"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ultra Runner's Interval Session

One 8k New Year's Eve WAMC race.

36 minutes of 170 bpm Am-I-Gonna-Vomit pain.

I ran into several 6 Inch Trail Marathon finishers who were there for the 8k this evening and all agreed: rather race 46k than 8k. 46 is easier. (Only dissenter I know would be the 6 Inch King of the Mountain 5k specialist Himself).

Because these "short" races are really my version of a long interval/tempo session, I can afford to experiment a little. I predicted I should be able to do a 4.25 avg pace, based on previous training/races.

I started a little hard, but it felt comfortable at around a 4.15. So the experiment continued. At the 4k mark it was a 4.17 avg. Then I turned back into the wind. A breeze, but my pace slipped quickly to a 4.36. A pretty big positive split. The 27 degree heat was the factor I didn't include in my prediction.

Anyway, now I can relax and enjoy my LSD 28k single track bush run on Sunday - running with my pack. Arf.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Should be Swimming

But the thing is, Canadians aren't really swimmers. If you froze the water, then I'd feel more at home....

I thought with the niggles I've had in my legs over the past few months, a rest month was in order. The problem is that my brain and body don't seem to be agreeing to the logic behind the idea. I thought I'd cut mileage down to around 60 (okay, maybe 70) kms per week and do some cross training until mid-January.

But I'm adding up my mileage for this week and it starts to look like over 80k. Oops.

Maybe all the 40 degree days next week will get me to break out the water wings.

Other than running this week, I've been amusing myself building a very basic website. I'm feeling like my blog is getting a bit crowded. I hope it'll be useful when it's all together.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December Denouement

As I hear word of Trailtrash in Canada heading out for Christmas Eve runs, Christmas Day runs, Boxing Day runs, snowshoeing....

Here it's just me and the skinks.

No one to come out and play this weekend, so I ran solo around Herdsman Lake Saturday and then ran a maze of bush tracks south of Mundaring today for a couple hours. I always like those runs where you don't exactly know the route or how it's all going to work out in advance. An "Expotition" as Winnie the Pooh would say.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Support Research in Perth

For all you boys in Perth (kid boys, that is - you have to be 40 or younger). A PhD project at ECU:

Anatomical and physiological factors influencing force production capabilities

To be eligible for this study you must be a male endurance trained runner aged between 19-40 years and run a minimum of 40km per week, on most weeks of the year

Each participant will complete six separate testing sessions. This includes a ‘familiarisation session’ where you will be introduced to the two strength testing protocols, two separate strength testing sessions to assess both the isometric (static) and isokinetic (dynamic) strength of your quadriceps muscles, an ultrasound session to assess the architecture of your quadriceps muscles. In the final session you will complete a VO2 max test.

You will receive: A free VO2 max test valued at $150 from which you can find out your maximal aerobic capacity and training zones. Any discrepancies between your quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups may also be identified during the strength testing procedures and the information for all the tests may help add further direction to your training programs.

If you would like to participate, or have any questions and would like further information regarding this study, please contact Joanne Trezise at j.trezise@ecu.edu.au or you may call on 0435 102 182.

The Shortest Race of the Year

It was funny when I realised it last week...6 Inch was to be my shortest race of the year. I was certainly pumped for it. Being heavily involved in the organisation of the event again this year was very time consuming, but it's something I'm passionate about. So it really is a joy. There was a great group of volunteers sorted for the event - many of whom are runners themselves - so it was easy to hand everything over on Saturday night and say, "Okay, now it's my time."

I tucked a bunch of carbs by the bed and slept/snacked from about 10 PM - 2 AM and then laid there until 2.45, when it was time to get ready for the 4.30 AM start. We packed gear and drove the 20 minutes to the start line, where we mostly huddled in the car because the wind was so cold (in WA that probably means it was 16 degrees but felt like 13, a relative thing, depending on your home country!). I was really pleased with this, as I knew that cool wind would make my goals so much more possible to achieve.

Over 80 of us headed up that big hill in the rising sun. There was an additional competition this year - King and Queen of the Mountain - first to the top of Goldmine Hill (maybe 200 mtrs in the first 1.6k of the race). I didn't care at all about that prize - I had my plan carefully mapped out and just ran as I planned to the sand line - first female. A nice bonus, but the bigger thing was to manage the next 45 kms. The race was broken down into micro components to me. I had 20 splits written on a sheet of paper in my pocket. I took a guess that I'd pass 5 guys over the course of the 46k, but it turned out to be 8.

I ran on multi-hour bottles of Perpetuem, Endurolytes, and 1/3rd of a gel, which I had near the end for my final push. My shoes of choice were the brilliant Inov8 xTalons.

I was 2 minutes slower than my goal time, but I had underestimated (wilfully forgotten?) the size of a few of those hills in the second half of the course. As I hit the "1k to go" mark, I looked down and saw "4:11" and change on my Garmin. Ridiculous things come into one's head towards the end of a race, I find...for me, it was that I refused to go above 4:15 (my goal had been 4:13). So that meant an absolute total sprint (for me) in the last k in order to finish in 4:15:56.

That was good for 1st f (of 20) and 11th overall (of 79 finishers). I broke my former course record, shoving it back nicely another 25 minutes.

Post-race, I spent the next few hours helping out, which meant there just wasn't the time to get to meet others and to catch up with some I rarely see. That's always a bit disappointing to me. But I saw a lot of big smiles as people crossed that finish line, which was just so absolutely rewarding. Only two people had to make the wise choice to Do Nothing Fatal in order to save their knees.

Monday was a nice quiet day, spent running around the bush with a big broom, from start to finish, sweeping out sand arrows in the pouring rain. The course has been undone for another year.

What will I do in 2011?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

6 Inch Acid Trip

They say there's a "runner's high" that keeps people coming back for more.

So, in honour of legal addictions to get neurotransmitter alterations in the brain, here are the 6 Inch Merry Prankster Electric Acid KoolAid Toes.

I think I'll even run with their bus's name in my mind throughout the race:


(Apologies to those of you who have thus far missed out on the beauty of the Beat-Hippy cultural offerings)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good Skink Weather

With it heating up to 36 degrees today, it's obviously just what skinks like, as we saw three of them during the 1.5 hr easy paced hill run at Lesmurdie Falls. Only covered 13k, which would suggest a really, really slow pace. However, today was meant to be about time, not distance, and not letting my HR go much over 160 on the hills. Also just spending some time in the heat to do a little more race day acclimatisation.

This place rocks on the hills-for-distance ratio. In 13k we got 463 mtrs! Fantastic! That's better than the Wungong run, even. Just that the park is a bit small for a long run, so you'd have to do some doubling up on tracks.

I figure it's time for another recipe - no treats this time - it's time to talk about day-to-day nutrition. Low GI foods consistently. And if a meal can't have chia in it, then it should probably have quinoa :)

Quinoa Casserole

1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
a bay leaf
pinch or two of cinnamon
1 cup celery chopped small
2 carrots chopped small
1 big/2 small zucchini chopped (you guessed it)
Optional: add 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch or two cayenne
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cumin (the cumin makes it)
1 3/4 cup veggie stock
1/4 cup minced cilantro (aka fresh coriander) - or parsley if you prefer

Put everything except the cilantro into a casserole dish with a lid. Cook at 180 - 190 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaf. Stir in the cilantro/parsley.

Yum. I practically lived off this one in Europe this past summer (Euro summer, that is), as I found the restaurant food too full of fat. If you're a vegetarian in Europe, that seems to mean you're a cheesarian (cream-arian? lactarian?)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh, yeah

And that toenail (in case you were wondering)...it's done for.

Superglue to the rescue.

Don't forget to keep your eye on the Coast to Kosci ultra starting Friday morning - the longest road race in Australia - 240 kms up to Mt. Kosciuszko.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Kilo of Pain

Last night at Bold Park, on my usual 15k hill run with mates, I hit a huge wall halfway through. I'm very fortunate in that I almost never hit a wall. I don't think it's just luck - I work very hard at getting and understanding all the science I can and trialling things outside of races.

I knew it wasn't boding well all afternoon. I've been trying to drop a kilo of weight before my next race on 19 December. But it's a tricky thing to lose a kilo of fat while training at high intensity. Particularly because I have no "junk" in my diet to lose. It's not that I can say, "I'll just stop having beer/wine/chips."

I was managing to do it carefully and cautiously and was achieving success, while noting that my mood was being flattened. And then yesterday I just felt like I couldn't get my tummy topped up before the run. Then, when I went anaerobic pushing up a hill, that was it. All my glycogen stores were gone and I was working so hard I found it nearly impossible to get any fuel in. It was one of those times that reminded me what happens to a lot of people in races.

Anyway, I pushed it out and spent the evening with stomach cramps. I felt worse last night than I did after the Victorian Champs!

But I've succeeded in getting that kilo off (so I can carry a kilo of water on my back instead!). My training's been going really well, I'm feeling good, just had a visit to Jon Tan, and my body has only been getting happier since before Victoria, when I had the right glute issue. I'm stoked to be headed out to a trail race, as I haven't had one since Europe in July. And hills! I love hills!

After 6 Inch, it's a bit of a mystery. I'm not sure what to target next. I'm thinking of a 100 Mile trail race - Alpine Challenge? Open to suggestions....

Alright, I'm off to do my last speed session before the race. In my new A3s that just arrived :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Speed Week ends with butterflies

This week was all about speed work. Speed on flat, speed on hills, think, eat, and sleep speed. Enjoying my new Fastwitch racy orange Tigger shoes, since my A3s wore out and I left them in Moe. I've noticed that the soles of the Fastwitch aren't as strong as the A2/A3 series, though, and they are getting chewed up by the few gravel tracks I've gone on. Very disappointing. So I'm rustling up some more A3s before they're all gone in the world.

I swapped my usual Friday rest with Saturday's run, so that I wouldn't have to run after being needled by the physio on Saturday (just tightens everything back up). That seemed to make today's (Sunday) run feel harder, though - having a rest day yesterday. I don't think I want to do that again!

Friday night I ran down to Challenge Stadium to watch a few guys I know race in a 1500 mtr. It was like being at the horse races. They shoot a gun at the start and have a commentator that calls out things like "Jim Smith is on the inside track with Joe Shmoe only 20 meters behind!" Makes it all sound very exciting. And they ring a bell as you start on your last lap. I think maybe we need some more excitement like this in our track ultras :)

So, to end the week today, it was the Butterfly Run:

It was an easy paced 2 hour hill session at Wungong Gorge. No where else I know of that you can run in the bush and get nearly 600 mtrs elevation gain over a 16k run, unless you just sit somewhere and do a hill repeat. The monarch butterflies are out in full force. In one section it felt like we had to run carefully to avoid hitting them. We found the old WWII airstrip, too, which was cool. I'm plotting to do a fat ass race there in mid-February, sort of "Barkley Marathon-like" in methodology (the book thing) but rogaine style. That way people can choose their distances.