Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2010 Continental Divide Trail 10K pictures

Last weekend Shannon and I ran in the Continental Divide Trail Race / USATF 10K Trail Championship.

The official race photographer was not there, so Shannon volunteered to take pictures for the race.
The mens and womens races were run separately, so Shannon took pictures of the men's race, and I took pictures of the women's race.

Here is the edited album of 560 high-res photos.

If you ran the race, and are looking for pictures of yourself, there is another album with all 763 pictures we took here. In this album however, photos for the women's race are low res because they all would not fit.

Pictures are free to use, though attribution is appreciated. If anyone want's any higher res photos, just let us know.

There is a third album with mostly just Godiva members here.

As soon as I muster enough energy I will do a race report. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite photos from the race.

At the end of the race was "The rock wall". Two women sprint to the finish, battling for 6th place.

Shannon's awesome men's start photo 

Shannon climbs up the "wall"

Several people wore Vibrams, including this girl. No one was barefoot.

That's me showing my superior hill running technique
Godiva Women's team kicked ass, taking 1st place open, 1st place masters, and 2 individuals in the top ten .

some of the fast guys

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Out West

Shannon and I are out in Western NC for our belated honeymoon. We are staying in a cabin with no TV, internet, or cell phone signal, but it is otherwise nicer than our house. Tonight we came into to West Jefferson to check messages.

We have been trying to run out here, but I think our 20 min/mile pace qualifies more as hiking.
The mountains have taught us new meanings for the words "hill" and "trail".

We tried (and failed) to do a long run on the Appalachian Trail. We also went to check out the course for the Continental Divide 10K Trail race, which we will be running on Saturday.
It will be the first race I have ever run that will require the use of my hands to get up a hill. Maybe I should wear 2 pair of Tigram Ten Toes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Barefoot update

My giant monkey foot
  • Did longest run ever this morning. 5 miles. 41 min, 8:19 pace. Very easy greenway course.
  • I was doing around 1 mile every day, waiting for the tenderness to go away before I went further, but I got impatient. Now doing 2 or 3 longer BF runs a week. 
  • It really does teach me to step lightly. Every few minutes I would get lazy and start stomping, but was corrected immediately.
  • It is making my transition to racing flats much easier
  • Still getting hot spots on my big toes. I am not pushing off, so I must be twisting. It happens even if I just go for a walk. 
  • According to BFJ, I must do 1000 miles to achieve enlightenment. 85 miles down, 915 miles to go.
  • Running with dogs is tough on the feet, with the stopping, starting, and tripping.
  • Thinking of doing the North Hills 5K barefoot on Sept 11. 
  • Running barefoot made me realize how badly my shoes fit my feet. I have wide monkey feet and almost all shoes have this narrow "toe box". 

Friday, August 20, 2010

The problems with "Drink to thirst"

Since the NC sauna continues unabated, I will stay on the subject of hydration.

In my previous post on dehydration, a commenter posted a link to this credible looking article at competitor.com: Running 101: Hydration During Running.

Here are my reactions to this article:
Hydration during running is not as complicated as you may have been led to believe.
Oh, really? Tell me more.
Runners almost never experience dehydration levels sufficient to cause major health consequences
This is technically true. Runners are hardly ever taken to the hospital. But some of us have a higher standard of success than simply avoiding a ride in an ambulance.What if we want to actually perform well?
The new exercise hydration advice is in fact to drink according to your thirst... you will naturally drink enough to optimize your performance...
...research has shown that drinking to completely offset sweating offers no advantage with respect to performance or body temperature regulation compared to drinking by thirst.
How about a link to the this "research"? Are you saying "drink to thirst" applies to all situations, no matter how hot it is, or how far and fast you are running?
Now you know everything you really need to know about hydration during running
To sum up the advice: "Don't worry about how much water you need, just drink to thirst, and your performance will be optimal."

This seems like fine advice for runs under an hour. But when it comes to marathons and ultras, I am highly skeptical.

So I started researching this, and have discovered that the topic of hydration is way more complicated and controversial than I knew.
Even the "Sports Scientists" are recommending "drink to thirst".  They have PHDs in Exercise Science, and loads of scientific articles going way over my head on these topics. They seem to dismiss dehydration as a concern and think people drink way too much.

I understand that sometimes people drink too much water, and end up with hyponatremia, which is worse than dehydration. This "drink to thirst" advice is meant to prevent this. But someone running for 3 or more hours in the heat can get hyponatremia if they drink to thirst, but don't get extra salt. I'll get back to hyponatremia in a future post.

The problems with "Drink to thirst"

1.  Ready access to fluids
The big problem I have with "drink to thirst" is a practical one. It assumes you have ready access to fluids. 
But most of us don't run laps around a drinking fountain, or carry gallons of water.

So when we head out for our 20 mile run, we have to know how much to bring with us. How do you know how thirsty you will be?

During a 4 hour training run in Uwarrie, I ran out of fluids half way through. I thought 40oz would have been enough, but I ended up mighty thirsty and still 2 hours away from the car. It would have helped if I had a formula to calculate how much I would need in advance.

2. Wisdom of thirst
It seems that the harder, and faster I run, the more fluid I lose and the less thirsty I am.
When I am running a marathon I am usually too focused on maintaining a constant pace to even notice if I am thirsty. I learned through trial and error how much I needed to drink, not from how thirsty I was.
I know this is just my own personal experience, but I would like to see more studies on the this.

3. Delayed Reaction
I ran 2 marathons last year where I drank exactly 1 cup of water at each aid station, one every mile. I finished strong, so this seemed to work for me.

This year when I ran Umstead, I continued with 1 cup per aid station strategy.
However, I had failed to consider that the aid stations at this race were 2.5 miles apart. It wasn't until mile 20 when I got thirsty and realized my mistake. I stopped and guzzled 2 bottles of water. Then I had belly full of water sloshing around. I have to wonder how quickly this water is absorbed.

At mile 23, my poor calf muscle popped off and went seeking water on it's own. Of course, the Sports Scientists don't think cramping is caused by dehydration, so the cause of the cramp was debatable. 

4. Efficiency
It may be a minor point, but when you are trying to qualify for Boston or get a PR, every second counts.
You can run through each aid station and swallow half a cup without slowing down. But if you wait to get thirsty at mile 12, and then have to stop there and drink 6 cups, you might waste a few minutes.

It's complicated
In any case, all this hydration stuff is very complex. Not all of your fluid loss is from sweat, some is exhaled from burning calories. You should lose some weight after a run, there is no point in trying to maintain your original weight. But there is debate about how much is too much, and what should be considered "dehydrated", and at what point your performance suffers.

Anyway, I have spent way too long on this post, and have to pack for our mountain trip.
I will revisit this subject, and do a post on  hyponatremia after I do some more investigating.

Some research I found
I found a paper suitably titled "Effects of Dehydration on Exercise Performance", which cites actual research. It finds that even modest dehydration of 1.8% of body weight will effect performance:

...exercise time to exhaustion at 90% VO, peak was significantly lower (6.8 ± 3.0 min vs. 9.8 ±3.9 min
It cites another study that

...compared subjects' responses when they drank enough fluid to replace about 80% of sweat losses ( 1,330 ml) and when they drank only 200 ml of fluid during 50 min of cycle ergometry at -80% VO, max.
This was followed by a "sprint to the finish" in which they completed a finite amount of work as fast as possible. Performance improved by 6% when fluid intake was high
Here is what is says about "drinking to thirst":
...ad libitum fluid intake frequently leads to the modest levels of dehydration observed in these studies...

And those studies were short, only 1 hour long. There is another good paper, The Importance of Good Hydration, which looks at a number of studies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lose weight fast!

Today I lost 4 pounds in one hour!

It was 79°F and 85% humidity this morning. So I decided it would be a good day to measure my sweat rate.
I weighed myself before I headed out for my run, and then when I got back an hour later.

I lost exactly 4 pounds, or 1.8 kg.
Since I didn't drink anything or pee during my run, that is roughly 1.8 liters of sweat. Or around a ½ gallon.

Yes, this is gross, but it is also good to know.

If I had tried to run a marathon today, I would need to drink about 2 gallons of water to keep up with sweat loss. How many little cups of water at the aid stations is that?

Figure about 4 oz per cup, thats about 64 cups. Wow.
Probably the hottest marathon I ever ran was Chicago 2008 which got to 80° by the end (not as bad as 2007).
I think I drank 2 cups every mile, which is 42 cups. I guess that was a good strategy, because I was fine at the end.

I think I will try this at different temperatures. I would be good to know how much to drink given a particular pace/temperature.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Congrats to Z-Foot

I have a new goal.
I am going to run a barefoot 5K race.

I have been inspired by newly minted barefoot runner Barefoot Neil Z. For the sake of brevity, I will refer to him simply as Z-Foot from now on. He just completed a barefoot 10K, ending up on the evening news in Calgary.

My initial inspiration for barefoot running was Barefoot Josh, who ran the Triple Lakes Trail Half last year in nothing but aqua socks. This caused me to seriously question my footwear, and try barefoot running.
However, Josh has attained a level of barefoot mastery that is hard to comprehend and seems unattainable.

Z-Foot on the other hand, is a relatively new runner and regular guy who decided to start barefooting just 6 weeks ago. His boundless enthusiasm for running is infectious. The amount of fun he had running the 10K make we want to try it.

Now I just have to find a 5K that will fit in the schedule.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rolling the dice

Dealing with running injuries is like gambling.
Or, like a whole bunch of bad gambling analogies.

It's Blackjack, if you play it too safe you won't come out ahead. Push too hard and you bust.
Or like Poker. You feel a little twinge, your body saying "I'll raise you one quadricep muscle"

Do you fold your hand, and rest for a few days? Or do you think it is bluffing?
"Bullshit!", you say, "I'll re-raise you a 17 mile run!"

Turns out it has a full house. YOU LOSE. Your leg swells up and you end up limping home.

You vow to rest for a few days.

But after only one day, you feel lucky. Maybe the leg is better? Just a slow 6 mile jog? So you blow your day of rest on a scratch off ticket. Uh! YOU LOSE! Limp home again.

So you take another 3 full days off, saving up.

And today you're back at the low stakes tables. You bet two slow miles... you WIN!
Take your chips and go home?
No! Let it ride! Head right back out the door for a 6 mile tempo run.

You get very lucky and make it home. Now on to higher stakes...


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Being Injured is Great!

I usually spend most of my free time and energy either running or biking, but I have acquired a mysterious quad injury which prevents me from doing either.

So I decided to cross train with an intensive home maintenance workout. Sunday I replaced the garage door opener, power-washed the house, and started cleaning out the garage.

My internal clock woke me up early again today, so I was out at 6am cleaning off the deck with the leaf blower. I bet my neighbors can't wait until I'm running again.

Usually I know exactly what dumb thing I did to injure myself, but not this time.
I somehow pulled, wrenched, tore, tweaked, and/or strained my left quad.

Shannon and I went out for a 17 mile run last Saturday and my quad was bugging me, but I figured it would go away like so many little aches and pains do.
It kept getting worse though. By mile 4, I turned around and ended up walking home. I tested it again on Monday, but it is still messed up, so I need to take at least another 3 full days off.

Trashed quads are typical after a marathon, but I didn't expect it after a blogging marathon.
Actually I think the root cause of the injury is from reading other blogs. In particular, this post about the "hip stretch/reflex mechanism"

Last week I experimented with letting my leg stretch out behind me more, essentially elongating my stride behind me. It felt great at the time, but I either did something wrong, or too much, too soon.

Anyway, time to paint the deck!