Monthly Archives: February 2008

Ooooo La Luz

This week I mailed my entry to the lottery for the La Luz Trail Run. It’s a 9 mile trail run in Albuquerque, New Mexico on August 3rd. The run is limited to 400 runners, so those who want to run send in a self addressed stamped envelope for the lottery. The RD, Rodger Sack, said he received about 650 envelopes last year and was able to send out about 550 of those because some of the first 400 selected chose not to participate.

Nine miles may seem like a relatively short trail run, but it’s uphill almost all the way and for someone who spends most of his time below 1,000 ft above sea level running uphill from 6,100 ft to 10,678 ft will be a challenge. See the elevation profile above. The fall 2001 issue of Trail Runner Magazine selected La Luz as one of the “12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America”. I’m hoping to be able to finish in less than 2 hours, but since I’ll be sailing in uncharted waters I won’t really know what to expect.

Below are a couple pics from LLTH taken by kentucky backroads photography.

The Bod Pod

Should have been a nice restful recovery week after the 50k; however, Tuesday I had a Personal Fitness Evaluation (PFE) at NIFS. Right before the PFE came a little body composition analysis in the Bod Pod. I was pleasantly surprised by the Bod Pod. I knew that I had been getting lean through proper nutrition and exercise, but I never imagined I’d be under 10% body fat. According to the Bod Pod I’m at 8.8% body fat.

As for the PFE, more good news! My VO2 max at 55.81 is “well above average” for men 40 to 49 years old. Actually it’s well above average for men 20 to 29 too. The VO2 max is calculated from my time in a 1.5 mile run, which I completed in 9:14, not bad just three days out from the 50k. All the other tests, pushups, curlups, and flexibility I scored above average or excellent. Of course this doesn’t mean I can rest now, just keep pushing harder. Yesterday I did a tough 11 miles on the trails at Eagle Creek. It was tough going because of the snow on the trails. Today an easy 6 miles on the roads. Well, it didn’t start out easy. I had just finished doing 310 squats so for the first few steps of the run I wasn’t sure my legs would be able to run.

Louisville’s Lovin’ The Hills – Sweet Revenge!

Louisville’s Lovin’ The Hills 50k trail run was my first ultra back in February 2007. I had no idea what I was getting into. While it may not be the toughest 50k in the country; with roughly 14,000 feet of ascent, it’s pretty darned tough. I didn’t know anything about proper nutrition, didn’t even own a pair of trail running shoes. It snowed that day so the trails were pretty slick. I was nursing a sore leg. My time that day was 9 hours 14 minutes. I was pretty sure I came in last place, but a few managed to slip in behind me. After finishing I thought that was one tough run and while I’m glad I did it, I never wanted to do it again. Well you know what that means. A few days later I was thinking about possibly going back for some revenge on those Kentucky hills.

I learned a lot in the past year. I learned that my leg problem was caused by a tight hamstring. I learned that trail shoes are priceless on ice and snow covered or muddy trails. I learned proper nutrition before the run and refueling during the run. During the past year I was blessed with good health and was able to get in some solid training, not just running, but I also kicked my strength conditioning up a notch. Lots of burpees, squats, and box jumps. This year I was about 15 pounds lighter at the start of the race.

I followed Hammer’s advice on nutrition. The night before the race I ate maple pancakes at Cracker Barrel around 9 pm. I slept until 6 am, so with an 8 am race start it was too late to eat breakfast since Hammer recommends your last meal be no less than three hours before the start. Hammer also recommends taking 100 to 200 calories about 5 to 10 minutes before the start, so I ate a Hammer gel about 10 minutes to 8. Hammer’s philosophy is replenishment rather than replacement. While burning 700 to 900 calories an hour you only replenish with 200 to 300 calorie per hour. I lost count of the number of Hammer gels I ate during the race, but between those and the Heed I was drinking I’d estimate that I was taking in about 200 calories an hour. I was also taking Endurolytes capsules, about one per hour. The aid stations were well stocked with all kinds of goodies, but I only ate a few crackers and Pringles from the last couple of aid stations.

The chart above shows the elevation profile for the last 17.5 miles of the race. The website where I found it says, “Please note that the miles are close together on the chart so it is not as bad as it looks.”

Most of the runners I talked to after the race agreed that it is as bad as it looks.

At the start of the run it was about 30 degrees and there was some ice and snow on the trails. The first 13 or so miles consists of two different loops with both bringing you back to the starting line. I was running with my training partner Tom. We kept a steady pace and walked all the big hills. Physically I felt pretty good through both loops, but mentally I was down a little. The last 17.5 miles is an out and back. I stayed behind Tom because he sets a more reasonable pace than I would have. By mile 16 I starting feeling better mentally and wanted to pick the pace up some, but was patient and stayed behind Tom. It was probably around mile 19 or 20 that I decided it was time to start pushing a little harder. As I approached the turn around at 22+ miles I started thinking that if I kept this pace I could beat 7 hours. Shortly after the turn I passed three or four other runners which was a huge mental boost for me. I was walking the toughest hills, but some of the easier hills I ran. I kept telling myself that runners who want to beat 7 hours don’t walk when they can run. At the 25 mile aid station I was very confident. I knew that if the wheels didn’t fall off I would easily beat 7 hours. At the 28 mile aid station I realized that if I pushed myself to the finish, not only would I beat 7 hours, I would beat 6:30. Fueled by pure adrenaline I ran most of the way to the finish except for the toughest hills. When I saw a sign that said ½ mile to go I started getting severe cramps and spasms in my inner thigh. So close and now some dumb cramp is going to cripple me. No way! I pushed on and when I could first see the clock at the finish it read 6:28. I had to run past it a short way and then turn back toward it. As I finished it read 6:30 and some seconds. I was overcome with emotion. All that hard work paid off.

During the run a volunteer along the course asked if we were lovin’ the hills yet. I said I don’t know about love, I’d call it more a deep admiration and respect. You have to respect those hills. Last year those hills chewed me up. This year I feel like I took out a little sweet revenge on the hills.

There are links to the elevation chart, videos of the course, and LLTH blog at the Headfirst Performance website. A big thanks to all the volunteers, the race directors, and the Cherokee Road Runners for putting on a great event.

Be Bop Triple Bop

Bop to the Top was a blast! I did the 37 floor stair climb three times and got a little faster each time. Only 34 people signed up to do it three times. Of those 29 finished. I was 7th over all. Had I done the single stair climb I would have finished around 50th out of more than 1100. I had never done this before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping to complete each climb in about 7 minutes. First climb 5:46, 2nd 5:41, 3rd 5:37. I was feeling pretty good at that point. The T.S. Eliot quote was running through my mind; “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” After the Bop I returned home and ran 3 miles. After which I felt totally spent. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that I was interviewed by a news guy from a local TV station. It was fun and I don’t think I sounded too dumb, but it didn’t make their newscast. I’m checking to see if I can get a copy of it. If I do I’ll post it here; that is if I don’t look too silly. You can see all the Bop results here.

Today though I feel really good. After church I went to NIFS for my first workout there and then ran 6 miles, 2 laps around the canal in downtown Indy. During the run I did 3 sets of 15 box jumps. Wow those box jumps kicked my butt. This Thursday I have an appointment with one of the trainers at NIFS. He’ll assess my fitness level, we’ll talk about my goals, and then he’ll help me set up a fitness program to achieve those goals.

I don’t want to sound too much like a Bowflex commercial, but this week I turned 45 years young and I’m in the best shape of my life. I have truly been blessed by God.