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Week 13

Our biggest week so far (and what may prove to be my biggest), and not at all unlucky.

Distance: 35.4 miles on a plan of 36.
Duration: 7hrs 18min

Well, last week was great. A complete change from the sad tale that was getting through a 16-miler with a knife stabbed into the back of my foot. The mid-week runs are taking up a lot of time so I’ve been working at home a lot, or trying to slot them in really early.

Mid-week runs:
Tuesday’s run was at my old nemesis, the Lafayette-Moraga Regional trail. It follows an old mule train route where loggers once pulled redwoods from the hills and carted them to Sacramento. Later a steam train ran along part of the route. Today it’s a stretch of pavement with a ‘linear park’ on either side. It gives you 7 or 8 miles each way of relatively uninterrupted pavement and pleasant enough scenery to look at. For a rail trail, it’s also decently hilly. We ran just 4 miles. Map.

Wednesday we were back out to the same area to run around a canal trail. The Walnut Creek area (which I used to associate with hellish shopping, baking heat, and misguided visits to The Container Store) actually has these canals everywhere. I suppose once upon a time the whole thing must have flooded all the time. There’s water control infrastructure everywhere. These canals are not canals like Venice, however, more like irrigation concrete channels that are mostly about 6 feet or so across. If you like concrete canals, then you’d like these. They do have wildlife sometimes, which right now means there’s baby mallard spotting to be had. There’s almost nothing cuter than a baby duck sliding down a concrete bank. Anyway, several of these long canals have trails next to them. Wednesday’s run was 9 miles east from Walden Park in the middle of Walnut Creek, out to the hills on the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Then we turned south and travel up along the hillside, eventually passing under a road in a pretty cool tunnel. This section, being up high, is actually quite pretty. You can’t even spot the Container Store, just trees mostly. Then it’s back on a different canal through mostly residential areas along the Ygnacio Canal Trail. Map.

Thursday’s 5M run was from home down to Lake Merritt-a pretty well trodden route. It felt so good I picked up the pace and ran it as a tempo run. I hadn’t had the energy for that kind of thing since the whole 3 races in 3 weeks thing.

Long run:
This was all, of course, just a warm up for Saturday’s long run. We decided that running a safe route, flat and easy, was just not for us. I was probably still a little crazy from my tempo run, and plus, the Western States Endurance Run (100 miles through the Sierras) was simultaneously off and running (a friend of ours was pacing), so we felt like something more adventurous than running along I-80 for 4 hours. So instead we headed out to the hills, to Tilden regional park where the LMJS running club was meeting.

The first section of the run was what the organizer Karen described as flat. Well maybe “with a hill in the middle, but mostly flat”. In what universe was that flat? Not a flat universe, that’s for sure. Most of it was, however, runnable hills. Except the one in the middle, which we walked some of. This section took us from the Little Farm parking lot north through Wildcat canyon to the Wildcat staging area, and back. It was pretty enough in there, and definitely better than running along the interstate. But somehow it wasn’t quite trail running. At about 4 miles along a woman stopped us (who actually stops runners?) and asks if we could give our water to her dog. We look at her dog and it looks fine. She’s less than a mile from her car and we’re out for an 18 miler. We say sorry and keep running. After 9 miles we were back near our car, and those in the club doing just the Half headed to the parking lot. We stopped short of there at a drinking fountain and filled up and ate. After chatting to a couple of runners we started our second leg. A couple who is doing the marathon opted to get in their 18miles by running the first 9 miles again. We thought about it for a moment and again decided adventure needed to come first.

We headed up the road less travelled, more or less up the side of a mountain. We ran for an acceptably long time and then eventually started to walk. As the walking was getting tough we turned our walk break into a stop break. At the top was a paved section called Nimitz Way where the Tilden Tough Ten is held each year. We started to run again, but something was up. My HR was high, and quick to anger. Patty figured I was having some problems and gave me her bottle which had Cytomax in it. Now, I don’t mean to promote Cytomax, or to appear like I believe a thing of their (FDA has not verified) claims, but that stuff is great. Half a mile later I’d gotten about 20 Oz of fluid in me and I was back on track.

Math interlude:
Now, I take from this that I need more water than I’d drunk up until that point. That is, in 10 or so miles I had drunk about 2 bottles worth of water, or around 3-4 oz per mile. This was pretty much in line with my pre-run plan. But on a warm but not hot day, that wasn’t enough. In the following mile I drank another 20 oz and that set me right. About 50% more liquid. So, based on that, if I up my intake to 4-5 oz per mile, then in the race that’s 8-10 oz an aid station which means getting a whole cup down plus some. In the race, this also means about 24 oz per hour, which is well below the 30 oz per hour considered dangerous. Also, note to self. Cytomax rocks.

At inspiration point we’d stashed more water, more Cytomax and a couple of Cliff Shots. We ate a little, refilled out bottles and then headed off. The next section was really tough. It took us up hundreds more feet along a spectacular ridge line. But mostly we were annoyed that a lot of this wasn’t really runnable. Sure, it was a great workout, but we also needed just long running. After a few miles we reached the highest point. Some hikers were there looking at the view that extended for miles both inland and across the bay. In the distance was San Francisco, our marathon course. We were looking down on the whole city thinking that at least no hill was going to be as high as that one in the course.

By the time we returned to our car we’d covered around 17.5 miles in a slow but grueling 4 hours on the trails. We were beat. The gain/loss was over 2500ft not counting all the small hills. It was pretty rough.

Recovery Peter and Patty style:

1) Ice water in the car. Start drinking.
2) Start replacing calories. One Mocho Freddo (large) from Peets Coffee. This is a chocolate shake with coffee in it. They are beyond good, and not really that bad for you if you don’t get the whipped cream.
3) 2 Super burritos (one each). I went with Veggie. Patty had smelled grilling meat somewhere on our run as we past near a picnic area and had partially turned into a grizzly bear ready to kill for meat. She went with the steak.
4) Ice bath. Filled half way with cold tap water. Add ice. Not so it’s a slushy, just enough to put a chill into it. Soak for 10 minutes. Do not share. It heats the water up too fast and isn’t romantic. Also, you need a clock. It’s a long 10 minutes.
5) Lots of Advil. 800mg is a good place to start.
6) Sleep. 1 hour of quality napping.
7) Next day:recovery walk. One 3M lap of the lake works well.

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  1. MK
    June 29th, 2007 at 13:55 | #1

    Sorry to hear about your poor feet! This is NOT good news! I’m wondering if you’ve considered leaving all the trail runs for after the marathon :) It sounds like they are brutal.

    I’ve thought many times about how much I wish I had hills or it was cooler or whatever, but in the end, who cares. I/we all need to just make it to the race ready to run at this point. We’re not Boston qualifiers (this year), we’ll save that for next.

    It sounds like you know how to recovery in style. I think I might take some notes on that.

    Take good care because I’m looking forward to seeing you guys healthy in SF :)

    MK

  2. Peter
    June 29th, 2007 at 18:10 | #2

    Who knows what caused the foot problem. Could have been the trail running. Or the new shoes I was trying to break in. Or it could have been just one misplaced step on the short run I hardly noticed at the time. Or all of the above.

    It is getting better, in that I can now walk on it. A little. I wasn’t planning on a 4 mile fallback week, but perhaps it wont be the worse thing.

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