Balanced

agressive

ever since i crossed that at the Orifllamme 50k a couple of weeks ago I can’t stop thinking about racing again.  The next race that I really want to do well at is the PCT50 Miler on 5/10.  It’s a short 3.5 weeks away.  There should be some good competition out there and the course will definitely not be easy.  Rod Bien set a new course record there last year in 6:37 and I’d like to chase that.  It may be far fetched but it serves as good motivation when I’m out suffering through some hard intervals. we’re heading out there this weekend to run some of the course.  it’s an out and back with a bit over 7500 ft of climbing… and all on the PCT.

pct50

my recovery from Oriflamme was pretty quick.  the first couple of days i was pretty sore but by thursday all the soreness was gone and I felt great.  that’s probably the fastest I have bounced back from running a hard 50k.  I did race 50k’s on back to back weekends in 2012 but I didn’t feel as good after as I did last week.  I attribute that to the smarter training I am doing this year.  The running, the strength work, and definitely my bike.  getting back on my bike is serving me well and it doesn’t really feel like training.  it’s just bicycle riding.

insidetp

in the next block of training I am actually going to ride more and bring the running miles down.    I plan on keeping the miles in the ~65 mile range, no higher, and riding at least 3 days a week.  My body was been responding well to hitting about 65-75 miles a week and instead of increasing that as i get ready for a 50 and 100 miler I am going to add the miles on the bike.  It’s kind of an experiment but i’m pretty sure it will pay off.  It will help steer me clear of injury for sure and I actually feel better running, especially climbing, when I’m riding a lot.

dp

First time up Double Peak in a long time. I love my new bike.

we did add another race to the schedule.  next weekend (4/26) we are going to run the the Leona Divide 50k.  We had a long run on the schedule that day so we decided to venture up north run some trails we have never seen before and hopefully hit Golden Road brewery in LA after.  I’ve always been a firm believer that racing is the best training, especially in my bike racing days.  the only difference when it comes to running is that you really have be aware of your effort in the lower priority races as to not smash yourself.  I plan on training right through Leona and I am going to try to really dial it back out there.  I just want to enjoy a long, supported day on new trails.  I’m still figuring out how to approach it and the best way for me to hold back.  I am thinking about starting really conservatively and then seeing if I can dial it up the last 10-15 miles.  I just really need to avoid trying to race off the front which I enjoy so much.

Beer:

This isn’t about a particular beer.  It’s about the selection of beer at Petco park.  Last Saturday we headed downtown to the watch the Padres take on the the Tigers.  Petco already had a great beer selection in years past but what’s available now is unreal.  You can get a beer from what seems like every single brewery in San Diego.  So rad.

padsgame

Green Flash 30th st Pale Ale

Oriflamme 50k Race Report

“… a handful of redemption is all we need”

That song came up on ipod with 3 miles to go on saturday and pretty much sums up my day.

saturday morning we got to the sunrise trail head (race start) about 6am and it was raining, windy, and in the upper 30′s.  Not really what we were expecting after running the course a few weeks ago with temps in the mid 80′s.  Luckily we were prepared and brought the right gear but it was still pretty cold heading over to the start of the race.  I started the race with my patagonia houdini jacket, gloves, and my lucky Catch Surf hat.

At 7am we were off and it was still raining lightly and the wind was really starting to blow.  With the conditions I didn’t know what to expect so I let go of any time goals and just wanted to focus on being “in” the race. I knew there would be handful of guys pushing the pace and going for the win.  the race starts out right onto single track and I was 4th heading out.

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the awesome single track on the pct. this was from our run out there a few weeks ago. saturday was nothing like this. cloudy, windy, rainy.

In the first mile Neil took off like I kind of expected he would and I was sitting behind Anthony. I went around Anthony and slotted into 2nd about ~10 seconds behind him. I was just taking it easy and did not want to push the pace in the first 5.4 miles on the pct single track. I also didn’t want to go to the front that early.  I was feeling good but not sure how the day was going to play out for me.

At just over 5 miles we were dumped out onto the Mason Valley Truck Trail and now the sun was coming out. Neil and I already had a pretty good gap and I was ready to go. i opened up my stride, went around Neil, and let it rip on the descent. I was moving well and was able to get away a bit.  At 7.5 miles I was getting hot so i took off my jacket and stashed it in bush.  Around mile 10 I hit the desert floor and I was all alone.  I was running really well on the descents and flats.  I was stoked to be running low 6 minute pace and not really feel like i was pushing it too hard.

by the turnaround at just over 15 miles i had a couple of minutes Neil and about 4-5 on 3rd and 4th… and then by mile 18 a few more minutes. i continued to run steady and not bury myself.  I went off course a couple of times, running into dead ends while running back through the sandy wash and probably lost a bit of my lead back tracking.  Miles 18-20 were by far the toughest of the day for me. My energy was still good but the sandy, slightly uphill fireroad,  and 20+mph headwinds were cracking me a bit. I couldn’t wait to get to the 5 mile climb.

DCIM100GOPRO

the start of the 5 mile climb

Finally I got to the climb and just ran steady.  I was feeling good and still did not feel like I was pushing the pace.  I couldn’t see anybody down below so i knew if I didn’t blow it i could win. At 23 miles I hit the Mountain Hobo aid station and was stoked to see Igor and George.  I got my jacket out of the bushes, gave it to igor, filled up my bottle, and was on my way.

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I ran really well on the final 2+ miles of the climb. When I got to the last aid station (25.25 miles) at just over 3:10 i realized that I could break the course record and go sub 4 if I didn’t completely crack and blow it.  I slammed a couple of cups of coke I just rolled back on the pct.  I was having fun being back on the single track. that section is not fast and i was just getting it done.

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I crossed the line in 3:55.  I was so stoked to feel so good beginning to end, get the W, and beat the old course record by 16 minutes.

nutrition was probably the best i’ve ever had in a 50k. i ate a lot more than usual and didn’t have any significant low spots or stomach issues.  I felt like I could have kept going when I crossed the line… but I was very happy to be finished!  the race was definitely a bit of redemption for me and gives me some more confidence leading into the longer races this summer.

Maggie also crushed her race and the old course record (by 26 minutes).  I am super happy for her.  Our races are proof that the workouts and training we’ve been doing are working.  thanks Ian!

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In all honesty I’m pretty blown away by saturday’s race.  I blew my own expectations away.  It’s hard to say if I’m as fit or fast I was back late 2012/early 2013 before my body got put through the wringer… but If i’m not I know I’m on my way to getting back there and doing it smartly.  I’m really looking forward to recovering and getting back to some solid training before the PCT 50 miler on 5/10.  Saturday was just a lot of fun.

Here’s a killer video by George at the bonus Mountain Hobo aid station.

Beer:

We don’t head out east to run, or for anything, without stopping at Alpine on the way back.  After the race on Saturday we hit Alpine and picked up a growler of Nelson IPA which just might be my favorite IPA of all time…. and it’s tastes much better after a hard, successful race.

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time to let it rip

it’s race week… finally.

goattrail

heading down the goat trail into pq canyon

I have been looking forward to this weekend’s Oriflamme 50k since I signed up back in January.  Like I’ve mentioned before, too many times, I haven’t finished an ultra distance race in well over a year.  To say I’m a bit nervous would be an understatement.  Training so far this year has been going really well and I’m confident that I’m building some pretty good fitness but I’m not sure how it will apply to racing a hard 50k.  30+ miles still seems like a really long way to run right now.

It’s no secret… I LOVE racing.  I love the nervous feeling on the start line, the head to head racing with good people, the chance to push myself further and harder than I can in training, and of course the post race beers and war stories.  I’ve always been someone who over performs in races compared to my training.  In the past I’ve just always had an extra gear on race day and willingness to lay it all out there and suffer.

DCIM100GOPRO

maggie charging up one of the hills on the northwest side of pq canyon

 Saturday will be a bit different for me.  There will be something missing… confidence.  I’ve never had any fear to just go for it on the racing front. While it’s not always the smartest decision I like racing with a bit of reckless abandon. The willingness to do that has just always been confidence in my ability to suffer and to just keep pushing on. For the most part it’s served me well but all of that is kind of an unknown for me right now.

I struggled mightily last fall trying to force getting back into shape so I could just toe the line and experience everything that comes along with racing hard.  It obviously didn’t turn out the way I had hoped and I ended having to take a step back and come to the realization that it would take more time after my accident to even consider being fit enough to race the way I want.

So Saturday will be a test.  I don’t plan on holding back at all.  I really want to use the race to see where I’m really at and hopefully to rebuild some confidence leading into the PCT 50 miler and Tahoe Rim Trail 100.    No matter what happens though I am just so stoked be back racing again, being out there with Maggie and friends, and being 100% healthy.  It’s a good feeling after all I dealt with last year.

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Training-wise last week was a good one.  The running miles were a bit less that I was originally shooting for but my time on the bike was up, which I am stoked about.  Last week I picked up my new bike from Velo Hangar and couldn’t wait to get on it.  Friday morning I met up with Pete and we rode a loop we used to pretty much every Friday.  After the first 15 minutes on my new bike I knew the the stoke was back to ride.  I ordered the same Felt frame I had been riding for the last 3 years. The same frame that was obliterated in my crash.  The bike just felt “right”.  We rode for 2 hours and finished the ride with a coffee… just like old times.  It was the first time since my crash last year that I’ve been on the bike with out constantly thinking about getting hit again.  I am definitely looking forward to incorporating more riding in my training.  It’s good way to steer clear of injuries and it’s just a lot of fun.

Last week it hit 67 miles running and 78.5 miles on the bike.  I’m very happy with that and I’m feeling good this week but also in need of some rest.  Hopefully dialing it back a lot this week will have me ready to run hard on Saturday.

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weekend standard. relaxing at the pannikin

bringing back some old stuff for the final additions to my race playlist:

 

 

Every Day Can’t Be the Best Day

DCIM100GOPRO

“Every day can’t be the best day
Do what you can right now, don’t hesitate
That’s why we try to make love and get paid
Take the bad with the good, now let’s play” – Atmosphere

Last week was one of the those weeks.  One of those weeks where the running seems a bit harder, where my body is a bit creaky, and some fatigue is setting in.  The week before was the complete opposite.  I was hitting paces in my workouts effortlessly and constantly felt like I was holding back.  This week I still got in the miles, hit the paces, with the help of Maggie pushing me, but it took a lot more effort to pull off… both physically and mentally.  It happens.

I’ve been training and racing long enough to know that you have to take good days, bad days, good weeks, and bad weeks in stride and not get too caught up in them.  In my opinion a smart training plan that leads to a good race performance is the sum of all the parts (good, bad, and ugly).  One workout or week won’t make or break your race.  It’s culmination of the good days, bad days, tired days, the bonks on long runs, the effortless miles, and the weeks you feel like crap.  Over the years I’ve just learned to embrace it all and actually see having the occasional off day or week as a good thing… as a sign that I’m doing a proper amount of work.

Now if these days and weeks start stacking up then there’s a problem and it’s one of the reason’s I am following a plan.  I don’t have to think too much.  Just train hard, have fun, and rest.  I trust the plan but also make adjustments as necessary if I feel I need more rest.

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the highlight of the week running-wise was a long run we did up north in the Santa Ana mountains in Orange County.  We parked at Lazy W off the 74 and climbed up Los Pinos, descended down to Blue Jay campground, and eventually made our way back to the parking lot via the San Juan Trail.

It had been a long time since I had done a run this long our hard.  It started well as we powered up the 8 miles and 3,500 ft of climbing that make up the Los Pinos Trail. I had “run” that trail once before and it was during the Los Pinos 50k (DNF) back in September.  According to Strava I climbed it faster on Saturday even though I was messing around and taking a lot of photos to take my mind off the suffering.

DCIM100GOPRO

After the climb we dropped down to Blue Jay campground to check out the Old Goats 50 miler that was going on and then attempted to find our way to the San Juan Trail.  We got turned around (lost) a few times.  Once due to my misdirection and once again based on some bad advice.  Luckily we ran into Guillaume who got us on track and going the right way back to the truck.

It was good to finally be back on our way but the extra miles were taking their toll on both of us.  With about 6 miles to go Maggie cracked… but in typical Maggie fashion 2 miles later she was rallying as we were descending the San Juan Trail.  With 4 miles to go she asked if she could take the lead and then proceeded to drop me as I was in a spot of bother.  It was over for me and I couldn’t stop thinking about an ice cold fountain drink and a bag of fritos…. A good sign I was in bonktown.

done

zombie running. 2 miles to go.

I was able to keep running but it wasn’t pretty…. like 8-9 min miles descending 300-400+ ft per mile not pretty. I eventually got back to the parking lot where Maggie had already taken her pack off and was waiting for me.  I was so stoked to be done.

finished

I am a firm believer that a good bonk is good for you every now and then.  I just didn’t stay on top of my nutrition with all the turning around, getting lost, and cheering on the runner’s racing Old Goats.  That was our last really long run before Oriflamme 50k on next Satruday and all things considered, it was a good one.

After a jog on sunday around the hood with Maggie and Ruby I finished the week with 73.4 miles… right about where I wanted to be.  I also rode 48 miles so all in all a really solid week.  this week will be a bit less volume and then next week will be a full on rest/taper/race week.  So  just gotta keep my head down and get it done.

Beer:

saintarcher2

This week it’s all about one of my favorite, newer breweries in San Diego… Saint Archer. The company was founded and is owned by a bunch of pro surfers, skaters, and snowboarders but they don’t rest on the notoriety they already have.  They make great beer and brought on two incredible brewers to run the show. They opened their doors last year and I have been enjoying their beers ever since.  Their Pale Ale and IPA have been my go to and you can find them on draft all over north county. They’ve recently released a DIPA and a white ale that are also awesome.

saintarcher

White Ale (maggie) and IPA (me). Super Fresh!

Sunday, after running some errands down south we finally made it to the tasting room.  There’s nothing better than a fresh IPA straight from the brewery.  I picked two 32oz growlers.  One of the Pale Ale and one of the IPA.  Stoked.  Can’t wait to down there again soon.

saintarhcer3

Grinding…

pct

another solid week of running in the books.  this week felt really good coming off a recovery week and I am definitely seeing signs of progress and paces in training I haven’t seen in years. I hit 75 miles for the week and would be stoked to get another couple of weeks around there before the Oriflamme 50k on 4/5.

I’m actually really getting the itch to race but would lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. we’ve only run over 2 hours twice so far this year and I haven’t run a 50k in over a year.  one of those 2+ hour runs was this past saturday on the Oriflamme course.  the course record out there is 4:11 which doesn’t seem too fast on paper on a course with only 4,000 ft of climbing… but after running out there last weekend I now know better.

oriflamme

The course is pretty brutal.  It’s roughly a 15 mile descent to the desert floor in anza borrego followed up by a 15 mile climb.

masontrucktrail

There are some rollers in there to break it up but not many.  The first 5 miles are fun, rocky, singletrack on the PCT and then you hit the fire road.  I was thinking this would be a place to really let it rip but it’s super steep in a lot of places and really rocky… and sandy.  Then at ~15 miles you flip it and run back up.  Oh yeah… and it’s going to be hot (DESERT!).  So I will be prepared to suffer and looking forward to seeing where I’m at in a short 2.5 weeks.

DCIM100GOPRO

in other news…. I am finally building a new road bike.  since my accident i have just been riding my ‘cross bike around with my road wheels. it’s been getting the job done for the short riding i’ve been doing but lately I’ve finally started to get the itch to ride a bit more.  I couldn’t be more stoked in how it’s coming together.  I dropped everything off at Velo Hangar on Monday and we are just waiting on few more parts.  I can’t wait to get on it.

Beer:

This definitely the best part of this post.  Last week Hoppy Birthday was released by Alpine Beer Company.  There are many great breweries in southern california but I’d argue that Alpine produces the best IPA’s… hands down.  Hoppy Birthday is not an IPA though… it’s 5.25% pale ale but is dry hopped like an IPA and is incredible.

hoppybirthday

I picked up a growler of it on the way home from our run on the Oriflamme on Saturday and got my first sip of it Sunday afternoon.  A lot of beers don’t live up to the hype but this was an exception.   it even gets perfect score of 100 on beer advocate and a 99 on rate beer. it was awesome and I wish i could get my hands on it more often.  I highly suggest you head out east and get your hands on some before it’s gone.

 

a week on the east coast

home

it’s so good to be home after spending 7 days on the east coast.  i had to do some work at our office just outside of boston early in the week and then headed south to visit my family in virginia beach.  luckily all travel went off with out a hitch and I didn’t have any flight delays or cancellations.  running was on the back burner because i had a couple of long, busy days working in boston and then the rest of the week hanging with my family, Maggie, and playing with my awesome niece and nephews.  it was a good break.

kids

watching movies with my awesome niece and nephew.

when i travel, especially when I head back east (or anywhere with less than ideal weather), my motivation to run dwindles.  the weather is a contributing factor but it’s not all of it.  when I’m home that’s not the case… at all.  it’s more forced when I’m away from home and makes me really realize why I like running as much as I do.

photo 4

Since it was a recovery week I really didn’t have too much “work” to do and actually wanted to make sure I really recovered so I could get back to it this week.  I ran 6 days and ended up hitting exactly 50 miles, 26 less than the previous week.  3 of those runs were on a treadmill… the first time in over a year I was on a treadmill and probably as many times as I have been on one is the last 3 years.  I was just going through the motions as the early morning temps outside of boston were in the single digits.  Maggie and I hit the treadmill on Friday in Virginia due to a gnarly storm rolling through.  I love running in the rain but not when there are 45+ mph wind gusts and the temps are in the 30′s.

photo 1

The other 2 runs were pretty uninspiring while in Virginia.  We did an 8 mile loop from my parents house with 0 ft of elevation gain and plenty of sidewalk pounding.  On Saturday, the first and only day I saw the sun in my 7 days on the right coast, we did and 2 hour run down to the beach, along the boardwalk, and back.  The weather was great and the run was ok but it didn’t leave me with the same stoke my runs do at home.

beach

The attitude I have towards running or training while traveling makes me really realize why I do what I do.  First and foremost I just like being outside. My motivation to run has little to do with racing these days.  In the past I had razor sharp focus on my racing goals.  Now it’s just my lifestyle and I do it because it’s fun, it makes me feel good, and it’s something Maggie, Ruby and I get to do together.

We got home to southern california around 11am (pst) on Sunday morning and were out running on the coast around 2pm in 80+ degree temps and sunny skies.  it was like a mid summer day with big crowds at the beach and tons of people out soaking up the sunshine.

Running in southern california never feels forced to me.  it’s like i need to be visually stimulated while running or something.  pounding the pavement around virginia beach just doesn’t do it for me.  every time i go home I struggle to get out the door.  Part of the reason is because I just like to hang out with my family but the other reason is I just feel like I am going through the motions. running when it feels forced is something I hate.  this year i was able to stay on track due to some upcoming races but unfortunately it felt more like work than fun.

running at home in encinitas every day leaves me stoked and ready to start the day.  during the week we run the same trails (we have bunch of different loops) around our house and along the coast.  I never get sick of trails and the rolling hills and will never take running (or riding) along the coast for granted.  we live in a pretty rad place.

Beer:

One of the highlights of travelling is getting to try new beers.  I’ve had plenty of beers from the northeast and mid-atlantic in the past but for the most part have been let down.  There is a big craft beer movement going on in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia where my parents live and I spent 10 years of my life.  Green Flash is building a big brewery 2 miles from my parents house in Virginia Beach.  So they are moving in the right direction and have quite a few other breweries popping up.

In Massachusetts I had 3 IPA’s from the northeast.  The hotel bar where I was staying had two on tap. Sam Adams Rebel IPA (pictured below) and Harpoon IPA which I have had before.  The Sam Adams, as I expected, was very lack luster and the Harpoon was just ok.

rebelipa

Sam Adams Rebel IPA

I did have one good beer in Boston.  Maybe it was because I was at the airport and I was happy to be leaving and heading down to Va but the Green Monsta IPA from Wachusset Brewing was really good.

greenmonsta

Airport Beer: Green Monsta IPA

When my parents picked me up from the Airport Wednesday night we stopped at a local grocery store and I was shocked to find six packs of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Founders All Day IPA.  The Bell’s from Michigan is always solid and I have been enjoying the new trend of session IPA’s and the Founder’s was solid.

founderssession

 

On Thursday my parents, maggie, and I hit a local brewery that is only a few miles from my parents house.  Beach Brewing.  Maggie got the the pale ale, which was just ok, and I got the Hammerhead IPA.  The IPA tasted much like a west coast IPA and I was pretty impressed.

beachbrewingThe best beer I had on my trip was the Rule G IPA from Smartmouth Brewing out of Norfolk, VA.  I had it while out to dinner with my brother and courtney at the The Public House. I was too busy stuffing my face with homemade tater tots (wrapped in bacon), duck fat fries, and burger to take a photo.  It’s heavy on the grapefruit which usually seals the deal for me.  The second one tasted just as good as the first.

I also had some lackluster beers while there but I don’t feel like taking the time to post about them.  I had a bit more beer than usual but I was on vacation and it’s always fun to try new stuff.

resting on the right coast

flying over a frozen chicago

flying over a frozen chicago

It’s hard to believe we’re already 2 months into the year and that the first goal race of the year is 5 weeks away.  it’s always easier to take a recovery week when you feel like you need one and that’s the way I’m feeling this week. I don’t struggle with motivation to get out the door ever… and never have.  that can some times be a bad thing when it comes to resting and absorbing the hard work.  it’s a bit easier to dial it back when morning temps are in the single digits where I am back in the northeast.

READ THIS BOOK!!

READ THIS BOOK!!

as i get older resting is a bit easier to manage but the fact of the matter is that i just love to run and it’s fits in perfectly with my daily life.  even an easy 4 mile jog around the “hood trails” with maggie and ruby makes my day.  i don’t know how much longer i’ll race, or try to race competitively, but when I do hang it up racing front there’s no doubt I’ll still run.

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we’ve been building back up since the beginning of the year so this “down” week comes at a perfect time.  I feel like i needed some rest and  also had to travel back east (boston area) for work and then onto Virginia over the weekend to meet Maggie and visit my family.

chasing beauty... and i'm not talking about the sun.

chasing beauty… and i’m not talking about the sun.

I’m really happy with things are going and stoked with how my body is handling the mileage.  I definitely am not chasing miles but rather just following the plan and miles just seem to accumulate.  last saturday was the first time either of us ahd run over 2 hours since sometime back in november.  We also have not been running a lot of hilly routes thus far.  Instead we have been focusing on building some speed/turnover and I think it’s paying off.  I think our long run on sunday, which was by far the longest and hilliest run we’ve done in a long time, is proof that it’s working.

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we were planning on heading out east and running some of the oriflamme 50k course but with the rain we decided to just run local.  We headed out to San Elijo to get in 3 hours and some solid climbing.  San Elijo handles the rain well and has some the longest sustained climbs close to us.  the run went better than expected for both of us so another good sign.  we ran out there quite a bit last year and saturday’s run was faster on every climb and also with a higher overall pace than any run we did out there last year.  we weren’t trying to run faster but were just out there to log time on our feet.

the past 4 weeks have been:

  • week of 2/3: 56 miles, 5,490 ft of climbing
  • week of 2/10: 61 miles, 4,808 ft of climbing
  • week of 2/17: 68 miles, 6,969 ft of climbing
  • week of 2/24: 76 miles, 8,707 ft of climbing

i understand those aren’t huge weeks in comparison to a lot of other people out there but it’s about what my body can handle.  I really haven’t felt like I’ve been pushing the limits but know that I have to be careful.  I love seeing the training that others are doing and the huge miles people are putting in.  Guy’s like Vargo, Price, Dominic, Igor, JoshGuillamme, just to name a few, are doing some awesome training.  Following along on their blogs and on strava is definitely motivating… but I do realize that my body can’t handle that kind of mileage… yet.  I tried to force it last year but I will make sure not to let that happen again.  I feel like 65-75 mpw is kind of my sweet spot right now.  I’d love to get in some consistent weeks in that range and stay healthy.

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 5.28.49 PMup above is just the running.  I have also been getting on my bike once a week on monday’s for some easy miles after the weekend.  I am hoping the coming weeks to get out a bit more with the time change.  I’ve also been getting in the gym 2-3 days a week at lunch to do strength, core, and injury prevention work.  For a lot of people getting in the gym is a chore but it’s something I really enjoy… and probably more so because I can do it during my lunch so it doesn’t take any extra time out of my day.  If I had to do it before or after work I’m not sure I’d have the same enthusiasm or if it would get done as regularly.

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The plan for the coming weeks looks pretty solid and I’m looking forward to it.  We have a lot of fun runs planned for the weekends and then soon enough it will be time to race.  I have not finished an ultra distance race since the Bandit 50k last February.  I tried twice last fall and failed twice.  So by the time I toe the line at the Oriflamme 50k on 4/5 it will have been well over a year.  I’m looking forward to getting it out there, running hard, and crossing that finish line.

Beer:

Friday was a pretty awesome weather day.  I love the rain and this past weekend didn’t let me down.  Friday after work Maggie and I headed to Encinitas Alehouse and happened upon the remnants of a Drake’s tap takeover from the night before.  All the kegs were still flowing and were able to get our hands on this year’s Hopocalypse.

Drake’s Hopocalypse.

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running and racing

meandrubes

running.

running is going really well right now and I’ve been  feeling better then I hoped I would be this early into the year.  With out a doubt following a plan is helping and keeping me in check but it’s also that Maggie and I are just having a lot of fun and kind of switching things up.

when i decided to get into the whole ultra running thing back in may of 2012 after some peer pressure and incredible experience of pacing Slater at the Zion 100 I was coming off months of not running and just racing my bike.  I hopped right into just building up my mileage and not really worrying about speed.  I actually probably had not done any hard running since late summer 2011 getting ready for Kona.  I didn’t think I needed speed I just needed to go long.  I had some good races that fall but in 2013 the volume of just going long (and going long too often) got me into some trouble.  Trouble being a femur stress fracture.

ripping the lagoon

Like I wrote about my last post I was definitely forcing things last summer and fall trying to get back into shape and again ignored really building a good foundation and jumped back into just logging a lot of miles or as many as I could handle.  That obviously didn’t work.  So after some good rest to end 2013 I feel like we’re doing things right so far this year.  The build up has been slow and steady and Ian’s plan has us doing shorter, faster, and harder efforts… stuff I haven’t really done in years.  All that’s balanced with plenty of easy miles (usually ruby’s pace).  We’ve only run 2 hours once since some time in November but I’m feeling damn good right now and know the volume will no doubt be increasing in the coming months. I have no reason or desire to rush things.

I am also lucky to have Maggie push me and keep me honest in workouts.  In my “old age” I find I just settle in and stay rather comfortable instead of working hard.  Maggie lets me know when she thinks I’m sandbagging and makes me work.

chasing

racing.

So far this year I’ve raced twice.  Once at the Xterra Mission Gorge 15k on 2.3 and then again a couple of weekends ago at the Big Baz 21k.  Part of what I want to do this year is get back to jumping into shorter, harder races to build back some the speed I have lost and also get my body used to suffering again.  To me ultra distance and short course racing both have their own unique kinda of suffering.  Back when I started racing I thrived on the short course suffering.  That’s why I loved racing Xterra (offroad triathlon), mountain bikes, and cyclocross.  Those races were 1-3 hours of being on the rivet from start.  It was awesome.  After years of that I wanted to go long and experience the other kind of suffering… the kind where you are thinking “how the F am I going to run or ride another 2 hours I already feel like crap and am totally blown”.

bigbaz

My first two races this year have been really fun and have helped me get back into the racing mindset and work on my willingness to suffer.  I got 3rd at the Xterra 15k behind a couple of fast friends and won the Baz 21k after battling out for the first half of the race. I have raced both of those races in the past and this years times were faster on both courses.  So I’m looking at that as something positive.  Maggie raced the 21k with me and also got the W while also finishing 5th overall crushing the dreams of many men along the way! Both races were really hard and the efforts were a bit above my current fitness level which tells me that I’m learning to properly suffer again.  Now I just gotta get the fitness where it needs to be.

Beer:

A beer I’ve had a few times before and Bear Republic never lets me down.  It definitely hit the spot after a 17 mile day.

Bear Republic Apex Special IPA

apex

Starting from Scratch

uspq

I’m really excited about 2014… for many reasons.  I’m generally a pretty positive person and tend to look at things with a “glass half full” mentality but for me now that glass is overflowing with awesomeness.  Life is simple and good.

rubyandmaggie

From a racing and training perspective 2013 was kind of a mess.  I had a couple of good races in January (Avalon 50 Miler) and February (Bandit 50k) but that was all part of me nuking myself and winding up with a femur stress fracture and then as soon as I was on my way back in late May I got hit by a car on my bike.  The early and mid part of my summer was spent recovering and just trying to get fit enough to pace Maggie at Leadville.  Luckily I was able to get through it and pace her the back half of the race.  Definitely an experience I won’t ever forget.  The rest of the year was spent, unsuccessfully, trying to get back in race shape.  Looking back I should have just been trying to get fit again and not been worried about racing.  There were some racing failures including my first two DNF’s (Los Pinos 50k & Cuyamaca 100k).

I did have a couple of fun, solid races after my accident with a win at the Endure the Bear 30k in September and a 2nd place finish just a couple of minutes behind Jon Clark at the Mountain Goat Marathon in November.  In the middle of all of that Maggie, Mike, Chris, and I ran the Grand Canyon.  Those were some solid runs but I still just didn’t feel “right”.  I was fit enough to finish but definitely far from the form I’ve had in previous years.

GCrun

To end the year we were going to run The North Face 50 mile Championships in San Francisco in early December but I/we decided to pull the plug.  It had a been a long, hard year for both of us and thought of trying to cram in some more training just wasn’t too appealing.  Instead we decided to dial it back a bit and just get ready to start 2014 feeling fresh and ready to get back to the kind running we love to do.

mhodges

In December Maggie and I found out that we both go into 100 milers.  Maggie got into Western States and I got into the Tahoe Rim Trail 100.  I couldn’t be more stoked about getting into the TRT 100. As much as I want to run 100 miles there aren’t too many races that really appeal to me.  Since my goal is just finishing for me it has to be a killer course in the mountains.  I want to be inspired and blown by what I see on that run and not worrying about how fast or slow I’m going. The number one 100 miler on my list was Western States, and not just because it’s the biggest (competitive) in the country but because it covers the trails around Lake Tahoe.  I raced Xterra Nationals in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and absolutely fell in love while riding for many hours on the trails up there.  The thought of running on similar trails in the same part of the state is why I want to do that race.

So Maggie and I both put in for the Western States lottery which is a huge long shot, especially the first year you have your name in the hat.  On December 7th we found out that Maggie got in… and I did not.  I could not have been more stoked.  I think Maggie has a real shot at competing up there and for me it would have just been about finishing.

I heard about the Tahoe Rim Trail races last year when my friends Brian, Cam, and Dax ran it but didn’t give it much thought.  After not getting into WS100 I was looking for something else and did more research on the race.  It was just what I was looking for and on exact terrain I wanted to run so I put in for the lottery.  On new years eve, while partying at Kurt’s house, I found out I got in.  stoked.

So without a doubt those are our goal races for the year.  I just want to get to the start line of Tahoe ready to run and have a good day and see what happens.  It will be my first 100 so finishing will be the first priority.  We’ve picked a couple of races leading up to the summer 100′s that are local, will serve as good training, and just be a lot of fun.  We are going to do the Oriflamme 50k on 4/5 and the PCT50 miler on 5/10.  They are also both out east of San Diego which means a trip to Alpine Brewery on the way back!  Definitely an added bonus.  Unlike last year when I was planning on just racing and training through some ultra distance races this year I want to run well at those races and will make sure to get in some good rest both before and after each race.  We’ll also probably jump into some shorter faster races just to mix it up and have fun (I’ve actually already raced twice).  The Carlsbad 5000 is a race I’ve always wanted to do (I’ve never run a standalone 5k) so we may jump into that and then there are some shorter distance trail races that are always fun.

drinking

So it’s just past mid February we’re starting to slowly dial it up a bit.  After a month conservatively getting back to to running treating it like we’re starting from scratch we started to run under the guidance of Ian Torrence.  We spent the month of January building back up very slowly with a lot of short runs, no workouts, taking Ruby out a lot, and again, just having fun running.  Now we’re ramping things up, adding in some quality workouts and building the mileage.   2014 is going to be a fun one.

I’ll also get back to doing another thing I’ve done in the past… post about beer!  It’s still a huge interest to me and there so many good beers coming locally… almost by the week.  so here we go.

Beer:

grapfruitslamipa

Stochasticiy Project Grapefruit Slam IPA - This beer was awesome and goes right up there near the top of my list.  My favorite IPA’s all have a very citrusy flavor and this one takes that to another level.  i stumbled upon this beer at Trader Joe’s (gotta love southern california).  After doing some research I found it’s made by Stone but there’s no mention of it on the bottle or the site. awesome.

here’s a better description than i could ever write…

“India pale ales harness the inherent flavor characteristics of hops to bring forward familiar flavors of pine, resin, spice, and citrus. In some cases, those botanicals are so potent, they exactly mirror specific edibles. Such is the case with Centennial hops, which hail from the Great Northwest and come across on the palate like a mouthful of citrus fruit. That sensation is amplified with this, the first beer introduced via the Stochasticity Project–a double IPA brewed with Centennial, Chinook and Magnum hops as well as an immense dosing of fresh grapefruit peel. The result is over-the-top bittersweet grapefruit intensity that is at once refreshing and bracing in its citrusy bitterness.”

 

it’s been a while…

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it’s been months since i’ve posted anything on here.  Most of the reason was due to the advice of my lawyer (Richard Duquette) while going through all the legal crap associated with getting hit by a car on my bike back in May.  Luckily most of that stuff is behind me now and it’s not something I have to think about on a daily basis.  I can’t thank Richard and his team enough for the work they’ve put in.  Having a lawyer that is a cyclist/athlete makes a huge difference in this kind of situation.

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another reason for not posting is just that I have been to caught up in life and trying to get back on track physically.  the last time i posted was the week after my surgery.  since then a lot has been going on and I would say that almost all of it has been good.  it’s been so long since I’ve posted on here it’s kind of hard to start.  If you happen to follow me on instagram it’s pretty easy to tell what I’ve been up to… having awesome times with Maggie, a full on obsession with our dog Ruby, and getting out on the trails as much as I can… but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 5.57.57 AM

It still scares the shit out of me to ride on the roads.  If find myself continually looking over my shoulder and tensing up when cars pass.  Those feelings kill riding for me.  I know how lucky I am to be alive and walking after getting sideswiped by a car going 55 mph and I don’t really want to the roll the dice again.  I do miss riding though. The road riding I have done has been limited to the easy rides on the coast with most of them starting before 6am at a time of very little traffic and more recently getting out on the bike with Maggie a bit.  More and more I have been getting out on the mountain bike and it’s been fun but still not like before.  to get back to being the bike rider i was before my accident would take many hours on the roads and trails and that’s just not going to happen…. or at least any time soon.

Capture

What I miss about riding is just the time with my friends.  I could care less about fitness and racing at this point.  When I think about riding bikes I think of all the good times spent with Weeger, Slater, and plenty of others out on the trails.  Or the weekly smashfests with Pete, Trevor, Brad, Heather, and Wattie. I miss the post ride beers and shit talking more than the actual riding itself.  If there’s any thing that’s going to motivate me to get over my current fear of riding on the road it’s the memories of all those good times.

mride

The other side of my recovery is coming to terms with where I am physically.  I have never been forced to stay on the couch or in bed for that long in my life.  I’ve always bounced back from racing, huge days, or time off rather quickly.  I guess in my mind I was thinking this would be the same…. damn was i wrong.  I thought knew how bad my accident and resulting injuries were but I don’t think I grasped how bad.  It took me months of trying to get back in shape, wondering why it wasn’t happening while dealing with pain, nagging injuries, failed attempts at racing, and new stuff popping up as the result of crash induced imbalances.  I’ve was kind of a physical mess… and still have work to do… but now I have accepted that.  Only thing to do is deal with the best I can and keep moving forward.  At some point I am hoping I can get back somewhere to close to where I was pre-crash but no need to rush it or be disappointed that I’m not there any more.

mandr

The past year was hard on me from a physical standpoint but all the good that went along with it easily outweighs the bad.  I couldn’t have gotten through it with out Maggie, my family, friends, and ruby.  I already know 2014 is going to be awesome but I also I hope I can get back to racing some ultras.  I pretty much have my races for the first half of the year planned out and paid for so now I just need to get back into racing shape.  I’m slowly getting there and it feels good!  Maggie and I basically started the year as if we were starting from scratch.  the first month of year has already passed and I’m feeling better than I have in the past 12 months.

hodges

I’ll try not to lag too much between posts… but no promises.