take some risks.  You may not succeed the first time, or the second time, but you will go far and you will come a long way.  Much further than you would have otherwise.  If life is relationships, then you'll form no stronger bonds than those of shared experiences whether they be of misery or happiness. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Walk Through the Sawatch

     The time draws near.  The preparations have been made.  The batteries have been charged, the maps marked up.  A good friend asked me to take a walk through the Sawatch with him over Labor Day.  I couldn't say no.
      Almost 9 or 10 months ago, I received an IM, "Hey bro, you want to give Nolans a go?"  "Yea I'd love too, but I don't know the route," I said.  "You come up and learn it, I know the route and I'll show you," Will said.
      So, here we are tying up lose ends, getting ready.  A better part of the summer spent in Leadville and quite a few dollars on plane flights.  A number of visits to the Mexican food joint, the coffee shop, and seeing Mr. Dooper.  A month with the hypoxico mask on my face.  And even so, there is no certainty.  We can only hope that the weather is favorable.  We can only hope that we have the intrepidity to continue.  There is a 60 hour time goal out there, but that is not necessarily my goal.
     From the beginning, for me, it's been about the climbing and the line.  Time does not matter.  It's about the effort, not quitting, paying homage to the mountains and homage to those who've come before.  My plane doesn't leave till Tuesday night, time is on my side. 

“Stand tall on the summit after a tedious climb. Take in the remarkable scenery and the exhilaration of accomplishment. But don't pause for long; there are greater mountains to climb while you still possess the drive and capacity to do so.”- Richelle E. Goodrich

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reflections on Eight Years of Running

     My running Fiscal Year Eight is drawing to a close.  Of course it's not really a fiscal year, just stealing accounting/budgeting terms.  But in August of 2007 I was in Washington D.C. with my middle sister, running around the mall, past the White House etc.. when I decided I would run a marathon before I turned thirty.   I came back to my home in Selma, TX linked up with a running group in Sept. A group of ladies, housewives, working moms, etc...  On November 11th I ran my first marathon.  On 8 weeks of training.  Boy did I have a lot to learn.
     At the time I was dating a friend I had known since high school, and I was truly into her.  But I had a lot of things I needed to work on.  I'm not sure if I identified those things and started running, so I could sort them out.  Or, rather I started running and those things appeared to me things I need to fix.  Either way, I felt I had to go through that learning/discovery/fixing process alone and broke up with her.  I haven't had an actual "girlfriend" since.  Sure there have been some liaisons, but there have also been my beautiful lady friends who are just that, my good friends. 
     The last eight years have been one hell of an experience.  And I've learned quite a bit about myself, about running, and life in general.  I fell head over hills for someone who did not return that same affection.  Changed job positions at work, had about 4 new managers.  Traveled around the world, tried to give up drinking, then drank more.
     I thought it would be cool to have a "fan" base on social media, and through my blog.  I've sent out post cards, etc... from Hardrock and India.  Then one day I felt overwhelmed and just deleted one thousand or so folks from Facebook.  I left almost every ultraunning group I was in.  Unliked page after page, and even made all my You Tube videos private.  I turned inward the further and further I ran, and no longer wanted to share my experiences though video or written form. 
     I started a sole-proprietorship run coaching business called Sharp Coaching, mostly for tax purposes.  I made some mistakes, but I also have helped quite a few athletes achieve their goals in running.  I felt honored that they chose me to help them and they were successful.  My part is minimal in the process, they did the work.  I have been fortunate enough to work with my good friend Vincent and be a part of Trail Toes and Tire Trainer
     I have almost lost count of the number of 100 mile or longer distance races I've DNF.  It doesn't really matter anyway. I've run in various mountain ranges: Himalaya, the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Wasatch, the Davis, and Guadalupe.  In various states: CO, CA, VT, GA, UT, WO, TX, MO, AZ, AL, TN, and maybe a few more.  Even have been to Nicaragua and India twice. 
     Initially I thought running would "take me some where" in the existential sense.  I'm not sure if it did, but I have traveled a bunch.  I'm still your quintessential impatient, but very direct American/Texan where ever I go. I don't mind that at all.
     In the first few years when you start running, it's all about oh I'm a runner now so all the issues I have gonna be all better, just like so and so in that book I read about his running.  Then you figure out, that maybe, you like who you are, but just need to accept it.  So you don't change too much, but have the courage to tell folks to go fuck themselves.  That's always a good feeling.
     I'm at the point now where I feel like, hey I can actually run and I know what I'm doing.  At least more than I did 5 years ago.  And I still like running.  I still like the challenge/thrill of a 5 mile run or a hike up the side of the mountain.  I can run in circles for days or travel point to point. 
     What's running brought to me in life?  A new lifestyle.  Great friends. Something to talk about with the dude down at Starbucks as I'm pulling a tire down the freeway.  Self-satisfaction.  I think that in Jan of 2014 I made a resolution to affect change in at least one person though my commitment to running.  In 2014 I feel like I did that. I feel the same today. 
     I learned that my two main drivers in life have been fear of abandonment and fear of not being accepted.  When you can really reach down real deep and come too as simple of an answer as that, then you've run enough, and you've thought enough.  Now, what can you really do once you have those answers?  Man, I don't know.  But I found them.  Now I don't listen to music much when I run or when I'm at home, or the TV for that matter.  I don't feel the need to zone out and play some noise in the background for company.  I'm okay right here at my kitchen table.  No worries.
     As I sit here with my Hypoxico mask on, at 82% O2 saturation, I often wonder, "WTF am I doing this for, this running, this goal setting?"   I wish I could tell you I found the answers we're all looking for, but I'd just be lying to you.  I guess just because I like it.  Kinda like key lime pie.  I just like it.
     So I hope to see you on the trails, the road, on the side of a mountain.  Or hell maybe even on your road bike.  I may not even yell obscenities at you.  And I hope that you get to the point where you run, not from your problems or because of them, but just for the sake of running.  When you reach that point, then the birds will always chip, the sun will shine even when it's cloudy, and your breathing won't be labored.     

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting High In CO

     This past weekend I went out to Leadville, CO to get high with Gina!  We didn't get as high as we wanted, only about 13,200 ft or so, but we did some exploration.  We were checking out the the Nolan's 14 course.  This is a route of 14 - 14,000ft peaks in the Sawatch Range in CO. You can watch the movie here.  My buddy Will asked me if I wanted to give this a go this year, and jumped at the chance. I checked out Jared Campbell's blog post and downloaded some maps, drew the course on them, and left for the airport on Thursday.
     Jared is the man in UltraRunning.  You don't see him in too many flashy videos or advertisements in magazines, or web pages.  He's what I consider the ultimate amature (if that is even fair) old school style UltraRunner in the vein of Blake Wood, and many others.  I look up to these guys and of course Joe P.  I have been lucky enough to run on the same course as these folks a few times at Hardrock and they really typify the essence of old school ultrarunners.
     We arrived early AM in Pb and visited with Bill Dooper (watch this film). Bill is really just a great guy and I always like to chat with him when I can.  Then we headed over to see Donna @ Leadville Outdoor.  She is the greatest and we chatted it up for while. Head on in to the store and pick up some stuff, tell 'em I sent you.
     After killing time, we headed over to Fish Hatchery to check out the start trails, which is pretty simple. Then up to Halfmoon road to check out the route on the back side of Mt. Massive.  We wanted to make it over to the back side of Mt. Elbert, but the creek was too high because of all the snow melt.  Later, we went to Hwy 82, stopping at the general store in Twin Lakes.  They had a sweet map with better trails so I grabbed that and a few beers.  We spent some time looking for the trail off of Elbert where it meets Hwy 82 and also the La Plata Peak trail head.  That was all successful.
     It was cool to drive over to Winfield.  I'd never been there in a car, just twice in '09 and '10 when I ran the Leadville 100 where I DNF both @ Halfmoon In.  We checked the other side of La Plata and the road up to Mt Huron.  Once this was complete, we headed back to Pb for Mexican food at the new joint they opened up. It was pretty good. And also over to Scarlet Bar for 1$ PBR draft that was now 1.50$.
     We ended up staying at The Delaware Hotel. It is a historic hotel and I'd never stayed, so we gave it a whirl.  On Saturday, we headed up the trail via the back side of Massive.  It was a nice climb, but I was pretty winded.  We got started late because I had a headache all night.  I wasn't drinking enough water on Friday.  To many margaritas. The snow was pretty soft so we didn't fool around crossing the snow fields to the summit, mostly because it was almost noon.
     In the late afternoon we headed down to Buena Vista to check out the backside of Mt. Yale where the CDT crosses the hwy.  Stopped at a local brewery and ate pizza.  We met up with Greg and Cassie at the rodeo arena which is in the shadow of Mt. Princeton.  Pretty badass.  I was able to explain some stuff about each event, showcasing my rodeo "knowledge" .  Hahaha.  After we arrived back in Pb we went over to The Manhattan and did some slummin. 
     On Sunday we went over to give La Plata Peak a try, from the Hwy 82 access.  On the way there, we saw like 5 bighorn sheep on the side of the road. Impressive animals.  I might get a bighorn sheep tattoo one day. We got another late start.  The altitude was killing me this trip. I was pretty bummed. However we started up.  Weather was okay.  We didn't summit, but did some bouldering traversing under the ridge. I was scared shitless.
     Once we came off the ridge, we stopped again in Twin Lakes @ The Twin Lakes Inn Restaurant and had the best appetizers evarh! Plus the Moscow Mules were pretty damm tasty as well. Heading back into Denver, we discusses strategies for training and also for Gina's Leadville 100 attempt.
     I've got quite a bit of work to do.  I'm kinda scared of heights, so exposed ridges suck for me.  Plus I didn't feel good in the altitude, however that should get better.  Once I finalize my updated plan for preparing myself, I might put that out here.  It will entail lots of core work. :) 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Does Infinity Mean to You?

     The Infinitus 888K is over and I only made 403 miles. At the end of 8 days I was sitting at 393, so one could say I averaged 50 miles a day or so. The course was not accurately measured but the general consensus was that the top loop of the figure 8 was about 9.5 miles and the bottom was 16.5 miles making it a 26 mile figure 8. Or some would call it a marathon per figure 8.  Or 26.25 per loop. All of these distances were generally accepted.  Regardless of the exact distance, the idea was that one was required to complete 21 figure 8 loops in 10 days, 240 hours.  
      To complete the loops, one needed to run two figure 8 per day for 8 of the days and then 2 days where you would need to run 2.5 loops. So 8 days of 52 miles, 1 day of 61.5 miles, and 1 day of 68.5 miles.  The top loop completion pace ranged from 2:15 to 4:00 hrs, and the bottom loop completion pace ranged from 4:15 to 6:30.  The average being some where around 2:45 and 5:00 hours. With stops in between at the ski lodge, you were looking at 8 to 8:30 per loop, or 16 to 17 hours per day if all went well. If things didn't go well for you each day, you could be looking at up to 19 hours or more. To complete the course a day or two days early is a pretty monumental undertaking, but it could be done. I think the winner and only finisher finished at least 24 hours before the 240 hour cut off or a bit faster. 
      I went into the event expecting to be on my feet at least 15 hours, up to 18 hours per day, so to fully realize that this was the case was not a big shocker or a let down. It was expected. The plan was simple.  Complete 2 loops, and then sleep.  Day 1, the 21st of May started at 0808 and I completed the first day by 2205.  About 14 hours because it was Day 1. I was in bed by 2300 and slept until 0400 the 22nd.  Five hours sleep was good!  I had budgeted 1 hour in the AM to get ready and 1 hour in the PM to eat, wash up, foam roll, prepare for the next day etc...  It turned out I didn't need an hour because of Gina and her crewing skills. Really if you got off your ass each AM/PM you only needed 30 minutes if you weren't battling blisters or nut sack chaffing.
     Day 2 through 5 went by okay with Day 3 I did 2.5 loops or 61.5 miles and didn't sleep well going into Day 4.  Maybe 2 hours of sleep.  End of Day 5 my feet were swelling really bad, but I didn't realize this was what the problem was.  Day 1 and 2 were the same pair of Hokas, Day 3 and 4 were a different pair, Day 5 back to the original, and Day 6 I moved into the NB Leadville.  All size 10.5. At the end of Day 6 or sometime during day 7, I bummed a pair of worn out Brooks Cascadia from Gary size 11.5, but the damage was done. Day 6 - 8 I think I only completed 1.5 loops per day, not sure if I went: 1.5,1.5,1.5  or 1,1.5,2.  I don't recall.  But by 0808 on Friday I was at 15 loops completed.  Day 9 I didn't run any and drank beer.  Day 10 I just did the top loop to get over 400 miles. Feet hurt so bad I had to lay down all day on Day 9, sitting caused them to feel like they had their own heart beat.  It was not in my interest to ruin my liver on Aspirin or Advil. I like to save the liver ruining for alcohol. I never took more than the max recommend dosage, but to do so for days 6 - 10 I feel would have been ill-considered.  By day 8 I was really chewing them up. 
     There was quite a bit of mud and moisture on the course in various places, not to mention the mosquitoes.  They really put a damper on things.  I didn't concern myself with, OMG, what if I get blisters, because I had a shit ton of Trail Toes.  Eight jars to be exact. The big jars.  I used at least a half a jar per day on my feet and groin area.  This product works great. I didn't have any blisters.  However, I knew it would also be irresponsible to go sloshing around in the mud all day.  My original plan for this whole race was to use trekking poles and I brought two pair.  A 120cm pair and a 110cm pair.  Using the poles I was able to vault over mud obstacles, pivot around obstacles, and generally helped keep my balance. Additionally, I was able to keep my glutes in the proper position with my torso upright.  Only once during the whole 10 days did I get my feet wet and that was on one day where we received a ton of rain and I could not cross the creek hopping on rocks b/c the level was way too high. 
     I had a pair of gloves on almost the whole race. Some cheap fingerless weight lifting gloves to protect my hands, because of the poles. I broke one of the 120cm poles on day 2, so I was stuck with the 110cm and I finally made my peace with those poles.  I did not think the 110cm were long enough, even for my height. I did spend about 3 half-loops running with Will and one half loop running with Joel.  Also, Gina went with me for a total of 4 figure eights. For the most part I ran by myself about 10 full figure eights, or 5 of the running days. Lot's of time alone.  I had a ton of sinus drainage which caused me to hack and cough constantly with a hoarse voice. Not sure where it came from, but I had been that way for about 2 weeks prior to the race.  It sucked because I couldn't sing very well to my music. Luckily I had a bunch of buffs which I attached to my UD Krupicka pack and was able to blow my nose a bunch.
     Regarding the two different sized loops, this made us employ a different strategy on each half of the figure 8.  The top loop had water at mile 7.  So only 7 miles before water re-supply and only 9.5 miles total.  The bottom loop of about 16.5 miles had water at mile 3 and mile 10 or 11, the same spot.  This loop was like a lolly pop and water was at the bottom of the pop.  So we had 10 - 11 miles we needed water for, we were forced to take along more calories.  Rarely did we ever catch a break on the bottom loop with wind or with the bugs.  No wind, lots of bugs.  The two instances where we had shitty weather, the snow/cold front and the heavy rains, I was sleeping.  I was really lucky. 
     Gina did fabulous job crewing.  We have worked together on 4 other events, so we get along pretty good.  She made the food, ran to town to purchase more supplies, etc...  Also she asked her friend Erin to bring out the pop up camper which was a godsend.  Gina's mom also let us borrow her car, fixed up a cooked ham for us and numerous other cool things that I probably don't have a clue about. We had to reach out to our Phone-a-Friend resource a few times by calling Vincent.  He sent more Tailwind and more Trail Toes.  This was an added bonus.  Also, we went to Amazon and ordered two more jugs of CarboPro for overnight delivery. The most important achievement of all was that I did not yell and was not a dick to her.  It's really easy to be all pissed off and treat your crew like shit when your blood sugar is 60 and you haven't slept, but you should refrain from those actions. If you finish your event and treat your crew like shit, they should take away your swag and you should kick your own ass.  Without her logistical problem solving, commitment to my success, and general badassery then I wouldn't have been able to accomplish much.  This event was 50% logistics/mgmt and 50% running.  So half of the success she was responsible for. 
      The course, in general, was easy.  I have described the length of the loops, etc...  There was a nice climb on the top loop, but nothing crazy.  The bottom loop along Chandler ridge sucked, but there was no crazy climbing.  Had I not been there to run for 10 days, the whole course was runnable.  However that climb on the top loop woulda kicked my ass had a tried to run the whole thing.  In essence, the 50ish miles a day is really achievable on the course.  It really was only in the mind, had you prepared properly physically, that you find your defeat.
     What was I doing there?  Man, I don't really know.  Andy had sent me a message asking if I wanted to come and run the Peak 500 back in  January of 2014.  I happened to be in Brazil at the time and had just completed the Brazil 135.  I was getting ready to run Hardrock last year so I had to politely decline, but made a commitment to run the Peak 500 in 2015.  I'm not sure why I made that commitment.  Maybe I need to get my head checked.  I followed with great interest the post on FB last year during the Peak 500 and was like, "Man, maybe I should have went.  I wonder what it's like?"  Because of Andy's reputation from the folks I knew that knew him, I could not say no when he and Jack founded the Endurance Society and presented the Infinitus 888K last October 2014.  I signed up right away.
     January of 2015 came fast. I was just off my 100K PR of 9:46:xx at the Houston Running Festival, a DNF at Bandera 100K, and was bummed that I didn't even make any wait list or anything for Barkley. I figured I should now turn my attention to Infinitus. I thought, "John you have been ultrarunning for 7 going on 8 years, you have a TM that goes to 40% incline, a hypoxic machince, and every other freaking BS thing out there, so let's make a plan and stick to it for real."  I came up with this elaborate 17 week plan and sent it over to my friend and mentor Joe P.  He sends me back a terse reply, "I was thinking  F/SA/SU - 50/50/50 and then M/T off, W 5, TH off."  Oh really? 155 miles a week, huh?  My first problem was I can't run 150 miles a week. And 50 miles a day 3 days in a row, that is absurd.  That's when it hit me, if I can't run 50 miles a day for 3 days, what makes me think I can do it for 10?
      So I revised my plan.  I spent 8 weeks or so building up to 125 to 135 miles, since I was easily running 75 to 80 mile weeks for over a year.  This was about 10% per week.  Then I went for the 50/50/50, week on, week off for a 6 week cycle.  Never hit the 150 miles+ in a week but I tried and learned a lot. Great training.  Even pulled two tires along the freeway for 25 miles which took me 9 hours.  Looking back, I would have done 50/50/50 for 6 weeks in a row but did more walking and would have ensured that I only received 4 hours of sleep Friday and Saturday night. Basically wake up Friday morning and run 30 miles before work, 5 to 10 and lunch and 20 to 30 after work. Sleep 4 hours, get up on Saturday and stay on my feet until about 11PM, sleep 4 hours and do the same again Sunday.  That would have been a bit more realistic.  I could run/walk/pull tires, anything. Road or Trail.  The big key is getting used to the time and the lack of sleep. 
     What did I learn?  Lot's of stuff.  Mostly that it's not too hard to run all day, especially if you have a baby sitter.  I like how lots of folks daydream about a "running lifestyle" or the "born to run" Christopher McDougall bullshit (that guy don't know shit about running), or say things like, "I wish I could quit my job and just run all the time."  Those are all bullshit statements. I say to them, "Have you ever tried to run all day, for 10 days?"  That shit ain't as easy as you think.  Try it. You are most likely better off keeping your job, and just running an hour a day as a hobby.  I'd rather run a 100 miler any day.  That shit is easy, in comparison. You might have some ups/downs but you'll typically be done in 24 to 35 hours.  How would you like have those ups and downs for 168 hours or for the whole 240?  How would you like to to look at the board that marks your progress and after 5 days of 18 hour days only be half way?  If that sounds like your idea of being a badass, then by all means sign up and let's get after it. 
      I also learned that this bullshit you hear from yoga practitioners and wanna-be Buddists (who don't really understand what they hell they are talking about) telling you to "stay present", that is a crock of shit.  Stay in the present moment and you wont have the foresight to tell your crew, "Hey pack me extra CarboPro for the bottom loop, last time I ran out of calories and bonked." That simple statement involves both the past and the future.  It involves forward planning and learning from experience. If you are "present" in the "now" you can't actually make a statement like this.  This bullshit about "just be present" and everything will be okay, is nonsense.  You're just trying to deny reality.  Look, your feet hurt and there ain't shit you can do about it, but denying it won't solve your problem.  Human beings are goal oriented beings who act.  Ludwig von Mises has many quotes regarding this: "Human action is purposeful behavior" ; "Action is an attempt to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs for a less satisfactory one." ; "Most actions do not aim at anybody’s defeat or loss. They aim at an improvement in conditions." ; "The vigorous man industriously striving for the improvement of his condition acts neither more nor less than the lethargic man who sluggishly takes things as they come. For to do nothing and to be idle are also action, they too determine the course of events." I really like Mises, so I felt like throwing his quotes into the report.
     I learned that you should preview every song, speech, or any thing you put on your music player.  Don't just randomly grab whole records and throw them on your player.  Some asshole put together a  Willie Nelson's Greatest Hits and I pulled that off the 500G drive I have.  I'll tell you, everyone of those songs sucked ass and I know a lot of Willie songs.  I could not believe it. What a crock of shit.  If I didn't know already, Martin Luther King Jr. was a great orator.  Way better than Churchill. Kennedy was pretty good as well.
     I should have known but I'll not soon forget the lesson in foot swelling.  Dammit. Once I realized that screwed up my whole race because my shoe choices, I felt like this starting about 1:50:

   Also that even though I brought 2 jugs of CarboPro and 2 bags of Tailwind, that wasn't enough for 10 days.  I like grilled cheese with shit tons of butter.  They are even better when you dip them in Miracle Whip.  There are lots of folks claiming miracles in this world, but Miracle Whip is the true miracle.  It's trans-fat free with lots of sodium and vitamin K, for whatever that's worth. I almost regretted all the times I talked shit to the Germans when I was stationed there about dipping their french fries (pommes frites) into mayonnaise, but I stopped just short of regret.  Plus it ensures that the bread is moist so that you don't cut up the inside of your mouth.  I still hate ramen.  Spam got old after day one. Olive oil is still good to drink.
     What does infinity mean?   As one of the signs on the course said, "We think of infinity as a really big number, but it’s not. It’s endlessness."  And even though the Infinitus 888K did come to an end eventually, while we were in the whirlwind, we couldn't fathom it. Why is the infinity symbol shaped like an eight that is just laying on the ground?  Eat shit, John Wallis.  While I'm no Carl Jung and don't profess to know anything special about "Man and His Symbols" the sleeping eight did come to represent something for me.  I came to view each end of the 8 where one end of the ellipse is representing human suffering and the other is representing the human will. As long as man exists, there will always be both. Which one will conquer the other? Who are you?  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Infinitus 888K - Log Book Notes

     Below are the notes that Gina wrote down in the log book for Infinitus 888K.  These are published here for your education and amusement.

Thursday 5/21:
Breakfast - grits, olive oil, salt, span, coffee, olives, 1 scoop of Carbo pro, and tailwind.
0808 start on top loop, in @ 10:23 out @ 10:29. Switched to 120 poles
In from bottom loop @ 1442, out on top loop 1455
Lunch: chicken noodle soup, saltines, spam, 2 scoops tailwind
In from top loop @ 1725 out @ 1737
Ate cornbread, crackers, broth, chicken noodle soup w/olive oil
1 scoop tailwind, 3 scoops carbo pro.
Completed second figure 8 @ 22:05. 2 full loops
Ate grits with butter and oil, 2 ham sandwiches (big) w/ Miracle Whip
Drank 2 PBR. In bed by 2300

Friday 5/22:
0400 wake-up. breakfast - grits, olives, drink of olive oil, 4 scoops of Carbo Pro.
0450 - left for start of 3rd figure 8 back in @ 0710
Ate PBJ with fritos, carbo pro refill, coke, mtn dew, coffee
Out for bottom of 1st figure 8 @ 0720 and back in @ 1145
Lunch: pbj w/fritos, soup, crackers, salt, oil, carbo pro, tailwind
Out at 1155 for second figure 8 and finished whole loop @1945
Ate ham sandwiched, mac & cheese, drank 2 PBR
in bed by 2100

Saturday 5/23
0345 wake-up. breakfast - grits, butter, oil, coffee, out @ 0440 for start of 5th loop.
finished top loop by 0705. ate mac & cheese, grits, coffee, coke
out @0730 and finish up 5th loop 1200
Ate grilled ham& cheese, mac&cheese, coffee coke
Left for 6th loop @ 12:20, completed top section by 1520
1525 out the door for bottom of 6th loop, and back in by 2020
ate chicken noodle soup/crackers out the door by 2025
back in from top of 7th loop @ 23:35
ate 2 cheese brugers w/ tons of Miracle Whip, pasta salad. 62.5 miles this day
In bed by 0000  , maybe had 1 PBR can't remember.

Sunday 5/24
tossed and turn didn't sleep for shit
up at 0415 - breakfast grits, PBJ sammich
out the door 0510 and back from bottom of 7th @ 0955
ate grilled cheese, burger, chips
out for top of 8th loop @ 1010 and back to lodge @ 1300
out for bottom of 8th @ 1325, and back to lodge @ 1900
ate chicken noodle soup
out for top of 9th loop @ 1915 and back @ 2230
ate ham sandwich, turkey sandwich, and drank 2 PBR
in bed by 2315 or so i am guessing

Monday 5/25
0430 wake up. breakfast - grits, coffee, coke
out for bottom of 9th @ 0510, back at 1015
ate cheese burger, grilled cheese, coffee, coke, out for top of 10 @ 1055
back from top of 10th loop @1340
ate turkey sandwich w/advocado, mac & cheese.
out for bottom of 10th @ 1400, back by 1930
ate grill cheese, mac & cheese, and chicken noodle soup.
out for top of 11 @ 2010, back @2330
ate 3 cheese burgers and drank 2 PBR.
Feet started hurting like a MF'er here cause of swelling in shoes.
Also had bad quad strain in the vastus medialis
would have been asleep by 0015 or so here, maybe later
slept on floor of lodge for about 1.5 hours, moved to camper later

Tuesday 5/26
0800 wakeup, feet pretty painful here and the log is no longer maintained.
ate grits, coffee, out the door by 0900, I think i did this lap with Joel in 6:30, the bottom of the 11th.

First 10.5 loops went to plan.  For the most part. Due to excruciating foot pain due to swelling and not having bigger shoes, I didn't discipline myself to get up at the proper time on the 26th, so I'm now 4 hours behind for the day.  The loops continued to be slow as shit.  I am not sure if I bummed shoes late this afternoon of the 26th or if it was on the 27th, which was day 7. Either way, I think I ended with 15.5 loops. So 403 miles or thereabouts.As you can see, my plan was to ensure that I slept at least 4 hours per night or more.  To complete 2 loops per day, and find two days, not back to back to do 2.5 loops. With rest the most important aspect of my plan. Sleep hours each night were around 5, 6:45, 2, 5, and 7 hours.  I wanted to have my sleep time during my regular times of sleep which ranges from typically 2300 to 0500. This was my first time attempting a multii-day and I was derailed by what I consider a rookie mistake of not having a larger sized shoe.  The swelling really did a number on me. Hopefully this information can help you plan your daily day to day. See you next year.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wait For Eight

During the long march of the Infinitus 888K, I spoke with Big Will numerous times and one time I mentioned that maybe when this bullshit is all over, I will write some poems.  So here is one that summarizes my experience.

At eight 'o eight, from BBH we originate
Our plan consummate, no pain we contemplate
Around the figure eight we oscillate
Underfoot ground rolls, flows, and undulates

Green Mountain State, mosquitos don't abate
Our efforts Nature's gamut renumerates
Sleep we prorate, never satiate
Feet carrying freight, changing gait they grate

Many days amalgamate, each loop of the figure eight
Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, never capitulate
Our fate awaits, the outcome au fait
With our mates, no longer blate, time infinite

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Motivational Quotes - The Stoics

     If you are like most everyone else, which I am as well, sometimes when we have a big challenge on our plates, we look for something or someone to help us.  Maybe a talk with a mentor or a friend. The great thing about print literature is that we can lean on mentors who are long gone.
     I've always felt that Stoic Philosophy fit my personality traits of internal locus of control.  That I'm in control.  I may not be a very good Stoic, but there are a bunch of Jews, Muslims, and Christians that aren't too dammed good at their religion either. 
      But don't confuse Philosophy with religion.  Philosophy is the cornerstone of all knowledge. An overarching umbrella that influences all our thoughts on all subjects whether we know it or not. The greatest crime of reason is to hold a thought and take some action and not truly understand what "first principles" these ideas come from.  The study of philosophy is paramount; so that we may become the rational actor as our nature dictates. 
     Stoicism falls in the branch of philosophy called Ethics.  Ethics is the third branch of philosophy which follows Metaphysics and Epistemology.  Ethics is important because it instructs us as to what has value, and it is only through value assignment and ordinal ranking of choices can we know what to choose, how to act,  and when.  I have collected some quotes from my three favorite Stoic philosophers and have written these quotes on 3x5 index cards.  Each morning at Infinitus 888K I plan to read these quotes to help me get my ass out the door and get to doing the work that needs to get done. They are below for you to check out. I highly encourage anyone to study philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius
It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Our life is what our thoughts make it.

First say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.
People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.
Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
No man is free who is not master of himself.
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

It better befits a man to laugh than to lament over it.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
It is pleasant at times to play the madman.
Not to feel one's misfortunes is not human, not to bear them is not manly.
One should count each day a separate life.
Those told to undergo what cowards would weep over should say, "God has judged us fit subjects to try how much human nature can endure."

Then I have this quote which I don't know who said/wrote it:

Whether the thing you want to do takes a long time or a short time, the time will pass anyway.    

Monday, May 18, 2015

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

     Fifteen intrepid souls gathered at the Chuy's Mexican food restaurant on Saturday May 18th, 2015 for a unique challenge.  The challenge was to walk to the Chuy's on Barton Springs Rd. in Austin, TX. The event was started by Thomas Orf and Stacey Meyers about 5 years ago.  See the quick write up on the history:
     Over the water cooler at work Stacey mentioned to Thomas, “Walking isn’t that hard. Hell, I could walk to San Antonio from here.” And, that is how the Chuy’s to Chuy’s walk was born. The event founders Thomas and Stacey have made the pilgrimage from the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road in Austin to the Chuy’s in Selma, Texas each year for the last 4 years. It’s high time we join them in this epic journey. Think Stand by Me without the dead body and the rail road tracks. 
      I worked with Thomas and a few other core folks to negotiate a date and created an event on Facebook and we asked our friends to come and walk with us. In the spirit of the event, you must walk and the main party should advance together as well as possible. Here were the rules:
     1. We are not affiliated or sponsored by the Chuy’s restaurant chain. We are simply fans.
     2. All participants must start and finish together.
     3. You may only walk.
     4. Running only allowed to catch back up after unscheduled stop.
     5. Sticks are allowed.
     6. Headphones and music are allowed, but you’ll miss out on all the great stories.
     7. You are responsible for your own transportation if you decide to retire from the walk.
     8. There will be approximately five scheduled stops for food and water resupply.
     9. Reflective vest, blinkie, and headlamp are required.
     10. Event organizers will not provide any support. Bring your own money for food and water.
     11. Umbrellas are not allowed.

     The concept of walking is simple, but oh so painful when one must walk for a very long time.  Before cars, the most common method of travel was by foot.  Humans are adept walkers and runners and made for it.  The walking pace is typically 2.8 to 3.4 MPH.  What does that mean to  you?  Take for instance a 28 in step with a pace count of 120.  This is 28*120 = 3360 in/min.   Which translates to 201,000 in/hr or 16,800 ft/hour, or 3.18 MPH.  A 30 in step at 120 pace count the rate is 3.4 MPH.  Why a pace count of 120?  120 is the U.S. Army marching cadence pace.  During the American Civil war the standard was 28 in step at a pace count of 110.  Which equates to 2.9 MPH.  
     It is generally observable that the average person is wholly unprepared to walk a great distance.  This is evidenced by the amount of blisters, the aching in the feet and legs at even 10 to 15 mile mark.  Since we sit down most of the time, our core is weak and cannont hold up our torso for hours and hours on end.  Our glutes do not fire and we walk with a soft middle.  The back begins to ache, the hip flexors hurt because the glutes are not engaged etc... Blisters are typically on the heel due to over striding or heel slippage in the shoe.  However blisters are not limited to the heel.  
     Once we started, some stepped out just a bit to fast and pulled a ways ahead of the group. Some a bit slow, but over all it started as to be expected.  After 4 miles a few folks stopped to grab some water at the gas station, check gear, and others decided it would be a good time to sit down for a bit.  We carried on in about 10 minutes and our group coalesced. The pace was about 3.2 MPH overall as to be expected early on.  Everyone seemed to be okay at this point. We were about 1.5 hours into the walk.  Around mile 10 our first walker retired.  Note that 10 miles is about 2hrs20min.  Mile 13 or 14 we had our first stop at the Exxon on Solms Road and IH-35 south of New Branufels. 
     Vincent Antunez with Trail Toes did his first of many minor blister fixing surgeries. He used Trail Tape, Trail Toes Cream and his Blister Kit.  Some walkers ate food, some milled around, some resupplied their hydration and electrolytes.  We carried on after about 20 minutes.  As we were passing through New Braunfels our second walker, Billy, retired from the walk.  This gentleman had just started exercising about 30 days ago and achieved 18 miles.  That is pretty badass. 
     The next stop was at Buccees on the other end of New Branufels @ Mile marker 191.  Buccees is a big store and this stop took quite a bit of time, approx 40 minutes. Mostly because Vincent was fixing everyone's feet. I think at least 6 walkers were getting blister work done. Once we left we faced about 15 miles until the next stop.  There are not many lights or stores in this section, save the Travel America that is 2 miles from Buccess so there is no reason to stop there. 
     We lost quite a few folks here.   It was getting late, almost 2200 by the time we left Buccess and we did not reach the next store until 0130.  About 5 walkers retired before we reached San Marcos proper and were picked up by friends.  At the Whataburger in San Marcos we left a few more walkers and marched forward with 6 of us left.  We didn't reach the next convenience store in time for a beer so that was a huge let down.  We made our way through town but before we reached the other side one other walker retired.  
     San Marcos is a dangerous place at 0230 in the morning on a Saturday night. Lot's of drunk college kids swerving around, yelling out the window.  Party buses, but no tittes were flashed. That was a pretty big let down.  The section between San Marcos and Kyle is long and lonely, about 10 miles with no stores or lights except a big car dealership.  Which we stopped at to lay down for 10 minutes.  As we got up to continue 2 cop cars pulled up flashing their lights. The paper guy called us in to the police as punk kids.  This place gets cars broken into a lot, so the cops are always getting called there.  They were cool and gave us high 5's.  And probably were on the radio all night saying things like, "Man, we met some dumbasses out on the road, walking to Austin.  Yea, man walking to Austin."  
     At 0530 we made it to the 7-11 in Kyle.  41 miles or so in and 15.5 hours.  We were here last year at about the same time.  Stacey, Vincent, Jorge, and Gina slept on the side walk outside.  It just so happened that the parking lot cleaners were there with their gas operated water sprayer so it was loud as shit and I couldn't sleep. I ate a donut and a sausage biscuit breakfast sandwich.  We left about 5:50 and continued our inexorable march towards Austin with the knowledge of a huge storm, filled with rain, thunder, and lightening was about to blow right up our asses.  And also with knowledge of the fact that in the next 30 minutes  I was going to throw up that sausage biscuit sandwich.  
     After a mile and half of burping sausage up, I decided to take manual intervention and puked my guts out.  Yea.  About 6:30 am, just before daylight. The rain came poring down.  We weren't too far from a Chicken Express food chain so we ran for cover under their porch.  We contemplated going to IHOP but we were soaking wet and typically they have the A/C on full blast and figured we'd be cold as hell and we wouldn't be able to lay down.  So we stayed at the chicken place.  We started shivering like crazy because of the wind and being wet.  Luckily Stacy had like 5 survival mylar blankets and he busted those out.  We spooned and covered up in the blankies.  And slept.  Someone might have gotten a chubbie, but no one admitted it. 
     After 2 hours of shivering like a teenage girl in horror movie. Stacey called in some help for us.  We decided that if this crap had not cleared up by 10AM, then we'd officially quit.  We went and chilled out at Stacy's place and it was still pretty shitty at 10 so we bagged it. Besides being out in a rain storm in Texas with retarted drivers is never a good idea.  We can walk another day.
     We let our friends know through FB and other media that the walk was over with 100% DNF.  We went ahead and had lunch at Chuy's and some of other walkers met us there.  We did not make it to Chuy's on foot this trip, but we had a great time anyway.  We will walk this route again if you are interested here is the link.  June 27th Chuy Walk 2.  Apparently Rucking is the hottest trend in 2015, so this is rucking w/o a pack.  But if you want to be a real badass son-of-a-bitch, by all means, bring your 30lbs ruck sack.  Nothing would make me more happy than to see your badassness crushed by time and the fate of the walker.  Below is the way bill text:
    In the age of ever increasing event prices, this event is offered to you free of monetary payment. However, you will pay with your mind and you will sacrifice your feet. This past weekend we attempted to complete the 5th Annual Salsa Walk and we had 100% DNF of the 15 starters for various reasons. So we’re going back out on the road, offering up our minds to be molded by the endurance of time and miles so that we may truly comprehend endurance. There are no medals or swag being offered for finishing. You are free to stop at any time your personal goal is reached. The only reward you will receive is the one you earn through commitment, it doesn’t hang on the medal wall, rather it fills the mind with the confidence of suffering endured. In the words of the great John Fodden “I shan’t wish you luck because if you haven’t trained properly, luck will be of no use. And if you have trained properly then you don’t need luck.”
 For anyone who would like to join us as we try again, I would suggest the following ideas:
     1. Lose your attachement to time. 
     2. Learn how to tie your shoes. 
     3. Learn how to walk. 
     4. Spend lots of time on your feet.
     5. Be Patient.
     6. Learn how to breathe. 
     7. Do core work. 
 We hope to see anyone who wants to make new friends, challenge themselves in a totally unique way, who can tell good jokes, isn't a total #1 grade asshole, and remember time is not on your side.  Time is your enemy. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

5:18 Mile: How A Short Heavy Dude Smoked the Mile

     On Sunday I ran the Milsa Mile here in San Antonio.  (results)  Surprisingly I ran a 5:18 for the mile and felt like I had a bit left in the tank. I didn't really expect that I would be able to run sub 5:30.  My best mile a few years back was a 5:50 in training, with a Garmin.  On Saturday I ran the Dash for Downs 5K back home in 20:47 which equates to 6:41 pace which is not indicative of a sub 5:30 mile at least as far as I know. According to Run Bayou online VDOT tables, it would indicate a 6:10 mile and a VDOT value of 47ish.  VDOT is a pseudo-ish VO2 value which has been standardized over many years and tests by Coach Jack Daniels.   The 5:18 mile indicates a VDOT value of 56 and a 5K of 18:05.  Could I have run sub 20 - 5K on Saturday, I think so, but not a sub-19.
     Anyway. One may suggest that I probably ran lots of 200M, 400M and 800M track work to get ready for this mile.  However, as one would see from my training log, that was not the case.  I have basically been running at or below 80% max HR. For the last 15 weeks.  Early in the cycle in Feb, I did some mile repeats and a few tempo runs, but nothing recently.
    I basically train at 80% of max HR or less based on Maffetone 180 Formula.  This number for me is (180-37) + 5 = 148.  Surprisingly, when I had my VO2 test done with Amanda McIntosh it showed my VO2 max is 53.6 and the top of my Zone 1 is 150 beats, real close to 148 and if you take the standard MAX HR formula of  220 - AGE = 183 * .8 you get to 146.4 .  All of these numbers coalesce to 150 or less.
     About 3 weeks ago I did a test to see at what pace I could run and be @ exaclty 150 BPM. After a 20 min warm up I ran  4 miles @ 8 min pace @ 150 BPM exact.   This was quite a bit better than December, about 45 sec per mile better. However, the tests were not exact replicas. 
     My understanding of training at 80% or less and quite a bit of time treadmill walking at 70% or less is that what is happening is you are creating eccentric growth of your left ventricle.
     As you can see the ventricle get's larger and more voluminous.  If you look at the VO2max formula (HRmax x SVmax) x a-vO2diff max  you'll see that SV, stroke volume, is able to be manipulated.  It's call cardiac remodeling. Whenever I'm walking on the incline treadmill and not really pushing the pace, just 3MPH at 20% I imagine that my heart is growing.
     I will admit that tire pulling (mostly walking) and incline treadmill walking allowed me to get stronger while not doing any weights or core work during this last 16 weeks. And did I do a lot of running? Yea I sure did. In 15 weeks I ran 1257 miles which averages to 83 miles a week but with a max/min of 18/137. You could say it was LSD I guess.  I did quite a bit of walking, maybe 35 % to 40% of the total miles could be attributed to walking as opposed to running.
     I like the article by Steve Magness where he talks about the evolution of running.  I especially like the part where he bashes CrossFit Endurance. Cause it's bullshit. What is interesting to note, for a short heavy dude who ran lots of miles, I didn't get hurt (thankfully), I didn't really do any core training such as weights or situps, etc...  I definitely didn't do a bunch Olympic lifts and didn't run any sprints.  At 37 y/o @ 5'5 and 185lbs to be able to run a 5:18 mile without speed work, with out lifting weights (granted I have a lot of muscle left over from back in the day), and just doing LSD is probably not what CrossFit endurance or anyone would tell you is possible. I mean, I guess.  Hell I didn't think it was possible, but it happened.  Could I have run faster if say I didn't drink 6 or 8 beers the day before, if I was 165 lbs, and I had done some 400's and 800's, yea I prob could have went sub five minutes pretty easily. 
     With everything said, do I have a formula?  Yea and this is free.  Pull tires, walk up hill, spend 15+ hours a week training at 80% or less up to 25+ hours week.  Tell your mamma you love her, and pet your dogs. Have a beer now and again, move 6 days a week. Smile and tell jokes out there running. And be sure to piss off a few folks on Facebook. :)   #movementmatters 
Yesterday I saw where I put 10K in two places where I meant to say 5K, this has been updated. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prelude to Infinitus 888K: Forced Marches in the Arena

Teddy Roosevelt once gave a speech and mentioned this: 

     It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
      What does the Infinitus 888K mean to me?  A number of things I suppose.  A word given. A challenge accepted. Training embarked upon. A life, or a subset thereof.  

     In Jan of 2014 the RD asked me to participate in the Peak 500, but I declined because of Hardrock 100.  I told him in 2015 I would come to his race.  And his race is the Infinitus 888K.   I don't know anyone who can answer true the question, "Why do you run Ultras?"  There is no answer for this question.  Well I guess there could be, but I haven't heard one that would satisfy the George Sheenan "runner philosopher" method of inquiry and is that really valid. George's "why we run?"  Find a better me, existentialism  etc... 
     Going back to a line from Teddy's speech, "who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat"  
     Spend myself in a worthy cause, knowing great achievement, failing or succeeding.  Accepting a challenge where I am not guaranteed success.  A challenge that asks for 240 hours of your commitment.  240 hours.  That is 10 days of a persons life.  No small ask in today's age.  Will you calm yourself enough to get in the minimum 15 hours a day of work?  Will you honor your commitment and your word?  Is your experience enough to know what to do when it's time to do it?  
     Anyone can struggle for 5 hours or 12 or 24, 240 hours is like a whole lifetime.  Truly it is.  Am I apprehensive?  Certainly.  Can I do it, I don't know.  Is it really even worth it?  I don't know that either.  
     I'm going because I don't know.  My greatest achievements have always been embarked upon with a sense, "IDK WTF is going to happen, but I'm saddling up, and I'll ride."  When I left for the Army that early June day of 1996, I didn't know that event and the numerous ones thereafter would bring me here.  I never knew the philosophical inquiry I started by reading Plato and Aristotle at 15 y/o would get me to Epictetus.  And embracing Stoicism.  And really wondering, "Are you committed?" 
     Are you committed like Marcus Aurelius was when he said, "Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also."
     The race starts on May 21.  It ends on May 31.  Those days in between, those are the days I want to live fully again.  Pressing on each day, with a sense of mission.  No cubicle, no emails, just me and my mind and my body, smiling away, suffering, being joyous, taking in the sunrise and sunset.  Moving, moving, moving.... 




Monday, January 12, 2015

A Tale of Two 100K

     December 27th, 2014 I ran my best race ever at 9:45:58 for 100Ks.  Thirty-one 2 mile loops on asphalt at a park in Houston. The Houston Running Festival.  On January 10th, 2015 I quit at mile 25 of the Bandera 100K
     Why did I do this?   I signed up for Bandera back in July with the intention of trying to run the best 100K I could run, to really train and race it. The 100K @ Houston Running Festival I signed up for in October.  My best shot at running a sub 10:30:00 100K was at the Houston Running Festival which is the minimum qualifying time to be able to register for the Spartathlon
     After running my race in Houston, I was ecstatic.  I could not believe that I did it.  My greatest ultra performance ever at this distance.  I had some lingering problems over the past two weeks, but I took it easy and figured, all would be well for Bandera.  The race started fine, but the crappy conditions and unrealistic goal of throwing down 11 hours, chewed me up and spit me out.
     I had no business trying to run hard at Bandera, or even running at all.  I mean come on.  What kind of dumbass does one have to be to think they could pull off two amazing runs, two weeks apart?  Maybe a 5K or 10K, but not 100K.

Every time you go for a run, you get to learn something new about yourself.

What did I learn.  I learned a valuable lesson in these four areas; patience, acceptance, humility, and respect. 

Patience - Plan your races/training properly so that there exists enough time for recovery/adaptation to run your best.  You don't have to run everything. 

Acceptance - Never lose sight of the runner you are on the day of the race.  You may be running well, but when course conditions warrant and lack of recovery dictate, you should adjust your expectations. 

Humility - Don't get greedy and think you should PR every race.

Respect -  Take care of your body.  Don't ask it to do more that it should.  My legs/lungs/heart just gave me a 9:45:58 100K two weeks ago and then I ask it to do it again?  That is not respectful.

     I enjoyed chatting with friends in the cold and watching the race by the start/finish line.  I was able to talk through some of my other goals and plans for the year.  Of course I'm still bummed about quitting, but I'm seeing more clearly now.