Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coleen's Sweaty Ass Run

I drove to Olathe on Friday evening. I had been tentatively planning to do the Hawks' - Coleen's Sweaty Ass Run. The run is an all night afair that commences at 8 p.m. and goes through 6 a.m. Runners can do as many of the 3 miles circuits as they wish in the intervening time. Some come for a once-through, while others do lap after lap. For me, in the days leading up to the run, the weather had been too relentlessly hot. Several weeks ago, I had looked at using the run to complete a 50 K. But with the scorching temperatures of the past 2 weeks, I wasn't even sure that I was going to do the run.

But when yesterday morning rolled around, bringing with it cooler temps, I decided that I'd pop over in the evening and do a few laps. The course, which you can read about by cutting and pasting this:
is pretty, with a path that goes through fields, trees, up and down mainly gentle hills, and has a little bit of gravel/dirt road running in it as well. The food provided at the start (you passed back by every three miles) was great. Watermelon, cantaloupe, cookies (even vegan ones), chips, and more sports shots and bars than you'd see in most stores were all laid out on a table for everyone to grab.

I arrived a bit late and ran the first lap in 27 minutes which wasn't very smart. I was wearing a full pack - not realizing that there was no need for one. It was also a bit to hot just to pop out of the car and go. For the second lap, I dropped the pack and grabbed a hand-held bottle and an MP3 player. I mainly listened to Beethoven's Symphony #5 on KANU for that lap. I rarely listed to classical when I run. But communing with nature on a run with such a chill vibe, the Fifth seemed to be most appropriate.

Other highlights (or low lights): my headlamp faded to almost nothing. I had the foresight to bring extra batteries that really helped out. I had run a chunk of a lap with a pretty good runner from Colorado (he was on his first and I was on my third), but I was pushing a little bit to keep up and share his light. I developed one of the worst side aches I have had running. But by peeling off and walking a quarter mile while drinking a lot of fluids, I was able to restore my form.

I met Jessie from the blog Run to the Border. He's training for a 100 mile race that is coming up pretty soon. It looked as though he was going to be there all night. I also ran a lap with Mark, a Trail Hawk that I'd done the scary Let's See how Many Copperheads We Can Step On, 22 mile run with at Clinton a few weeks ago (see earlier blog Snakes on the Plains). Mark was going to be there all night.

I finally threw in the towel and came home. I had been up since 5 a.m., and knew I needed to give it a rest. But what a fun run. Coleen has a winter run at the same place. If I'm around and the weather is driveable, I'll be there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sales, Runs, and TDF

Pics of my kicks

So Gary Gribbles Running Sports had a pretty awesome sale for members of RunLawrence and the Trail Hawks this week. I met my buddy, Eric, at the store at 1 pm on Wednesday and proceeded to stimulate the US economy (I mean somebody's gotta do it, right?). I picked up a pair of Nike Lunar Eclipses, Saucony shorts, and a couple of nice Mizuno wicking T's. Eric threw down more loot for more products. All in all, we dropped about $250 in the store for about $550 worth of goods.

Thanks to all who set up that sale and promulgated the info. It is appreciated.

Tuesday morning I had yet another encounter with a coyote. As usual, it was in the burbs and not out on some country road. The coyotes around my house just have no fear of people. They aren't aggressive, but they don't hurry to get out of your way, and that is pretty disconcerting. I've had closer encounters in the past, but not with a critter as big as this one was. As I ran by, I kept looking back over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't being followed. I just did an involuntary shudder while typing this. Two words: heebie jeebie,

Saturday, I popped out to Clinton at 5:45 am and met a woman named Holly, my running buddy, Eric, and fearless Hawk leader, Gary Henry. We set off on the white trail for Land's End. It was seriously hot. But under the canopy, it was about 10 deg F cooler. It was a pretty run. It was also pretty uneventful. We ran and chatted and ran some more. It was hot enough that when Eric, Holly, and I had finished (Gary kept going), I did feel the 10 miles. Normally I don't feel a run like that. Heat and humidity will dish out their medicine every now and then.

Holly and Eric after the Saturday run

Finally, if you haven't watched any of the Tour De France, turn it on for the last day, today. Cadel Evans has become the first Australian to take the win. He did it yesterday in an epic time trial that erased a 50+ second deficit to Andy Schleck (Andy's brother, Frank, had also been ahead of Cadel at the start of the day). And Alberto Contador also found his form, and for the second day in a row pulled out all the stops on a terrific ride.

All this writing about biking reminds me that I need to hit the road for a cross-training day before the heat smacks me down.

Hasta pronto.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Running With Pre

I had a bout with poison ivy. I am on my second to last day of steroids that were prescribed to clear it up. I always find it kind of fun to be on steroids (legally) and work out. They freak some people out, I guess, but they always make me feel great. With this week's heat and humidity, they probably did factor into a few good runs.

On Monday I popped out early for a 4 mile pre-work run. About 2.7 miles into the run, I did something I have only done once or twice before: I stopped and started walking. I was drenched in sweat and sucking wind. My arm with the poison ivy was stinging. In short, I was miserable. I walked about a quarter of a mile and then jogged at a ridiculously slow pace back to my house. By Tuesday, with some help from my running friend, Pre (short for prednisone... who were you thinking I meant?), I was able to knock out an even longer run at a good clip.

But, with the heat, running this week wasn't all that fun until this weekend. I got asked by the Trail Nerds to be one of the leaders for the North Shore Clinton Saturday run at 7 a.m. I said I'd do it, but I wasn't going to do the 23 miler due to the heat. I was thinking more along the lines of an 8-12 mile run. I called my buddy, Eric, and asked if he wanted to come along. Eric is a fine runner who has been taking the summer off, for the most part. But he's someone who can take time off and then go do ten miles. It is a bit ridiculous, but he's always game for a challenge.

So yesterday, Eric and I met at Clinton. We saw a couple of other Trail Hawk / Nerd type vehicles in the lot, but no one else showed up by 7:10, so we set off on what was a really pleasant run. Eric ran in front waving a stick in a spastic manner to clear the path of spiderwebs. For the most part it worked. I stopped paying attention at one point (I was mainly looking down for copperheads (see pvs post)), and ran face first through a massive web. But after a momentary freak out, I forged ahead. We hit Land's End, turned around, and finished the run without incident.

A short note on Clinton North Shore: The trails are absolutely perfect to run on in hot conditions. The canopy truly keeps the sunlight out, and the heat down. There isn't much one can do about the humidity. But, if you feel that you have missed your window in the early a.m. for a cooler temperature run, you can always head out to Clinton and enjoy a trot amid fauna and foliage.

So today, the second part of my nice weekend of running happened. My non-running buddy, Doug, biked over to my house and met me at 7 a.m. I had wanted to do a shorter, more intense run on the country roads near my house. Doug had offered to bike over and keep me company. Basically it would just add some easy miles to his morning ride. So we set off. On the way north of 6th Street on Folks Road in Lawrence, I showed him Lawrence's cool nature park that no one ever uses. I run in it periodically to add about a 1.5 mi. round-trip distance to some runs I do. But the park is almost always empty. Kids don't even go there to make out or drink or whatever. I can't figure out why it is so under-utilized. Anyway, Doug, I think, thought that the park was pretty cool as well. I'm hoping he takes his family there sometime to explore.

After the detour on the park trails, we cruised along Peterson for a few hundred yards and saw a deer crossing the road before heading north again down the hill by Martin Park. The hill is a blast to go down. And, at the bottom you are treated to a farm that has llamas or alpacas on one side of the street, and one that has really pretty goats and geese on the other. The road then traverses a stream and winds along the base of the hills, with woods to the south and corn fields on the north. This morning there were hundreds of bag worms hanging by single silken threads over the little road. It was remarkably pretty. It was also pretty sultry. I sweated through every pore.

We turned back south on Queens Rd (1000 rd in the county), and attacked the brutal hill that marks the city limits. The rest of the run was through the western burbs of Lawrence. We had a coffee at my house before Doug continued on his way.

What was nice about the weekend was that I had two successive days of running with friends. I do so much solitary running that it is always a nice change to have someone along. And two runs in a row; well that's just about unheard of.

Equipment update - I love the Nathan hydration pack. I used it again yesterday. No leaking. No chafing. The reservoir is super easy to clean. All in all, a great little pack.

And finally, congrats to all of the Lawrence Trail Hawks who hung in there during the storms this weekend to complete the Lunar Trek races. Impressive.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Equipment

After the big run last weekend, I did a short run the next day and then took Monday off before going for a higher mileage Tuesday. On Tuesday I also ordered Vega's Sport Protein Powder. I tried some after a workout today (it arrived too late to use after any other runs this week), and can report that it tastes good, and has a nice texture. No animal products are used either, so it is a guilt-free recharge.

I also checked into better hydration packs. I had been running with a kind of sketchy bike pack from Trek. It leaked, was hard to clean and fill, but felt ok on runs. So other than soaking my Blackberry, it was hanging in there. But I had looked on line and also visited Gary Gribbles about getting a Nathan pack. And so, on Friday, I did. I paid a little more to get it from GG's, but for a few extra dollars, I was supporting a local business - and one that I really like.

I had planned to knock out a marathon on Saturday. But after waking to a temperature above 70F, I decided to cut it in half. I did load up the Nathan with some GU electrolyte product, a couple of shots, and a Cliff Bar before setting off. It was a nice day, but it was hot. I hit my favorite country road. I had 'interactions' with four dogs in the first couple of miles, and then things settled down. When I got to Clinton I took a turn into the free area and popped down the hill overlooking the lake. I used that as my turnaround point. I was pretty sweaty, but everything in the Nathan was dry. It was good to note.

Nothing else to really report this week. It should be a few days of short runs due to the heat. If I lose my mind I'll head out on Friday to do the Lunar Trek. If not, I'll stay here and enjoy the heat-induced torpor.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Snakes on the Plains!!

This was an interesting week for running. After the three hour jaunt in the rain and lightning last weekend, I did do a short run (3 mi)on Sunday before taking a workout pass on Monday. I had set a pretty quick tempo on the long run, and my quads felt it for the next couple of days.

I did a 5 miler on Tuesday, a couple of miles on Wednesday before my 6 a.m. cross training group, and then got a Garmin Forerunner 210 from my friend Kurt. The Garmin is pretty awesome for ease-of-use. It tracks pace, time, distance, and has a heart rate monitor and chest strap that come with it. I tested it out on a run that I had always figured at 6.2 miles on the following Thursday morning. I found that I am pretty good at measuring some distances. I was within 20 yards by my estimates. I found out later on a shorter run, that what I had always thought of as a 2 miler was, in fact, a 2.4 miler. I love the device, and knew I was going to give it a real workout for a trail run on Saturday.

Here's a link to a pic of the 210 -

So Saturday rolled around, and I met up with Gary and Mark, a couple of runners from the Lawrence Trail Hawks - I had never run with the guys before, and had only recently joined them (in addition to the Trail Nerds and Run Lawrence). The three of us set off around 6 a.m. Within the first 100 yards, Gary had an encounter with a monster copperhead (see pic above if you want to know what one looks like). I was following him, and almost did something that rhymes with 'hiss' in my shorts.

The encounter over, we ran on. The goal for the day for Mark and me was 22-23 miles. Gary, who is training for 100k and 100 mi races was looking to put in 35+ miles. When Mark and I arrived, Gary had already put in 6. The day was gorgeous, if a bit hot, and the trails were in good shape. After a few miles we encountered the same woman I had met on the trails the week before. She mentioned that the were copperheads in the trail in front of us. Gary lead, keeping a close eye on the ground. I was next in line seriously doing the same thing. After a quarter mile, Mark (running third) screamed like a frightened child, and demonstrated what a four foot vertical leap looks like. Apparently both Gary and I had missed the copperheads. I had missed them so badly that I managed to step on both of them. The tow snakes ended up slithering off of the trail right in front of Mark as my shoes did little damage to them. To end the discussion of snakes, we did encounter one more little copperhead in the last couple of miles of our run. It was just hanging out on the trail. While we were looking at it, Mark walked up beside me, and I didn't know he was there. I heard a rustling of leaves and nearly jumped out of my skin thinking that there was another serpent next to my foot.

It is amazing just how often I have run those trails and never ever seen a snake. If I hadn't been with other people who are mindful of them, I could have easily taken the run still without seeing a snake. Here's some quick info: Copperheads are rarely deadly. If you get bitten it is going to suck, but you'll probably survive. And, like deer, where there is one, there is usually another. The little buggers like to hang out in pairs. They aren't too aggressive, so don't worry about being attacked by one. Just be mindful. Leave them alone, and they will do likewise.

So on we went with our run. We took the white route all the way to its conclusion, ran up Bunker Hill in order to add a mile, and then took the white trail back. The heat became a bit of our enemy as we returned. Each of us felt it at different times during the run. For me, at about 20.5 miles, I wanted the run to end. I was out of calories to ingest. I was also seriously low on water. My hydration backpack had some serious issues all day. It leaked irregularly, soaked my shoes as water poured out the bottom, disabled my Blackberry for the rest of the day (it dried out late), and basically sucked as a required safety device for the run. I'm getting a new one this week.

Recovery from the run was surprisingly swift. I think the extra mileage coupled with a slightly slower pace (these guys go a little slower because they are training for monster distances, and seem to go at the pace they will run these races) made for a quick turnaround. When I went for my recovery run this a.m., I felt no after-effects or discomfort.

All in all, it was a beautiful run with a couple of great new trail-running buddies.