Thursday, May 27, 2010

Random Musing, May 27

It has been a stressful week here at Endurance Pursuits. So instead of a long rambling discourse, I am going to list some things that have been on my mind, in no particular order.
  • You don't need a weatherman to tell you its hot in the valley. The wax based chapstick tube that melted on my car console is proof enough. Time to switch to Vaseline lip balm.
  • I suppose the other no-brainer on the same subject is when you reach in the gym bag for stick deoderant and it melted all over my workout shirt. Time to switch to spray or colgne.
  • When a person gets a job at Whole Foods, does the company provide hemp clothing and accessories or does the employee wear their own?  I suppose the patchoulli oil is standard in the employee break room.
  • I had to buy a pair of jeans that fit, 'cause I've lost some weight. I like boot cut and as I kept trading down on waist sizes I realized that the bottom of my pants looked bigger than my thigh and waist area. Never had that visual on me before. Its a little weird.
  • I'm officially more concerned about EMP damage due to terrorism than global warming and a little pissed off that our government spends more money on the later than the former.
  • I have a bad habit of telling my wife I will be home at a certain time and then not getting home till much later.
  • I realize only now in life that I am a massive introvert who likes to be around people than an extrovert who needs quiet time.
  • I don't like phones. I only carry my phone when neccesary and turn the sound off most of the time. If I don't recognize the number I probably won't answer it.
  • I often don't listen to voicemail for several days.
  • I am an optimist. Fatalism bores me, these people rarely die doing what they dread, so its a broken record. Realists usually have a myopic self centered agenda. Pessamism usually makes people sacrastic and most people don't do sarcasm well. Really.
  • I love my hot tub but realize it doesn't aid my legs in recovery as well as elevation and ice.
  • I believe in sensible footwear at all times. I think people who wear flip flops with any outfit for work, school or daily errands are sloppy and repulsive. Flip flops are only sensible for things like showers, pools and beaches. The definitely should not be worn with jeans.
  • I have gotten so used to my electronic book reader that I think its kind of a hassle to turn pages in a real book now. But I suffer through it.
Have a great day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Event Report #2: 2010 24 hours of movement

How far can I go?

That was really the underlying question I kept posing to myself as I considered this Big Ass Idea of 24 hours of movement. How far could I go?  The answers and responses I got from my body and my mind were affirming, alarming and ultimately satisfying. 

You never know what is going to happen on race day, is the axiom. So three days before the event when I got out of my car and my knee shot with pain, I wondered where that came from. The pain was decidedly along the IT band of my outside right knee and I did what I could to massage the knots away before I started on Saturday. But I have never had a knee problem before so thought is was just a fluke.

I started from a park holding my sons football tournament. Mistress drove off with my phone, so I had to run 13 miles to the house just to get it back.  After a couple hours I made it there and said "Goodbye" again to the family and off I went. For those that have suffered IT band pain, there is a shared understanding of the sharp pain it delivers. It is right about now that it became a constant painful reminder with each footfall.

My first tactical error. The next segment of my route takes me to the state highway known as "Beeline".  It is a predominant part of the Ironman Arizona bike course. But before I get there, I have to get there. And it was going to be a hot day.  My route was supposed to take me along a rather nice residential road with prospects for food, water and ice about every mile. Unfortunately I ended up on a parallel road that was all commercial and no convenience stores.  I ended up at the Beeline with only the hot fluids and food on my back with a daunting uphill run that would take me close to two hours to get through.

The Beeline is essentially a wide strip of highway cutting through the desert. There is no place to turn off. There is no place to cool off. There is no shade or shops. Up I went. And suffered. In complete honesty I texted to my a collection of training partners about half way up that I was a bit nauseous and feeling the effects of the heat. Right when I found my first shade under a low tree two pals, Andy and Mike, pulled up with a great care package of cool drinks, gels, electrolytes and root beer. They also delivered a thoughtful care package from some friends at Tribe Multisport full of endurance supplements.

Revived I continued onward and upward, finally making the turn off Beeline into Fountain Hills. I really wanted a baked potato from Wendys but they did not provide ice in the seating area which I had a greater concern for.  So I continued on to a Circle K a bit further ahead. They had lots of ice but no hot food. This was becoming a run of managing inconveniences.

The sun setting and the headlamps out I worked my way out of Fountain Hills towards Scottsdale. There really is only one way, over a big hill with little to no sidewalk. I spent a lot of time running in hard gravel and for a short period in between the traffic in the landscape zone. This really did not help an already painful knee, but my feet held up well. I wish I had wore a stiffer running shoe. 

At this point I wanted only two things, an icy coke at the McDonalds several miles down the road and a bench to sit down. If you include the time I had spent at the tournament walking around the football field and then my running, I had sat for about 20 minutes in 12 hours. With my first time bad knee I didn't want to just plop on the gravel or dirt for fear of cramping up or overextending the joint. So I kept moving.

At eleven hours into my 'run' I remembered I had an ACE wrap in my med kit and wrapped my knee which finally brought a bit of relief. But I wanted that icy coke at McDonalds I had visualized for hours. And maybe some really food as I had not had any real food other than what I carried. A small burger and salty fries. I was smacking my lips.

As I limped into the McDonalds lot, a girl was walking out and held the door for me. I didn't take the offer and walked thirty more feet to the main entrance. I saw a full drive thru line, people seated in the lobby and employees behind the counter. I pulled the door and it was locked. NO. The hours stated the lobby closed at 11:00pm. My watch said 11:02pm. Two minutes. I rapped on the door at the employee walking by. I am sure my disheveled appearance did not help me but he pointed to his watch and shrugged his shoulders. I could see food going out the drive up window. I really wanted that icy coke and some hot food. As there was also no outdoor seating, I sat on the edge of a large rock and felt really, really low. for several minutes.  I had dreamed of walking in those doors for hours. Now now hot food, no icy coke, no a/c, no seat. Then moved on to the gas station down the road that provided some relief but still no hot food.

At this point I switched to a greenbelt with a great multi-purpose path. Lots of places to sit. It was quiet now, middle of the night. I finally took off my shoes, aired out my feet. Changed socks. Aside from my knee pain, I was hydrated, fed, awake, alert, in good spirits. My time was slowing but I was still on track. 

At 15 hours my knee was really bothering me. It hurt. Those with IT problems can relate to the stabbing pain with each step. As I sat down on a bus bench it unexpectedly reclined back on me. The words, "This sucks," came from my mouth. I sat there dumbfounded for several seconds wondering if my words were describing the bench rolling back or the situation I was having with my knee. I had to be honest with myself and say it was my knee. Perhaps it was divine intervention but my dad called me a moment later asking how I was. That's when I pulled the plug. My parents we're up so they picked me up and took me home. I had gone 48 miles. I have never moved that far under my own two feet in that short a time. While not much to some, it was a long way for me.

In hind site I am not upset I didn't make the whole 24 hours. I really wanted to see how far I can go. On this day, I knew. Training should be fun and there is no sense in compounding an injury. I appreciate being pushed and pushing myself but ultimately if it's not fun, then I need to do something else. Like stop. I proved enough.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

24 of movement. Track Me here

Using my SPOT gps unit, I have created a Shared Adventure page for viewers to follow my route. Every ten minutes SPOT will send a link of my location to this page which uses Google Maps.

Copy & Paste if the link does not work:

I have not tried this yet, so if it fails, the fault is my own. The 'pings' as I call them do not trace my physical steps, only the location of the SPOT unit. Thus the images are seen as-the-crow-fly's rather than tracing my every zig and zag like you would see in vehicle or hiking gps units.

I am not going to just exist. I am going to live.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Training Looming

I am happy to say I am not freaking out yet on my 24 hours of movement training tomorrow. I have been treating this week as a sort of taper and just dabbling in training. My knee seems a bit dodgy but think the little aches and pains are actually from a lack of my standard training level this week. 

Going for 24 hours actually doesn't daunt me. I visualize certain segments and wonder, "yeah the 7 mile uphill run on the Beeline" is a long slog without a place to refuel or break but I don't wonder if I will be bored. I actually really like to run. I love to run. And walking is just gravy. And I don't need to be around people to have a sense of joy in my life.

The first leg of my route is actually to run home from Mo's football tournament. After checking in with the family I just want to get past the first 26.2 miles. I've obviously run marathons in the past and to get past this milestone distance is key to my entire day. Next is 30 miles which is the farthest I have hiked in one day. After that, I have gone no further using just my own two feet in a  single day. Exciting.

I am bringing a lot of food with me. Which is actually not necessary with all the options I will have on route. But I will need to carry food for the Grand Canyon next month so might as well. Plus it will give me a chance to try out different sugars and carbohydrates to see what occurs with my stomach. I actually look forward to just running with a cup of coffee or burger. Kind of like one long pub crawl. I may even stop for a beer. I have been known for such things before in training. 

I have a Shared Page set up through my SPOT gps messenger that will log my tracks every ten minutes. I didn't get a chance to test it, so I hope when I put the link up that it will work. Otherwise, I will be posting on my Facebook wall updates from time to time. I am also taking my digicam and thinking that every hour or so I will take a short video to talk about something. I'm multimedia, ya'll!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

24 hours of movement. Safety and Security.

People have been rightly skeptical of my training this weekend, 24 hours of movement. I put it in the context of ultra marathoners who do 100 mile races, 12 or 24 hour mountain bike races. People who run across America. And based on my health history it could very well end short of 24 hours. I am prepared for that. I don't want to do that. But I will. Which is why I have several contingency plans in place for my safety.

First, almost the entire route is commercial or residential routes. No desert trails. No off path movement. I will be in full cell range the entire time. I have a battery charger so I should be able to text and update people quite often. I have two people on 24 hour standby in case I stop and need a pick up. Plus as, I stated I will have my SPOT 2 gps tracker and sending regular check in updates to family and friends with my latitude and longitude. The unit also has a SOS function that will notify emergency responders if that is required. 

All along the route, I have recognized rally points. These are business that will be open when I am scheduled to come by. At these places I will be able to get something to eat and refill my drinks. If I need a pick up they are easily recognizable places like fast food joints, gas stations or Circle K type locations. 

I realize there are elements on the streets late at night that may not be safe for runners. Once the sun sets I will be in either a very affluent part of town, (Fountain Hills, North Scottsdale) running along the side of the road, or running along on the multiuse greenbelt along Hayden Rd. A few hours before sunrise I will transition to the westbound canal system running along Indian School road and past Scottsdale Fashion Square and 5 star resorts. As there is very few entrances along the canal or greenbelt, the odds of running into trouble will be very small. 

I have a lot of experience running, hiking, training in darkness and respect the necessity of being visually identifiable. The pack is bright orange for daylight notice and I will have a blinking red light attached to the back of my pack and either a headlamp or flashlight facing front for the overnight.

If I complete the 77 miles before the 24 hours are up and  I feel good I may just keep going till times up. I have a few favorite restaurants located at various distances from the house. I will make a judgment call on how to proceed. 

If I don't make it home in 24 hours, I will call the family to come get me and we will all go have lunch together once we are reunited. I could just as well get to the house earlier than 24 hours and call it good. I really don't know how I will react. Which is actually a mental test I am looking forward to. I can not minimize the fact that this event is more so a mental test than physical one.

I'm looking forward to this. I have tried to make it as safe as I can and I take those precautions seriously. I know I am damaged goods and if I need to call it quits, I will call it quits. If for nothing else than to prove everyone wrong that I won't if put into that situation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

24 hours of movement. The route.

I announced yesterday that I am attempting a 24 hours solo, unsupported training workout through several cities in the Valley of the Sun.

Link to previous post:

24 Hours of Movement 

Today I am posting the route I am taking to accomplish this. Using Gmap Pedometer I have traced a 77 mile track. As per my Training Contract with Mistress I don't miss family events and Saturday Mighty Mo is in his end of season flag football tournament. So while I know where I will start from, I don't know when I will start on Saturday. For sake of timing I'm listing a High Noon start. Below you will see the course plot points and distances.

Segment  Total *Total  Clock 
Route Miles Miles Time Time
Discovery Park START 0 0 0 12:00 PM
Santan Village to University 9 9 3 hrs 3:00 PM
University to HOUSE 4 13 4.33 4:33 PM
House to Beeline via McD & Gilbert 10 23 7.66 8:06 PM Sunset
Beeline to Shea (FOOD STOP) 7 30 10 10:00 PM headlamp
Around Fountain, Palisades Rd to Shea 8 38 12.66 12:06 AM headlamp
Shea to Greenbelt (GAS STATION) 8 46 15.33 3:33 AM headlamp
Greenbelt to Indian Bend  4 50 16.66 5:06 AM Sunrise
Canal to 68th st 4 54 18 6:00 AM
68th to Curry (CIRCLE K) 4 58 19.33 7:33 AM
Curry around Tempe Lake to McClintock 5 63 21 9:00 AM
University to HOUSE FINISH 14 77 25.66 2:06 PM

*Clock Time based on 20 min miles. 

BOLD locations indicate confirmed water/food points on route

At 24 hours if not home, will call for pick up. Family Lunch. 

Discovery Park where the tourney is at, is in south Gilbert. From there I will actually run home for the opportunity to see the family one more time for a quick food break. Then head west till I can connect with the Beeline highway, grabbing a bite right before hitting the highway. For those that have done Ironman Arizona, I will be running up the hill past the turnaround. I will connect with Shea Blvd, right around sunset and take a food break there at a fast food joint. Using headlamps I will run into Fountain Hills, around the lake fountain and take a hilly residential road back towards Shea Blvd. 

Shea Blvd. presents my only real car threat. There is no sidewalk heading west for a few miles. Therefore I will be running in the wide landscape tract between the east/west lanes. Then a quick refill probably at the Superpumper gas station and I will spend the next several hours running south on the Hayden greenbelt multi use path connecting with the canal system that will take me past Scottsdale Fashion Square. 

If I can't find a refill spot along the way, I know where a Circle K is off the canal at 68th St, which is my exit anyway. I'll then run south down to Tempe Town Lake, I am going to stash some clothes and running shoes at my office and if I need to make any changes I will do so.  I will run clockwise around town lake and start heading east towards home. Planning on Rio Salado to University. University runs just south of my house. 

Sounds easy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big Ass Event #1 2010: 24 hours of movement

Okay here it is, the first serious touchstone for the rest of my 2010 planning. This weekend I am going to run/walk (movement) for 24 straight hours. I have never done anything like this before and have no idea how this will go.  It is a true endurance test physically and mentally. More so mentally as I am doing this solo and unsupported.

It's something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I feel confident that I can do 24 hours of movement, however unless I actually do it, I won't know. And I want to know. I have set up what I suppose is a reasonable pace of 20 minutes per mile. This doesn't include any stops for water, food or rest. I suppose I am looking to simulate a 100 mile race where these activities are included in the overall time. Based on my estimated pace and Google maps placing the route around 77 miles, this entire training run/walk will take 25.5 hours. If I do not reach my destination (home) in 24 hours, I will call Mistress and she will pick me up and the whole family will go to lunch.

The route will take me through the Arizona cities of Gilbert, Mesa,  Ft. McDowell Yavapai Indian Reservation, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Tempe. I have created a route so that I am as safe as I can be. During the overnight period especially,  I will be wearing a rear red light, headlamp or flashlight. I will be using canals and greenbelt trails and stay away from main roads as much as possible. Based on course familiarity I have noted several key points for replenishing food and water.

I will have my cell phone and SPOT 2 gps tracker.  The phone of course will be to communicate with family and friends in case (I need) assistance or (they need) assurance I am okay. SPOT will be tracking me non-stop and every ten minutes will upload my location to a Shared Adventure Page I will set up right before the event begins. I will list that URL link once created. I will also be sending "I'm Okay/Check In" text messages on a regular basis from the SPOT unit to friends and family that will include my last location.    

Admittedly, to the common man, this workout is bat nuts crazy. To memorialize the (literal) training day, I plan on taking a Flip video camera with me and every hour do a short video update that I will eventually splice together and put online. It should be interesting to see how I sustain or degenerate through the course of being alone and in my own head for 90% of the time. 

More to come on this. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Shiny Thing: LaFuma Cinetik 11 Pro backpack

In June I am heading back to the Grand Canyon for another trip below the rim with my company. When we went in October 2009, I took a great pack, but it had too much volume for a day trip, even packing extra for inexperienced people in my group. This time I am packing only for myself but the Grand Canyon in summer demands a size pack that I really don't have in my (substantial) array of gear.

Who am I kidding, I wanted a new pack anyway.

My demands on a new pack were not going to make my decision easy. Here is my list of what I was looking for. 
  • Hydration sleeve and external bottle holders. 
  • It must have or be able to except front pouches along the hip belt for food and small gear.
  • It must have the ability to lash trekking poles.
  • Hold between 300 and 1000 cubic inches of space for gear. 
  • A high attachment for D-ring, low attachment for rear light.
I could not believe my luck when I stumbled upon the Lafuma Cintek 11 Pro. First the weight is just over one pound.  At approximately 700 cubic inches of space it hits my sweet spot for the size to volume ratio I demanded. A bonus is that the hip belt is not a buckle that I tend to brake easily, it's velcro which also solves dangling strap tails. 

The pack arrived within the set delivery time. I bought it used-mint condition and it was absolutely in great shape. I could not tell you how this was used.  The color is shockingly orange. It is at a level between hunter orange and florescent orange. I could see it as a detraction from those looking for a more matte color, but I like orange. I can't be upset LaFuma took it up a notch.

Along the otherwise clean and uncluttered exterior are two cinch cords for trek poles.  I took my poles and after a few different configurations found a set up that worked for me. No problem with this set up. A lower tab which the company suggests be used as a tow strap in Adventure Racing I attached a red LED for hiking and training when its dark out. There is a small zippered pouch towards the top of the bag face that has a very small loop on the bottom seam. 

Along the right side hip belt is a medium sized exterior pocket. A downfall of most hip pouches is that they flap around or slide towards the front. LaFuma has taken this pouch and stuck velcro on the back so it sticks to the hip belt. On the opposite side of the pack, the left hip belt is all zippered pouch. Its a flat fit, that upon trail and error can hold five gel packets.

Not only does it have an external hydration pocket accessed through the back panel, it has an internal sleeve as well. I can carry two reservoirs if need be which is a big plus when you live and train in the desert.   The hip belt is an interesting concept, instead of mating a male and female clip and pulling the excess straps back toward the pack; it is a strap on the right side, that passes through a swivel on the left belt and then folds back on itself by velcro. The excess strap is stuck to the belt by velcro.

It has four, yes four, pockets for water bottles. Two are located in the usual  place, lower outside, next to the hip belt. And for adventure racers and ultra marathoners there is a pouch built into each shoulder strap than can be folded flat when not in use. I love this option. The benefit of a bladder and bottles is that you can have water in your pack but mix carbohydrate and electrolyte powders in the bottles. 

I have used the pack several times now for running and hiking. The first time using it, a 15 mile run, the dye in the padding (a maroon color) bled all over my favorite white hiking shirt. To overcome any future color bleeding, I placed the pack in a mesh ditty bag and washed on delicate in a front loader on warm water. Twice. Each time hanging it to dry. I have not had a problem since. By the way, I used various RIT products to restore the shirt from pink spots. The velcro hip belt keeps the pack snug against the pack and there was no bouncing of any type. Nothing chaffed my neck, shoulders, arm pit area.

The bottle holders on the shoulder straps do not accept standard water bottles of 20oz or 24oz. This is completely unrealistic in a real world scenario and unfortunate as they way the pocket is designed it could easily be made large enough to fit a normal bottle. I found a smaller 16oz. bottle in my cabinet, a cheap promo bottle from somewhere and it fit perfectly but I can't find  another. To overcome this challenge I bought to 15.2oz wide mouth juice bottles at a gas station, drilled a hole in the tops and stuck a hard straw in it from some 44oz drink cup I had laying around.

I was concerned about wear and tear on the Cinetik. I think I have done enough to it to state that this was a unwarranted worry. The zippers, pull cords, velcro and fabric have held up very well. I look forward to putting this pack through many more adventures.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back in the fold

It is a really nice feeling to be back into the training fold. I was never out of it, but when one is in recovery and sitting on the sidelines, it is not the same as participating. Now that the word is out and my marginal accomplishments in training are being revealed I am getting requests to partake in races all over the country. 

Very tempting. 

I have one personal harebrained idea, just for a workout, that I may actually be able to turn into a multimedia event for my business. Nothing like training on company time. 

Of course I am looking at all options, not the least of which is how to take more vacation days this year so I can do the traveling necessary for racing abroad. I don't think Mistress is going to give me much grief, I have 'staycationed' for the last two years and it's time for me to hit the road for some adventures. The boundary's are still in place, no Ironman, no century rides, no rock climbing. That leaves a lot of room for endurance pursuits.

It only helps my case that Mistress and Baby Mae have taken two 2 week trips this year already. Its only fair that I get to bug out for some guy time and personal space. While I have jotted a few dates down on a napkin, I haven't confirmed, signed up or marked off any races or dates for the rest of the year. Yet. 

I think May is going to be an interesting month for me.

It is not enough to exist. I am going to live. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend of trying out

I spent the weekend hiking my two favorite hikes around town and trying out new gear before taking it down the Grand Canyon next month. The added benefit is that I was able to do this with my visiting Godfather who has by far and away spent more time with me on the trail than anyone in my life.

We started with Camelback Mountain here in town. He had never down this trail before. Yes technically its more of a social event than an actual hike, the it ain't all that easy of a hike if you're not prepared for it. Of course we are and took a nice stroll up and down. 

The next day we hiked Siphon Draw, my favorite hike in the area. We did go a bit past up towards Flatiron but we knew we weren't going all the way and turned around at the final saddle before dropping into the chute. While Siphon Draw is fun, Flatiron trail is freaking work. This was not a work day. As an aside, the brush is extra high this season and it was easy to lose the trail. I also say my first snake of the year. I went to grab it for a photo op, but Godfather shewed it aside with hiking poles. It was just a garter snake, but Mo would have thought it was cool. Who am I kidding, I did too. 

As to the new gear, you can see the bright orange LaFuma Cintek 11 pack in the picture above. A detailed review of this pack is coming soon but I am really impressed with it so far. The other is my new trail shirt, the RailRider Eco-Mesh that I wore the following day on the trail. 

The included photo courtesy is of my iPhone. Godfather will be sending me some of his digipic's soon for inclusion.

Saturday, May 1, 2010