Tuesday, May 22, 2007

7 lbs. And Counting

I've lost 7 pounds since the first of May. I hasn't been easy. I've been working hard and controlling my intake of food. It is encouraging to have lost those pounds. It looks like I'm on pace to be back in shape by early August. I'm not going to say how much I want to lose. But I will say so when I've reached my goal.

The effects of weight loss is amazing, especially in hill running. My hill training is much easier now, and I'm going about half a minute per mile faster with less effort.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

El Prieto Handicap - Race Report

This race was FUN. When I heard about it, I immediately wanted to run it. El Prieto is one of my favorite trails near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena that we train on. This was a very low key race, so it is not very widely known. The field was only 40 people. It has been going on for 14 years. This wasn't on my race calendar, but it was just one of those spurt of the moment things.

Because of the handicap format, I started near the back because the faster runners started later. As soon as I flew off the starting line, I was beginning to catch people. This was a 4.6 mile point to point race over very familiar trails, so I knew I can give it all I got and not worry about blowing up. I started fast and kept pushing when we hit the uphills; and sprinted the final downhill into Millard Campground.
My goal was just to keep passing people and not get passed. When I finished, I knew I had passed many people, but I did get passed by one guy. Fellow ATB'ers/Pacers were there too, Max, Lisa, and Laurie. Overall, I think I did pretty well. I think I will be starting further back next year.

They had drinks and snacks for us at the end and even gave us a race t-shirt. The race was FREE, that's right, free. I heard that the Race Director just donates the money because he enjoys organizing the race so much.

They alternate the race between years with going downhill and uphill. So, next year's race will be going downhill from Millard Campground to Hahamongna Park in La Canada / Flintridge.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nathan HPL #020 Hydration Vest - Product Review

I'm not the type to try everything that comes on the market. I make very deliberate choices when it comes to spending my hard earned dollars. I've been wishing for something like this, so when it finally became available, I jumped at the chance. I was never satisfied with the camelbaks I've had, they bounced too much and is not very comfortable if you snug them up for running. They are fine for hiking, but running, no! Being the type that come up with new ideas, I thought to myself, what if they made a form-fitting vest that was stiff enough to carry the weight of the bladder. Voila, my dream came true.

I've had this thing for a week and have gone on a few runs with it. It is a cross between a vest and a backpack. It fits my torso very comfortably, and it is way more stable than the camelbak type bladder I previously used for running. The mesh venting keeps the body from getting too hot. The vest system and straps keep the bouncing to a minimum. Also, the fit felt roughly the same when the bladder is full and when it is empty; so you don't have to tighten the pack when the bladder gets empty. I like the mimimalist approach of this pack. I don't want all the bells and whistles of the other packs for running, they just add weight and you really don't need them. My initial impressions are positive and I would recommended it to others.

However, I just couldn't leave well enough alone. Since I have a sewing machine and knows how to use it, I made some modifications to it. I added a chest strap between the two uprights. The modification seem to have made it even more stable. I'm thinking about adding a Velcro tab on the front of one of the uprights so I could attach the drinking hose when not in use. Right now, I tuck the hose into the waist belt so it doesn't swing everywhere when you run.

I got it from runnersgear.com for $68.40.

Here's the marketing hype:

The Nathan HPL #020 Hydration Vest is one of the lightest hydration vests on the market today. When taking on long distance trail runs the HPL #020 has been shown to cut down on the nausea sometimes caused by waist packs.

Featuring a 3-way Propulsion Harness, 2 liter hydration bladder with filter-compatible screw-top closure and bite valve. The twin front holsters work seamlessly for carbo-gel and/or GPS. Additionally, there are two zippered rear compartments and a zippered front pocket. Keeping this vest light at 6 oz. was accomplished through the lightweight, breathable Wall Mesh with soft perimeter binding.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Too Many IRON In the Fire

Don't you just want it all? I do.

I've always been a high achiever for as long as I can remember. I want to do as many thing as well as I possibly can. I aim high and reach for the proverbial pie in the sky. I'm this way in my life and also in my athletics. When I started doing triathlons, I set my goal to qualify for the World Championships in Kona, HI in my first attempt at an Ironman. When I started running marathons, my goal was sub 3 on my first try. Now that I'm in ultra running, my goal is to go under 24 hours at the AC100. I haven't achieved any of these goals yet.

Earlier this year, I was trying to do all three of these things for this year. However, I now realize I just don't have enough resources to do them at the same time. I have decided to put Ironman on the back burner and concentrate on running. I had already paid for the Ironman entry, which I will have to give up, save a partial refund of $150.

I'll come back to the Ironman after my running goals are satisfied. I still want to go to Kona!!!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mud Run Video - Finally

This is very late. I'm sorry. But better late than never. This was the video I took for the Mud Run in 2006. Way to go, ATB.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

How You Train is How You WILL Race

You might have heard the saying, "never train harder than what you will do in the race". The rational of this is that you need to save your body in training so you can give it all in the race. Well, this never seems to work for me.

Instead, I'm starting to believe that the intensity you train at will reflect exactly in your race. If you train slow, then you WILL be slow. In fact, I'm thinking that you need to push harder in training than your actual race. Then the race will feel easy. Why stop at 24 miles in marathon training, why not go 26 miles, or 28 miles. To train for a trail ultra, why not train on climbs and descents that are steeper than what you will race on?

My reasoning is based on adaptation. The human body adapts to stressed inputs and shapes itself to better handle those stresses. If you never stress your body to the level of how you want to race, then how can you expect it to perform at that level when you do race? Of course, you need to increase intensity and duration slowly to avoid injury; the rule of thumb is 10-15% per week. And your diet needs to include plenty of protein to help your muscles rebuild and adapt. That means eating chicken, fish, or red meat. Or, you can use those protein supplements.

For example, if you want to go sub 3 hours in a marathon; then you need to keep about a 6:50 pace. You might start at 10 miles and keep that pace. Then you gradually increase your mileage, but don't let your pace drop. Keep going until you can do up to 28 miles. Then, have a longer taper to let your body recover before the race. For me, a two week taper is plently, even after a 100 miler. The body still remembers how hard you have trained after two weeks. Then, the actual race will feel easy; you will be able to push harder and not suffer as much. For a downhill race, go find long stretches of downhill highway and train on that.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Getting Back Into Top Shape

In the not too distant past, I consistently placed in the top 10% range within my age group. However, since that time, I have, regrettably, put on a few pounds. I say regrettably, because I keep telling myself, "how could I have let it happen?" This time, I resolve to keep the fat off. But, time will tell if I can actually do that.

It is hard work! You can put on pounds so easily, but it is so hard to take them off. The body just seems to be so stingy in giving up its stores of energy. One of the hardest things to do is to change habits. And this is exactly what I need to do. I need to work on my eating habits. For me, it is not so much what kind of food I eat, but the quantity. When I don't have as much self-control, I eat way too much for what I need to maintain my metabolism. I eat because food is so yummy, but I need to recognize that there is beauty and grace in moderation.

For some of you that know me more recently, you might think that I've always been the fit and athletic type. The truth is that I'm not, I used to be 50 lbs. overweight. I know how to loose weight; it is just a matter of time that I get back to where I was.

Today, we (the Arroyo Trail Blazers) did the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge 14 mile run. The results? Well, let's just say that I still have a lot of work ahead of me. Someone who knows me but haven't seen me in a while came up and asked if I had gotten a podium position. I guess she just assumed that I would podium; or she was just being nice. Hearing that, I kind of felt bad for myself. :(

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Need to Push, But Not Too Hard

Life is not always easy. It gets difficult at times, but those are the times when I grow. I adapt and change because of the difficulties that come my way. Hopefully, my changes are for the better.

In running, it is the same way. If my training doesn't push me beyond my limits, I will never grow and become faster. My body adapts to the hard training; my leg muscles grow, my heart beat strengthens, my aerobic capacity increases. If all my training is at the same pace or intensity, I will race the same way. But, at the same time, if I push too hard, too often, my body will break down and result in injury.

I must strive to find the delicate balance between pushing too hard and pushing too little; in life and in running.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Average? Not Me!

Most people are satisfied with being the same as everyone else, and there's nothing wrong with that. But that's definitely not me. I don't know if it is a curse or not, but i just can't seem to be satisfied with being average. In everything that i do, i strive to be more extreme. I have an innate drive to be more or do more than the average. I'm not saying that being average is bad, or that being more than average is better. So, please don't get me wrong; or think than I am conceited.

To give some examples: The first triathlon race i ever did was a half ironman; most people start with a sprint distance event. The first marathon i ever ran qualified me for Boston by over 20 minutes; most people just want to finish. The first ever ultra-marathon i ran was a 50 miler; not a 50k like most people's first ultra. To finish my first 100 miles run, i picked the hardest 100 miler, the HURT 100 in Hawaii, and AC 100.

It seems that i'm not happy unless i'm pushing myself up to or beyond my limits. I want to excel! Don't get me wrong, it is not easy to excel. I work extra hard to push myself up to my limits, and sometimes i think, "why can't I just be average?" Yes, life would be easier, but i would not be satisfied. I don't want to live with regrets. I don't want to look back at my life and say, "why didn't I do that when I could have."

This is not just in running, but i take the same approach in all the areas of my life.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Oh, My Legs Are Sore!!

Having sore legs are not most people's idea of fun. But i sort of enjoy sore legs. No, i don't enjoy the pain. But i like the idea that i pushed my body to the limit.

My legs are sore from the training race this past Sunday; we went for a run from Chilao Flats to Chantry Flats, a 22 mile run in rugged hilly terrain. This was the first of four training runs for the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run (AC100) which i will participate in this coming September. We covered almost a fourth of the actual race course. It was brutally hot (90+ degrees), and it took a lot of mental determination to keep going. It didn't help that i haven't ran trails since January, my legs were feeling the pounding of the steep downhills. And that i spent the whole day working on trails the day before.

We went through lots of poison oak. i got a little on my right arm, but not too bad. i'm pretty immune to that stuff, i guess i'm lucky. Some people breaks out so much that they have to go to the hospital.

To give you an idea of what the AC100 race is all about:

The AC-100 course goes from Wrightwood to Pasadena and has a total climb of 21,610 feet and a total decent of 26,700 feet. There are seven climbs of more than 1,000 feet each. The first 56 miles are run above 5,000 feet and the highest elevation on the course is 9,210’. The surface is 90% single track, relatively un-maintained, rocky trails. There are 14 aid stations spread out on the point-to-point course with the longest stretch without aid being 12-miles, over the highest peak in the race. There are cut-off times at each of the aid stations and a finishing time limit of 33-hours. Pacing of runners is not permitted before mile 52.8, which many of the runners reach only after nightfall. The race is run in late September each year and the temperature highs are often in the 100s. The course record (17:35:48), set in 1989 by Jim O’Brien, remains unbroken despite the quality and quantity of elite ultra runners who have come along since.

Doesn’t it make you want to just go right out and do it?!

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