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50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

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50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:21 am

New year, new goals, new blog.  Last year turned out to be a much better year than I had ever thought it would be: 5 min PR @ HM, 5 min PR and BQ at CIM, squeaked out a PR for the Olympic distance tri and managed to complete my first Ironman distance triathlon.  Not bad for a guy who’s been looking at age 50 in the rear view mirror through bifocals for quite a while.  But I'm already getting the question, "What's next?”

My last blog was all about rebuilding the run as I had not seriously done any run training or racing for a couple of years.  I’m going to check the box as successful based on the race results, and now it is time to solidify that progress and tackle two goals this year – a 50 mile race and a rematch with the course at the Vineman IM-distance triathlon (since the run kicked my butt there last year).  The big fly in the ointment is time.

My 50-mile race is going to be the American River 50 which takes place on April 4.  That is not too far off, and my plan was to smoothly transition from the CIM and all the training that preceded it into the training plan for the 50.  What I did not factor into the equation was a hamstring and piriformis strain a month before CIM which really put an end to my distance runs 5 weeks before the marathon AND the Cold From Hell I got the week after CIM to which I’m just now saying goodbye.  This gives me about a 12 week training cycle for the race.  Not good, but I’m hoping that the CIM performance is an indicator that I did develop a solid base and still can build on that.  I’ll be doing a 50k in early March which will likely serve as the second go/no go decision point.

The second time crunch comes for the Vineman as that race is 15 weeks after the AR50.  With a decent base 15 weeks is plenty of time, but who knows what my recovery period will be from the AR50?  I’ll have a hell of a run base at that point, so am thinking during the recovery period it’ll just mean more time in the pool and some on the bike.  Oh yeah, but how much of a swim or bike base will I be able to build during the AR50 training?  But more about Vineman when it becomes the primary focus.

Now really, a smart athlete would likely skip the 50-miler and focus on the Vineman to ensure that there is enough time to get a really solid training cycle in place.  But I don’t remember the last time any called me a smart athlete.  I like new challenges and pushing myself, and this dual goal certainly satisfies those needs.

So where do things stand today?  Training is underway.  Last week was a go/no go week as I had to see if I could get close to being on track for the AR50 training plan.  If I found I couldn’t get close, then the chances of making the race work would have been very slim and I’d have become that smart athlete after all.   It worked out well though, with a total of 40 miles with a long run of 15.  This week’s total will be 40 also, but with a long run of 18 done today followed by a 10 tomorrow.  I’m doing the long runs differently than I ever have done before, using a 5 minute run/1 minute walk strategy that I plan to use during the first half of the race which is on a relatively flat course, then on the second half (much hillier trail) adapt as the course dictates.

This is uncharted territory for me, so I’m going to be looking for guidance and advice from those of you who have tackled this distance and longer.  What to be sure to do, what to be sure NOT to do, nutrition and hydration strategies, equipment recommendations (I just don’t think my Kinvara shoes will cut it), and lots more.  That’s actually one thing that is really exciting about this to me – it is new and there is a lot to learn.  And I love the learning that comes with my fitness adventures.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:27 am

Ooo! Not only does Tom start a new blog, but he throws down a major challenge to himself. Well done!

Fire away on questions, we have a growing number of folks who have gone extra long, and you can benefit from our successes and failures. This is going to be fun to watch. Smile
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:24 am

"A smart athlete would..."  Ah, c'mon, we're all smart here.  It seems like you already know that you won't be able to hammer both these races, but I think one can definitely be a goal race.

What I've learned from my brief rendezvous with ultras/training so far:
1.  Pace smarter.  Whatever you think is conservative, go even more conservative.  The first 3hrs of your runs should be so easy it's boring.  Enjoy the freedom of not being glued to a pace.  Look around, stop and gawk, etc.  That whole adage about banking time leading to crashes in marathons is even more true as your runs stretch out to 4-5+hr.  
2.  Hydrate.  And eat.  Not only can you bonk, but now you actually get hungry, and having solid food to fill your stomach helps quell that discomfort.
3.  Cross train.  Your shoulders and core become extremely important later on in runs, especially if you have a hydration pack/vest.  I'd keep up with the swimming for sure, and consider keeping at least half your normal cycling for at least another month or so.

You've got a lot of great trail running near you - Redwood Regional, Quiksilver, Marin Headlands...  I'm jealous.

Good luck!
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:13 pm

Mark - fun to watch, huh.  Kinda like the two locomotives racing down the tracks toward eachother with nobody on board fun to watch?  Or more of a slapstick variety such as slipping on a banana peel fun? (As a side note, I actually saw a guy slip on a banana peel in the airport in Tokyo.  Really not too funny for him pale ).  Or just a 'better you than me' thing?

Mike, the AR50 is certainly going to be a learning experience for me on race day, so I won't be going for anything crazy, that's for sure.  The Vineman is more of a grudge match between me and the course, so for that one it is going to be Go Big or Go Home.  So the advice to pace smarter in the early part of the race is spot on, especially when you look at the back half of the course:



The eating thing is going to be difficult to practice as my longest run prior to the race will be a 50k.  They say never do anything new on race day, but I guess this is an area where one has to push the limits on that one, no?  I'm thinking I'll pack up some salted potatoes on some of my 20 milers and partake in the mid to latter part to see how things do. 

I did get a new hydration pack/vest for Christmas, a Scott Jurek 2 from Ultimate direction.  I've used it on a 15 and an 18 mile run to get a feel for it.  Thus far, I'm loving it but am replacing the hard bottles with soft ones that are a bit easier on the pecs.  I figure that if I use it on all my long runs it'll be just like another layer of clothing come race day, and the shoulders will be used to the weight and fit.  Additionally, I plan to work in 2-3x/week of strength/core but haven't quite got that in place yet.  Soon.

Today was a 1400 swim and a 10 mile run(following my 18 yesterday).  These back-to-back long days are going to be interesting to say the least.  I'm trying to keep in zone 2 for the runs and manage a pace of 9:00, but I'm not quite there following my month off after CIM.  Good news is that the resting HR is finally back down in the 40's so the Cold From Hell is at last taking leave of my body.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:31 am

If you plan on racing with a vest/pack, you don't need to worry so much about being dependent on aid station food; you'll have room to pack enough along with you - with the ability to use drop bags to replenish your stores.

Mike is absolutely right about pace. The old ultra saying is, "Start slow, and then slow down." They mean it. Walk the hills, walk when you take calories, walk *before* you have no choice but to walk. Don't worry about taking the easy way out, because it's going to hurt like a SOB come Mile 40 even with the conservative approach.

Speaking of slow, trails slow you down even more. My extra long run pace on roads prior to the Mount Hood 50 was in the 11s, running very much within my capabilities on a very hilly route, but once  I hit the trails to train, with the varied surfaces and hills, my average pace tended to be around 13. Which sounds really slow, except it includes parts walked. It pretty closely matched what I managed on race day, until my ankles blew up.

For what it's worth, I've wanted to do the AR 50 a couple of times, but the timing never worked out right. Too bad, because we have family in Folsom. Maybe one of these days, I'll get it done.

As far as your training goes, I'd focus on building up that extra-long run into the 4-hour to 6-hour range. Balance your training to make sure you're in a good place come the weekend. You may also benefit from back-to-back runs on the weekend, too, to get accustomed to that feeling of accumulated fatigue, and convincing your body it isn't going to kill you. (I did medium-long followed by extra-long the next day; I've seen plans do extra-long the first day and medium-long the next. I tried that once and I have to say, it was a lot more difficult.)
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Jan 10, 2015 7:56 pm

Wow, I'm excited to follow along.  Boston in 2016 will feel like a party to you.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Julie on Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:23 pm

I'm excited for you! A 50 miler sounds like quite the adventure. I don't know how hung up I'd get about absolutely nothing new on race day for fuel since I bend that rule (with mixed results). Salted potatoes seem pretty safe, jelly beans, potato chips, I just go by the "if it sounds good" rule during races and avoid the scary Heed or whatever other sports drinks are there. Definitely an s-caps and water fan here. 12 weeks will be here before we know it.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:11 pm

A broken toe?  Say it isn't so!  Saturday morning as I was getting out of the shower and drying off my feet, I look at my foot and see a nice purple bruise all the way around one of my toes (pointer toe?).  No, no, no.  So I do what you do - poke at it, bend the toe, tap on it and there is no pain at all no matter what I do to it.  Hmm.  Well, Saturday is a rest day so I spend the whole day stressing about it periodically palpating the little piggy to try and figure out what it going on.  It provides no helpful feedback.  I've got a 4 mile pm run in the plan for today and pass the morning debating, "Run?  Rest it?  Run?  Rest it?"  I decide there's no way to know about the toe except to give it a go.  Around lunch time, just to top it off, I start feeling nauseous and a little feverish.  Great.  Just get finished with the Cold and it is feeling like the flu is going to stop by for a visit.  So the wife and friends head off to see the Hobbit movie and I figure that if I'm going to get the flu I'm going to get my 4 in first and head out for the run.  Glad to say the toe behaved just fine and that the nausea pretty much disappeared in the course of the run.  You'd think it was taper time or something already!

So the concept of "start out slow, and then slow down" is a tough one to get my head around right now as I have yet to figure out what slow is in this case.  OK, at CIM I averaged a pace of 8:16.  Training for that my LSD was at a 9:ish pace.  I plan to do a 5:1 (minute) run/walk on the flat part of the front of the course.  Right now HR is not much help in determining what the run pace should be during the run/walk as I'm still recovering from CIM and the Cold.  The HR is settling down but is not yet near what it was during CIM training.  As such, I'm still using a 9:ish pace to get the miles in as the HR settles, and today's 4 miles was the best yet.  Then, taking into account the back half of the course is anything but flat and run/walk will be more defined by topography than a wristwatch, it gets more interesting.  At this point, I guess the plan is just to get time on the feet, go find new trails to run and let the body catch up to a 'normal' state.

I'll be closing in on those 4 hour runs Mark, as this Thursday is the first 20-miler.  My plan calls for BTB runs with the first day being the longer of the two, this week meaning a 20/10 combo.  Last week was an 18/10 and it was a workout to be sure.  I do see a real benefit in them which is good, because they are on the calendar for the next 3 months or so Smile .

I'm going to plan to get up to the course and do some running on it but haven't quite figured out the logistics of doing so as I'm not familiar with the area and it is a point to point course and 2+ hours away.  Part of the plan is to run the Lake Natoma 50k a month before the AR50 as it is on at least part of the AR50 course.  The bigger challenge will be to run the portion that is between Folsom Lake and Auburn as it is ~26 miles of trail.  I need to find a training partner.  Mike, have you run that part of it and what can you tell me about it?
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:33 pm

Well, the only race I've ever won was a 30k from Rattlesnake Bar to ADO (Auburn Dam Overlook) Park and back, and I've run that section many a time.  I've also done a 20 from ADO to...  Somewhere?  I don't remember where we ended.  And I've done a few group runs out of some high school off Douglas.  So, yes, I've run much of it enough to know it.

I can't remember if the AR50 goes up Cardiac or not, but if it does...  Yeah, go up to Auburn, find Cardiac (kind of tricky, do some research), and do repeats.  It's brutally steep and about a mile long.  And it's near the end of the race.

From Rattlesnake Bar to Cardiac is gorgeous, though you may not notice it by that point.  It's rolling and not too technical.

...Just looked at the course map.  They changed it?  It used to run up the American River Bike Trail from downtown...  Hm.

Lake Natomas is mostly flat with some small bumps on the south side and easily navigated.  Folsom is semi-hilly, especially coming out of Natomas.

Let me know if you need any more specifics and I'll see what I can do.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  nkrichards on Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:13 pm

Big goals!  I like it...and the new blog.  Enjoy the training.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:55 pm

Mike, thanks for the course feedback.  As I get closer I will take you up on your offer for more details.

Lots of stuff going on and a fair amount of figuring out to be done.  In no real order:

Foot injury
Rest days and mental issues
Core strength, or lack thereof
Ultra learning


The foot where I thought I might have broken a toe is still not feeling great - when I'm not running.  When I run, no discomfort at all.  Broke down and went to the doc yesterday and she doesn't think it is a break, but rather a tendon issue.  My doc knows me and told me she wouldn't tell me not to run, but to listen to my body and if this doesn't clear up in about 10 days with appropriate anti-inflammatories, to come back in for an x-ray just to be sure.  Just to keep it interesting, I now have a fairly broad swelling on the top of my foot not even close to the other area.  Sheesh.

Thus far this week has been a 4, 6, 8 progression with today being a rest day followed by a 20 and a 10.  I'm again struggling with the rest day, just feeling like I want to get out and be active.  It's really weird because I can feel that I've worked the legs hard and they need a rest and know that for the next two days I need to let the body rebuild and recover, but still a bit mental about the whole thing.  Anyone else struggle with this or are rest days just welcome breaks for you?

I used to go to Pilates 2-3 times a week and had developed a really strong core.  My instructor stopped teaching it to focus on other things and the new instructors just didn't meet my needs, so I basically stopped the core work.  This happened when I was moving into my Ironman training and I guess the swimming and biking helped maintain core strength OK as on the rare occasions I did do any core work it wasn't too much of an effort.  Then came CIM training and the bike and pool went out the door.  The six-pack(ish) belly became more of a two liter belly but I didn't really think anything of it at the time.  Thinking back to the race, however, I wonder if the weakened core contributed to the fade later in the race.  Now that I'm getting back into the pool and onto the bike, I feel the weakness and decided I need to address it with regular core workouts.  I did my first one today and it is worse than I thought.  I used to be able to hold plank position for 4 minutes while having a conversation.  Today a minute and a half in the trembling started.  Bicycles with knee touches used to be fun but today after 40 I pulled the plug.  Early on in the workout it became clear I was worse off than I had thought, so I cut all exercises in half knowing that I've got long runs the next two days.  Starting over is no fun, that's for sure.

I've been doing homework on the various aspects of running an ultra, and I'm finding that there are a lot of aspects.  I'll read up on one topic which leads to another and that to yet another.  I love learning so this is actually fun, but there is a lot to digest.  Nutrition is a good one as there are a lot of different ideas on how do fuel properly, but nearly all of them have the caveat, "This works for me, but may not work for you."  They all say don't try anything new on race day, but that will be the first time in the 32-50 mile zone and thus I'll have no training experience to work off of.  Then I've got to figure out what to do about drop bags (contents, quantities, etc.) and to crew or not to crew.  That's a potential issue as I don't really have any local ultra friends to take the reins on that.  Then there is the pacer concept.  I love the idea of having a pacer for the last 10 miles or so, but just don't know anyone local and experienced I could cajole into that role.  I know this stuff will all be worked out by race day and I'll either have crew and pacer or I won't.  I'm not looking to win this race, just meet the goals I set for myself in it, so many of these things will be "nice to haves" as opposed to critical decisions.

As I said up front, lots of things going on to keep the mind busy.  Am I having fun yet?
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:56 pm

Maybe Tim Miller will see your posts Tom, or you might look for him or Wendy on FB since they have both run 50 milers and can offer good advice as well.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  nkrichards on Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:49 pm

I also really struggled when I started core work after a fairly long break.  The first week was hard but it got better quickly.  And I do think it's pretty important!
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:46 pm

Been AWOL for the last week.  No good excuse, just was.  I guess that's kind of the way I'm feeling right now about my training too.  Getting it done, but not feeling the mojo.  I think I've been training for one event or another for the last year and maybe I'm just going through a motivational slump.  Hopefully something great happens soon to snap me out of it!

I've been having tight calves since November.  After CIM they were more like tree trunks than active muscles, and I gained a huge appreciation for the many posts I'd read about post-race muscle fatigue.  Then I got the Cold from Hell that sidelined me for a few weeks and they were much better.  Well, the tightness has been coming back so went to my sports Chiro who does Graston/ART/DNS/FDM in addition to the standard Chiro activities.  I figured this was a step back week, so the timing was right.  I was expecting a grueling Graston session but he decided to go with FDM (Fascial Distortion Modeling).  We'd discussed using FDM before if things didn't improve, and I'd done some interweb homework to see what I could find out about it.  The premise is that there is some issue with your fascia that is causing the issue and that through appropriate manipulation of the fascia you can fix the issue, often with very rapid results.  One website provides this helpful tidbit:

"Experiencing treatment with the Fascial Distortion Model can be painful. FDM practitioners are identifying your pain generators and fixing them. With many of the distortions a very deep pressure is applied to relieve the distortion, so can be very uncomfortable. If the pain you are experiencing is too much to tolerate tell your provider! Treatment can always be adjusted to make it both effective and tolerable for you.  You may experience some fatigue after treatment due to the intense nature of the FDM treatment. You may also experience some bruising that can range from mild to severe."

Well, they were right on.  My Chiro is about 250 lb and an active Crossfit practitioner, deadlifting just under 500 lbs.  Really strong hands.  So he warned me after his exam and before he started that the issues were really deep and this was going to be uncomfortable.  Holy Crap - I think his fingers went into the back of my calf and came out the front of my shin bone.  Within the first 30 seconds (could have been 2 seconds, could have been 2 minutes - my sense of time at this point was out the window) I was actively sweating and using every breathing technique they taught during my wife's Lamaze classes 33 years ago!  And the bad news was that it wasn't just one point, it was the entire length of the calf so it went on and on and on.  When he got to the bottom of the calf I was limp as a dishrag and just about as wet, so when he said, "OK, we are done with the easy calf.", I just about waved a white flag.  But in for a penny in for a pound as they say, and he attacked the other side.  It was painful, but I had made the decision that I wanted to aggressively attack the tight calf issue, so had to have confidence that it was going to work.

The FDM was last Tuesday and yesterday was a rest day.  The calves felt as bad as they had post-CIM so I was seriously doubting the wisdom of the chosen approach.  I did multiple dog walks to keep good blood flow and prevent stiffness, and by the 3rd walk was actually feeling the right calf loosen up.  A positive sign for sure, but I knew I had a 10 mile run today and frankly was uncertain that I'd be able to pull it off.  Got up this morning and had decided I was going to do an extended loosening up before the run so did the 1.5 mile dog walk to get the muscles warm then 30 minutes of gentle rolling and stretching for good measure.  Got into the shoes and out the door and right into dynamic stretching as I'm starting on the course and transitioned those directly into a run.  Calves were whining but not screaming so deciding on a looping route that would give me multiple chances to cut the run short and walk back if necessary.  At mile 2 I felt like the better part of valor might be to bail out and turn around, but pushed forward a bit more and found myself at mile 5.  At that point the whining was increasing in volume, so decided I'd pull the plug at the 5.5 turn and walk home, but by the time I got there had convinced myself I could go a bit further, partially by thinking back to CIM and all the times it would have been easy to pull the plug because my calves were complaining.  At the end of the day I got in the full 10 and as of now, don't think it was a mistake.  Tomorrow is 8, so looking forward to seeing how things are holding up at that point.

Back to the mojo issue.  I've been doing low intensity runs since this is a training cycle for a 50-miler, but I'm thinking maybe it would be good to start mixing it up a bit with some speed work to see if that makes it more interesting.  Any tricks you've discovered over the years for getting pumped up when you are feeling a little flat (Mr. Brady, you can keep your advice to yourself!)?
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:54 am

Pumped up. Nice. Very nice.

Another way to get some fun and excitement going is to do more runs on trails. Getting out in nature is a *huge* motivator for me, and it makes all the hill climbing even more fun. And you can start to count your vertical, which is a pretty powerful motivator, too. I'd suggest it over speedier work for you.

The mixed speeds/terrain/surface/intensity might do your body some good, too.

That FDM session sounds horrifying. Did he offer a little water boarding, too, for diaphragm development?

Oh, back to inflation again. Oops! Shocked

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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:30 pm

Mark - Good advice, thanks!  Trails would certainly be more appropriate training for the race at any rate.  At the same time, it'll provide a good change in surfaces that can only be beneficial for the legs.  Guess I'm still struggling with the change in focus from CIM to the AR50.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  nkrichards on Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:48 pm

I've always been just a road runner and recently tried a few trail runs.  I really enjoy the change.  It's a tough transition as I have this thing about walking...it's OK out on the trail...and I also worry about my times being so slow.  I do think it's been really good for developing muscles that I don't normally use.  I'm glad I added it to my training arsenal.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:16 pm

Sounds like you need a mental break.  Here's my $.02...

First, crew/drop bags/new food/etc.  I haven't run a 50 yet, but I did break a certain cardinal rule during my first 50k.  I ate stuff I didn't train on.  GASP.  Potatoes in salt and bananas, to be specific.  Why?  Gels were making my stomach do flips.  And it just LOOKED SO GOOD.  Had no adverse effects other than eating the potatoes too fast and having a lump in my throat for a minute.  I honestly, truly don't think that something that looks like exactly what you need in the moment will hurt you later on when you're running at ultra-length intensity.  I could be wrong.

Crew/drop bags, I'd say yes to both.  Crew can help bolster you along the way, do some stuff for you (fill your water, grab you things that you may need), and a drop bag can help at aid stations inaccessible to the crew.  I'm not sure what AR50's set up is for all that, so of course check it out. 

A pacer, I imagine, will be a godsend during the late stages of the race, but you'll want someone capable of running 10mi with a big friggin' hill at the end, even if you end up hiking a lot of it.  I'd happily volunteer if I was still in Sac, but alas, I'm not.  Nor do I know any runners out there who I'd recommend for that, else I'd put you in contact with them.  I know a ton of cyclists, though...

Now, that mental break.  Instead of a long run - sometime soon - go out for a LONG hike.  Like, all day.  Pack a day pack, bring plenty of water, pick somewhere with great views (Marin Headlands?  Diablo?) and just go walk around.  Sure, you can hit the hills hard if you want.  Or stop and take pictures.  Or whatever.  But don't think about "the workout."  Don't think about mileage.  Or time.  Especially after my recent chats with some ultra runners, this is as good of training as any.  You'll beat up your quads, beat up your feet, but probably recover sooner and feel less like you were forced to go do something.  

Or, if that doesn't sound appealing, it might be time to back off and do what does feel appealing.  You can run 50mi on a marathon training plan, so I'm told.  So you needn't worry about not making it to the finish line - instead, worry about making it to the starting line.  I'd happily take a DNF over a DNS.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:30 pm

Mike, thanks for the complete and considered response.  There's a lot of good stuff in there and I'll be using much of it!

Went back to Lake Chabot and did my run on a hilly, mostly single track course.  Sometimes muddy, sometimes fallen branches, roots and rocks aplenty.  Had a great run, but it seemed harder than the ones I'd done previously there.  I think a part of this whole feeling blah thing has to do with switching from training with a partner (which I've done for the past year) to training solo again.  This came to me on the trail today as on previous runs on this route my partner was always present and we switched off lead and follow.  Just different.  Anyway, as I said, it seemed harder than in the past, but when I pulled up the past runs, average pace was right in the middle (9:44 compared to a range of 9:24-9:54) of previous runs there.  For the first time today I consciously walked the steeper uphills, so that slowed me a bit, but I've got to get that mental mindset in place.

Here's what the elevation profile looked like.  



That downhill in the middle seems to go on forever.  Hmm, probably would be a good hill for hill repeats too - going the other direction.  It is about a half mile in duration, so could get a few good two minute repeats in easily, then have an extended downhill to recover over.  Something to think about.

So a few weeks ago I had a broken toe scare that turned out to be OK for the toe.  At the same time, I developed a swelling on the top of my foot most of the way up toward the ankle.  There's been discomfort when I stretch the food straight out or really flex it, but nothing terrible and it has not got in the way of running - but there's still swelling.  I made an appointment to go see my sports podiatrist tomorrow just to make sure there's nothing to be concerned about.  I hope that's his opinion . . .
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:22 am

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Sounds like you need a mental break.  Here's my $.02...

First, crew/drop bags/new food/etc.  I haven't run a 50 yet, but I did break a certain cardinal rule during my first 50k.  I ate stuff I didn't train on.  GASP.  Potatoes in salt and bananas, to be specific.  Why?  Gels were making my stomach do flips.  And it just LOOKED SO GOOD.  Had no adverse effects other than eating the potatoes too fast and having a lump in my throat for a minute.  I honestly, truly don't think that something that looks like exactly what you need in the moment will hurt you later on when you're running at ultra-length intensity.  I could be wrong.

Crew/drop bags, I'd say yes to both.  Crew can help bolster you along the way, do some stuff for you (fill your water, grab you things that you may need), and a drop bag can help at aid stations inaccessible to the crew.  I'm not sure what AR50's set up is for all that, so of course check it out. 

A pacer, I imagine, will be a godsend during the late stages of the race, but you'll want someone capable of running 10mi with a big friggin' hill at the end, even if you end up hiking a lot of it.  I'd happily volunteer if I was still in Sac, but alas, I'm not.  Nor do I know any runners out there who I'd recommend for that, else I'd put you in contact with them.  I know a ton of cyclists, though...

Now, that mental break.  Instead of a long run - sometime soon - go out for a LONG hike.  Like, all day.  Pack a day pack, bring plenty of water, pick somewhere with great views (Marin Headlands?  Diablo?) and just go walk around.  Sure, you can hit the hills hard if you want.  Or stop and take pictures.  Or whatever.  But don't think about "the workout."  Don't think about mileage.  Or time.  Especially after my recent chats with some ultra runners, this is as good of training as any.  You'll beat up your quads, beat up your feet, but probably recover sooner and feel less like you were forced to go do something.  

Or, if that doesn't sound appealing, it might be time to back off and do what does feel appealing.  You can run 50mi on a marathon training plan, so I'm told.  So you needn't worry about not making it to the finish line - instead, worry about making it to the starting line.  I'd happily take a DNF over a DNS.

Worth a lot more than $0.02, in my opinion. I'd second everything Mike said.

The AR 50 website has information about crew access points and drop bags. Very helpful.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:45 pm

Good report from the Podiatrist.  After X-rays and a long time with the ultrasound machine he determined a) that there was no break in my toe from the issue a month or so back and b) that the swelling on top of my foot is a ganglion cyst.  This is a fluid filled sac which is not really a big concern.  It does cause some pain as it impinges on a tendon, but nothing that isn't manageable or will worsen the condition.  A large majority of these go away on their own, so he says to continue with my activities and monitor it.  I love that my podiatrist is a runner Smile .

As it turns out, the FDM I had done on my calves hasn't fixed the issue.  I've still got a lot of tightness and sometimes it aches pretty badly.  During the run it comes and goes, but I can tell it makes running a greater effort.  Hmmm, HR is up 5-10 beats from what I'd expect, so there may be a correlation.  Based on Mark's advice, I've spent more time on the trail and on rolling hill runs than on flats, and there has been some improvement since.  I wonder if it isn't based a fair amount on just repetitive motion?  I'm going to keep mixing it up hoping that is a factor!

Today is a welcome rest day knowing I've got my B2B tomorrow/Fri.  This week is 22/10 and I've mapped out a route that will be about half flat and half rolling.  I'm trying to stay on dirt/gravel as much as possible, but this route will be about half asphalt.  Booo.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Nick Morris on Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:42 pm

Glad that you do not have a break and can keep running as usual. Have you done anything with your lacing to help relieve some of the pressure on the top of your foot? I have had issues from time to time with either foot, where I would feel pain on the top of my foot. To relieve the pressure on my tendons, I implement bar lacing. It works very well, while still keeping my shoe snug on my foot.

http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/straightbarlacing.htm
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Tom H on Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:21 pm

Nick, I started using the Yankz elastic laces years ago and really like them.  It is really easy to modify the localized pressure with them, and I did that a couple of weeks ago.  Probably worth rechecking.  Interesting note, however.  I went to buy some new trail shoes yesterday as I figured my Peregrines would need replacing before race day and wanted time to break in a new pair.  Six years ago I wore a size 10.  Shortly thereafter I found I needed a little more room and moved up to a 10.5, then a couple of years ago made the move to 11's.  Well, when I tried on the new Peregrine's, size 11 was too small (and probably explains some blisters I've gotten recently as that's what I've been using) and I had to move up to an 11.5!  Holy Clown Feet!  Wore them while walking the dogs today and there is noticeably more space in the toe box, so hopefully it'll be adios to the blisters.  Hmmm, makes me think though.  I also run in the Kinvara which is the street version of the Peregrine.  I wonder if the sizing is similar and I need to replace those as well.  If so, Ouch!, that'll mean two new pairs of road shoes and another of the trail - lotsa $$$$ in footwear.
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  Nick Morris on Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:27 pm

That's interesting that you keep moving up in size. Do you think it is because they are changing the design each year or that your foot is just getting larger with time?
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Re: 50+ Years Behind, 50 Miles Ahead

Post  nkrichards on Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:11 pm

I also moved up a full size shortly after I started running but it was an updated model of the same shoe so who knows.

Good to hear your toe/foot issue wasn't as serious as originally thought.
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