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Monday, May 23, 2016

Training For My Next Race

After a very lack luster run at this years American River 50 miler, I did a lot of thinking about what went wrong during the race.

The first thing is my weight.  I like to eat, and I like to eat a lot.  I went into AR50 a little heavier than I wanted to.  I wanted to go in at about 175 pounds (the weight I feel most comfortable running) but I was closer to 185 pounds.  The extra 10 pounds makes a difference, especially over a 50 mile race.

The second thing that I feel like my training was lacking was good old fashioned speed work.  At the end of AR50 I felt like my legs had no turnover in them.  I feel like my lack of speed work was to blame.

After AR50 I decided to take the rest of April off from hard training.  I ran, but it was just for run.  I ran with a few friends that I had not ran with for awhile, and we just did easy miles with each other.

Now that it's May I've started training for my next race, The Dirty Dozen 12 hour race.  The event is in July and I'm looking forward to putting in a lot of miles at this race.  I've started training, but I'm easing into the hard workouts.  I'm doing weights and H.I.I.T. workouts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.  I'm also starting to incorporate speed work into my runs once again, along with some long runs.

I'm trying to make my workouts as uncomfortable as I can.  I know that the weeks that led up to AR50 I held back a lot on my training.  I'm going to keep my training for this event as demanding as I can make it.  I need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable again.  I need to bring back the training I was doing when I ran the Woodside 50k back in December of last year.

I feel like I'm not as distracted as I use to be.  The last year had a bunch of ups and downs, and I had no idea last year that my life would be like it is right now.

A couple months ago I went on a trail run with a local runner who wanted to check out the San Joaquin River Trail.  I do a lot of my training on this trail, and when Samantha showed an interest in checking out the trail I offered to take her out on a run.  I'm very introverted and find it hard to talk to people most of the time in "normal" settings.  Sometimes I come across as an ass hole, or a snob... but it's just that I feel very awkward and out of place in most social situations. Luckily for me I am able to hold a conversation with people while I'm running.

After getting to know Samantha a little better on the trail, we started hanging out more... and more... and more.  She's very active, trains a lot, is very focused on her goals, and can be very competitive..  After a few weeks a relationship started to develop and we started becoming more than friends.

I'm excited about this years Dirty Dozen race.  While I'm out running for 12 hours, Samantha will run the 10k race that is in the morning, and then she will run the 10k race that will take place in the afternoon.

We are both training hard right now.  Samantha is focusing on a triathlon she's doing this coming June, along with her upcoming solo hike on the John Muir Trail this August.  I'm very focused on the Dirty Dozen and the Headlands 100.

Life is crazy.  At one moment you can feel like you're at the bottom, then at the next moment all of that can be turned around.  You never know what life is going to give you.

until next time...


Thursday, May 12, 2016

American River Run 04-02-2016

So... this blog post is coming very late, but oh well... let's jump right into it!!

On April 2nd of 2016 I ran my 7th consecutive American River 50 miler.  Back in 2010 this was the very first 50 miler that I had ever ran, and I've done this race every year ever since.  This race takes place close to my birthday, so I like to do this event every year.

I had big goals this year.  I really wanted to finish in 8 hours and 30 mins this year.  This would cut about 20 mins of my best time at this event.

I felt that my training was pretty good prior to the event.  I was getting in some good long runs, I was cross training regularly, and my rib was finally healed.  My weight wasn't quite where I wanted it, but it was close enough.  I wasn't back down to 175 pounds (the weight that I like to run ultras) but it wasn't so much over 175 pounds that it made a huge impact on my run.

I was feeling pretty good for the first 25 miles of the run.  My goal was to get the first half of the race done in about 4 hours.  When I hit the mile 25 mark I was only 10 mins behind the my goal of 4 hours.  It didn't feel like that big of a deal at the time, because I really enjoy the second half of this race and was wanting to try to push the pace the best that I could.

After mile 30, the course started getting to me.  My pace kept falling back more and more.  I expected this to happen, especially in the Meat Grinder section of the course.  When I hit mile 37 I was about 6 hours and 30 mins into the race.  At this time I figured that I would have to run a 2 hour trail half marathon, and on fresh legs that's a goal I would totally try to nail... but I was 37 miles into a run and had been running for 6 hours and 30 mins into my run already.

At this point I knew I was going to fall short (very short) of my goal.  The last thing I wanted to do was just lay back and feel defeated about not hitting a time goal, so I did my best to keep running as best as I could.  Unfortunately as I ran past mile 40 I started feeling more and more exhausted.  My legs were feeling super heavy and the desire to run really wasn't there.

During the later miles I felt like my legs just weren't there.  They felt like heavy bricks.  When I would try to run they just wouldn't move.  Looking back on my training, I realized that I didn't do a whole lot of speed work during the last 6 weeks leading up to the race.  I think this was a huge mistake on my part.  My lack of speed work left my legs had no turnover during the important later miles of the race.

At the end of the day I finished the 50 miles in 10 hours and 35 mins.  This was a good 2 hours longer that I wanted to take.

The weeks after AR50 I was able to reflect a lot about what went right and what went wrong at the event.  I took almost all of April off from any hard running and made it a point to just run with some friends and have fun on the trails.

I have my next race this coming July and just started for it earlier this week.  I'm excited to make some adjustments to my training and have a solid run at this July's Dirty Dozen 12 hour race.

Until next time...


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wellbarn Road Run 04-12-16

Today I took my friend Sunny out for a run along the San Joaquin River Trail.  I try to come out here once a week, twice if I have the time, to train and to just clear my head.  I love running out here and always jump at the chance to take people out here who have never been here before.  The trail is only a short 25 min drive from my house in Fresno, Ca.  I tend to do most of my training around a field by Fresno State and at Woodward Park, but I really enjoy coming out here to run the trail.  There's something nice about just hitting the trail and not having any type of workout planned.  Today wasn't about seeing how fast we could run the trail, we just wanted to go out there and have fun.

We were limited on time so we ran out for about 45 mins and then turned around and went back to the car.  
Next time we will hopefully have more time to explore the trail.  It was cool to see how much Sunny enjoyed the trail, and to hear how interested she was to find out how much further the trail went and where it went.

Most of my training is done solo, so it's always nice to have someone to run a few miles on the trail with me.  Since I don't have a 9:00am to 5:00pm work schedule I do a lot of my running while most people are working.  This makes it hard to find people to train with.  I honestly enjoy the solitude that running gives me.  I've always been big on having alone time.  I know that might sound selfish, but I'm very introverted, and sometimes it's hard for me to be around people, especially large groups, for extended periods of time.

As much as I enjoy my solo running, I really enjoy my random training runs with my friends.  I like having someone there to share the beauty of the trail with me.

Until next time...


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Same Song And Dance

This Saturday will be my 7th time running the American River 50 miler.  With all the ultra's I've ran in the last almost 7 years, you would think that I would finally have my shit together.

I still get nervous before every race that I run.  It would be one thing if I was just going out for a fun 50 mile day, but I have a goal that I would very much like to hit.  This year my goal is 8 hours and 30 mins, or better.  I've focused my training on this for the last 4 months. This is the part I don't like... the nervous feeling I get before I set out to run really far and really hard.  The self-doubt that begins to creep in... the constant "did I train too much, or enough, or did I..."

This seems like the norm for me.  I hate the anticipation before an event.  The constant questioning, wondering, the self-doubt...  I know that I will finish the event no matter what, but will I finish in the time and manner that I want to?

The 50 mile distance has always been the hardest one for me to mentally accomplish.  I would much prefer a 50k or 100 miler.  I don't know why I tend to mantally have a hard time with the 50 mile distance, but I do.  It's the one distance where I tend to mentally unravel while running, and I have mentally unraveled multiple times at this event.  My only hope is that I can run hard for 50 miles and keep my mind centered and calm.

I've been working more and more at staying focused lately.  I've added nightly meditation into my practice along with visualization exercises.  This seemed to work well for me when I ran the Woodside 50k last December.  With a little bit of luck, hopefully it will work at AR50 as well.

I'm not sure what life has planned for me this weekend, but I know that at 6:00am this Saturday I will be running as hard as I can and I'll leave everything I have out on the trail.  This race is not going to feel good or be fun... but that's what I've been preparing for.

Until next time...


Sunday, January 31, 2016

After My Run Today...

I've learned a lot from running, especially running trails and "ultra" distances.  One thing that I have learned is that most people on the trail are friendly and nice.  We all encourage each other and support each other.  Even if we're complete strangers most of us treat each other like family and will help one another out at the drop of a hat.  If  I come across a runner who has ran out of water and needs some, I share what I have without even thinking twice.  The same goes with food, or anything else imaginable.  We are all out there sharing the trail together, having our own experience, and doing what we love doing.

It's important to take these lessons from the trail and use them in our everyday life.  I know that if I ever ran into trouble on the trail that just about any trail runner would stop and give me a hand.

...but what about when we're not on the trail.  When we get back into "the real world" we tend to go on autopilot and get sucked back into our normal routine.  I was very guilty of this today.

On my way to work I was running a little late and didn't have time to make lunch.  I got to the shopping center where I work on the nicer north end of town and stopped to get something to eat really quick at Panda Express.  As I was walking up to the Panda Express a man started walking up to me and told me he was hungry and asked me if I could buy him something to eat.  I was in a hurry, and I could tell that he realized that, and before I could answer him he told me "never mind" and walked away.

The man looked cold and was soaked.  It had been raining all day, and just a few hours before this I was on the trail running in the rain and playing in the mud.  After my run I went home, jumped in a hot shower, and got ready for work.  This man wasn't playing outside, he wasn't about to go dry off and take a hot shower, and he looked like he honestly had nowhere to go and didn't know where to go.

I was inside Panda Express getting my order, thinking about what had just happened seconds ago, and when the lady asked me if I needed anything else I told her that I needed a $20.00 gift card.  I thought to myself, "if this was some random dude on the trail I would help him out, this is no different."  I saw that this guy was embarrassed to ask for help.  He wasn't the typical guy on the corner with his hand out and his cardboard sign.  He was walking with his head down, soaking wet, with nothing but a water bottle in his hand... no belongings... nothing...

I went outside and saw the man standing by the Starbucks trying to stay dry.  He noticed that I was walking over to him and he started walking over to meet me halfway.  I asked him how long he had been "out here" and he said for a few months, and that it was a long story.  I handed him the gift card and told him that there was $20.00 on it and that he should go get something to eat.  His eyes started to tear up and he tried to shake my hand, but I declined his handshake and I gave him a hug instead, because I felt that he really needed it.

I apologized to Kenny for the way I acted earlier and told him that life shouldn't be so busy that we ignore people when they ask for help.   I wish him well and headed to work.

If you see that someone needs help, you should always stop to help them.  I wish a had something more profound and elegant to say to end this blog post, but I don't.

Until nest time...


...and if you see someone in need, don't ignore them.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Training partners...

Most of my training runs are solo.  For the most part, I like it that way.  I enjoy heading out the door by myself, being in my own head-space, and just plain being alone when I run.
As much as I enjoy this alone time, I do also enjoy a good hard workout with my friends. 
On Friday I ran for my 3rd time this week along the San Joaquin River Trail.  On Monday and Wednesday I ran by myself and was able to get in some good self-reflection. On Friday I hit the trail again with a local runner that I've ran a few events with, but never have really ran with.  Farin and I got in a nice 14 mile run with each other.  We talked a lot on the trail.  We talked about how we started running, why we run, events we've done, and just life in general.  As much as I enjoyed my 2 solo runs earlier in the week, it was really nice to push through some miles on the trail with a new friend.
Today I made plans to run with my friend Andrea.  I like running with Andrea because she's fast, very humble, and really funny.  I always have a blast running with her.  Our plan today was to run 12 miles on the road so that Andrea could get in some training for her upcoming marathon that she's running in a couple weeks.

About a half mile into our run we ran into our friend Becky who was on her training well as well.  We held a solid pace the entire run.  We were able to average a 7:20 mile average pace during our 12 mile run around Fresno.  Having running partners really makes the difficult miles fly by.  I really didn't even check our pace the entire run.  It was nice just running with some friends, talking, and just joking around.

About 9 miles into our run we parted ways with Becky, and then Andrea and I headed back to the park where we had our cars parked.  We talked about life, I shared some of what I had been going through over the last few months, how I'm moving forward, and how I'm coping with things.

My training partners have gotten me through a lot the last few months.  I'm very lucky to have the people I do to train with.  These people push me beyond what I think is my physical and mental limit... and more importantly, they listen when I need to talk.

My training partners are like my 2nd family.  Some of these training partners have been in the family for a long time, and some are new members.  It's funny how people can come into your life when you really need them... at that exact moment when you need them.

Until next time...


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Rebound

I'm a little hesitant about writing and posting this, but I've always tried to be as real and honest as I can with this blog... so, here we go.

I was able to hit the single track trail by my house on Monday and Wednesday (today) this week.  With a little bit of luck I'll be able to hit it on Friday as well.

I'm feeling more and more confident and comfortable with running harder on the trail.  I feel like ever since the race I did on Thanksgiving I've been feeling way stronger and more and more focused.  Even with all the progress I have made over the last few months, I realized I was falling back into a bad habit... I was starting to drink... a lot.

When my wife and I split up my friends all told me, "don't get into a relationship right away, don't have a 'rebound' because that's not going to do you any good."  They all told me to take my time and get my shit together. Don't find a person to fill any kind of void you're feeling.

I started training harder, running better, improving my Jiu Jitsu game, and getting my shit back together.
Everything started coming together again, but in the middle of everything coming back I was faced with the fact that I was getting into a relationship with a familiar friend.  I was slowly moving into a bad direction.  In a sense was having a "rebound," only it wasn't with a person, it was with alcohol. 

I pretty much don't drink anymore, and kind of gave up drinking when I started running ultras.  I never took drinking to the point where it was out of control, but I can honestly say that I use to drink to distract myself from what's going on in my life.  I was also doing a good job at distracting myself since mid October.

It was all innocent at the beginning, a couple beers with some friends.  But when they would have 2 I would try to have 6 or more.  It wasn't just being social, it was to mask what I was feeling.  We would talk about what I was going through and we would have a few drinks, then I would have a few more.

On Saturday night I was with some friends and we were all having a few drinks.  After awhile I lost track of how many I had, then I just kept going.  I stayed the night at my friends house, and in the morning my alarm went off and I was going to hit the trail.  I felt pretty shitty so I slept another hour and decided to run a route by my house instead.  I felt like crap during my run, but I was able to still get in a good workout. 

During my workout I told myself, "this needs to stop... today." 

When I got up on Monday morning I decided I needed to do the trail run I skipped on Sunday.  It was raining pretty hard, so I got out my rain jacket and some aggressive trail shoes, and I hit the trail. 

I love the rain, and I really love running in the rain.  The rain gives me the sense of a new start.  It's like all the shit is being washed away.  I felt deep down like this run was super important for me to do.
I told myself that today I was hitting the reset button. It's ok to have a drink from time to time, but I can't go down the road I was slowly starting to go down.  I ran the trail as hard as I could.  The rain was coming down hard, the trail was muddy, and I was feeling focused on my run.  I ended up running pretty solid and finishing earlier than expected. 

I felt refreshed at the end of my run.  It was like I could see clearly again.  I have big plans for this year, and I need to stay focused on the big picture.

I went out to the trail again today and ran even faster and harder than the previous day.  I was focused on every step I took.  I was in a good zone, my focus was clear, and I was running really hard.

There's always ways that we can distract ourselves from whatever pain we are going through in life.  A long time ago I did that with alcohol.  I'm happy that when I started doing that again, I was able to notice it and stop it.

Running ultras took the place of alcohol back in 2010 and I do my best to keep it that way.
I look forward to running on the trail this coming Friday, and seeing how hard I can push myself.

Until next time...