Sunday, July 27, 2014

4 + 2 + 1 + 2(1) = 100

At my age I have learned one thing about myself with regards to ultra training, as much as I would like to pound the miles everyday I cannot.  If I schedule a 60 minute workout, that actually means a 10 minute warm up, a 45 minute workout and a 5 minute cool down.  In reality if I want a 60 minute workout that means 75 minutes.  Of course, the 20 and 30 year-old ultra athletes should be doing this already just know that once you are into your 40's it takes a little longer to get the engine up to speed.
Numbers are my thing.  I majored in Economics and spent over 20 years on the trading floor.  I can go out for a run and come home with pi figured to the 20th place.  

But how in the world does 4 + 2 + 1 + 2(1) = 100?

I have planned out my weeks of training and they have a similar theme.  In a seven day week, I have 4 days of running, 2 days of swimming, 1 day on the bike and every two weeks I have a massage.  
As you know, I schedule my run training around time on feet (TOF) and tired legs.  My ultra race experience has shown that I get mentally stronger on the back 50 miles but the wear and tear of the course will take a toll on my legs.  My four days of running consist of a quad busting hill workout on Tuesday, a tempo run on Thursday, a long run Saturday morning and a flush run Saturday night and finally a long run on Sunday.  
Two days in the pool translate to Monday after a weekend of pounding the trails, giving my legs "active recovery."  It always includes time in the whirlpool, it's a nice feeling having the jets work the kinks out of my legs.  Friday is meant to relax and loosen up my legs for the weekend's runs.  Make no mistake about time in the pool is not "splashing around relaxing," I bring my program from last year's Ironman training.  It provides me with drills, speed, endurance and overall aerobic activity.  
Lastly, Wednesday is cycling day.  Due to sunlight hours shortening, I keep my bicycle on the trainer in the basement so I can devote as much time as possible on it.  I was watching the Tour de France this year and the commentators made the point that even on "off/rest days" the cyclists still spend 2 -3 hours on their bicycles just flushing their legs so the following day when they are back racing their legs will respond.  The reason I bring that fact up is although a total rest day is always welcome sometimes my body will feel sluggish or my legs won't respond how I thought they would.  "Active recovery" is welcome and sometimes that extra effort to get out and do something pays dividends on your following training days.  Other times, my body says "nope, not today," and I do not fight it.  There is a fine line between my body saying, "no" and my mind saying, "just sleep."  Some days it is hard to know the difference but I never begrudge my body for taking a day off.  I can usually tell when it is a good decision by looking back on my training log and if time, miles and training sessions have been adding up, I know it is a good decision.  I do not try to reschedule or make up missed sessions.  I enjoy the break, I enjoy the time away from training with family, friends, a drink or a dessert and I know I will be back at it the following day.  I will also check my nutrition and hydration.  There are many times I feel sluggish, slow or my legs are uncooperative and if I think about my eating habits the night before or how much water I drank those are two good clues of what could be missing.
I have saved the best for last...the massage!  It took a little while but visiting the same masseuse at the same salon we built a camaraderie.  She knows how much pressure, where my troubling issues are and best of all...she comes to the house!  Every two weeks, it is time to get pummeled but afterwards I feel so much better.  I highly recommend a regular massage, it is money well spent.
So this week shapes up as follows:
Sunday - long run
Monday - 60 minutes in the pool
Tuesday - hill workout
Wednesday - 60 minutes on the bike
Thursday - tempo run
Friday - 60 minutes in the pool
Saturday - double runs

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tour de Seabiscuitariat

I love Running.  
I love everything about Running, the early mornings, tough workouts, training schedule and regimens.  This past week while recovering from a few workouts, I flipped through channels to catch the Tour de France and two movies - Seabiscuit and Secretariat.  Upon hearing the commentators from the Tour and dialogue from the movies, it made me take a deeper look at who I am because of what I do. 
The Tour de France cyclists forged through all seasons of weather, it struck me that no matter what the conditions they continued towards the finish line of the day's stage.  What drives them to proceed?  Is it the money?  Is it the fame? Can it be the adulation?  Maybe it is a combination of all three. But then I thought about time spent training, the time away from family and friends and the untold sacrifices.  I came to the answer that they enjoy Cycling.  They love Cycling.
The two movies, Seabiscuit and Secretariat are true stories about two horses overcoming insurmountable odds.  
Seabiscuit resonates with me because he is a little horse compared to other racehorses but loved to run and run hard.  The horse went through trials and tribulations but after hard training always came through like a champion.
 Secretariat was a horse that flat out liked to run.  In the final scenes, Diane Lane (who played Secretariat's owner, Penny Tweedy) cheers on Secretariat by yelling during the Belmont Stakes "Let him run Ronnie, let him run."  Which is followed by her quoting a biblical passage from Job 39, "Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?  Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?  He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.  He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.  The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.  In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds." This really strikes a chord with me because in my world those words are how I feel on race day.  As I pondered this week's blog post and that quote, I thought about how many of us question our ability and doubt our preparation?  I know I do, but sometimes if I am able to get my thoughts out of my brain and relax I can picture myself with that confidence.  All I have to do is remember that I love to run. Somewhere along the 100 miles when I mentally and physically check out, there are times that I recall and replay that scene over and over again. I paraphrase some of the saying, "I can eat up ground 'cause I can't stand still" and picture the shot of Secretariat coming into the homestretch running at full stride and looking majestic as ever.  
Those are the images and music that I had on repeat in my mind during this week's training. The tempo runs I was Secretariat.  The hill workout I was a Tour cyclist going up the Col du Tourmalet.  My weekend time on feet long runs I was Seabiscuit.  Truth be told, I wasn't that fast on the tempo runs (8:40 pace), I wasn't conquering the Pyrenees (6,900 feet)  and I was happiest when my long runs were over.  In reality, none of that matters.  In my mind that is how I see myself and that is how I perform.  So as I build up my physical endurance for Hallucination 100, I am starting to build up my mental endurance as well.  If I could take a mixture of a Tour rider, Seabiscuit and Secretariat to the start line in September, I would in a heartbeat.  Why? Because I love to run!

Monday - am tempo run and pm tempo run
Tuesday - hill workout
Wednesday - swimming
Thursday - cycling
Friday - am tempo run and pm tempo run
Saturday - TOF long run
Sunday - rest

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Am I Hallucinating??

With my pilgrimage into Social Media this year my old worlds have collided with new worlds. Last night I went to an annual Summer party and reunited with some friends I have not seen since grammar school.  Yes Gail, Lena, Mary and Tracey when we first saw each other I thought I had fallen into another dimension.  30 years has passed but we picked right up where we left off and all of you look exactly how I remember you from those days. 
I hate to admit this but I have started thinking about my Fall ultras.  Not only did my Summer racing season not go as planned but also I believe Summer did not go as planned.
Many of you know I am not a fan of the cold, cloudy, rainy or snowy weather.  Well, why do I stay in Chicago then?  I often ask myself that very question.  Give me sun, give me hot temperatures, make me toil in humidity and I am happy.  This Summer has yet to provide a consistent number of days that meet my criteria but maybe those days will happen in December.....I'm just saying.
This morning I was thinking about my next ultra and as I knocked off two loops (9 miles) thoughts turned to the Hallucination 100.  
It is September 5-7, 2014 and is a 16.6 mile loop course held in Pinckney, MI.  I have crew members signed up to assist me and it's loops!  Lessons learned from earlier this year will be put into practice.  Crew members and pacers are a big part of my support.  Loops are an added bonus, that allow me to make adjustments throughout the race.  I will know where to push the pace, know where to scale back, know when to walk away and know when to run...(Kenny Rogers anyone?)  Point being in my ultra career I have learned that loops don't just mean, "Hey I have seen that before."  I now know to educate myself on how to run those loops.  I can dissect the course into parts that suit my strengths and need care for my weaknesses.  
For those who want to take a look here is the race website, Hallucination 100.  I am really looking forward to this race as it has a party atmosphere wrapped around it.  The 100 mile ultra starts on Friday afternoon so those who finish around 24 hours can enjoy the party Saturday night.  
I am keeping this week's blog short and sweet so you can get out there and enjoy the Summer weather (ahem). As far as my training schedule goes here is what I am looking to accomplish.
Monday 9 miles
Tuesday 13 miles
Wednesday Hill work (anyone want to join me?)
Thursday 13 miles
Friday 13 miles
Saturday 18 miles