Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 Training Summary

In the month of April I ran:

33 times and logged 364 Miles
Longest Run - 38 miles
Shortest Run - 4 miles
Max HR in training - 179
Min Resting HR - 35 (April 28th)

Total miles for first four months of 2009: 1279
Monthly average: 320

We'll see if May has 400 miles in it.

Off to Michigan Bluff tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow up on 100 Mile prerequisite

I want to thank everyone for all of their comments on my 100 mile prerequisite post. I was happy to see such a range of opinion. Clearly, there is a good deal of interest in the topic and the breadth of responses gave me quite a bit of data. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the Western States Board will change their entry requirements and I certainly respect their rationale for having the requirements that they do. In the end, it's just fun bouncing the ideas around.

So, in that context, here is the idea I almost wrote about "How to Make Western States a better race."

Get rid of the automatic entry for the previous year's top-10 men and women and instead create a formula based on percentages. Here's my idea:

Automatic entries for the following year will be provided to all runners who finish within 15% of the winner's time in both the men's and women's races. Here's an example taken from the 2007 men's race:

Winning time in the men's race was 16:12 (972 minutes approx). In this formula every man with a finishing time below 18:45 (1118 minutes approx) would qualify for the race the next year.

What this would do is provide incentive for runners to push hard regardless of place knowing that their next year's entry would be contingent upon how far behind the winner they were. It would also create a bit of race day intrigue as qualifying would be a moving target from year to year.

Of course, I chose not to do this in my original post because I am less convinced it would make it a better race but I thought I'd throw it out there since I am pretty much thinking of nothing else but Western States these days.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Turning Point

For the past five years I have been lucky enough to gain entry into Western States. In 2004 I got in through the lottery and since then I've "earned" my way in through top-10 finishes. What all this has meant, aside from total obsession with the race, is that much of my life has been designed around training for the event. Even last year, when it was canceled, my spring was totally dominated by the Race.

In the past few years I have noticed a pattern in all this. Come around Patriot's Day my body, mind, and even, dare I say, my spirit, undergoes a Turning Point. It's a bit like that point when your body goes anaerobic on a speed session or that moment you switch over to fat burning in the glycogen depletion phase of the training cycle, you can't really explain why it's happening but you know it when it does. It's a full life experience and one which I love. There are also several tell-tale signs that the Turning Point has been reached. In no particular order here are the top-6:

1. No matter how hard I try I cannot stay awake past 10:00PM, ever...
2. Every time I walk up stairs I feel an eerily pleasant aching in my legs that makes me want to go back down the stairs to feel it again
3. I drive my family crazy because even though winter is over I still keep the heat on in my car while it's 80 degrees outside.
4. I dream about the descent into El Dorado Canyon and the climb up to Green Gate.
5. I check the long, long, long range forecast for Auburn, CA attempting to gain any insight into the weather patterns hoping that by race day it will be 110 at Placer High School
6. In planning my daily runs I try to see how much downhill I can get to trash my quads while still working hard

There may be more but if this post is any indication, I've reached my Turning Point for this year. Have you reached yours?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top-10 Reasons you might be from Eugene

10. You are proud to hail from the "Berkeley of the north."
9. You don't understand why all the Californians are moving to Oregon and none of them are even visiting Eugene.
8. You subscribe to all of the Oregon newspapers not because the writing is good but because stuffing them in your shoes prevents moss from growing in them.
7. When you visit other, normal cities, you refuse to ride your bike because there are no bike lanes for you to travel peacefully in.
6. You think the Civil War is a football game and not an actual war
5. You know The Country Fair is not really, well, um, an actual country fair.
4. Bark is not a sound dogs make but what you run on
3. You don't actually run in any other cities because they have inhospitable surfaces like dirt and pavement rather than beloved bark. You often wonder why those guys, "just don't get it."
2. Your Chamber of Commerce is tied in knots wondering why everyone goes to Bend and Ashland leaving Eugene aside like a cold, wet sock.
1. You lose sleep wondering if anyone ever from Eugene will manage to finish ahead of AJW at Western States.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shoe Review - Inov8 Roclite 320

I must admit that when Inov8 first came onto the American Ultrarunning scene I was skeptical. I was certainly intrigued by the concept of low-slung, minimalist shoes but I was doubtful about the way this type of shoe would hold up over 100 miles and how my feet would feel after 16-20 hours in this shoe.

The Roclite 320 proved my skepticism wrong. After receiving my first pair in January, 2008 I took them on runs of all types -- smooth dirt roads, rugged rocky trails, cross-country scree scrambles, even the track. Again and again the 320 was up to the task. Sporting a bit of a beefier sole than some of Inov8's whisperlite models, the 320 proved to be a great ultrarunning shoe. Admittedly, the small toe box can cause some folks problems, however, if you have narrow or average feet the 320 will fit like a slipper and hold up over hundreds of hard trail of miles.

I have now run three 100 mile races in the 320 and each one has provided proof of the 320's excellent durability and top-notch performance.

In Vermont's hot, humid conditions they were simply outstanding. Transitioning from dirt roads to muddy trails was barely noticeable and the upper was surprisingly airy on a very tough day. It is the rare shoe that can perform equally well in mud as it can in dust. The 320 is one such shoe.

Over Wasatch's rocky and mountainous technical terrain the 320 was stable, strong, and supportive. On the brutal stretch after Brighton known affectionately as "Irv's Torture Chamber" the tread was sticky and firm and by the end I finished the race without a single blister.

Then, just this past February, the 320 once again came up big at the Rocky Raccoon 100. Over substantially different terrain than Vermont and Wasatch (more roots and water and fewer rocks and mountains) the 320 made it's mark as a "runner's" shoe. This was the first 100 in which I literally ran every step and it was there for me every step of the way.

For those of you out there who might be shying away from Inov8 as a long distance shoe I urge you to give the 320 a try. It's durability, stablility and all-around utility make it the perfect ultra shoe from my perspective and I look forward to putting some serious miles on them over the next few months as I prepare for and run the Western States/Hardrock Double.

Train well!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

AR 50 Results

Just heard from Julie in California.

Top-3 men were:

1. Max King 6:04
2. Dave Mackey 6:12
3. Chikare Omine 6:13

The super-stacked WS field just got more stacked!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An idea to make Western States a better race

In my opinion, the Western States Endurance Run is the premier 100-mile race in the world. As such, it annually draws an extraordinarily competitive field of runners eager to test themselves against the best in the sport.

At the same time, the event has a rich history of egalitarianism. Run a qualifier, get picked in the lottery, and train your butt off. Assuming the planets line up, anyone who wants to run and is patient enough to wait out the process they can run on hallowed ground with the best in the sport. That, to me, is a great thing.

However, one aspect of the eligibility requirement that deserves reconsideration is the qualifying standard. To make the race better while still honoring the beloved history and tradition of the event I suggest that race administration require every registered entrant to complete a 100-mile trail race as a prerequisite to running the Western States Endurance Run.

In the early years of ultrarunning there were only a handful of 100-mile races to choose from. Today, these races form the foundation of the sport. Indeed, Wasatch, Leadville, Vermont, Angeles Crest, Hardrock and a few others stand as testimony to the staying power of well-run, highly successful 100-mile races. However, in addition to these “majors” there are currently over 50 100-mile races to choose from in North America. In fact, there are few weekends a year during which there is not a 100-mile race being run. The ease of finding a race in which to qualify is Reason #1 to consider the 100 Mile prerequisite.

Reason #2 is a bit more complex. Western States is a 100 Mile Endurance Run. As such, it is quite a bit different than its shorter, and equally popular, counterparts in the 50K, 50 mile and 100K distances. Just ask anyone who’s ever run a 100 miler what the difference is between a 50 and a 100. The answers will amaze you. In short, if you boil down the data, it will not be like comparing two different events it will be like comparing two entirely different sports.

In my 13 year ultrarunning career I have started (and finished) 21 100-mile races including 5 Western States’. While each race has been a unique experience, what they all have in common is the unknown aspect of the last 30 miles. Even after running 100 miles 21 different times I never know what’s in store for me after Cal 2 at WS, or Brighton at WF, or Chantry at AC, or Camp Ten Bear 2 at VT. I love that about 100 milers but it’s also what makes them different, mysterious and capricious.

I am suggesting that on the sport’s greatest stage, it would be best if every competitor knows the post-70 mile feeling prior to experiencing it at Western States.

Would you really want to play your first ever round of golf at Augusta National or have your first ever horse race at Churchill Downs? Indeed, you are not legally permitted to run your first marathon at Boston so why not make Western States something you need to earn? It could still be entirely egalitarian. In fact, it might be even more so when everyone on the starting line would have experienced, at least once, what it’s like to run down the trail at night with trashed quads on blistered feet feeling like they’re about to puke. It may be just me but that stuff doesn’t happen in 50 milers and 100k’s.

Perhaps I am being elitist. Perhaps, as a 100-mile guy, I am playing to my bias. If so, I am guilty as charged. However, I believe the essence of the race can be maintained and even enhanced by changing this aspect of the qualifying standard. I have not done the research but I have a hunch that there are a large number of runners out there who have started and not finished one 100-miler in their lives. My guess is that many of those runners have had that experience at Western States.

As egalitarian as the race wishes to be (and I support that notion 100%). 100-mile racing is not for everyone. Take a look at the record sometime. Take a look at the number of fast 50k, 50 mile and 100k runners who simply can’t get it done in a 100 miler. I don’t mean to be mean or rude to those people I am just pointing to the data. There are 7 hour 50 milers out there who have tried, and failed, in every 100 miler they’ve entered. Seems to me a 100-mile prerequisite would fix that.

I know this suggestion will not be popular with those folks out there who want to run Western States as their once-in-a-lifetime experience. In fact, those people may be pretty upset with me right now. They might be saying,

“Who the heck is this jerk spouting off about 100-mile prerequisites. Not everyone can hop off the couch, drop everything in their life, and run 100 miles.”

I know, I know. I get that. But, I am also saying that this is THE Western States Endurance Run -- the best 100-mile race in the world. To make it even better, make everyone run 100 miles somewhere else first. The race, and the sport, would be better for it.

This is the 3rd installment of the 2009 Western States Synchroblog Project. See what other ideas my fellow synchrobloggers have to make Western States better.