How was your week?

Now with the run only about 5 weeks away, my preparation is as much about heat training as it is mileage.  Luckily, it’s getting hot here in St. Louis.  A question I get more and more is: How are you training for a run like this?  Do you have to run a million miles a week? Not quite…

While I don’t do the same thing every week, this past week is as close to “typical” as I’ll get.  Going forward, the mileage will probably taper off a bit (although I’m going out to Death Valley this coming weekend to run different sections for a total of 40-50 miles) as we get closer, and I’ll focus on just being in a heated environment to round out my training.  So far this year, I’ve run over 860 miles, and knock on wood, my body is still holding up!

Sunday- Double duty today because I had to go out of town for a conference. So, I ran 8 miles in the morning with no heat load (basically running like everyone else out there).  I was lucky that the hotel I was staying in had a dry sauna, so I spent an hour in a 150 degree sauna.  I took breaks (to go out and get water) totaling 1 min 30 sec, so stayed in the extra 1:30 at the end to get a full 60 in the heat.  Oh, and I read a few articles and did 100 crunches while I was in there (you’d be surprised how boring sitting in a sauna for an hour can be).

Monday- Usually it’s a “rest” day, and the conference was sponsoring a 2 mile fun run, so I did that and not much else.

Tuesday- A more serious day than Mondays in general.  My goal was to do 10 miles with a “medium” heat load (basically a long sleeve running shirt and sweatpants inside).  I gave myself credit for the 2 miles from the previous day, so did 8, but was sweating quite a bit, so felt like I had done what I needed to do.  The only problem was that the conference started at 7:30 eastern time, so to get it done I had to get up about 3:30 local time.  I’ve seen 5 hour, but do they sell 15 hour energy?

Wednesday- Max heat load day.  10 miles starting at a 1% grade for mile 1, 2% for mile 2, etc. up to the halfway point and 5% at mile 5, then dropping by 1% down to mile 10.  Total elevation gain- 1320 feet.  For this, I was in my wetsuit pants, thermal top, silver pvc suit, thermal gloves and thermal hat. I got the room up to 85 degrees and got going. Gloves and hat lasted the first three miles, then I had to get rid of them. After 6 miles, i had to take off the silver top and stop the heater, but kept everything else on. After 8 miles, I turned the heater back on and put the silver pvc top back on for the last 2 miles. I took three 2-3 minute breaks during the time, but stayed in the room.  Overall, it took me 2 hours 46 minutes to do 10 miles.  Hot and slow…

That’s meant to be a smile!

Thursday- Light head load, 10 miler.  Because of time constraints, I had to break it up into a 6 mile run in the morning and 4 miles at night.  Strangely, I felt much better running today than yesterday!  So much so that I ran my fastest 6 miles ever taking just over 48 minutes for an 8:04 pace.  4 miles on the treadmill at a 9:15 pace finished the day.Friday- Sauna again.  160 degrees, no crunches, just getting through it.  Brought in a book- The Heart and the Fist.  Great story about a guy from St. Louis and his experiences before and after becoming a Navy Seal.

Saturday- 20 miles.  Half outside with no heat load, half inside with medium heat load, but a bit of a climb…Did the first 10 running through the Loop and Clayton.  Then back home for 2 miles at no incline, and then 8 miles at an 8 degree incline to simulate the climb to Father Crowley Point.  The climb starts at mile 72.3 and 1,970 feet and goes to mile 80.2 and 4,000 feet.  I ramped the heat up to 91 degrees, full nylon sweatsuit and gritted it out.  The 8 mile climb I did at an 18 min/mile average.  A combination of running and walking (oh and sweating a bit too)

Sunday- Tomorrow, I have a 10 mile run in the heat of the day.  It’s supposed to be 96 tomorrow, so no worries about getting enough heat!

So, technically that’s 8 days, but hopefully you get the idea.  It seems like a lot, but I keep reminding myself that the kids have a real struggle, mine’s manufactured.  It keeps me moving forward.

Anything can happen on a run…

It may be cliche, but read the rest of this and then you tell me.  It all started innocently enough. Standing on the starting line at a 24 hour race in Iowa, my goal was to get at least 70 miles in, test out different fueling and gear, and not injure myself to the point where I couldn’t run Death Valley in July.  In other words, a typical weekend run.

I toed the starting line on a 1/4 mile track with 41 other runners, ranging in age from 19 to 65 at 7 AM Saturday morning.  The goal was to get as many miles in as possible in 24 hours, taking in 22 ounces of water, 300-400 calories and 600-1000 mg of salt every hour to keep my electrolytes in balance.  I had set up my own aid station, as had the others, stocked with what I thought would get me through the day-carbohydrate gels and drinks, recovery drinks for some protein, and “real” food (potatoes, pbj, ramen noodles) for later in the race.  My strategy was to try to maintain a 12 min/mile pace through the first 12 hours, get 60 miles in, and then, taking rest breaks, average 18 min/mile to get the remaining 40 miles and my 100.  In reality, anything over 70 was going to be a good run and a personal best, so I tried not to put too much pressure on the 100 at the outset.

The first few hours were run under a mostly cloudy sky, which kept the heat down and gave me some confidence that may have been misplaced.  As we moved past noon, however, the sun came out and a high of 77 felt a lot warmer.  My first mistake was realized about this time – my first 12 hours of carbs was basically all sweet-tasting.  I was taking in enough salt, but my stomach decided it was done after about 8 hours.  I couldn’t put another Gu packet in my mouth.  I ran on for about 2 hours on no additional food, drinking water from time to time and still taking the salt pills.  My body also tried to trick me into stopping.  First, the left hip started hurting, after an hour it went away.  Then, my right knee started acting up.  Again, in an hour or so, it had disappeared.  All of these games meant, however, by the time my pacer (aka Sandra) showed up, I was slow and feeling like crap.  She had brought McDonald’s cheeseburgers (330 calories and 800 mg sodium, so perfect!) and Ramen Noodles. She walked with me as I ate 1/2 a cheeseburger and then some Ramen, and I almost immediately began to feel better.  We restarted a run walk pattern, and I was able to get to 58 miles in the first 12 hours.  Not on pace, but not too bad.

The sun was down now and I was feeling better.  Averaging 11.5 min miles for the next 20 miles put me ahead of schedule.  About mile 80, both my feet started to hurt.  I had to stop from time to time and massage them both.  I switched out shoes, which didn’t help, and then switched them back.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had developed a blister under my big toenail on my left foot and under the little toenail on my right.  I had also strained a tendon in my foot, but all I knew was that it hurt.  By mile 88, I was averaging 18-20 min miles.  By the time my watch gave out, I was still within reach of 100, but every step was very painful.  About 22 hours in, 100 was slipping away.  I stopped again to rub my feet and decided to look at emails and pull some more strength from all the encouragement I was getting.  One e-mail caught my eye.  I read it, decided the race was over, called Sandra (waking her up at 5 am), and started packing up my things.

The e-mail was from our adoption lawyer.  Our birthmother was in labor in Salina, Kansas- 8 hours away, and our son was entering the world 3 weeks early.  Luckily my mother was home with our two year old son, so as we tried to decide what to do (detouring to St. Louis would have added another 4 hours to the trip), we called her and she immediately volunteered to stay longer and watch him.  We packed up the jeep.  I passed out and Sandra drove to Kansas.  We arrived 20 minutes before he was born and had him in our arms shortly after that. He’s the perfect addition to our family.  

When I think back to all the things that happened that have brought us to this point-deciding to check e-mail at that point; having Sandra at the race and having my mother at home so we were able to pick up and go; Patrick being 3 weeks early but waiting until we arrived before coming into this world-it reminds me of two things: 1-No matter how in control we think we are, we’re not, and 2-No matter what world you’re born into, everyone deserves a chance.  I love that we can give Patrick that chance and I hope that we can give the kids at SouthSide as much of a chance.  But hey, I’m not in control, right?

Take a break from reading!

Here are two short videos, one from my training session with the kids last year and one is a trailer for a movie about the first 135 miles I’ll be doing (the official race ends at the portal to Mt. Whitney, but I’ll be going the extra 11 miles and 6000 feet to the summit.  Hope you enjoy the videos!  I’m off to Iowa for a 24 hour race this weekend.  Check Twitter for my progress!

The first is my marathon training video:

The second is a short video I made about SouthSide last year

Both of these videos reference SSDN and donating through Causes.  If you feel compelled to give through Facebook, Causes is the way to do it

And the last is a video about the Badwater Race in 1999.  If you’re squeamish, don’t watch it! 🙂