Archive for runnin

Why I Hate Trail Runners

Since I’ve taken the last few months off from trail running, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to reflect on good memories of trail running.  Alternatively, here’s what I’ve learned that I hate about it.

  1. Trail runners don’t have any allies. Trail runners look down on both mountain bikers and road runners.  A minority might participate in mountain biking or road running; yet in a group setting, trail runners will transform into elitists.  I think they side best with hikers, only because hikers don’t bother nor threaten the trail runner.
  2. Like an American is doomed to side with either the Beatles or Elvis Presley, a trail runner can only respect Dean Karnazes or Scott Jurek. Slow trail runners naturally side with social inclusion in the sport (Karno).  Faster runners believe in a sort of sports as a form of one type of religion (Jurek).
  3. Trail runners like the idea of the outdoors, but they are ignorant to the physical reality or risk of it. Trail runners rarely carry the 10 essentials, have much back country skills, and tend to rely on others heavily (aid stations for hydration, nutrition, and safety like ham radio operators).
  4. Trail runners don’t understand the term “TRACK!!!” If you use this on a road run, you are much more likely to have a person instinctively and *quickly* move out of the way fast.  Whether you are  joking or serious is all in terms of use.  Trail runners are subject to the much more inefficient, “On your right/left,” and hence are much more lame.
  5. Salt tablets. Salt tablets are only used to help laborious efforts in sweat shop like conditions.
  6. All trail runners are old. There’s just not a lot of fresh blood in trail running.

I’m excited to get back on the trail and become lost in the delusions again (and hate roadies, again).


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Whoot, My Compensating Beam

I often run in the early morning, before the sun rises.  Since it’s dark, I usually wear a headlamp to keep my hands free to do what they do when you run.  I grew tired of replacing my AA batteries in my headlamp.

My first attempt to stop replacing my batteries were to use rechargeable batteries I had from an old camera.  For some reason, the rechargeable batteries would only work in my headlamp when I tested them, yet never when I needed them.  Frustrating!

I have a light from my mountain biking days.  The company that makes the light has an attachment to turn it from a bike headlight into a headlamp.  I decided I would buy the attachment, until I saw the price of $50.  That was beyond my breaking point.  So, I came up with the idea to attach the light to a visor.

I used a visor that Jimmy gave me for my birthday, Whoot!  This visor (by chance) is made out of a very durable plastic; I’m guessing HDPE or delron.  The rigidity of the material makes it very easy to attach zip ties to.  I used a 1/2″ PVC pipe so that I have the luxury of moving the headlamp angles.

I thought the headlamp was going to provide too much of a moment to keep from being super annoying while running.  I wore my headlamp for 4 hours while pacing a friend on Saturday night, and luckily, I was wrong about the large moment!

In the future, I may add a strap on top of the visor.  A strap on top will change the normal load from friction to a more static load.  But, it works just fine as is right now.

It makes sense that most headlamps are not as powerful as this one.  It would be painful to read glossy materials (magazines) with this headlamp; it is also awkward to have any form of a face-to-face conversation with this powerful of a headlamp.  However, for running (and mountain biking), the bright beam is perfect.  I bet the target audience for a traditional headlamp is Joe Camper, not a trail runner.

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The Luxurious Race Lifestyle

I am trying to reduce the amount I race this year.  The main reason for the reduction is that I don’t want racing to feel like the norm.  I want to build up the excitement and develop focus for the quest.

I don’t want a race to feel like a training event.  And, I don’t want to over-train by way of racing too much.

Another aspect of trying not to race (this statement must sound ridiculous to anyone not in the “know” of the endurance sports scene) is avoiding race fees.  Thankfully, this isn’t my main reason for not racing.

This weekend I spectated consumerism, at a running race.

It looked so funny, from the other side.  The side that hasn’t prepared a taper.  The side that hasn’t put time into studying the course maps and elevation profiles, the competition, and all the pre-race registration instructions.

I showed up to the race site an hour before the start, to see people rushing around, wishing they showed up 15 minutes earlier.  The ubiquitous port-a-potty line.  Dudes warming up.  Nervous chatter.  All the normal stuff.

It’s funny that people are paying for this experience.  Paying to be placed into an over-crowded area.  Paying for the registration overhead.  Paying for the porta-potties.  Paying to have park permit fees and/or roads closed.  Paying for sports drinks, along the course.  Paying to have the distanced timed.  The race shirt!!! Paying for a medal of completion.  Paying for race insurance.  (All of these things are usually included as part of the race fees.)  All of this to exercise, like a prima donna.

To me, a prima donna lifestyle in general is a life of luxury.

It justifies my race reductions more.  Not because I am a counter culture disruptor, but in hopes that I savor the luxury more.

I should note that instead of helping to reduce fees (by volunteering), I did the opposite by living off the fat of the land of all the vendors. . . so, I maintain my room for self-improvement.

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Report of Stolen Thunder

This was my first thought Saturday when I saw dre whiz past us for the finish chute to PR a half marathon by 9 minutes, breaking the 2hr barrier.  If I’m an optimist, I think it is only because I am a reformed pessimist.

Really, I should be happy to have an additional form of inspiration in my life.  But at the same time, a 3 second PR sounds like monkey poo compared a 9 minute PR . . . just as much as when she cut 16 minutes from her half marathon time the same day I cut 16 minutes from my marathon time, making her feat seem twice as awesome.

I’ll get over it, and I really am happy for dre, as well as myself.  Besides, it’s not always about the bragging rights.

Now, back to the focus of this blog, narcissism.

In my mind, my one year goal seemed to mentally register as more of a journey.  That is I see remarkable progress, in only three months so far; progress I was not expecting so fast into the training.

The last time I placed a PR for a 5k was during a running phase where I was enamored with the 10k race.  My training was much different.  I was probably running 15 to 25 mile weeks.  In hindsight, I was going about the training somewhat ineffectively, with only one track workout per week accompanied with exploratory urban runs in anticipation to set awesome hash courses.

This past Saturday when I laced up for the SoCal Half Marathon 5k, my goal was to run under 20 minutes.  As far as my performance goes it felt good, but not great.  That is, I can tell that my training focus is not the 5k distance, nor was I set to peak (which is good for my goals).

I was proud that during the race I looked at my Garmin 4 times, only.  jeff called me out on a tempo run recently, which helped me realize that I was not using my Garmin correctly as a tool but rather crutching on it.  His terse “Stop looking at it!” comment made sense right away.  A tempo run should focus on perceived exertion.

The Garmin was nice to look at after the first quarter mile, during the excitement that follows the gun.  It felt like a hard pace, but a 5k isn’t meant to be a stroll.  My Garmin let me know that I was on a bonk-promising, pack-excited 5:00/mi pace.  My second look at it during the half mile confirmed I was in a better spot, 6:20/pace.

It also boosted my pace after the 2.5 mile mark when the pack I was in slowed to a 6:40/mi pace.  I don’t know if I would have set a PR without my Garmin, and I will never know because of the flux of time.  I was happy for my progress in this state of time, regardless of my personal records.

Extrapolating my races in my most recent roadie era with a McMillian Calculator and then extrapolating even more with an exponential regression, we get this fun graph, which implies a slight ridiculous amount of assumptions, but showing that my chances for qualifying for Boston aren’t as much of a dream as they somewhat appeared to me a few months ago.

The major assumptions in the model that I think are ridiculous is that once you start building mileage, you leave behind the same potential for aerobic improvement.  Trade-off’s.  Also, I want to stop the intensity of training after the OC half in lieu of some summer ultra running and/or something more like this:

Thunderclap, jeff's son, playing in the street while anticipating dre's finish.

Another victory for my progress in fitness, learning about building speed in the roadie world, and claiming my own damn piece of thunder.

rumble rumble crack ga-BOOOOOOOOOOM

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Pancreatic Race Lives Up to Its Function

From my vague memory, the pancreas aids in the digestive process. It extracts nutrients and makes some conversions, then ultimately makes crap.

I don’t like to be negative, unless I feel it is entirely warranted.  And now that I’m a roadie snob, it goes along with the territory that I nag and whine. . .

I can’t pin point what part of the race I hated most, so I’ll give you my chronological experience.

I showed up at a reasonable time, 30 minutes after registration opened and one hour before the race started to find that the registration line was 50 people long.  Even though there were three registration tables, everyone lined up in the H-P Last Name line (n00bs).  This is the second time I blame my father this year; the first was for the Eastern European inclination to being sun burnt.  There are a few ways to prevent this, but I won’t waste my time with that right now (roadies don’t make improvements).

I finally get my race SWAG (Stuff We All Get). “Excuse me, where do I pick up my bib [race number]?” “Oh, we aren’t timing the race this first year.” Ah man, the whole reason I wanted to do a small 10k was to get in a hard run. I figured that without timing, people wouldn’t be as likely to go as hard. But, whatever, there are probably still going to be a few people who will run hard.  It’ll be ok.

The next problem I had was that all the n00bs were putting on their race day shirt, for the race!  I have never felt like such an outsider AT MY OWN activity!  Whatever though, if people like to run to raise money and awareness, or possibly honoring a loved one, for the 4th most common type of cancer then let them eat cake, too.  (Just don’t call it a race; call it a fundraiser.) Now 30 minutes before the race, I am surrounded by the COTTON purple shirt wearing freaks, 95% of the racers.

I like minimal warm up before races.  This distance, 10k, for me means running a mile or so with a couple of goal race pace strides.  I do my thing.

It is now race time.  Homeboy MC calls the crowd to the grass area. I don’t see a starting line, but whatever those aren’t really necessary, just more of a nice ascetic. Oh hey, we’re here AT THE RACE START TIME to stretch together.

White flag. You win, pancreas.

I walked over to the coffee pot. Sitting on the park bench with my coffee, I watch the sheep go from the grass to the canopy area due to the limits of the wireless microphone.

They stretch.

Alright sweet, time to start the 10k.

“Before you start [realizes the microphone doesn’t work at the starting line]. . . ok, I am just going to shout this: the course isn’t marked well, so please listen to these directions of the course.”


Note that there wasn’t one map of this course available before this time. This should have been a red flag for me, or at least it is now.

After messing up and corrected by the audience a couple of times, the emcee finally starts us about 20 minutes late on our two loop 10k.  Perhaps you already see the next roadblock. . .

The race was a 5k and 10k.  After running a relatively fast pace on the first lap, the second lap was an obstacle course to get past the walkers of the 5k.

The one good thing I have to say about this course is my PR.  I ran a 31 minute 10k, which is a little bit better than my projected goal time of 45 minutes (sarcasm). The race was a touch short, only 4.2 – 4.4 miles depending on the Create Your Adventure Finish Chute.

Thankfully, dre calmed me down from my unnecessary negatives, and also realized we might be better off just leaving. Now, the Create Your Adventure Finish Chute adapted into the parking lot. A beautiful encore. Effin bravo, pancreas!

In case you are wondering, I have more rants from this race.  I figure this is good enough, though.  In all actuality, I was happy with my tempo run race pace that averaged about 7:12/mile.  This is a VO2 max improvement for me, since my last race, the Chicago Marathon. (This is projected extrapolation from a McMillan Calculation.)

I attribute this to two different reasons.  The first is a mid-week workout over the last month alternating weeks in the form of track/tempo/track/easy.  The second is that in every other long run I have been doing at a normal easy pace for two thirds of the run then transitioning into a tempo run to the last third of the run.  The latter is new to me, and really takes the long run from a 10 and turns it up to an 11.

My next planned race is in the Winter Trail Series #1, the 12k on January 9th. Between then, I’m going to try out my pacing debut for the Chimera 100 Miler, in miles 62 – 87 ish.


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Second Amendment Challege

I’ve started two challenges, which together forms the compound phrase: Bare Arms.

Bare: as in barefoot running.

My inspiration for barefoot running is Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run.  I listened to McDougall talk recently.  One of his tenets is that the mechanical advantage from shoes has not reduced running related injuries.  Mechanical advantages have, however, become a large industry for shoe companies.

McDougall cites the Tarahumara culture for his running discoveries, including a recovery from a running-related injury.  He now runs both barefoot and with Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs), but not exclusively. (Check out Barefoot Ted’s opinion of VFFs.)

And so, I am starting to delve into barefoot running with a beginner 5k training schedule to try to develop better form.  The form may in fact make me slower.  I’m perfectly okay with that.  I like running, and I want to keep running, injury free.  Also another comment, I don’t plan on becoming the radical “Barefoot Pete.”  But, I think it would be nice to have the ability to go on easy runs barefoot, and focus on technique.

I’m three workouts in. It’s neat to revisit n00b running experieces: the feeling of relief at the end of the run as well as confidence that I can run a little bit farther the next time.  I don’t look for cushy surfaces, like grass.  I take it as it comes, whether its the silk of the sidewalk, the coolness of the grass, or the grittiness of the asphalt.  I notice my calves are sore after I run.

Arms100 push up challenge.

This is just for fun.  It’s something I picked up from dre.  I’m about half-way through their suggested training plan.  In HB lingo, “I’m getting my chest all yoked.”

I guess in summary it’s fun to have some goals to change things and break any natural monotonies.

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Roadie Snob OC

Similar to Bike Snob NYC, I stereotypically hate roadies.  And by that I mean that I like to make fun of them.  That stereotypical runner or cyclist athlete seems to only care about splits, heart rates, effort zones, gear performance, and a bunch of petty crap. . .  yet at the same time I have interests in some of those areas. It’s rare to see this stereotype oriented towards functional transit (cycling or running), group inclusion, concerned about others’ health,  or having fun.

It is with mixed emotion that I turn from trail running marathon distances to shorter, higher-paced runs, for a bit.  It’ll be great to decrease my resting heart rate and increase my lung capacity.  However to do so, I’ll need to be a little bit more of a slave to a schedule, AKA a freakin’ roadie.

So, I’ll just make fun of their compression socks, their running flats, and pre-run rituals.  Eh, not really, but I don’t want to become one of those do or die competitors.  For me, that’s a recipe for burn-out disaster: my biggest enemy.

At the same time, I want to ride out whatever wave I’m on right now.

I plan to follow a Runner’s World Smart Coach 1/2 Marathon plan, but only as a guideline.  It has a lot of easy zone running, with a few days of harder runs.

Regardless, I’ll get a 1/2 marathon PR at Surf City!  In searching, I just figured out that all my 1/2 marathons were either in 1/2 IronMan’s or bandit runs, oops.

Yeah, first non-roadie move: bandit running!  Think about it.

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