Wednesday, October 28, 2015

getting past the tipping point #gw100k

this is hal koerner, an elite runner with a plan.
not MY plan, mind you...
yesterday was day one.

or t-minus 159 days to gorge waterfalls 100k.

either way, just before noon yesterday the reality that this race is an actual thing reached a tipping point, and my anxiety level spiked.

that feeling doesn't suit me at all, so i did something about it.

1. google "100k training plan"
2. sort through multiple plans untethered from my ability to run THAT MANY miles in a week (dear hal koerner, your plan looks great for an elite, unmarried, financially independent runner; i am none of those things)
look, right there it says, "and ultraladies men!"
i'm no ladies man, but the training plan looks good.
3. eventually find a plan that a) looks manageable and b) might actually have me prepared by race day
4. disregard the fact that the plan is from the "UltraLadies" web site, and is actually a 50-mile training plan. what's 12 more miles?
5. print calendar pages for oct. 2015 to april 2016
6. mark up calendar pages with planned (and completed) workouts; totally include all october runs retroactively (i ran a half marathon a week and a half ago!)
7. feel anxiety levels dropping
8. leave work early and go for a run

today is day two. or t-minus 158 days to #gw100k.

why am i still standing here?

(leaves work to go run...)

kicking it up a notch: #gw100k

i'll be running the 2016 version, btw...
"how do you get to carnegie hall?"
"practice, practice, practice."

words i never imagined i'd type:

"i signed up for a 100k."

i mean, it hasn't been that long ago that i said, "i still don't like running. but i've been hating it less recently...

it was even less long ago that i ran my first half marathon, and cried at the end of it.

it was just two years ago that i ran my first marathon, something i really believed i'd never do.

so how did i get from being a run-hater to a running fool to 22 weeks away from attempting a 100k with 12,000 feet of elevation?

like so many things in this life: i have no idea.

but with a handful of marathons and 50k finishes now in my repertoire, here's what i do know: any 100k is going to be hard. this one, in particular, is going to be rillyrilly hard. but, you know, one step at a time.

having spent the money on registration (and the custom t-shirt and the pint glass), i figure i'm all-in. and while i won't be fast, i am willing to try rillyrilly hardTM.

a sign very much like this one... #gw100k
the run-up to the runpocalypse will be documented here, with the telltale #gw100k in the header. if you have no interest in these sporadic training tales, the hashtag will warn you away like a, uh, sign that warns people away from things.

we try to avoid the tragic results whenever possible...

Friday, October 23, 2015

aloha hour

well, well. look who we have here.
"now boarding for honolulu..."

i didn't bring sunglasses. #knewiforgotsomething

waiting at the gate while they repair a mechanical problem. there is some irony in that the temperature aboard the plane is about what it will be on the island. and yet, people don't seem to be enjoying it. #delayed

on one smallish device i can text, talk, type, surf, photograph, video, record, listen, map, search, forecast, track, document, and access the sum total of human knowledge. technology level: #miraculous #6s

didn't sleep well last night. hoping to sleep on the flight and wake up feeling refreshed. #neckpillow

taking off an hour and 20 minutes late. a full 80 minutes of hawaii time literally ripped from my grasp. #firstworldwhining

the hawaiian air pre-flight video cost a fortune to shoot ~ multi-camera set-ups on every island ~ but every dime shows up on the itty-bitty screen on the seat-back in front of me. #productionvalue

can't sleep. so much for the #neckpillow #sleepdeniedissleepdeprived

"poomilla" is not the name of a real flower. #sorrydear

in-flight vodkas at 11:15 in the morning? "can we get two each?" #seriously

hydrating like crazy. still, my feet are swollen and my fingers feel like sausages. #morewaterplease

"we'll be coming through the aisles with our beverage carts, and for our guests 21 and over we have a tropical rum punch..."

"sir, can i offer you something to drink?"
"no, i'm good, thanks."
"and you, sir?"
"i'll take a punch."
#yeshereallysaidit #nicehawaiianpunch

more in-flight vodkas at 11:45 in the morning. "can we get two more, each?" #loudly

read read read. type type type. #passingtime

"we'll be coming through the cabin to collect all service items in preparation for landing in honolulu..."

zzzzzzzzzz... #finetimeforanap

Thursday, October 22, 2015

mudstock trails

they said there would be mud at the 2015 gunstock trails half marathon.

there was.

lots and lots of slippery, sloppy, shoe-sucking mud.


there's been much rain on oahu the last several weeks ("...the wettest September and wettest Jul-Aug-Sep since measurements began in 1967"). the run-off has flooded canals, sewage treatment plants have overflowed, and the water off some of the world's most beautiful beaches is an ugly shade of muck. it's also unswimmable, unless you don't mind splashing in effluvia. 

related note: sharks don't see well in murky water. and sometimes they they react to the confusing electrical signals of thrashing swimmers by biting first and asking questions later. this happened twice in four days during our visit. not cool, but sharks gotta make a living, too.

usually this hike is wheat-beige.
the upside to all the rain is the deep, saturated, tropical shade of green covering the island. i've visited several times in the last few years, and have never seen this kind of dense, pacific-northwest-rainforest green here. trails that were wide open and runnable 18 months ago were now overgrown and slow-going. oh, and there are slugs everywhere. before this trip i'm not even sure i knew there were slugs on oahu. *shrugs* now i know.

and yet, when the pre-race emails warned, "the trails are muddy," and "there's lots of mud on the course," and "be ready for the mud," i thought, "pffft, we run trails in the pacific northwest. our forebears invented mud and then ran through it naked. how bad could this be?"

silly, silly question.

pre-race, pre-dawn,
pre-national anthem.
at 6:30 a.m. on race day, the temperature was 79 degrees, with 94% humidity. that kind of weather is great for strolling down kailua beach to get an iced coffee and a newspaper, but slightly less great for running 13.1 hilly, muddy miles. on the other hand, it was nice, for a change, not to be cold at the start of a race. want to warm up before you run? no, problem, just stand still and sweat a while.

"stay hydrated out there," the race director said. it was very good advice.

at 7:10 a.m. we got underway. by 7:14 a.m. i was soaked through and swilling water from my handheld bottle. the good news going around a short loop before heading out into the teeth of the course: the mud was sporadic and entirely manageable. "is this it? is this the mud that was supposed to drag us under like a mud-kraken from the depths of the, uh, mud?"
"how are you?"
"warm, how are you?"
"sweating profusely."

no, of course it wasn't. not even close.


by mile three or so i was thinking profound thoughts like, "i'm in a steambath." and "it's like i climbed out of a pool and started running." yeah, wet.

at the next aid station i filled my bottle with whatever electrolyte drink they were serving and started swilling that. it tasted bad, but at that point i was pretty sure my body was down to its last two or three electrolytes, so i drank it.

not long after this the real mud started, and i forgot all about my horrific electrolyte imbalance.


on the flat stretches, the water ponded in the middle of the trail in nice red puddles. to avoid these, runners went wide, toward whatever groundcover and mulch they could find. soon, the sides of those sections (which sloped toward the middle) were themselves bare and slick. finding no traction there, those of us not in the lead got to choose between slipping down the sides with each step or the inevitable feeling of the kraken-mud reaching up to suck our shoes off. 'slurp.'

the situation on the uphills was similar, though without the standing water. again, runners tried to avoid the skating rink in the middle by heading wide. and again the traction was eventually ground under, reducing the pace to a crawl. sometimes literally.

the downhills? there you had two choices: slow and careful, or pick a path and ski it. slow and careful was tedious and annoying, so i skied whenever possible, i.e., when there was no one in front of me to wipe out.

shoe-related note: my new hoka challenger ATRs performed as well as i had any right to expect. they provided good traction, for the most part...sometimes too good. there were times when the tread held on to the mud, and it felt like i had bricks attached to my feet. also, i got a couple ugly mid-race toe blisters on both feet. i'm not blaming the shoes for either of these issues. i still believe on most days and for most conditions, the challengers are a great choice.

rain fell sporadically during the race, making the mud muddier but making the heat and humidity slightly more bearable. hey, a pyrrhic victory is still a victory.

does all this sound like complaining? it's not. trail running is supposed to make us sound like we're complaining when in fact we're being grateful. it's supposed to help us decompress from workaday fight-or-flee situations that provide no avenue for either. some days it makes us let go of goal times and age-group finishes. and it always helps us appreciate rinsing off the mud and drinking a beer and eating some salty food and sleeping like a stone for at least one night.

trail running is not the meaning of life, but it does lend perspective to whatever the meaning of life might be. i'm still working on that.

in the meantime, this race was the most running fun i've had in a long while.


2015 gunstock trails half marathon

50/249 (overall)
4/20 (M 50-59)
shoes: yes
song stuck in my head the entire race: "when i stop dreaming," don henley and dolly parton

Monday, October 12, 2015

the old runaround

i'm still running.

i just don't write about it much.

prolly because my events since june have been kinda uneventful.

in july, there was the seafair 8k. a fun run with my friend michel, who was getting trained up to race for the first time in a year. i thought, "i'll just hang back and run with michel, and not worry about my time." ha. turns out, michel is fast. i had to work my butt off to keep up with him through the streets of seattle, whilst he was frolicking like a kid. see what happens when you assume?

in august i ran the columbia winery 10k. a fundraiser with my friend molly, who was coming back from an injury. not being one to learn from past mistakes, i again thought, "i'll just hang back and run with molly, and not worry about my time." turns out, that's exactly how it went. we meandered along the sammamish river trail, chatted about this and that, and had a nice time. not a good time, time-wise, but a nice time.

when september rolled around i hadn't run particularly long, or hilly, since the deception pass marathon (the first week of june). not-perfect training for the cle elum ridge 30k. this race, a laid-back affair on the east side of the cascades, features 3700 feet of climbing (most of it in the first few miles). the views and contours reminded me of the front range of colorado; lots of rolling hills, ponderosa pines, and big rocks. the only thing lacking was the mile-high altitude and thinner air.

it turned out to be a great day. sunny, not too warm, with miles of runnable terrain. we could've done without the dirt bikers on the trail...but i'm sure they weren't thrilled to see us, either. not being familiar with the course, my 3.5 hour goal time was completely arbitrary...but i finished in 3:28. self-fulfilling prophesy or past-life experience?

october. two events on the calendar: magnolia run the bluff, and the gunstock trails half marathon. one is our neighborhood 10k, the other is on the north shore of oahu. almost the same thing...
feeling runner-ish at the run the bluff 10k.
photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama.

at last year's run the bluff i surprised myself with a PR for 10k (44:something), even though it's a hilly course. "so what's your goal for this year?" i was asked a couple times. "uh, 43:something?" i answered lamely. no, i didn't believe that. at all. too many slow trail miles, no speed training, no chance.

see what happens when you assume? i went 43:15, shaving more than a minute and a half off last year's time. i have no explanation.

[gunstock trails is oct. 17. report to follow.]

which leaves november and december.

early this year i became emboldened by ambitious friends with audacious goals. they were busy planning and signing up for big, worthy events and it occurred to me that i should do something similar (within my scope, of course). if not now, after all, when? when i'm 55? 60? these legs, while mostly willing and usually reliable, are not getting younger.

so, i decided to attempt five events of 26.2 miles or longer in 2015 (up from two such distances in 2014). that was the goal-setting part.

the goal-achieving began in march with the chuckanut 50k. it continued in may and june with the sun mountain 50k and the DP marathon.

in december i'm signed up for the deception pass 50k, but november is still undecided. the three most likely options:

bellingham trail marathon ~ nov. 7
(a challenging course on some familiar trails)

kill bill's oyster dome 50k ~ nov.14
(four 50Ks in a year would be a huge leap for me)

seattle marathon ~ nov. 29 
(logistically the easiest, and just two weeks before deception, a good long training run for 50k)

i can't decide.


cle elum ridge 30k

3/6 (m: 50-59)
16/52 overall
shoes: altra lone peak 2.5

run the bluff 10k

1/10 (m: 50-59)
13/186 overall
shoes: hoka clifton