Monday, April 23, 2012

Heat training, gear testing

Training this weekend did not live up to my goals but next weekend will be different.  I took it easy during the week to give my knee time to feel better and I focused on stretching my hip flexors thinking that may help.  The plan for Saturday was to do an 8 hour run; however, as the forecast got less running-friendly, I wondered if we would make it 8 hours.  I decided to set up a race simulation; we took ice, "ultra" food (pb&j, orange slices, bananas) and bandanas and I picked a flat, mostly dirt trail (Santiago Creek Trail) that connects Irvine Regional Park to Santiago Oaks Park.  We parked so that we had easy access to the car and I showed Alan the 3 mile loop. 

I was using the run as a way to test out my new CW-X 3/4 length Pro tights and Hokas.  We decided to take it very easy and work with the heat.  After the first couple of loops, we parted ways and I decided to venture off the loop through some cool single track areas.  My knee and hip were okay and I cruised along making sure to keep my pace very slow.  I planned on heading to the car every 6 miles to put ice in the bandana and fill up my water bottle with ice and water.  I am bad about nutrition so I focused on taking a salt pill every hour, drinking water, and eating.  I discovered that I love Honey Stinger Organic yummy and I feel good about eating them since they are organic and I've discovered my body processes real sugar better than the crap in other energy sources.

As the heat intensified (upper 80s in the shade/felt like 90s due to clear skies), I also felt my hip and knee bugging. Around mile 19 for me, I felt the knee pain kicking in and decided to spend most of the next hours walking.  Oddly, my calves were feeling very heavy.  I wondered if it was because I skipped on the calf compression so I decided to put those on the next time I went to the car. 

I caught up to Alan and decided to do the loop with him; his back was hurting during the week and it was starting to bother him so we made the decision to call it after the loop.  It's a good thing I was with him because I saw the biggest snake I've seen in years; thankfully, I was ahead of Alan because he hates snakes and I had him stop before he could even see the snake crossing the path.  That solidified our plan to end early.  By the time I got back to the car, my calves were aching so much that it hurt to walk.  It took a half hour of propping up my legs before the swelling and pain subsided.  I realized that the tights may be so snug that they cut off circulation in my lower leg...I definitely need to figure out if wearing calf compression plus the tights rectifies that issue.  I love how the tights feel on my hips and knee but may have been better off buying the full ones instead of the 3/4. 

Mileage tally for the day was only 24.:(  But I felt great during a short run on Sunday, so I know next weekend holds promise for training and I can't wait.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dirt, please

Training for Nanny Goat is different since I am training with my fiance.  Normally, I would hit the trails and savor and curse the long climbs and put in 20+ miles feeling great and happy.  He does not share the same love for trails and, more importantly, is not comfortable trying to put in long hours on trails alone; we do part of the long runs together but as the miles get longer, we tend to do the same route/area but separately since our paces are different.  I am protective of him and know that he is truly a city boy so I plan our runs in areas that he is more comfortable.  Unfortunately, that means running on pavement and without significant hills more than I prefer.

A few weekends ago, we did a 6 hour run and the heat wiped us out.  It was the toughest run yet and I attribute part of it to being on/near pavement and the freeway for so long; the route that we did included out/backs on a bike path beside the 405...yeah, that sucked.  I tried to run on the gravel areas beside the pavement as much as possible and then ditched him and went to the trails nearby for the last half.  I felt so much better and managed to eek out about 32 miles in 5 and half hours; not exactly what I hoped for but given the temps in the upper 80s and blazing sunlight, I chalked it up to a learning experience.

Last weekend I aimed for a double - 15 to 20 miles Saturday and then 30 on trails the following day.  Saturday I decided to do an out/back on the bike path so that I would see Alan coming home (he started his run several hours before me); that meant running on pavement and very hard packed dirt/gravel the entire route.  My always nagging left hip flexor got tight around mile 10 but I refused to stop and stretch; by mile 18, it completely threw off my gait and my knee was so bad that I could barely stride.  I finished with 20 miles but knew that I had to take a couple of days off.  It was defeating to have this nagging issue flare up again and made me reassess whether accomplishing my goal at Nanny Goat will even be possible.

I have been stretching religiously (as always), foam rolling using every method found on youtube, and wearing a knee brace.  I have severely limited my running this week but noticed that the softer the surface, the better I feel.  On yesterday's run, I felt so great when I was running on dirt trails as the short section on pavement caused knee pain and I felt no pain on dirt; maybe it was the surface or maybe it was the new CW-X tights but whatever it was, I want to stick to dirt for training.  So my motto apparently is going to be "dirt, please."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Into the Wild 21K Report

I am very behind in blogging but I have to recap an awesome race that we did a few weeks ago.  On March 24, my fiance and I ran Into the Wild's 21K at Irvine and Santiago Oaks Regional Parks.  I read reviews about last year's race and it seemed well-run, so I signed us up for it a few months ago.  A week before the race, we went to pick up our bibs at REI; I was very impressed with the T-shirts and goody bags.

The morning of the race, we arrived early and enjoyed free admission to the Irvine Regional Park.  I loved the low-key atmosphere of the race and that it was obvious that the race organizers were runners who had family members helping out with race details.  The race started on time after the RD gave an introduction and told us how the course was marked. 

The first mile was on pavement and then we hit the trail; the RD told us that the first few miles were flat and that we hit the climbs from miles 4-10, and that the last miles were downhill and flat.  We cruised along, taking it very easy as this was run 1 of 2 of the day for us (yep, double necessary to get in distance needed for the day).  We left Irvine Park and entered Santiago Oaks Park; I was very impressed with the trail marking.  Not only did they use ribbons and chalk, but they had large XXX to prevent us from turning on the wrong trail anytime a new trail (even a very obviously wrong on) was encountered. 

 Near the beginning- heading out of Irvine Regional Park


 Gorgeous scenery in Santiago Oaks Park
 After first or second climb - view in Santiago Oaks

The markings were super clear!

The race became very scenic and the hills were no joke; before the race, I doubted the estimated 2900 ft of climb but the race made me realize they were not exaggerating the amount of climb.  We took it very easy on the climbs and, by the last one, we were with other people who were also joking that the RDs found every possible climb in the park.  I was happy that the hills were done and enjoyed the downhill and then flat last few miles.

The houses in the background are the only way to know you are near a city.  The climb was worth the view.

The only negatives of the race were the lack of aid stations and the seemingly endless run on pavement at the end; however, I am accustomed to being prepared for few aid stations during a race and the finish was designed to make sure we hit at least 21K.  There was aid at mile 1 and 12 and then around mile 7 (I think); the RD said water was stashed around mile 10.5 but that they had already dealt with random people taking part of it so he could not guarantee it would still be there; we were mid-pack so I knew not to look hard for that unmanned water.  The aid stations and post-race aid area were well stocked with tons of ultra/trail goodies and the volunteers and co-RD were awesome at manning those stations.

Overall, I highly recommend this race and any other ones they organize.  It was the best marked course I have seen and the trails were very pretty.  The medal and other goodies were high quality and it was obvious that the RDs worked hard at giving everyone a superb race experience. 

Love the medals - they can be taken off and used as keychains!

Post-race, we stretched and grabbed some fuel; then we drove to UCI to buy organic veggies at the Farmer's Market.  Then, we immediately headed out for our second run.  I knew a flat section of dirt that was about 1 mile out; so we separated and did out/back on that path until we hit at least 13 miles.  I "learned" the importance of fueling and carrying water as the afternoon hit took a toll and I wished that I had water with me.  In the end, I hit 28 miles for the day and my legs felt the hills but I loved the trail run, so I was a happy girl!