Category Archives: Trail

Crashing downhill on trail run

How I crashed a downhill on trail run and loved it.

Go downhill cautiously and allow gravity to cause you to go down uncontrollably fast. Hope for the best, but know it isn’t going to be pretty. Pray for somewhere less hard and itchy to commit something far from elegant. In a flash reach a tipping point literally. That fraction of time when running is effortlessly like your running on air. Because in that moment the upper body falls forward and faster than the legs can keep up and the body decides to do what comes naturally. Crash!! Pile drive the right knee, an explosive right hand high five to the ground with the handheld bottle, pole vault attempt with the left elbow transition to a shoulder roll, climaxing with my bare back scrubbing the trail and quickly back up again to try to put back the pieces. Bruised knee, lost skin, and a lot of fun.

My Fat Ass 50k

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“[D]oing the 50k is not the hard part; training for the 50k is the hard part.”~Matt Sims, Rock/Creek Race Team

Intro:
In 2011, I planned my first 13.1 and quickly decided it was to be a scheduled long run for also completing my first 26.2. Actually I had three 13.1 events before the marathon. Registering for races was becoming an addiction. Typical. I scheduled a couple more 13.1 events after and only did one of them. I gave up my bib for the one I didn’t do. I couldn’t do. Life with two little boys was getting pretty hectic and could not afford all the away time on weekends doing these types of events. So I gave up signing up for races so I can be with my young family when they need me the most. It was also a good decision financially. Races aren’t cheap. Plus spending quality time with the family is a better investment. With this decision, plans of participating in the 2012 Diablo Trails Challenge 50k as a first 50k run was thrown out the door. Maybe some other time. I wasn’t going to give up running though. I just needed to create my own 50k distance event. So My Fat Ass was upgraded to a 50k.

Goal:

Complete my first ultra distance in 2012. General idea was do what I did before on previous 20 mile fat ass, but just longer.

Training:

First 50k training plan from Rock/Creek.

Night before the 50k run:
Too busy preparing gear and food to take with me and also for the sag wagon at the last minute. I wanted to make sure the kids’ evening routine went on as usual with dinner, bath, PJs, and usual tuck-ins. Managed to get a couple 10 minute naps before my alarm. When I got up at 3:00a, I manually flipped-on the coffee maker despite having set the auto timer.

Food:
Baked potatoes in some olive oil and lots of salt. Safeway run for some pretzels, chips, v8 juice, Safeway brand of Pedialite.

Pack:
A previous 20 miler the previous year climbed to 95 degree F temps and sucked. This time I cameled-up an carried as much liquid as I could.

70 oz water hydrapak
2 handhelds 270 calories each of HEED.
Bunch of Hammer Gels (vanilla and espresso)
Salt sticks

Run nutrition plan:
Throughout each hour take a salt stick, sip approximately 100 calories from a handheld and take 2 hammer gels.

4am start

Plan:
Head north from home in San Ramon to Walnut Creek (~15miles) and back mostly via the Iron Horse Regional Trail (which I once ran last year in my first 20 mile training run) and make up a couple more miles around the neighborhood to wrap up the full 50k distance.

How did it really go down?

Was too busy to get good sleep. After all the packing and while finishing last minute instructions for my crew (my wife), I nodded off. Must if been a couple minutes of a power nap. Despite having less than an hour till I was scheduled to wake, I laid in bed anyway just to feel it. I nodded off another few minutes and woke up to get ready.

I bypassed the auto-setting and manually started the coffee maker.

Gearing up is wonderful. The minutes spent doing it is somewhat meditative. Back when training muay thai, the time spent wrapping my hands, warming up with wrist and ankles rolls, stretching and skipping rope was no different. Focus and meditation. The calm before the storm knowing something epic and totally painful was going to go down.

Once geared up and sunblocked, I kissed my wife who was asleep in our bed. She woke and noticed I was about I head out. She bid me a safe run and I told her to kiss and hug the boys for me. “Tell them I love them”, I whispered. “I love you all.”

I stepped out of the house and into the cool and dark 4am morning. All was quiet except for a little breeze against the trees and the four consecutive beeps from my GPS watch which read “READY”. A quick small prayer and without any fanfare, I put one foot in front of the other and my inaugural 50k run began.

I ran the sidewalks and empty streets. First over a local hill, which offered a gorgeous view of the nearby city light under the moon hugging up against a cloud. Since it was dark, I ran on well lit streets. I knew at a particular point in the run, Norris Canyon, the morning sky would light up and that was when I’d hit the trail. I remember little about the first several miles in the dark. I remember seeing what seemed to be a California king snake, but flat. Must’ve been roadkill that some other creature dragged onto the pavement to try to wake my ass up this early in the run or get my heart rate jumping. It didn’t work. For some reason, my heart rate was lower than I was used to hitting. This also meant my pace was extremely slow. I figured the cold temperature and the fact that I haven’t begun to warm up was the cause. Not even my additional 7 pounds of liquid, nutrition, and iPhone from my hydrapak and handhelds caused any stress or strain. Since I was going to be out running for quite awhile, I was ok keeping my effort ultra conservative, because later in the day the sun was going to roast me and spike my heart rate. After all, the goal was to complete the distance. Going out above aerobic threshold was a sure fire way to blow-up in a bad way.

Trail to Danville.
Pete’s for a quick unload.
Trail to Walnut.
Light drizzle overcast. It never got hot and was overcast, windy, and rainy at times.
Felt like if I tried, I could fall asleep while running, but didn’t want to wake up in a ditch or bush.
Walnut back picked up nutrition felt little lightheaded.
Going back is a roughly a 15 mile grade within the valley.
Rain at Danville with my wife Zee as support crew.

Leg problems at 22.
Primary GPS dies after 26.2.
Last climb.
Crazy 14.5 loops cold and wind.

Hill and loops:
After I got the back up GPS (iPhone) switched on, I had a sense of urgency to finish. I knew I wanted to finish strong in the final 10K regardless of the left leg causing problems. Part of the urgency had to do with not wanting to run out of power on the iPhone and lose the ability to track my miles. At the same time, by choosing an alternate path, I wondered, did I just increase the distance I’d have to make up after the final climb and aid stop? From the start, I had estimated I’d only have to complete two miles from the base of the last hill. Knowing I turned-around sooner in Walnut Creek, and the course change in San Ramon, while maintaining a super slow shuffle, I quickly launched my iPhone Google map app to calculate the distance from my current position to the start of the final hill. It didn’t take long to get it calculated and …Crap! I killed the app and texted Zenaida who was waiting for me at the soccer field parking lot at top of the hill. She managed to text me first and wanted to let me know she had Starbucks coffee and a banana waiting for me. Yes! I can’t wait for that cup of coffee. Then I messaged her back and told her that I’d have to make up 4 mile after we meet up. I figured I could run a couple loops around our neighborhood, then later decided to run an unknown number of laps around the soccer field. This way she could keep track of me without without having to drive around.

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By the time I started up the hill, I knew my legs weren’t going to allow me to run. So instead I power hiked in an Anton-esque kinda way. Hand to help drive is legs down like trek poles by pushing down on thighs. See Anton in action here. Before I knew it I was at the top, crossed the road, cut the field, and climbed over a fence to get to the park where Zenaida should have been waiting. I texted her that I go to the soccer field and was now starting the laps. She pinged back that she had to hike it back to where I was. It turned out, she was waiting at the side of the road by the entrance to the parking lot to snap a view pics of me running towards her. We met up by the truck where she presented me with the coffee and I ditched the handheld. I didn’t feel I needed anything to snack on and was anxious and impatient about finishing.

Last 2 miles:

I was ready to call it quits. I knew my mind was giving up control to my body. I was trying to give myself permission to quit 30 miles in. With my pace so slow, a bum set of legs, Zenaida watching and waiting, and the thoughts of a post run steak lunch, I told myself I could call it quits now and just be thankful for having accomplished this much. Then another part of me thought about how close I was to completing my goal. I also thought about all the time spent leading up to this day. Plus all morning friends and family were chiming in on Facebook cheering me on. I knew deep down I could finish, I just was at the lowest point of the run, where I could teeter off or stay on. My equivalent of ‘the dark place”. After one of the laps around the field, I hobbled over to Zenaida and asked her if she thought I could finish. I’m sure she thought it was a stupid question. Then I admitted I was losing it and was ready to be done with it all. Then I told her I needed to hear her tell me I could complete the last two miles. She not only told me I could do it, but she ran with me between mile 30 and 31. She helped me get my confidence back. She’s awesome and helped me get it done. By the final mile my attitude had changed. I never visualized what finishing my first 50k would be like, but on this day, on the final mile, I told myself “Ahh f*** it. Just get it done. ” LOL.

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Post run soreness.

Day after soreness.

2 days after soreness and self-diagnoses of strained popliteus muscles. On ibuprofen.

3rd day wake-up feeling much better. Some leg tightness. Able to do brief job from parking lot to preschool. On ibuprofen. Bought foam roller and worked on hamstrings and right IT band.

4th day feeling normal. Right knee feels unstable but walking close to normal speed.

Summit View Trails

Scoped out the view on a 92F degree afternoon. Short trail but definitely an option running the neighborhood.

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CSM XCountry Course