Sunday, May 30, 2010

Last major "training" before SD 100

With my first 100 miler only 2 weeks away, I know I'm walking a fine line between cramming in training runs and staying healthy. I felt great after last weekend's 14/30 training runs and considered 40/10-20 this weekend with about 80 miles for the week...thankfully, I revised that over the week.

I took it easy during the week, taking Monday off to let my legs rest and keeping to the Quail Hill trail for just 6 miles on Tuesday. My legs felt tired and I realized that I must make rest a priority. Wednesday was about 11 miles taking the same route I did last week and I felt sluggish and then strong; I was surprised that my average pace was about 30 seconds/mile faster than last week; I guess trail running is getting easier. Thursday was just 8 miles along Bommer Ridge/Willow (Laguna Wilderness park) as I discovered how to connect my typical running route with Aliso Wood park; I'll have to do a long run through those trails soon. Friday was a rest day since battling horrendous traffic left no time to run.

Saturday's plan was for 40 miles but I awoke feeling a little under the weather and I knew it would be sunny and in the low 80s, not exactly the best running weather for a wimp like me. I finally got to my typical parking place around 8:30 am and decided I'd go for 30-40 miles. Fortunately, I ran into a running acquaintance, Bill, who has lots of 100 mile finishes under his belt and has been a good source of information in the past. He's running SD 100 and has also been dealing with injury since Orange Curtain.

We compared running plans and he strongly urged me to keep my run under 35 miles, with 30 being the most he'd recommend so close the race. He said 40 miles so close would be risking injury and not giving my body enough time to recover; the additional 10 miles would not give as much benefit as potential harm. I trusted his advice and revised my running plan...I considered running with him for part but was dealing with my new ankle brace (Aircast 60...doesn't fit me bueno) digging into my leg and didn't want him to wait for me to begin. So we parted ways and I embarked on my second solo 30 miler. This was my last major test of gear and I tried out my new handheld, the Nathan Thermal Quickdraw.

Aside from the pain of the brace digging into my ankle, the miles ticked by quickly and I focused on taking it easy and not running anything uphill. I feel like a wuss walking such "little hills" but I know the cumulative effect of uphills over a long run makes walking the best plan. I did a similar route to last week but ended up trying out some new little trails.

Route ended up being Bommer Ridge to Willow to the parking lot, back up Willow to Laurel to Upper Laurel to Serrano Ridge to where it ends at Quail Trail...turned around and go back along Serrano Ridge down to Little Sycamore to Nix Nature Center (filled handheld) and back up to to Serrano Ridge to Camarillo for about 1.5 miles (that trail ends at Nix and I didn't care to go back there) back up to Serrano to Upper Laurel to Laurel to Bommer to El Moro for a mile down/up and back to car (another fill of handheld) down No Name to where it ends in El Moro parking lot and back up to how I can connect lots of different trails to make the route! Ended with 30 miles in 6 hours of run time...about 6:12 including the two water refill breaks.

Post-run...I typically hate carrying a handheld because of the added weight but I love how I can carry this in a variety of ways and it doesn't bother my hand/arm as much. I felt better during the run as I paid more attention to fueling consistently. My average pace was 12 min/mile, which wasn't bad considering the sun/warmer temps made me hot and sluggish. I know I'm very unprepared for SD 100 but the past two weeks have given me hope of finishing it. My legs felt great today; I just have to figure out what ankle brace to wear as I have a huge bruised area from my new one.

Less than 2 weeks...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend of trails and snakes

Can I go from 0 to 100 in 3 weeks? That's what I'm trying to determine and last week and weekend left me no closer to figuring that out but closer to getting back in trail running shape. After tweaking my ankle last weekend, I took Monday and Tuesday off from land running and spent time in the pool. I swear that pool running is incredible therapy for recovering from sprains and injuries. My ankle felt better and the bruising around my tibia subsided. I get poking around at sore spot (one doc was concerned about) and realized it was not a bone issue; instead, the anterior tibial tendon had a lump in it. I did some excruciatingly painful deep massage on the area and it started to feel better. With the thought of a possible stress fracture out of my mind, I cautiously took to the trails.

Wednesday I did a gentle, easy trail run on the Quail Trail, one that I discovered last week. Only about 600 feet of climb (mostly in two climbs) and a mixture of fire road and single-track for a 5 mile out/back made for a nice test run. I wore my Aircast to prevent spraining and to help healing, something I'm going to be doing for a long time! Thursday I did the same run, except I continued past the Quail Trail to Serrano Ridge (trail part of Laguna Woods) and loved it! The views were fantastic and I got in some gentle rolling hills and took some pictures. Another out/back for a total of 10.1 miles and 1400 feet of climbing. Best of all, no ankle issues!

Newly opened and I got to be one of the first to discover this little jewel

A view from Serrano Ridge...then time to put camera away and focus on running!

A pink ribbon along the way...where's Billy?!

Friday was a rest day because I was getting sick. :( Saturday I awoke with a fever, the feeling of knives sticking in my throat, and overall ickiness. But I knew I needed to get in some miles so eventually I made my way to the Ridge Park entrance to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The fever made running harder, as did my taking two new trails and discovering what goes down steeply must come back in, straight up! I took Bommer Ridge across/down, with my first snake encounter early in the run, to Big Bend and then climbed back out of Big Bend (holy smokes!). I then continued on Bommer Ridge until I got to Laguna Bowl Road and took that trail (very sandy at times) down to the end, while thinking how much of pain it would be to climb back out...yep, it was and I got my second snake encounter on the trip up. I haven't done climbs that steep in a year and they, combined with my sickiness, made the run challenging. However, I had hoped to make it through 6 miles and I wound up with 14 miles and about 2400 feet of climb.

Sunday I still felt sick but I was determined to get in 30 miles on the trails, even if it took me all day and night! I decided to combine some trails run previously, leaving out Big Bend and Laguna Bowl Road. I started at Ridge Park, ran along Bommer Ridge to Willow and ran down Willow for some technical training. The climb back up was easier than when I first did it months ago but I could feel my butt burning from Saturday's run. I turned on Laurel to Upper Laurel trail and did the slight up/down until I got to where it goes under the toll road to connect to Serrano Ridge. An out/back on Serrano Ridge, with a quick out/back on West Cayon (will explore another day) and I was at about 14 miles. However, I had only consumed 1 ShotBlok at that point and I realized I was behind on nutrition, though I had taken a salt pill every hour.

Emerald Canyon...very pretty single-track and very green- too green!

I hate snakes...and wonder what kind of snake is this one????

I contemplated going back to the car and refilling my water but decided to run down Emerald Canyon trail first; I ran down until it became gorgeous single-track; I loved it until I got sick of dodging what looked like endless bushes of posion oak (or something with leaves in thress) lining the trail; I turned around to go back up and had my third snake encounter of the weekend; feeling braver, I hopped over its tail and kept on my merry way. I started to feel very tired heading up and realized I needed more fuel so I sucked down a raspberry Cliff Shot and waited for it to kick in. I ran along Bommer Ridge (or more accurately, hiked the ups and jogged) towards my car. I hit my car around mile 19.5 and filled up water and realized I needed to start drinking more and eating more to finish the mileage.

I ran down No Name trail to the end, ran back up and then back down to add mileage, ran down/up some random trail, and then started to head back to Ridge Park. Extreme lethargy set in and my legs felt so spent that I had to pause to catch myself; I had flashbacks of my last 50K and realized I needed sugar; I took another Shot Block and it kicked in enough for me to get back to the top. I was at mile 28 and I decided to resist the temptation of stopping and ran past my car for another out/back. 30 miles done, 5350 feet of climb in a little over 6 hours. My legs were beat and I was starving! Note to self: eat more during a run!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Old Trails, New Trails

Last week I was stoked to hit some easy trails around the Quail Hill part of Irvine, off the 405 at Sand Canyon.  I ran the dirt trail along Sand Canyon a couple of weeks ago and decided to try the Quail Hill loop, which is about 1.8 miles and only has a 250 foot hill.  A few loops of it in the sunny, warm afternoon made me want my climbing legs back.  I enjoyed finding a new easy trail that I could combine with the dirt path for some easy, after work runs.  Looking online at the Irvine Open Space Preserve wesbite, I noticed there are some more open-to-the-public trails in the area and planned on venturing on those this week.

But first, I had to make it through the weekend.   I planned on getting up at 3am Saturday to run 4-5 hours before heading to a traditional Chinese wedding ritual with my boyfriend's family; however, I felt sick in the morning and had to forgo the run. :(  Sunday I waited until noon to head to the Ridge Park entrance to Crystal Cove park/El Moro/Laguna Woods; I was hoping to get in some heat training and test out my gear and new shoes (Mizuno Wave Ascends, the shoes I'm considering wearing as my 2nd or 3rd pair during the 100 miler).  However, it was overcast/foggy and that kept temps low; wearing Moeben sleeves and UD Wasp hydration pack made me sweat like a pig (uh-oh, need to hit the sauna for heat training ASAP).

Look silly and probably sillier posing in bathroom to take pic!

I planned on 20-30 miles and taking it very slowly, walking anything uphill and being careful on the downhills.  I decided to head down (and up/down the rollers) No Name Trail, a trail I'd never explored.  After a few miles, I had to fiddle with my insoles as my custom orthotics were sliding around...that didn't work and I had to deal with them again after running back up the trail to my car.  Glad the plan of the day was to experiment as 6 miles and 2 adjustments to shoes/orthotics is something I want now, not during a race.  I took off along Bommer Ridge trail and decided to take it until it ends...I ended up doing that and going out/back along Laguna Bowl Road trail and the Water Tank Road trail.  I loved taking in the sights and feeling stronger on the trails than I have in so many months!

Loved running through flowers so much had to take a pic!

An incredible view of the ocean!  I love this place!

However, I was dealing with pain at the front of my ankle.  Thursday's 11 miler I had worn an ankle brace with adjustable velcro straps and developed a sore spot/bruised area in that region either from the brace or from when I rolled it.  It got progressively worse and wearing a brace on Sunday, I felt the pain get so bad that I had to stop after those out/backs to rub the area (ouch!!!) and remove the brace.  I had fiddled with it a few times during the run and it seemed less painful when it was not on the tender spot. 

After about a mile sans-ankle brace, I felt some relief from the excruciating pain so I decided to make the run 20 miles, not the 18 I had decided on when I removed the brace.  To add the additional 2 miles, I ventured down El Moro trail for short out/back; on way back, I was feeling great running uphill...until my left ankle landed in a sandy area and buckled under me; I landed on the ground and yelled some choice words as pain shot through my ankle and leg.  I gingerly stood up and was relieved that I could walk on it; in fact, I was able to jog most of the way back to my car, even on the uphill sections.  Big plus= running hills was easier that late in a run that it was early in a run a couple of weeks ago!  Big negative= my ankle hurt like hell later and the bruised area seemed to initiate from the bone. 

I loved being on some new trails, feeling stronger on trails than I have in a long time (though the total elevation gain was only 3100 for 20 miles...not exactly that tough!) let's hope the ankle issue is just a minor tweak.  Monday was my typical follow-up with Dr.Marcus and he was not that worried about the twisted/swollen part of the ankle; he did some tests on the bruised region and mentioned a MRI to rule out a stress fracture; I told him how I bruise without knowing why quite often and we decided to wait on the MRI.  I am to monitor the area, wear my AirCast all the time (had it off during run), and see him again next week.

I'll update later this week on how it's feeling as I put it to the test today....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Trying to bounce back...

The past two weeks have been tough.  I spent the week after spraining it nursing it like mad; I iced almost every hour I was awake and not driving; I drove with my leg propped on the car door to reduce swelling and I used the crutches because I knew putting weight on it was a bad idea.  Teaching was tough and I had to take one day off because I awoke during the night in excruciating pain.  I spent much of the week wondering if I had a stress fracture that was not visible on the blurry x-rays.  But I did not lose hope that it would heal quickly.  I got in the pool daily and pool ran, something I think helped speed up the healing process; I think the water pressure helped ease the edema because I noticed the swelling would go down after being in the pool.  I know pool running helped me stay sane as I needed to get rid of stress and running is my normal means of doing that.  By Saturday I was still wearing the air cast but went without crutches.  I began range of motion exercises (pointing/flexing toes, inversion and eversion) during the week and felt all of that helped the healing process.

How it looked one week after spraining it...

Sunday I saw my friends after they raced the OC marathon/half-marathon and it made me more eager to run.  Monday I went back to Dr. Marcus (best podiatrist ever) and laughed when the first thing he asked was if I ran the OC marathon; he obviously knows runners!!!  He examined the ankle, noted one area where it's still swollen (the area that worried me), approved my request to continue pool running and start walking.  I didn't ask about doing rehab exercises because I forgot but I figured what I was doing was okay.  The swelling has remained in that one spot but I assume that's part of the healing process and I keep reminding myself that it was a bad enough sprain where it will take more than 2 weeks to heal.

Tuesday I walked two miles on the treadmill and pool ran; walking I felt the ankle stiffness and wondered how it would feel the next day.  Wednesday it did not feel worse so I decided to pool run and go for 3 miles...with about a 13 min/mile pace...with a few jog intervals.  Yes, I suck at the whole walking on a treadmill thing.  Thursday I was exhausted but felt lazy so I hit the TM again for 3 miles...and jogged 2.5 miles of it with incline of 4-5%....I think I'll just say I walked really fast, like those speedwalkers in the Olypics...oh wait, they walk faster than I run!  Friday I went to the TM at my apartment gym and some guy was on it; feeling too lazy to walk across the street (literally less than 0.1 miles) to 24 hour fitness, I decided to go run outside Garminless...about 4 miles later I returned home after forgetting to walk any of it and landing weird on the gravel path, causing pain in the still bruised area near my heel.  Yes, I'm stubborn (that's nice way of putting it...).

Today I put in my 90 minute pool run (way more boring that it was a few weeks ago).  I had plans with my boyfriend to go for a hike today but he was tired this morning and we decided to postpone that.  But when he called and asked if I wanted to go for a walk or run, I jumped at the chance.  I decided to check out a new trail in Sand Canyon/Quail Hollow, one that I'd heard is relatively flat (some rollers, each w/about 150ft climb- so flat compared to SD100!) and runs beside a bike path in Irvine; in other words, one that is pretty easy.  We decided to do 2 miles out/back.  I took my camera to snap a few picks and tried to keep the pace slow...I did that for one mile, the one where I was taking pics.  After that, I enjoyed the rolling hills and found myself struggling to keep my pace in check.  The trail was also gutted in places and had sandbags so I was VERY careful not to repeat my performance from two weeks ago!  I ended up adding a mile to my run and the 5 miles (avg 8:52) in the heat made me realize how little endurance I have now. :(  Ankle is a little sore and swollen so I'm babying it tonight.

Beautiful day for a run with the one I love!!!  How could I resist?!

Til next time...