Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feb 21 -27

Not much of a recovery week but that's the plan. I figure my body will continue to get stronger as I keep the time and mileage up even during and after race weeks. It's tricky though. Lucho checked on me a couple of times before he gave me my weekly training to make sure I had no extra niggles (Nick Clarkism) and away we went. So here is what the week looked like:

Monday - 4 myles Grigs + Dry Sauna
Tuesday - 6 myles Wichita TM
Wednesday - 8 myles Bluffs
Friday - AM 5+ myles NCAR
AM #2 11 myles Boulder Res.

Total - 79 myles, 11 hrs 30 mins, 6907 ft of climbing

I had minimal soreness from the race, just stiff on Monday. So what's the big difference? I think it's two fold; running everyday and the use of Optygen. But I'm able to run everyday because of the Optygen (recovery). To top it off not all my runs are not at breakneck speed. Remember the article "Want speed? Slow down!" I firmly believe in this strategy along side HR training. It's taken some time to get used to but after my Hagg Lake result - I believe!

2011 Pearl Izumi Ultrarunning team

This last weekend was also the Pearl Izumi Ultra Running team summit. What a great time with Ian, Josh, Timothy, Darcy, Nick, and Ashley. Kody and Aric did an amazing job to pull all the details together - thanks guys! Also got some great seminars by our sponsors: First Endurance, High Gear, and all the peeps over at Pearl Izumi. Learned a lot! Wait till you see the photos that Eric Wynn took on the team runs - best I've seen in a while. That's it for now. I am in lovely San Francisco for a weeks worth of training - Hellow Treadmill!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hagg lake 50K - 3.49:57 2nd

Top 3 (l to r) Nicholas Triolo (3rd), Jacob Puzey (1st), and me

I had heard about "the mudd" at Hagg Lake and that's why I went. This year 'apparently' was Epic! Spoke to several folks who had done the race 10+ times and they have never seen this kind of mess (partly due to the record number of allowed entrants). The only way to describe Hagg mudd is to say it changes into whatever you don't want on a particular part of the trail; a bomber descent with the greasy slick mud that flips you on your kiester or shoe stealing 8 inch mud when your legs are too tired to try and get out. Hagg Mudd, yes it morphs. Here's how my race went:

Rain for the past 8 or 9 days in Oregon set the stage for the mud but it was also cold in the morning with black ice all over the road in the predawn hours. I made my way up from McMenamins around 6:30 AM to do my pre-race ritual of getting down 20 oz of electrolyte drink with a Power Bar and then make my way to the port-o-johns and hope for success that early in the morning. All systems go. I also had enough time to do a warm up - a 3 mile out and back up a dirt road that climbs about 400 feet. It was downright chilly to start!

In the beginning nice and clean

The plan, just like training, was to start slow, get my nutrition and hydration in, and then finish strong. The race started right at 8 and sure enough there were a couple of guys off the front straight up the hill but I could tell they were going be hung out to dry. I settled in about 5th after the short out and back but somehow I was in the front of a 4 man train on single track. I felt as though I was being rushed and asked several times if they wanted to pass... they settled in behind until we got to the dam. Once on the dam the 4 took off and there was one other out front. I thought I was going at a pretty good clip, probably mid 6s, but they were a least a minute up before we entered the single track again a mile later. Now remember, I have been training very differently than I ever have before so I immediately start second guessing if I have done enough leg turn over stuff. Sure I could have stayed with them but I felt like I would have been put in the red really early. I started focusing again on the race plan and telling myself to trust my training. My pace through the first aid (7.8) was 6:41 so I was content to hang back and cruise all alone in 6th place. No major hills to speak of just some nice rollers. Every now and again I would catch a glimpse of the pack out front and the only two I knew were Neil Olsen and Scott Wolfe, both fast runners so I was making time checks frequently to make sure I wasn't falling way off. Finally I came through the first lap + out and back (17.8) in just over 2 hours with a pace of 6:57, I was happy.

Now for lap number two, nutrition and hydration were spot on and energy was solid (I'll list my nutrition later). Immediately leaving the start/finish area I caught a runner whom I suspected would be hung out to dry but I also caught glimpses of several other runners no longer running in a pack. Just about mile 22 I made a decision to put the pedal down and see what I had. Within a mile or two I caught Scott Wolfe who was still moving pretty good. And with the races that we've toed the line together we always, always finish very close to one another so passing him made me a little nervous. But I was in it to win it so I was gonna go till the fuel was gone. Not more than 1/2 mile later I caught Neil Olsen who also seemed to be moving good but I caught him on a hill where he was taking in some calories. Neil has won the race twice with a PR of 3.43 so now I'm really nervous, two veterans on my tail so I better step it up.

Add a little dirt and water and wha-Lah!

Now I'm in 3rd with only 6 myles to go so running out of real estate here. It seemed at the time I was going faster than I had been all day, I know that's not true based on splits, but it felt like it. With 3 myles to go I caught the second place guy at the aid station. I didn't pass right away because I wanted to see his tendencies and really try to push him a bit to drain his tank even more. I was feeling good but I just wanted to be sure before I made a surge past him. Two myles to go I went past him real quick and never looked back. Those final myles were surreal! I was buzzing. I felt like I was floating but in reality I was 'gliding' the mud. As it turns out I never caught sight of the winner and as I think back to time checks at aid stations, his finish loop was identical to mine - 1.48. I never made any time on him - kudos Jacob for running a strong race! The ironic thing is that I was watching tendencies of the pack lead group; what they ate, what they drank, who was surging up the hills, who was crushing the downs, and this guy who won was not carrying a water bottle. I thought for sure I would see him. What I learned is that he was eating a bunch of gels and then loading up on water at the aid stations every 5 myles.

Overall pace was 7:24. I am extremely happy with the result because a) it gives me tremendous confidence in my training and b) I finished stronger than I started. Big thanks to Lucho!!! So for those of you out there reading this, my message to you: You will race the way you train. And the most important aspect is nutrition and hydration during training. Here is a breakdown of what I took in:

Pre-race 1 hour before
1 Power Bar

During the race
1 Power bar 30 minutes into the race, finished chewing at 45 minutes
2 5 oz flasks of EFS Wild Berry Liquid shot diluted in 20 oz water* (each one last an hour 45)
*I would take a slug of this every 5 minutes. Constant calories

Post race
1 20 oz bottle of Ultragen Cappuccino
Lots of great beer, milkshakes, and pizza!

After the race I went back to McMenamins and hung out with Scott Wolfe and his crew from Oregon. Thanks guys it was nice to meet you all and hope to see you soon! Scott and I will toe the line again in Pocatello for round two.

As far as the rest of the week here what it looked like:
Tuesday - AM 6 myles TM Wichita
Wednesday - AM 4 myles Griggs
Thursday - 6 myles TM Tulsa
Friday - 3.5 myles Willamette River OR
Saturday - 34 myles Hagg Lake (with warm up)
Sunday - 3 myles TM home

77 myles, negligible elevation gain, 9 hours 33 minutes

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 7 - 13

This week in training:

PM 4 myles SouthRidge TM

Total - 79 myles, 10 hrs 55 mins, 3431 ft of climbing

Not much of a taper a week before a race eh? It's true because the goal is not Hagg Lake but rather Western States so I can't be taking two weeks to taper and then one week to recover every time I race. With only 20 weeks left until Western I need every day to count. Strong words of advice from Lucho. I saw Nick Clark's approach to Western last year, basically training through every race no matter the distance with 100+ myles for 15 or so weeks. I need that base and I feel like I'm right on track. To tell you the truth I feel stronger now than I ever have before. 6 weeks into the build up towards Western and here is a snap shot of my weeks: 82, 79, 69, 85, 83, and 79 myles.

A couple of major difference to my fitness, I think, is 1) MAF HR approach. MAF stands for maximum aerobic function and rather than me botch the explanation, just read this article entitled "Want Speed? Slow Down!" and you will get an idea of the approach to my base building. It has been tough because all I wanna do is go but that will come and I know this, I've seen a small sampling in my training. I can hit 5:40s at the end of a two hour run with a 165 HR and not feel completely taxed. Another difference to my fitness is 2) my focus on nutrition during the run. Lucho has been giving me detailed workouts with specific nutrition and hydration instructions, for instance "take 1 gel 10 minutes before you start and hydrate with 20 oz of water...." something like that. You would think it's common knowledge to do these things and stay up on nutrition AND HYDRATION during training but it's easy to get complacent. And truth be told, you need to train like you race.

So what do I expect from Hagg Lake? Well based on previous times of runners I know, I would expect something in the low 3.40s. But apparently times can be significantly slower during lots of rain so we will see what the weather brings. Dan Olmstead, Neil Olsen, Scott Wolfe, and Rod Bien will all be there to push the pace so I am looking forward to something fast. Also I plan on wearing a HR monitor the whole time (but not pay attention to) just for collecting data and see if my fitness matches my HR. Last, my weight is down to 156 flat. That is ideal racing weight for me! Can't wait!

Oh, one more thing, Justin Mock wrote a great article on the Colorado trail over here. Which got me thinking about the trail again.... I'm gonna go for the FKT in 2012! I just have to give it a try now I know the trail and trail knows me.

Segment 24 before dropping down (seems like) forever to the Animas

Sunday, February 6, 2011

January 31 - Feb 6

It's official. I did not apply to Hardrock this year. For the first time in 7 years there will be no suspense... but truth be told, this was the first year I had an automatic entry so either way there would not have been suspense. I remember a few years ago I started #34 on the wait list and got in the day before - lots of gray hairs after that one. Sure I could have taken a slot this year but that would have been completely selfish being two weeks after Western States, knowing my body, and the recover time needed. I've only got so many races left in me before I'm done and I want to experience Western States. With the record number of applicants who are in the same position I have been many times over, better to give someone else a chance this year. The Hardrock 100 is a special race and the San Juan's are a special place so why not grow the Hardrock family and let someone else experience the world's greatest high alpine running event. Good luck to all in the lottery today.

Training for me this week has been great! For the entire month of January I have been building a very solid base with most of my runs just under 8 pace with an avg. HR of 145. Sure I've been anxious to get some leg turn over and finally got a taste to end the week. Lucho is ratcheting down the bolts! The run today was after two days of trudging through snow and lots-o-elevation gain so (needless to say) tired legs. But today just really confirmed what I have been building towards - being able to run between 6:15s and 6:30s during the second half of a longer run. Add in the core workouts almost every day and I feel fit not only strength wise but aerobically as well. Here is how the this week looked:

Thursday - 8 myles Kansas City TM (missed 2nd run today)

Total - 83 myles, 12hrs 19 mins, 9134 ft of climbing

I miss you everyday Cooper