Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 30, 2014

50k Woodside, CA, 28 Dec 2014

I always worry about weather for a race.  Wind, cold, heat, rain, more wind...snow?  And you know what...I've run through all those nasty conditions, and usually it's still fun.   With the right clothing of course!...and debating about what that happens to be can be quite a challenge.

Not for this race, however.  Forecast was for sun and more sun, and so what if it was a little chilly, that's actually perfect running weather.   There was sunscreen available at race check in, which struck me as a little strange...I probably saw the dim midwinter sun about twice during this course, being as it was through the tall, dense trees of the coastal hills south of San Francisco!  Perhaps sunscreen is just a staple at these events, put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs.  They do a cool series of events, making me wish I lived closer to these great venues.

This race had 4 distances; 10k, 17k, 35k, and 50k.   Jim decided to run the 17k, and sent me off on the  50k as his race started 30 minutes later.   Either distance, it was going to be hilly day for both of us and we were starting at the bottom.   One woman ran by me warning of the 10 mile hill to come...it wasn't of course, that long, but it did feel like an unending climb.   I knew it would be a nice to descent to finish the race, but hoped I would have the legs for it at the end!

The course meandered through Huddart and Wunderlich County Parks.  Between the two, the course merged seamlessly into the Skyline Trail.  I think the Skyline trail was my favorite part of the day...it was flattish yet rolling trail in deep woods (ok it was all deep woods) along the side of some very steep ravines.

The loop at the halfway point was very fun to run down...I was running 9 minute miles for a few on the downhill portions!  I knew it would be a long way back up when I started seeing eucalyptus trees at the bottom...of course coming back uphill hit just as my legs were starting to complain about mile 17.

The aid stations were well stocked, and I hit both of them twice as I retraced my steps on the second half.   My choices of food for the day were mostly Oreos and salty chips...I know, that seems disgusting, but if they were on offer, then I'm sure I'm not the only one munching on such things!

Aside from a refill of coke in my pack, I didn't stick around long...although I did want to try out those chairs for a while!

The midmorning sun transitioned to afternoon sun without ever seeming to get above the horizon.  The days might be getting longer but I can't see it yet.  Filtered sunlight came sporadically through the redwoods and deep forest, and the temperature seemed to stay perfectly cool the whole time.

The rolling hills seemed a lot less fun on the second half, where I was really wishing for the final downhill.   When it finally came, I was really in too much pain to enjoy it, unfortunately.    This hurts, I was thinking.  Why?  Because it's been too long since my last ultra.  Perversely, the more often I run these things, the less they hurt.  Perhaps it's just my pain tolerance going up, I don't know.   (It couldn't have been too bad however...shortly after finishing I was talking about the next one, as usual!)

At any rate, the finish line was a very happy sight.  You know, it's that moment when the warm, flat, watered-down Coke in my bottle changes from the best thing I've ever had to drink, to a gross, sticky mess that I have to clean out the next morning.   Jim was waiting for me there, having had time to head back and shower after conquering his 17k!

Results are HERE:  http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=27079  

We both finished about midway through the results.   I'm usually higher than that and actually run faster than I had predicted. So although I'm in pretty good shape, I think the quality of runners is really high in this area.   I'm always wishing to run faster, though...in this case I have been training by hiking with a pack (X-Alps training of course) rather than running downhill...this definitely didn't prepare me for such a hilly run.

Before....rocking the wild running pants!
And After!

December 29, 2014

Bishop's Peak Double Ascent!

We are out in California for Christmas, and determined to get outside in the beautiful weather.   Our favorite hike in the area of San Luis Obispo is called Bishop's Peak.  It's the tallest of the Nine Sisters, which are volcanic bumps in and around town.   We like the hike because it's got a lot of elevation change even if it is a little short.  So occasionally for good training, we do the whole hike twice!

The out and back hike is about 3.5 miles depending on who you ask.   It's got over 1000 feet of elevation gain though, and it's quite technical.   In summer heat it's pretty exposed to the sunshine, but in the winter it's wonderful to be warm outdoors.   Not to mention the great views over to the ocean!  There's even a little section of scrub oak forest which always makes me pull out the camera.

We did the two rounds in about an hour each, and felt like we got a nice workout.  A good change from the treadmill workouts I've been confined to lately.

December 9, 2014

52 Flights on South Side in an Hour!

South Side of the Point Of The Mountain.  I can't actually remember when I was there last, which is silly considering it's a great paragliding resource for me.  However, it will be a very familiar sight (and site) in my training leading up to the X-Alps, for a lot of reasons.   It's a 200 foot high hill that most people love to soar in the mornings, and it's taught a countless number of new pilots how to fly.

In the winter, with a gentle south wind it can be flyable all day, which is was happened this week.  Jim happened to drive by and saw a few wings in the air, so we quickly grabbed our stuff and got out there at 3 in the afternoon.  It was a warm winter day and although I hadn't done any top landings for a while, it is like riding a bicycle.  So I set out to see how many I could do before the wind died off!

Conditions were perfect, light and floaty and just enough to keep me in the air but I could land anywhere.  Sidehill, top, it didn't matter.   I was flying an Ozone Octane, not because I wanted to do Acro but because it's a solid wing that can take a beating on the gravel at South Side.   It doesn't kite that well but it surely likes to fly, and I was able to do foot sliders for hundreds of feet along the side of the hill.   As the wind got lighter I side-hill landed and ran back up the hill while still flying my wing...anything to keep flying rather than landing at the bottom.

I was just able to get my goal of 50 flights in before the wind gave up, and it felt really good to be able to jump out and do something like that.   With a little more time, maybe I'll try for 100, but my real goal is the site record, set by paragliding legend Ken Hudonjorgensen.  In one day, he was able to do 333 top landings.   That's more flights than most people get in a year, or maybe a lifetime!

South Side will be great prep for me, not just for top landings, but for top- to-bottom hiking laps. That will give me plenty of chances to hike up, unpack my gear, enjoy the 30 second flight to the bottom, then pack up and do it all over again.  This will help me really dial in my gear choices and know how to pack it fast and furious for the race!

December 7, 2014

Bring on the Zone 3 Workouts!

So once a week along with my other strength and cardio workouts, I do what is called a Zone 3 workout. That's when I run or stair climb my way up to a high enough heart rate that I am pushing myself hard, while still burning fat rather than carbs.

This week my workout was 4 repetitions of 20 min at Zone 3 with 6 min rest, plus warmup and cool down.  It feels hard without being too hard, if you know what I mean.  I did this workout on the treadmill, and ran 10 miles in about 2 hours of intervals.

(Ignore the HR glitches in repetition 1, I think someone walked by my treadmill wearing a HR monitor)

December 5, 2014

VO2 Max Testing

It's time to start getting serious about being in shape for the X-Alps.    To begin my training more scientifically, I did a VO2 Max test on the treadmill a little while back.   After a warmup, I started running wearing a mask which measures the amount of CO2 and O2 I was using.  Each time 2 minutes passed my speed increased, until the point where I couldn't run anymore.  I think this was 20 something minutes long, I can't remember exactly.  I do remember that it hurt by the end!

The VO2 Max test is important in that it tells me the intensity where I am burning more calories from fat.  As speed increases, calories start coming directly from sugar, which allows me to run faster but not for very long.  For long races, it's better to stay at a pace that allows me to burn the most fat, since those stores are almost unlimited even on the thinnest people.

Now that I have the numbers and my ideal heart rate for burning the most fat while exercising, a lot of my workouts are going to be slow, in Zone 1 and Zone 2.  To be honest, it hardly feels like I am getting a workout, which is what will allow me to carry my pack all day long in the X-Alps.    Once a week, though, I will bump it up to a harder workout in Zone 3.  This will feel like I am finally pushing the pace a little while still burning fat, unlike Zone 4 & 5 where I'm just using carbs.

As I get more fit over the winter and spring, I will be repeating this test a couple of times.  Hopefully my results will show that I am going faster while maintaining the same heart rate, and burning a greater percentage of fat!  

My VO2 Max results - Heart Rate Zones

December 2, 2014

Human Race 10k, Thanksgiving 2014

Who doesn't want to eat a lot on Thanksgiving?   Well, at least running a 10k that morning helped pre-work some of those calories off!    And it's for a good cause...this was a huge race in Draper, with 5,690 runners toeing the start line of the 5k and 10k races.   As you can see from the pictures, the main clothing themes were orange race shirts and turkey hats.   Since proceeds went towards the Utah Food Bank, the race was able to provide the equivalent of 353,000 meals for needy families in Utah!

For the first time in a while, I wasn't at the start line alone.   Family members Jim, Judy and Abby were there to run with me on a cool, blustery morning.   Luckily temps were above freezing even if the wind felt like an arctic blast at times.  We did get to see a nice sunrise over the Wasatch mountains while waiting for the start.  And then it was mind over matter trying to pace myself to a fast 6.2 miles.  The course went around the local strip mall, which wasn't terribly scenic, but it was (mostly) flat.  I thought the finish line would never arrive, but finished in 53 minutes....I suppose not bad for racing at 5,000 feet of elevation.   Judy and Abby finished strong but looked like they were suffering a little, having come from sea level just the day before.   Jim was only a few minutes behind me and claimed he could have gone faster, so we all enjoyed the run.  And then went home and had turkey with all the fixings!

Results are here:  http://www.milliseconds.com/races/detail/139290  (Although the VAST majority of runners didn't wear timing chips, so the ones that did pay extra for timing were probably the faster ones!)

Jim, Dawn, Judy and Abby pre-race!